Bright colored Umbrellas; Budapest, Hungary; 2011

Hungary: Nighttime Cityscape

Location of Hungary in Europe
Location of Hungary in Europe

 

Theme: European Christmas Holiday  Country: Hungary  Languages: Hungarian  Unit of Currency: Hungarian forint  Locations: Budapest  Year: 2011   Bucket list: Viewing the city at night

 

Rainy Christmas Market; Budapest, Hungary; 2011
Rainy Christmas Market; Budapest, Hungary; 2011

 

DO:  CHECK OUT ALL THE CHRISTMAS MARKETS

Budapest:

  • Walking around the Christmas Markets during the day and ending it with a nighttime coach ride to view the city
Cityscape; Budapest, Hungary; 2011
Cityscape; Budapest, Hungary; 2011

 

Street View; Budapest, Hungary; 2011
Street View; Budapest, Hungary; 2011

 

Creative Christmas Market; Budapest, Hungary; 2011
Creative Christmas Market; Budapest, Hungary; 2011

 

Downtown Christmas Tree; Budapest, Hungary; 2011
Downtown Christmas Tree; Budapest, Hungary; 2011

 

Blacksmith; Budapest, Hungary; 2011
Blacksmith; Budapest, Hungary; 2011

 

  • The second day opening of Hard Rock Cafe Budapest

 

Wet season of Hungary:

1) It had to happen at least in one country, it rained the entire day! Definitely gave thermal baths a whole new meaning! On a positive note, due to the treacherous weather conditions I now have discovered a clever way to take photos in the rain – the Hop on and Hop off bus was just the ticket that I needed on such a dreary day!

2) The grand opening of Hard Rock Café in Budapest was a hit for many locals, including the friendly staff. Normally I would not go to a chain restaurant while in another country, but I am so glad that I went here! Great food, good local beer, awesome music videos, and amazing staff created a unique and fun atmosphere!

3) The Christmas Markets covered downtown Pest and sold an assortment of Christmas and delicious holiday gifts. Wreaths made out of oranges, cinnamon, figs, and pinecones were a popular choice for those who wanted the traditional smells of Christmas. One of the more unique shops was one that sold bottles and shots of Schnapps. I tried the Schnapps Strawberry – which was made of strawberries grown on a tree! Not your traditional home-grown strawberry on a vine! Quite strong, but refreshing for such a gloomy day!

4) The brightly colored umbrellas outlined the city’s most famous landmarks, including Castle Hill. Castle Hill was formed by combining two cities: Buda and Pest in 1873. Much of Pest is positioned on the left bank of Danube River, while Pest is on the right bank of the Danube River. This is where history and scenery vie for attention. The nighttime glow from both cities of the Citadel was unbelievable! The perfect portrait of a peaceful city resting underneath your feet and the smells from the chocolate stand down the street produced a great experience in Budapest. Though the day combined cold and rain, the nighttime was perhaps the best time to view the city. The illumination of the city’s most spectacular landmarks created a masterpiece!

Next stop: Zagreb, Croatia!

Temple of Saint Sava (black-n-white); Belgrade, Serbia; 2011

Serbia: Temple of Saint Sava

Location of Serbia in Europe
Location of Serbia in Europe

 

Theme: European Christmas Holiday  Country: Serbia  Languages: Serbian  Unit of Currency: Serbian dinar  Locations: Belgrade & Novi Pazar  Year: 2011 & 2013  Bucket list: Photographing the Temple of Saint Sava

 

Hot Chocolate; Belgrade, Serbia; 2011
Hot Chocolate; Belgrade, Serbia; 2011

 

DO:  TREK AROUND THE CITY TO FIND TEMPLE OF SAINT SAVA

Belgrade:

  • Walking downtown and photographing a temple in the middle of the city and one of the largest Orthodox churches in the world
Street Sign; Belgrade, Serbia; 2011
Street Sign; Belgrade, Serbia; 2011

 

Book Stands; Belgrade, Serbia; 2011
Book Stands; Belgrade, Serbia; 2011

 

Honey Market; Belgrade, Serbia; 2011
Honey Market; Belgrade, Serbia; 2011
Temple of Saint Sava; Belgrade, Serbia; 2011
Temple of Saint Sava; Belgrade, Serbia; 2011

 

Flyer for Saint Sava Church; Belgrade, Serbia; 2011
Flyer for Saint Sava Church; Belgrade, Serbia; 2011

 

Photography Exhibition; Belgrade, Serbia; 2011
Photography Exhibition; Belgrade, Serbia; 2011

 

  • Tasting white hot chocolate while overlooking the local paint artists sketching the city landscapes and landmarks

 

Journey into Serbia:

1) Belgrade Fortress and Kalemegdan Park overlooked the old town and mouth of the Sava River. The fortress is the largest and most significant monument in Belgrade, with well-preserved walls, moats, and towers. Some kids were free running up these walls (wall flipping off of castle’s side and back tuck off of statue). The entrance of fortress was Kalemegdan Park, with views of the Danube from its terrace.

2) The Temple of Saint Sava was absolutely gorgeous! From the center of the city the temple was clearly Belgrade’s cityscapes, and was one of my favorite buildings in the city. The smoothing chimes were heard all over the city every hour illuminating this magnificent structure. The Temple of Saint Sava is the largest Orthodox Church currently used in Belgrade. The church is dedicated to Saint Sava, founder of the Serbian church and a significant figure in medieval Serbia.

3) Popcorn stands were located everywhere! The toppings were chili, butter, salt, garlic, curry, chicken, etc and were a favorite amongst the locals. The popcorn was made from an old school popcorn machine and it was, indeed, the best popcorn that I have had! It even beat your traditional movie theatre popcorn! Some of you may know how much I look forward to my visits in the states, complete with movie nights and movie theatre popcorn!

4) Christmas celebration was definitely in the atmosphere. The city lights that stretched for miles within Skadarilla Street were beautiful; they mixed well with the delicious smell of roasted chestnuts in the air. Skadarilla Street was a great example of why Belgrade was so unique – with the traditional Serbian scene, including strolling gypsy musicians mingling with artists and local revelers and artists creating masterpieces in front of your eyes.

Next stop: Budapest, Hungary!

Cross; Sofia, Bulgaria; 2011

Bulgaria: Architectural Significances

Location of Bulgaria in Europe
Location of Bulgaria in Europe

 

Theme: European Christmas Holiday  Country: Bulgaria   Languages: Bulgarian  Unit of Currency: Bulgarian lev  Locations: Sofia    Year: 2011  Bucket list: Glancing at some of the most popular architecture in Europe

Downtown Christmas Tree; Sofia, Bulgaria; 2011
Downtown Christmas Tree; Sofia, Bulgaria; 2011

 

DO:  VISIT THE ARCHITECTURAL SITES

Sofia:

  • Visiting the Museum of Natural History and Academy of Architecture
Christmas Stencils; Sofia, Bulgaria; 2011
Christmas Stencils; Sofia, Bulgaria; 2011

 

Christmas Decorations; Sofia, Bulgaria; 2011
Christmas Decorations; Sofia, Bulgaria; 2011

 

The Big Head and I; Sofia, Bulgaria; 2011
The Big Head and I; Sofia, Bulgaria; 2011

 

Paul's Expressions; Sofia, Bulgaria; 2011
Paul’s Expressions; Sofia, Bulgaria; 2011

 

Adventure in Bulgaria:

1) The capital, Sofia, combines a wide range of architectural styles. Varying from Christian Roman architecture to medieval Bulgar fortresses to Neoclassicism and prefabricated Socialist-era apartment blocks!

2) The largest museum collections are within the fabulous city of Sofia. The architectural designs on each of the buildings are inquisitive, while the Christmas lights on each of the buildings makes this place perfect to spend the holidays! The large Christmas trees situated in each of the districts creates a beautiful warming atmosphere for all generations!

3) Before darkness there was a thick cloud that rolled into the city, though some of my favorite buildings were covered in a dense fog, I was still able to take photographs! Looking at the final result, the fog illuminated several museums and gave my pictures the “pop” that they needed. In the end, the fog intertwined throughout the city produced images that seemed to quite haunting and spectacular! Highly recommend this location for the Christmas holidays! grin emot

 

 

Fog Rolled In; Sofia, Bulgaria; 2011
Fog Rolled In; Sofia, Bulgaria; 2011

 

 

Landmark Covered in Fog; Sofia, Bulgaria; 2011
Landmark Covered in Fog; Sofia, Bulgaria; 2011

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Next stop: Belgrade, Serbia

View of Bucharest; Romania; 2012

Romania: Christmas Traditions

Location of Romania in Europe
Location of Romania in Europe

 

Theme: European Christmas Holiday  Country: Romania  Languages: Romanian  Unit of Currency: Romanian leu  Locations: Botosani, Bucharest, and villages in the countryside Year: 2011  Bucket list: Visiting my Romanian best mate’s parents

 

Club Vault; Bucharest, Romania; 2011
Club Vault; Bucharest, Romania; 2011

 

DO:  STROLL BUCHAREST AND ENGAGE IN ROMANIAN TRADITIONS

Bucharest:

  • Tasting the unique foods and wines in Romania – Moldavian stew (raw meat, liver, kidneys, heart, pork fat, and smoked sausages fried together) and served with salty sheep cheese
Street Sign; Bucharest, Romania; 2011
Pub Sign; Bucharest, Romania; 2011

 

Romanian Language; Bucharest, Romania; 2011
Romanian Language; Bucharest, Romania; 2011

 

Entering the City; Bucharest, Romania; 2011
Entering the City; Bucharest, Romania; 2011

 

  • Walking around the city at night while looking at the Christmas markets

 

DO:  EXPERIENCE THE COUNTRYSIDE

Romania’s unbeaten paths:

  • Driving around the countryside
The Group; Romania; 2011
The Group; Romania; 2011

 

Farm Land; Romania; 2011
Farm Land; Romania; 2011

 

Adrian's Family; Romania; 2011
Adrian’s Family; Romania; 2011

 

Farm House; Romania; 2011
Farm House; Romania; 2011

 

Adrian's Family and I; Romania; 2011
Adrian’s Family and I; Romania; 2011

 

Beautiful Landscape; Romania; 2011
Beautiful Landscape; Romania; 2011

 

Posing with Adrian's Mom and her Sister; Romania; 2011
Posing with Adrian’s Mom and her Sister; Romania; 2011

 

Romania Highlights:

1) The capital, Bucharest, is an amazing decorative city! I loved that the “Old Town” had a street celebration, which gave a taste of an European Christmas Market!

2) My best mate Adrian’s family is super sweet. During my visit to each of their houses I was offered liquor on my arrival. One of my favorite drinks was my favorite drinks was Cranberry Whiskey, with real cranberries that Adrian’s aunt grew in her house!

3) The people have been super hospitable and their grins are quite contagious! Christmas is definitely in the air!

4) The never ending mountains are absolutely gorgeous, especially snow capped! After 2 years, I finally touched snow! The northern part of Romania is covered in it! An awesome end to a great visit!

Next stop: Sofia, Bulgaria

The European Snowboardin’ Expedition 2011-2012 is off to a great start!

Costa Rica Landscape; 2013

Costa Rica: Superman’s Hide Out

Location of Costa Rica in Central America
Location of Costa Rica in Central America

 

Theme: Central American Adventure Tour  Country: Costa Rica  Languages: Spanish  Unit of Currency: Costa Rican colon  Locations: La Fortuna, Manuel Antonio, Puntarenas, San Jose, San Ramon, & Tortuguero Year: 2013   Bucket list: Witnessing green sea turtles nesting

Superman – 60mph, 1 mile, & 315 ft above the ground

 

 

Volcan Arenal; Costa Rica; 2013
Volcan Arenal; Costa Rica; 2013

 

DO:  HIKE VOLCAN ARENAL

La Fortuna:

  • Hiking Volcan Arenal
First Stage of Hiking; Volcan Arenal, Costa Rica; 2013
First Stage of Hiking; Volcan Arenal, Costa Rica; 2013

 

Basking in Lake Chetal; Volcan Arenal, Costa Rica; 2013
Basking in Lake Chetal; Volcan Arenal, Costa Rica; 2013

 

Lake Chetal; Volcan Arenal, Costa Rica; 2013
Lake Chetal; Volcan Arenal, Costa Rica; 2013

 

Posing during Hiking; Volcan Arenal, Costa Rica; 2013
Posing during Hiking; Volcan Arenal, Costa Rica; 2013

 

Swinging Bridge; Volcan Arenal, Costa Rica; 2013
Swinging Bridge; Volcan Arenal, Costa Rica; 2013

 

Waterfalll; Volcan Arenal, Costa Rica; 2013
Waterfalll; Volcan Arenal, Costa Rica; 2013

 

Swimming in the Waterfall; Volcan Arenal, Costa Rica; 2013
Swimming in the Waterfall; Volcan Arenal, Costa Rica; 2013

 

Tour Guide, Andreas and Waterfall; Volcan Arenal, Costa Rica; 2013
Tour Guide, Andreas and Waterfall; Volcan Arenal, Costa Rica; 2013

 

Victory Drink in a Hot Water Spring; Volcan Arenal, Costa Rica; 2013
Victory Drink in a Hot Water Spring; Volcan Arenal, Costa Rica; 2013

 

  • Floating down stream on a safari river cruise with a small wooden canoe – torrential downpour with the victory of Costa Rican coffee
Downpour on the River; Costa Rica; 2013
Downpour on the River; Costa Rica; 2013

 

Canoe Trip; Costa Rica; 2013
Canoe Trip; Costa Rica; 2013

 

Floating on a River; Costa Rica; 2013
Floating on a River; Costa Rica; 2013

 

  • White water rafting expedition with Class IV and V rapids
The German Couple and I; Costa Rica; 2013
The German Couple and I; Costa Rica; 2013

 

Class IV Rapids; Costa Rica; 2013
Class IV Rapids; Costa Rica; 2013

 

The team and I; Costa Rica; 2013
The team and I; Costa Rica; 2013

 

Class V Rapids; Costa Rica; 2013
Class V Rapids; Costa Rica; 2013

 

DO:  WATCH OUT FOR PIT VIPERS

 

Manuel Antonio:

 

  • Exploring the wildlife, including sloths that reside in the park

 

Monkey Climbing a Tree; Manuel Antonio, Costa Rica; 2013
Squirrel Monkey Climbing a Tree; Manuel Antonio, Costa Rica; 2013

 

Welcome to Manuel Antonio; Costa Rica; 2013
Welcome to Manuel Antonio; Costa Rica; 2013

 

Lizard Sitting on a Rock; Manuel Antonio, Costa Rica; 2013
Lizard Sitting on a Rock; Manuel Antonio, Costa Rica; 2013

 

Signature Jumpin' Photograph; Manuel Antonio, Costa Rica; 2013
Signature Jumpin’ Photograph; Manuel Antonio, Costa Rica; 2013

 

Pit Viper; Manuel Antonio, Costa Rica; 2013
Pit Viper; Manuel Antonio, Costa Rica; 2013

 

DO:  FLY LIKE SUPERMAN

San Ramon:

  • Jumping on the chance to fly like superman!
Superman Harness; San Ramon, Costa Rica; 2013
Superman Harness; San Ramon, Costa Rica; 2013

 

Superman Kit; San Ramon, Costa Rica; 2013
Superman Kit; San Ramon, Costa Rica; 2013

 

Harnessed to a Tree; San Ramon, Costa Rica; 2013
Harnessed to a Tree; San Ramon, Costa Rica; 2013

 

Adventure Cables; San Ramon, Costa Rica; 2013
Adventure Cables; San Ramon, Costa Rica; 2013

 

  • Abseiling into a waterfall and swinging like Tarzan
Overview of Water Canyon; San Ramon, Costa Rica; 2013
Overview of Water Canyon; San Ramon, Costa Rica; 2013

 

Plummeting into a Water Canyon; San Ramon, Costa Rica; 2013
Plummeting into a Water Canyon; San Ramon, Costa Rica; 2013

 

Waterfall Repelling; San Ramon, Costa Rica; 2013
Waterfall Repelling; San Ramon, Costa Rica; 2013

 

DO:  WITNESS GREEN SEA TURTLES NESTING

Tortuguero:

  • Discovering a green sea turtle nesting site off of Costa Rica’s coast
Green Sea Turtle Nesting Site; Tortuguero, Costa Rica; 2013
Green Sea Turtle Nesting Site; Tortuguero, Costa Rica; 2013

 

Green Sea Turtle Footprints; Tortuguero, Costa Rica; 2013
Green Sea Turtle Footprints; Tortuguero, Costa Rica; 2013

 

Green Sea Turtle Egg; Tortuguero, Costa Rica; 2013
Green Sea Turtle Egg; Tortuguero, Costa Rica; 2013

 

Dead Green Sea Turtle Hatchling; Tortuguero, Costa Rica; 2013
Dead Green Sea Turtle Hatchling; Tortuguero, Costa Rica; 2013

 

Three-toed Sloth; Tortuguero, Costa Rica; 2013
Three-toed Sloth; Tortuguero, Costa Rica; 2013

 

Sloth in a Tree; Tortuguero, Costa Rica; 2013
Sloth in a Tree; Tortuguero, Costa Rica; 2013

 

Blue Jean Poison Dart Frog; Tortuguero, Costa Rica; 2013
Blue Jean Poison Dart Frog; Tortuguero, Costa Rica; 2013

 

Costa Rica Overview:

1) Trekking a volcano and hiking within Costa Rica’s jungle definitely pushed my personal limitations on so different levels. Needless to say, the 2 volcano hike was absolutely a challenge! The steep trails and mud stick holes formulated this 8 hour hike to be one of most difficult treks that I have completed in Central America. End result: Signature jumpin’ photograph with Volcán Arenal, hot springs, and new friendships created! grin emoticon

2) Canoeing down a river in a torrential downpour was crazy, and cold! For some reason, I had this silly idea that it would STOP raining, but did it? Of course not, after 4 hours of paddling through one of Costa Rica’s most habitable rivers in the rain, it made me realize how much rain Costa Rica gets every year. The lightning over the river was pretty cool, though quite close! I know that I am in the rainy season, but seriously, I could have used a little bit of sunshine! 

3) Cruising on a jungle river looking for monkeys! I felt that I was on a proper safari, minus the safari hat!  A peaceful river within Tortuguero was an incredible way to view the wildlife that reside here. Amongst loads of Howler and Spider monkeys, I saw a croc, several species of birds, lizards (favorite one: Jesus Christ lizard <actually runs on water!>), freshwater crabs, etc. This experience has geared me up to take on a river cruise on the Amazon! 

Dream. Explore. Live.

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