Bouncing Around the Balkans: World Cup

In the weeks leading up to the opening round of the World Cup, I was excited to see what it would be like to experience the tournament outside of the United States. These feelings were tempered with the disappointment of not being able to root for the US Men’s team, who had failed to qualify for the first time in nearly 30 years. By just dumb luck we had booked an AirBnB in Zagreb, Croatia for the last part of June and the entire month of JuIy. Little did I know at the time how fortunate that would be.
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Bouncing Around the Balkans: Lake Balaton in the off-season

Our adventure starts with a housesitting gig in western Hungary. Vaszoly (pronounced “vash-oy”) is a small village nestled in the hills on the north side of Lake Balaton. Our hosts, a nice English couple, left us in charge of their three dogs, three cats and chickens for about two weeks. We arrived in late March, right on the heels of a series of unseasonably cold and brutal storms that left much of Europe blanketed in snow. Continue reading “Bouncing Around the Balkans: Lake Balaton in the off-season”

Bouncing Around the Balkans: An Introduction

I’ve done it again. It’s been over a month since my last confession, um, I mean post. In my defense, we have been travelling pretty fast again. Just when I think we learned our lesson, we get ourselves into a situation where we don’t plan far enough ahead and realize that we have too many people and places to see, covering too great a distance, in much too short a period of time. In the last three weeks, we visited 7 cities in 5 different countries, traveled over 2,000 km, most of the time staying in a place for only a couple of nights. We are now back where this chapter of the adventure started, in Zagreb, Croatia. We’ll be staying put for the next month, giving both of us a chance to catch up on everything we didn’t have time for while in a perpetual state of motion. Continue reading “Bouncing Around the Balkans: An Introduction”

Advanced problem solving

Despite what it may look like on our Facebook feed, life on the road is not all selfies, food pics, and #bobwithtinycups. There is a lot of real life that happens between these moments and little of it is glamorous. We still have to keep up with the family finances, go shopping when we run out of groceries, and fix things when they break along the way. It is interesting to find how often these ordinary everyday tasks end up being not so ordinary when tackled in a foreign country. In the last few weeks, we have run into three such situations, each bordering on becoming a mini-crisis, taxing our patience and problem solving skills on their way to resolution. Continue reading “Advanced problem solving”

House-sitting for fun and “profit”

Fara and I completed our latest house-sitting assignment a couple of weeks ago, located in one of the small villages surrounding beautiful Lake Balaton in the western part of Hungary. The menagerie of pets we were charged with the care of consisted of three dogs, three cats, three chickens and a rooster, by far the largest number of animals we’ve taken care of to date. Our daily dog walks took us through rolling hills, forests, and vineyards with some spectacular views of the lake. We enjoyed daily eggs provided by the hens and are now considering a flock of our own whenever our travels take us to a more permanent location. Our next house-sit, in the Transylvania region of western Romania, starts in mid-May. Since starting our adventure in August 2017, we have completed four house-sits in four different countries. By the end of 2018, we will have added at least three more to that total and we’re constantly on the lookout for more. It had always been our intention to incorporate house-sitting into our travel plans, we just had no idea how integral it would become. Continue reading “House-sitting for fun and “profit””

Doing the Schengen Shuffle

On the morning we were scheduled to arrive in Zagreb, Croatia our train stopped at the small town of Dobova, Slovenia near the border. Two guards boarded the train and systematically checked each passenger’s identification. When they reached us, the Slovenian guard leafed back and forth over the stamped pages in each of our passports and eventually asked me how long we have been in the Schengen. I told him that we’d been in France and Belgium for the last month and a half and added that I’ve been keeping track of our time in Europe and I’m certain we have not overstayed our visa. He looked back through our passports and started counting on his fingers and even had a short conversation in Slovene with someone over the radio. I asked him if everything is okay and he pulled out his exit stamp, stamped both of our passports and handed them over to the Croatian guard. He assured usthere was no problem, but warned that isn’t just our most recent trip that counts against us. The other guard stamped our passports with his entry stamp, returned them to us and added that Croatia is also in the European Union. I told him I understand, but verified that our Croatian visa is different than the Schengen visa. Satisfied, the border guards moved on to the next passengers and eventually we continued our journey to Zagreb. Continue reading “Doing the Schengen Shuffle”

(One of) France’s best kept secrets

Fara and I arrived in Paris a few days ago. Just as an arctic front came in from Siberia that dropped the temperatures to negative numbers (in Celsius) and has covered Europe with a blanket of snow. The friends we spent Christmas with in Dublin ended up with several feet of the white stuff. Thankfully Paris avoided the worst of the weather and after a couple of days keeping warm in our apartment we have been able to get out and enjoy the city. Makes it hard to believe we’re a few days into March already. After about a week in Paris, we will be taking the train to Zagreb, Croatia to start the Eastern Europe leg of our journey. Continue reading “(One of) France’s best kept secrets”