Spotted in Prague: Globe-Trotting Olmers on Their Second Year of Travel

(Contributed Photo)
Ksenija and Mirak Olmer had fun trying on native costumes at the Busó Folk Museum in Mohács, Hungary, earlier this year.

    While many negatives have been attached to social media, it also serves a wonderful purpose: Connecting friends. 
   I experienced this beneficial aspect this summer while on a whirlwind concert tour with my church choir. I had just finished posting photos of our concert in Prague on Facebook and Instagram when I received a message from Orinda resident Ksenija Olmer.
   She asked if we were still in Prague. I answered in the affirmative and found out she and her husband, Mirak, also were in Prague. We met for lunch the next day before my husband and I boarded a bus for Vienna, the destination of our next concert.
   What a treat to run into old friends so far away from home. Of course, I knew the Olmers were traveling the world on what began as a one-year jaunt, now two, but what were the odds that we’d be in the same place at the same time? Luckily for us, they were pretty good!
   I decided to take the opportunity to ask these intrepid travelers a few questions.

 How long have you been traveling? 
   We are in the second half of our second year of travels. We did come home for Christmas and spent a month with our daughters in San Francisco, as our Orinda house has been rented out by a wonderful Australian family.   
How many countries have you visited? 
   We stopped counting after we reached 100. It is great to visit totally new countries, but it is also nice to revisit countries and see different parts or how they have changed. For example, this time instead of major attractions like Tokyo and Kyoto, we took trains from the very north to the very south of Japan, and now have a very different understanding of Japanese life and culture as a whole. We just returned from a six-week driving trip through the Balkans, and, wow, were we surprised how much has changed since we were there in our youth. 
How do you choose where to go next? 
   Our bucket list is ever growing. We find inspiration everywhere – talking to fellow travelers about their favorite places, reading blogs, Instagram photos or even tour agency offers. We are not really ticking off countries or cities or best beaches but rather a bucket list of experiences. This year, we swam with whale sharks in Western Australia, tracked orangutans in Sumatra, attended tribal festivals in North East India and chased Sakura blossoms (flowering cherry blossoms) in Japan. We are planning a horseback riding adventure in the Caucasus and a month living like a local in Istanbul.  
   The only place we weren’t very excited about visiting was the Republic of Moldavia. The roads were pretty bad and the renegade Transdniester Republic soldiers were pushing across the border in places where they shouldn’t have been. 
What is your favorite time of year in Europe and do you have a “home” base?
   The weather in Europe is most reliable in the summer. But the weather pattern is changing with many more hot spells and record highs. Lots of countries are not prepared for it and lack air conditioning. We both have family in Europe and two grandchildren in Prague that we love to visit. So, we make Prague our summer base, and we either fly or drive out on adventures.

What have you learned on your travels? 
   That one should travel as much as possible when young! We are working against time, rickety knees and bad backs. People often plan to travel when they retire, but then procrastinate until it is too late, and their health doesn’t allow it. Comfortable travel isn’t that expensive if you interchange cheaper countries with more expensive destinations. Asia for example (except for Japan and Korea) is very affordable with really high standards. You can actually see fantastic medieval castles in Romania for a fraction of the cost of those in France. You can travel light, one small rollie each. iPhones make great pictures; no need to drag big cameras around. 
   And lastly, if you make an effort and show interest in connecting with people despite language limitations, you will see the world is a much better place than we are led to believe. 
   Often people will ask, “But is it safe where you are going?” I just look at them and say, “Have you seen the news from the U.S. lately?!” 
   Follow the Olmers’ adventures at and Instagram #crazyparentstravel.

(Contributed Photo)
L-R: Sally Hogarty, Ksenija Olmer, Mirak Olmer and Ken Hogarty at a coffee shop off the Old Town Square in Prague, Austria.

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