Currently traveling

Exploring the Unknown

August - November 2019
Currently traveling
  • Day75

    Holocaust Memorials

    November 13 in Hungary ⋅ 🌧 13 °C

    We will be leaving Budapest in two days. I think we are all feeling a little bit sad; Budapest took us by complete surprise. We made the decision to visit on a whim because the accommodations were so much cheaper than Slovenia, but to be honest, we knew nothing about the city or anything about Hungary, for that matter. Budapest has captured our hearts. A fusion between Portland and Paris, this city is edgy, has an awesome cafe culture, hiking, too many historical monuments and museums to count as well as the cutest dog breed, the Hungarian Vizsla.

    When we set out on our world travels, we knew the girls would learn a lot, but what that learning would look like, was foreign to us. When the girls speak to their friends and are asked about what type of schooling they do, they typically respond by saying “we only have to do english and math” and "we only do about four hours of learning a week." What they are not explaining to their friends, or maybe it is too difficult to articulate, is that they have learned a great deal. I wanted to share some of that learning in this blog post, which focuses on WWII and the Hungarian Jews. I love to read historical fiction set during WWII, but it is so much more powerful to live in the Jewish Quarter of Budapest for a month and learn about the atrocities that took place 80 years ago.

    Approximately 50 percent of Hungary’s Jews died during WWII. This translates to 600,000 Jewish men, women and children. Sadly, it wasn’t just the Nazis who shipped Jews off to the concentration camps, but we learned that the Hungarian Arrow Cross, a far right wing political party, exterminated Jews as well. To commemorate the victims of the Holocaust, several monuments have been designed throughout the city to help us remember. What I appreciated about the monuments is that we could teach the girls about the past in a slow manner. Sometimes we would purposely set out to visit one of the monuments, while other times, we would be exploring a particular neighborhood and come across one of the monuments. It was also a great way to explore Budapest. During our month in Budapest, we visited and learned about the following Holocaust memorials:

    ** Shoes on the Danube (this memorial commemorates Jews who were shot by the Arrow Cross Party and fell into the Danube and floated away);

    **Emanual Tree or Weeping Willow. This memorial contains 30,000 leaves with the names of Holocaust victims. It is in the garden of the Dohany Synagogue, largest Synagogue in Europe and 2nd largest in the world. Upside down, the memorial resembles a menorah. The area is called Raoul Wallenberg Memorial Park, named after the Swedish diplomat stationed in Budapest and who saved thousands of Jews from Concentration camps;

    **We explored the Faculty of Arts at Lorand University and located a 1 cm wide and 280 metres long bronze strip lining the brick walls of the university. The strip has names inscribed of teachers and students who died during the Holocaust.

    **If you walk to 15 Kiraly Street and the door of the abandoned apartment building is open, you can see what remains of the Ghetto wall. Between November 1944 and 1945, a ghetto wall was built around the Jewish Quarter. At one point, there were 200,000 Jews confined behind the wall with no food or medicine coming in. There was only one tap for water. Several thousand Jews died before the Soviets liberated the ghetto in January 1945.

    **The Carl Lutz memorial. Carl Lutz was a Swiss diplomat who saved an estimated 60,000 Jews. Carl Lutz set up over 70 “protected houses” with diplomatic immunity. “Whoever saves a life is considered to have saved an entire world.”

    **We explored Budapest and kept our eyes open for Budapest Stolpersteine or stumbling blocks. Each gold block is inscribed with a name and date of birth and death and place of death and placed in front of the last place of known residence or work.

    **Lastly, we visited the Ruin Pub in the Jewish Quarter. There is a small sign just outside of the main entrance which reads “People used to live here.”

    To help with the girls’ learning, we also read “The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas” as a family and had many discussions about the Holocaust. We will be visiting Vienna next week and will be travelling to Mauthausen, a concentration camp, to bring our learning full circle. Seeing the impact of WWII is not easy, but I have to believe that by visiting Budapest, the past was brought to life more so than would ever be possible in a classroom.

    Clarinda
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  • Day70

    Hiking and Christmas Markets

    November 8 in Hungary ⋅ ⛅ 10 °C

    This morning we travelled to the Buda hills to go on a walk to enjoy some of the last fall colors. Our last week is calling for rain, so we are trying to get out as much as possible while we can. One of the most popular spots in Budapest to go hiking is a place called Normafa which is in the Buda Hills. It is amazing that such an expanse of forest and hills lies within the city and is so accessible. Normafa is about a 30 minute metro or tram ride and then a transfer to a bus, which is half the fun. We have found the public transit to be super easy to use in Budapest, but be warned, you always need a ticket because the stations are monitored quite closely and we have read the fines are quite high. Because the Buda hills are within Budapest, they are enjoyed by the locals. The hills also have lots of benches to sit on and enjoy the surrounding scenery as well as multiple playgrounds.

    During our hike we walked along well marked walking trails up to Elizabeth Tower which on a clear day, offers nice views of Budapest. Unfortunately, it was foggy when we walked up, but you could still see some of Budapest in the distance. We again noticed an outdoor running track and are continually amazed at how Budapest encourages people to venture outdoors. Neve says that the top of the hike at the Elizabeth Tower was so cold because of the wind.

    Clarinda

    Then in the afternoon we went to a christmas market🎄 that is around a five minute walk from our apartment. At the christmas market there were a lot of wooden stands. Each of the wooden stands sells different items. There was a whole section for food. I saw stuffed cabbage rolls, sausages and other types of meat, soups, bread, cand ooked peppers. Each of the food items were in huge vats. There were a lot of people in the food section waiting to eat the food that smelled really good. There were stands selling all sorts of homemade items such as wooden doll houses that folded up into a box. You could pick little dolls and pets such as dogs to go into the dollhouse. They were really cute! There were a lot of stands which sold items such as honey, food, cookies, truffles,christmas ornaments and scented hanging ornaments; they smelled so good. Sophie and I each got a truffle. It was delicious! The tuffles had marzipan inside. Yum! We are going to visit the Christmas market again and are going to get some soap from the honey stall. It smells really good. I really liked the scented hanging ornaments; they were made out of oranges, cinnamon sticks, dried basil leaves and some stuff that I don’t know the name of, but they smelled delicious. The streets at the Christmas Market are decorated with lit up christmas ornaments, which are so beautiful. I think Hungarians really like Christmas!! the Christmas market also has a big Lindt chocolate store that hands out free samples. So good. They have a mini advent calendar that I hope my mom buys for us but we would need to trek it up to Everest since we will be there in early December.

    When we go to Vienna next week, we get to go to a different Christmas market each day. I can’t wait!
    Neve 🎅🐧
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  • Day58

    Running and Thermal Baths

    October 27 in Hungary ⋅ ☀️ 18 °C

    The last two days have been entirely about relaxing and recovering from driving to various Hungarian towns and cities. In three days we visited Godollo, Eger, Visegrad, Lillafured and Miskolc. Our two favorite excursions were definitely Visegrad and Miskolc.

    Our main reason for visiting Visegrad was to complete the “Peak Attack” Citadel run, the last racing event of Hungary’s running season. There are numerous trails leading up to the citadel and the views of the Danube are absolutely stunning. Add some amazing fall weather and beautiful fall colors and what’s not to like about running up a steep hill. The race was noted as being one of the hardest ones around and after completing the run, we all agreed that this was an accurate description. David and the girls ran 5km with a 290 meter elevation gain, while I ran 10 km up along a different route with a 350 meter elevation gain. There were about 600 other runners in total participating in the event. We ran over leaf covered trails, through a field with a view of the citadel in the distance, and beautiful panoramic views of the Danube. Once at the top, we each received a beautiful finisher medal and got to explore the citadel. As David and the girls started their run an hour earlier than I did, they tried their hand at ax throwing and taking turns trying out midieval torture devices.

    Once I was finished my run and took a quick tour of the castle, we headed over to a 700 meter bobsled track. David and the girls winded their way down a metal chute while sitting on a felt-bottomed cart. So much fun!!!

    To relax sore muscles, the next day we drove to Miskolc. Although Miskolc was a two hour drive away, we were on the road by 7:15 to arrive early in order to enjoy some of Hungary’s thermal baths. While there are thermal baths in Budapest, the reason we wanted to visit the ones in Miskolc, is that the thermal baths are in caves that have developed during thousands of years. Because the water has a lower salt content than other thermal baths, you can stay in the baths for an unlimited time. Not only was the water temperature perfect, but it was super fun leisurely swimming through the various caverns. This outing was the perfect way to balance out the girls’ hard work from the day before.

    Clarinda
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  • Day55

    Hospital in the Rocks

    October 24 in Hungary ⋅ ⛅ 13 °C

    After a morning of staying at home and reading, we had lunch and walked to the Buda side of Budapest. We went up a hill to the hospital in the rocks. We had to wait about half an hour before the guided tour started. The guide took us through 1km of tunnels through caves. There were little rooms with all original tools and very realistic looking wax figures. There were fake bandages and fake blood on the wax figures, and some of them were missing fingers or were in wheelchairs. The hospital only had one operating room, and it was set up to look like the doctors were operating on someone. There were tools from when the hospital was still in use, machines, different medicines and fake bloody tissues. On the walls of the hallway, there were other tools on display including a stomach and intestine stapler, scissors and needles.

    In the 1800s, the caves were used as cellars, but in 1939, they decided to transform them into a hospital. The hospital was used during World War ll and after being closed for 10 years, it was reopened again after the revolution. It was first built for a capacity of 60 patients, but was expanded to a capacity of 200. Because of the number of injured people, there were 665 patients at some points. We were told there would have been people everywhere, including the floor. There was only one operating room, but there would have been so many injured men who needed to be operated on.

    Later, the hospital was turned into a nuclear bunker. It had gas filtration systems and air tight doors. It was never attacked, so no one knows whether or not it would have actually survived. The hospital was not very far underground, and the air filtration system probably wasn’t the best, so it’s a good thing that it never had to be used. Sadly, we weren’t allowed to take photos in the hospital.

    After the hospital, we went to Fisherman’s Bastion, a look out tower from the 19th century. There was a panoramic view of Budapest. I could see all the bridges, the Parliament buildings and some churches too. It was really cool to be able to see everything.

    We also got some pictures of Buda castle.

    Sophie
    ___

    Ce matin, pendant que mes parents ont allé à un café, moi et Neve ont resté à la maison. J’ai cuisiné des biscuits, on a lu, et j’ai fini ma 29ème livre dans 55 jours. J’ai cuisiné un peu en Crotia, mais pas beaucoup. C’est difficile, parce qu’il n’y a pas de bicarbonate de soude ou des épices ici. On a aussi cherché pour du beurre d’arachide organique, mais on ne pouvait pas le trouver. On a cherché pour la beurre d’arachide
    dans chaque magasin qu’on a vu. J’ai trouvé une recette pour des biscuits avec juste 3 ingrédients: le nutella, des oeufs et du farine.

    Mes parents ont aussi allé à un autre magasin et trouvé du beurre d’arachide, ils ont pris le dernier contenant. On va retourner au magasin plus tard pour acheter plus pour faire EBC.

    Une chose qu’il y a beaucoup de ici, c’est le miel. Il y a un marché chaque fin-de-semaine très proche de notre maison et il y a beaucoup de différents types de miel. Hungary est connu pour leur miel.

    Dans l’après-midi, on a visité un hôpital dans sous-terrain, dans des vieux caves. C’était utilisé pendant la deuxième guerre mondiale et durant la révolution en 1956. On a fait un tour guidé, il y avait beaucoup de petits salles avec les outils qui étaient utilisés quand l’hôpital était ouvert. Il y a aussi des personnes faits de cire qui ressemblent comme des vraies personnes. On n’avait pas le droit de prendre des photos dans l’hôpital pour aider à le préserver.

    L’hôpital était aussi un bunker nucléaire, mais il n’était jamais attaquer.
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  • Day52

    Budapest Zoo

    October 21 in Hungary ⋅ 🌙 12 °C

    Yesterday afternoon, we went to the Budapest zoo. Which is one of the oldest zoos in the world. It was established in 1866. The first animals we saw were the orangutans. The orangutans had a playground that included ropes to swing on and logs to climb as well as places for them to sleep. The playground looked very fun. We even saw an orangutan somersaulting down a hill. They kind of reminded me of little kids playing. There were two adults, one of which seemed very old and grumpy and two kids. The gorillas had a similar area to live in.

    Next we saw two hippos. We only saw the back of one of the hippos because he was under water, but the other one, we saw its head, but it never fully came out of the water. We did see its teeth, which seemed very large, although not sharp. We also saw yaks, warthogs and anteaters, which are very funny looking animals. Next, we saw zebras and flamingos. The flamingos were standing on one leg to sleep and they are able to bend their knees the opposite way that we do. We also so lots of rodents, who seemed to have lots of space to live in. We also saw some very unhappy rhinoceros’; I think they were lonely because there were three of them but they were kept in separate pens. We also saw 5 giraffes and I think their space should have been three times the size!

    We also went into a botanical garden for lizards. The lizards were very interesting looking. Some of them were bigger, some of them were smaller and all of them had very interesting colors. We also went into a butterfly museum and saw some very pretty butterflies. There weren’t any monarch butterflies which made me happy because those are the only ones I see in Yellowknife.

    I like the zoo but wish that the animals could be in the wild instead of being locked up in cages. How would you like it if a Rhino locked you up and stared at you taking lots of photos and hope you will do something interesting?

    To get to the zoo we took a very old metro. It felt like we were transported back in time because it was so old. The metro was super loud and squeaky.

    Neve

    _ _ _

    Hier après midi on est allé au zoo de Budapest. Quand on est arrivé le premier animaux qu'on a vu été les Orangutans il y avait 2 bébé et 2 adultes, un des adultes été vraiment vieille. Les Orangutans avait une place pour jouer il y avait des cordes et des chose qu’ils pouvez grimper desu. Les Gorilles avait un place similar. Puis on a vu des Yacks et des Warthogs puis on a vu des Hippopotames. Il y avait 2 Hippopotames les Hippopotames na pas sortie de l’eau complètement mais on a vu leur bouche et leur dos. Après ça on a vu des Zébre, 1 Elephant et des Flamingo. On a aussi vu des Rhinocéros mais il ne regarder pas heureux. Puis on a vu des Girafes qui n’avait pas assez d'espace du tout! On a grimper des escalier et on a vu des animaux qui regarder comme un combinaison d’un renard et un loup il grognait à nous. On a vu des Ostrich il regarder vraiment drôle je pense qu’ils étaient les animaux preferer de ma mere. Après on a vu des phoques et 2 ours polairs. Je ne pense pas que les ours polaires été heureux parce que c’est trop chaud. La dernière chose qu’on a fait été d'aller voir des lezar.
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  • Day49

    Murals, street food and horses

    October 18 in Hungary ⋅ ⛅ 12 °C

    I have to start this blog post by stating that we LOVE Budapest. Neve has stated numerous times that this may become her favorite city she visits this year. With a fusion between Paris and Portland, Oregon, there is so much to see and do. David and I have repeatedly commented that around every corner we explore, we discover something new. Budapest was not a city we had discussed before heading off on our year off, but we are so grateful that we get to spend a month here to better learn of the rich history, absorb the city’s beauty and and eat some great food (David made a super yummy Goulash for dinner two nights ago and there is a local food truck court called Karavan about a 1 minute walk from our apartment). It’s not a good idea to walk down our street when hungry because there are so many good smells coming from the numerous restaurants.

    To continue familiarizing ourselves with the city, we went on a walking tour of 15 “must see” murals yesterday morning. One of the murals was of the rubix cube, a Hungarian invention, while others were just really beautiful paintings. After about a two hour walk, and empty stomachs we went to Karavan and tried some Langos, a type of Hungarian fried bread. We tried a pepper and sheep cheese one, one with cheese and David and Sophie’s favorite, a lango pork burger.

    Today we walked back to Hero’s Square and experienced the “National Gallop,” a national horse racing event with many Hungarian towns hoping to bring honor to their town. Hungarians have a strong equestrian culture and the first race dates back to June 6, 1827. In order to transform Hero’s Square into a horse race track, a type of “sand castle” was built around the main monument by placing multiple layers of special sand granules to prevent the horses from slipping and becoming injured. We were able to get into the middle of the square and get a really close look of the horses and the races. As Sophie mentioned in an earlier blog, we wanted to try Chimney Cakes. Part of the National Gallop included many food trucks and we were able to find a sizeable cinnamon flavored chimney cake, the official dessert of Hungary. They are a type of hungarian sweet bread that is crispy on the outside and has a light fluffy dough on the inside. They are shaped like a cylinder with a hollow centre, resembling a hot chimney when they come freshly out of the oven. So good.

    Clarinda
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  • Day48

    Part 2...Ruin Pubs

    October 17 in Hungary ⋅ ⛅ 4 °C

    On the way home from the cat cafe we went into a Ruin Pub. Budapest is famous for its Ruin pubs. Ruin pubs are abandoned buildings as a result of WWII and the Holocaust as the Ruin Pub we visited is in the Jewish Quarter of Budapest. The abandoned buildings have been made into pubs. There were 4 different pubs inside the one abandoned building. I think the pubs were cool because they had recycled items such as chairs and tables. There was a bathtub you could sit in and an old sewing machine with an old tractor seat you could sit on. There was also a chair made out of chains. I think the Ruin pubs were cool because upstairs there was a garden with bicycles in it as well as an old mannequin with what looked like an old stereo as its head. The Ruin pubs is very close to our apartment...less than a two minute walk. There is a farmers market there every Sunday which we will visit. So far I like Budapest a lot and I think Hungary is going to be one of my favourite countries because of its cooler temperatures, fewer tourists and there are Ruin pubs and pretty castles. I also think Budapest has a lot of history.

    Neve
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  • Day48

    Part I...Cat Cafe

    October 17 in Hungary ⋅ ⛅ 6 °C

    Today we did a bit of school then we ran to a park to do our work out. After our work out we went to a cat cafe. A cat cafe is a cafe but there cats in it. Me and Sophie got chai lattes. There were 14 cat and 4 of them were Maine coons which are cats that are the same size as some dogs! The cats were so cute, soft and friendly. It was nice to see all of them because I miss my cat Ginger so much. It was also nice to see the different kinds of cats and see them curled up or sprawled out or walking around. They looked like they were really well taken care of. I think it would be really cool to work in a cat cafe as a summer job. I think it was also cool to see the cats different personality. Some of the cats preferred to be left alone while others enjoyed being pet. The cat cafe is really close to our apartment, so I hope we get to go back again. Because I loved the cats so much, I’m going to attach a lot of photos of all the cats. I’ll write a second blog post about the Ruin Pubs we visited after the cat cafe.

    Neve

    Aujourd’hui on a fait un peu d’école et puis on est aller a un cat café. Un cat café est un café où il y a des chat. Au café il y avait 14 chat, 4 des chat été des Maine coons. Les Maine coons sont des très grandes chat, il sont la même grandeur que les Beagles. Moi et Sophie on commander des chaînes latter.Les chat été vraiment mignonnes et doux. Le cat café à me fait vraiment manquer mon chat Ginger. J’ai vraiment aimais le cat café. Sur notre marche on est aller dans un bar. Le bar aitre dans un bâtiment abandonner. Les chaises été vraiment intéressant parce que il sont fait des chose recycler. Un dès chaise été un baignoire un autre été un vraiment vieille machine à coudre avec un vieille chaise de tracteur.
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  • Day47

    First day in Budapest

    October 16 in Hungary ⋅ 🌙 9 °C

    After 10 hours of buses, we arrived in Budapest yesterday evening. We slept in a bit this morning and had breakfast. We walked a few km to Hero's Square. It's a monument for the 1000th anniversary of Hungary. It has statues of horses, the archangel Gabriel and Athena.

    From there, we could see a castle. Near the castle, there was someone selling giant pretzels and we bought some to go.

    We walked to St. Stephens basilica which is from 1905. There’s lots of stained glass and sculptures inside. It was really pretty and you could tell that the catholic church had a lot of money.

    Then, we walked to a grocery store to buy lunch. We also found some stroopwafels, a dutch dessert. Stroopwafels are a small crunchy waffle with a caramely filling in the middle. They were first invented in the town of Gouda. We ate lunch in front of the parliament buildings. They were copied off the british parliament buildings. They’re really big and beautiful and have statues and flowers in front.

    Then, we walked along the Danube river. There were lots of statues along it of famous artists and important people. We also saw some World War II monuments, my mom is going to write a blog post about those later.

    For the whole day, I had been wishing for rain, and when we were heading home it started raining. Even though it isn’t as hot as Croatia, it was still kind of hot for part of the day. We walked in the rain for a bit and then found a coffee shop. It was a smoke free, book coffee shop. We read there for a bit and had some drinks, then we went home.

    For dinner, we tried some pickled beets and pickled cabbage. Both of them were okayish, but my parents liked them. Tomorrow we’re going to try Hungarian goulash and we’re also going to try chimney cakes.

    Sophie
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  • Day42

    Paklenica

    October 11 in Croatia ⋅ ⛅ 11 °C

    Today was a great day! We woke up early, drove 2 hours and then arrived in Paklenica. There, we found a good spot to climb and got set up. We did 4 routes, with a break in between for lunch and I lead climbed 3 of them. In the morning, climbers were just starting to arrive, but by the afternoon there were lots of tour groups, hikers and other climbers.
    We did some pretty easy routes, but the rock was really polished in most places because so many people climb there, which made the routes a little harder. The rock was also really sharp in some places where it was the only thing to grab and it really hurt.
    My mom even tried climbing, and despite her fear of heights, she made it around 20m up the wall. The only issue was when she tried to belay with a gri-gri which she had never used before while my dad climbed. She couldn’t lower him, so he had to clip himself into the top bolt with a personal harness while I took over the belaying and lowered him.

    It also wasn’t too hot. We were surrounded on both sides by rocks, so they blocked out most of the sun and in the morning we were actually cold. Because of this, we were able to climb for longer than we usually would. When the sun came out in the afternoon, the tour groups started to arrive. They would crowd around me while I belayed and some people would stand a few inches away from me taking pictures of what I was doing which was very distracting.
    The climbing atmosphere here was similar to the one in Skaha near Kelowna when we went there.

    When we were done climbing, we went to a cafe called Dinko’s and then went to a grocery to get snacks for the ride home. We drove 2 hours to get home, and then had dinner.

    Sophie
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