Pärnu, Estonia Stole our Hearts

My boss at my last job spent two years in the Peace Corps in Estonia in the 1990s, and when I told her my now husband and I were planning  a trip to the Baltic States for our honeymoon, she couldn’t stop singing praises for Pärnu.  I thought, better listen to the expert, and include it in our Baltic itinerary, even if for a short stopover on our way into Latvia.  Honeymoon Jpegs-277

And thus, Pärnu was a brief stop on our whirlwind Baltic Road Trip Honeymoon™ this past summer.  We stopped there for an extended lunch and wander period in between Saaremaa and the Gauja National Park.  We were a bit down in the dumps about not having enough time in Saaremaa to properly explore, and had planned to only stop for a quick lunch.  But, as it happens when one visits a place truly unburdened by unrealistic expectations, we ended up loving Pärnu!Honeymoon Jpegs-271 Read more

How We Didn’t do Saaremaa Justice

We went to Saaremaa with the best intentions.  We had a list of things to see and a finite amount of time to see them.  We were also coming from a long day of driving, and sightseeing, on the Estonian mainland.  The day we left Saaremaa, we had a similiarly long day of driving ahead of us, and a similarly long day of sightseeing.  And somehow, amidst the general craziness of the two stacked days of traveling, Saaremaa got lost in the fold.honeymoon-jpegs-256_21287806198_o honeymoon-jpegs-266_20854531713_o honeymoon-jpegs-259_20854538053_o

I am not a slow traveler, and yet I am an advocate of slow travel.  My travel style is necessitated by the amount of time I am able to travel yearly (15-20 days, generally) while still keeping my corporate job.  And because I am generally an ambitious traveler, I try to pack as much into my vacation days as possible.  It’s an unfortunate circumstance that will be remedied whenever I get out of the corporate rat race.  I think I have about ten years left in me before I make that change. Read more

Abandoned Beauties of Lahemaa National Park, Estonia

On the first day of our road trip honeymoon through the Baltics (after leaving Tallinn, that is), David and I had quite a day planned –  heading first to Lahemaa National Park, then on to Haapsalu before ending up A frame camping on Saaremaa.

Getting on the road: Off to Lahemaa National Park!
Getting on the road: Off to Lahemaa National Park!

Lahemaa National Park, about 90 minutes east of Tallinn, is known for its natural beauty, which was actually of secondary interest to David and myself.  We were there primarily to see some abandoned structures – Kolga Manor and the Hara Submarine Pen. Read more

Getting out of Old Town in Tallinn, Estonia

There is no question that Old Town has a lot to offer any tourist – from backpacker to cruiser just in port for the day.  We arrived in Tallinn at the end of Summer, still in the height of the tourist season.   And while all of Tallinn travel can be rewarding, we found the true gems to be outside the UNESCO-listed Old Town.

View of St. Nicholas Church from Toompea Hill.
View of St. Nicholas Church from Toompea Hill.

Read more

The Hippie Homo Baltic Honeymoon (+Malta)

Photo by https://www.flickr.com/photos/tonibm/

Hey friends – there’s about to be a couple of weeks of radio silence here, as I do not plan on doing any heavy blogging while I’m on my honeymoon (maybe some quick pictures here and there).  So I thought I’d write up some of the details of our trip.  I’ve got a list of potential posts a mile long that I’m planning from the trip, but if you have any insider tips on the destinations listed below, I would love to hear from you – either in the comments or via email at nick@concreteandkitsch.com!

I’m excited as this will be my first big trip I’ve taken with intent to blog.  I’ve got all my kit ready like a kid on his first day of school, and I’m really excited to share the details (good, bad, weird, funny, and clumsy alike) with you when I return!

Read more

July’s 5 Travel Obsessions

I have written about my predilection for falling down rabbit holes before – see Chiatura, Georgia, what remains one of the highlights of David and my trip to the South Caucasus last winter.  I fall down them all the time, so I thought it could be fun to keep track of my brain’s eccentric wanderings in the universe of travel.  Especially now that I’m attempting to devote more time to working on this blog, I am becoming aware of more things to wrap my mind around than ever before.  SO, here goes:

  • Hungarian Seccesionist Architecture, Subotica, Serbia
The synagogue in Subotica, Serbia - a prime example of Hungarian secessionist architecture.
The synagogue in Subotica, Serbia – a prime example of Hungarian secessionist architecture.

Read more

photo by:

Changing Plans, or the Baltic/Balkan Conundrum

So last I explained, my partner David and I had cancelled our plans to road trip around Tunisia due to some the terrorist attacks targeting tourists in Tunis and Sousse.  While I was upset to cancel my plans to see the North African nation, I was also secretly excited to plan an entirely new trip to a new destination.  For me, much of the joy of travel comes in the pre-work.  I am a meticulous researcher and am prone to map comas – and the need for a location change provided me with an opportunity for both.

Tunisia was the plan - where to now?
Tunisia was the plan – where to now?

Read more

UNESCO Industrial Landscapes – The Mainstreaming of UrbEx

While I was browsing my favored geography/travel news related outlets this morning, I happened upon a slideshow of the new UNESCO world heritage sites for this year.  I used to pay a lot more attention to the UNESCO lists than I do today – when I was younger, UNESCO’s curated lists seemed to apply more to my travel style than they do now.  That said, looking through the list of 2015 inscriptions was a bit surprising to me – included were several places I would have never thought of as being UNESCO World Heritage material.

Hashima/Gunkanjima, Nagasaki, Japan - by https://www.flickr.com/photos/stefansgallery/
Hashima/Gunkanjima, Nagasaki, Japan – by https://www.flickr.com/photos/stefansgallery/

Read more