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Balabanova All Over

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[Istanbul, Turkey, May 25, 2019] And just like that, it was the last day of our trip! It’s always hard to believe when that day comes. Time seems to fly by while at the same time my normal every-day life seems so far away! It rained again overnight but we decided to leave the umbrellas at home – it was a pain to carry them around all day yesterday, and the weather… Read More

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[Istanbul, Turkey, May 24, 2019] A gloomy, rainy morning sky greated us on our full first day in Istanbul. Luckily, it was not cold. We borrowed some umbrellas from our hotel and headed to Hagia Sophia, the most easily recognizable Istanbul landmark. The current structure is the third church built at this site in the 6th century by Byzantine Emperor Justinian, the previous two having been destroyed. It remained the largest cathedral… Read More

[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

[Anatolia, Turkey, May 22, 2019] With two ancient cities on our itinerary and lots of driving in-between them, we got an early start. Once we woke up, we could hear the preparation for the breakfast buffet, as it turned out we were right below the 7th floor restaurant. The buffet had a great variety, hence there were more plates on our table than people in our party. We used Google Maps to… Read More

[Taos, NM, Sep 2/3, 2018] After two days exploring around Taos, we finally had time to stay in town. After a great breakfast at our B&B, we headed out to visit two of its major sights. Our first stop was the Rio Grande Gorge bridge, just north of town. The bridge is roughly 600 ft (182 m) above the river and it is a quarter-mile long (388 m). It was built in… Read More

[Olympic National Park, July 17, 2018] The Olympic peninsula is on the Western edge of Washington state, across Puget sound from Seattle. Its home to the northwestern most point in the United States, Cape Flattery. At about 3600 square miles, the peninsula remained largely unmapped until the late 19th century. The Olympic mountain range sits in the center. It blocks the passage of rain-producing systems and casts a dry “shadow” in the… Read More

[Kalabaka, Greece, Sept 20, 2017] Mom and I saw four of the six Meteora monasteries yesterday. Today, we headed for the other two. We took dad with us, as one of the monasteries involved no stairs. The monastery of St. Stephen was first on the list. It was built in the 16th century. It was bombed by the Nazis in WWII because they believed rebels were hiding there. In 1961, the monastery… Read More

[Kalabaka, Greece, Sept 19, 2017] Meteora means “suspended in the air” in Greek. This name quite aptly describes the collection of monasteries precariously built on the rocks just North of the town of Kalabaka, in the Thessaly valley in Northern Greece. Meteora was designated a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1988. The rocks upon which the ┬ámonasteries were built are a result of sandstone and conglomerate deposits being pushed up into a… 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