Here is a photo we took last night (shot from the Pest side of the Danube) during our walk back to our rental apartment in Budapest’s 13th District.  The photo shows “Shoes on the Danube Promenade,” a memorial to Hungarian Jews shot to death and thrown into the river by militiamen belonging to the Hungarian fascist party (the Arrow Cross) at the end of World War II.   The shoes, all period appropriate and cast of iron, represent the shoes left behind by the victims.

We are getting a lot of interesting WWII history on our trip.  We found this memorial, though, as affecting (and chilling) as anything we have seen to date.

(In the background is the Chain Bridge, which links Pest with Buda.  The bridge was originally built in 1849, virtually destroyed by the Red Army during the Siege of Budapest in winter 1945, and then rebuilt and reopened in 1949.)

 

Bliss all Thai’d up, Czeching out the trendy fish spa treatment in Prague.

We noticed an unusual and alarming trend during our recent stay in Prague: Czech and foreign women were voluntarily submerging their feet into tanks filled with carnivorous fish that would then eat (apparently superfluous) pieces of said women’s feet.  Continue reading »

 

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 »

 

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 »

 

It was around 4 a.m. when the shriek of ambulance sirens sounded just outside of our hotel room, and I desperately hoped that Jude would not wake up; then I wondered whether visiting a favored Eastern European sex tourism capital on a Saturday night was really the world’s best idea.  Continue reading »

 

Our luggage

Nearly two months into the trip, I have now had some additional thoughts on what I would have packed if I had to do it all over again, and provide some amendments to my original packing list: Continue reading »

 

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 »

 

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 »

 

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 »

 

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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