Malta 2016

Posted: February 3, 2017 in Travel

Last summer, daddy and daughter spent a month in Sicily, Italy. From there, they we were able to ferry over to the island nation of Malta located in the middle of the Mediterranean sea.

Malta is slightly less than twice the size of Washington DC, about 120 square miles.

We spent the first few days exploring the city streets of the capital Valletta.

Malta’s population is just under half a million. This country recognizes two official languages: English and Maltese.

Enclosed balconies are a staple in Malta.

We loved the details we saw while exploring. Almost every door had a unique handle.

The Apostle Paul was shipwrecked on Malta while sailing to Rome. See Acts 28.

Comino, an island off the northern end of Malta, is virtually uninhabited, but it has the Blue Lagoon! We heard of the pristine blue waters and wanted to check it out.

As you can see, we weren’t the only ones that wanted to enjoy this beautiful setting!

Reward for a weekend spent exploring a sunny new country? A specialty milkshake atop a peak overlooking the entire island.

San Marino 2016

Posted: February 1, 2017 in Travel

San Marino is the smallest republic of the entire world and one of the least visited countries in all of Western Europe. Many people don’t even know it exists.

The country takes its name from Marinus, a stonemason who lived on a Roman island in modern-day Croatia, but fled to mountain in Italy because he was being persecuted for his Christian faith. Here he built a small church and reconstructed a city wall and thus founded what is now the city and state of San Marino in 301AD.

When I heard about this little country, I knew I had to visit!

The country’s economy mainly relies on finance, industry, services and tourism. It is one of the wealthiest countries in the world with one of the lowest unemployment rates in Europe, no national debt and a budget surplus. It is the only country with more vehicles than people.

San Marino is entirely surrounded by the country of Italy, but is indeed an independent country. I enlisted my Italian cousin, Andreas, to accompany me on this journey.

After taking long train and bus rides from the western coast of Italy, we arrived in the tiny, mountainous country. We actually found a very relaxed campground to stay at with a superb pool!

We had to hike quite a bit to reach the famous towers and old city walls.

The view from the top of the country is amazing!

These towers protected the country through the generations. San Marino is considered to have the earliest written constitution still in effect and is the world’s oldest republic.

In all, a great little trip to a great little country!

Peru 2016!

Posted: July 1, 2016 in Travel

I had always wanted to visit Machu Picchu and Peru. Once it came time to burn the last of my vacation days before I lost them, I decide to make the last minute trip. My wife couldn’t make it because she just started a new job, and my kids couldn’t make it because of the four day hike to Machu Pichu. I enlisted my good buddies, Nic and Jeremy, to join me on the adventure!

The first stop was Cusco, the staging center for all treks to Machu Picchu.

The old town square in Cusco delights!

A statue of the last Inca emperor points the way to the city in the clouds.

In this Peruvian depiction of the Last Supper, Jesus breaks bread with Machu Picchu in the background while the disciples feast on guinea pig, a traditional Peruvian delicacy.

But there are other Peruvian delicacies as well, like this ceviche served fresh in the local market.

The three amigos chilling with some llamas before the big hike to Machu Picchu. Nic is on the left, and Jeremy on the right.

Alpaca, the cousin of the llama, provides great yarn, but also makes an awesome burger. Peruvians don’t eat llamas.

The Salkantay Trek to Machu Picchu is a four day and three night trek reaching altitudes over 15,000 feet and is an alternative to the traditional Inca Trail.

We awoke from camp after the first day of trekking to some stunning Andes scenery.

The Andes are the second highest mountains in the world, after the Himalayans, and people often get a touch of altitude sickness. In Jeremey’s case, the touch was severe. If he hadn’t been rushed to the hospital he would most likely have died within 48 hours of leaving the first day’s campsite.

After I escorted Jeremy back to Cusco so he could make his full recovery in the hospital, I took an alternate route to Machu Picchu that followed this river by train.

The end of the line is Aguascalientes, or Machu Picchu City, the small town (inaccessible by car) at the foot of Machu Picchu. I met up with Nic who completed the full trek here, and we enjoyed the hot springs.

Early the next morning, we made it to Machu Picchu! Weather wasn’t great, but after a long week, it felt good to have arrived at this iconic location.

Here’s an alternate view with my buddy Nic on the far right.

The bros pose at the entrance to the city. It was bittersweet that Jeremy couldn’t make it with us, be he fully recovered, and made it up himself by the end of his trip – and on a sunny day!

Machu Picchu is definitely one of the most photogenic places I’ve been, even in the rain and mist.

On our last night, we celebrated by sharing Peruvian Cuy, or guinea pig. Wikipedia says, “Traditionally, the animal was reserved for ceremonial meals by indigenous people in the Andean highlands, but since the 1960s, it has become more socially acceptable for consumption by all people. It continues to be a major part of the diet in Peru and Bolivia, particularly in the Andes Mountains highlands.”

Although little Princeton couldn’t make this trip, he helped daddy unpack, and was stoked on his Alpaca sneakers I brought back.

Christian and Zhenya took a quick adventure to Mexico City! Zhenya was on Spring break while Mom and Princeton took care of business at work and day care.

We rented a great little pad in the hip Condesa neighborhood.

Once again we used Airbnb, and found it to be a perfect value.

On our first day in the City, we attended an exhibition game of the San Diego Padres and the Houston Astros. Zhenya got a ball and cap from an up-and-coming Padre star!

Although daddy was working full time, I found time to stroll the tree-lined streets in our neighborhood during my lunch breaks.

The food was incredible!

We did take some time out to see some of the tourist spots. The National Anthropology Museum holds the Aztec Sun Disk!

The museum has the largest collection of Aztec, Toltec, Mayan, and other pre-Columbian artifacts in the world! Don’t touch!

The city definitely had lots of new modern buildings…

As well as some beautiful buildings that had seen better days.

I took Zhenya for her first salon visit and she added highlights to her hair!

The street art impressed!

As well as the architecture.

We were encouraged to eat Ruffles Potato Chips, because “You can’t Resist!” and “Eat Well.”

There was a lot of ground to cover in 8 days, so we did the touristy thing and rode atop a double-decker tour bus one afternoon to catch the major sites.

We saw the Angel of the Revolution watching over the busy city.

As well as other patrons standing guard.

Finally, it is the beautiful warmth of the people that makes this city so great. Zhenya spent time with her new friends on our last night.

Peace and Love to you!

2015 – Video Review

Posted: December 22, 2015 in Travel
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This year included a few fun trips – all within the USA.  While we await the American citizenship of my beloved wife, we kept this year within the States to ensure the red tape was in order.

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Once again we visited our island paradise of Maui.  Here Christian free dives just after dawn and has the spectacular dive spot, “Dumps”, all to himself.

The summer kicked off with a road trip to Sequoia National Park, Yosemite, Big Trees, Palo Alto, and Big Sur.

Christian continued the road trip theme in the fall with the purchase of a new car on the east coast that he had to road trip back to California.

Christian visited his high school buddy Mat in Tennessee and took the drone up over the location of the Civil War Battle of Spring Hill.

Finally, while filming an abandoned amusement park in Branson Missouri, the drone took a hard crash.

See you in 2016!  We have some great adventures planned!

 

This winter the Nommesens visited an American island of a different type – Puerto Rico!

We started in the Old San Juan as most do. Old San Juan is the oldest settlement within Puerto Rico and is the historic colonial section.

Baby Princeton digged all the stone fountains.

Our next stop was Luquillo on the east coast of the island. Craig’s List hooked us up with a sweet apartment on the 10th floor.

The views from the balcony were unreal.

To the North we looked down the beach to the town of Luquillo.

To the South we had unobstructed views of the National Park.

We ventured out into the park to frolic.

And to build sandcastles.

We met this green guy along the way.

Back in town, Inna relaxed by the shore.

And Zhenya got her glamor shot in as well.

We took some time out from the beach to explore the El Yunque Rain Forest.

We were rewarded by a waterfall at the end of our trail.

Fresh fish with plantains was a welcome treat.

And a little lobster never hurt anyone either.

Princeton wasn’t sure he agreed with the tropical fruit though.

Our next stop was the South of the island, Ponce!

We toured the old fire station.

And chilled in the hammock in our formalwear.

We couldn’t leave Puerto Rico without visiting the surfing capital on the West coast, Rincon.

Domes beach is named after the abandoned Thermal Nuclear Energy dome that can still be seen lurking in the jungle.

Warm water, and the best waves in all the Caribbean.

It’s hard to get tired of nice walks on beautiful beaches.

We watched the sun set over the water from the balcony of our Airbnb rental.

Daddy and Princeton even got their own glamor shot as well!

We couldn’t stay at the beach the whole time, so we ventured to the interior of the island to visit the Camuy River Cave Park, only discovered in 1958, and formed by the world’s third largest underground river.

One last day at the beach before returning the rental car with almost 600 miles added to the odometer.

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Alas, all good things must come to an end, so we ventured back aboard the flying cylinder to land in the harsh California winter.

Maui 2014

Posted: December 31, 2014 in Travel
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Princeton Jonady Nommesen turned 5 months old… it was time for his first vacation! We decided to stay in the country this time, to make it a little easier traveling with an Infant. He did really well on his first flight. We were blessed to have all three seats to ourselves. Little Zhenya got to stay home with Uncle Torrey and Grandma and Grandpa this time around.

It is always nice to be back in Hawaii. Spending ten days on the white sand beaches and swimming in warm water helped the stress of work fade away…

The little man wasn’t always sure what to think of the ocean, but he was a good sport!

The first stop was Kihei. We stayed in this oceanfront condo for five nights.

Because of the well equipped kitchen, I taught myself how to make sushi by watching YouTube videos. I had never tried it before, but after a few attempts, we were pleased with the results.

Sushi for dinner and macadamia nut pancakes for breakfast – all with an ocean view and wonderful weather. No complaining here.

The view from the condo and the warm trade breezes lulled us…

Hard to beat the Hawaiian sunset!

We almost didn’t want to leave our balcony!

But of course we had to adventure out to some of the other beaches!

And no trip to Maui could be complete without traversing the Road to Hanna. Here we started on the back-side of the mountain instead of taking the traditional route.

Near Hana we enjoyed the black sand beaches and hiking to tropical waterfalls. No place for a stroller in these parts…

We found all types of friends in the jungle.

Baby did GREAT! He was usually a happy camper.

Eventually the little guy started getting used to all that sun and sand.

Mom and Dad tried stand up paddle boarding for the first time. We could get used to this!

Further up the North West Coast, we ended up staying near Lahaina for a few days.

Home of the world famous Maui Brewing Company. Can someone say coconut smoked porter?

In Lahaina they provided cribs, which baby seemed to enjoy!

We had to take some time out of hanging out to hang out.

Inna took some great shots of the floating lotuses.

For our last two nights on the island, we used rewards to stay at the Andaz in Wailea.

The ocean view room was great! Low-key Hawaiian luxury.

Happy boy!

Sunburned and happy at the infinity pools.

In all, a great, refreshing vacation.

We could see moving here someday!