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Reading Snapshot: February 7th, 2015

February 7, 2015


To be honest, I haven’t been doing much regular reading over the past few days. Instead, I’ve been taken over by planning my next adventure! On Thursday I went to the library, walked straight to their travel section, and gathered giant piles of guidebooks to sort through over a hot chocolate from their cafe, eventually winnowing the pile to a reasonable few to bring home with me. So my coffee table is full of guidebooks, and my notebooks are full of scribbled potential itineraries, and my mind is full of dreams.

I had actually hoped to go somewhere in Asia next, as I’ve yet to visit that continent, but I’m not sure if my body could handle the twenty four plus hours required to get there. Europe is about half of that distance, so it seemed a good compromise and way for me to tell if a future Asian flight is in the cards. Then I thought about Turkey, which I’ve dreamed about for ages, but it’s one of my mom’s dream destinations too. So I’m putting that on hold for a couple of years until we can go together. That doesn’t mean I have to give up the entire Ottoman empire though! As you can see, I’ve narrowed my choices down to Hungary or the Balkans or a bit of both. My primary interests for the trip include folklore, forests, cafes, and oodles of history; this area offers all of that and more in spades. Now my only problem is trying to narrow my focus down to fit comfortably in four weeks. All suggestions warmly appreciated as far as wonderful places you’ve been in this area, especially outside of Budapest and the Adriatic Coast, which seem to be the focus of most guidebooks and travel blogs.

Funnily enough, writing this post and updating my Library Loot post with book titles (and the second video with my nonfiction selections, if you were waiting for that) has me itching to get back to ordinary reading. It’s snowing again, so I think I’ll go curl up on my couch with a book; it’s time for me to pick a new novel to start. I love surveying my bookcases, full of potential new favourites, before settling on just one to read next. It’s the same type of thrill as choosing a new country to explore. And certainly cheaper and simpler besides. ;)

25 Comments leave one →
  1. February 7, 2015 10:46 pm

    I just love that you are doing this. I also love that you and your mum want to travel together. I feel the same way when it is time to choose a new book from the shelf.

    • February 9, 2015 12:32 pm

      Mom and I had a great time in Mexico City and Guanajuato, so we definitely want to travel more together. :) In addition to Turkey we both want to go to Poland and South Africa.

  2. February 7, 2015 10:57 pm

    I am very jealous that your library has a cafe. And I have no recommendations or suggestions for travel, but I hope that Hungary is everything you want it to be.

    • February 9, 2015 12:33 pm

      It’s a Tim Hortons if that makes you less jealous. Not particularly fancy. ;) But you can have your drink anywhere in the library, which is nice!

      I’m actually leaning towards saving Hungary for another trip now and focusing on the Balkans this go round. It’s so tricky to decide tho!

  3. February 8, 2015 4:59 am

    For a real taste of travelling around Eastern Europe in the 1930s, I can highly recommend The Broken Road by Patrick Leigh Fermor as well as the previous volumes in the series. They are a gorgeous account of his journey from Amsterdam to Istanbul on foot.

    • February 9, 2015 12:34 pm

      Thanks: that sounds like a great travelogue! I’ve got Devla Murphy’s on my radar too.

  4. February 8, 2015 5:43 am

    We’ve been travelling to Eastern Europe for several summers (Czech, Southern Poland, Hungary, Slovakia) and Croatia last year. If you have any question, you can drop me a line!

    • February 9, 2015 12:34 pm

      Oh thank you for the offer Smithereens! :)

  5. aartichapati permalink
    February 8, 2015 6:58 pm

    Ooh, I am in the midst of planning a vacation, too! We are going to celebrate my parents’ 40th wedding anniversary. The only trouble being that work schedules and locations are not lining up very well. All of us also really want to go to Turkey, but my sister can only take about a week off work, so it doesn’t work. We’re trying to narrow down the options now. I did a lot of reading on Croatia and Slovenia and Montenegro. I really want to visit Lake Bled now!

    • February 9, 2015 12:37 pm

      Vacation planning for multiple people must be tricky! Have you looked at central Mexico (Mexico City and the colonial cities of Morelia, Guanajuato, San Miguel de Allende, etc)? They’re full of stuff to do, very easy to travel around, and in the same time zone as Chicago, so could work for a week. Just a thought!

      I now want to go to every single Balkan country and Hungary, but I know I need to break it up into several trips. So difficult to decide which ones to visit first!

  6. February 8, 2015 11:04 pm

    Few things rival the sweet anticipation of choosing a new book to dive into! A library with a café? No fair! 😉

  7. February 9, 2015 6:12 am

    I live in Northern Greece so I spend a lot of time nipping up to the Balkans.
    My best advice is Albania. It’s really often overlooked as a tourist destination but it’s really gorgeous, full of cafes and history, and the people are super nice to foreigners. The architecture is not so great and there are a lot of run down areas but Lake Ohrid, Korce, and Vlore are lovely to visit. The downside is that there is not really much public transport so much as shared “cabs” so it can be a bit intimidating to get from place to place (guaranteed adventures whether you want it or not) but if you can get someone to drive, it’s loads of fun. The locals are usually happy to point you to their personal favorites.
    My other favorite is Belgrade in Serbia. Gorgeous buildings, loads of funky and classic cafes, loads of history, friendly people (who speak good english), and each neighborhood is like a different city. Excellent public transit too. It’s a shorter trip though since its core is the best part but it has good museums including a ‘folklore’ museum where most of the ethnoarchaeologists I know work.

    • February 9, 2015 9:33 am

      I also enjoyed my trip to Serbia a year or so ago and I can recommend it too. It’s still off the tourist track so you have the joy of feeling like a visitor to Belgrade rather than a tourist per se.

      • February 9, 2015 12:40 pm

        Thanks Alistair! Serbia is definitely on my radar, as I love places where locals want to chat w travellers!

    • February 9, 2015 12:39 pm

      Thank you Teresa! Funnily enough I’d already pretty much decided before your comment to save Hungary and Croatia for another trip and was debating between adding Serbia, Albania, or Macedonia to Bosnia and Montenegro. Thanks so much for your firsthand advice! I might email you, because I’m finding it very challenging to decide between so many fabulous options.

      • February 10, 2015 4:57 pm

        My goodness, I know how it is. I still haven’t been to half of the places I have wanted to go in this area and I’ve been here a year! (without vacation but still…) Feel free to email me and if I’m still in the area and you want to see Thessaloniki, I’ll show you around.

      • February 10, 2015 5:56 pm

        So tempting Teresa! I was born in Greece (Athens), but we moved when I was 2, so I don’t remember it. I definitely want to return some day! I don’t think I can do it justice on this trip though.

        Anyway, expect an email from me very soon. :)

  8. February 9, 2015 12:27 pm

    Oh how I want to go to Turkey! I want that to be my next big trip — although Teresa’s making Serbia sound really wonderful too. I’m pretty sure I can’t make Turkey happen this year, but maybe in 2016? If you go before then, make sure to tell me all about where to go and what to do!

    • February 9, 2015 12:43 pm

      I definitely won’t make it before 2016; I have to wait until Mom graduates from her degree program, which is either next year or the year after. So maybe you’ll have to give me tips! :)

      And the guidebooks make Serbia sound great too. It’s a top contender for this May!

  9. February 13, 2015 4:54 am

    We really enjoyed Slovenia and then we went on to Hungary. Also the Czech Republic and Prague. All of these places were interesting, different and very friendly. Happy researching.

    • February 17, 2015 6:16 pm

      Good to know Pam! I like friendly countries the best, as it’s easier as a tourist without a ton of time to connect with locals. :)

  10. March 1, 2015 6:57 pm

    I visited Hungary in 2011 knowing almost nothing about the country (other than what I gleamed from the Rough Guides book I used) and ended up falling in love with the country. If you choose it, I hope you are able to visit outside of Budapest. The city is, of course, lovely but I really enjoyed our time in Siofolk on Lake Balaton and Pecs. I think you would love Monuments Park, which is basically a dumping ground of all the Soviet era statues and is located just outside of Budapest.

    We also timed our visit with the country’s national day and seeing the excitement and patriotism really brought all the stories we had heard to life. One issue we did run into is that German not French (which my mom knows fluently) is the most common second language. My dad knew enough German to hobble things together for us in a pinch and most of the museums and attractions had English or French language guides, but it made asking for directions very difficult. And trying to speak Russian with people earned a lot of scorn given the country’s history. Just a heads up.

    • March 3, 2015 8:32 pm

      That’s so good to know Christina! Thanks for all of that info. :) I don’t imagine there are many places outside of Russia where speaking Russian is met with approval, considering all of that historical baggage. :/

      • March 4, 2015 7:01 am

        You’re welcome! Yes, I don’t imagine many places would be open to it.

  11. March 8, 2015 10:42 am

    Ooh, exciting. I’ve wanted to go to Romania for years. I even bought a guidebook but as yet haven’t booked the holiday. I look forward to hearing which destinations you narrow it down to!

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