O Canada! Venturing to Victoria…..

I have been pretty bad about blogging lately, but I’m trying to catch up.  A couple weeks ago, my mom, dad and I drove from Seattle, around the Puget Sound and back up the Olympic Peninsula to Port Angeles, where we caught the ferry to Victoria, Canada.  I know this is going to be strange, especially considering our extensive travel in Europe, but this was my first time visiting our northerly neighbors.  So far, I can say that Canada did not disappoint and Victoria is absolutely beautiful.  Some people say it’s a sleepy town, with its quaint tea houses and the small bay based on sailing and sea-plane tourism, but I found it charming.  Granted, I’m not sure I would want to actually live there, considering you are rather isolated.  The only way off the island are ferries to mainland Washington or Canada or a small airstrip at the north end of Vancouver Island…. [Read More]

Greece Sailing Trip 2014

The dinner setting.  How cool is the canopy structure?

We returned to Greece to sail the Dodecanese Islands for the second time.  This summer, however, we took off from the port of Kos (instead of Rodos), and traveled north to the islands of Kalymnos, Leros, Patmos, and Lipsi.  We took the “road” a little less traveled this year and ended up with a very different experience – it was a little more relaxed, more rustic, and definitely more windy with rougher seas.  Our captain was also younger and drank a little (lot!) less, which made us all feel a little safer aboard. :)    Overall, Greece never disappoints, and I am happy to say my skin is no longer translucent, but instead a speckled light tan color.

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The Croatian Coast

And we even found someone to take a photo of us

After Bobby took over duties for the last few blogs, I figured I should get back to my normal blogging routine (although he is a better writer than me)!  Last week, we took a ten day trip down the coast of Croatia, through Montenegro and Bosnia and Herzegovina, and then back to Italy.  It ended up being quite a bit of driving, but well worth it.  It’s no wonder that Croatia has been on Nat Geo’s list of places to visit the last couple of years.  We started out in Zadar (after a short pit-stop in the Italian city of Aquileia), traveled through Split and Trogir, and then ended our Adriatic coast trip in Dubrovnik.

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Port of Genoa

One of the prettiest fish I have ever seen

Almost two years ago, Bobby and I traveled to Genoa to attend the national soccer match between Italy and the USA.  It was a landmark game because it was the first time the Americans ever beat the Italians.  Last week, we returned to the city, famous for its focaccia bread, pesto, and enormous port, to take in several seaside attractions: the Galata Maritime Museum, Genoa’s Aquarium, and a galleon ship called “Neptune”.  Of course, we made a pit stop on the way to the port to eat some “focaccia Genovese;” I had the standard butter and salted version (you can’t ruin a classic) and Bobby chose the pesto.  Neither disappointed!… [Read More]

Falling for Helsinki

Lovely reflections

Helsinki stole my heart.  It may have been the perfect weather, the beautiful shoreline, or the colorful autumn leaves making the city especially festive.  Who knows.  Like every other city we visit, Bobby and I decided to tour Helsinki on foot.  We arrived in late afternoon, and with only a couple of daylight hours left, we headed north to visit the famed Rock Church and the Jean Sibelius Monument.  We reached the shoreline at dusk and it was a perfect night to take the waterside jogging path back to the city.  The following day, we took the scenic route, walking again along the harbor to the fish market and up the hill to Kaivopuisto Park.  Here, we had sweeping views of Kruunuvuorenselka (what a word!) Sound.

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The Baltic Rim: Estonia

Alexander Nevsky Cathedral on Toompea Hill

Before heading to Estonia, Bobby read an interesting article about how the country stepped outside of the USSR’s shadow to become an internet titan.  One commentator wrote “for other countries, the internet is just another service, like tap water, or clean streets,” adding that ” for young Estonians, the internet is a manifestation of something more than a service – it’s a symbol of democracy and freedom.”  There is free WiFi everywhere in the capital city of Tallinn – in cafes, in bars, and even in the streets.  It’s been stated that one could walk for 100 miles from the city to its outskirts and never lose internet connectivity.  We definitely can’t say that in the United States.  Even Skype, which is now owned by Microsoft, was born in Estonia.  We were certainly impressed with the tiny country.

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Landing Ship Tank 325 – A Floating WWII Memorial

IMG_2428

Currently, I’m spending some time in the States visiting family and as luck would have it, a very cool Navy ship docked near my hometown.  The USS Landing Ship Tank 325, based out of Evansville, Indiana, takes summer cruises up the Ohio River each year, and it just so happened that I was at home when it made a stop in Ashland, Kentucky this weekend.  The LST-325 is a decommissioned Navy ship that was first launched in 1942 during World War II.  It is the type of boat in the famous beach scenes in Saving Private Ryan (where troops storm the beaches of Normandy) and Flags of Our Fathers (about the landing at Iwo Jima).  The boats can beach themselves and then tanks can exit directly from sea to land.

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Reykjavic Adventures – Whale Watching & The Blue Lagoon

More jumping

We’ve officially made it to Iceland, our 30th country since this Olmsted Scholar experience began (almost) two years ago.  It’s been quite an incredible journey.  After leaving our car in Oslo, we booked a late flight into Reykjavik, the capital of Iceland.  Our first day, we took a tour with Elding Whale Watching, the oldest company of its kind in the city.  We changed our 10.00 reservation to 14.00 after suffering an unexpectedly acute case of jet lag and the weather was nearly perfect. We had clear skies and although it was a bit (a lot!) brisk, the whale guide commented it was the most active the dolphins and whales had been in some time.  We lucked out!  Unfortunately, our second day in Iceland turned out to be pretty crappy weather-wise.  In order to make up for this, we took the bus (which Bobby was amazed was equipped with wifi) to the Blue Lagoon, where the water is warm, no matter the temperature outside.

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Oslo, Norway – The Other “Emerald City”

Oslo Opera House at sunset

For our entire trip in Oslo, Bobby kept comparing the city to his beloved Seattle. There are a lot of similarities: the cities both sit on water in an area carved by glaciers, they have large shipping/fishing industries, similar craftsmen’esque homes, and strong art/architecture scenes.  We are partial to Seattle, but Oslo gave us an unexpected sense of home despite the huge distance separating the two.  We stayed with a lovely woman who gave us great info for all the best things to see in her city: the Oslo Opera House (of course!), the islands in the surrounding area, the Vigeland Sculpture Park, the Akershus Fortress, and several interesting museums.  We tried our best and saw the majority of the list in just two days!  Of course, we could have stayed much longer…. [Read More]

Stockholm, Sweden – The Vasa Museum

Old Town Stockholm

I think our good weather streak ran out by the time we reached Stockholm, the next leg on our Scandinavian adventure.  For our entire stay, it drizzled or poured rain, so we spent most of our time exploring the Vasa Museum (although we did take a quick jaunt through “Old Town”).  The Vasa Museum is the home to Vasa, an enormous viking ship that sank on her maiden voyage.  The ship was built in Stockholm in 1626 and set sail for the first time in 1628.  However, after only 1300 meters, Vasa tipped over, took on water, and sank in Stockholm’s harbor.  Attempts to raise the ship soon afterwards were fruitless.  In 1961, Sweden’s Navy, the National Maritime Museum, and a salvage company banned together to bring Vasa to the surface, some 333 years after it first sank.  The Navy moved the ship to its current location (in the museum) in 1988 and the Vasa Museum opened two years later.
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