Category Archives: Plans

Plans. You know.

Books! Goals! On turning 30…

Once upon a time, I read more hours than I slept. I’d forget to eat on Saturdays because I was too busy reading all day. I’d get headaches from not eating! Aside from picking raspberries, my favorite way to spend my time was wandering through the library, searching for the next book I’d delve into.

And then I became an English major.

Suddenly, I was reading the same amount, but they were no longer books of my choosing. A few of the books were amazing (anyone who hasn’t read Kafka’s The Trial needs to read it ASAP!), but a lot of the reading didn’t particularly interest me. Upon graduating from college (back in 2010), I decided to take a break from reading. And aside from a few great books that I’ve read, I’ve never consistently resumed my passion for reading.

Time for a change! I’ll be turning the lovely age of 30 in 20 months. So, a goal: read 20 books before I turn 30. I wanted to create the list now, because whenever I go the library these days, I end up with a book I’m only slightly interested in. I’m thinking I’ll do a small post after I finish each book. I just started reading The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath. I’ll need to fly through this book, because December is already partly finished. Loving it already.

So, other than #1 on this list is the first book I’m reading, I will be reading these books in no particular order. I chose some books that I’ve intended on reading for years, some totally random books that had interesting reviews, and a good portion are books I’ve never heard of, but ended up on a variety of lists recommended to be read before turning 30 (it’s amazing how many of those lists are out there!).

And now, a list of books I’ll be reading over the next 20 months, along with basic descriptions that I took from Amazon (the descriptions are mainly to remind and help me choose the next book to tackle):

1. The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath
the-bell-jar-by-sylvia-plathAbout: The Bell Jar chronicles the crack-up of Esther Greenwood: brilliant, beautiful, enormously talented, and successful, but slowly going under — maybe for the last time. Sylvia Plath masterfully draws the reader into Esther’s breakdown with such intensity that Esther’s insanity becomes completely real and even rational, as probable and accessible an experience as going to the movies.

Why: I’d say this book inspired me to get reading again. A friend posted on Facebook that they were graduating and looking for books to read for fun. One of her friends suggested this book and called it a novel of poetry (or something to that extent). I’ve never been one to love poetry, but I figured I should read Sylvia Plath at some point in my life, so why not read her when I am near the same age as she was when this book was written!

Click through for my thoughts, after finishing The Bell Jar

2. The Catastrophist by Lawrence Douglas

catastrophistAbout: Meet Daniel Wellington: art historian, academic star, devoted husband, and total basket case. Although Daniel has known nothing but success, he’s convinced the future promises nothing but disaster. When his wife, known simply as R., presents him with a tiny, size-XXS Yale sweatshirt, Daniel is seized by the impulse to bolt; the specter of imminent fatherhood sends him into a full-blown existential crisis. Soon this well-intentioned young professor finds himself plotting bigamy, lying about his past, imagining his pregnant wife in the arms of an androgynous grad student, and explaining to the dean his obscene e-mail to the lead in a student production of Miss Julie.

Why: I found this book at Ken Sander’s bookshop and it sounded hilarious. Anything with the word existential in its description is sure to interest me. I hope it’s as entertaining as it is likely to be depressing.

3. Animal Farm by George Orwell

animal_farm_1About: As ferociously fresh as it was more than a half century ago, this remarkable allegory of a downtrodden society of overworked, mistreated animals and their quest to create a paradise of progress, justice, and equality is one of the most scathing satires ever published. As readers witness the rise and bloody fall of the revolutionary animals, they begin to recognize the seeds of totalitarianism in the most idealistic organization—and in the most charismatic leaders, the souls of the cruelest oppressors.

Why: I, of course, loved 1984, so it is obvious that this book needed to be on my list, as it is a classic novel reproaching certain societies.

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4. Siddhartha by Herman Hesse

herman_hesse_siddharthaAbout: In the novel, Siddhartha, a young man, leaves his family for a contemplative life, then, restless, discards it for one of the flesh. He conceives a son, but bored and sickened by lust and greed, moves on again. Near despair, Siddhartha comes to a river where he hears a unique sound. This sound signals the true beginning of his life — the beginning of suffering, rejection, peace, and, finally, wisdom.

Why: Ever read The Alchemist? I’m hoping that this book will be slightly similar to it, because of the soul searching and unique connections with the environment.

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5. Gaudy Night by Dorothy Sayers

gaudy nightAbout: The great Dorothy L. Sayers is considered by many to be the premier detective novelist of the Golden Age, and her dashing sleuth, Lord Peter Wimsey, one of mystery fiction’s most enduring and endearing protagonists. Gaudy Night takes Harriet and her paramour, Lord Peter, to Oxford University, Harriet’s alma mater, for a reunion, only to find themselves the targets of a nightmare of harassment and mysterious, murderous threats.

Why: Surely every good book list needs some sort of mystery novel.

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6. A Room with a View by E.M. Forster

room-with-a-viewAbout: In common with much of his other writing, this work by the eminent English novelist and essayist E. M. Forster (1879–1970) displays an unusually perceptive view of British society in the early 20th century. Written in 1908, A Room with a View is a social comedy set in Florence, Italy, and Surrey, England. Its heroine, Lucy Honeychurch, struggling against straitlaced Victorian attitudes of arrogance, narrow-mindedness and snobbery, falls in love-while on holiday in Italy-with the socially unsuitable George Emerson.

Why: Honestly, this book doesn’t completely get me excited about reading, but it was on so many of the recommended novels that I figured I should give it a shot. Reading the back of Crime and Punishment gave me the same feeling of disinterest, and I absolutely loved that read.

7. Ada, or Ardor by Vladimir Nabokov

ada or ardorAbout: Published two weeks after Vladimir Nabokov’s seventieth birthday, Ada, or Ardor is one of his greatest masterpieces, the glorious culmination of his career as a novelist. It tells a love story troubled by incest, but it is also at once a fairy tale, epic, philosophical treatise on the nature of time, parody of the history of the novel, and erotic catalogue.

Why: Confession: I started, but never finished Lolita, and I know I will go back to that novel at some point, but I was fascinated by the description of this Nabokov’s work. I hope I can find a translation that I like. It’s amazing how a translation of a novel can make such a difference.

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8. Under the Banner of Heaven by Jon Krakauer

under the bannerAbout: Jon Krakauer’s literary reputation rests on insightful chronicles of lives conducted at the outer limits. He now shifts his focus from extremes of physical adventure to extremes of religious belief within our own borders, taking readers inside isolated American communities where some 40,000 Mormon Fundamentalists still practice polygamy.

Why: This book feels like it is full of controversy, and especially surrounding the polygamous religion, which has always fascinated me.

Click here to read my thoughts on this fantastic book. 

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9. Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad

heart of darknessAbout: We live as we dream–alone…. Heart of Darkness is a short novel written by Joseph Conrad, presented as a frame narrative, about Charles Marlow s job as an ivory transporter down the Congo River in Central Africa. This river is described to be … a mighty big river, that you could see on the map, resembling an immense snake uncoiled, with its head in the sea, its body at rest curving afar over a vast country, and its tail lost in the depths of the land. In the course of his commercial-agent work in Africa, the seaman Marlow becomes obsessed by Mr. Kurtz, an ivory-procurement agent, a man of established notoriety among the natives and the European colonials. The story is a thematic exploration of the savagery-versus-civilization relationship, and of the colonialism and the racism that make imperialism possible.

Why: Two reasons: 1) Pete liked the book, and I can’t have him reading more books than me. I’ll catch up eventually. 2) I once shadowed a high school class who was reading this book, and their discussion was impressive and interesting enough to encourage me to read this book.

Click here to read my thoughts on this novella.

10. Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

gone girlAbout: Marriage can be a real killer. On a warm summer morning in North Carthage, Missouri, it is Nick and Amy Dunne’s fifth wedding anniversary. Presents are being wrapped and reservations are being made when Nick’s clever and beautiful wife disappears from their rented McMansion on the Mississippi River. Husband-of-the-Year Nick isn’t doing himself any favors with cringe-worthy daydreams about the slope and shape of his wife’s head, but passages from Amy’s diary reveal the alpha-girl perfectionist could have put anyone dangerously on edge. Under mounting pressure from the police and the media—as well as Amy’s fiercely doting parents—the town golden boy parades an endless series of lies, deceits, and inappropriate behavior. Nick is oddly evasive, and he’s definitely bitter—but is he really a killer?

Why: Because every good book list should have 2 mystery novels…. Right?

11. The Road to Oxiana by Robert Byron

road-to-oxianaAbout: In 1933, the delightfully eccentric travel writer Robert Byron set out on a journey through the Middle East via Beirut, Jerusalem, Baghdad and Teheran to Oxiana, near the border between Afghanistan and the Soviet Union. Throughout, he kept a thoroughly captivating record of his encounters, discoveries, and frequent misadventures.

Why: Travel memoirs are some of the funniest reads I’ve experienced, and I especially love reading travel novels on places I’ve yet to visit.

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12. The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt TheGoldfinch

About: Composed with the skills of a master, The Goldfinch is a haunted odyssey through present day America and a drama of enthralling force and acuity.

It begins with a boy. Theo Decker, a thirteen-year-old New Yorker, miraculously survives an accident that kills his mother. Abandoned by his father, Theo is taken in by the family of a wealthy friend. Bewildered by his strange new home on Park Avenue, disturbed by schoolmates who don’t know how to talk to him, and tormented above all by his unbearable longing for his mother, he clings to one thing that reminds him of her: a small, mysteriously captivating painting that ultimately draws Theo into the underworld of art.

As an adult, Theo moves silkily between the drawing rooms of the rich and the dusty labyrinth of an antiques store where he works. He is alienated and in love-and at the center of a narrowing, ever more dangerous circle.

The Goldfinch is a novel of shocking narrative energy and power. It combines unforgettably vivid characters, mesmerizing language, and breathtaking suspense, while plumbing with a philosopher’s calm the deepest mysteries of love, identity, and art. It is a beautiful, stay-up-all-night and tell-all-your-friends triumph, an old-fashioned story of loss and obsession, survival and self-invention, and the ruthless machinations of fate.

Why: This book is 800-ish pages, so it’ll be quite hefty to trek around to and from work, but from the reviews I’ve read, it sounds like it’ll be worth it!

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13. A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess

clockwork orangeAbout: A vicious fifteen-year-old “droog” is the central character of this 1963 classic, whose stark terror was captured in Stanley Kubrick’s magnificent film of the same title. In Anthony Burgess’s nightmare vision of the future, where criminals take over after dark, the story is told by the central character, Alex, who talks in a brutal invented slang that brilliantly renders his and his friends’ social pathology. A Clockwork Orange is a frightening fable about good and evil, and the meaning of human freedom. When the state undertakes to reform Alex—to “redeem” him—the novel asks, “At what cost?”

Why: This book’s description is terrifying, so I’ll give it a shot. It’s unlikely that I’ll watch the film; for whatever reason, I can handle scary novels (aside from the R.L. Stine novels from the late 90s–too terrifying for a fourth grader), but I rarely can survive a horror film.

14. The Glass Castle by Jeanette Walls

the glass castleAbout: Jeannette Walls grew up with parents whose ideals and stubborn nonconformity were both their curse and their salvation. Rex and Rose Mary Walls had four children. In the beginning, they lived like nomads, moving among Southwest desert towns, camping in the mountains. What is so astonishing about Jeannette Walls is not just that she had the guts and tenacity and intelligence to get out, but that she describes her parents with such deep affection and generosity. Hers is a story of triumph against all odds, but also a tender, moving tale of unconditional love in a family that despite its profound flaws gave her the fiery determination to carve out a successful life on her own terms.

Why: I’m hoping that this is a feel good book. If it’s not, I’ll probably love it all the more.

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15. The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton

age of innocenceAbout: Deeply moving study of the tyrannical and rigid requirements of New York high society in the late 19th century and the effect of those strictures on the lives of three people. Vividly characterized drama of affection thwarted by a man’s sense of honor, family, and societal pressures. A long-time favorite with readers and critics alike.

Why: Yep, I’m interested.

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16. Catch-22 by Joseph Heller

catch 22About: Set in Italy during World War II, this is the story of the incomparable, malingering bombardier, Yossarian, a hero who is furious because thousands of people he has never met are trying to kill him. But his real problem is not the enemy—it is his own army, which keeps increasing the number of missions the men must fly to complete their service. Yet if Yossarian makes any attempt to excuse himself from the perilous missions he’s assigned, he’ll be in violation of Catch-22, a hilariously sinister bureaucratic rule: a man is considered insane if he willingly continues to fly dangerous combat missions, but if he makes a formal request to be removed from duty, he is proven sane and therefore ineligible to be relieved.

Why: One of my favorite novels of all time is A Confederacy of Dunces. I simply googled “books like confederacy of dunces” and Catch-22 kept coming up as a hilarious read. I’ll happily give it a shot, but it will be tough competition to beat out A Confederacy of Dunces as my new favorite funny book.

17. Europe on 5 Wrong Turns a Day by Doug Mack

europe on 5 wrong turnsAbout: A quirky travel memoir where Doug travels Europe using only a 1963 travel guide and his wit to finally find meaning in life through the ultimate grand tour.

Why: My mom gave us this book for Christmas, and it looks hilarious. I’m reading it now, and it think I’ll enjoy his views of traveling on a budget (as Pete and I have been in the same situation before).

And here are my thoughts on this read.

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18. – 20. Divergent series by Veronica Roth

divergentAbout: In Beatrice Prior’s dystopian Chicago world, society is divided into five factions, each dedicated to the cultivation of a particular virtue—Candor (the honest), Abnegation (the selfless), Dauntless (the brave), Amity (the peaceful), and Erudite (the intelligent). On an appointed day of every year, all sixteen-year-olds must select the faction to which they will devote the rest of their lives. For Beatrice, the decision is between staying with her family and being who she really is—she can’t have both. So she makes a choice that surprises everyone, including herself.

Why: I enjoyed the story of The Hunger Games, even though I couldn’t stand the writing (which was a clear example of how terribly wrong first person narration can go). But, I did like the story, as I’ve said, and I think that this trilogy will be the same. I’ve got it on my list because I know at some point, I’ll want some sort of light read that is basically an action film in writing.

So, there you have it! I’ll be crossing these books off as I go, along with a little blurb on my thoughts after finishing each novel.

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Filed under books, Plans

About time

We’re home!

Like a month ago.

But still. It’s nice to be back. I’m sitting on a verrrry comfortable bed, eating raspberries (thanks, Anne!), with carpet surrounding me. Wow. So cool.

Pete and I got back on May 8th. We had a pretty eventful journey getting home. We flew from Tallinn, Estonia on May 6th to Riga, Latvia (which is where Pete’s brother, Tyler, will be serving his mission!). We spent an evening in the center of the old town at a fairly sketchy (but cheap) hostel. We were in a room with 6-8 other people (never really got around to counting). While we were sitting on our beds, some policemen came in, looking for a guy who came into the hostel. Luckily, he didn’t steal anything. Riga was a great town–bigger than Tallinn. The old town was really nice, but I’m partial to Tallinn’s old town (of course). The people were friendly! People in Tallinn had warned us that “you know when you leave Estonia and enter Latvia ’cause it’s crazy.” I didn’t find this at all. I thought that it was clean, modern, and easy to navigate.

The next day, we flew to Paris. I was excited to go to Paris again (mainly because I wanted to go to a store called Springfield’s to get some of my favorite perfume). We got a super affordable airport hotel that was only 2 stops by metro from the airport. It didn’t work out as planned, though. First, we had forgotten how expensive Paris is 7 Euro per person for a ride on the metro for 2 stops!? And then we got on the wrong train–it didn’t stop at any of the smaller stops, it just kept going till it got to the center region of Paris proper. I had a mini freakout. Whenever I hypothetically think about all the things that could go wrong when travelling, I always tell myself that I’d be super calm and collected. But then disaster happens and I fall apart. Luckily, Pete is calm and collected, so he handles all of the disasters. I’m still getting over my uptight personality that has plagued me since I was a kid.

Anyway, we finally made it to our hotel (it took us nearly 4 hours to get there, when it should have taken 30 minutes). The hotel was perfect! Warm shower, comfortable bed, and it smelled clean. Because we didn’t want to go on the metro to get dinner, we wandered around the area. The area we were in was basically full of offices. It took awhile (it was a beautiful evening, so I didn’t mind the walking–Estonia was still pretty cold in comparison), but we finally found…. Ikea! So we went to Ikea and got some food there. Later that evening, we walked back to the same area near Ikea and got a later dinner at McDonald’s. We hadn’t eaten at McDonald’s at all in Tallinn (and only a few times in Hungary) so it was weird to eat there, of all places. But our choices were slim. And the nice guy gave us 5 packets of ketchup for free!

The next day, we made it back to the airport without any troubles. We checked in and went over to the terminal. I was sad that I couldn’t get my perfume, so I checked out the Duty Free perfume shop. Yeah, too expensive for me. We had standby tickets, so about 20 minutes before boarding, we found out that we both made the flight! (Relief!) We got business class. Seriously, I don’t know if I could ever do a 10.5 hour flight in economy anymore; we’ve been so spoiled this last trip with standby going to and from Paris. The flight was uneventful, pretty comfortable, with food that was too fancy (can I just have whatever they’re having in economy?–a question I didn’t dare ask). People in business class are so chic.

We returned home to see our awesome families. I got a haircut the next day. The next morning, we also woke up at 3:30 am, ready for the day. We got a lot done before 9 am–watching Shrek and other important things.

A week and a half later, I started my job back at Mamabargains.com–such a good decision/opportunity to go back there!

Pete’s still in the market for a job. Meanwhile, he’s keeping busy learning the ins and outs of networking. He’s also finishing up the last few requirements for his classes for this semester.

So, we’re home! And it’s good! We do love America. Sometimes, you have to leave your home country to realize how great it is to be from America.

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Filed under Food, France, Places, Plans, Travel

Change is in the air

I’m not very good at keeping secrets, so it’s time to reveal that Pete and I are moving back to the US!

 

Salt Lake City, to be exact–which is home for us. We’re moving back the second week of May. Leaving is a bit of a bittersweet reality for us. We’ve loved living here, but we are happy to be returning home to a familiar world. The time here has been essentially the best marriage therapy. While abroad, Pete and I have been faced with a whirlwind of changes, and it’s only made us closer. Really, when we’ve looked back on everywhere we’ve been (imagine being with your spouse 24/7 for two months while dealing with the stresses of backpacking throughout the Balkans), we’ve realized how well we work together. This discovery has been fantastic, and we’re hoping that it will continue on while back in the US.

As for what we’ll be doing when we get home… yeah, no idea. Don’t worry, I’ve had a few freakout sessions at this reality. We’re hopeful that we’ll each find jobs that we will genuinely enjoy.

Anyway, that’s what’s been going on lately over here. In other news….

I cut bangs (fringe, for my British friends) last night! I was bored with my hair, so this was a quick (free) change.

We also went to Wing Stop (run by an American guy). I got fried wings and Pete lost 5 pounds of sweat by eating the spiciest option.

Aaaaand. Pete’s leaving me for nearly a week on Tuesday. He’s off to a university conference on the island of Malta (warm Mediterranean weather!). I’m super jealous and will be living vicariously through him by posting pictures from the trip. I’ll be sure to photoshop myself in to make it look like I was there.

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Filed under Estonia, Places, Plans, Travel

New Years and Goals and Stuff

Well, well. It is the end of 2011! I still keep thinking it’s 2010 so this whole 2012 thing is going to confuse me for a long time. This has been such an eventful year. I don’t think I made any resolutions at the beginning of this year, yet I suspect that some of the things that I would have put on the list did, in fact, end up happening. This kind of makes me not want to make a New Year’s list–maybe 2012 will go the same, right?

But still. Goals are good. So. Here are my goals (and maybe, if I catch Pete off guard, I can secretly get some of his goals, as well. It’s not as easy as it sounds).

2012 Goals and Stuff {Kimmy’s version}

  • No caffeine. At all. Totally serious. This little goal got started around Thanksgiving (do I get extra credit for starting a month early?). So far, so good. This goal would be impossible if I were in the US because of Dr Pepper, but Coke just isn’t that awesome here, so hopefully I can go an entire year without caffeine. I think the longest I’ve gone without caffeine is a month, so yeah, we’ll see.
  • Read 20 books. I used to be such an avid reader, but then I became an English major. That stole all of the fun of reading right out of me. I need to get back into reading. Any suggestions of what I should read? I’m reading The Help right now because my mom sent it to me, but I’d love to read more classics that I have somehow gone 26+ years without having read. I’ll update you on what I read and let you know how that goes. It’ll be a pretend book club. 20 books doesn’t sound like that much, but I do work full-time, so yeah. {Here are the books I have so far that I’m going to read: The Help by Kathryn Stockett, The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle–I can’t believe I’ve only read one Sherlock Holmes story, Alice’s Adventure in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll, Little Women by Louisa May Alcott–It is insane that I haven’t read this book; I always have to pretend like I know what people (ahem, girls) are talking about when they talk about this darn book, and The Marriage Contract by Honore de Balzac, Villette by Charlotte Bronte–other than The Help, these are all books that I got for free from Amazon.com Kindle–woot!}
  • Try to learn how to like eggs. Pete loves eggs and whenever he cooks them, they smell so tasty. He does all of this great seasoning. But then I try to eat it and the shape, color, concept, and texture just freak me out. Unless it’s has 4% or less of egg content, I just can’t finish it. Eggs are cheap! and protein! I need to like eggs. Pete will be proud.
  • Finish reading The Book of Mormon. I’m in 2nd Nephi right now and it’s rough. But, I like reading it when I’m in taxis for work, so it is a great time for me to read. It’s like a set time, designated. This will happen.
  • Spend 1-2 hours per week practicing Russian. I really have no excuse for not learning the language. And it could be fun–maybe I’ll just watch Russian music videos and try to translate them or something (by looking up the lyrics online and then Google Translating them, don’t think I’m actually going to sit there and write out the lyrics by watching them on TV. Sheesh). Really, though. We have a stack of Learn Russian self-guides that Pete got from a guy at the Embassy in Budapest, and I think that that should be plenty of material to keep me busy.

Ok, so I think that’s more than enough for goal-making. I think I’ll be able to do it.

Here are Pete’s New Year’s Resolutions:

  • Learn Estonian and Russian–both at a functional level.
  • Try to publish something–like an article or a short story.
  • Not be poor. (I am TOTALLY on board with this one!)
  • Exercise/play sports once or twice a week.

There you have it! I am actually surprised that Pete gave me genuine resolutions. So, it’s written down for the world to see. We will let you know how these goals go (or don’t go).

Happy New Year in a few days!

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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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Filed under Culture, Hungary, Photography, Places, Plans

Italia Part II: Trains, Rome, and Venice

Because we had to leave the farm earlier than planned, we had a lot of extra time before we wanted to get to Budapest. We decided to go to Rome for a bit and then on to Venice (with a possible stop in Florence). Exciting, right!? Well, we bought train tickets to Rome (a three hour ride). Italy is gorgeous. I sure do love train rides with beautiful scenery! Here are some things we saw on our way to Rome:

We got to Rome in the early evening. We hadn’t been able to figure out a hostel before leaving the farm, so we went to this tourist info place at the train station. The man there told us that he could find a place for 70 Euro ($100!!!). Uh, no way were we going to pay that. We said that we would try to wander the city and find our own housing. The tourist guy said that there was a huge tennis competition, so nearly all of the hotels and hostels were full. We still wanted to give it a shot, so we still went out and looked. He was right, sadly. We couldn’t find any free hotels. Rather than pay $100 for a room, we went to an internet cafe (no wifi in Rome, weird!) and looked at train tickets (the ticket line at the train station was soooo long). Our goal was to get out of Italy. It was clear that Italy is too expensive for us. Someday, we’ll go back to Western Europe, but until then, Eastern Europe is more affordable and just as awesome. After some frustrating searches, we figured out it would be better to take a morning train to Venice, spend the day in Venice and then take a night train to Budapest (Budapest is a huge transportation hub, randomly). After Budapest, we wanted to go to Romania and around Lake Balaton in Hungary.

As for housing in Rome, we decided to hang out at the train station till it closed and then wander around the city for the rest of the night. While hanging out at the train station, the guy who had talked to us about housing brought by another girl who was spending the night in Rome. He wanted to see if we wanted to split the room three ways, but it wasn’t good enough of a deal for us, so we said we’d have to pass. The girl had to catch a bus at 4 am to the airport, so she chatted with us for a bit and then went to find dinner. A few hours later, she came back to hang out with us. Her name is Brittany and she was from Canada. She stayed with us the rest of the night. She was such a cool girl and it was great to hang out with her! I think she was relieved that she wasn’t spending the night out in Rome by herself.

After the train station closed at 1 am, we went to find some food. We found a gyros place that was open till 2. The food was amazing and pretty affordable! We also bought a 2 liter bottle of Coke a Cola (to help to stay awake). While we had been wandering the city earlier in the day, we had seen this cool fountain. The three of us decided to go back there and sit on the steps. Once we got there, we found an outside cafe that was closed but their tables and chairs were still out. So, we got comfortable and kept talking. Rome is beautiful, but we felt it was appropriate to save all of the photo ops for when we could actually visit Rome. We did, however, take one picture during our night in Rome:

At 4 am, Brittany left for the bus. Not much later, this 30 year old guy from New York came up and started talking to us. He said he was “kinda intoxicated, which is why I’m babbling.” He talked to us for an hour or so. Mostly him talking about how intense life is working on Wall Street. He came to Rome for a week by himself. In his few days he’d been in Rome, he’d done all kinds of crazy things like going to a rave and taking some drug he didn’t know, bar hopping, buying beer for some teenagers so they’d hang out with him, etc. I dare say, I was not jealous of his trip! Finally, he left to go to sleep.

Time passed fairly quickly, and the next thing we knew, the sun was coming up! We headed over to the train station around 7 to go to the travel agency to buy our train tickets. We got on a train to Venice and tried to sleep in the seats. It didn’t really work, but that’s ok.

We got to Venice and had 4 hours to spend! We checked our huge bags at the train station (so worth the $6) and wandered around the city. Venice was a great little city. I would say that a day is all you really need there.

A sweet band from Spain played in the streets. They had so much energy!

We both look really tired in this pic, but keep in mind, we hadn’t slept the night before. We were getting really excited for our overnight train with a bed. 🙂

A guy from our old ward in Salt Lake gave us a cool sticker to put up while travelling. I think we found the perfect place. These two guys will make great friends!

Thanks for reading! Next up is Hungary…. as backpackers, before the internship/working.

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Filed under Italy, Photography, Places, Plans, This should not be funny

If you could only take 15 pounds, what would you take?

Pete and I decided that it is best for us to only ship 2 medium sized boxes to Hungary. It’d be cheaper to start all over there. Crazy right!? So that means that I am only shipping a few things. Goodness it’s hard to decide what few clothes you want to save (apart from the 15 pieces I’m taking backpacking)! I am so excited to go shopping in Hungary and Estonia, of course.

Here’s the box I’ll be shipping:

And here are the few things that will fit into this box:

 

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Testing the Camera

It’s been a long time since I’ve used an SLR camera consistently. Pete let me borrow his camera this afternoon to “practice.” I have a lot to learn, but it was fun to try.

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Filed under Photography, Plans