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Balabanova All Over

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[Miami, FL, Sat, Dec 30, 2017] No longer a hidden gem, Vizcaya Museum and Gardens is still a good place to go if you’d like escape the hustle and bustle (and seemingly endless construction zones) of Miami. Vizcaya is the former winter residence of industrialist James Deering. It was built between 1914 and 1922 and was inspired by 18th-century Italian villas. The garden on the south side is also European-inspired. Deering passed… Read More

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[Key West, FL, Dec 26, 2017] If you read the previous blog post, you already know that this was our second attempt at getting to Dry Tortugas National Park, one of the most remote ones in the US. Unlike last year though, we headed straight for the keys. Without a detour to Miami and the lack traffic this early in the morning (we left Boynton at 5:30 am), we hit the upper keys… Read More

[Glacier National Park, MT]  Waking up on Sunday was great because the half marathon was done but also because we were just done with our last night in a tipi. I am grateful for the experience and it was definitely a unique way to spend the night, but there were two majors reasons that a 4th night in a tipi would have tested all of us: The temperature. The tipi is open… Read More

[Sedona, AZ] Our Saturday morning, we got up early to take a pink jeep tour of the red rocks around Sedona. We got a combo tour, so that meant we were going to spend about 3 hours driving around. Thankfully, these custom jeeps came with blankets, as it was a chilly morning! We stopped multiple times for photo ops, and the interesting rock formations around us seemed to be never ending! The… Read More

f[Schwerin, Germany] Hamburg presented an interesting challenge – one could day-trip very easily to Bremen, Luebeck or Schwerin from here. Bremen and Luebeck, both being Hanseatic towns, were tempting because their town centres are both on the UNESCO World Heritage Sites list. Hanseatic towns were part of the Hanseatic league, a confederation of merchant guilds that dominated Baltic maritime trade in the middle ages. Schwerin, however, was interesting because it boasted a… Read More

[Hamburg, Germany] When we woke up on Saturday, it was pouring rain. Luckily, the rain stopped by midday and the sun was trying to poke out from behind the clouds. On weekends, there are always festivals and markets in Hamburg, so we headed to the city center to check them out. We parked close to city hall and walked over the Hafencity from there. Hafencity (Hafen means port, so this translates into… Read More

[Berlin, Germany] I got a hint of Germany’s tumultuous 20th century history yesterday at the German History Museum, but today I got hit in the face with it. I started with Dutch and German painters in the Gemaeldegallerie (“Painting Gallery” in German), but the day turned somber as I visited memorials dedicated to Hitler’s victims and the Berlin Wall. To get to the Gemaeldegallerie, I traveled to Potsdamer Platz. Previously a wasteland… Read More

[Berlin, Germany] In typical Nadya fashion, I spent the ENTIRE day walking around Berlin, save for a short break around dinner. I racked up 30,000 steps on my step counter, I went into four museums and I watched on amazing sunset from the dome of the Reichstag, to sum it up. I started my day with a coffee at the coffee shot just across from my AirBnB. I sat outisde and people… Read More

[Venice, Italy] Built 1500 years ago as an escape from the barbarians after Rome fell, Venice became a medieval powerhouse when clever middlemen turned it into a trading empire between East and West. Venice was a uniquely diverse city at the time, welcoming every race and religion, as long as they carried cash. The discovery of the Americas and new trade routes spelled trouble for Venice, but as the city declined, it became… Read More

[Florence, Italy] I fit in a lot more than I thought I would today, even by my standards, and that says a lot! I am looking forward to a more relaxing Friday in Firenze ahead of a couple of side trips Sarah and I are taking this weekend. At 8:30 am, I left the house and stopped in for a coffee at a place just a couple of corners away called Caffe… Read More

[Florence, Italy] Today is not my day to ride on buses. I got on the wrong one going from my AirBnB in Rome to the train station – luckily I realized it in time. And in Florence, I got on the right bus but missed my stop. Luckily, stops here are close together so neither one of these were too big of a faux pas, but it’s still pretty stressful! I caught the express… Read More

[Vatican City, Italy] No visit to Rome is complete without a visit to the Vatican Museum, the Sistine Chapel and St. Peter’s Basilica. If you have only one day in Rome and have to pick between this and the Coliseum/Forum, I’d pick this (although with some planning, they are both doable in one long, exhausting day). To get to the Vatican, I took Bus 64 across the Tiber river. It was about… Read More