Maaike and Luca Winter are siblings from Bratislava whom both recently graduated college and decided they were going to take a trip ‘Around The US’ together before they take on the real world and begin their careers. A trip that has taken them from Miami to Chicago to Vegas and now Billings, where they will spend 4 days before flying to San Francisco and driving the Pacific coastline in California down to Los Angeles, ending their journey across our great country.
Maaike recently completed her studies at Wageningen University in the Netherlands, earning a Bachelors degree in Tourism (which i gotta say sounds like a pretty good degree. I mean when taking a vacation can be classified as a ‘work-study’ that sounds pretty good to me!).. Luca also recently graduated, though he studied at Brno University of Technology in the Czech Republic and graduated with degrees in Engineering as well as Political Science. They both realize that life is about to change dramatically for them as they enter into the working world and start their careers so this was an opportunity they would not let pass them by.

So far they have enjoyed the sunshine and beaches of Miami Florida, which they were lucky enough to have done just days before Hurricane Irma made its disastrous trek across the state. Fortunately for them they had made their way up to Chicago on Wednesday to take in some sights in the Windy City before then flying down to fabulous Las Vegas for a couple days stay at the Rio. Being a couple of very bright and intelligent young people there was of course some strategic planning involved because there is just about no cheaper way to fly into Billings Montana then a quick 2 1/2 hour Allegiant flight from Sin City. You might be wondering how Billings fits into this trip around the US for these two young siblings from a far off part of the world right? Well the answer lies in the fact that 5 years ago Maaike was a young foreign exchange student living in the dorms here at MSU-Billings. It was important for Maaike to have the opportunity to show her brother where she studied as well as catch up with friends and individuals in the community whom helped her while here those years ago. This includes Bill and Marilyn Simmons, owners of MasterLube, whom Maaike and Luca were able to grab lunch with while here (see photo in post). It also includes taking in some local sights while here such as heading out to Shiloh Crossing and seeing the new (at least new since Maaike was last here) Scheels building and all it’s wonders.. When asked what the highlight of their trip thus far was i’m thinking they are going to tell me the beautiful beaches and water in Miami, or maybe enormity of what is the city of Chicago, if not that surely it had to be a show they took in while in Vegas… However Luca was quick to suggest that a trip they took through Yellowstone Park this week was easily the highlight of their trip. For me this was reinforcement on why I love Montana, of all of the sights these two from Bratislava has seen so far it was the beauty and grace of our part of the country that stands out most to them. Monday morning they will be joining the KTVQ morning news team for a quick interview bright and early during their morning show, before heading down to San Francisco to begin the last leg of their journey. They plan to start by travelling through Yosemite and enjoying another one of our major National Parks, before traveling down the coast, pointing out that they have no lodging planned at this point but have rented a camper van that will allow them some travel freedom and the ability to stop anywhere that captures their attention.

It was a pleasure for me to sit and enjoy a cup of tea with Maaike and Luca and be able to hear and tell a little bit of their stories, I wish you both all the best and safe travels! Thank you