Category Archives: English

Bulgaria is winning you over!

Marion – Looking at the social networks, I realise that Bulgaria might be worth the trip and then, above all, that Greece in the middle of the season was not something we wanted to do. Unfortunately, we couldn’t stay very long in Turkey because of the security conditions required by Sinan’s work.
So we thought, why not, let’s go to Bulgaria.
A colleague of my Mum’s kindly gave us lots of information about what to do and see, what to do and where to go.
We had no idea what to expect with Sinan. Sinan had the stereotypes of Balkan and Mediterranean countries in his head, I was more post-Soviet. So the mix of the 3 was so improbable that it was impossible to make a picture of it.
Our first contact with this magnificent country was in Melnik, the smallest town where everyone makes their own wine. We parked, opened the door and met a nice man. He speaks half Bulgarian and half English, tells us not to worry, keeps the car and even offers biscuits to the children. When we leave, we buy a bottle of white wine from his own production (which we have to pay in Euros as there is no means of withdrawal in this small village) and he gives us some fruit for the children.
Our first contact with Bulgaria confirmed what we felt afterwards, even in the capital Sofia, the Bulgarians have a heart on their hand and are always ready to help you.
We enjoyed nature and greenery again. Everyone enjoyed it, like in Meteora 2 weeks before but I’ll talk more about it in the article about Greece.
We discovered a lot of places even if there were some misses such as the most important geyser of Europe, invisible because it was under construction.
In my opinion, the little known plus would be the town of Stara Zagora. It’s like Plovdiv but without any foreign tourists because very few tourists hear about it (and fortunately)!
We loved this country and we already plan to go back there, a real favorite like Lanzarote !

The Alpha and the Omega

Marion – It was magical to arrive in Greece by ferry. View of the sunrise over the city of Patras from the boat, a moment out of time… Well, as for the night on the boat, the children slept well, that’s the main thing. We, the adults, have had better nights… The neighbours shared their party with everyone and it was warmer outside than inside. Anyway, fortunately not all nights are the same 😉 We drove straight to Meteora. We only spent a week in Greece this time and only in Meteora as we will be back in mid-August until the end of September. It’s a beautiful area and so quiet. A real sound’s contrast after Italy. We only visited one monastery as Thais and I are afraid of heights so it was difficult to do the others. We mostly enjoyed hiking and resting as unfortunately I caught a cold on the boat. The children were delighted to be able to walk in nature again. We didn’t do much of that in Italy because of the heat wave. We also went to the village market and it was a treat for the eyes and the stomach. Moreover, the Greeks are really adorable and communication was much easier even though they didn’t necessarily speak better English than the Italians. They were especially keen to make us discover their region. We can’t wait to discover the rest of the country later!

Eatalia

Marion – We spent 5 weeks in Italy and I have to say that it was a nice surprise for me.
I don’t fit the Austrian pattern of spending at least one holiday a year in Italy since childhood.
For the children it was their “real” first time as we have already done stopover in Italy but it was only on the way to and from our annual roadtrips.
The kids were over the moon because Thais has been asking us since she could to go so she could eat more pasta and ice cream, and Louis because Thais was happy.
As for me, I was reluctant at first because I don’t like ice cream or pizza and pasta, it’s not like we never eat it at home.
That said, we had plenty of fresh vegetables/fruits. A real paradise, especially for me after my operation.
We plan to go back in 4 years so we can all climb the Pisa tower as children under 8 are not allowed. We’ll do Florence at the same time, it was so hot we stopped there for an ice cream only (I even had a chocolate mint one, the only flavour I eat when the mercury is over 40 degrees).
We were lucky enough to have Mamitou with us and to do the Cinque Terre with her, especially by boat.
Without the boat, I’m not sure we would have really enjoyed it. It’s nice but oversold in our opinion.
Afterwards, like everywhere else, going to unknown places changes everything, especially in a positive way.
We were in a small village by the sea in the Abruzzo region and it was really nice.
We really enjoyed it, as well as the Tuscany region.
For Puglia, even if the little village was great, we didn’t get to enjoy it as much as we wanted because of the heat.
As a result, it didn’t make as much of an impression on us as the rest.
Thais did, however, see one of her dreams come true in Bari when she saw the old ladies making pasta by hand.
On the other hand, it was the first time that we had so much difficulty in communicating.
We could understand what they were saying and we could read without any problem, but as they didn’t speak English, it was impossible to make ourselves understood without simultaneous translation. This was complicated on the few phone calls we had to make where we simply had to hang up without getting an answer because nobody understood what we were saying.
I am interested to know what it will be like in 4 years time when we go back as we promised to do it as a birthday present for the children.
See you soon!

There is never a dull moment around here…

Marion – The last 3 months have been full of twists and turns. A brief look back because here we are again on the road. It will be Europe this summer and more precisely, Italy at the moment. We returned to Austria thinking that we would only stay there for 3/4 weeks. We enjoyed our family and friends very much, the schedule was very busy. We went to the outskirts of Vienna for a week, just Sinan and I. It was good to be away from the kids for a while. We love them more than anything else, but being together 24/7, you have to be able to recharge your batteries whenever you get the chance. Moreover, the children were more than happy to be able to take full advantage of Mamitou & Opa, the opposite being true too. Then we went to Zadar for a week with my parents. Even though we were all sick, we enjoyed the area and the sun. It was really a beautiful discovery and we wish to go back one day to enjoy it longer. We returned to Vienna to look for the best date to fly to New Zealand. Date found, tickets taken for May 23rd. We enjoy the last moments at home but fate decided otherwise. I had to have an emergency operation. Everything went very well and I’m back on my feet to enjoy the rest of the trip without any worry. For safety’s sake and to reassure us all, we decided to postpone New Zealand in October and to do Europe this summer. So here’s to the sun, the heat and the dolce vita!!

A timeless bubble

Marion – I’m finally back to write a report on Lanzarote, a beautiful little island in the Canaries.
This decision taken on a whim 2 weeks before our arrival was a great idea and a wonderful surprise.
Moreover, Sinan was very happy not to have to get up at 4:30 am to be on time for his online appointments.
We really felt in love with this one. You might say, we haven’t seen any other so how can we know, good question and we won’t know the answer until we’ve been elsewhere.
In any case, I can only say that just a few days after our arrival, I was already considering moving to this beautiful island.
Space as far as the eye can see, this ochre colour, the ocean and all these possibilities of activities in the middle of nature, a real crush, I tell you.
It was a change for us to be able to walk almost every day without having to pay an entrance fee like in Mexico or Croatia. The children were impressed by all these volcanoes (there are 110) and we had to reassure them each time that they were all sleeping soundly.
They have developed a taste for walking and being outdoors all the time. They miss it now.
I, who love the mountains and Sinan the sea, we both had our happiness at hand.
There were very few people. Despite the constant spring principle, we had rain and cold draughts. It was a bit like April before its time.
We had a few setbacks with the accommodation but the rest of it was so charming that it didn’t affect us at all. The return to the city was hard after having only desert scenery or the ocean in action as a horizon line. This post is shorter than the previous ones but it’s really hard to put into words how we felt.
It felt like we were on holiday all the time when we were not. The children were not exempt from school and Sinan was working as usual.
I sincerely hope that one day we will stay a little longer than usual on this beautiful island. We were there for 5 weeks but we hope to be able to settle there one day.
Who knows, dreaming is always good for the brain.

“México, Méxicooooo”

Marion – Well, before our stay in Lanzarote comes to an end, it’s time for a report from Mexico.
This country was and still is a place where emotions are felt the strongest.
Someday I will do a separate article on what it is like to be on the roller coaster of long trips.
So we stayed almost 2 months in Mexico.
During the first part, my Mother was with us. We were on the Yucatan Peninsula and celebrated New Year’s, Three Kings and Thais’ birthday in Puerto Morelos. It is beautiful and the green is very good for the eyes, but it is not representative of Mexico. I had a hard time getting hooked and was less attracted to seeing the area. We still went to see Valladolid, the ruins of Ek Balam, Cancun and Playa del Carmen.
Then, when Mamitou returned to Europe, we went to San Miguel de Allende, in the Guanajuato region, for 4 weeks. I really wanted to show my little family the place where I lived for a year, exactly 10 years ago.
SMA is like Vienna, it doesn’t change. You come back 10 years later, there are some new shops but the rest is true to itself, the friends are still there.
I saw many friends again and it was as if we had seen each other yesterday. It was heartwarming.
We also celebrated the French version of Candlemas with pancakes and the Mexican version with tamales (a mixture of rice flour and vegetables or chicken wrapped in banana leaves).
The children were even able to spend two weeks in a Mexican school where they celebrated Valentine’s Day. It is important to know that there it is the holiday of friendship above all else and they were spoiled by their little friends. In fact, they made friends more quickly than in the United States. It was quite a mission to get there and back, but by the looks on their faces, it was well worth the effort.
We also took the opportunity to visit Guanajuato Capital, Queretaro and Attotonilco.
Mexico is now as beautiful and exotic as ever, but even more dangerous than 10 years ago. I had some adventures, crossed part of the country alone, but I wouldn’t do that now and I was even more alert with the kids, my Mother and Sinan by my side.
I have some bad memories that made me hope it wouldn’t happen to us. I had a hard time letting go and enjoying 100% like I did more than 10 years ago. Especially when at that time there are people who are also on a long journey and have had traumatic experiences. This makes me think that maybe we did not do more, but at least I know that the image that my Family will have will be a beautiful image of Mexico.
Also, some disappointment that Mexicans still don’t know how to say no, for still not being able to be punctual. Although my friends tried to make an effort for me because they know that after so many years in Austria, my limit is still the french quarter of an hour in delay.
Sinan enjoyed SMA very much. He wouldn’t mind going back for more. Well, he would have to get up again at 4:30 am every weekday to work, but otherwise the pace of life is an European mix with wonderful Mexican folklore.
That said, I know that SMA will remain my favorite city forever.
So I was very happy to have kept my promise to go again and to have made my family discover this beautiful country, but next time, friends, I will see you in Argentina!

America rewind

Marion – Time passes too quickly and above all, we took the opportunity to spend as much time as possible with my family.
A little throwback to our last month in the US, in December 2021.
After the end of our isolation, we enjoyed living 1000% American style. Besides, I want to give us a little thumbs up anyway (not too much but a little), we spent 3 weeks locked up in a superb apartment (thank you Tata Kiki + Tonton Antoine) without television or film on the computer. I can tell you that the first outing to the park was a breath of fresh air for everyone in every sense of the word.
So straight after our outing, the children, Ouistiti and Loulou, had the chance to spend a week in an American kindergarten. Long live Google translation whether it is so that they can be understood and also for the animators. On the 3rd day, they finally had American friends. The fact that they were both in the same group helped a lot to make it happen without tears or fear.
It also allowed them to change their horizon a little, other people than always the same, different culinary tastes.
Ot was good to be a bit appart but even if I had my mornings free, I was very busy. We took advantage of lunch alone without having to struggle to find a babysitter.
Almost every night we took tours to different places so we could see all the Christmas lights. Zoos and even private houses put on quite a show and often transform their environment into a fairy tale!!
We left one last time for a weekend in Rhodes Island before my parents and my brother joined us for Christmas.
The 9 of us spent it near a frozen lake lost in the forest in Maine, it was magnificent. We were even able to eat outside (in cosmonaut mode anyway) lunch on December 24, it was so sunny. A great experience and wonderful memories.
On the other hand, the four of us decided after that to try not to spend the winter in the cold anymore. The wind in Boston got the better of us!!
We wish you a happy new year 2022 and see you soon for new adventures!!

American Way of life

Marion – We left you when we left for the US and with some direct impressions of Sinan during our American roadtrip.
So we came here on purpose so that we could have a real Halloween like the Americans really do.
We were therefore able to go to a farm, choose our own pumpkin and do all the activities that go with it (corn maze, apple harvest, etc.).
We went to Boston for Halloween. It was a treat for the children and Sinan who were discovering this dor the first time. For me, it brought back memories of my Halloween in California when I was in my first year of prinary school at my godmother’s house with my cousins / cousin. The children received so much chocolate that the last Halloween sweets are used for the Advent calendar.
After that, we left for 3 weeks on a roadtrip along the East Coast. It was necessary to adapt to Sinan’s constraints in relation to the time difference for his professional meetings.
We did Boston – Meritt Island Florida as a round trip.
We took the opportunity to visit Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Florida on the road.
And it really answered what we were looking for with this world tour.
We have been to places little known, even downright remote. We only met locals, not a foreign tourist (well, like us) on the horizon. In addition, we experienced moments out of time where we only enjoyed the rolling waves in South Carolina or the launch of the SpaceX3 rocket in Florida. The children have experienced first highlights from their early years that we too were experiencing for the first time.
They are now very interested in the ocean and aerospace.
If anyone is interested, here are the highlights of our roadtrip:
Charleston, NC
Meritt Island, FL
Disney springs, FL
Providence Canyon, GA
Ocmulgee Mounds National Monument, GA
Hilton Head Island, SC
Savannah, GA
Congaree National Park, SC
This allowed us to realize once again that we are more for road travel than taking planes on planes.
We also know that we can make up our minds and book at the last moment without having to worry, and the best period is always off-season. We celebrated our return to Boston with an NBA game with the Boston Celtics. Sinan finally made one of his childhood wishes come true. It was a superb atmosphere in a controlled environment, it pleased us all, even and especially the children.
Now, we are on a break for a little while in order to regain our strength to start afresh.
See you soon!!

Early on the road

Sinan – Today we woke up early again and the kids are still asleep. We are packing and leaving Charleston SC. We have a long way to Florida. Our everyday life is now quite different now than what it was back in Vienna. We are travelling from town to town and moving spontaneously. But still, there is a lot to organize. An effort, which does not seem to diminish. We are still in the search of a proper rhythm for all of us and we try to enjoy the time we spend and overcome the challenges. Which is not always possible. But we are well underway. Today, especially early. Eager to see what’s ahead. Florida surprises us with incessant rain and storm. Nevertheless, we see the light at the end of the tunnel and have some time to relax. Relief, with the hope that what’s ahead of us brings beautiful adventures and we will manage everything better. For me there is no homesickness, but only a longing for a new kind of serenity, only to be found on the road.