26 June 2011

Sorry for the crap-a-lishous updating. Amy and I have been out to sea for a week or so here, and a sailor's life is a simple one (ie no internet).

We are currently in the Athens airport (before the strike is supposed to hit) and will be heading State side in T-minus 3hours.

When we get to NYC we hope to provide you with the skinny of our last few stops (Turkey and Greece)- we have pictures... you will have them soon.

Much love from around the world.
Katie and Amy

05 June 2011


After a few beautiful transitions through the countrysides of Switzerland and Austria (ok so we were asleep for most of them), we have arrived in Prague (Praha) and were warmly greeted by a friend of a friend whom came to find us at the train station. Adela quickly taught us the transit system and even a few words in Czech. As soon as we hit the fresh Prague air we were pleasantly surprised by the great weather, not typical for this time year has been a popular statements by the locals all over Europe. We have been grateful for this as well. We have truly enjoyed staying in Prague with their family and getting lost in the streets.

Lokal Czech Cuisine

Part of the love of traveling has been that we have not only followed our hearts but our stomachs as well. So it just so happened that this weekend the Czechs were having their local food festival in Prague and all the best restaurants attended. The diverse food selections really highlighted their desire to improve food styles from their typical dense cuisine, but of course you can't go wrong with a Czech Pilsner. It was a beautiful day to wander the gardens of Prasky Hrad (Prague Castle) and enjoy various tastes of food. One our favorites was a fruit dessert (not excluding our daily dose of gelato) from a restaurant called Lokal which could have fit right in Portland. Here are a few photos from the event. Enjoy!

History in motion

It is hard to wander around Prague with out running into hoards of tourist from every part of the world trying to capture their piece of photographic history. One of my favorite things is to sit back and observe the on goings in the streets and how other travelers take in the moment. Prague is alive with culture, food and a depth of history that emphasizes the youth of the America.

Jewish Prague

Starting the tour of the Jewish synagogues made history leap to the present as we walked around the Jewish area into the Pinkish synagogue and were struck with all the names on the wall representing those who were lost during the holocaust. When entering the room there is only the sound of the sombering organ music and people shuffling about quietly whispering numbers in shock 19, 35, 14, 27... ages of those who had passed. A small section of the museum had art work from one of the camps that children had drawn during there time there, the one that still lingers in my memory was one in a shape of a tear drop with faces of people with blue eyes representing the utter sadness that was seen.


After much time traveling we were craving a bit of relaxation and non destination for a few days. We were very lucky to land in Austria with my brothers friends Adam and Astrid and their whole family. They opened their homes and we were welcomed into the daily life in Linz and the countryside of Asha. The main agenda was to not have an agenda therefore we happened upon a birthday party for Renate (Astrids mom), French lessons (a wonderful group of ladies who have met for about 10 years who “learn” French and enjoy French beverages :) and great conversation on the love of travel and food.

We spent the first day biking around the countryside along the Danube and partaking in the traditional hydration stops (Radler to be exact-beer with lemonade mmmmmm) . I have become accustomed to this way of life and think it should become part of the Portland local scene as well (although the HUB does have a Radler we need them along all bike paths-my goal upon return)!

Amongst the resting we took a day and wandered into Linz for a movie and art walk on the roofs of local buildings.


26 May 2011

Above it All:

Last week Amy and I spent time with the Luthis' in Switzerland (Geneva to be exact). We were warmly welcomed into a little American-Swiss enclave on our travel around the world. It was lovely to see Jen and the family and we already miss the constant onslaught of chocolate and cheese (good for the soul- if not for the gut). Here's a mini montage to our time in Switzerland:

The week was jam-packed with sightseeing and family bonding. We loved it. But, doubt you'll enjoy a play-by-play. Perhaps a day in the life...

On Monday Jen and Amy and I traveled via railway from Geneva to Lucerne (Luzen), Switzerland. From there, we took the train a touch farther to Brunen, Switzerland. Here we met up with three ruff-around-the-edges (as much a you can expect from Swiss-Germans) paragliders. We shook hands around and sized one another up. Breno, a short middle aged hobbit looking man conveyed that I would be flying with him.

The six of us made our way up in a tiny gondola, with the giant packs of parachutes attached to the outside of the containment vessel, into the mountains above Lake Lucerne. The world paned out before us: lush greens, deep blues, a splash of spring blossoms making their way up the mountainside.

The butterflies danced to an angry heavy metal tune as Breno buckled me into the thick black straps over my shoulders, across my hips, and around my thighs. He spent about ten minutes organizing what looked ot be the most delicate colored ropes- no thicker than twine. Laying the yellow material against the ground so the silver belly faced the sun, Breno worked his way around his delicate flying machine.

The hill where we stood was steep- with deep grass covered steps laid into the ground. The large pastel colored combat boots on my feet- two sizes too big- wiggled and clunked in a ridged robotic way was I scooted toward the place below me that Breno was pointed toward.

I glanced up to see Amy harnessed in black. Behind her, a lean Swiss-German. Behind him, a puffed up orange and white boomerang of material. I watched them move forward and then become airborne. A graceful step away from the Earth.

A breeze flitted across my face and Breno murmured an non-reassuring “uh-oh.” The material of our cleaning organized shoot rustled and turned on itself. Breno moved to readjust it.

Jennifer and a gangly redhead leapt into the air and stayed there in a beautiful act that seemed to defy gravity.

Breno fussed with our flying machine. I watched my friends swirl and float across the horizon; two orange paragliders flying above the lake.

With each moment I watched them overhead and listened to the tinkerings of Breno, the butterfliesin my belly became more and more like stones.

Breno eventually returned to connect me to the paragliding equipment with a renewed fervor. Once strapped in, he turned away from me without a word and stood perfectly still- looking contemplative. He smiled and said with a thick German accent, “we go!” He slipped into his place behind me and advised me to begin walking “when I count to three.”

On three, I walked. He then encouraged me to run. But, before I could increase me speed, the world below me was no longer in contact with the soles of my military issue shoe-wear.

We were flying.

It was like sailing, like soaring, like inhabiting the soul of a hawk. The geography below me a painters palate: a million different blues in the lake alone. Houses pebbled below in the valley, the peaked and triangular specks of white a smattering of sailboats. The green-brown mountains jagged and massive alongside us.

“We watch the birds. They are the professional They tell us where to the wind is good.” Breno says behind me.

It is beautiful. Breno offers the chance to touch the treetops. I am not sure this is such a brilliant plan, bu the euphoria of lying gives me a kind of drunk reasoning and I say, “sure.”

We dive down, a hawk seeking its prey. The trees come more into focus, the leaves just underfoot. And then, we are up again.

He take me through all sorts of delightfully stomach swaying maneuvers. He shows me how to “drive.” I let go of my hand holds forcibly, the rope leaves marks on the inside of my palms.

We twirl around and fly gracefully over the water. I tell him it feels like swinging. He says, “no, it is not a good day for a swim: too cold.” We have misunderstood one another.

The ground comes closer. I see my friends in a tall grassy field. I wave and know that the ride is coming to an end. We land with softly and I promptly fall to my knees, the yellow collapses behind us.

PS- sorry for typos- late night posting and feeling guilty for not getting anything up lately. Amy and I are now in Prague. We'll try to write about it (or more about Switzerland) soon!


18 May 2011

The Sun Also Rises

Walking through town you can't fail to miss the hoards of tourists who strain to see the small “rana” or frog on the facade of the University of Salamanca. There is a famous local superstition surrounding this frog. It goes like this: if you are able to find the frog among the menagerie of other sculpted whose-y-what's-its on your own, you will have good luck on your exams(this is a college town after all) and you will one day return to Salamanca. It took me (Amy) only 10 years to return to the Salamanca frog, but I have finally made it. Now that Katie has seen it too, maybe her sisters' wish for her to find a Spanish boyfriend will come true!

The warmth of the day is peeking through the archways that lead into the historical Plaza Mayor, the quintessential center of town. I sit underneath the umbrella amongst the crowds chatting, drinking, and enjoying life. A Spanish moment: watching the world go by. I am reminded of a time gone by. Salamanca remains, in essence, the same. Perhaps, it has become a flashier, cleaner, more grandiose version of itself, but it's heart still beats out the same slow rhythm.

One of the local restaurant owners in the plaza said “it is great to go to a place to see the sights, but to get to know the people is to know the culture of a place.” (I might add, that while he is likely married, he was sooo beautiful). Salamanca is one such place where the people make the place. When the weather is nice, everyone who is anyone is out enjoying the day and talking with each other and catching up on politics and sports (Go Real Madrid or Barca depending on your preference!).

The plaza is one of the best places to people watch. Katie and I have been enthralled by the fashionistas and fashion-failures. We have started our journey into current trends and fads. If you are curious, the “in” list is all about: white shirts, red/colored pants, ballet flats, jean shorts with black tights underneath (I know, who would have thought), high heels, smoking, skinny jeans, big sunglasses the list goes on. A shout out to our peeps in India, you are already way ahead of the current Indian influence! So glad we were there first and got our cute corties (thanks Mishty and family).

I have had to adjust my mind from the chaos, searing heat,and masses of humans that is India, to a more organized and structured world. Can it be that these places can exist on the same planet?

An ode to Letra Hispanica

One of my Spanish professors (and now friends) once said that we taught him that “mi mundo no es el mundo,” which means, “my world isn't the world.”

If anyone is in need of language classes, this is a small promotion to some of my favorite memories. It is true, anyone who has had the opportunity to study abroad can describe a different experience, but for me, Letra Hispanica was life changing. It was where we spent most of our time studying, laughing, crying and exploring what was going on in the European world. It gave me new appreciation of arts, architecture and a love of literature (Don Quijote anyone?).


On the road/railway again ….

Planes, trains and automobiles anyone? Katie and I have been wearing down the pavement, soaring through the skies, and chugging along the countryside down some many rickety mountain roads, clear blue skies and beautiful valley floors. Each country, another experience. Each journey a look into the soul of the country.

The long train ride overnight from Bangkok to Chiang Mai in second class brings back memories of strange smelling food, a hole in the floor for a bathroom and lush jungle scenery. Jump forward to the beauty of the Spanish country side: everything is green and speckled with reds, yellows, pinks, oranges, and purples; the wildflowers are out in full force. The rows of promising grapes on vine bring a smile to winos faces. Flash back to the brutal heat of the evening in India, with nothing but an open window to cool our way along the tiny mountain twists to Dharsalama. The world stretches out before us again and I wonder what world hides behind the next bend.