About

Welcome! We’re the Casual Travelers!

All of us at the Schönbrunn Palace

Instead of going to the same amusement parks year after year, our family of four likes to visit new places every time we go on vacation, be it just a short weekend, or a three-week long trip, because, as our tagline says,

“the world is too interesting to stay home.”

If you want to get in touch with us, please use the “Contact” form, and we’ll get back to you as soon as we can.

If you want to learn a bit more about us, who we are, and why we travel, read on…

. . .

Jolanta, one of the Casual Travelers

Jolanta grew up behind the Iron Curtain (in Poland), and as a child dreamed of traveling and seeing the world, while at the same time expecting she would never be able to do that.

Traveling in those days was quite a hassle. Back before the Berlin Wall fell, the citizens of Poland were not allowed to keep their passports at home; the government kept them.

If you wanted to go abroad, you had to fill out an application outlining where and when you wanted to go, and stand in a long line at the Passport Office at the local police station to get your passport. After you returned, the passport had to return back to the police passport office as well.

When Jolanta was in her early teens, her family took a road trip in their old VW Beetle through the then Czechoslovakia and West Germany to visit her father’s cousin in Switzerland. It was her first long trip abroad and she marveled at how different everything was – the languages, the architecture, the food, the things in the stores – and how fascinating. Since then she was hooked on traveling, and wanted to see more of the world.

Jolanta went on her first “independent” trips abroad in her late teens, after graduating from high school. She spent a big chunk of her savings to join a hiking camp heading for Slovakian Tatras, and to buy a trip to what was then the Soviet Union, to see Leningrad (now St. Petersburg) and Riga. She has no photos from the hiking trip, but she still remembers the thrill of seeing the morning fog rising from a meadow in some remote place in Slovakian mountains.

Similarly, she will never forget the feeling of awe at seeing the hundreds upon hundreds of paintings lining the walls of the Hermitage or the beautiful fountains surrounding the Peterhof.

Peterhof 1987
photo from Jolanta’s first “independent” (group tour) trip abroad, Peterhof 1987

Ever since then, Jolanta has been documenting her travels in her diary and photos. Now WordPress gives her a chance to share her musings and comments about the places she visits with anyone who’s interested. And even if no one is reading, she still likes to write about it, because writing about the travels she took allows her to relive again these beautiful moments of awe.

* * *

Peter grew up in a small village in northern Vermont. Back in those days, US citizens didn’t even need a passport to go to Canada, and he and his family used to go to Montreal and the nearby attractions every now and then. And since Montreal was the closest big city, just about 2.5 hours away, as a teen, Peter used to go there frequently with his friends as well.

After high school, and before college, Peter took two cross-country trips. One to Los Angeles, California, and the other one to Miami, Florida.

In college, he enrolled in a student exchange program to London, and spent half a year there. In his free time, he wandered around London, sightseeing as much as he could. During the break, while a lot of his classmates went to Amsterdam, Peter got on the train to visit Paris.

In his final year, Peter spent a year at Concordia University, in Montreal, and one of the highlights of that year, in addition to a trip to Ottawa, was visiting Chibougamau, a town in the Cree territory in central Quebec.

* * *

How did Jolanta and Peter meet, you may ask?

They were pen pals.

In the senior year of high school, Peter had an assignment to write to and make friends with someone abroad. He chose to write to a whole bunch of kids from Central East Europe, including Jolanta.

At the same time, Jolanta, not expecting that she’d ever be able to travel, thought that having pen pals was a great way to learn how life was like in other countries. She sent her address to a pen pal exchange agency, and corresponded with teens in Japan, Indonesia, and India. So when Peter wrote to her, she wrote back.

And since that was way back in the B.C. (before computers) times, having a pen pal abroad meant you had to write a letter on a piece of paper, put it in the envelope with a stamp, take it to the post office, and wait a couple of weeks for reply. Oh, the anticipation of waiting for a letter! The kids these days will never experience that!

Jolanta and Peter met in person in Montreal, when Jolanta came to Canada to work as an au pair and to improve her English, while Peter was at Concordia University. After the semester was over, they took a spectacular road trip from Montreal, through Quebec City, Gaspe, New Brunswick, Maine, and New Hampshire into Vermont. They’ve been traveling together ever since.

Fast forward a couple of decades :) …

Nowadays Jolanta and Peter travel with their two kids in tow, who may or may not alway like all that traveling, but then again, every now and then, after a few months of just staying home, start asking “When are we doing another trip?”

(You can read more about our approach to traveling as a family in “We’re not really a ‘Family’ Travel Blog, are we?“)

8 thoughts on “About”

  1. I didn’t realize you are from Poland, Jolanta. It seems the two of us have at least one thing in common: growing up in countries where young people were not allowed to travel abroad for fear they would never return. To us, Romanians, the Polish seemed better off. At least they didn’t have so severe economic problems like we did. I remember always envying the Polish girls who used to come to our beaches in Constanta or Mamaia. They were so nicely dressed and so pretty. And blond! Romanian guys were crazy about them.
    Anda recently posted…The Weekly Postcard: Diavolezza, the Mountain of Eternal IceMy Profile

    1. LOL, Anda, I don’t think there was ever a time when you could ever call me “so nicely dressed and so pretty” :) Unfortunately, I have not been to Romania, yet. I do hope to see it some day, and not just the beaches. Thank you for stopping by my blog. I like to read yours as well.

  2. Thanks for reading my post on Australia Jolanta, I hope you do get to make your way down here in 2017. Just don’t make the mistake of sticking to the big cites. The smaller places generally have nicer people and better scenery anyway.
    It seems our travel philosophies are very similar, the world is too big and interesting to stay home all the time!
    Dean @ La Vida Global recently posted…Honeymoon Havoc – 24 years later.My Profile

    1. Thank you for visiting our blog, Dean! I really do hope I will get to visit Australia in 2017 too! From your blog it sounds like such a fascinating place.

  3. Aw, thank you, Samiya! I love your blog as well, and am secretly jealous that you have seen so much more of the world than we have :) Thank you for the awards, I’ll do my best to live up to the honor.

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because the world is too interesting to stay home