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Category Archives: destination & travel

Welcome to region of Cappadocia in Central Turkey!  Several years ago, I read about this magical place, famed for it’s otherworldly landscape and hot air ballooning.  I immediately put it on my travel bucket list, and this spring I was lucky enough to visit this unique area of the globe.  We stayed in a cave hotel, rode on the most incredible hot air balloon adventure at sunrise, drove ATVs, tasted local wines, and enjoyed delicious Turkish food- perhaps my favorite cuisine of anything I’ve ever tried.

{This trip was part of a month long adventure across Bulgaria, GreeceIstanbul, and Russia.}

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I wanted to share a few snippets of my recent travels to Istanbul.  This is my second trip to this incredible city (see the first here) and I fell even more in love.

{This trip was part of a month long adventure across BulgariaGreeceCappadocia, Turkey, and Russia.}

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Greece.  I love this country.  Every visit has been fantastic and there is so much to explore.  I learned about Meteora from a past groom who is a professor of Geogolgy at Boston College.   To put it mildly, he is obsessed with rocks (!!) and had spent some time during his PhD program studying in Greece.  The geological landscape is unique in the world and when he was describing it to me (over a bottle of wine on the gorgeous cliffs of Capri, Italy) I vowed I would go.  Meteora is famed for six monasteries that are built into the shear sandstone cliffs.  You can read more about it here.

Meteora is a bit off the beaten path.  It’s in the middle of the county and not nearby any major cities, at least by European standards.  We decided to make the 7 hour driving trek in a rental car from Sofia, Bulgaria.  What an adventure.  We were ill prepared, not even thinking to have a few Euros on us.  (Which is necessary in rural Greece where ATMs are not a’plenty!)  We were without data on our phones and didn’t even have a map.  We somehow made it to Meteora (signs in Greek are hard to read!) and even more astonishingly stumbled upon our hotel (among what seemed like hundreds!) without having to ask for directions! :)

Meteora was everything I dreamed it would be!  It is the perfect place to hike, explore, have picnics on rock cliffs, drink wine on rock cliffs, enjoy leisurely meals of delicious fresh Greek food, and to just relax.  The monasteries seem to grow out of the cliffs and it is just a spectacular site.

On the way back to Sofia, we stopped for a short visit in Greece’s second largest city, Thessaloniki- a beautiful port city on the Aegean Sea.  It’s a 4 hour drive from Sofia and I’ve visited the city several times before.  We wandered the markets and enjoyed an amazing lunch.  A few photos below were captured there.

Can’t wait to go back to Greece!

{This trip was part of a month long adventure across Bulgaria, Istanbul & Cappadocia, Turkey, and Russia.}

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In April & May, I spent four weeks traveling abroad in Eastern Europe.  My husband grew up in Sofia, Bulgaria, where his parents and grandparents still live and every other year we make a trip to see them and visit his home country.  My sister-in-law and her husband also joined us from Arusha, Tanzania, so the entire family was together!  This visit was unique because after a week alone with my family in Bulgaria, three of our friends from Minneapolis joined us to visit.  It was quite an adventure! Our time in Bulgaria was spent exploring areas off the beaten path, where most American tourists would never get to visit!  I think my friends would agree that the highlight of the trip was a visit to an old Bulgarian psychic, who lives in a remote mountain house outside a tiny village in rural part of the country.  We had to hike up a mountain to see her!  And it was unanimous- her readings were spot on!  I had last seen the psychic in 2008 and her reading proved to come true, so I was eager to introduce her to my friends!  Besides for that, we spent time wandering the countryside and exploring small towns and villages, in addition to time in the capital  city of Sofia.  We had tons of traditional, fresh food and salads.  Thanks to my mother-in-law for being an amazing host and cooking us the best meals of the trip!

{This trip was part of a month long adventure across GreeceIstanbul & Cappadocia, Turkey, and Russia.}

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Want more?  Check out: Bulgaria 2012 | Bulgaria 2010 | Bulgaria 2008

Let’s take it back to the year 2000 today! I had recently graduated from high school in small town Minnesota and moved to Fargo, North Dakota to pursue my degrees in Architecture and Interior Design. I was going to be living in the dorms and was randomly placed with a international student from Japan. Luckily, the new roommate and I hit it off very well and since she was a sophomore (and I knew exactly 0 people at NDSU) I started hanging out with her and her friends. She was a member of the International Student’s Association, which just happened to have a very cute Bulgarian president! This Bulgarian president and I seemed to cross paths often. I don’t remember specifically meeting him, but we had mutual friends, worked at the same on-campus job, and saw each other at parties and events.

This randomly placed roommate turned out to be so serendipitous. I met so many international students from all over the world which sparked my love for travel and exploration. But most importantly, it led me to my now husband. After a couple years of running into this cute Bulgarian boy, we eventually started dating, eventually tied the knot, and now we will have been married 9 years in July. (HOLY CRAP!!!) As soon as we started dating we fell head over heels in love and it wasn’t long before he invited me to Bulgaria. It wasn’t exactly your typical “meet the parents” scenario. I had to fly 5,000+ miles to meet them. Of course, we were poor college students, so we had to purchase the cheapest fares ever, and if I recall correctly, we had about 15 connections to get to Bulgaria! I remember showing up at the airport, nervous as can be, jet lagged beyond belief, feeling like I desperately needed a shower. We made our way to my in-laws home, and there waiting was a sweet, little, wide-eyed girl named Florina. Flori was only 15 at the time (heck, I was only 22!). I wasn’t engaged yet, but I was pretty sure this girl was eventually going to be my sister-in-law and I was so nervous to meet her. Maybe more nervous than meeting the parents. Flori studied English and spoke pretty well, but back then communication was more limited. We bonded over painting our nails together and our mutual love of her brother!

The next time I saw Flori (and my in-laws) was at my wedding. After that, Flori moved to Minnesota to study, and eventually she met a boy too. He was from Tanzania and they fell in love. Before we knew it, we found ourselves celebrating at their wedding, 1 day before our own six year wedding anniversary! Anyone who sees Flori and Mo together can immediately see how in love they are. (Or if you’re on Facebook, you can just check out Mo’s annoyingly sappy Facebook status updates!!! ;) I’m really happy my little sis found a man who loves her so much and treats her so well. Our family time together is limited since we live on three different continents, but it was so good to be in Bulgaria in last month. I captured a few photos for Flori and Mo. Miss you guys so much!

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  • Inga - Lovely couple! But those trees are out of this world :)