Page 2 of Vin Pisano Travel Blog Posts

Europe » Hungary » Northern Great Plain August 12th 2009

After finally falling into an exhausted sleep, jetlag ensures that I awake every hour, on the hour, throughout the night. Additionally, not growing up on a farm, I innocently had the impression that roosters crowed at sunrise. However, by three in the morning the village is a steady crescendo of roosters calling and claiming their territory. While I had seen living so close to one’s food source as charming and attractive yesterday, the idea is now far less appealing. Soon joining this chorus is, naturally, every dog in every yard. After stumbling out of bed at the first sign of daylight, we shower and have a cold cut breakfast. Jozsi pulls in the driveway early to go to Szolnok and look at a horse bow dealer. I am disappointed to find that our borrowed car is ... read more
Kengyel totem
Kengyel center
Kengyel center

Europe » Hungary » Northern Great Plain August 11th 2009

The Republic of Hungary - former member of the Soviet Bloc, current member of the European Union. A little more than twenty years ago, as American citizens, we would not have been allowed in this country. Likewise, Hungarians could not leave. The Warsaw Pact of 1955, which created economic and military alliances with the Soviet Union, raised the Iron Curtain in Europe, dividing it into two distinct and antagonistic entities. Immigration and media in the Eastern European countries were severely restricted. However, while the western NATO states flourished, the cooperating Bloc countries stagnated and floundered. In 1987, Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev introduced the reform ideas of perestroika, and in 1988 Hungary, always the most liberal of Bloc members, officially eliminated all travel restrictions, even removing its border fence with Austria, effectively revealing the many crack... read more
The car
Kengyel street

North America » United States » New York » Hudson Valley » Kingston August 8th 2009

Just two months after we attended the wedding at Mohonk Mountain House in New Paltz, NY, and just two days after exiting our cruise ship from Canada, we find ourselves once again in the area for another wedding and back onto a boat. About twenty miles north of New Paltz, on the western side of the Hudson River, is the town of Kingston, New York State’s first capital. The drive along the river gave nice scenic views, spotted surprisingly frequently with religious retreats and monasteries, whose impressive stone structures add a historic feel to the area, though perhaps their many gift shops did not. The GPS takes us along an old, infrequently used bridge, which stretches its skinny two lane body across a tributary river. Kingston’s waterfront, called the Rondout, is a nice area to walk ... read more
Kingston waterfront

North America » United States August 5th 2009

Our last full cruise day was spent, mainly, lounging and trying new foods. It was our final “fun day at sea,” and the weather had been much more tanning-friendly. The top deck was congested with sunbathing families, making the lower levels a place of quiet refuge. We sat in the café, sipping on lattes. As I typed some of these blogs on this Asus net book I attracted the attention of three different technophiles (all of them from Asian countries, in fact), including a cruise employee, all of whom asked excited questions about its various components. I should, as I reflect on the experience, say something about the cruise staff. They must be paid well, because I have never seen that amount of people who appear to enjoy their jobs as much as they seem to, ... read more
Top deck
Kristen on the ship

North America » Canada » Nova Scotia » Halifax August 4th 2009

We arrived at port in Halifax, Nova Scotia, early in the morning. Kristen and I were able to set out on foot as soon as the gang way was ready. The skies were blue and a soothing ocean breeze swept through the city. We docked beside Pier 21, formerly the main immigration hub of this area (a Canadian Ellis Island). We made our way up hilly streets, past an old burying ground and an impressive gothic church, and poked into shops and mingled with locals as we neared Citadel Hill. As a side note, I loved hearing that distinct Canadian accent. It is often the subject of jokes in the States, as I believe most Americans tend to think of Canada as a natural extension of the United States, and their slight differences can come off ... read more
Old Burial Grounds
Gratuitous Touristy Photo

North America » Canada » New Brunswick » St John August 3rd 2009

Unfortunately, our movie experience was a bust. At 9:30 Kristen and I were the only two on deck, lying beneath large towels on lawn chairs as a fog swirled along the deck. We began watching Eagle Eye on the jumbo screen. Slowly, more people began to join us. The fog horn, which had been blowing all day, was only a minor nuisance through the first half of the movie. However, at around 10:30 the volume suddenly increased dramatically, shaking people with heart-racing fear and stinging the eardrums. By 10:45 we had had enough and retreated to the club areas of the ship to watch an “R-Rated Adult Humor” show (Marvin Bell). It was entertaining, but for someone who watches a lot of stand-up comedy, few jokes trekked into unfamiliar territory. The next morning we crawled out ... read more
Commemorative plaque for Princess Diana
Gratuitous touristy photo
Flea market on King St.

North America » United States August 2nd 2009

Well, we’re taking our first cruise. It is day two of our trip as I write this, described on our itinerary as a “fun day at sea.” We are far off the coast of Massachusetts. A thick fog has developed on this afternoon, veiling the ocean horizon and bringing chilly winds. The ship, by law, has been regularly sounding the horn to warn any other ships (though their radar and radio are probably of better help). And this is all fine by me. Kristen and I are laying on deck chairs on an upper level deck, which except for a few warmly wrapped passengers is free from the noise of constant music and raucous families. Kristen is reading a book as I type away, smelling the salty breeze and enjoying a vacation from the sun. I ... read more
The main show room
Buffet Room
Balcony overlooking the dining room

North America » United States » Virginia » Waynesboro July 22nd 2009

At least once a year my wife and I make the eight-hour drive from Connecticut down through the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia to visit my grandfather. Before he moved there, he was among the swarms of retired ex-patriot Yankees living in the Myrtle Beach area. I grew to know that area intimately, and I particularly fell in love with Charleston, which lay over an hour’s drive down Route 17. Many times I wandered those old streets, exploring back alleys and gardens, and it was one of the first places to which I took my wife when we began dating. The Shenandoah Valley is not as varied in its entertainment forms as the Myrtle Beach area, and is certainly less commercial. Its charm lies in the Blue Ridge Mountains that stand, majestic purple and often crowned in ... read more
Belle Grove Plantation
Belle Grove Plantation
Belle Grove Plantation

North America » United States » New York » New Paltz June 27th 2009

My wife and I had the opportunity to spend a day at the Mohonk Mountain House just outside of New Paltz, NY, south of the Catskill Mountains. It is about 90 miles north of New York City. We were attending my mother-in-law’s wedding and were able to spend a great day of fun with friends and family. Truly, Mohonk (meaning “lake in the sky”), built around 1879, though the property dates Smiley family ownership back to 1869, with nearly 300 rooms, has a whimsical Victorian quality, much like coming upon Belvedere Castle in Central Park. The massive hotel rises from the lake’s edge, and is surrounded by trees as far as the eye can see (which on a clear day turns out to be many, many miles). We arrived at around nine in the morning and, ... read more
Sky Top Tower
Sky Top Tower
Lunch at McGillicuddy's

North America » United States » New York » Lake George August 6th 2008

August 3, 2008 While I find a way to travel each year, my closest friends are not always able, normally due to financial constraints. With this in mind I put together a short vacation that could get us away for a few days at minimal cost and that would appeal to our appreciation for nature and history. As a child my family had often gone up to Lake George, NY, for summer vacation, home to ideal fresh water beaches, a reconstructed fort, hiking opportunities, downtown shops, and an amusement park. I searched online and found a three-bedroom cottage at an affordable price. Kristen, Gabe, Nate and I pile into a car and drive for three hours along the largely scenic Route 22 and Interstates 90 and 87. Derek will meet up with us that evening. Shortly ... read more
Lake George harbor
Nate presenting a passing storm
Prospect Mountain

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