Noi6 means "the 6 of us" in Romanian.

We are five, you are the sixth one.

We thank you for joining us in our trip around the world...

Tuesday, September 25, 2012


Hola! Hello!

"Who wants to get out?" asks Mihai.
"No, thank you! You said we were going to rest and that’s what we intend to do!"

We’re in Estartit, a wonderful village by the Mediterranean Sea, with a wonderful beach and wonderful eateries, and all we want to do is to be inside the walls of our apartment, even if we don’t have internet. I need to put a little bit of space around memories. Europe is intensive, with so many things to see, I need time to filter my emotions and impressions, to write them down and I don’t want to go and make new ones.

We could have chosen any location close to Barcelona, but we came here because we were invited by Isma (Ease-ma). We’ve met in Thailand, us, leaving Bottle Beach, he, going to the doctor for an infected leg (diving with unprotected wounds would do that to you). Our car started speeding up when we realized we didn’t give him our card, he couldn’t run, so we threw it on the sand and that was our last image of him. He liked our page on Facebook and we exchanged a few messages.

He visits our apartment one afternoon and we talk about wind surfing, tourists, business, independence. Driving through Catalunya we read graffitti inscriptions asking for independence. The signs are first in Catalana, then Spanish, then English, people speak Catalana, they teach it in school. I ask why do they want independence from Spain? Not everybody wants it, but it seems it is about money and who is using them (Spain or Catalunya). Until they reach a majority, they are part of Spain.

Monday, September 24, 2012

A Taste of Spain

The story might seem fairy tale material, but it is not. As we left Bottle Beach, we got on a little boat for half an hour. During the trip, Ileana got to talk with a nice young fellow. Then we parted ways. Waiting for departure in the back of a truck, I asked my daughter what they talked about. "Our trip", "He's from the most beautiful Spanish village and he works in the best restaurant in the world". "Let's go there!" I said and my daughter readily agreed. As our truck was now departing, I waived at Isma and I threw a contact card towards him. In the dust behind us we saw him limping with his injured foot, retrieve the card and waive back at us.
The season is over in L'Estartit

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Family Meetings in Barcelona


Barcelona is the location where we will be meeting with Mom's half of the family. Our cousins, aunt and uncle, and grandmother have come to Barcelona for a conference, but they're also going to meet with us.

We arrive in Barcelona first. Dad somehow navigates to the apartment, drops us off, and heads to the airport to drop the car off (having trouble finding the way to the airport without any map he sees all of Barcelona). We meet Adina, a Romanian who's managing the apartment, and find out with crestfallen faces that instead of our apartment and our family's apartment being in the same building, we're 7 minutes away from each other on foot.

The only reason Dad paid for such an apartment was because he thought we'd be in the same room. Otherwise, we would have had a much cheaper place!

Monday, September 17, 2012

Berlin, Deutschland


Gutten tag! 

Here we are in Goethe’s land. The first time we were here it was a few months after the fall of the Wall and the differences between East and West were evident. The situation was tense because they had just adopted the Western mark as the national currency, transforming overnight normal Easterners into poor people. The graffiti was everywhere.

The first night we roamed the streets with our friends. Mihaela and Marcello (from Napoli) are so kind and let us stay in their apartment, while they go to visit her family in Romania. We walk aimlessly, talking and catching up with our busy lives, finding more about them and Alina (her sister) and Matheu (her sister’s boyfriend). We switch from Romanian to English, then when they talk with each other it’s either in Italian or French. We ask for directions in German. I ask Mihaela how many languages does she speak: seven, all of the above plus Spanish and Portuguese. And she is not alone. Berlin is the hubbub for all the artists, a place where they can find a venue for their imagination and is not expensive to live.

Enjoying the movie "10 Months In"

Sunday, September 16, 2012

A Stay in Berlin

We liked Berlin. We came here for several reasons, specifically invited by Mihaela, a long time friend. Besides, it's been 22 years since we were here last time, shortly after the fall of the wall and the day after the monetary unification. It's been too long since then and I couldn't wait to see the new city of Berlin, frequently described as the most vibrant European city. A past great capital, the center of European power games and also the second biggest Turkish town in Europe. Berlin is a city in constant change, the locals don't recognize it year after year, and they joke that they don't need to go to any other city, they have something new all the time.

Guess what? I am in Berlin!

With our friends, before they left. Too soon.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

New Clothes, New Friends, and New Shoes



Some of the artwork on the remainders of the wall.

We reached this amazing city in the afternoon, bunked down in our bunks, and sent the parents out to enjoy themselves.

They bought Icebreakers for us— Ileana took mine (very happily), and I took her pink one temporarily. We exchanged it the next day for a beautiful dark blue shirt that makes me look like a completely different person. How do people handle changing shirts every day? I just can't figure it out.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012



Ahoy! Hello!

We're in Prague,  Czech Republic. We slept while crossing the border. No one asked for our passports, we're in the European Union.

Day One: we walk toward downtown seeing streets and people (who were drinking beer at 11 am),

Tuesday, September 11, 2012


I don't like violence. But there is something contagious in the joy with which Czechs display the room and window of defenestration.

The old depiction of the events

The same window in 2012

The story on display is simple and almost romantic: the representatives of the king where not good to the people, so the people stormed the castle and threw the regents out of the window. The Czechs kid themselves with the idea that if necessary they would do it again whenever necessary, supposedly their rulers should be aware of the risk and govern mindfully. The view from the window is gorgeous, but there is concrete below. If there could be just a black hole, I would gladly recommend the defenestration for all the politicians of the world. Take them to Prague and get rid of them. Until we solve the technical details, Prague remains just a touristic destination.

It's full of tourists in Prague during a hot September day

Europe So Far

We'll start this thing with London.

Actually we'll start by saying I can't type. But this has already been established.

Maria and I flew from Chicago on Tuesday and arrived in Great Britain the day after, where we met with Mom, Daddy, and Ioan. We took the metro and eventually reached our hostel, which was recognizable thanks to the construction stuff around the entrance-y bit. We slept on the top floor, which happened to be the fifth. Thanks to the teeny-tiny elevator and the long wait required for it, we preferred the stairs. The internet was only available on the ground floor, so the stairs were used quite a bit.

We met up with our grandparents and sightsaw a bit, going to the Tower of London and seeing the Crown Jewels, Buckingham Palace (sans parents), saw the changing of the guard (yawn. Yawn yawn yawn yawn yawn. Yaaaaawn.), was rushed around the Queen's Gallery which happened to be showing a very interesting exhibition on Leonardo da Vinci (the rush was to see the yawn changing of the guard), saw Westminster Abbey which is less church and more graveyard.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Zero Percent

If you try to learn about the world, there is a small population of 13,428,300 in 2010 (0% of the total), who suffered the most and caused most of the trouble in the world. Most of them live in America and some of them live in a country called Israel. They are generally called Jews, even though what makes someone Jew can be an issue of considerable debate. There is a lot to learn about them and the best place to do it is in Prague. It might seem illogical at first, but soon it all makes sense. Hitler dreamed of a museum for the "extinct race of Jews" and apparently he chose one of the oldest synagogues in the world to house it. In an adjacent synagogue they started to pile the artifacts stollen from the population, items of inestimable value, waiting to be put on display when the Nazis would have won the war. So saved from destruction and somehow surviving the communist era, they are now available for the whole world to learn. There is a quarter in Prague Old Town that contains the Jewish Museum, unusual because it comprises a few buildings scattered over several streets in a relatively new Art-Nouveau labyrinth. There is the Old-New Synagogue, built in 1270. The ceiling is awkward, almost clumsy, it has five spikes, the builders were Christians, they knew how to built a ceiling with four beams connecting in the shape of the cross. That wouldn't have worked for a synagogue, so they added a fifth one, clumsily. Why? The Jews were not allowed to built, they had to employ Christians. Why? Asked the children, it just doesn't make sense. They were not allowed to do anything, exempt moneylending. Why? They ask again. People are stupid. That is the short answer, there is a (much) longer one.

The ceiling with five spires, credit wikipedia

Awesome Days in Prague


We spent about four days in Prague. We actually did interesting activities for two of them (well, rather, we did activities).

September 8th was my name day. We walked around Prague, saw the enormous clock that hangs up and shows the saints that are celebrated on each day.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Wien, Osterreich


Guten tag! (goot-an tuck) 

Hello! We are in Vienna, Austria (the title of the blogpost is read Veen, Oh-stir-rye-h). From the airport we take the train. There are no turnstiles here, no blocking of the flux of people coming or going, just  two boxes where you are supposed to validate your ticket as you enter the station. It is your responsibility. The train is wide and has doors that don’t open automatically (this makes for a quieter ride). Mihai is concerned if we are going to figure how to open them, but it’s quite simple, just pull the handle. 

In the station we are welcomed by Alina, our cousin. She lives here with her 9 years old son, Victor. Though we know stories about him, it is our first time that we meet him (only Mihai met him years ago). Both sides are curious. 10:30 pm. He says hello, and after getting a good picture of our faces, he goes directly to bed. At 6:30 am he wakes up to go to school. We stay late and eat and talk and eat some more, in a true Romanian style. 

This is the next night, we have duck, dumplings and red cabbage!

Friday, September 7, 2012

Teacups, Operas, and Kinder


I have a friend who frequently gives us all kinds of tips for our trip.

My favorite is this one, about New Zealand:

"Watch out for hobbits!"

Or mothers taking pictures of fire hydrants.

The Best City in the World

According to September's National Geographic, again this year the best city to live in this world is Vienna. To understand what this means, the highest ranked American city is Honolulu, at number 29. The Economist uses a different scale and rates Vienna a close second, after Melbourne. This wasn't our reason to come here, we came to meet with Alina and Victor. For nine years now, my children knew they have a cousin and wanted to meet with him, but unfortunately they had to wait this long.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Visiting United Kingdom's Capital


We are so spoiled! 

After so many months on the road, we are complaining of a little bit of deprivation of sleep due to uncomfortable chairs. Like all the night buses should have recline-able chairs with a hood to shelter your face as in Japan! Spoiled or not we are sleep-walking to our hostel, where we find out that we can’t enter our room until 3 o’clock. It looks like a dorm one... Well, we’re on a budget, it will do.

After a good night sleep we can’t wait to pick up our girls from the airport. Happy to be together, sad that they don’t have a new stamp in their passports. 

They brought bagels! 

Monday, September 3, 2012

London in Seven

In November 2005 I asked my family a tricky question. P or L? A majority chose P and it turned into $300 plane ticket to Paris on a now-defunct airline. It was the first international trip for my children on Valentine's Day in 2006. L would have been London...

The children liked Paris and enjoyed returning there in 2009, but at least one of them held it against me for not getting to London until now.

London this summer - it's all about the Games



Ileana and I arrived in Heathrow Airport nonchalantly. We walked (or skipped) ahead of our entire plane, then lost our lead entirely by stopping at the toilets. 

We carried our bag of bagels throughout the baggage claim area, very happy that we didn't have to stop. As we walked through the store that comes just before exiting into the wide world that is England, I looked around at the perfumes. Why would anyone shop for perfume just before exiting the airport? It doesn't make sense to me.