This is Tim and Carol, Felice’s parents, and we have been asked by Felice and Luke to be guest bloggers. This is quite an honor, and we will make every effort to be as entertaining and insightful as they are, although our chances of succeeding are slim. We will start by saying that Felice and Luke travel like they’ve been doing this their entire lives. They calmly make their way through cities and country roads, Luke driving like a professional, dealing with all manner of drivers, and Felice providing healthy snacks and navigating unfamiliar road signs, consistently able to quickly determine where we were and where we needed to be. All this while still admiring and appreciating all they were seeing, and enjoying each other. They are quite the team! We did find ourselves offroading in Croatia; Felice told Luke to immediately turn left before the next bridge, which put us on a dead end dirt road through a vineyard. Oops.
Our heroes are also incredibly well organized – everything has a place, and is in its place – grandpa Hal would be proud! The wonderful custom cabinetry Luke designed and built for the truck makes this possible, and Felice’s endless lists assured every possible need will be met. Traveling with them was so seamless, it is easy to forget the mammoth preparation that made this seemingly effortless travel possible.
Now for our adventures. We met Felice and Luke in Zagreb, Croatia. Felice had arranged a lovely AirBnB, and we walked around the beautiful, old city for a few hours before heading to Slovenia. There we had a remarkable homestay at a small farm with our gracious host, Alma. Her Mom told us an amazing story about her great grandfather, who had traveled to Alaska in the 1890’s for the Gold Rush to make his fortune. Against all odds, he not only made it to Alaska safely, but he also found enough gold to buy the farm they live on today. They were very proud of their brave and adventurous ancestor.
Onwards to Bovecs, Slovenia, where we spent a lovely afternoon on Lake Bled. We rented a rowboat, and the kindly and strong Luke rowed us around the lake. We all managed to not fall in, which was a huge accomplishment, given the size of us and the size of our boat. Tim was quite a spectacle with his ripped shorts (he sat on a nail, no damage to his body) and his giant orange lifevest. The castles on the surrounding hills were spectacular, as they were throughout the trip. We also visited a World War I museum, which was very moving and emotionally exhausting. Luke and Tim were especially affected by the soldiers who dug trenches on the top of mountains, at 9000 feet.
Slovenia was also the site of a mammoth hike that we are pleased to say we survived. Up and down mountains, then up and down again, across a suspension bridge and along a cliff that ended at a waterfall and a bone chilling swim by Felice and Luke while we clung to the side of the mountain, hoping and praying they made it back to us safely, since we didn’t know where we were, where we were going, where the car keys were, where our next meal was coming from…you get our drift.
In Austria we visited Manfred, Huberta and Fritz Barthel, as well as Fritz’s children. These wonderful people hosted Matt, Tim’s brother, when he was an exchange student 40 years ago. There are not enough words to describe the love and kindness they showered on us. We took gorgeous walks through the town, marveled at the mountains they had climbed, and enjoyed our time with them so much. Tim, who had visited 40 years ago, threatened to never leave, now that Fritz’s daughter runs a coffee shop downstairs at the family home.
In Budapest we stayed with our daughter Eve’s college roommate, Julia, her husband Bill, and their adorable baby, Henry. They were also wonderful hosts who gave us a great tour of the city and told us so many stories about the amazing history of Budapest. If Tim, Carol and Luke hadn’t got stuck in their elevator it would have been a perfect visit! (It was a small blip that, while horrifying Julia and Bill, was quite funny after the fact.)
We now have a new respect for Felice and Luke for another reason – writing blog posts is REALLY hard! Just like every other aspect of their big adventure, they make it look easier than it actually is.
We are so thrilled to have been Felice and Luke’s first guests, it was a joy to watch them explore. We love you so much and are so incredibly proud of you! Live your dreams!
*Photos taken by all of us and “curated” by Felice
Welcome to Croatia!
Mom majestically overlooks the city
A church, of course
Delicious looking beans at the market
Non stop photos by Dad have begun!
Another church, of course, this time with neat-o roof tiles! Luke refuses to tell me how much it would cost to get a picture of my face tiled into Mom and Dad’s roof.
Making our way down from the lookout
Awww so pretty
Slovenia: Celje, Lake Bled and Bovecs
Greeting the cheering throngs of admirers at a safe distance at our castle in Celje
A view from the castle in Celje
Luke is much more chill about greeting the cheering hordes.
Maybe I’m not even afraid of heights anymore!
Mom and Dad!
Hooray castle time!
Just a pretty view of Slovenia
And THIS pretty view is taken from the balcony of our airbnb, can you believe it??
Our airbnb, with the host, Alma, who is fantastic
There’s a gravitational pull situation with Luke and tractors, especially strong with brightly coloured little ones
Look at how much the cows love Alma’s mom. They are so excited.
On a farm tour!
Look at this puppy dog! Such a sweet heart, but ran right back into his house after 30 seconds of petting.
A view of Lake Bled.
Before getting into our boat at Lake Bled
Hey look, a couple of those tiny dots down there are Luke and I swimming!
We pulled over to watch hang gliders (and weird motorized hang gliders) crisscross the valley on the way to Bovecs, Slovenia
Our neighborhood in Bovecs
Our airbnb host in Bovecs picks some greens out of her garden for us.
Bovecs. It is one of the gateway towns to the incredible Soca river, and it’s a hub for adventure sports. We liked it’s vibe.
And here it is, the beautiful Soca! Dad, Mom and I are on the trail to the right.
Dad with a bridge we crossed
Dad in one of the WWII shelters
Dad cooling his tootsies
A beautiful waterfall – Slap Kozjac, it’s called, which is great.
And here we are swimming. SO. COLD.
I thought Grandma Shirley would like this natural arrangement! I wanted to transplant the whole thing to some sort of fairy fountain situation.
Mom is making it over the suspension bridge. It bounced. She was brave.
Exploring Roman ruins
These stairs were much, much higher than this photo even shows.
Taking in the view.
Descending some more stairs
This is how they do bee hives! They are all this pretty!
We went to see a concert in the Mozarteum in Salzburg! We were there crazy early, of course.
The show was amazing – Thomas Ades, the British composer, played one of his own pieces accompanied by the Calder Quartet. I was afraid the fam would hate the VERY avante garde music, but they loved it!
Hanging with the other stuffy white folks at the concert. This is totally my element.
And then we went to a beer hall!
Look at that beer! Oh, Mom!
Tourist time with Dad! That’s a Mozart statue! (Mozart is from Salzburg)
Excellent statue. That’s not a real person up there (the OHS regulations would be far too onerous for that, we guessed)
A beautiful building in a row of buildings all dating from the 1200s and 1300s.
A view of Salzburg from the castle on top of the city
Mom listening to her audio guide!
…and Dad NOT listening to an audio guide? What has the world come to?
Good Lukey, listening to his audio guide.
And of COURSE I am.
At the castle in Salzburg
A different church
Bad Haring, Austria
Our first glimpse of the beautiful Bad Haring, Austria
With Huberta, Uncle Matt’s host Mom. She and Manfred took us for walks all over the place.
There’s something funny about this historical mining car, apparently!
A classic Tirolean farm house, according to Huberta. It’s beautiful!
Manfred’s brother was a gifted sculptor. This is in the Bad Haring graveyard, at the family plot. It’s just beautiful.
More of Manfred’s brother’s work.
These type of flower boxes are everywhere. Don’t you just want to eat it!
No one knows what this little guy is, or quite how we feel about him.
There were goats!
Huberta greets Cato
Dad and Manfred on a walk.
This is Stefi’s cafe, build under Manfred and Huberta’s house in the centre of the town. It is brand new and absolutely gorgeous inside!
More of Manfred’s brother’s work
This is how Austrians stack wood. It’s perfection. Actually, I think this is the stack that Uncle Matt and Uncle Greg did last time they visited Bad Haring!
Huberta showing us around the idyllic land behind their house
Oh geeze, Dad’s got a scithe. Never give Dad a scithe. Luckily no one got their eye poked out.
Stefi’s part of the garden, in which she plants flowers to decorate the cafe
Our hotel, which Manfred and Huberta arranged for us. Is it not spectacular? It’s on top of a hot spring and has a whole beautiful spa complex in it.
And Luke and I got the nicest room! That’s just one side of the balcony. Serious luxury.
Bad Haring. Huberta told us that when she moved here as a young adult, she said she would climb every peak around the valley. She did it within a year.
In Kufstein, a nearby town
The castle above Kufstein
Mom in the castle
Inside of the castle is a museum about winter sports, of course. And guess who’s in there!!! Manfred and Fritz invented a new binding for alpine skiing that was super revolutionary in the sport, and is now pretty much the only binding used. Here is an early prototype, with their names! Yay so exciting!
A view of Kufstein
The castle – we walked the stairs rather than taking the funicular. So tough.
The toys of Fritz and his son Mathias. Luke was very happy.
Chatting with Fritze before leaving.
With Manfred at the house
Saying goodbye to Fritz, Mathias, and Huberta.
The stunning cathedral in Vienna
There was a (happy) demonstration outside of the cathedral, with people singing and dancing around an American flag and a cross. We thing it was to celebrate the Pope’s journey from Wyoming to Krakow, really not sure of the details here.
a famous modern building by the cathedral.
A lovely mosaic in the city – photo for you, Aunt Marjorie!
Taking a break from an epic day of walking in Vienna.
Luke is biting Goethe’s toe
We couldn’t take pictures of the inside of the imperial rooms, but we could take pictures in the museum that they built to house the dining sets. Museum. For dining sets.
So many fancy huge buildings in Vienna, mostly built by emperor Franz Josef.
I don’t even know what all the fancy buildings are.
Like this one, it’s just another huge fancy building.
But now, we transition to the neighborhood by the Danube, which is totally covered in graffiti/street art.
Apparently, the locals have claimed this zone?
I don’t think it can be called graffiti if it’s this photorealistic, right?
This must make the people doing simple tags feel really inadequate
Lovely feminine graffiti/street art
So grand! (Something tells me they planned/paid for this one)
Hanging out by the Danube
We went to the top of this church (which was 200m from our airbnb, by the way)
And this was the view of Vienna from the top of the church.
Leaving the church
This is where the Hapsburgs would hang out in the summer. This is their summer house.
Mom and Dad at Schonbrun Palace, aka the Hapsburg holiday house.
This is just a pretty thing opposite from the summer house that they built to be pretty.
Walking through the gardens.
Just quietly, this flutist has poor form. Never rest your elbow, people.
Details on the synagogue.
A really chilling and beautiful memorial to the many, many Jewish people who were massacred – or died of horrific ghetto conditions – during WWII. Each leaf has the name of a person who lost their life. (In the courtyard of the Synagogue)
On a lighter note, this is a testament to the designer of the Rubic’s Cube, who is from Budapest!
Walking in the city
Like in Vienna, there are lots of grand buildings in Budapest. But they have slightly different flavour. As Julia so eloquently puts it, Budapest is Vienna’s “edgier step-sister”
The Parliament building
An artistic way to cover but remember bullet holes that once scarred this building (from the time of the revolution)
In the parliament sqaure
The cathedral, which houses the Holy Right Hand of St. Stephen
Inside the cathedral
Look at little Henry! How adorable is he?? And he’s just sitting at lunch, chilling, like the cosmopolitan lil bubby that he is.
Looking across the Danube
Walking across the swaying suspension bridge over the Danube.
A beautiful church on the Buda side of Budapest
Looking at the Pest side of Budapest
Our last dinner together (until our next adventure!)