Travel Traditions: Our Calling Cards

One of the things that I adore most about travel is the opportunity to lose yourself in a new culture, environment and unfamiliar surroundings. When you’ve lived your whole life with in driving distance of the hospital you were born in, that sense of wonder with all things new is a rare experience. Still, we can’t help but leave our mark. Since we have joined our nomadic ways, Chris and I have created a little tradition that I’ve dubbed our Calling Cards.

If you’ve ever visited a museum or tourist attraction, you’ve probably come across a small plastic cube whereupon guests and visitors are encouraged to donate what ever currency they can to maintenance and upkeep of the site/museum/attraction you have just enjoyed. We are always conscienscious of contributing our fair share but we’ve also incorporated some local Bay Area hijinks.

At Predjamski Grad in Slovenia, 2009

At Predjamski Grad in Slovenia, 2009

At Bled Castle in Slovenia 2012

At Bled Castle in Slovenia 2012

For what ever reason, it amuses us that someone else from the Bay Area, may chance upon our far and away shenanigans and feel briefly connected to the familiar and almost forgettable institutions of home. We don’t limit ourselves to BART cards alone. Unfortunately I was unable to find pics of our tradition practiced in France of 2011, but I can tell you that it was a generous monetary donation in the box at Notre Dame coupled with a Cal vs $tanfurd football ticket stub. Go BEARS!!!

We leave for our next adventure shortly and as we dutifully pack and re-pack our carry-ons (finally getting better at the not over-packing thing) and check off our lists, I’ve remembered to set aside this year’s accoutrement. Any other suggestions as to what I should add to our repetoire? Also, do you have any travel traditions? Please share!

What else should we add and leave behind?

What else should we add and leave behind?

 

 

Romance! Action! Adventure! Baklava!

I despereately wish I had the font and the rites to the Raiders of the Lost Ark typeface for my title, but alas I lack the skills and the know-how. The driving force behind this desire is my impending vacation with my beloved abroad. Where to, might you ask (and let’s just pretend you did ask because this is my blog and I do what I want!)?

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Very soon, we’ll embark on a very long and indulgent trip to Budapest (yay for me, work for Chris. I am spoiled, I know it.) to Greece and a grand finish in Turkey! It’s been many months of planning, coordination, saving and scrambling but here we are mere days away from departure and the thrill and anticipation is finally setting in. As such, I’ve repurposed this blog to serve as my travelogue for any interested in my musings and escapades abroad. So, basically this is for our parents and perhaps a few very supportive and enthusiastic friends.

We’ll be gone for a fairly extended period of time of 5 weeks, so many thanks to our house-sitters! I will devote the next few posts to the planning, intinerary and preparation but in the mean time I’ll share the rough outline.

Leg 1: Budapest, Hungary.

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Budapest stradeling the Danube.

What I’ll do here, I’m not yet sure. I plan on exploring every nook and cranny by day and meeting my very generous and hardworking husband for dinner and a peaceful evening together. I have found several tourist cooking courses, some day trips to Bratislava or Vienna. But, from what I can tell, Budapest is a vast and expansive city on it’s own and could easily command my full attention for the first leg of the trip.

Leg 2 Greece!

After Budapest, Chris and I fly to Athens, Greece to begin our real true vacation together. We’ll spend 4 days traipsing about this ancient city. We’ll explore The Plaka and the Ancient Agora. I am going to do my very best to wake my lazy self up early to watch the sun rise against the Acropolis and lose myself in the National Archeological Museum. There is so much more to see and explore and such will require further detail as I experience it first hand.

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Y’all know what this is, right?

After Athens, we’ll secure our rental car and begin a mini day-trip up to Delphi to see the site of the infamous oracle. We’ll continue our trip past around Athens through the gates of the Peloponnese to our next base-camp in Nafplio.  This beautiful coastal town will ground us as we spend mornings and afternoons exploring the nearby sites of Nemea, Mycenae, Epidavros, Mystras, and Ancient Olympia. Nemea is close to Chris’ heart as it’s the Cal sponsored dig that he studied when he was a Classics Major before switching to Math. Epidavros will be my most anticipated site as it is home to the infamous ancient theater which pioneered the beauty of artistic symmetry with incredible accoustics. I will restrain myself from being one of the tourists who sings or performs a Shakespeare soliloquy.

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Our base-camp, Nafplio in the evening.

We conclude our Peloponnese journey by dropping our car off at the airport in Athens and hopping a puddle jumper plane to the island of Crete to explore the Minoan ruins of Knossos.

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Minoan remains in Knossos.

We’ll enjoy the sea and surf as well before we hop on a hydrofoil and embark on a 2 hour ferry ride to the infamouse isle of Santorini. The plan here is to pretty much avoid a plan and enjoy the scenic and famous Agean sea against the striking white washed buildings that jut out and drape along the cliffs of the island.

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Calamari and retsina and that’s all I need.

Leg 3: Turkey!

Santorni will be the glorious finish to our Greecian adventure before we hop a flight to Izmir, Turkey. Here, Chris and I will spend three days exploring the Turkish side of the Aegean as well as enjoy a pilgramage to a holy site in Ephesus.

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Lastly, we’ll make a looooong bus journey north along the coast of Turkey and finish out our remaining days in Istanbul. Awaiting us will be the most exciting cultural and religious crossroads I’ve ever had the priveledge to encounter. The Hagia Sofia, The Sultan Ahmed Mosque (aka- The Blue Mosque), The Topkapi Palace and countless museums on archeology, art and religion. At this point, we will be exhausted and ready to come home and put down our roots for a time.

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Our final check in for this leg of the race.

That is just the rough outline. I’ll be updating this blog with more details and thoughts, musings and what ever else comes to mind. In the mean time, enjoy this ear worm that I have been plagued with since I began planning this trip in March.