Thanks for joining us!
Every time I start thinking of all places we’ve been to, I cannot believe our luck and it makes me want to travel even more, to see more places! This world is big and beautiful and very different!
So here’s the story of my family and our travels without any exaggeration just as it was…
I was born in Almaty, Kazakhstan. After getting my BA in Translation and Interpretation I worked as Interpreter. Early on, the biggest desire I had, was to travel because I have never been anywhere except Issyk-Kul (lake in Kyrgyzstan) and only because my grandmother lived there. My family never moved and never traveled. But I wanted to see places I saw on TV or in magazines with my own eyes!
By chance I learned about Au Pair program for young people. I jumped on this opportunity! After one year of cultural program being an Au Pair I entered University of Düsseldorf and studied for few years. I met my future husband Jon in Germany. We were from two different worlds (we were literally born on opposite sides of the globe): he is an American boy and I am a Russian girl who grew up during the remnants of Cold War and yet we were so much alike. The biggest thing in common was our crazy desire to travel!
The very first trip we took together was to Berlin. We went on mini trips every opportunity we had. Our gifts for each other were travels. We celebrated Jon’s birthday in Nice and my birthday in Rome. Weekend in Barcelona or Paris, Road trip along Mosel or to Neuschwanstein made us to fall in love with each other and this world!
We moved to the U.S. and got married in NC (where Jon’s family lived) three days after the wedding we took a car across country to California where Jon’s job was waiting for him. We crossed 7 states stopping on the way to see petrified Forrest and Meteor Crater in Arizona and detoured to see sunset at Grand Canyon.
In California we lived in Orange County then moved to San Diego back to Orange County then to Los Angeles and finally San Francisco. We both love traveling and if we couldn’t afford big trips, we would go on small around area we lived. We’ve been almost everywhere in California.
California climate is what attracts a lot of people! We loved it, the only strange thing was Christmas time especially, in Southern California, when people would go shopping for Christmas gifts wearing flip flops and palm trees were rocking Christmas lights. Still you can find cold winter weather and even snow to celebrate proper winter holidays as I was used to, but it might cost you a bit extra! Once we spent New Years Eve in Big Baer Lake- it was great! Snow, mountains and blue lake! Could not ask for more! The other time we had absolutely great time celebrating my birthday and New Years Eve in Palm Springs! The place where you can go four wheeling on the dunes, take gondolas high up the mountains to play in the snow and explore Joshua Tree National Park short car drive apart- all these in one place!
We loved taking highway 1 along the picturesque California coast to Santa Barbara, visiting Hearst Castle and taking fascinating tour around the ground and mansion with most beautiful architecture. Then there is most unbelievable Sequoia National Forest where trees are so big and so amazing that it takes your breath away!
Driving even more north to Big Sur and Carmel is one of the most picturesque yet at times rather scary roads in the country. Although Road to Hana on Maui one of the Islands in Hawaii might be as beautiful and much scarier!
Our first child was born in 2009 and that put a little brake on travels for a bit. Although we still did mini trips. Then our daughter was born in 2012. We did a lot of road trips: Lake Tahoe was always great place to go regardless of season, Sacramento with annual Gold Rush days was fun too. Beautiful destinations in northern California included Point Reyes with wide beaches, Bodega Bay with cute restaurants (there you can find the building featured in 1963 thriller “The Birds”), Mendocino with its artsy atmosphere (also that’s where the well recognised house from popular series “Murder She Wrote” is located), fort Bragg and very unique Glass Beach nearby, Fort Ross Historic Park and of course the must visit Redwood National Forest, where Avenue Of Giants will leave anyone speechless!
These road trips around California trained kids to be in the car for 3-4 hours, sometimes even 8 hours (Disneyland was always a great reward after the long drive) … so when life made us move to Illinois, we thought a long road trip with a detour to Yellowstone is a good idea and kids did absolutely great! After have been living in California for 10 years and knowing we will be leaving soon we couldn’t go without visiting Yosemite National Park! I have to say El Capitan is even more impressive in person! The park with its rivers, mountains, cliffs, waterfall and redwoods made me fall in love with it!
We packed our car, two small kids and a cat in between them and were on our way across country yet again! It wasn’t a smooth journey, but it is a story for another time. Driving through 8 states was interesting at times, at times quite boring and most of the times a bit sad since we felt like we were leaving our home, friends and what we loved back in California but visit to Yellowstone made this trip much more exciting than it could be otherwise. Yellowstone National Park is one of those places you should visit and experience, it’s not enough to see it on TV or photographs: the colors, the smells (not the most delightful, I have to add), the out of this world atmosphere! It is truly very unique place.
In terms of exciting destinations, Illinois didn’t have as much to offer as California and it meant we would drive a good distance to look for interesting locations such as Ruby Falls in Tennessee or Mammoth Cave in Kentucky, Smokey Mountains in North Carolina or Niagara Falls in Canada or just a weekend trip to Chicago with its many museums and restaurants … We would explore nearby states and it also gave us opportunity to see some places we wouldn’t otherwise consider travelling to, like Hannibal – a small town on the Mississippi River in Missouri. That’s where Mark Twain grew up. We visited his childhood home as well as The Mark Twain Cave Complex which served as inspiration for his novels. We visited cute town of Galena, IL with its well preserved 19 hundred buildings, walked in Pella, a tiny Dutch town in Iowa, explored Indiana Dunes along the Southern shore of Lake Michigan, hiked in Turkey Run National Park in Indiana, enjoyed the view of Camel Rock in Shawnee National Forest.
After couple years in Champagne, IL we had an opportunity to go to England. We got so excited about the chance for kids to experience different culture that moving preparations didn’t seam as stressful as everyone around us thought it should be. Besides we really missed European lifestyle and greater opportunities to travel.
So here we are living in United Kingdom, exploring beautiful, full of history country. And always making plans where to go next!