Category Archives: Travel


Months after the fact, here are the pictures I took this summer while in Halstatt, Austria. I’ll let the photos speak for themselves. It’s a beautiful place. I was reluctant to leave and look forward to going back at some point.

Our hostel in Hallstatt, which suited us just fine Throughout the little town of Hallstatt, there are room and little cottages for rent Houses near our hostel Uncle Ben and Ellen checking out the high water after a day of rain One has to wonder if it's illegal not to have flower beds under your windows in Austria... One has to wonder if it's illegal not to have flower beds under your windows in Austria... The lake, which is COLD, but that didn't stop most of us from taking a dip or two A playground next to a crystal clear lake and surrounded by mountains -- what a great spot! A playground next to a crystal clear lake and surrounded by mountains -- what a great spot! Hallstatt lake Ben and Heather (Ben acting like it was colder than it really was) Ellen June discovers zip-lines... uh-oh The view from the little private balcony at our hostel Mom and dad, on the walk into town (that river was really moving after a previous day of rain) One of many quaint sights on the main street in Hallstatt Hallstatt Hallstatt lake Hallstatt What can I say -- she's got very sophisticated tastes Ellen, imitating a very old person The funicular that takes you from Hallstatt to the salt mines The funicular that takes you from Hallstatt to the salt mines (and back) The stunning view from the cafe near the salt mine Hallstatt, as seen from the cafe near the salt mine This trip was my introduction to the Ellen and Pampah take a break on the way up to tour the salt mine Ellen and Pampah on the way up to tour the salt mine June was too young for the salt mine tour so she stayed outside with me. She was thrilled. Many, many a school field trip is taken to the Hallstatt salt mine, apparently. Ahh, the Swiss Alps, I'd heard so much about you... A late lunch with possibly the best cafe view ever, anyway. And surprisingly affordable too. Food just tastes better when it's delivered by grandma Lisbeth takes a brisk dip in the lake Ellen and Uncle been do their best to destroy the playground equipment Ellen had a blast, in and out of the water June-bug, reacting to being told that it was nap time Hallstatt, as seen from the playground we frequented Dad at dinner, after a long day of playing tourist Mom at dinner, after a long day of playing tourist Hallstatt -- just as pretty as the postcards make it out to be Hallstatt Ellen at the Hallstatt Charnel House. She thought it was quite interesting. Hallstatt Charnel House Hallstatt Charnel House Hallstatt Charnel House Hallstatt Hallstatt Hallstatt Heather enjoys the view from the lake (but June slept through the entire boat ride) The mysterious castle opposite from Hallstatt... DSC_7880.JPG DSC_7882.JPG Hallstatt Hallstatt Hallstatt Hallstatt lake Ellen DSC_7917.JPG DSC_7919.JPG On the tram to the Headed to the Dachstein ice caves entering the Dachstein ice caves Dad and mom, inside the Dachstein ice caves Dachstein ice caves Dachstein ice caves Dachstein ice caves Ellen, at the tram stop at the top DSC_8025.JPG NOW we're in the mountains The alps DSC_8038.JPG DSC_8043.JPG The Hallstatt, seen from the Five Fingers lookout Lisbeth and Ellen, giving me a heart attack One of the five DSC_8091.JPG DSC_8097.JPG DSC_8101.JPG A nice little plank, in the event of suicide (or base jumping) Ellen decided she'd had enough walking on the way back. Good thing Auntie Heather has a strong back. Ellen decided she'd had enough walking on the way back. Good thing Auntie Heather has a strong back. DSC_8136.JPG DSC_8140.JPG Back on the valley floor, happy that I don't have to watch my girls defy gravity any longer. It's not easy being and aunt, but Auntie Heather doesn't seem to mind Apparently pulling old supports out of the water is not a big priority in Hallstatt DSC_8217.JPG Lunch on the waterfront DSC_8226.JPG DSC_8236.JPG DSC_8244.JPG DSC_8248.JPG Best location for a playground ever June couldn't get enough of the zip-line How can this girl not even be six years old yet? DSC_8271.JPG Ellen practicing her twirling Yes, women do sometimes dress this way in Austria. Even in 2014. Here's another reason it's good to travel with others -- let someone else carry your kids for once. Burning off excess energy, back in Prague, before our flight back to Copenhagen the next morning


Lisbeth and the girls, freshly arrived and installed in our urban pad for the week An odd choice, I know, but this is my favorite building in Prague. It looks more like ship than a building. For an American that grew up in the American Southwest, apartment buildings like these are impressive, even though they're pretty run-of-the-mill for European cities. The view from one of the terraces in our apartment Aunt Beth sent two homemade dresses, which the girls wore quite happily June and Bonbon

This year, for the first time since moving to Europe, I am not traveling to the US for summer vacation. Instead we spend our vacation in Europe where we were joined for two weeks by my parents and my brother Ben and his wife Heather. We spent the first week in Prague, where we rented an apartment big enough for all eight of us.

Ellen and her grandfather bonded over several games of catch Ellen and her grandfather bonded over several games of catch Ellen and her grandfather bonded over several games of catch DSC_6179.JPG DSC_6183.JPG The start of many excursions into the heart of Prague

This was the first time any of us had been to Prague with the exception of Lisbeth who’d been there last at a teenager and didn’t remember much about it except that it left a positive impression. It’s a very pretty city Read More →


The Blue MosqueIt’s hard for me to believe, but it’s been almost twenty five years since my second attempt at college.

The first attempt was brief, in 1987, immediately after graduating college. In retrospect I simply had no motivation. I dropped out and took a number of strange jobs. Some were fun but there was nothing that I cared to make a career out of. And so, two years later, I was ready to go back, and this time I was motivated — knowing full-well what the alternatives looked like.

My second attempt was entirely different than the first. I learned a lot, and met a lot of interesting people. One of these people was Emrah, a fellow student in the Computer Science department at Highlands University in my hometown. Emrah and I became friends even though it was, at times, humbling to hang out with the guy. He despised programming and math but was unquestioningly better than I was at both of them. He often encouraged me to have fun with him instead of studying for exams, but then he’d ace the exams and I’d barely get by.

After graduating from college, Emrah alternatively lived in California and his native Istanbul, where I have long intended to visit him, especially after moving to Denmark (Istanbul is only a three and a half hour flight away.) I finally managed it over Easter. It had been sixteen years since I’d seen Emrah. A lot has changed, but I still enjoy his company a great deal.

The view from Emrah's apartment in Kadiköy, a suburb of Istanbul The Asian side of Istanbul, as seen from The two sides of Istanbul (Western on the left, Asian on the right) as seen from A tiny slice of Istanbul along the Bosphorus A tiny slice of Istanbul along the Bosphorus The newest part of the Istanbul metro (Marmaray tunnel, which goes under the Bosphorus) Read More →


In early September, my aunts Donna and Kay took their respective husbands Clarance and Frank on a European river Cruise. Their point of embarkation was Budapest, so we flew down to meet them and see them off. We were joined by Lisbeth’s parents, which was fantastic, because yes, they’re fun to travel with, but also we had our hands full with our two girls and needed all the help we could get.

Ellen  rarely naps anymore, but she took a long one in baggage claim upon arrival even though it was only 3:00pm. June explored the entire baggage claim area while we waited for Frits and Karen to arrive. Our apartment, tiny but efficient.

I had very little idea what to expect. I knew that Hungary has been hit hard by the recession, and that wages are quite low, so I expected to see outward signs of poverty. I’d also heard from several people that it’s a great, clean, and afffordable city.

First meal in Budapest. The weather was perfect the whole time. We sat comfortably outside for most of our meals. Budapest of full of grand buildings, ranging from defunct to very well kept. The Hungarian Forint trades at about 230 per dollar, making shopping a weird experience.

We saw almost no evidence of hard economic times. Nothing like Porto, or Dublin, for example. We saw only a few people begging in four days, so that surprised me. And it is indeed a clean vibrant city, with lots to see. For some reason it feels like a bigger city than it is. It feels more like London than Copenhagen, even though it’s much closer to Copenhagen in size.

Just around the corner from our rooms Breakfast near the hotel. Looks worse than it was, but traffic in Budapest really moves along. Around the corner from where we stayed. The steel posts separating the sidewalk from traffic were much appreciated.

Budapest is also quite affordable. Not dirt cheap, but very reasonable, especially by European standards. I particularly enjoyed the restaurants. There are a lot of them to choose from, and the quality of the food and service was quite high given the price. Plus I had what might be the best steak I’ve ever had (I’m not a big steak fan, but wow) on Ráday Street — a must-see stretch of sidewalk cafes that goes on and on for blocks.

Lisbeth, leaving the hotel for a day of sight-seeing. According to Google Translate, 'pince' means 'basement', so this is the 'panic basement'?! There's a fair amount of English on signs and menus, but it isn't always coherent.

At first it’s tempting to assume that the Hungarians in Budapest speak English pretty well. In restaurants, for example, they seem pretty fluent. But this is an illusion that often goes away once you stray off the subject of the menu.

The buildings are, it turns out, a little more impressive to a guy that grew up in the American Southwest than they are to Europeans DSC_6121.JPG It's nothing like Copenhagen, but there are a fair number of cyclists in Budapest

Lisbeth found this out the hard way one night, on an urgent quest for diapers and baby-food. Read More →

Anton Chico

I spent four years of my young life going to school in Anton Chico, New Mexico. Anton Chico is a village of about 600, about 45 minutes from my hometown. It’s the kind of place with one store, and that store is clearly just a room in someone’s house, and behind the cash register there’s a curtain through which you can see the part of the family that is off duty watching TV in their living room.

The church in Anton Chico The church in Anton Chico The church in Dalia (near Anton Chico)

The four years I spent in Anton Chico are not among my favorites. I was an outsider, and life is always harder on outsiders in a place like Anton Chico. But I was also the son of a teacher, and that didn’t help. I also didn’t speak Spanish, which put me even further outside the acceptable circles.

DSC_8036.JPG Abercrombies (long since defunct) where I purchased many a candy bar after school Abercrombies (long since defunct) where I purchased many a candy bar after school

I suppose kids are the same anywhere, but Anton Chico seemed rough to me then and seems rough to me now. I got roughed up and pushed around regularly. I lived in a state of fear, and even though my life was never in danger, that fear made a permanent impression. To this day, every time I walk into a new situation, I wonder if I won’t be ambushed. I can’t help but tense up, and think about how I might best defend myself if someone steps out from behind a door and clobbers me. Read More →


A bridge over the Douro in Barca d'Alva

Last month we traveled to Portugal with my parents for a seven-day river cruise. We flew to Porto (a city I must admit I’d never heard of before) and sailed from there up the Douro river, in the heart of Portuguese wine country. I learned a lot. For one thing, Portuguese sounds nothing like Spanish in my opinion.

Porto is surprising. It’s pretty big for one thing — especially for a city I didn’t know existed. It is second only to Lisbon in size, with about 1.3 million people.

One of many rotting apartments -- this one directly across from São Bento train station in the oldest quarter of Porto One of many rotting apartments -- this one directly across from São Bento train station in the oldest quarter of Porto One of many rotting apartments -- this one directly across from São Bento train station in the oldest quarter of Porto

Porto is a city of sharp contrasts. The airport is modern and pleasant, with a metro line that takes you downtown quietly and efficiently. The metro stations reminded me a little of Copenhagen’s metro stations. And then you climb the stairs to the street and BAM! – there’s the contrast. Porto is full of beautiful old buildings… many of which have clearly been abandoned and some of which appear ready to be condemned. Read More →

El Porvenir

When we were still in New Mexico last month we attended a church retreat in El Porvenir. I took these on the last night, as kids made smores (kids don’t just roast marshmallows anymore, apparently.)

Campfire at El Porvenir Campfire at El Porvenir Campfire at El Porvenir


Last week we went to Capulin, a volcano in Northern New Mexico. It’s about 90 minutes from Springer, the town where I was born and my grandparents still live. But, like the Sandia Tram, it’s something that I’d never seen.

Ellen listens quietly as I explain our plans for the day One of many fantastic views from Capulin DSC_0211.JPG

The volcano doesn’t look like much when you’re approaching, and I thought it would turn out to be pretty lame, but when you start to climb, the view gets fantastic almost immediately. (There are hiking trails, but apparently none of them go from the bottom to the top, so you have only one choice — drive to the top.)

When ladybugs attack When ladybugs attack When ladybugs attack

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Mom and dad were here for two weeks and we filled that time pretty well with moving, but we also went to Stockholm, which was neat because none of us had ever been there before. (And considering how much traveling Lisbeth has done, that’s pretty surprising.)

The fast train Making our way down a shopping street in the old part of town 

We opted to take the train instead of fly even though flying was cheaper. The train is just more relaxing, and gave us a chance to see the Swedish countryside, which is very pretty, with a lot of hills and rocky outcroppings (which you certainly don’t see very often in Denmark.) Plus it’s a fast train. It goes about 200 kph, or  124 mph, which means it only takes about five hours to get to Stockhom.

Setting out from the hotel Ellen ponders the architectural aspects of Swedish cathetrals I walked around all day before I noticed that there was something stuck to my shirt

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Notes to self: Travel

I just got back from Christmas with my family in New Mexico. (Lisbeth is due on Februry 5th, so she stayed in Denmark and had Christmas with her family.) This was the first time I’d had two stopovers, and I was a little surprised at how much difference that one stop makes the trip. I saved about $400 doing it this way, so that’s $200 each way… but I’m not sure it’s worth it.

It’s not really the layover that’s the problem. I don’t mind having time to stretch my legs, and if it’s no longer than three hours, the time isn’t really the issue. The problem is that each layover increases the chances of a missed, delayed or cancelled flight. Coming into I came very close to missing my flight in Houston. So that’s one lesson — saving some money can cause a missed flight. But I noticed a few other things about air travel on this trip. Read More →