Posts Tagged With: Croatia

Final Reflections on Dubrovnik

Hello from Munich! Land of glockenspiels, ratskellars, lederhosen and haufbrau houses. We’ve closed the door on Dubrovnik and we’re ready to explore this German city, but before all that, we thought just one more post on our last beautiful stop was needed. Partially because we’ve gotten a handful of e-mails and comments asking about Dubrovnik and partially because we took so many quality pictures, many of them are worth passing along.

Between daily stops at our new favorite bar and long dinners, we certainly tried to make the most of our time in Dubrovnik. We managed to make our way over to Fort Lovrijenac situated just across from the more well-known Old City. The 16th century fort was mostly empty of other visitors (the half-awake guard told us many are deterred by the steps needed to climb up to the fort) so the four of us had the place to ourselves along with a small handful other intrepid explorers. Much like Old City, the Fort was in immaculate shape and you’re encouraged to walk all over it. In fact, we decided that the fort rivaled the city wall tour in views, appeal and general awesomeness. It helped our budget that our ticket for the wall tour also let us into the fort. Each corner, much like Dubrovnik as a whole, brought another angle with another tremendous view. Running around, we felt like protectors of the city, scanning the ocean for any possible enemy ships. All we found was a small, party sailboat; not really worth breaking out the hot oil and cannons.

Later in the day, we took the Dubrovnik Cable Car,or funicular if you’re feeling European and fancy, to the top of Mt. Srd. The ride was only about three and a half minutes long, but the reward at the top was the ability to feel like you’re above it all. As a bonus, we were there just as the sun set over the city and the sea. It was a magical, serene and perhaps even spiritual moment. Not every day you get a sunset like that and one of the best I’ve seen on the trip. Even cooler when you have some friends to share it with.

We ran into a little bit of rain along the way, but somehow it only made the city look better. I know we’re wearing our love for Dubrovnik on our sleeve, but it was a little bit of a thrill every time we crossed the gates back into Old City. At one point, John proclaimed his disbelief at what a white, glimmering city Dubrovnik is. And Jack said we had unlimited, Mediterranean bliss.  After three days, we were still seeing new parts of the city. We suggest you book your flights down to this part of the world now. Actually, on second thought…don’t. We kind of want to keep this gem just to ourselves.

-Phil

Feel free to click to enlarge any of the pictures to get the full effect…

Church for Old City

Check out Dubrovnik In Detail!

Another amazing shot of Dubrovnik

High above it all

What a way to end a day

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Categories: Churches, City Visits, Croatia, Eastern Europe | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

Z is for Zagreb

One final photos of lovely dubrovnikSalutations from Zagreb! Well, to be precise, hello from the sleeper cabin of a Munich bound train at the Zagreb Train Station. Brooke and I are settling in and prepping for an overnight journey to Germany. For me, one of the coolest aspects about this trip has been continually finding myself in interesting places like Zagreb, Croatia. Sometimes I look around, smile and shake my head bemused by the fact that I’m in a city that I couldn’t even spell three months ago.

Today we we’re just passing through Zagreb. We’ve managed to see such legendary landmarks as the famous airport, the beloved bus station and, of course, historic Glavni Kolodvor – AKA the train station. I’m exaggerating, but not by much. After our flight landed from Dubrovnik, we only had a few hours in town and we spent a good chunk of that time at a couple of cafes. It was a good opportunity to order some tea and hop online to tackle some traveling business such as booking rooms for upcoming days and determining how best to spend our time in Munich. It is worth noting that the weather changed on us quite quickly today! We seem to have left the seaside breezes with unseasonably warm temperatures behind and stepped right into the brisk days of late fall. I really have come to enjoy these travel days which are kind of like “off days” from enveloping ourselves in a city and new experiences. Tramping around newly discovered train stations and airports with my wife is quickly becoming on of my favorite pass times.

Brooke and I certainly weren’t in Zagreb long enough to gain any type of accurate impression, but we did like what managed to see. Near the city center, there are several pedestrian only boulevards alive with shops and restaurants. In fact, almost ever city we’ve visited has at least some sort of small walking streets bustling with activity. Makes me wish that more cities back in the states had something like that. In Zagreb, however, there was a pedestrian street with a pair of street car tracks running directly down the center. No gates, no signs and no raised curbs. Just speeding street cars. I’m sure the locals are used to it, but it made us think that there may be no Croatian translation for the phrase “Safety First.”. We also had a fantastic success rate with helpful clerks, postal workers, information booth people and more today. Usually, it’s a mixed bag of helpfulness and annoying there’s-nothing-I-can-do shrugs, but today the assistance we received was pretty stellar across the board. We even manage to make use of the Croatian Post office at the tiny Zagreb Airport. These occasional post office stops have been handy to for occasional drops of souvineers, books and more into packages that slowly travel back home. One less thing to carry and one less thing to worry about losing or breaking.

One of the nicer ones that we've seen lately!

The Zagreb Train Station

Brooke rocking it at the Croatia Post OfficeWe arrived at the train station well in advance of our scheduled departure. So far, booking train travel has been a bit like a delicious breakfast buffet – you never know what you’re going to get. No matter how in depth I search online, I am never able to nail down what the price is going to be until we show up at the ticket window. It’s always worked out though. And today was no exception. When we asked how much two tickets would be to Munich, the ticket agent let us know that two coach seats would be $230 total. However, they were “running a special today” and if we book a two-person sleeper, the cost would only be $208. Wait, what? While that seems to makes no sense, we aren’t ones to argue with fuzzy Zagreb math so we jumped on it. So, we’re now settling into a comfy room that’s doubling as our transportation and accommodation for the evening. By far, the best train car yet of our European travel. While prepping for the trip, I had dreams of grand, romantic European trains and only now are they starting to come to fruition. This nice and modern sleeper is full of nifty gadgets developed in the spirit of efficiency and functionality. The smoke filled, lumpy beds of our Bucharest sleeper train have been substituted for various knobs, charging sockets, a sink, hooks, large mirror, thingamabobs and more. The conductor even stopped by with a couple of bottles of complimentary water. I think I’m going to enjoy this train ride. Just don’t let those pesky border control agents in Slovenia and Germany interrupt my slumber. Ah, these are good days. Dovidjenja Croatia, guten tag Munich!

–Phil

Our train car for our ride to Munich!

Categories: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Near Perfection

I've got my flippy-floppies on.Visiting Dubrovnik has been near perfection.  I know that sounds a bit extreme, but it is true.  This paradise in the Adriatic Sea has been relaxing, beautiful and affordable.  Although often mobbed by cruise passengers during the day, being here during the off season has thinned the crowds and made this an idyllic experience.

Look at that shoreI would have been truly happy just sitting on the terrace looking out at the passing boats, kayakers and swimmers, but there are plenty of activities to occupy our time away from the apartment.  Having already walked the city’s walls and explored much of what is housed inside Old Town, we thought today we should venture out onto the water.  Dubrovnik has a plethora of water activities, including snorkeling, scuba diving, sea kayaking and island hopping tours.  Because we have very little time here, we didn’t want to spend the whole day dedicated to one activity such as a three island tour, so we opted for a 50-minute cruise along the shore of Dubrovnik which also goes around a nearby island turned national park.  It seems each time we turn a corner or get another perspective on the city, the views are even more beautiful.  As we cruised the shoreline, we glimpsed people taking a dip in the sea or enjoying a drink at bars just outside the city walls.  Sailing around the island, we saw caves begging for exploration and natural private shelves in the rock where people could sunbathe wearing nothing but a little SPF.  We neared the shore and spotted a group of kayakers jumping from a cliff into the beautiful blue water.  All around us people radiated happiness and relaxation.  After spending ten days constantly on the go in Turkey, our friends Jack and Jon were thrilled to end their vacation in this way.

The beach in the rocks – only accessible by kayak and complete with cliff divers!

Scattered among the rocks, you can see our bar.

After sailing the high seas, we decided we couldn’t let our last day pass without heading to our favorite bar one more time.  As a bar (drinks, service, music), Cafe Bar Bard is relatively average, really.  Nothing out of the ordinary.  And yet this is probably the most extraordinary bar I’ve been to.  Chairs settle on rocks, while people lay around in swimsuits, occasionally jumping in for a swim.  However, it is the view which makes this place so wonderful.  Save a few boats and a nearby island, there is nothing but wide-open sea as far as the eye can see.  As it turned darker with clouds, Jon kept taking photo after photo amazed at how the sky kept changing its shape and form, each time a bit more beautiful.

It is not only the natural beauty that entrances visitors to Dubrovnik.  The city itself has white marble streets and buildings making it seem like something from a movie set or a painting.  The marble literally sparkles at night and we all wonder if it secretly gets buffed when no one is around. It certainly has marks of age and wear from pedestrians trampling on it for centuries, but considering the age of the construction, it is remarkable how well it has held its beauty.  The perfect setting for any wedding, we were not surprised when we saw two wedding couples  getting photos and celebrating their nuptials.  Our Air BnB host, Boris, informed us that  getting married in Dubrovnik has become quite popular and people come from all over the world to say “I do” in this beautiful place.  Of course, this has not always been the case.  Boris also shared stories about the war in 1991 when Croatia was attacked by the Yugoslav People’s Army.  He was here in Dubrovnik during a three month siege with no water, electricity or other resources. Boris watched the Old Town get bombed and saw the fortress at the top of the hill be destroyed.  The same fortress where, just last night, we watched a gorgeous sunset.  He spoke of this time with lingering amazement and recalled foraging the town gardens for food and spending $40 for 2 eggs to give his mother so she would not starve.  Knowing Dubrovnik was actively engaged in war 20 years ago makes it even more remarkable that it has restored itself to a beautiful marvel.

For our final night, we wanted to have a slow evening filled with wine, food and friends.  After getting kicked out of one restaurant because we were only going to order drinks, we combed through the menus trying to ignore the barrage of “barkers” trying to entice us to eat in their establishment.  We finally chose one and started our evening.  After finishing a bottle of wine, we decided on some appetizers.  The friendly staff and tempting food at the next table convinced us to stay for dinner rather than moving on to another option.  We are glad we did.  The food was good, not great, but the atmosphere was warm and inviting.  Our server brought us delicious bread with “Dalmatian” Sauce which is not made from cute, spotted dogs but  rather a combination of olive oil, parsley and garlic.  Yum.  We were even offered blankets as the evening chilled and the rain began to set in.  A nice long meal with drinks and dishes slowly being served in a great setting. All in all, it was a perfect end to a perfect day in this perfect city.

Now we must say goodbye to our friends as they head back home to real life.  It was really wonderful to spend time with Jack; it was like having a little piece of home here with us in Croatia.  Tomorrow, we board our return flight to Zagreb then grab the overnight train to Munich, Germany.  Time is moving so quickly and we are trying to savor every moment.  Luckily, we have no shortage of beautiful photographs to help us recall our experiences here and elsewhere.

–Brooke

Jack enjoying his wine over our last dinner in Dubrovnik

A look at the gleaming marble of the old city at night. Beautiful!

One of our views of Old Town. Yeah, this might be going on the cover of our Round The World photo book!

Categories: City Visits, Croatia, Destinations, Eastern Europe, Eating, Friends, Reflections, Relaxing, Surprises, Unusual Experiences | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Delightful Dubrovnik

Croatian BeautyHello from Dubrovnik, Croatia! Our traveling crew has temporarily expanded to four once again. Brooke and I were joined by our good friend Jack from NYC and his buddy Jon. Both have been traveling in Turkey for the last 10 days and we had planned in advance a rendezvous in Croatia. And now we find ourselves soaking up Dubrovnik. This seaside town is packed so full of amazing beauties that I’m really at a loss of where to begin today. From walking over the ancient city walls to enjoying beers at a bar directly on the Adriatic to watching the sunset from the top of Mt. Srd, this gem of a place is simply sensational. In the short time we’ve been here so far, we’ve chalked up a number of incredible experiences. I know that this may sound like I’m being glib or just plain lazy, but words and photos can’t really do this place justice. To say that we have been swept off our feet by this city is an understatement.

After visiting a variety of European capitals from Bucharest to Budapest over the last few weeks, Dubrovnik was a departure for the size and scene of the town alone. But we didn’t fully know what we were getting into before arriving. I’ve never quite seen a place like Dubrovnik before in the sense that you have a small range of tall mountains which just roll almost right down into the sea. Along the way, the sloping hills are dotted with houses and roads. And at the bottom of these hills, beaches and harbors spit out directly into a bay dotted with islands. This area has geography that is unique and striking.

Delightful DubrovnikBut the real highlight is the historic, walled old city that sits directly between the foot of the mountains and the coast of the sea. We’re not talking some random, partial ruins of walls from an era past. No, this is a compact city of hundreds of building surrounded by a massive intact wall. The impact of it all is amazing. The old city makes for the perfect setting for a slow amble through the pedestrian only, marble streets allowing us to gawk and stare at each new storefront, set of stairs or building entrance. It would also make the perfect setting for the ultimate game of hide and seek, capture the flag or even paintball (if you don’t mind ruining the beautiful, clean walls). More accurately, the low roofs, sloping tiles and endless stairs are the perfect playground for cats. Which neatly explains the number of stray cats at every turn. We’re pretty sure that one cat made its way to Zagreb years ago and started saying to other feline friends, “Dude, you have got to check out this place down the coast.” Hey, better stray cats than stray dogs.

Old City, and the rest of the area, is apparently an incredibly popular vacation destination although it seems to be off the radar for many Americans like Brooke and me. The town does tend to get swallowed by cruise ship passengers during the mid-morning and afternoons. A waiter told us that a couple of years ago, Dubrovnik had a day in which nine cruise ships were docked at once. Apparently, the increasing number of visitors has caused some issues, but there seems to be plenty of bars, restaurants,shops, museums and room enough for all. However, given the sometime geriatric nature of cruise passengers, the endless steps scattered throughout the city could pose a challenge for anyone who can’t hang with hiking up 100-200 steps in a given afternoon.

Walking along the best part of DubrovnikAmong the “can’t miss” activities is forking over a few Croatian kuna to walk the entire circumference of the outside city wall that towers above the rest of the city center. It took the four of us a couple of hours to walk all the way around as we made sure to check out every nook and cranny along the way. The one-way walk around the wall, turrets and towers easily makes our list of one of the most beautiful sights on the trip so far. Talk about meeting and exceeding all expectations. Each new turn or set of stairs gave us another view and another angle to snap some photos (our cameras have gotten a lot of work over the last couple of days). Parts of the walls were built as far back as the 15th century but more recently the walls took a pounding during the Croatian War for Independence in the early 90’s. What’s even more remarkable is that while the old city endured three months of bombing virtually all of the damage has been replaced or repaired. In fact, our visit coincided with Croatia’s Independence Day (the same day as America’s Columbus Day), but aside from the sound of a distant marching band and some closed shops, you really would not have known today was a national holiday.

Sign found in the Old City leading us to the perfect barI’m not one for hyperbole or exaggeration, and maybe it’s the insanely perfect weather or full days, but I’m pretty sure that Dubrovnik is a strong contender for  being the most scenic, beautiful and awe-inspiring place  I’ve ever visited. Brooke would agree. Today was an excellent reminder of why we took this trip in the first place. Sometimes it’s all about trying your best to do what you want to be doing with your life. Who knows? You might find yourself at the perfect back drinking on the Adriatic.

-Phil

This is Happiness

Sights like this are common! Easy to spend hours just meandering and getting lost in old city.

Phil hanging out in Old City

Hands down, a bar with one of the most beautiful views in the world

The narrow streets behind the walls of Old City

Categories: Bars, City Visits, Croatia, Europe, Friends, Self Guided Tours, Surprises, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Sour Goodbyes and Gorgeous Hellos

St. Stehpen's at nightAt the crack of 4:30am, we woke up to get ready for our 6am train from Budapest to Zagreb, Croatia.  From there, we took a very short flight on Croatian Airlines to the coastal town, Dubrovnik.  Because today was primarily a travel day, we don’t have a lot to tell you.  However, I would like to share one good story and one lovely moment.

Whenever we leave a city, we try to have as little leftover cash as possible.  We have found it sometimes difficult to exchange certain currencies and so much is lost in the exchange that we’d rather spend it.  We’ve had mixed success in this endeavor, but in Budapest we did quite well–only 500 Hungarian forint in coins left.  That’s only about $2.25 so we felt it was a success.  However, we realized that is about 140 forint shy of the amount required for the metro ride we would be taking from the Hotel to the train station.  Phil was willing to risk it and go without a ticket, and even though I felt a little uneasy, I agreed.  (I should tell you that earlier in the week, Gina and Phil made fun of me relentlessly for being a “rule follower” and buying a metro ticket when they didn’t.  Phil said he was willing to risk it because he thought it was only about an $8.00 fine if we got caught.)  In this case, Phil figured since it was 5:30am on a Saturday and we were only going three stops we would be fine.  Although I didn’t love the idea of cheating the system, I agreed Phil was probably right and we boarded the arriving train sans ticket.

Stunning hilltop in budapestWe arrived at our stop without incident and thought we were in the clear.  Not so fast!  As we joined the line to board the ascending escalator, we noticed a large group of people checking tickets.  I blame the early hour and our surprise for our inability to think quickly and jump back on the train or avoid the inspectors in some other way.  So, when they asked for our ticket, I showed them a 24 hour pass we purchased 2 days before.  Knowing it wouldn’t work, I tried to blame it on a language misunderstanding between me and the original woman who sold us the ticket.  She wasn’t buying it.  She vehemently pointed to the 24-hour description of the ticket and the date so clearly written on top.  Knowing it was hopeless, I relented and asked how much we owed for the fine. She immediately responded, “8000 forint, per person.”  Sixteen-thousand forint total!  That was almost 80 bucks! What happened to the $8.00 ticket Phil expected?  Irritated and immediately regretting my decision to join with my rule-breaking husband, I asked if they would accept a credit card.  Of course, they did not.  She would have accepted euros, but we didn’t have that either.  So while Phil stayed trying to beg and fruitlessly plead with the ticket control agent, I sped up the two escalators and several steps to find the nearest ATM.  We paid, got a receipt and apologized (all the while Phil was still trying to convince her not to give us the ticket).  Walking away defeated, Phil felt terrible and completely responsible.  I’d like to blame him completely, but I’m a grown-up and I could have bought my own ticket if I really wanted to.  I just chose to go along with him this time. Next time I’ll think twice.  (On a side note, the only other people who did not have tickets were other tourists heading to the train.  Coincidence?  I think not!)

Dubrovnik by airAfter loving Budapest so much, the ticket incident left us with a sour departure, but it was our own fault and a hard lesson learned.  Luckily, we were able to shake it off and enjoy a lovely moment later in the day which I’d also like to share.  The Croatia Airlines plane ride from Zagreb to Dubrovnik is a short 40 minutes from take-off to touchdown.  All in all, it is less than an hour on the airplane.  Exhausted, we both fell asleep almost immediately.  Phil sleeps like a baby on planes, but it is more difficult for me and I wake up much more often.  As we were nearing Dubrovnik, I awoke to see beautiful mountains outside our window.  Feeling that we were descending, I woke Phil so he could enjoy the view before we landed.  It was spectacular.  All around we saw huge mountains and rolling hills.  The plane tipped its wings to make a turn and we saw the coast of the Adriatic Sea.  At seeing this beautiful sight, there was an audible gasp from the passengers on the plane.  The mountains and ocean seemed to extend all around us.  It was amazing, but we started to question where we would land.  Except for the water, there was no extended flat space in sight.  Luckily our pilot skillfully found the runway and landed us safely among the mountains.  Since Dubrovnik’s airport is quite small, we were not surprised when we exited the plane down the steps and onto the tarmac.  Once there, we were thrilled to be hit with the most gorgeous view from any airport we’ve been to.  Passengers immediately started snapping photos, trying to capture this picturesque landscape.  This lovely welcome ensured us that our time here would be wonderful.

Croatian Tarmac

Part of the awesome view from our terrace in Dubrovnik!

Now we enjoy discovering this beautiful seaside town and await the arrival of our friend, Jack.  We aren’t sure what we’ll do tomorrow because we don’t want to discover too much before Jack gets here.  I’m sure we’ll find something awesome to occupy our time.  Actually, I’d be perfectly  happy sitting on our terrace and staring out at the Adriatic Sea with a glass of wine all day long!

–Brooke

Categories: City Visits, Croatia, Customs, Destinations, Eastern Europe, Flights, Friends, Hungary, Landmarks, Rail, Surprises, Trains, Transportation, Uncategorized, Unusual Experiences | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 9 Comments

Mummified Hand of a Saint and Hot Baths in Budapest!

With one last day in Budapest, Brooke and I hit a couple of remaining “can’t misses” that were still on our list. One of those was a visit to the nearby St. Stephen’s Basilica. The Roman Catholic church is a prominent feature of the Budapest skyline and just around the corner from our hotel. It’s true, we’ve seen a bunch of churches so far throughout Europe. It’s almost hard not to; they are often the most stunning, old buildings in town and encourage visitors to swing by for free. Each of these cathedrals really has been worth checking out so far. In other words, we’re pacing ourselves with visits and we’re not nauseatingly tired of them yet.  St. Stephen’s stood out because it has one of the larger, more gilded domed interiors we’ve seen. The nave and transepts (oh, that’s right) are loaded with statues, paintings and lots of natural light. The church offered more of a tranquil, relaxing vibe than some of the darker Russian Orthodox complexes. We decided to spend a few forint on a 302 step climb up spiral staircases to the outside walkway that circles the dome. Our reward for the walk up? One of the best views of the city from what has to be the highest points on the Pest side. We walked a narrow platform around the edge of the dome which is actually much higher than the church itself; the dome is empty inside with the actual roof of the church peeking out a bit below. It was the perfect place to break out the camera and just enjoy this magnificent moment. And, yeah, we took the elevator back down.

Brooke and Phil On top of Budapest!

St. Stephen's Right Hand.All of that was really fantastic, but that’s not what made our visit to St. Stephen’s remarkable. Yesterday, if you had asked us about the strangest thing we’ve seen on the trip, it would have to be the enshrined, dead body of Ho Chi Minh in Hanoi. But after today, I think we have a strong contender to take that title: the mummified right hand of St. Stephen. Stephen, who died over a thousand years ago in 1038, was the first king of Hungary and, as you might imagine, kind of a big deal around Budapest. So, clearly, what better way to honor him than to display his hand in a ridiculously ornate, jewel encrusted carrying case located in a chapel that’s part of the basilica. To make things more interesting, you have to pay a church worker a couple of bucks to turn on the light in the case so that visitors can get a better look. Yup, that’s a shriveled, decomposing old hand and it is a prized possession of Hungary. We’re told that this kind of thing (finger of a nun, toe of a priest) can be found from time to time in European churches. Wow.

Many people told us that a trip to Hungary is not complete without a visit to the famous hot baths fueled by local hot springs. Since we’re not ones to argue with the masses, we made an evening trip out to the Szechenyi Baths. A quick metro ride on Europe’s older underground Subway system got us out there quickly. It was easy to follow the small crowd to the sprawling complex. These particular baths have been popular with locals and tourists for about a hundred years. The collection of yellow buildings at Szechenyi is, not surprisingly, just as lovely as anything else in Budapest. The main outdoor heated pool was closed, but there was a perfect spot waiting for us at one of the inside pools. Sitting around the edge of the shallow pool with water around a hot 102 degrees Fahrenheit, I found the time in the water relaxing, inspiring, reflective and fun. We had a similar experience in Rotorua, New Zealand. I’m not so sure about the supposed healing powers of the water, but nothing beats a good soak. We ended the night with a dinner at a local pub for British & American ex-pats and one, final lovely and romantic walk along the Danube and down the Chain Bridge. Just…perfect.

The Royal Palace on the “Buda” side at night. Man, I can’t believe my camera captured this. What a photogenic city!

So, as we pack our bags and snag some of the fine toiletries from the hotel bathroom, we put beautiful Budapest in our rear view mirror. Our whirlwind tour of Europe continues! We can place thumbtacks on our imaginary map of locales we’ve visited since early September: Denmark, sundry day-stops at four Baltic capitals, Romania, Bulgaria, Serbia and now Hungary. Where does the biggest adventure yet go from here? Our next stops include Croatia (Dubrovnik and Zagreb), Germany (Munich) and ten days in Scotland and England. Since it’s worked quite well for us so far, we’re traveling with only a loose outline and general idea of what we might want to do. Plan or not plan, our gut and experience tell us that it’s probably going to be pretty great. We welcome and encourage any suggestions, input or comments on what we should do in these place! Let us know! For now, we’re going to hop on a six hour train ride leaving beautiful Budapest behind and heading down to Croatia. New passport stamps await.

-Phil

Some of the amazing detail inside of Saint Stephen’s. We found these two statues particularly stunning.

Our farewell photos from Budapest!

The top of the dome at St. Stephen’s that we walked around! Look closely and you can see the walkway!

Categories: At Night, Churches, City Visits, Diversions, Eastern Europe, Europe, Exploring, Hungary, Relaxing, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Getting Vaccinated

Not surprisingly, prepping for this big trip of a lifetime has required a fair amount of effort, planning and time. Working hard to take four months off has been our marching orders over the last few weeks. One of the more important chores on our to do list is making sure that we’re set on all the vaccines, immunizations , booster shots, and anything else needed when you’re doing a bit of globe hopping. Ensuring we’re set for healthy travel has ended up being one of the more time-consuming but incredible necessary rigmaroles thus far.

We both have the same general physician: Dr. Jayson Park at Beth Israel Medical Center.  For years, Dr. Park has been attentive, helpful and just a quality Doctor to have in your corner. After a few comprehensive conversations and a thorough review of the countries and regions we’re visiting, Dr. Park was able to prescribe a small battery of shots and oral medications. While there were some risks in rural parts of Argentina and Croatia, it really is our planned visits to China and Vietnam that got us. If not for those two countries, it looks like we could have bypassed this hassle and cost altogether. As it is, below is what the doctor ordered:

  • Typhoid vaccine: Oral prescription for four days and good for  four years. Easy enough.
  • Adult Polio booster. Learned that shots when you’re a child are apparently not enough.
  • Hepatitis A vaccine series:  Two shot series.  One now and the second booster in six months.  First shot is to takes care of us now and gives us sweet, sweet immunity for travel.  Second shot is to get lifelong immunity.
  • Japanese encephalitis:  For the risk that we’ll have in Vietnam.
  • Ciprofloxacin. Unique, international food will likely sometimes give us a bit of traveler’s diarrhea. Symptoms include acute abdominal pain, nausea, diarrhea and lots of Phil whining. Should help immensely and immediately.

Much to our chagrin, our insurance (and apparently most insurance plans) cover very little of this. Our costs may total $300 + a person. But the other option is, you know, running the outside risk of getting Typhoid. And that doesn’t sound like much fun at all. For those curious, we apparently don’t need a Malaria Prophylaxis, Rabies Shot or Yellow Fever vaccine at all. Hooray!

There is a lot to get excited for in planning this trip, but there are certainly some pain-in-the-ass-realities like this we’re working to tackle as well. Hoping they give us a delicious lollypop after our shots.

Categories: Health, Medical, Trip Prep | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

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