Travel Diary – Prague

This past weekend, Lizzy, Jenny and I made our way to Prague. We arrived late Friday night and went straight to bed. Saturday morning, we got up and walked over to the Jewish Quarter to explore a bit and grab breakfast. Jenny wanted to see this area, but there wasn’t a whole lot going on since Passover just started. We found a cute place for breakfast and enjoyed the warm food and the heat since it was COLD!!! We then walked over to the Old Town Square to explore a bit and see the Astronomical Clock. We then walked through a cute market and warmed up with Chimney Cakes before finding ourselves inside a special exhibit of Warhol, Dalí, and Mucha. There were so many amazing pieces there, but my favorite was Warhol! We then joined a walking tour of the city and walked all over learning about the history of Prague and the buildings there. It’s a really amazing city and I didn’t know much of its history before, but I definitely learned a lot. We got to see the Old Town Square, the New Town Square, the Jewish Quarter, the Municipal House, Charles Bridge, and the Prague Castle from across the river. We finished the night off at a cute restaurant with yummy food before calling it a night!

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Old Town Square

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Astronomical Clock

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Warhol Exhibit 

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Warhol Exhibit

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Warhol Exhibit

Sunday morning, we got up and went to a bagel place for breakfast – it was so nice to have a bagel, the Italia’s don’t really have them, so that was a nice treat! We then walked over to the John Lennon wall and took pictures and listened to a guy play Beatles music there. We then walked back over to the Charles Bridge and climbed to the top of it to see all of Prague. It was FREEZING this day – like 40s, so it was a quick trip to the top and then back down to Starbucks! Lizzy and I stopped to get garnet rings since it is the speciality of Prague (and they were super cheap!). We got another Chimney Cake and ate them in the sun, before it went away, before our tour of Prague Castle. For the tour, we met in front of the Rudolfinum, which is a music and art gallery and a really pretty building. We then made the trip to Prague Castle and got to see some of the churches and famous sights there. It is a massive area and when it’s cold, it is not so fun to see. It really was beautiful, but at one point it started to snow, so we called it quits after three hours. Don’t let the pictures fool you – it was COLD! We finished our night off with some goulash and fried cheese, Czech specialties, and hit the hay before our 6am flight.

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Lennon Wall

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Lennon Wall

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Lennon Wall

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Lennon Wall

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View of Prague Castle from Charles Bridge Tower

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View of Prague from Charles Bridge Tower

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Chimney Cake

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Prague Castle

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View from Prague Castle — See it was cold 🙂

I really loved Prague and would love to go back when it’s warmer. It reminded me a lot of Budapest and I really enjoyed my time there!

 

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Travel Diary – Barcelona

Friday night Lizzy, Jenny, Maggie (Jenny’s friend from FIT), Danielle (a friend from NYC) and I arrived in Barcelona. After checking into our AirBNB, we went searching for food. There wasn’t much open around us at midnight, but we found a small bar right next door that was open and had food. We went in and sat down to order only to find out the owner spoke no English and didn’t have a written menu. However, his friend who was having a drink at the bar spoke English, so he translated everything for us. He was the nicest man and was telling us stories of when he travelled to the states – he had been Florida, Georgia, and New York City and loved that he had been to places we lived in. We ended up having some amazing tapas but were all exhausted so we went back to our apartment and to bed.

Saturday morning, we got up early and walked to a square to meet for a walking tour. Barcelona is extremely spread out, so the tour focused mainly on the old city since it was walkable. It was nice to be able to get background information on what we were looking at and we saw a number of things we wouldn’t have ever seen otherwise. Once we finished the tour we went to grab lunch and then decided to go see some of the Gaudí houses. On our way to see them, we shopped along the way and found some cute stuff that you could only get in Barcelona (or so we’d like to think). We finally made it to two of the houses and they were amazing. The architecture in Barcelona is so different from anything I have ever seen and I really loved seeing it all in person – it’s a nice change from Florence . After we saw two of the houses we were exhausted, so we walked back to the apartment and relaxed and changed before dinner. Jenny’s best friend from home happened to also be in Barcelona, so we met her and her friend for another yummy tapas dinner. We didn’t finish until midnight, so we went back home and to bed.

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Barcelona Cathedral

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Picasso Art

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In front of Gaudí House

Sunday morning Jenny and I got up and got massages at the W – my 21st birthday gift to her. We met up with everyone else on the beach after and enjoyed yummy tapas by the ocean. We then went to Park Güell and wandered around there for a bit to see all the mosaics. It was really beautiful, but a lot smaller than I had expected or anticipated. We then walked from there to Sagrada Família to see the church. It was the most insane church I think I have ever seen. Construction started in 1882 and it is still not yet finished. The church was breathtaking on the inside and had rainbow stain glass all over. Pictures do not do it justice, but it was worth the trip. We finished the night at a restaurant called Brunch & Cake, Jenny had been dying to go, so we had breakfast for dinner. Yet again, it was another amazing meal. While we were at dinner, I got a message from my friend Mallory from high school that she was in Barcelona too, so we met up with her at IceBarcelona – an ice bar. It was so nice to see her and catch up, but we also had a really fun time in the ice. We then said our goodbyes and went our separate ways.

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Park Güell

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Park Güell

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Park Güell

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Sagrada Família

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Sagrada Família

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Sagrada Família 

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IceBarcelona with Mallory

This morning we got up and went to the airport to fly back to Florence. It was a short trip, but I definitely want to go back. We got to see the major sites, but there is a lot more that I would love to see!

Travel Diary: Cinque Terre

Yesterday, Kayleigh, Lizzy and I took a day trip to Cinque Terre. We took a 2-hour bus ride to La Spezia where we got on a train that took us to all the different towns of Cinque Terre. We only visited 3 towns, but they were all beautiful. The first town we visited was Manarola and was the picturesque town with colorful houses on the water. The weather was chilly and a little rainy, but it was still a lot of fun. We only spent a bit of time in Manarola before taking the train to Vernazza where we had a delicious lunch. Apparently Cinque Terre is where pesto was created, so they have pesto everything. We had pesto pizza for lunch and it did not disappoint. After lunch in Vernazza, we took a 2-hour hike to Monterosso al Mare. The hike was not too strenuous, just long and there we, as a group, went pretty slow. It was a pretty hike that led us to the beach town of Monterosso al Mare. Once we arrived there, we indulged ourselves in some margarita buckets and fried crab claws. Everything was absolutely delicious. Though it was overcast and a bit cool, it was perfect for the hike and we really got to see the towns. It was a fun day, but we all came home exhausted! Next weekend we head to Barcelona for Jenny’s 21st birthday, which will be really fun!

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Manarola

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Manarola 

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Vernazza

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Our “We’re wearing matching Cinque Terre shirts and just finished a hike to the beach” picture

Travel Diary: Spring Break

We got to Munich nice and early Friday morning (after our 6:45 am flight from Florence) to a cold and drizzling city. Funny story about our lovely journey over to the airport in Florence – as with anything travel related to me and Lizzy, nothing is easy. In Florence, you cannot hail a cab, you either have to call for a cab or go to a taxi stand. Since it was super early, we called the night before to a cab company and scheduled a pickup for 5am. They told us to be down a few minutes early, so Lizzy and I got downstairs around 4:50. At this time, literally no on is around except for a few people from the night before and people walking their dogs. So we waited inside our apartment building with the door cracked so we could see the car come. Well, we waited until 5:10 and no car came and when we called, no one answered, so we assumed they forgot about us and decided to walk to the taxi stand a few blocks away… Well no cabs were there so now we were really screwed… I remembered that there was a hotel down the street from where we were, so we dragged our staircases there and begged the people that worked there to help us call a cab. The guy felt so bad and called us one right away and stayed with us to make sure he actually came.

Once we finally made it to Munich, we checked in to our room and relaxed for a bit before going to Starbucks and meeting at Marienplatz for a walking tour of the city. It started by the New and Old Town Halls and the Glockenspiel. We then wandered over to the Viktualienmarkt, which is a big market full of fruits, veggies, meats, etc. and a Biergarten. Unfortunately, it was Good Friday, which Germans take VERY seriously and everything was closed. We then walked over to the opera house and the Munich Residenz, which was a palace in the city where King Ludwig and other Kings of the city resided. The focus of the tour was not on the Nazi party, but there is one street in Munich that has gold in the cobblestone that showed an area where anti-Nazis would walk to avoid have to do the “Heil Hitler” to a plaque. After the tour ended, Lizzy and I were exhausted and cold, so we grabbed a quick bite to eat and headed back to the hotel for a nap. We woke up hungry and to it really raining, so we decided to just eat dinner at the hotel. We enjoyed some yummy sushi, a hot shower, and a nice long sleep!

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Anti-Nazi Walk

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Maypole

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Glockenspiel

 

Saturday morning we got up and met Lizzy’s friend Connie and her boyfriend to go to Neuschwanstein for the day. They were nice enough to drive us there and back, which was a fun way to see the countryside of Munich. However, all but one road was closed, including the one leading to the castle, so we got stuck in a pretty big traffic jam and missed our ticket time to they castle. Luckily, Connie called and was able to get us a later ticket time and we made it just in time! We climbed the exhausting mile walk up to the castle and spent all of probably 5 minutes in the castle on the tour… It was kind of lame, but we got to see the inside. We then wanted to get good pictures of the castle, but the bridge to do that was closed due to maintenance and some snow. But, the way up was still accessible and people were going, so we decided to climb it too! It was the steepest uphill climb, but it gave pretty good views. However, the actual bridge was further up the hill, so we climbed up to see what that view was like, which meant we had to climb up the mud in the trees to get the view. It was definitely worth it, but you just couldn’t look down once you got to the edge – it was a straight drop down! We grabbed a snack after and headed back to Munich on the autobahn, which was really fun. Germans really do know how to drive! We said our goodbyes and Lizzy and I finished the night off with Starbucks and Dirty Dancing!

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Sunday was Easter and literally everything in Munich was closed… Except the art museums, which is exactly what Lizzy and I decided to do! We started at the Alte Pinakothek which had a lot of Renaissance art, so we got our fill of Jesus paintings on Easter. We then went to the Neue Pinakothek which has more romanticism and realism paintings including some Van Gogh and Monet! After that, we strolled over to Odeonsplatz to Tambosi which is an Italian café that is known for their cakes, so we obviously had to have one. After relaxing in the sun for a bit, we walked over to the English Gardens to stroll around. Literally everyone was out and about, and it was nice to enjoy some fresh air. At the park there is an area where there is a major current and people surf there, so we stood and watched them surf for quite a while. We then walked back over towards Odeonsplatz and decided that it would be fun to go to the Munich Residenz. It was amazing! It’s very similar to Versailles and is massive; 131 rooms in total! After a while, they all started to blend together, but the place was beautiful! We were exhausted after this big day out, so we came back to the hotel to take a rest and just relax for a bit before dinner. We enjoyed the traditional Easter dinner of hamburgers, French fries, and a cocktail before heading off to bed!

Monday is also celebrated in Munich and literally everything is closed. So we decided to take a day trip to Dachau. It was probably one of the most emotionally intense things I’ve witnessed and being there was really tough, but I enjoyed learning the history and seeing what I learned throughout high school in person. After a draining 5 hour tour, Lizzy and I were ready for some fun and food. We headed to the Hofbrauhaus for some beer and Wiener schnitzel. It was delicious and just what we needed. We decided to walk around for a bit after our big meal and then went back to the hotel to relax for a bit. We ended up going to a pizza place near our hotel for dinner – we weren’t starving but wanted something to hold us over till morning. We went back to the room and packed up before going to sleep.

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Tuesday morning we got up and walked around the market since it was finally open. We then ventured into the different department stores and other stores to browse and in search of Christmas ornaments. Once we checked those items off our list, we headed back to the hotel for check out and to go to Dubrovnik. The flight from Munich to Dubrovnik was really easy and beautiful! We landed around 4 and made it to the hotel in time for dinner and a walk around with Kayleigh. Since it’s the low season, many of the restaurants at the hotel are not open, so we ended up eating at the hotel and were the only people in the restaurant for the majority of the night. We all crashed early after big days of traveling.

Wednesday morning we got up and took the bus to Old Town Dubrovnik where we walked around the city walls. You get beautiful views of the city and the ocean from the walls. It ended up warming up a lot more than we expected so we grabbed “take away mojitos” and wandered around the town for lunch. We decided to grab lunch up on the hill by the water and some yummy hamburgers and French fries. We then walked back through town, grabbing another mojito, before getting on the bus to go back and tan. That night we walked 550 meters from our hotel to Restaurant Eden. It was a lot longer of a walk than we had anticipated, but it was a cute little restaurant with yummy food. After our big adventure, we were exhausted and called it a day.

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Thursday we spent the whole day laying by the pool and catching some rays. It was so nice to just unwind and have no agenda. We ate lunch at a pub we found in walking distance and then returned to tan some more. For dinner, we went back into town and ate at Restaurant 360. It has beautiful views of the city, but it was too cold and windy to sit outside and enjoy them, so we sat inside. They had, probably,  of the best food we ate the whole trip and it was really nice to treat ourselves to a nice dinner. We were again all exhausted and called it a night after dinner.

Friday we got up early and took the ferry from town to the island of Lorkum, about 10 minutes away. There is a monastery there as well as gardens, roaming peacocks, and rabbits. It was a beautiful island and we spent the day exploring. There were beautiful ponds and all sorts of fun trails to explore. We finished there around 2 and took the ferry back to town and go sushi. It was the cutest restaurant that was family owned and it was delish. After lunch, we, of course, had to grab another mojito before shopping around a bit more. Once done, we headed back to the hotel for Kayleigh to register for classes for the fall and then relaxed a bit. We decided to go back to town for dinner and ate at a yummy Italian place. After another big day out, we called it quits after dinner.

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Saturday we got up and tanned again. Since it was our last full day, we were determined to get as much sun as we could. We lounged by the pool all day and while it started off cloudy, it eventually led to some pretty good sun. We stayed out all day and then went bald to town one last time for dinner. We found a cute restaurant right by the water where we enjoyed our last Croatian meal – though we didn’t have any “typical” Croatian food – not really sure what that actually consists of. But dinner was good. We bid adieu to town and went back to the hotel to pack up and enjoy one more night of comfy sleep.

Sunday morning we got up and finished packing before getting breakfast. Kayleigh had an early flight so we said goodbye to her and Lizzy and I went to lounge by the pool again. We both had scheduled massages, so we took turns going – which was the most interesting massage I’ve ever had. At one point he masseuse was laying down on top of me. It was very odd, but at least, it was something to do. We spent the rest of the afternoon in the sun before saying goodbye to Croatia and catching a flight to Frankfurt before heading back to Florence.

I can’t believe spring break is over… That just means I’m that much closer to being done abroad, and I’m not ready… Yet anyways.

 

Travel Diary: London

Last weekend, Lizzy and I went to London to meet her mom and my mom and dad for a long weekend! Our trip started out a little unlike how we wanted… We were flying out of Florence to London City Airport. Unfortunately, Florence often has high winds and a short runway, so not everyone can get on the plane. Well, the gate agent came and asked if anyone wanted to volunteer to get on another flight and no one did. So they had to get a list and call people. OF COURSE Lizzy and I were on the list. After a very stressful hour, we learned that we were getting transported to Bologna and then flying out of there to London Heathrow. What should have been a 2-hour journey to London, turned into a much longer journey. But, we made it!

Thursday night, we freshened up after the hotel once we made it. We then met up with Mrs. Brownell and headed to dinner. It ended up being a really late dinner, and it would have been super delicious if I hadn’t been recovering from the stomach bug :(. We called it a night and I enjoyed a nice, deep sleep in a big bed all to myself!

Friday morning, I was woken up to the phone ringing saying mom and dad were about 5 minutes away! They finally made it and we relaxed a bit, before taking a walk to Harrods to look around. Mom, Dad, and I ended up eating at the burger bar there before mom and I left to go meet Lizzy and Mrs. Brownell at Sketch for tea. It was the most interesting place to have tea, but it was delish. We enjoyed some finger sandwiches, desserts, and many other goodies. It was a fun place to unwind and enjoy some yummy food. We then walked around Piccadilly Circus a bit before saying our goodbyes for the night! Mom, Dad and I finished the night off at Nobu with some sushi before calling it an early night to sleep and enjoy!

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Saturday morning we got up and went to the Portobello Road Market in Notting Hill. It was the cutest area and they had all sorts of amazing antiques, food, and so much more! I was eager to seek out the Notting Hill Bookshop aka the store Hugh Grant worked at in the movie Notting Hill. It looked just the same, as it should, but there was a number of tourists around. Of course, we had to get a picture, though! We finished the afternoon off on a bus tour of London that took us to all the major sites in the city. From Westminster Abbey to the actual city of London and of course to Buckingham Palace, we saw it all! It was a fun way to see the city and all it has to offer. We got off the bus at Buckingham Palace and went to the gift shop to see the commemorative china for the Queen’s 90th birthday before going back to the hotel to freshen up before dinner. We met back up with Lizzy and her mom and went to dinner at Bumpkin. A restaurant that is owned by one of the women on Ladies of London – a show Lizzy and I love. It was actually really yummy and we had a good time!

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Sunday morning we got up and went to Liberty and walked around Oxford Circus before going to lunch in Chelsea with the brother of a man that works for mom. We had a traditional “Sunday Roast” and it was so much fun and the food was surprisingly really good. We then walked over to Kensington Palace and waved to Will and Kate and George and Charlotte before going back to the hotel to rest up after our big meal and then take a walk around Hyde Park. We finished the night off with some tapas at a restaurant in Oxford Circus.

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Monday morning we enjoyed breakfast and a few last minute errands and a walk before saying our goodbyes and going to the airport. It was such a fun weekend and we hated to see it come to an end. London will always have my heart, but we had to head back to Florence for midterms.

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