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Headshot 128 Ben, November 1, 2014

We left Vienna via train and headed to Budapest, Hungary (side note: I wish that every American politician was forced to try out the European rail system before voting on any railway bills. I think we'd suddenly find the political will to get...

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Headshot 128 Ben, November 1, 2014

After our 3 day visit in Prague, we took the train to Vienna. Like Prague, Vienna is not particularly full of "famous" attractions, so we spent the first day wandering the city in the rain. We visited St. Stephen's Cathedral and ate dinner at...

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Headshot 128 Ben, November 1, 2014

On Friday, 10/17, my parents, brother Greg, and I took off on a tour of central and eastern Europe. The first stop on the trip was Prague in the Czech Republic. Prior to the trip, I’d heard lots of really good things about Prague, including several people

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Headshot 128 Ben, January 16, 2014

We left Doha on Wednesday afternoon to fly to Israel. Since most countries in the region have no diplomatic relations with Israel, we had to fly through Amman, Jordan. Prior to the trip, we were somewhat apprehensive about going through immigration in Israel, especially with stamps in our passport fr

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Headshot 128 Ben, January 11, 2014

We arrived in Doha on Saturday, January 4. We were met at the airport by some of Lara's extended family and went directly to her aunt and uncle's house where they had prepared a welcome meal for us. After stuffing ourselves at dinner, we relaxed at the house for a while before heading to our hotel to

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Headshot 128 Ben, January 8, 2014

Project Escape Chicago Winter, Part 2 is officially underway. Pam and I started the tradition last year with our February trip to New Zealand, and are continuing it in 2014 with a trip to the Middle East. Timing couldn't be better, given the massive dump of snow and sub-zero temperatures in Chicago right now. We started the trip in Cincinnati after a New Years Eve wedding. We were up by 7am on New Years day and headed back to Chicago.

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Headshot 128 Ben, February 26, 2013

The next stop on our trip was Napier, in the Hawke's Bay region. The town of Napier was destroyed in the early 1900's by an earthquake and was rebuilt in the Art Deco style. We spent our first night there wandering the town center, but almost everything was closed. Most places in Napier seemed to be

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Headshot 128 Ben, February 26, 2013

The day after the Tongariro Crossing, we drove four hours to what is known as "the coolest little capital," Wellington. If Auckland is the big city and Queenstown is the small mountain town, Wellington is the lovable hybrid of the two. Wellington has a very walkable, concentrated downtown area which makes it great for tourists.

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Headshot 128 Ben, February 23, 2013

The Tongariro Alpine Crossing was next on our trip itinerary. Tongariro is a series of volcanoes in the middle of the north island and the crossing is designated as one of New Zealand's great walks. One of the volcanos erupted recently and spewed rocks across a section of the track, so our hike was more of a "hike out and back" than a true "crossing."

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Headshot 128 Ben, February 23, 2013

We started our road trip with a stop about two hours south of Auckland in Waitomo. This area has over thirty limestone caves, with 7 or 8 open to the public. We were specifically going there because the caves included the well known glow worms.

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Headshot 128 Ben, February 21, 2013

The night after our day in the Bay of Islands, we went down to the Viaduct Harbor along the Auckland waterfront to grab dinner at a decently well known place called Degree. It was a lively area with several restaurants and bars. The next morning, we woke up late (i.e. 8:30), laid around in our suite room (complete with living room and kitchen), and went to one of the many, many coffee shops in the

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Headshot 128 Ben, February 20, 2013

We arrived in Aukland on Sunday evening and picked up our car. With my navigational help, Ben got us successfully to our hotel in the city center by driving on the wrong side of the road and the wrong side of the car. We went to an awful, not cheap enough Italian place nearby for a quick dinner and crashed since we had yet another early wake up call on Monday.

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Headshot 128 Ben, February 20, 2013

The morning after our night in Te Anau, we hopped an early bus back to Queenstown. We thought we would catch up on some sleep, but the scenery was so beautiful we just stared out the window. Upon arrival, we dropped our bags and headed to Fergburger for lunch. Fergburger has these huge, delicious burgers that are the antithesis of hiking the Milford Track. Ironically, when there, we ran into Dave,

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Headshot 128 Ben, February 15, 2013

On day three, it rained. And rained. At no point during our hike did it stop raining. Lukas told us that he read that in February, Fiordland gets 19 days of rain (and Feb is not even the wet season there). If you want a trip sans rain, Fiordland is not the right part of the world for you.

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Headshot 128 Ben, February 15, 2013

On the morning of the 12th we took a bus to Te Anau Downs where we hopped a boat to the beginning of the Milford Track in Fiordland National Park. The boat ride was beautiful with mountains all around us. After that, we had an easy 3.1 mile hike to the first hut, Clinton Hut. Only 40 independent (i.e

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Headshot 128 Ben, February 15, 2013

In our wedding program, we had a quote from Winnie the Pooh that said, "I knew when I met you, an adventure was going to happen." Pam and I started our honeymoon adventure around noon on Saturday, Feb 9th, with a flight to San Francisco where we had a four hour layover. From there we boarded a giant Air New Zealand 747 for the 13 hour flight to Auckland.

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Headshot 128 Ben, September 30, 2010

So we've been home for about three weeks now, but I'm finally getting around to posting the final entry about our trip to South Africa. After almost two weeks in South Africa, we finally got to the portion of the trip that convinced me that I wanted to go in the first place -- the safari. After retur

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Headshot 128 Ben, August 25, 2010

On Sunday we had our flight to Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe. We landed at an extremely small airport, complete with baboons roaming the grounds, and spent a while getting through immigration. We got transferred to our hotel, the Victoria Falls Hotel, which also had monkeys in the trees, and tried to walk down to the Falls. On our way, we were stopped by a member of the Zimbabwe Tourism Police, who

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Headshot 128 Ben, August 24, 2010

Saturday morning we got up bright and early so that we could make it in time for our boat trip to Robben Island. Robben Island is a small island in Table Bay (the bay that Cape Town sits on), which was originally used as a leper colony. Eventually it was converted into a prison. It is famous for hous

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Headshot 128 Ben, August 24, 2010

Sorry that we've missed a few days of blogging. Things got busy, we did some moving around, and internet access has not been quite as easy to come by as it was during our time in Cape Town. We spent Friday on a tour of the peninsula around Cape Town. We started the morning by driving past Camps Bay and heading to Hout Bay where we hopped on a boat that took us to a seal colony.

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Headshot 128 Ben, August 19, 2010

Today we slept in a bit later than yesterday, but got up in time to have another awesome breakfast served by the hotel staff. We've been drinking coffee from east Africa, and it is excellent. We then wandered down toward the center of Cape Town. We've tried to be careful about where we walk, given SA's reputation for being slightly dangerous. We have asked numerous locals about safety, and typical

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Headshot 128 Ben, August 18, 2010

We spent most of the day yesterday traveling from Johannesburg to Cape Town. The trip was relatively painless and I wish that US airlines would take note from the South Africans about how many people should be staffed at airline desks. Security was much more lax than in America (perhaps unsurprisingly) -- no taking out liquids, no taking off shoes or coats, etc.

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Headshot 128 Ben, August 16, 2010

After the 22 hour journey we made it to Johannesburg, through immigration and via a rented van, to the hotel. Apparently we are in a really nice part of town where a number of the downtown businesses recently moved ( just north of city center). The hotel was fortunately really nice.

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