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caves, castles, and the legend of Erasmus

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.

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the baby theory of relativity

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.

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how to eat well in Slovenia

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.

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Slovenia’s best-kept secret

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.

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on the horizon

Initially, we thought we would hold off on the announcement and simply share our observations on the bidding process. After all, we still have nine months left in Moldova and, when training is taken into account, almost two years will pass before we arrive at our next post. However, various friends wrote to say that the suspense might literally kill them. We wouldn’t want that to happen, so it’s time to spill the beans.

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career corner

On Monday, the State Department issued handshakes for summer 2015 jobs, which means we now know where we’re headed after our tour in Moldova ends next year. Our onward assignment, with which we are quite happy, was the last in a string of good career news over the last several months.

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all quiet on the Soča front

The First World War put Kobarid on the map, and Ernest Hemingway immortalized it with a throwaway line in A Farewell To Arms. “I remembered it as a little white town with a campanile in a valley. It was a clean little town and there was a fine fountain in the square,” wrote Hemingway, whose experiences driving a Red Cross ambulance at the Soča front helped shape one of the greatest novels of the twentieth century.

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The Grand Bovec Hotel

There are several lodges in Karlovy Vary that are variously cited as the inspiration for Wes Anderson’s Grand Budapest Hotel. We have yet to visit this Czech resort town, but in Bovec we stayed at a small boutique hotel that can accurately be described as the Grand Budapest’s spiritual cousin.


the wisdom of youth

We’ve commented elsewhere on how much joy we derive from watching Munchkin expand his mastery of the world — seeing it through his eyes, watching him figure out how it works, and enjoying a vicarious thrill of breakthrough every time he reaches another milestone. With time, we’ve come to appreciate another aspect of the long arc of his learning curve. Even as we help him learn the ways of the world, there is quite a lot he unwittingly teaches us in the process.

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