Thursday, July 30, 2009

all good things must come to an end

after 162 days i am finally back in the states. our last night in munich was wonderful--jenn and i ate chinese food and gelato and stumbled across a phenomenal string quartet busking in front of a department store. it was absolutely spectacular and reminded me of just how much i adore good classical music.

yesterday i got into jfk with no hassles and was met by clayton, libby, ann, and arlene waiting for me at the gate. it's funny how quickly you fall back into routine--it truly feels like i never left. i am incredibly excited about our new apartment and can't wait to bring my stuff up from maryland so i can move in properly. i think dad is going to drive me and the girls down to annapolis on sunday and i'm planning on spending 2 weeks or so there before coming back to brooklyn permanently. i want time to see all of my friends and soak up plenty of mom-time.

even though this blog was originally intentioned to be about my travels i plan on keeping up with it as i adjust to my new life in nyc. updates may not be as frequent (and possibly not as interesting) but it's nice to have an outlet. and besides, i'm hoping on taking many more trips in the future so i need to have a place to write about them!

Monday, July 27, 2009

nearing the end

jenn and i just got to munich. it was supposed to be a 6 hour train ride but we missed the first train (by an inch! we went to the wrong station and we literally just missed it) so we had to wait around for 4 hours and then the train we caught was late so we missed our connection and had to wait 2 more hours. in total we were in transit for 14 hours. but now we are in munich so i am happy.

we only have one day in munich so i think we'll do a free walking tour to get oriented with the city and then explore on our own. jenn still hasn't tried any kind of german sausages so we need to remedy that. then on wednesday my flight is at 1030 am so i'll have to get a bright and early start. i can't believe i'll be back in new york in 48 hours. insane.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

ich bin ein berliner

berlin is absolutely amazing. yesterday jenn and i went on a free walking tour which hit all of the major sites (the brandenburg gate, the berlin wall, checkpoint charlie, etc) and that provided a really great overview of the city.

today we went to sachsenhausen concentration camp outside of the city. it was a sobering experience. walking into the barracks i was hit by a wave of nausea and i couldn't stay inside for long. i didn't take any pictures either because it seemed cheap. the point was being there.

we decided to stay one extra day in berlin so we'll be going to prague on friday morning. we've booked the rest of our hostels now so we're all set for the rest of the trip, which is a little bit bittersweet. i still can't believe i'm going home so soon. but it's coming at a good time because homesickness has pretty much settled in and it's getting mildly unbearable. i'm still enjoying myself, of course, but i kind of can't wait to get home.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

i'm famous!

remember how i said i was interviewed for an article on couchsurfing? you can find the link to it here at my host romy's blog. she kindly translated it from swiss-german into english.

also, my comment on architecture was totally silly. she asked me what i noticed about the area we were in and i couldn't really think of anything so it just sort of seemed like the right thing to say. evidently it wasn't but whatever, i'm ok with coming off like an ignorant american every once in awhile.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

only 11 more days

bruges was absolutely wonderful and i'm really glad i decided to make a stopover there. i think it beats bern as the cutest city i've been to so far. it reminded me a lot of old town alexandria where my grandmother lives so it felt nice and homey.

now i'm in amsterdam with jenn! we've been here for 2 days and tomorrow morning we're off to brussels, belgium for one night. i've enjoyed my time here but it's too much of a party town for me. or at least that's the only impression of it that i've gotten since i'm staying at a hostel that's known for attracting partiers. i'll be happy to get somewhere a little bit quieter. but we went to the anne frank house today which was really well done and totally worth the €8. it was rainy and gross out though so i spent most of the day napping. which i really needed, evidently.

i'm pretty sure that when i get home i'm going to sleep for 3 days solid.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009


i've been in zurich since sunday morning. i've been couchsurfing with a wonderful couple who have been incredibly hospitable and friendly and welcoming. last night they took me to an expats cooking class where we made turkish food and i got to spend the evening with 10 very interesting people (including one who was from maryland! small world).

i've decided that zurich is the best city for window shopping that i've been to thus far. the window displays are beautiful and while i can't afford to even buy a pair of socks from most of the stores it's fun to look. it was especially nice on sunday when i first got here because everything was closed and the streets were empty and it was incredibly serene and tranquil. since sunday i've walked all around zurich, ate absolutely the most delicious bratwurst i've ever had (and i'm not usually a sausage fan), and tried luxembuergli

SO GOOD! they're like tiny little meringues filled with delicious chewy cream. i tried chocolate, cappuccino, bacardi-coconut and vanilla. i might have to get some more at the train station before i leave tomorrow.

today i spent the day in bern. it was possibly the prettiest town i've been to. very medieval, it looked like it was plucked straight out of a fairytale. of course i forgot my camera but here's a stock photo of one of my favorite fountains

yes, that is an ogre eating babies. i love european fountains. and in switzerland you can drink from nearly all of them!

another thing i love about switzerland is that good food is just a part of the culture. the largest grocery store chain that i have found is called "coop" (though on the logo the "co" and the "op" are in different colors, so you figure it's probably kinda hippyish). they have an amazing selection of organic, fair-trade, and local items which really aren't that expensive. yesterday i made myself a picnic that consisted of gruyere on a baguette, mango lassi (which i have become obsessed with recently), an apple and a bar of hazlenut chocolate. all organic, fair-trade (where applicable) and all for 8 francs. in fact i've noticed the organic sections in supermarkets have been far larger than what i'm used to in slovenia, hungary, and slovakia as well. i've heard germany is the mecca for all things organic so i'm excited to check that out. i'm sure it'll be a bit of an adjustment to go back to the states where you really have to seek these products out and pay substantially more for them.

then when i got back a reporter from a local newspaper came over and interviewed me and my hosts for an article on couchsurfing. it's the second time i've been interviewed on this trip! i feel famous. afterward romy (one of my hosts) showed me how to make knopfli, a tradition swiss pasta, let me borrow "animal, vegetable, miracle" which i've been meaning to read since it came out, and gave me the recipe for the best chocolate chip cookies ever.

tomorrow morning i'm off to bruges, belgium. i'll only be there for half a day before i meet up with jenn in amsterdam!!! i'm so excited.

Friday, July 10, 2009


ljubljana=adorable. i wouldn't recommend staying for more than a day because it's teeny teeny tiny but it's really cute and has a very cool vibe. last night there just happened to be a couchsurfing meeting at a cafe (which was perfect since my host had to work for a few hours after i first arrived). i met some really cool people and went to this amazing military-complex-turned-art-complex-slash-bar-and-club-place which is hard to describe but absolutely crazy awesome.

today i walked around the city with 2 polish girls i met at the meeting last night and it was really nice. not too much to see but the city has a nice atmosphere which i like a lot. tomorrow i'm going to bled with some other couchsurfers i met, a small and supposedly gorgeous town about an hour away. there's a lake and a castle and nature--should be fun. then i hop on a night train bound for zurich!

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

i <3 croatia

i spent another glorious day doing nothing but reading, swimming, and napping on the beach. absolutely wonderful. i probably shouldn't have let my thighs get so red since i'm going to be on trains for 8 hours tomorrow but i think it was worth it. all of this tanning time has meant that my legs no longer look like they belong to another person (it was getting really bad).

i think this is the first place aside from paris where i know i absolutely want to come back someday. i'd love to check out some of the other islands and head down to dubrovnik--if i ever get married i plan on honeymooning in croatia.

tomorrow i'm going to ljubljana, slovenia. i'll couchsurf there for 2 days and then take a night train to zurich, where i'll couchsurf for 3 more. i'm excited to stay with locals who can give me the inside scoop on what to do and where to go. and this time i actively chose who i wanted to stay with so i think it'll go much better than my previous cs experiences.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Zlatni Rat beach

this is where i spent my day

the view when you first get into bol

my little slice of heaven

i was trying to figure out a way to accurately capture the color of the water when i realized my camera is waterproof! so i took way too many photos like this

so many shades of blue

yesterday i spent the day at the city beaches, which were perfectly nice but definitely not picture worthy. today i decided to make the long haul out to brac island--it cost about $20 to get out there and took nearly 2 hours--first a 45 minute ferry ride and then an hour on a bus--but it was absolutely worth it. i've booked 2 more nights at the hostel here in split because it's makes for a nice base for exploring and i really don't feel like checking into somewhere new. i'd like to go to the island of hvar but given the fact that the ferry takes 2 hours each way i think i'll probably just go to the beaches nearby. supposedly there's a pebble beach in a park that's a 20 minute bus ride from my hostel so i plan on spending tomorrow there.

also, pebble beaches are so much better than sand ones. just sayin'.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

fun fact; the croatian language is "hrvatski"

after a 6 1/2 train ride from budapest i arrived in zagreb, croatia last night. the funny thing about traveling is you tend to run into the same people. in vienna i went out with a group of guys from the hostel to a public music festival. 2 days later i ran into them at the train station in bratislava. and then yesterday i ended up sharing a cabin with one them on the train from budapest (he had split from the rest of the group and now he's headed to belgrade so i doubt i'll see any of them again). it gives this whole travel thing a sort of homey feel to it.

i decided to spend only one night in zagreb because i'm tired of city life and just wanted to get to the beach. it was another 6 hour train ride to get to split but now i am here and totally happy. i had planned on only spending one night here and then going to hvar, an island about two hours off the coast, for a few nights but i think i might stay in split and take day trips out to the islands. vis is only a 45 minute ferry ride and it's home to what is purported to be the most beautiful beach on the adriatic (weather permitting i'm going to check that out tomorrow). i really like this hostel and the idea of not having to lug my bag to a new place for 4 or 5 days is incredibly appealing.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

i found my adapter!

remember what i said about bratislava and quirky statues?

cases in point;

conversely, hungarian statues from the communist era did not have nearly the same sense of humor.

however, these statues are now relegated to a park far outside the city limits.

off to croatia now!

Friday, July 3, 2009

every journey must end

i booked my ticket home! i'll be arriving at jfk around 4 pm on july 29th. i can't believe my adventure will be over in 26 days. i'm a little bit sad but it made the most sense financially/timewise. and i'm definitely getting to the point where i'm ready to go home.

the next 26 days are going to be awesome though, you can be sure of that.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

back in budapest!

i ended up spending just one night in bratislava--turned out that was plenty. the city was cute but there wasn't much to it. there were lots of quirky statues everywhere, which was fun. unfortunately i appear to have lost the adapter for my camera so no pictures until i can buy a new one.

now i'm back in budapest! i booked 2 nights but i decided to stay for a 3rd. 1) because it's only 6€ a night, 2) because i really didn't feel like getting on another train tomorrow, and 3) because there's still quite a lot i want to see. i did a free walking tour today and i definitely remembered some of the sites, but my memory also skewed certain realities. tomorrow i want to go to memento park, a statue park where they keep the city's relics of the soviet era.

then i'm going to zagreb, croatia on saturday. i'll only spend one night there before heading south and hopefully getting to one of the islands, hvar, by sunday. i'm getting tired of old buildings and museums so i want to recharge with a few days on the beach.

doesn't look so bad, eh?