Category Archives: Photography

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Pärnu, Estonia

Pete and I went to Pärnu today! It’s a tiny resort town in Western Estonia. We loved the city and we ate some delicious pizza at a restaurant recommended by the missionaries (and we had the friendliest waitress we’ve ever experienced in all of Europe. She even humored Pete while he spoke Estonian to her–I think he did a great job and he was able to do everything in Estonian!).

The thing about Estonia is that the country has amazingly sandy and beautiful beaches! Unfortunately, we came here right at the tail end of the summer and are leaving before spring is in full swing, so we haven’t been able to take full advantage of the great beaches. Alas.

Anyway, we loved the city–enjoy the pictures!

On the bus to Pärnu! I love the Estonian countryside.

Tallinn… what’s the deal? Pärnu and Tartu have pedestrian shopping streets!

Watch out, this post has a million architecture because I loved the architecture in this city!

Pete had been craving apple struedel, but the shopping center we go to hasn’t had it. He was so happy when this little bakery had it! And he couldn’t remember the word for “fork” so that’s the hand symbol he did to ask for it.

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Tartu, Estonia

Pete and I went to Tartu on Saturday. It was my first time leaving the Tallinn area, so I was happy to see a new city! It almost felt like we were backpacking again; the weather was similar, and Tartu didn’t feel like Tallinn at all. We felt like we had left the country.

We left Saturday morning and arrived in the afternoon (the bus ride was just over 2 hours). The bus to Tartu was really nice; leather seats and WiFi.

We arrived and found that Tartu was super small. The weather was great! Pete and I love showing up at new cities with no plans. We always seem to have a great time, and Tartu didn’t disappoint! Only in the evening did I need to put on my coat. Other than that, my long sleeved shirt was fine. We had a fantastic time wandering around the city. There is a large university in the city, so there were lots of young students (and tons of hipsters). The city also had a pedestrian street, which I have missed having in Tallinn! We enjoyed delicious food, got a few souvenirs, and even ran into the missionaries (we knew one of them because he had served in Tallinn previously). Enjoy the pictures!

Pedestrian streets. One of my favorite aspects of most European cities.

Tartu University’s main building. It’s a bit grander than Pete’s university (understatement).

I wasn’t going to post this picture. But we thought it was hilarious. Man and Baby. And Pete.

Russian Orthodox church. It felt very lived in; not touristy at all.

An old Lutheran church–very simple inside.

The beautiful terracotta decorations were replicas, unfortunately.

I wanted a picture with this cool sewer thing, and for some reason, Pete forced me to lay on the ground. I think he just wanted to see what he could get me to do in public.

We happened upon a beautiful botanical garden. I can only imagine how great it is during the summer.

This building is tilted!

We got amazing (but a bit expensive) crepes at a little French restaurant. We had an hour before we needed to get back to the bus station and it was cold outside, so this place was the perfect place to hang out. We even got a table with two plush armchairs.

One of the few places I wanted to go to in Tartu was this old Catholic church. It was such a cool place! Pete liked climbing on the walls while I worried about getting yelled at.

Tartu had a lot of awesome bridges!

This band was great; they played “I’m a Barbie Girl” and the James Bond Theme song.

It was a great trip! We’re heading to Parnu on Tuesday, so we’ll be posting again then!

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Pete went to Malta! (part two)

More pictures from Pete’s trip! He went to another island (he stayed on the biggest island) for one of the days. Buses weren’t running for tourists because it was before the tourist season, but he was able to get a good price for a nice taxi driver to take him around. The taxi driver had never left Malta before. He spoke nearly native English.

Enjoy the pictures!

There was an ancient ruins area of the island. Apparently, Malta has had civilizations for about 7,000 years! The ones here are from 5600 BCE.

There were stone fences like this all over the islands. They were made by the Arab inhabitants.

Behind Pete (and across the sea) is Libya!

These tiny buildings were dotted around an area of the smaller island. Pete thinks they were jails. But he has no evidence.

View from the supposed jail cell.

This is the cave (supposedly) where Ulysses was trapped in Homer's The Odyssey.

Aqueduct!

Pete went on an awesome cave ride. The water was crystal clear and blue. It was really deep in certain areas, and because the water was so clear, he could still see down to the bottom.

He was also on a boat with other people, so he was able to get pictures of himself without having to do the "self portrait" attempts.

This might be my favorite picture he took during the whole trip.

These two asian girls were on the boat with Pete. The taxi driver called them Pete's asian girlfriends. Ha.

The taxi driver.

Well, there you have it–Pete’s Malta trip! He managed to see a lot of incredible parts of the country while also going to the conference.

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Instead of a Christmas Card

Because we’re living abroad, it didn’t seem very possible to send out a Christmas card to everyone we love! So, I’ve decided to do a blogpost Christmas card/letter of sorts.

Now that it’s the end of the year, I thought I’d come up with a list of my favorite moments of 2011. I tried to get Pete involved, but he couldn’t think of anything, so bug him on facebook if you want him to contribute more to the blog. 🙂

They’re in no particular order, but here they are:

– That time that Pete and I lived in Italy for a week and put together bundles of branches for the pizza oven. April, 2011.

– Hanging out on the beach on the only warm day we’ve had here in Tallinn. August, 2011.

– Eating the most amazing food at a little cafe called Balettcipő in Budapest. Summer, 2011.

– Taking a long walk in Sarajevo to the Vrlo Bosne waters. Such a beautiful area and day. April, 2011.

– Hanging out with an awesome couple from Germany who Pete met at his Estonian classes. Autumn, 2011.

– Hearing Pete have conversations in Estonian. November/December, 2011.

– Watching old seasons of The Amazing Race during the “dark nights” of Estonia. November/December, 2011.

– That time that I fell in love with Ljubljana. And Montenegro. And Brasov, Romania. Budapest, too. Spring, 2011.

-Teaching! I loved my summer at the international kindergarten in Budapest, and I’ve loved my classes here in Tallinn, as well. Summer/Autumn, 2011.

-The day that wordpress.com featured our blog on their main page. We had nearly 3,000 views that day! But now it’s back to family and friends reading, which is definitely still fun. 18 April 2011.

– The river dinner cruise on my golden birthday in Budapest. 26 July 2011.

– Hearing little kids yell to their mom: “Ema!” in Estonian and “Anyu!” in Hungarian. Such cute words for “mom.” Summer/Autumn, 2011.

– And finally, Christmas in another country. It’s my first time celebrating Christmas abroad! December, 2011.

This has been one of the craziest years of my life, but in a good way! Pete and I have grown and learned so much. We’ve been able to see some of the world’s most incredible parts and met some amazing people along the way. Here’s to next year!

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Exploring Tallinn

Yesterday was a beautiful day! It was fairly cold, but not cold enough to stop us from taking advantage of the sun. Pete had gone to the old city hall with friends one night and said that we should go again. So we went. It was the city hall during soviet times, I believe, and it was basically a massive concrete building full of stairs. Now it’s full of graffiti, which is always fun to see. There were several other people there, either hanging out or checking out the graffiti, as well.

We also went to the Tallinn Old Town Christmas Market. Basically the cutest little setup of a huge Christmas tree, wooden stalls, lights, and we even saw Santa Claus hanging out. He’s lost weight and must suffer from the aging disease that Benjamin Button had (as in he seems to be only 19 years old this year), but he still had the same red velvet suit trimmed in white fur, so yeah, it was good.

Fur hats aren’t as expensive as we thought, which was surprising. But man, sweaters were pricey! It’s likely that you’ll see more pictures when the market is covered in snow. Speaking of snow, it’s supposed to snow this week, and to that, I say, “It’s about dang time!” I like snow in December. After that, it can go away. Anyway, sorry for the picture overload. But these are great pictures to just quickly scroll through. (Oh and there are some random Old Town pictures as well, basically because I am obsessed with Old Town and could take the same picture 30 times and still think it is the greatest thing ever.) You’d understand if you came and visited us here. Hint, hint.

This is what makes Old Town smell amazing. Cinnamon roasted almonds. We always make sure to take a free sample when we walk by.

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When there’s good weather, go outside.

Rainy days and clouds (and the occasional rainbow) are pretty standard for the fall, so when we’ve had good weather, Pete and I have tried to take advantage by going out. One day, we went back to the city park but went to different parts of the park. It is a beautiful park!

Wooden houses and apartment buildings are super common here in Tallinn. It makes me feel like we really are pretty far north (Tallinn is at the same latitude as southern Alaska!)

And sometimes, you come across moments like this:

Ok, so this couple is classically Russian, to me. The all-white ensemble, the white leather (pointy) shoes, random plastic bag to hold extra stuff, the mini suitcase, and of course, the Russia track suit. Hehe, this was too funny in person!

On another warm day (for some reason, these nice days have been on weekends, which is awesome), we went to the Estonian Outdoor Museum. It was so great to see the “authentic” buildings. And the forest was incredible!

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Who Knew Tallinn had Sandy Beaches?

Did you know Tallinn had sandy beaches? Me neither! The second day we were here, it was a sunny warm 28 degree C here, so we headed to the beach to celebrate. Good thing we did, too, because there hasn’t been a warmer day since! It’s like the second September hit, autumn followed. But, no problem here, as the Estonians say, “There’s no such thing as bad weather, only the wrong clothing.” My new mantra whenever I’m stuck in insane pouring rain or crazy wind. (The weather has a mind of its own here, what with us being right by the sea: it might be raining in the morning but turn into a sunny warm day, or the other day around). We’ve learned to always have a jacket and umbrella.

Anywho, we’ve had the chance to wander around the city before Pete’s school started. We went to the city park, which is near the Baltic Sea, so we explored the beach on a cold day, as well.

 Tallinn is the “European Culture Capital” this year, so there are lots of cool events going on. They also put up these super cool knitted things around the poles in the main bus station.

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We are in Tallinn

For the last week and a half, we have been living in Tallinn, Estonia. What a difference compared to Hungary! As much as I like it here, nothing can replace how great Budapest is, but that’s ok, it’s good here, too. Our adventure up North was pretty intense: a 13 hour train ride from Budapest to Warsaw (at least we were entertained by two of the funniest 5 year old Hungarians the entire time), an overnight bus to Latvia, and then a 4.5 hour bus to Tallinn. We went with Pete’s friend, Peter, from Hungary, so it was nice to have someone else to hang out with.

We are settled into our cool apartment now, which is right in the center of the city! We are near the famous Tallinn Old Town. And now, here are a million pictures of the area, our apartment, and whatnot. They are pretty self-explanatory, but if you are wondering what they are, just hover your mouse over an image, and the image name/description should be there (hint: rotermanni is our apartment complex and area where we live). Enjoy!

 

 

 

 

So, as you can see, Tallinn is a nice mix the old and the modern. As one of the missionaries here said, regarding the Baltic Mission countries, “Latvia is like Russia, Lithuania is like the rest of Europe, and Estonia is the future.” Everything here is very tech-friendly; free wifi everywhere, ID cards that are a library card and bus-pass in one, etc. It’s great here, Pete is liking his classes, and fingers crossed that I will find a good job!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Final Days in Budapest

Well, now that we’re settled in Tallinn, I figured I might as well officially close the Budapest chapter of our lives through blogging. Of course. After a very sad, but fun last day of teaching, we celebrated August 20th (along with most former Soviet Union countries). August 20th is like Hungary’s Independence Day (but they have several Independence Days, due to their complicated histories with neighbors). We went around the city that day, and we even got to see Szent Istvan’s hand paraded around the city.

That night, we went over to a US Embassy location to eat ice cream and watch the fireworks. The fireworks were synchronized in three places along the river, and one of the places was right over the dramatic Parliament. It was a pretty incredible show!

Another night, we had Brian and Payal over. Payal made some incredible Indian food. It was great chatting with them one last time before both Pete and Brian’s internships were over!

We also went to the famous Szecheny Baths (Hungarians love going to their bath houses–kind of like the Estonians and their saunas). Even though I am not a fan of swimming or water in general, I still had a lot of fun. The weather was warm, so the cooler (naturally healing) water was very refreshing. I think that the novelty is the fact that you are in an architecturally stunning location while also floating in water.

One day, we were on the train, heading to Visegrad, and minutes before the train left the station, we got a call from the Estonian Embassy, telling us that they can process a visa for me! They were able to process a visa for Pete, but they weren’t able to for me, but because they got a visa for Pete, they were then able to make a “spouse” visa for me. This was a huge relief because we were about to enter Estonia with overstaying our time in Europe (you only get 90 days here), and we were already over that time. It is scary to cross borders (even though they don’t check at EU borders anymore) when you have been in the EU too long. So, we jumped off the train and got my visa sorted out. The next day (our last full day in Hungary), we headed to Visegrad, which is a castle 45 minutes North of Budapest. It is situated right on the river on a huge hill. I think the location was the best part of the castle! Such beautiful views!

To get to the castle, we crossed the river on a rafty thing connected to a boat. On the way there, we crossed the river with a lumber truck. Ya know.

And then, the next morning, at the terrible hour of 7:25, we boarded a train, never to return to Hungary again. (Well, at least not for several months. We do love Hungary and wouldn’t be opposed to returning either for a short visit or longer period.)

Nyugati Train Station:

Our route North was pretty entertaining/exhausting, so we will surely be back for a post on that (as well as life here in Tallinn). Thanks for reading!

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Birthday Abroad!

This was my first birthday abroad–and it was my golden birthday (turning 26 on the 26th) so obviously I was excited for the day! The day started out at school, no big deal. School was normal and the day went on as usual. I wasn’t sure if the teachers remembered it was my birthday, so I didn’t want to say anything about it and I was ready to pretend that it wasn’t my birthday. Anywho, at the 3:00 snack, before we gave the kids the snack, Sam, the school director, came out with the tin can birthday cake with candles lit. Fun! So the kids and teachers sang “Happy Birthday” and then the Hungarian birthday song “Boldog Szuli Napot” and then they sang another “How Old Are You Now?” song (to the tune of “Happy Birthday”). I told them I was 7 (because counting up to 26 would have taken much too long). Ha. Whenever a teacher has a birthday at the kindergarten, they can choose a wrapped present that comes with some sort of cute title regarding the contents (wake up, beauty, etc). I chose the one titled “travel” (duh) and opened it up…. it was a dinner river cruise for me and Pete! Sam had called and talked to Pete to make sure that we didn’t have any plans and got it all arranged! How awesome is that! I was so surprised to find out, and once I had opened it, Sam said that I needed to go now to go home and get ready. What a surprise!

I headed home and got ready. Pete came home early, as well, and we headed off to the meeting point to be shown where to go for the dinner cruise. Once it was time to leave, we walked about 5 minutes to the boat and got seated. The cruise was beautiful! Pete and I have never been on the river, so it was awesome to see the skyline from the river. And the food was amazing! The whole night was wonderful, and I don’t think I’ve ever had such a nice birthday!

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