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Yesterday, I got asked if I wanted to be on a proposal for a national conference alongside someone I highly respect.  I, of course, said yes… and then I started thinking about how far I’ve come in the past few years.  For some reason, I don’t think I had taken the opportunity to give my last conference acceptance enough appropriate brain space.  You see, two weeks ago, I had not one but two proposals accepted into the AP National Conference in Washington, DC this summer.

And yesterday, for the first time, I realized that if my dad was here, I probably could have convinced him to go to the conference.  My dad was a much celebrated second career AP history teacher.  He spent his summers grading AP exams.  He loved to talk history.  He loved to teach.  He didn’t love (most) teachers though.

But, I like to think he would have gone to the AP conference to see me present.

And it made me really miss him.

It made me miss him in the same way that I missed him when my op-ed was published in the Washington Post.

Like there would forever be this unfinished feeling.


Maybe you have no idea what I’m talking about.  I don’t rightly know either, but I do know that I miss my dad something fierce these days.

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  • Katie Elizabeth - Wish I could give you a BIG hug right now. He’s always with you and he’ll be there. He’s so proud!!!!ReplyCancel

  • Mandy - Aww! *hugs* I’m so sorry you are missing your dad right now. I’m certain he would have been so proud of all you’ve accomplished and wouldn’t think twice about attending the conference to hear you speak. 🙂ReplyCancel

  • Stephanie - Posts about your dad(s) always make me tear up. He’s with you.ReplyCancel

  • Christine - I am 100% sure that your dad is still just as proud of you as he ever was! You are doing so many amazing things.ReplyCancel

  • Mary - I’m sure he is soooo proud of you!! I’m proud of you and all of your accomplishments. I try to appreciate my Father daily because I know one day he won’t be here and I worry about that everyday.ReplyCancel

  • Sarah - Congrats on your hard work paying off – I’m sure your Dad would be very proud. He sounds like he was a great guy.ReplyCancel

journey of doing - Best Tours in Budapest; best things to do in Budapest; what to do in Budapest; planning a trip to Budapest? Book these city tours!P I N I T

Confession:  When we first flew into Hungary, I wondered what I had gotten us into.  By the end of that first night in Budapest, however, I had discovered the best tours in Budapest and I was obsessed.  By the end of our second day (and tour), I was hooked on this fantastic city.  When we went back in December, I immediately booked more tours and was delighted when our tour guides remembered us from our April trip!

This post contains affiliate links.  I may receive a small commission at no additional cost to you if you book one of these tours.

Best Tours in Budapest – Introductory Tours

Night Walking Tour and Danube Cruise

This was our first tour of Budapest, and it was a great introduction to the Pest side city.  (Buda is better but Pest is best!)  George  was our guide and he was fantastic!  George has a deep knowledge of his city and the events that have shaped the present-day Budapest.  He understands much of the history and how it has influenced politics, and he is eager to share his passion.  His energy was contagious, he encouraged questions (both of him and those he asked of the group), and he gave us a great overview of the city.  The tour started around twilight, and we watched the city come alive as we explored the main historical sites, which were extraordinarily beautiful as evening descended onto Budapest.  This tour helped us determine the places we wanted to revisit later on our trip.

We were definitely sad to leave George when we boarded the Danube cruise, but he encouraged us to stop by the shop if we had any questions about what to see. The Danube cruise was beautiful and the video wasn’t nearly as entertaining as George. I even found it distracting with the beautiful sites right outside the window.  This tour is a great overview of the city to begin any trip to Budapest and the cruise is a great way to rest your feet after a long day of walking.

journey of doing - Best Tours in Budapest; best things to do in Budapest; what to do in Budapest; planning a trip to Budapest? Book these city tours!P I N I T

Night Cruise of the Danube

When we returned to Budapest with my mom in December, I booked the Danube river cruise independent of the walking tour.  This particular cruise leaves from a dock that is quite a bit further down from the main part of the city.  It covers the same route, offers outdoor seating, and is generally a good value, though it is approximately a 20 minute walk from public transportation.  This boat moved quite a bit faster than the first one we took, so I found it a little difficult to take great shots from the boat, but it’s still a beautiful way to experience the skyline!  I would suggest the walking tour and cruise if you have time to better get a sense of the history of Budapest, but this is a great tour if you don’t have much time.

Best Tours in Budapest – Historical Perspective

journey of doing - Best Tours in Budapest; best things to do in Budapest; what to do in Budapest; planning a trip to Budapest? Book these city tours!P I N I T
World War I, II, and Communist Tour

When we walked into the tour office on our second day, George was happy to introduce us to his colleague Tomas.  We were the only people on the tour and Tomas really took a lot of time to answer our questions frankly and candidly.  He was more than willing to tailor the tour to our specific interests.  The tour starts with a surprise and a step back to communist Budapest using primary sources and artifacts!  We learned about the Austro-Hungarian Empire from the beginning to the end, Hungary’s role in World War II, and the rise (and fall) of communism in Hungary.  Tomas’s passion for Budapest and history was palpable, and there was not a single question that stumped him.

When we finally emerged from communist Budapest, Tomas took us on a walking tour of the city (with different sites from the ones we experienced with George), and he shared more about current events and modern-day Budapest.  Our only regret when we finished the tour was that we didn’t have more time in Budapest.  I think a visit to the Terror Museum would further underline the concepts covered by Tomas and this tour.

journey of doing - Best Tours in Budapest; best things to do in Budapest; what to do in Budapest; planning a trip to Budapest? Book these city tours!P I N I T

Best Tours in Budapest – Christmas Markets

Christmas Market Tour

Obviously, this was not one of the tours we took in April, but rather one that we booked when we returned in December.  I booked it specifically hoping that Tomas or George would be our guide.  Lucky for us, Tomas was waiting for our group and we greeted each other like old friends who hadn’t seen each other in six months.  Since we were in a much larger group, we weren’t able to monopolize his time the same way, but he was great.  We explored St. Stephen’s Basilica, tried wild boar sausage, warmed up at the delicious Strudel House (try the sour cherry!), enjoyed wine tasting and good conversation, and the headed out to several more markets before finishing up with mulled wine.  Tomas did a great job balancing history and culture with the holiday festiveness of the Christmas markets.  There was plenty of conversation, lots of laughs, and my mom enjoyed learning from Tomas as much as we did!

This is another great introduction to the city of Budapest if you’re looking for a great way to cover quite a bit of ground with a little bit of history mixed in.  I still think the night walking tour and cruise is the best way to familiarize yourself with Budapest, but if you’re looking for holiday cheer, this tour gets it done, too.

journey of doing - Best Tours in Budapest; best things to do in Budapest; what to do in Budapest; planning a trip to Budapest? Book these city tours!P I N I T

Best Tours in Budapest – Final Thoughts

If I were to return to Budapest for a third trip, I’d book a market tour (which did but it didn’t work out), head out to Monument Park with a guide, explore Castle Hill and the Buda side of the city, but these are some of the best tours in Budapest for an overall view of the city.  You really can’t go wrong.  Overall, I can’t tell you enough – don’t skip Budapest.  It’s one of the most beautiful cities I’ve ever been to and I really loved the people we met!  It’s worth every adventure.

Wanderful WednesdayP I N I T

Linking up for #WanderfulWednesday

Isabel, Marcella, Vanessa, Lauren

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  • Van - A Christmas Market Tour? I’d totally be up for that! And exploring cities by boat is always my favourite thing to do so I’d totally go on that tour too!ReplyCancel

  • Christine - I want to go to there!ReplyCancel

  • Amy - Yay always so glad to read more about my adopted city! It IS beautiful 🙂 I haven’t even heard of some of these tours–I’ll be bookmarking these for when my family visits!ReplyCancel

  • Olya @ The Siberian American - My brother was just in Budapest, and it looked amazing! I will definitely keep these tours in mind when we decide to go!ReplyCancel

  • Upeksha - Such a great list – thank you for sharing it. Budapest is on my bucket list, so I’ll be pinning this for later. #wanderfulwednesdayReplyCancel

  • Rebecca - Hopefully going here in the summer and very much like the sound of the Danube cruise!! Saving this 🙂ReplyCancel

  • Lauren - These look like some great tours! I was there during the Christmas markets and we did a walking tour, but unfortunately I didn’t do a Christmas Market Tour. I think I would have really enjoyed that! Also the night tour and cruise sound lovely! What great ways to get to know the city 😀ReplyCancel

  • Budapest Night Photos – 2016 » journey of doing - […] Best Tours in Budapest – book these! […]ReplyCancel

  • Sammie @ The Annoyed Thyroid - Oh all of these look spectacular! We honeymooned in Budapest but we only got as far as the river cruise! I think we need to go back and explore further – there’s just so much to see and Budapest is such a spectacular city.ReplyCancel

  • Budapest Postcard Photos – 2016 » journey of doing - […] Best Tours in Budapest, Budapest Night Photos […]ReplyCancel

  • Top 10 Moments from Europe 2016 » journey of doing - […] I N I T P I N I T (six)  Both of our amazing tour guides in Budapest, but particularly the one who I believe was sent by my dad to ease my grief at the realization that […]ReplyCancel

for more Venice postcard photos (along with tips and tricks):

 honeymoon in venice, venice postcard photos – 2015

journey of doing - Venice Postcard photos
journey of doing - Venice Postcard photos
journey of doing - Venice Postcard photos
journey of doing - Venice Postcard photos
journey of doing - Venice Postcard photos
journey of doing - Venice Postcard photos
journey of doing - Venice Postcard photos
journey of doing - Venice Postcard photos
journey of doing - Venice Postcard photos
journey of doing - Venice Postcard photos
journey of doing - Venice Postcard photos
journey of doing - Venice Postcard photos
journey of doing - Venice Postcard photos
journey of doing - Venice Postcard photos
journey of doing - Venice Postcard photos
journey of doing - Venice Postcard photos
journey of doing - Venice Postcard photos
journey of doing - Venice Postcard photos
journey of doing - Venice Postcard photos
journey of doing - Venice Postcard photos
journey of doing - Venice Postcard photos
journey of doing - Venice Postcard photos
journey of doing - Venice Postcard photos
journey of doing - Venice Postcard photos

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This week has been a BEAST.  Monday started out good enough, but it went downhill from there.  I felt like I couldn’t make any progress.  I felt like everything was going wrong.  I felt extremely behind.  And I was just FRUSTRATED.  I felt like I was battling inside my head ALL.WEEK.  Butttttt… I made a commitment this month, so let’s skip to the good stuff.

  • Last week, I shared my professional success in 2017, and that afternoon, I found out that both of my proposals to the AP National Conference were accepted.  Washington, DC, here I come with all my favorite people!  I’m going to change the narrative around college for low-income/underrepresented students if it kills me.  (Speaking of that, here’s a picture of Jocelyn and I… right before presenting at the United Way Ignite for Change event this week.  I’m the worst selfie taker ever, but I love this girl.  She makes me laugh all the time.  We got so lucky when we found her!)

ignite for changeP I N I T

  • I got to go up to one of our schools this week and talk to a kid about my experience at University of Redlands.  It was the highlight of my week.  I also got to see my favorite teacher and another sweet kiddo who I’ve been corresponding with via twitter.  That amazing kiddo was also admitted ED2 this week to Claremont McKenna.  That was a good day.

journey of doing - kate spade kedsP I N I T

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  • Glitter shoes have basically become my favorite things ever.  They go with jeans. They go with dresses. They go with leggings.  They allow me to run all over school without getting blisters.  I can wear them almost anywhere without issue.  They allow me to feel a little less scruffy.  I’m a fan.  I’m even more of a fan when they are on sale.  I’ll keep you posted on that.

Albion College in winterP I N I T

  • I’m headed to Albion again on Sunday.  I’m super excited for the adventures of taking another group of kiddos out of state for the first time.  I don’t think there’s going to be any snow to dive face-first into this weekend, but I’m sure there will be more memories to make.  I’ve got a specific request from my advisor to take pictures of the kiddos with Ace the mini pony.
  • We got a new mattress last weekend!  It was delivered two days early which caused a lot of stress, but I’m glad that it got done.  We were thinking about getting a Sleep Number (super sale right now if you’re interested), but we both realized that we didn’t need to spend that kind of money yet.  I’m still getting used to it, but I’m sleeping HARD.  That, my friends, is a blessing right now.

What’s up with you this week?!        

linking up with amanda, karli, and christina

journey of doing - Friday Favorites: Bloggers that Keep It RealP I N I T



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  • Donna - Congrats on your proposals being accepted!! Love those glitter shoes…I need a pair of those for sure. Have a great weekend!ReplyCancel

  • Stephanie - Um yes, absolutely do keep me posted when the glitter shoes go on sale! I need them in my life.ReplyCancel

  • SMD @ Life According to Steph - New mattresses are major adult excitement.ReplyCancel

  • lauren - ooooooooh love those glitter shoes!!ReplyCancel

  • Olya @ The Siberian American - Those glitter shoes are so cute! I think I definitely need a pair!ReplyCancel

  • Kasie Chelanne - It sounds like your week was jam packed! Congratulations on your proposal being accepted! You’re doing such wonderful work!ReplyCancel

  • Katie Elizabeth - I’m so glad you love your new mattress! We bought ours like four years ago and neither of us have ever loved it, we should have just returned it lol. Hope Albion is going well!!!ReplyCancel

  • Mandy - So glad to hear about your proposal being accepted! Yay for representing underprivileged kids! You go girl! 🙂

    Also, totally in love with your glitter shoes. I may need some. I hate wearing tennis shoes, but those looks adorable!ReplyCancel

  • Favorite Spring Staple Wardrobe Pieces » journey of doing - […] Keds – I’ve already extolled my love for these glitter shoes, but I’ve been wearing them a lot lately.  (Trying to replace my tennis shoes + skinny jeans […]ReplyCancel

Well, now that Valentine’s Day has come and gone, I can share the surprise on the blog!  I surprised my husband with tickets to Europe yesterday for our 3rd annual Italian adventure.  We had been going back and forth about going because of the state of world right now, but we both agreed that Italy would be a safe choice.   I still wasn’t convinced, but Friday I got a fare alert on a great flight from Dallas to Europe.  I put it on hold to think about it a little more. On Saturday, I realized that if I didn’t take the opportunity to relax, recharge, and reconnect with my husband… it was going to be a long year.  Self care is real right now, friends.  SO.  I booked the tickets on Saturday night and had to keep it a secret until yesterday!

journey of doing - 2017 Italian AdventureP I N I T

Italian Adventure – Where are we Going?

I’m still working on these details, but I think we will definitely return to Florence (and stay at the St. Regis Florence).  I’ve been toying with the idea of making Florence our home base for a longer period of time and making day trips to some of the smaller Tuscan towns.  I’d love to visit Siena, Montepulciano, and get into the hill towns.

We’re definitely going to stay in Cinque Terre again.  I’ve been checking out the AirBnB options – has anyone ever used this?  Fill me in on everything we need to know if we do!  I’d love to go a little further up the coast and visit Portofino.

And, I have yet to experience staying in Venice proper.  I’ve stayed on Isole delle Rose, Guidecca, and the mainland… I would love to stay in the heart of Venice and spend a few early mornings and late nights roaming the canals when we feel like we have the streets to ourselves.

journey of doing - 2017 Italian AdventureP I N I T

Italian Adventure – What are we going to do?

  • Cooking classes.  We really loved making pesto in Cinque Terre last year, and my mom and I took a cooking class in Florence in 2010.  I’d love to take a few more on this trip.
  • Wine tasting.  Despite studying abroad and three trips to Italy, I’ve never done a wine tour.
  • Tours.  I’ve never taken a proper tour of Florence.  This is definitely on my list.  There’s also a driving tour into the Tuscan countryside driving a Fiat500.  I’d like to do one of the evening tours.
  • More pictures.  I’ve become a lot more critical of my photography and I’m still trying to capture the perfect images of Italy.  One of my “bucket list” items is to photograph a city from sunrise to midnight using ambient light.  I’d love to do this in Florence, Venice and the Cinque Terre villages.

journey of doing - Italian Adventure 2017P I N I T

Italian Adventure – Your Thoughts?

I LOVE scouring blogs for ideas.  Whether it’s restaurants, tours, hotels or things to experience, I love to source my information from other bloggers. Now I’m flipping our Italian adventure planning to you:

  • Where would you go?
  • What would you do?
  • Can you suggest anywhere we should go?
  • Any place you want to see or know about?

Be sure and check back on Saturday for my Venice Italy photos from our April 2016 adventure.  (If I’m being completely honest, editing those pictures probably convinced me to pull the trigger!)

journey of doing - 2017 Italian AdventureP I N I T

Wanderful WednesdayP I N I T

Linking up for #WanderfulWednesday

Isabel, Marcella, Vanessa, Lauren

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  • Jordan - What a great surprise!!! I’ll be in Rome in June and am so excited 🙂ReplyCancel

  • Katie Elizabeth - Best wife ever!!! Good for you for taking some time for the two of you. Butttt, can we tag along?ReplyCancel

  • Amy Mac - What a great surprise! I always want to surprise my husband with a trip but I can’t keep a secret. We also live in Europe so there are tons of easy trips but I still can’t pull if off…impressed you could! 🙂 Enjoy your trip! I haven’t spent much time in Italy, only in Venice, but I can tell you that you really feel the magic after everyone leaves in the evening! 🙂ReplyCancel

  • Ashley @ The Wandering Weekenders - That’s so exciting that you booked your Italy trip! We got a brief taste of Italy last year when we went to Europe, and I can totally see why you want to go back time and again! We’ve had friends that have done cooking classes and couldn’t stop raving about it, along with the wine tours! I can’t wait to see where you end up going, and to see all of your beautiful pictures as well!ReplyCancel

  • SMD @ Life According to Steph - Fabulous! When do you go?ReplyCancel

  • Stephanie - Very exciting!! You’re going to have such a great time. Can’t wait to see all your photos.ReplyCancel

  • Danielle - I am sooo jealous of your trip. I would love to go to Italy. If I ever do, I am coming back here for suggestions. Enjoy your trip. And the best surprise!ReplyCancel

  • Sarah Elizabeth - Visit the Puglia region! Granted, its the only part of Italy I’ve been to, but it was beautiful! We loved the UNESCO world heritage related tours we did and learned the process of making burrata and had some of the freshest seafood we’ve ever experienced.ReplyCancel

  • Tanja (the Red phone box travels) - if you’re in Florence visit Siena. also when in Venice you might head to Verona too:) #wanderfulwednesdayReplyCancel

  • Olya @ The Siberian American - Your trip sounds so amazing! I love all of those places. 🙂 I’ve never done a cooking class in Italy, so that’s definitely high on my list for our next adventure.ReplyCancel

  • Bryna | Dotted Line Travels - What a great surprise! On top of the great destinations you have listed, I’d definitely visit San Gimignano and Siena. I wrote about it in my blog recently!ReplyCancel

  • Kate @ Green Fashionista - Ahhhhh can I say how insanely jealous I am! What an amazing and sweet surprise for your husband <3

    Green FashionistaReplyCancel

  • Rachel - I’m so impressed you managed to pull off that surprise! I’d never be able to keep that quiet. I’m excited for your return to Italy! It certainly is beautiful. Personally I adored Assisi, but it’s a bit far from where you’re going. I thought it was absolutely stunning, though.ReplyCancel

  • Tania @ Larger Family Life - I love, love, LOVE Italy with a passion. So much so that I, along with DH and most of the kids, have decided to learn it. Ever hopeful that we may have a holiday home there one day – well, we can dream!ReplyCancel

  • Mandy - I totally know what you mean when you say you aren’t sure about traveling with the state of the world being as it is. I am seriously concerned about leaving the country. I read an article this morning about how border control can not only access our phones but copy the information as they see fit. The only way you can keep your privacy is to delete all of your information off of your phone before you travel (which might look suspicious) or leave your phone at home. 🙁 WHY!?!?!? It makes me so sad and scares me so much.

    I did want to respond to your Airbnb concerns, though. Basically, Airbnb is wonderful! After trying it, I’m sure you will love it! Often it saves you money and gives you a more “homey” experience than hotels can give. Plus, you are affecting the local economy which always makes me feel good. I love giving back to the “little” people. (Though how “little” can they be if they can afford to rent out a home for a bit?) Sometimes, Airbnb hosts are strict (no parties, no this, no that, make sure the dishes are cleaned and the sheets washed, etc…) but sometimes they are easygoing and even provide you with free food or advice to make your stay even better. 🙂 If you have one bad experience, the next might be completely different. Just keep an open mind and good communication and you should be good to go!

    Anyway, I don’t have any advice for Italy, but I look forward to seeing all of the images and information you bring back from Cinque Terre, Tuscany, and Venice. I can’t wait until I have the opportunity to return to Italy. You can be sure I will be using your posts for advice when I eventually plan that trip. 🙂ReplyCancel

  • Jessie @ The Acquired Sass - I was in Venice April 2016 too – and I totally fell in love with the city. We stayed in Venice, Hotel Abruzzi (I believe was the name), and old refurbished monastery.

    I would go back in a heart beat. I was only there a few days, but absolutely loved just wandering around and eating gelato. Mmm. Exciting that you’re headed back. I definitely want to visit Cinque Terre someday!ReplyCancel

  • Friyay: Progress for the sake of progress » journey of doing - […] booked the first connecting leg of our Italian adventure.  We’re officially flying into Pisa!  Cinque Terre, Tuscany… the possibilities are […]ReplyCancel

  • Urgent and Frivolous » journey of doing - […] so eager to start planning our Italian adventure, but I’ve just been slammed with work for the last two weeks.  I’m also trying to […]ReplyCancel