For Jude, the best part of visiting Budapest was definitely going on a pony.  Jude and I were hanging out at a small petting zoo in City Park (while mom soaked in one of the city’s thermal baths nearby) when we saw a little girl (maybe 3 or 4) taking a pony ride.  Jude was captivated, but didn’t want to get too close as he has always been scared of large animals.  When she was finished, I told him, “Now it’s Jude’s turn.”  “No!” he screamed.  Sensing that he would have a change of heart, I picked him up while the screaming continued, and placed him on the pony.  I had to wave off the woman in charge who gestured in surprise that I would put a screaming child on top of her pony.  Sure enough, the screaming quickly subsided and Jude ended up loving the experience.  He talks about it still pretty much constantly, and even did a second ride to show mom how brave he had been after she got out of the bath. Continue reading »

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A stall at the Great Market Hall

Paprika is ubiquitous in Hungary, and comes in many different variations (certainly, many more than I’m used to seeing at home), from mild and sweet to very hot.  While visiting Budapest, we made three trips to the Great Market Hall and I spent a lot of time looking at the different kinds of paprika sold there.  I asked one vendor the difference between two types of spicy paprika she was selling, thinking it was the level of heat, and she told me instead that the peppers were grown in different areas of Hungary, each with its own unique flavor.

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Bliss and Jude on Museum Island

Before we arrived in Berlin, we read that it had recently become the third most visited city in Europe, ahead of Rome, but still behind London and Paris.  Now having seen it, we can see why. Continue reading »

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Jude on a boat tour of Copenhagen

Sometimes when you’re traveling, all of the stars align, and everything just works out – this was the case for our visit to Copenhagen. Continue reading »

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Arriving in Ängholm

Bliss and I are both huge fans of Stieg Larsson’s The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, which, in gripping fashion, tells the story of a Scandinavian family (the Vagners) living on a small, remote, and largely uninhabited island (Hedeby), whose members have been feuding with each other for decades.

What we didn’t know, until recently, was that I am also related to a Scandinavian family (the Pippings, who are Swedish-speaking Finns) living on a small, remote, and largely uninhabited island (Ängholm, Finland), whose members have been feuding with each other for decades. Continue reading »

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Jude in Helsinki

Helsinki is a parent’s dream.  Priority lines for people with strollers in the grocery store?  This is the type of thing I dreamed about as I maneuvered Brooklyn food aisles with a stroller, purse, gym bag, daycare bag and plastic basket brimming with dinner ingredients, all the while trying to avoid knocking anything over or taking anyone out.  Ahh, to then jump to the front of the line rather than standing, literally weighed down, while trying to entertain Jude as I waited to pay.  It almost seemed a selfish thought – having a child includes sacrifice, energy and patience – isn’t the supermarket struggle/juggle part of the deal?  Apparently it doesn’t have to be.  This utopia exists in Helsinki. Continue reading »

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Patrick, Patrick’s Mom, Leslie, & Jude on a boat tour in St. Petersburg. Patrick’s parents met up with us in St. Petersburg and are traveling with us through Finland and Estonia as well.

The Americans with Disabilities Act (the “ADA”) revolutionized the way many Americans live, work, and travel.  This landmark legislative achievement helped Americans, and visitors to our shores, enter and exit public buildings and spaces with ease, regardless of whether they walked or perambulated by different means, by requiring that, in the case of all “new construction,” ramps or elevators be provided wherever there were also stairs.  The ADA had the added benefit of helping parents with small children in strollers get around more easily.  Unfortunately, there is no ADA in Russia, a fact of which we became acutely aware after spending 36 hours in Moscow, and three full days in St. Petersburg. Continue reading »

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The Mongolian dining car

I knew food would not be the highlight of the Trans-Siberian Railroad.  What I didn’t know was exactly how bad it would be, and, more than that, how difficult it would be to get at all.  With the combination of poor and unhealthy options, and difficulty getting access to the three currencies needed to buy food on the train and at station stops, feeding our family on the railroad turned out to be one of our biggest challenges so far. Continue reading »

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Sep 192011
 
Jude causing a minor sensation outside of the Forbidden City.

Jude causing a minor sensation outside of the Forbidden City

We made our first serious blunder of the trip. Continue reading »

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I was living in Japan as a Rotary exchange student in 1997 when the British lease of Hong Kong expired.  Watching the celebrations on television, I longed to visit and see Hong Kong for myself.  These people knew how to party, I thought.  What’s more, they lived in a beautiful tropical city, sitting right on the water, with some of the tallest and narrowest buildings I had ever seen.  Fourteen years later, I finally made it, and Hong Kong did not disappoint. Continue reading »

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