Tuesday, July 26, 2011

A traveling we will go....

I haven't posted in a while, but I am just not as into this as I used to be ;)  Since my last post on Sicily, we have been to Macedonia to visit friends, I've been to Moldova again for work, and I am due to return to Moldova this forthcoming weekend - with a stopover in Bucharest (Romania) to do a little exploring.

It's hard traveling without the fam and missing little Ian so much.  I'd love to take them with me everywhere - and we do plan on taking Ian with us to many different places in our lifetimes!

Anyhow, I have lots of photos and some stories, but with my readership and lack of energy to do 2 blogs (we have one for Ian), I am considering to discontinue this one!  It was just to share a bit of news with friends and family, to let them know what I was up to over here and to show a bit of the world, but I had no idea it'd go on for 6+ years! :)

So, perhaps this is my last post...we'll see....I will just share my photos another way!

Friday, June 03, 2011

A short trip to Sicily

Al and Arno enjoying a beer in Monreale piazza

So, my brother is now a 1st Lieutenant in the Marines and on his 4th or 5th (?) deployment - this time aboard a ship, the USS Bataan - under NATO command for Libya.  Anyhow, they pulled into port in Palermo in Sicily, Italy last weekend.  As they are not allowed to disclose the dates and location until last minute, we only found out the details 2 days before we actually arrived. Fortunately, there were affordable flights to Sicily (Trapani) with the great budget airline Ryanair.

We had only a little bit of time with Al, since some stupid guys on the ship screwed up their free time on the Saturday, but we enjoyed the time we had anyway.  We took him and his friend, Jason, to a small mountainside town above Palermo, called Monreale.  Beautiful cathedral there.

Where we ate one evening. Freshly grilled fish and a possible mafioso sighting
Palermo is an ancient city and still largely mafia-controlled, but it's pretty nice.  Not your typical polished overly tourist Italian city.  Well, most Italian cities and towns are not that polished, but this one is even lesser so.  Palermo felt very authentically Italian to me.

All in all, a short but sweet trip.  I'd love to go back and travel to Mt. Etna!

Inside Cathedral of Monreale
Enjoy the rest of the photos by clicking here!!

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Copenhagen, Denmark - a delightful city

The only really busy place in Copenhagen

I don't normally use the word 'delightful' to describe anything, but Copenhagen is indeed just that. It's picturesque, not densely populated like Amsterdam, with a very laid back atmosphere - even more so than in Amsterdam.
Ian is chillin'

We took a roadtrip over the Easter holidays to visit our Danish friends, Ulla and Andreas. We had a 'delightful' time exploring the city, laying in the parks, eating traditional Danish foods and, of course, drinking some traditional Danish beers ;)  Ian was a great trooper, as usual, and maybe even learned some Danish along the way - 'tak' for thank you, and 'hi hi' for goodbye.

Tip to foodies out there: Copenhagen does boast the world's best restaurant now, Noma, beating out El Bulli in Spain.  Unfortunately, we did not have the pleasure of dining there, but maybe in the future ;-) 
cool modern angles
Check out more pics of our delightful trip to this delightful place!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Ungheni and Chisinau, Moldova

Moldova, Moldova....I don't think many people know about this country. I mean, I didn't until I started this job. It used to be part of Romania and the people speak Romanian (also called Moldovan, but it's not a separate language or dialect). Everyone understands Russian as well, and the older generation still speaks Russian as their main language.  There are many villages where the residents just communicate in Russian (!  Moldova gained independence from the Soviet Union in 1991 and a large percentage of people want to re-join with Romania (part of the European Union), however, that isn't very likely. For a more detailed account of the country's history, you can check wikipedia ;)

I only spent 4 days in Moldova on this trip, but I will be returning in June.  We support a project, called Fundatia Muncii, training youth in various skillsets/trades to find employment in a company, or to start their own businesses. Moldova is traditionally an agricultural country (including a long and noted history in viticulture - wine making), so the youth are often not really well-trained for other types of labor. There is also a large exodus of young people to Russia, Romania, and other countries, because the Moldovan economy is just so terrible.  In terms of GDP, it's the poorest in Europe (average monthly salary is around €150/month). There are poorer people on the planet, of course, but this is on the modern, European continent!

Anyhow, at first appearance, I thought the landscape was quite grim. Of course, the trees and flowers still had not blossomed and it was rainy, so the old delapidated communist high-rise buildings and factories of Ungheni and elsewhere, were quite depressing.  After a couple of days, however, I got to see more of the lovely countryside and, I dare say, it looks like Virginia.  At least, I could picture myself in Virginia as we were driving....rolling hills, vineyards, the trees, etc.  Have a look at the photos towards the end and see what you think.  Besides, the Moldovan people made the country appear much brighter with their sincere warmth and generosity (according to some experts I met who have traveled extensively throughout the former USSR, the Moldovan people are by far the nicest).

Well, that's it for an update.  I will be tasting more of the respectable wines on my next visit to the world's largest underground wine cellar, Milestii Mici!

Here are the rest of the photos!
*I didn't take our nice DSLR camera because I didn't want to lose it, so please bear with the less than perfect quality. ;)

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Hiatus soon to end...

After several months without travel (except to the States) due to the new addition to the family, I am happy to say, I will begin travelling again...perhaps not as frequently as before, but I suppose that's ok.

First trip will be work-related to Moldova, the first week in April.  Heading to a town called Ungheni (circled in green) just on the border with Romania in the west of the country.

The second forthcoming trip will be a roadtrip in April to Copenhagen, Denmark and perhaps a short visit to Malmo in Sweden! Yay!

We have other travels in mind for this year, but I will wait with saying anything about those!

I will post something more about Moldova soon!