Salzburg!, a storybook town

Saltzburg is an elegant city located in one of the most scenic areas of the Alps, a perfect backdrop for a classic romanticized storybook.
The city is also well known as the birthplace of Mozart and the host city of famed movie, Sound of Music.  As we strolled various alleys of the city,  we could almost hear the cacophony of Mozart’s Sinfonia Concertante mixed with Do Re Mi of the Von Trapp choir.
Of course, before the trip, we had primed ourselves with heavy doses of Mozart’s music and watched several rounds of the 3-hour-long Sound of Music. Nevertheless, It was quite exhilarating to retrace their footsteps and anticipate them to be with us in our time and place. In fact, just being in this town gave me a sense of stumbling into a bubble where I get pulled into an illustration from my favorite dog-eared fairy tale books.

Mozart’s house of birth and youth

Rothenberg, Germany’s finest medieval town.

Rothenberg is a charming medieval town  that survives largely intact (even the World War II bombings) and thrives into the 21st century.  It’s probably one of the cutest town that we have ever stepped into. But at times, its highly curated appearance has an uncanny resemblance of a theme park. Unfortunately a big contingent of tourists roaming every alley of this little town doesn’t help the cause. But I also get the sense that Rothenberg is a real functioning town as we interacted with the locals and toured the neighborhoods.  We had a joyous time walking on top of the medieval wall that encircled the town. It provided many scenic views of the town.  Another highlight of the day was our visit to the crime and punishment museum where we could see various medieval objects of torture and punishment, some of which were horrifying while others were amusing. We capped our day with dinner at a local restaurant and had our first taste of German food ( handmade pasta) and beer (tucher) which I have grown to love.
I can’t think of a better introduction to Germany than what we experienced in Rothenberg.

Orlando!

We are finally here after making a thousand mile journey. So many parents, over the years, have made pilgrimages to this humongous cluster of theme parks in search of entertainment, rites of passage, or even magic. We knew our kids would enjoy this place but we weren’t quite sold on it because it seemed so artificial, overblown, crowded, and expensive. But we’re here… perhaps it’s the fear of depriving our kids of the essential childhood experiences or the pressure to keep up with the Jones’s. By the end of the day, I was feeling nauseated from all the rides and going to puke if I see another hint of the artificial color! But kids seemed to enjoy it and thanked us for the experience. In the end, I was glad to check this one off of my bucket list!

Cancun in November!

With all the drudgery of flying behind us, it was quite shocking to step into the hot tropics and jump into aqua water in November!
Had to walk around for a mile or two in search of ATM machine to get some cash to pay for lunch at a restaurant. The ATM machine was broken and I was getting grumpy walking around in Summer-like heat but also fascinated to be surrounded by all the vivid colors of the flora. The restaurant owner was gracious and trusting enough to let us come back and pay the next day.

Day of the Dead in Cancun

Caught a local bus to downtown Cancun  to go to the day of the dead event.  It’s a unique cultural event for celebrating the lives of deceased members of the families and friends by welcoming their spirits back to earth. The bus ride itself was entertaining as we passed through all the glitz (both glamorous and tacky) of this built up resort town. But what I enjoyed most was the enticing summer breeze blowing in through the open windows of the bus.  The event was full of people with a variety of skull makeups and outfits,  many of whom had set up alters for their deceased family members and were busy cooking and serving food.
We were just speechless and totally absorbed with the people watching. The timing of our trip worked out perfectly and we were so fortunate to participate in this event and immerse ourselves in this unique tradition.

Feeling like a Centaur

Today’s bicycle ride was as sweet as it can be.

As if I tricked my eyes into seeing a 3D world in a stereogram, I got dialed in to a zone where my bicycle was an extension of myself.  We were totally in sync, effortlessly rolling through a quiet wooded trail and hearing nothing but my heart beat and a low humming of the bike chain, until  this abstract reverie was abruptly ended by a big woosh of a nearby highway traffic.

Gearing up for the Family Road Trip

Loading up the van trying to remember everything from dog food, toilet paper,  tooth brushes, swimming suits, phone chargers, snacks, to camping gear. Wife says “Did you check the engine oil and the tire air pressure?”

Getting the house ready for vacancy : thermostat,  watering the plants, paying bills, trash out, lights off,  security lights on,…

And finally pulling out of the driveway,
Wife says “Honey, did you turn the oven off?”

Family huddles and shouts out “Let’s have a great trip!”
Barely 15 minutes into the trip,  one of the kids  says  “Could you stop? I have to go potty.”