Our Korean Adventure Begins!

At 10 weeks, Stella finally started feeling better.  We changed her acid reflux medicine to first-omeprazole/Prilosec, which is a bit stronger and ended up working a lot better.  She seemed to finally calm down and I felt good enough about it to make the plunge (i.e. agree to take an infant on a 14 hour plane ride across the Pacific to go see dad).  I heard a lot of “wow, you’re brave” and “that’s crazy” and “that’s a really long flight,” all of which I can understand.  However, as a military family, you have to be willing to do some things that aren’t incredibly easy.  I’m not going to lie….  I gave myself a lot of pep-talks and told myself that if the flight went absolutely terrible, it was only one day of my life.  I was pretty terrified that I was going to be on a flight with a screaming baby for who knows how long and everyone was going to hate me.  However, I put on my big girl pants and I got all my paperwork in order to take the military “rotator” or “Patriot Express” (great name, right?) from Seattle to South Korea…. [Read More]

Iberian Road Trip – Segovia and Valencia

The Alcázar from below

We made some ground through Spain on our last few days.  We traveled to Segovia, yet another UNESCO World Heritage site, which has a towering Roman aqueduct.  After a quick stop in Madrid to drop off the rental car, we took the train to our last stop, Valencia, home to Santiago Calatrava’s City of Art and Sciences complex.  Oh, and there was some paella in the mix, some really good paella.

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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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Rounding-out August – Hannover, Kassel & Ingolstadt, Germany

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This post is a little late, but Bobby and I rounded out our big August Scandinavian trip by stopping in northern/central Germany.  Unfortunately, we haven’t had a lot of opportunity to travel in Germany, so we were excited to see more of the area.  First stop – Hannover.  Although the city has medieval origins, most of Hannover was destroyed by Allied bombing during WWII.  In fact, more than 90% of the city center was destroyed in 88 bombing raids.  We took a walking tour and indulged in some tasty pretzels before heading down to Kassel, Germany to spend the night.  We rounded out our trip by taking in the Audi Museum in Ingolstadt.  … [Read More]

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]

Denmark – Venturing into Scandinavia

Castle and sculpted hedges

This may sound incredibly inane, but the two things that I took away from Denmark were 1) Danish people are really blond (blonder than Swedes!) and 2) every person in Copenhagen must own a bike (I think there were more bikes than Amsterdam!)  On this leg of our trip, we continued on our journey from Germany to Denmark, stopping in Odense and then Copenhagen.  This was our first time in Scandinavia, and we were really excited to see the area, since we’d heard such high praises from multiple sources.  Luckily, Denmark didn’t let us down (….well, other than everything being really expensive, but that’s a given in the Nordic countries)!  :)… [Read More]

A Weekend in Berlin

Old Eastern Bloc car breaking through the wall

Berlin has been on my “top places to visit” list ever since we moved to Europe.  We had the opportunity to spend a weekend in Berlin with our friends the Senkowskis (OSC ’12) and it exceeded all our expectations.  At first glance, we were impressed by its size, its large public transportation network, and the accessibility to international food. (Chinese, Middle Eastern, Indian food anyone?)  Although it is a very trendy city with its modern art and architecture and hipster-clad 30-somethings, it is also deeply rooted in history.  There may well be a WWII museum on every corner.  I found the juxtaposition between new and old refreshing; it seemed as though the city embraced its past, but aimed to make a splash in the future.

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Cascata delle Marmore

cascata

The Cascata delle Marmore, or Waterfall of Marmore, is a man-made waterfall created by ancient Romans.  It falls over 165 meters (541 feet) over three “shelves,” making it one of the tallest in Europe and the largest man-made waterfall in the world.  Located near Terni, in the southern part of the Umbria region, the waterfall is definitely an amazing little (big!) gem of the region.  The area has been turned into a park/tourist attraction, with several walking paths winding its way up and around the waterfall.  They built a tunnel with a “lover’s balcony” jutting out over the cascade (which is currently under construction) and are in the process of creating a botanical garden…. [Read More]

London(‘s) Calling

Iconic double-decker

We took a puddle jumper from Dublin to London and stayed for three days in the big city.  British friends told us horror stories about the weather, but for three straight days, the weather more than cooperated.  Ab-so-lute-ly perfect.  So much so that Bobby sunburned his face and our Italian friends couldn’t believe it happened in London. We set off on foot and saw as much of the city as we could – the Tower of London, London Eye, Big Ben, Westminster Abbey – just to name a few.  After over seven miles of trekking through the city streets, we were exhausted, but rewarded ourselves by indulging in one of my favorite desserts – sticky toffee pudding (or abbreviated STP if you are Bobby and you can’t handle me talking about it relentlessly!)  Bobby and I capped off our trip by attending the Lion King (for our 4th wedding anniversary!)  We agreed it was the best live show we had ever seen.  I’m going to admit, I kind of fell in love with London.  Maybe it was the wonderful weather or maybe it was the STP.  Okay, most likely the STP…. [Read More]

The West Coast is the Best Coast

Pastoral land

Bobby always says that the “west coast is the best coast” and in Ireland (okay, and in the US) I can agree!  After tackling the whole driving on the left side of the road thing, the four of us – Bobby, me, and my parents – piled into our rental van (yes, we rented a Euro minivan) and we set off for the Irish countryside. It was about a 4 1/2 hour from Belfast to Kylemore Abbey near the west coast of Ireland and we have never seen so many sheep in our lives!  We were not disappointed with the rolling green hills, little while houses dotting the landscape, or the hospitable nature of the Irish people.  From the abbey, we drove south to the famed Ring of Kerry, where we saw more beautiful (and surprisingly very diversified) landscapes.  … [Read More]