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Balabanova All Over

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[Santa Fe, NM, Aug 31, 2018] Our trip to New Mexico over Labor Day weekend was inspired by B. He’s always wanted to see it thanks to the 1994 movie Speechless. If you haven’t heard about if before, don’t worry – I hadn’t either before B introduced me to it. The movie is about two speech writers, played by Geena Davis and Michael Keaton, who work for opposing candidates for the governorship… Read More

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[Seattle, WA, July 22, 2018] And there it was, our last full day on this trip! It’s hard to believe we have come full circle in such a short time. We reluctantly left our cabin in the forest and headed to Seattle, WA, also known as the Emerald City. The term Emerald City came from a contest held by the Convention and Visitors Bureau in 1981. The name was selected in 1982 and… Read More

[Victoria, BC, July 18, 2018] When I realized we can take a ferry from Port Angeles to Victoria, BC, I jumped on it. I’d heard great things about Victoria. The major sights were right at the harbor, so we didn’t need to take our rental car – I figured this would give us a nice break from all the driving. Exploring different cities also appeals to the city girl I have always… Read More

[Winter Park, FL – May 28/29, 2018] A work conference the week of Memorial Day brought me to Orlando, FL – amusement park capital of the world. The conference started on Tuesday afternoon, May 29th and ended on Friday morning, June 1. This schedule left me some free time before and after to explore. I decided to travel on Monday afternoon to avoid having to take a red-eye (overnight) flight, which meant… Read More

[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

[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

[Key West, FL, Dec 27, 2016] Even though our trip to the Dry Tortugas in 2016 got cancelled, we still did a day trip to Key West. B knew how much I’d looked forward to the trip and he felt bad that it fell apart. He suggested that we get up early one day, explore Miami and its environs and, if we still felt like it, head to Key West and come back… Read More

[Sofia, Bulgaria, Sept 22, 2017] We returned from Greece on Thursday, Sept 21. Our host Keti made us Greek coffee before we left. This was very similar to Turkish coffee, which is not surprising – both Bulgaria and Greece spent hundreds of years under Ottoman rule. Friday, Sept 22 was another official holiday in Bulgaria – the Day of Independence. I was not exactly sure how this day was different from our… Read More

[Sofia, Bulgaria, Sept 17, 2017] Today is another big holiday in Bulgaria. We celebrate St. Sophia, Vyara, Nadezhda and Ljubov. The last three names mean Faith, Hope and Love in Bulgarian, and Sophia means The Holy Wisdom of the Lord (from Greek, Agia Sophia).  Everyone who carries one of these four names celebrates what we call a name day. Since I carry the name Nadezhda, today was my name day. The city… Read More

[Hamburg, Germany] Situated on the river Elbe, Hamburg is Germany’s second largest city and its own province with 1.5 million people. 2,000 bridges all over the city have earned it the nickname Venice of the North. Hamburg has the biggest number of millionaires per capita and the second largest port in Europe (Rotterdam is the largest). Two devastating fires 100 years apart – one in 1842 and one in 1943 – have… Read More