Dear Allison,

(That sounded so formal … how unlike us.)

I just dropped you off at the Budapest Ferenc Liszt Airport after trekking through the city by foot, tram, metro and even bus at a painfully early 4:45 a.m. You’re one of the few people I’d wake up with the sunrise for, especially after we stayed up watching chick-flicks until 2 a.m. the night before.

This summer, we were able to take our sister adventures to the international level for a week, in both Germany and Hungary. And in this calendar year alone, we’ve also bounced from state to state: sunbathing on the beaches of San Diego, California; braving dimly-lit alleys in New Orleans, Louisiana to find the perfect beignet; guiding our grandparents through the lush, Midwest forests in Youngstown, Ohio; even standing in line for not one, not two, but three hours to try the recently-opened Magnolia Table in Waco, Texas (and we both agreed, definitely not worth the wait).

You are a remarkable traveler and an even more incredible person … there’s nobody I would rather get lost in a new city with.

Thank you for always wanting to try unfamiliar foods, and for always letting me have a bite of what you order, because I’ll probably like your dish better than I do my own. Some people stick with what they know in a new restaurant and just order chicken fingers or a caesar salad, but I’m so glad you’re willing to try a city’s signature dish, even if that dish is escargots or something even wilder than seared snails.

Thank you for recognizing that while running around all day can be a lot of fun, it can also be exhausting. Midday naps are a must during our travels, especially when you’re in an entirely different time zone.

Thank you for keeping an open mind and being flexible, especially when our two-hour flight from Munich to Budapest was cancelled and turned into a 12-hour day of traveling. Instead of stressing out about being re-booked on different flights and finding yourself stranded in Frankfurt without a single Euro in your pocket, you still had a positive attitude and even made friends with the family waiting with you in line. That takes an inordinate amount of patience, and I admire that about you.

Thank you for being able to turn any situation into something we can eventually laugh at. Being stopped on a tram in Budapest by a Hungarian transportation cop and yelled at in a different language was anything but fun, but after a little –– actually, more than a little –– retail therapy, we were both giggling on our way back home, the incident completely forgotten.

Most of all, thank you for being you. Having you as a sister is one of the best blessings I ever could’ve been given, and having you as a travel companion is even better. You’re bright, beautiful and brave, and I can’t wait for our next trip together, (most likely to Disneyland, since we can’t miss the Pixar Pier opening).



P.S. I know you snuck my pink romper into your suitcase before you left. Joke’s on you, I spilled soup all over it on my first day in Budapest.