Tag Archives: expat

Ljubljana, Slovenija

Ljubljana, Slovenia

Ljubljana was completely unexpected. Actually, we didn’t know what to expect, but it hinted along the lines of communistic square buildings in gray like other parts of Eastern Europe. We were passing through from Verona to Zagreb, feeling the pull of the sea far too strong (it was right there!), but since we had to make it to Zag, we should at least take advantage of passing through Slovenia and stop in at the capital. Cleanest, shiniest, pastel-iest city filled with patios along the river, Ljubljanica. If we didn’t have to drive to our hotel in another country, we’d most def have been amongst the patio drinkers. Besides looking so lovely (check out that pink building!), it’s also fun to say (lyoo-blee-yana).

Ljubljana, SloveniaLjubljana, SloveniaLjubljana, Slovenia
Ljubljana, SloveniaLjubljana, SloveniaLjubljana, SloveniaLjubljana, SloveniaLjubljana, SloveniaLjubljana, SloveniaLjubljana, SloveniaLjubljana, Slovenia

Isn’t she lovely? Isn’t she wonderful? Yep, yep. She also likes to be serenaded..probably.

Na svidenje Slovenija! | Goodbye. See you again, Slovenia!

Advertisements

20 Comments

Filed under Slovenia

Verona, Italia

verona, italia - 2

Verona has all of the luxuries of Italy that has stolen my heart. I mean. This country – the colors. the architecture details. the food (oh snap, the food.) the adding of the fun, extra syllables to everything. It agrees with us and I try to convince J about this fact perpetually – ‘deer, look at my skin. it’s softer now that we’re here.’ or ‘love, your eyes are extra blue since we crossed the border.’ I’m not totally unsure that it’s working. If you want to discuss how much you love Italy, come sit next to us….unless you don’t wear deodorant, because c’mon.

The city boasts the third largest Roman amphitheatre in Italy, built around 30 AD.  Also, in order to solidify a spot in our list of great cities, Verona went ahead and claimed a fab body of water. Not just claimed, but straddled itself around the Adige river making it quite convenient to enjoy best of both worlds.

Verona, Italy
Verona, ItalyVerona, Italiaverona, italia - 22Verona, Italy172IMG_1582

UNESCO isn’t the only one who appreciated the beauty of the city, Shakespeare was a big fan as well. He set three of his plays there – Romeo and JulietThe Two Gentlemen of Verona, and The Taming of the Shrew. The tomb of Ms. Capulet, called Tomba di Giulietta, finds itself off the beaten path lined with columns leading to the monastery. The balcony, however, lives in a small, but highly sought-out courtyard in the center of Verona, named Casa di Giulietta. R+J’s tragedy attracts romantics from all over to come and leave love notes and locks as forever symbols. We played along – got us a rad little pink lock, wrote our initials on it and brought the keys to Croatia with us.

Ahh! And the best thing ever. Justin got stopped by an Asian tourist who asked for a photo with him. Her friends spoke English and told him that it was because he looked like Leonardo DiCaprio.. He tried to tell her that he was not Leonardo DiCaprio, but the lady insisted, it was ok that he just looked like him. Y’all. Leo D played Romeo which was set in Verona. Mind: blown. You don’t know how bad I want a copy of that photo.

Tomba di Giulietta | Verona, ItalyIMG_1593 Romeo + Giulietta's balcony | Verona, Italia  Romeo + Giulietta's love locks | Verona, ItaliaIMG_1599IMG_1611
IMG_1621 2verona, italia - 2IMG_1626
Verona, ItalyVerona, ItaliaIMG_1652

Goodnight, good night, Italia. Parting is such sweet sorrow. For in the morning, our road trip continues.

10 Comments

Filed under Italy

Milano, Italia

So, the car ride out of Lucerne was pretty much full-on Annie trying to coerce Justin into stopping in Milan..

“Honey, I’ve never been to Milan.. Love, we’re driving right through.. I love Italy what if we never come back?!”

He’d break about 45 minutes outside of the city and thought he could prove his wife wrong in that there wasn’t anything to see. Ha. While not as lovely as Florence, Milan was still able to add to her love affair with Italia. So we park the car in the first lot that we find in the (what we assumed was) center of town and begin our trek around the city to see the sights in pit-stop number two on our way to Verona. We spot a tower and figure, ‘hey, that must be something important.’ Ends up that we’re walking next to the beautiful Sempione Park on our way up to the 15th century Sforza Castle, one of the largest citadels in Europe. Psh. J and his ‘nothing to see’. A of course made friends with the first musical street performer we come across..

IMG_1519IMG_1560Milan, ItalyMilan, Italy IMG_1516

Wandering through the castle’s renaissance courtyard, we find one of the entrances with a long boulevard on the opposite side. The trek continues down the street and leads us to the Piazza del Duomo, where Annie with all of her inner strength fights the urge to say, ‘see, told ya.’ But she doesn’t need to, he knows, he knows. It was a good pit-stop, the square is dominated by the Milan Cathedral, the fifth largest cathedral in the world and the most important example of Gothic architecture in the country. This guy that takes six centuries to build is just as grand on the inside, but unfortunately the cathedral ushers don’t let A in since she’s in shorts.. Women in shorts are forbidden, men in shorts are fine.. What year is this?

IMG_1538IMG_1547photo (7)

After J makes a quick run through the inside our eyes turn to the left of the cathedral where we find a giant glass covered walkway – the Galleria Vittorio Emmanuele II is the worlds oldest shopping mall – but we were hard pressed to notice the shops while looking up at the ceiling the entire way through.

The little trolley car at the stop on the other side reminded us of our days back on McKinney Avenue in Dallas. We smile, and think, ‘yeah, we’d much rather look at them in Milan’ while we make our way back to our chariot. Next stop, Verona. Annie promises her husband no more pit-stops on the way.

Milan, Italy IMG_1554-002
IMG_1556
Milan, Italy Milan, ItalyIMG_1563

2 Comments

Filed under Italy

Luzern, Schweiz

As a pit stop from overnights in Basel to Verona, we made it to Lucerne for breakfast. We walked along the Reuss river and made friends with the swans. Seriously. I would move to Switzerland just for the animal sitch they’re workin with. I can only imagine that sitch in Austria because Austria is just as lovely and we’re completely obsessed after our Christmas trip. Secret little country doesn’t want the outsiders to know how great it is.. J and I’s conversation on the way through Austria when we forgot how much we adored the country..

‘Hi guys – welcome back! We’re glad to have you. Hope you enjoy being here, really we do. Have a look around at our home..you can tell people about it if you want, or not, either way we’re just chillin.’ – Austria

This is also the method with which J re-teaches me all of the European history that I probably learned in school, but forgot it like a normal person. He personifies leaders and countries and makes them into characters that I’ll remember and he is gonna be the greatest dad. If it doesn’t confuse the heck out of them..

Where were we? Oh yeah, Schweis. Which is the Swiss German, or maybe just German?, way to say it in the city and I like the local language of cities to shine…even if I’m butchering the pronunciation with my Southern-trying-really-hard-not-to-sound-too-Southern American accent. Overly expressive facial expressions and all.

Lucerne.

They’ve got this famous bridge, Kapellbrücke. That thing is a work of art, all 669 ft of it. It cuts through the Reuss and was originally built in 1333, making it the oldest covered bridge in Europe. Except for the restoration that was needed in 1993  (allegedly) caused by a cigarette. Do you know I now feel dirtier for even having that word on our blog. Yuck. Get that crap under control people. Please and thank you. Anyway, that bridge is a beaut with its remainders (and sadly, restorations) of 17th century paintings throughout Lucerne’s history.

It was all so picturesque. Take a gander..

Lucerne, Switzerland Lucerne, Switzerland Lucerne, Switzerland Lucerne, Switzerland IMG_1487Lucerne, Switzerland Lucerne, Switzerland Lucerne, SwitzerlandLucerne, Switzerland Lucerne, SwitzerlandWe called this one Grace.

18 Comments

Filed under Switzerland

JulyFest

Rock Werchter, BelgiumAdriatic Sea glass
Verona, ItalyDuomo | Milan, Italy
Kamenjak, Premanthura | Pula, CroatiaCandelabra Collection
Nuremberg, GermanyRock Werchter, Belgium
Fourth of July | Montgomery FestRock Werchter, Belgium

rockin’ the Werchter // Adriatic Sea glass // intoxicating hues // duomo is a cathedral. hashtag Italian lessons // turquoise // candelabra collection  // say ‘cheese’, Nuremberg // dancin’ hipster feet //4 July, 2013 // peace out!

instafotos.

4 Comments

Filed under LIFE

Basel, Schweiz

Have you heard we took a little big road trip recently? I ‘grammed a little preview about it. The views we did see. (Over on the side bar: how much do you instagram when you’re on a trip? I’m a photo a day-ish kinda girl.. Ya know, not too much. But then again, when I know a friend is on a trip, I’m such a stalker – more pics, more pics please!) Anyway, it was a whirlwind of a trip, rolling through city after city and spending a week on the beach. Each town gets its own post because they’re all fabulous in their own right.

Basel, Switzerland

First stop on our trip was Basel. We had a little preview of the city on Christmas day here, but this second time was golden. We had the best hostess this side of the Atlantic. Ms. Nayra moved home to Switzerland earlier this year and this was the first chance we’ve gotten to catch up with her since she left Brussels. Man, we missed that little lady. I wish we could plan more shindigs together.

So, yes. After the quick jaunt through four countries in an afternoon, we parked at Nayra’s house and caught up on some much-needed hugs and squeals. She welcomed us to her Wednesday night Girl’s Night with a BBQ….yumm. It was low-keyed and lovely. The next morning we hiked down the side of a nearby mountain (this is Switzerland. those things are everywhere). We made lots of animal friends on the way down. 

Basel, SwitzerlandBasel, SwitzerlandBasel, SwitzerlandBasel, SwitzerlandBasel, Switzerland

We were pretty proud of our hike, until about 1.2 days later when we realized that we haven’t hiked down a mountain since at least a year ago and those little muscles in our shins are now awake and mad. Still worth it though. 

The afternoon was spent walking through the city and admiring architecture with history lessons from our friend. The sun was scorching, so we grabbed a beer with Sprite and put our feet in the Rhine river and watched as people floated by (jealous..we’re going to need to plan ourselves a Rhine river floating trip soon).

Basel, SwitzerlandBasel, SwitzerlandBasel, SwitzerlandBasel, Switzerland
Basel, Switzerland
Basel, SwitzerlandBasel, Switzerland

That evening, Nayra’s parents (who are the cutest couple ever) cooked dinner for us and broke out old photo albums of the awesomest, most hippy-fab photos that Nayra needs to frame asap. please. We’re talkin 1970 Spanish summers here. My heart sings. I’m not sure if I’m supposed to tell this or not, but her parents don’t speak English too fluently, so her dad is taking English lessons so that he can chat with Nayra’s English-speaking friends when they come over. I mean!! Precious, that is. Her mom told us the story of how they met and he proposed while he lived in Spain and she lived in Switzerland. And then, they asked if we’d like a beverage – tea, more water, grappa. Grappa? Well, I’ve only tried it once and didn’t like it. Next thing we know, he’s down in the cellar fetching his liquor cabinet, of which we tasted sips of the variety in her mom’s collection of beautiful shot glasses from her travels. All of it. All of them. A swell night indeed.

The visit was over too soon and the following morning we did our awkward 2.5 kisses until I gave up and went straight for the hugs. By the way, I think it should be a rule that whenever you go in to kiss people, you have to call out how many times you’re going for. No room for confusion, because for Americans, this kissing thing is WAY more intimate than a hug, which is opposite on this side of the Atlantic. And I tend to make it as awkward as possible. You’re Dutch and I’m American, but we both live in the French-speaking part of Belgium, so how many does that compute to…oh, always one (+/-) off than what I go for? Got it.

Basel, Switzerland

Thanks for being wonderfully fantastic, Nayra. We’re particularly appreciative of grand hosts these days in which we’re all traveling quite a bit more.

xxx (that’s 3 kisses for the Swiss!)

8 Comments

Filed under Switzerland, TRAVEL

Guest Post | A Girl and Her Travels

Hey all! As MongomeryFest is off driving wild, wonderful Europe they asked me to contribute something to their blog. Their exciting trip reminded me of one of my favorite driving moments – not exactly a relaxing holiday drive (and, uh, I wasn’t exactly driving), but a good one nonetheless.

Guest Post | A Girl and Her Travels

The first thing you should know is that I’m an ESL teacher in Moscow, Russia. The second thing you should know is that Moscow’s traffic is among the most soul-crushing in the world. Unluckily for me, my school was actually outside of the city, requiring a 15-kilometer, hour and a half bus ride at least twice a week.

So there I was, trapped on the very last row of the bus. It was stuffy and uncomfortable, but I just kept chanting “it’s almost over, it’s almost over” in my head. I only had two more weeks of going through this purgatory and then I’d never have to ride that damned bus again!

Unable to relax comfortably while wedged between two hefty grandmothers, I decided to scope out the bus. I almost immediately made awkward eye-contact with a cute Russian guy about my age. Easily embarrassed, I looked away (and thanks to my red hair, likely blushed bright red). I snuck a look back and he was still looking, turned almost all the way around in his seat. I assumed he was someone I had met and forgotten about since that happens quite often.

After a moment he turned away smiling and I intrepidly tried to ignore the weirdo for the duration of the hour long trip.

Upon reaching my bus stop, I hopped off, assuming I’d never see anyone on that bus again. While crossing the street I heard a “devochka!” (girl), turned around, and sure enough it was bus boy. I let him catch up – he was tall, good-looking, and we were surrounded by people. I felt pretty safe I wouldn’t get ax-murdered.

I spoke mediocre Russian for a bit before he figured out I was American. He spoke tentative English. It turns out that he lived a quick two-minute walk from the school I worked at! We agreed to trade phone numbers and the rest is history!

Guest Post | A Girl and Her Travels

Oh, except for a quick kiss outside the school’s windows which caused another teacher to abandon her class of children to grill me on what was going on.

Oh, and the fact that I just took that very same bus this morning from his house to get a decent wifi connection. They say love makes you do crazy things, but they never said it would torture you with Russian traffic jams!

Adorbs, right?! We always love hearing how the couples we know met, especially around the world. Always different, quirky, interesting, and gives a little sneak-peak into what is to come. Check out what Polly and the Russky are up to at A Girl and Her Travels, and thanks Polly for adding your story while we’re out on our adventure (updates to come!).

10 Comments

Filed under LIFE

Rocked Werchter

85,000 people. 79 bands. 69 countries represented. 39 years of the fest.
And four days of complete Montgomery music bliss.

Close your eyes and imagine it :: your (maybe red polished) toes dancing around in the soft, green grass. the perfect breeze. the summer sun shining against your shades as it heads down in the distance to frame the stage. the stage that’s lit with reds and blues and spotlights highlighting the band. it’s one of your top bands, maybe singing their most fantastically obscure song that you thought you were the only one who knew the words to, but you aren’t. there are people as far as you can see (which is actually not very far when you’re the height of A, but still) who all know the words. because these are music fans, devoted to the art. you’re all swaying (or jamming out…whatever your style is) to the beat with your hands waving. and you belong here. amongst the most hardcore festival goer of them. it’s a love. and it’s why you brave the heat and the crowds and the port-a-potties. and why the walls in your home hope to overfill with posters that tell too many stories* and hang as badges of honor from every festival you’ve been to together. 

Rock Werchter, BelgiumRock Werchter, Belgiumafterglow-37-e1373465491469 afterglow-44-e1373465502411Rock Werchter, BelgiumRock Werchter, BelgiumVampire Weekend at Rock Werchter, BelgiumRock Werchter, BelgiumRock Werchter, Belgium
Rock Werchter, BelgiumRock Werchter, Belgium

The Lumineers’ frontman, Wesley Schultz, likes to remind the audience to put down their phones at their shows and just be here. Such a wonderfully small, but powerful reminder. Music is big. So here’s a few of our favorites from the weekend – be freeeeeee. Pick up some drinks, invite some people over, and pretend like you’re having a dance-off with Régine..

*stories like that 2011 Bonnaroo trip where the two of us set up our blanket waaaaay in the back of the field and had a complete and total jam session listening to Arcade Fire. At the end of the set, we weren’t finished jamming and some young guy hopped on our blanket and asked what we were on. Completely sober (take note kids). I was pretty proud of our dance skillz that night. Those are the best kind of jam sessions.

10 Comments

Filed under SPREAD THE MUSIC

Visitors Itinerary | Jordan

Welcome Jordan. You might remember her sweet dance moves from here. She hails from Dallas, where the we all met post grad at work and bonded over crazy long hours and dreaming of retiring in Europe immediately (at least that’s how I remember it). She knew the work Annie and Justin who were total opposites and then the dating Annie and Justin who somehow, strangely worked despite polar responses to life and then the night I picked her up for Girl’s Night and she flipped out when we sat down at the table and saw my shiny ring finger, but I couldn’t exactly tell her in the car, so I was waiting for the right timing and that was a fun night. Anyway, it’s now my mission in life to make this a reality, because really, Europe looks good on these people down here…. 

Fete de la Musique | Brussels, Belgium

Because it wouldn’t be a true Jordan visit if we didn’t hear a little live music, we headed to Parc Royal to check out the Fête de la MusiqueAaaand it was just what we needed to go from this (left) to that (right). Asap:

Excited friends a la airport | Brussels, BelgiumContent friends a la Place Jourdan | Brussels, Belgium

Necessary.

Also necessary, we consumed a whole lotta Belgian beer, chocolate, and much-needed girl chat. It was better than Disney World.

There was a trip to Bruges, where we climbed the tiniest stairwell in all of the land. Smaller and taller and smaller and smaller. Finally. The top, where those bells ring all of a sudden no matter how close your ears are. They don’t care.

Belfry | Bruges, BelgiumBruges, BelgiumBruges, Belgium
Visitors Itinerary | Bruges, BelgiumMontgomeryFest | Bruges, BelgiumBruges, BelgiumIMG_1321

And then, we went all touristy in Brussels and plopped down in the middle of Grand Place with the messiest kind of waffles. The kind that you find in your hair at dinner later that evening.

There was a lot of walking and chatting and chatting and walking and maybe some slight getting lost (although I might have been the only one who knew it?) and a mildly inappropriate tourist attraction and a very, very inappropriate tourist attraction.

Grand Place | Brussels, Belgium Grand Place | Brussels, BelgiumGrand Place | Brussels, BelgiumBrussels, Belgium

So, here’s the deal. I’m totally in love with all of the fantastic ladies (and gents) we’ve come to know and call friends in this sassy area of the world, but, ya know, sometimes you just need some home cooking. I’m sorry, Jordan. I just compared you to cooking. But, it’s just soooo GOOD FOR THE SOUL. Laughing about shenanigans we got into back in Dallas (if she’d let me, I’d start uploading embarrassing photos because they make me happy, but I’m sorry. and also, you’re welcome.) and understanding the same cultural references and just sitting and enjoying good ol’ friend time. BUT, I’m getting carried away, I didn’t have to choose!  We threw together a fancy schmancy Girls’ Night! And, in general Girl’s Nights make me a happy one, but this one. This one was a special sort. Plus, my hubby crashed the party at the end, so it was the best kind of night. 

Place Luxembourg | Brussels, BelgiumBrussels, Belgium

And THEN, we finally made it to Chalet Robinson and found the best grilled chicken caesar salad in this country, probably. I mean, we had to travel via ferry to the island and were surrounded by freshly pressed business people and dogs, so the stakes were pretty high. But, worth it to meet this stud..

Chalet Robinson | Brussels, BelgiumChalet Robinson | Brussels, Belgium

And in case there’s any suspicion that I went mean girl up there, the guy gave us candy after our lunch. And if you must know anything about me, it’s that candy is the way to my heart (ahem, American candy). Which must mean that Jordan knows me pretty darn well, because that little chica flew to Spain and then to Belgium with at least two pounds of it in tow. These are the kind of people you want in your life.

Chatelain Market | Brussels, Belgium

Aren’t you happy we prettied this blog up with Jordan photos? Now, THAT was necessary.

Til the next overseas adventure, friend!

13 Comments

Filed under // Day Trips, Belgium, VISITORS ITINERARY

Bicycles at the Bois

Humans on Wheels Parade in Place Flagey, Brussels, Belgium

On the way back from a Friday evening toddy at our favorite Irish pub patio, we noticed the streets of Flagey were being blocked off by police…in Flagey…that never happens. Some sort of humans on wheels parade was a’happening. Hundreds of ’em. Hundreds!. First, the rollerbladers. Then, the skateboarders. Then, the bicyclers. Then, the standby ambulances. We had so many questions. Although, with our daily experiences in Brussels, that’s usually the case.

As well as normally. Which I learned last week is synonymous with usually in this country. J says he hears it a lot at work, but I heard it for the first time on our visit to Knokke. Justin: ‘What time is check out?’ Front desk: ‘It’s normally 11am.’ Buuuuut….., nothing. It’s just that it’s normally 11am period

Oh, okay.

Mind you, this was the same lady who told me ‘this is the nicest part of Belgium’, after I asked her to recommend a reasonable resto for lunch while I was in a (modest) swimsuit coverup with 8 percent wet hair. I’m serious.

Normally I don’t judge the pretentious (but this time I made an exception).

And, we’re back –

Perhaps those humans on wheels are what sparked the bicycle idea the following day. We may never know. We drove to the edge of the Bois de la Cambre, because we’d most likely not want to walk the short walk back after getting on a bike after…I don’t know how many years. 

afterglow-28-e1375043351447 photo-jun-15-4-55-34-pm-1-e1375043152337Bicycling in Bois de la Cambre, Brussels, Belgium

That is one part worry that I’ll run that huge monster of a vehicle into a tiny human on light pink rollerblades | One part trying to keep my headband perched atop my head | And one part chatterbox that J should know by now doesn’t stop just because he has the camera out.

Bicycling in Bois de la Cambre, Brussels, BelgiumBicycling in Bois de la Cambre, Brussels, BelgiumBicycling in Bois de la Cambre, Brussels, Belgium

If only I had skateboarding skillz.
If only.
Then they could maybe make up for my lack of cupcakes from scratch baking skillz that did not improve any today, but the sugar high from the batter was worth it because, let’s be honest, the batter is the best part. Sorry Winne…next time I’ll add more sugar (hehehe) (and, yep, like Winnie Cooper….don’t you just want to meet her parents?! #jealous. But one time at a bar in Dallas, someone called me Winnie Cooper and I will forever hold it in my heart.)

May the force be with you.
(and with me because Anthro is having their annual sale and I’m not evening going to check out the site except to grab the link for you even though I already know the link and it makes me go to the .eu site anyway when all I want is the .com site because I feel more comfortable there and just LET ME GO TO THE .COM, but, really, I’m NOT going to even tempt myself, but if there were a surprise box in the post with the two words Anthropologie and Montgomery on it, I’d be one happy, happy girl. Anyone? Anyone? Bueller….) (Seriously, bye already.)

9 Comments

Filed under LIFE