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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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[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 spot just across from my AirBnB. I sat outisde and people… Read More

[Toronto, Canada] The 2016 Higher Education Data Warehousing (HEDW) conference was in Rochester, NY, hosted by the University of Rochester. As usual, the conference starts on Sunday evening, so I decided to fly out from LA with the red-eye on Friday in order to explore the surroundings on Saturday and Sunday. Upon landing in Rochester, I rented car and checked into my hotel downtown. Rochester is no bigger than Augusta, GA, where… Read More

[Salzburg, Austria] Today’s adventure entailed another day trip – this time to Salzburg, Austria. The fourth-largest city in Austria, with a population of 150,000, is famous as the birthplace of Mozart, one of the largest music festivals in Europe and one of the continent’s largest intact medieval fortresses. Its city center is a UNESCO World Heritage site. I made the 2.5-hour trip by train. I’m still amazed and how convenient, fast, clean… 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

[Pisa, Italy] I remember seeing pictures of the Leaning Tower of Pisa when I was growing up, and thought it’d be so fascinating to see this leaning building up close. Today, I got my wish. Pisa is an easy 75-minute train ride away from Florence. The only hard part for me was finding my train, which was not clearly marked! I ran around a bit and got really vague directions from train… Read More

[Rome, Italy] Besides going to Galleria Borghese, I had no grand plans for today. There were many other things I wanted to see but I wasn’t sure how much energy or enthusiasm I’d have, nor where the day would take me after the gallery, so I played it by ear and it couldn’t have turned out any better! For a planner like myself, it was nice to have a less structured day…. 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

[Chicago, IL] A couple of major Chicago attractions book-ending a divine lunch at a Michelin-starred restaurant? Not a bad way to spend another day in Chicago, I think! We started off our day at Willis Tower. Built as and still commonly referred to as Sears Tower, it was the tallest building in the world from the time it was completed in 1973 until 1998 when the Petronas Twin Towers in Malaysia were… Read More