Walking by the Blue Mosque, a couple crossed our path. The man turned to us and asked where we were from and whether we spoke English. This kind of interaction happens a dozen times every day on the streets of Istanbul, the inquirer almost always being a seemingly well-meaning local intent on selling something. It would have been an unremarkable moment if both of us had not instantly recognized the man and his female companion.
Given the central role food plays in Thanksgiving celebrations, Istanbul seemed like an appropriate place to spend the holiday. As we had already visited most of the must-see sights on our previous trip, it was the city’s many culinary treats that made us look forward to this trip the most. A dizzying assortment of delicious meze, mounds of baklava, fresh pomegranates even in the dead of winter — a trip to Turkey is sure to delight all of the senses, and one especially.
Though they are not that far behind us, we already miss Munchkin’s infant days, and it’s not just because he was so small, cute, snuggly, and easy to hold. Despite the seemingly continuous feedings and constant diaper changes, life was much simpler. If he cried, we tried to figure out what was wrong and fix it; once calm was restored, we knew we could relax until his next tiny crisis knowing that we had done our parenting duty. One can’t spoil an infant, but now that he’s mobile, parenting has become a lot more hectic and challenging.
After the tournament in Kigali, we stayed an extra day in Rwanda to go gorilla trekking. In Uganda, we combined Ultimate frisbee with a visit to a chimpanzee sanctuary and a rafting trip down the Nile River. Though Sofia did not hold out the promise of similar adventures, we made sure to schedule enough time before the tournament started to see the city.
There is a vignette in one of our guidebooks that tells of how Erasmus killed a Hapsburg prince in a duel and then hid out at Predjama, a small castle in the Slovenian countryside, from whence he launched raider attacks on the local nobility while the emperor’s army laid siege to his fortress in vain. Though the time period fit, this was a difficult image to square with the Dutch humanist who is now the namesake of one of the better known student exchange programs in the world. We did some fact-checking (i.e. Wikipedia) and it seems that while the author of our guidebook got the name wrong — the robber baron was actually named Erazem Lueger — the legend of his escapades is very much based in real-life events.
Kids provide a good, objective lesson in relativity. For example, nine months seems like an impossibly long time to carry a baby to term. Having turned nine months today, Munchkin has now spent as much time out of the womb as in utero, and it certainly seems like the last nine months have flown by a lot faster than the first.
Sampling the local cuisine is usually one of the things we most look forward to when traveling, especially since Moldova’s food scene, though much improved since we first arrived here, still leaves a lot to be desired. Given the rather dour review of Slovenian food in some of the travel literature, its culinary delights caught us entirely by surprise.
The last stop on our Slovenian tour, the Vipava Valley, had been the deciding factor in our decision to visit this tiny post-Yugoslavian country. Long after we had agreed to spend two weeks in Croatia with S’s parents, we were still debating what to do with our third week of our R&R. Slovenia was a possibility, as were Serbia, Montenegro, and several other Balkan destinations. What tipped the scales in Slovenia’s favor, in addition to recommendations from friends, was a timely article in the New York Times travel section.