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Balabanova All Over

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[Istanbul, Turkey, May 23, 2019] Ahhh, Istanbul! This magical city, which straddles Europe and Asia, has gone through many transformative changes in its history. Founded under the name of Byzantion around 660 BC, the city grew in size and influence. Roman Emperor Constantine, having just converted to Christianity, made it the new capital of the Roman Empire in 330 AD and began its transformation as a major Christian center. A thousand years… Read More

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[Sounion, Greece, May 19, 2019] After spending more than half the day touring the ancient sites of Athens, we went back to our AirBnB to relax. This was much needed downtime before our evening adventure. In the late afternoon, we picked up our rental car from a small Hertz rental office just a 5-minute walk from our AirBnB. Our destination was about an hour and a half south of Athens. We were… Read More

[Santorini / Athens, Greece, May 18, 2019] Our flight back to Athens wasn’t until late afternoon, which left us with some time to explore the other parts of Santorini. There is so much to this island other than Oia and its gorgeous sunsets! First, though, we made the most of our stay at Aqua luxury suites. We enjoyed our breakfast and took one last dip in the hot tub before we said… Read More

[Santorini, Greece, May 16-17, 2019] There are over 6000 islands and islets in Greece, of which only 227 are inhabited. The Greek islands account for almost half of the country’s 16,000 km/10,000 miles of coastline. They are split into six groups based on their georgaphic location. Offbeat Greece has a great guide to the different groups. The most popular group is by far the Cyclades, which includes Mykonos and Santorini, as well… Read More

[Sofia, Bulgaria, May 13-14, 2019] I spent the next few days showing my hometown to B, who arrived in Sofia three days after me. It was his first trip to Europe since 1992, so he was little anxious about the long flight. But everything went smoothly and he popped out of customs smiling and ready to spend the next 2 weeks on the Balkans. I had a whole day free before his… Read More

[Sofia, Bulgaria, May 10/11 2019] This first half of the year has been such a whirlwind of trips! I’ve already been to Death Valley, Ohio/Michigan and Napa Valley! But the crown jewel this year is clearly going to be my 2.5 week trip to Bulgaria, Greece and Turkey, in large part with my boyfriend. We had been making plans for him to come see my hometown and meet my parents in May…. Read More

[Detroit, MI, Apr 17, 2019] My conference ended on Wednesday, but I was staying through Thursday. This year, I finally got on the board of HEDW, the all-volunteer board that organizes the conference. The first of their two board meetings of the year is held on the day after the conference. This left me with a free half-day on Wednesday. I planned on exploring Detroit, and I was super happy that my… Read More

[Ann Arbor, MI, Apr 15/16, 2019] Luckily, the evenings provided opportunities to get out of our hotel and explore of Ann Arbor. Spending a few days at a conference hotel can bring on cabin fever pretty quickly for me, so I relish these opportunities! Monday nights of this conference are typically reserved for the networking dinners. The conference organizers make reservations at a half-dozen or so restaurants in the area and provide… Read More

[Northfield, OH, Apr 12, 2019] I’ve been going to the Higher Education Data Warehousing conference since 2011. It’s an annual conference that typically takes place in April and different universities take turns hosting it. Other than my very first trip, I have always added a few days on the front and/or backend of this conference to sight-see. Thanks to this, I’ve seen Chicago, Niagara Falls, Toronto and Saguaro National Park in Tucson,… Read More

[Oahu, HI, Dec 30, 2018] On our last full day in Hawaii, we ended up all over the island – from the southeastern shore to the westernmost tip. Our first stop was Hanauma Bay, one of the most popular snorkeling spots on the island. Hanauma Bay was created by a crater explosion along the eastern shore of Oahu. Wave erosion along one of the walls of the crater gradually created the bay…. Read More