House search update

We took the girls to see the one house that we liked among those that we saw on our first house-hunting outing. They loved it. Becky was quite amenable to the idea of having her own “apartment” made out of the ground-floor reception room. Kimmy was altogether enchanted by the bedroom that she called. We[…]


Happy blogger

Fellow UCF’er Shawn a couple of days ago posted seven very good tips for being a happy blogger. At first, I claimed in comments that I already follow all of his advice, but just a few days later I come to one of my periodic blogging crossroads, where I want to maintain a “nearly-every-day” frequency[…]


Singing in Vienna

It’s a story that long begged to be immortalized in writing, and I finally decided to give it a try. I might even start a whole new category with it, aiming to relay some of the more remarkable and/or memorable experiences from our travels.

Imagine Vienna.

Among end-of-day things to do in the Austrian capital, a trip to the northern suburb of Grinzing to sample heurigen fare counts as one of the most delightful. “Heuriger” is the name for the local new-vintage wine, which over generations gave rise to heurigen, typical Vienna taverns where wine and other drinks are served at the table, while the food can be bought at the self-service buffets; at the most popular establishments, there is live music and the unending atmosphere of good times, for a comparatively small monetary outlay. Wine, music and a “local” experience – we do not need hard convincing to try that combination.

Our first attempt provided middling impressions, though. The recommended tavern turned out to be a fairly modern establishment, serving pretty good food but entirely lacking the authentic atmosphere that we sought. We needed to try again.

On our last night in Vienna, having had first taken a spin on the famous Ferris Wheel at the Prater amusement park, we made another trek to Grinzing, to a tavern by the name of Altes Presshaus.

Now, that was a typical heurige, complete with wooden tables and benches, and serving ladies dressed to evoke simpler times of yesteryear. Two musicians, playing an accordion and a bass, provided an appropriate background.


A new house-hunt

I don’t know exactly how it happened, but having publicized our reasons for dissatisfaction with our current residence, we suddenly found ourselves seriously contemplating a novel idea: How about we finally look for another place to stay? There is a big question whether we will be able to repatriate this summer, and if we do[…]


Musical Tiramisu: Bamboleo

It’s been a dismal week so far, and I need a pick-me-up. So, I’m branching out of my regular memories on YouTube series, to better include songs that do not necessarily constitute a specific memory (to be honest, some of my entries in the “memories” feature were not truly associated with specific reminiscences), but rather[…]

Blank note pinned to corkboard

Burlaki.com RSS feed

I know there is a handful of people out there who subscribe to my RSS feed via FeedBurner (which is where the “Subscribe” button on the navigation bar pointed to until today). FeedBurner was bought by Google some time ago, and they are gradually getting around to migrating their service to a different platform. I’ve[…]


Pork with Mixed Green Beans

Kitchen experiments by Natasha and Becky continue in earnest. Here is the latest entry: Pork with Mixed Green Beans. Serves 4 2tbsp vegetable or groundnut oil 2 shallots, chopped 225g/8oz pork fillet, thinly sliced 2.5cm/1” piece of root ginger, thinly sliced 2 garlic cloves, chopped 300ml/10oz chicken stock 4 tbsp chili sauce 4 tbsp crunchy[…]


Hail to the (New) Chief!

I have little doubt my RSS aggregator today will overflow with statements from everyone and everybody on how momentous today is. How the removal of “Elect” from President Obama’s official designation finally gives us a leader that we can wholeheartedly cheer for and adore. How thankful we need to be to be delivered from the[…]


A bit of classical interlude

Kimmy, Natasha and I went to a classical music concert on Sunday. A local foundation organized a series of concerts “to bring classical music to the kids”. These are more than just concerts, as the performers talk about their instruments, demonstrate various techniques, let children “conduct” certain pieces and otherwise keep them entertained. The idea[…]


Discount air travel, revisited again

I commented a few times in the past (most notably here and here) that the notion of cheap air travel on discount airlines within Europe is rarely as good as advertized. How about another example?

We are planning to fly to Costa Brava in the summer. There are two airports in the area directly connected to London – Barcelona and Girona. The former is served by British Airways from either Heathrow or Gatwick, the latter is served by Ryanair from Stansted. Girona is closer to our final destination of L’Estartit by about an hour over Barcelona, but that advantage brings a bit of ambivalence with it: Our chance to spend a few hours in Barcelona would be on the day of the departure back; if we fly from Girona, we are likely not to see Barcelona on this trip at all.

The best fare for a round-trip for a family of four on British Airways to Barcelona is from Heathrow, for a total of £370. Not too bad, in all honesty. Ryanair, however, offers the round-trip between Stansted and Girona for just £237.1 A considerable difference, with the airports on both ends being more convenient to get to. A no-brainer, right?



Mid-January movie roundup

I’ve been searching for something to write about and I realized that in the first half of the month, I’ve already seen 9 movies that I had not seen before. A regular feature to the rescue!

Eastern Promises 2007
Good Luck Chuck 2007
Lions for Lambs 2007
Little Miss Sunshine 2006
Lucky You 2007
The Counterfeiters 2007
The Darjeeling Limited 2007
The War of the Worlds 1953
Transformers 2007



Things You Tend Not To Spend Much Time Thinking Seriously About When Making A Decision To Relocate

I have had this item on my blogging to-do list for probably 18 months now, without attempting to address it. To be fair, I have in the past addressed the lion share of this topic in the various posts within the Expat Topic category, but a consolidated summary has been missing so far. Here is finally an effort to rectify that.

Unfortunately, I am not too happy with the end product. I made a few re-writes over the course of several days, deleting and adding content, and in the end, I am left, I’m afraid, more with recaps of things posted elsewhere in this blog than with new and original thoughts. I still feel that it is worthwhile to post some sort of a conspectus on the subject, but anyone who’s been reading this blog since its early days may find little new stuff after the cut. Feel free to skip. Otherwise, you’re risking bearing to hear me admit mistakes.


Simpsonized portraits

My brother asked about the avatar that now pops up next to my comment replies on this blog. It is a simpsonized me, that I have long been using as Gravatar for blogs that support that service. The big picture looks like this:   I think it certainly resembles me. Don’t you agree? Just to[…]


Almond Macaroons

Over the holidays, we had plenty of opportunities to expand on the series started with this post. Unfortunately, my efficiency in getting to the table ready to eat continuously interfered with any thought of making a food-related post. Last night, as Natasha was making one of her favorites, she decided that I have been remiss[…]