Look for Signs

Part of being a seasoned traveller is learning to be observant and open to one’s surroundings. It’s not easy. All too often the sights, sounds and smells can become ovewhelming and processing one’s surroundings can be a difficult task. I’ve found that a small little practice that helps keep me in tune with my surroundings is keeping an eye out for amusing signage and grafiti. Part of the fascination comes from the power that language has on visual comprehension. The way a sign communicates a message through illustration can take on a whole other meaning and tone when cultural and linguistic context is absent. For example:

RoboCop Stop!

If you ever find yourself in Ljubljana and Robo Cop warns you to STOP!? You listen to Robo Cop.

Hold your pee?

In Plitvice National Park in the heart of Croatia, this area is reserved for people who are holding their pee while daydreaming about dumpsters.

Here it is totally acceptable to play in the street with out pants in oncoming traffic.

In the Julian Alps, it is totally acceptable to play in the street with out pants, in front of small children, in oncoming traffic.

Vrsic Sign NO!

Put your pants on, you’re in a pants zone!

Often, the best one’s are a translation error or bizarre association of words?

Take Asia Away!

Please! Munich Airport would like you to just take Asia away? Also, I love the woman unabashadly wearing the Brunhelda helmet.

SloWatch

I’m not sure a “SLO Watch” is a great brand name for watches. However, Slovenes do have their own time zone…

Sexy Ice Cream

Our focus group found this flavor of ice cream to be very popular among the male population in Mostar, Bosnia.

At other times, you’re just flat out bewildered…

Babysit Dating Versailles

Nothing sounds more intimate and romantic than taking someone else’s kids out together! I would have expected more from the French Aristocracy…

 

Pro Dance Gangster Show

I’ll always regret missing out on Compton Dance.

Owls are not racists, but white pride!

So, let me make sure I’m getting this right: The owls in Ljubljana may seem racists but they aren’t, but they are into white pride?

Baby whisky

Wait, Rouen. You have it out of order. First comes whiskey, THEN comes foetus and then baby. #HealthScienceGraduate

 

Redskins New York?

Although they are relatively unknown in their home country, the New York Redskins have quite the following in Strasbourg! Still not sure what sport they play…

Sometimes it’s seemingly offensive or trite?

Child Care on Tuesdays

It’s nice to know that Cal State East Bay provides adequate childcare for students on campus. Except on Mondays.

Housewives Market

I’ve been fortunate to have the priveledge of shopping here for nearly three years now!

Fou de Fa Fa Arles

Perhaps the inspiration for the Flight of the Concords melody. Or perhaps it’s a thing and I’m that ignorant. At any rate, enjoy a delicious meal here if your’e ever in Arles, France.

In the heart of Strasbourg. Also home to the European Union!

In the heart of Strasbourg. Also home to the European Union!

McDonald's Stars of America!

Sorry Kardashians and Honey Boo Boo. The rest of the world knows where it’s at.

And sometimes you’ll get unsolicited advice.

Keep on Skanking!

Keep on skanking, guys! You can do this!

Salsa Fits my life

So true. But then sometimes, after too much, Salsa doesn’t fit my pants.

Capitalism you are driving me crazy!

XOXO?

Some require not caption at all.

San Francisco, CA.

San Francisco, CA.

Bled, Slovenia

Bled, Slovenia

Apple=Jabolko

Maribor, Slovenia

Starwilly's Cafe Trieste

Ahhh! You got me, Trieste!

Some know your soul.

Time to Eat

When isn’t it time to eat? – Seattle, WA.

Unlimited Milk? This party is gonna be off the hook!

Unlimited Milk? This party is gonna be off the hook- Ljubljana, Slovenia

As far as Cults go, this one seems fairly harmless. - Bayeux, France in Normandy

As far as cults go, this one seems fairly harmless. – Bayeux, France in Normandy

I’m rusty on my Greek and Aramaic. And Hungarian. And by rusty, I mean, I know nothing. But, I hope to add to this quirky collection in the coming weeks. In the mean time, please share yours with me!

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.

http://www.budapest.com/w/promoart/promo_999_en.jpg

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.

http://www.dsp.toronto.edu/~oracle/hellas/images/islands/crete/knossos.jpg

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.

http://www.santoriniholidaycars.com/images/central_banner_photos/Santorini-car-hire-rental/santorini_d_1.jpg

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.

http://www.parishotelephesus.com/imaj/14.jpg

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.

Once More With Feeling

Sadly, I don’t have a solid track recrod when it comes to blogging. None the less, why don’t we give this old blog thing a try again?

It’s July and so far 2013 has been an eventful year. Firstly, I now have two degrees and am heading towards a third. Last month I completed my second baccalaureate program in Health Sciences at California State East Bay (really it’s still Cal State Hayward to me). By the end of September I will have submitted my application to San Jose State University¬† for their MS program in Nutrition and Food Science. Onwards and upwards!

We’ve also acquirred a new family member. It’s silly to phrase it that way since she’s been a member of the family for nearly as long as I have. Jeff and Laura tied the knot last weekend in La Jolla and hosted a stellar party. The bride and groom were lovely, the food delectable, the company fabulous and now I am certain there is some excellent blackmail footage of me trying to dance.

Chris and I decided to embrace our invetiable elderly ways and have taken up gardening. We’re still in the rough patch of planning but the dead tree is long gone and we have since planted a small herb garden, tomatoes, an etrog tree and a lemon tree. This weekend we will retrain the morning glory to a trellis and plant our lime trees. In the mornings, we sit outside and watch the birds engage in aerial combat over the birdseed and hummingbird feeders that Chris has carefully hung to our pear trea. I named a scrub jay, Asshole, because he is one to the other birds. He also eats the catfood that we leave out for the stray cat that’s been a midnight visitor to our sliding glass door in our bedroom.

And to save the best for last for this post, Chris and I are about to embark on a 5 week trip to Europe. Our initial itinerary consisted of a whirlwind tour of Greece and the Aegean Coast of Turkey up to Istanbul. However, because Barra needs Chris in Budapest, we are incorporating a week and a half there before we head out to Athens. That being said, the planning of this trip has pretty much commandeered most of my time.

So, with that, I’ll get back to the travel planning and stay tuned for shennanigans!

Happy Cousins Day, everyone!