Munich :: Bavaria’s Best

Day 1
I arrived a little after 10:30am to the hostel, Wombat’s, which is literally right across from the Hauptbanhof and next to all of the other hostels. I was a little tired from a very uncomfortable train ride, but wanted to make the most of my last few days, so I went on the exclusive free walking tour offered by the hostel. We saw the churches, the town hall including the 12pm chiming clock, Christmas markets, and where the Nazi party was founded. Overall, the tour was only decent. The tour guide was extremely pompous, arrogant and kept talking about tipping him. Plus, he was very preachy about Bavaria and Munich. It was borderline obnoxious. After the tour was over (4 hours long!), we deplored a bit of the Christmas markets and headed back for warmth, but not before getting lost, after we were told there was no way to get lost in Munich. Ha, I’ll prove you wrong, tour guide! I went to the hostel bar for my free welcome drink and met another guy from the walking tour. We got to chatting and just hung out for a bit. Another girl, Lizzie, this sweet, young thing from Liverpool was traveling alone as well, but hadn’t plucked up,the courage to talk to anyone, so I went over and asked if she wanted to grab a cheap kebab with us around the corner. So, the 3 of us had döner kebab for the cheap price of €4 and hung out for a good portion of the night, before retiring for the evening.

Day 2
I woke up the next morning, and David, who I had met on my walking tour wanted to go to Füssen to see Nueschwanstein Castle. I couldn’t find him, so I was resolved to head up alone, but I wound up sitting at the breakfast table with 2 brothers, Andrew and Alex, who were also heading up there at the same time. I was running a bit behind, so I met them at the platform. We waited and waited until we heard an announcement that the train was delayed for an unspecified amount of time due to an accident on the rail line. Apparently, a man had jumped to his death. It was kind of sad, but apparently it is quite frequent and he had inconvenienced so many people! The horror! Everyone jumped off the train and made our way to the S Bahn station below, but that line was also not going due to the accident, so our only other option was to wait for the next train or try going tomorrow. We got on the next train, which was running a bit late, but it still got us there. We missed our connection, so the 4 of us (we found David!) went to Lidl for snacks in the meantime. After 4 hours of trying to get there, we finally arrived, pushed our way on to a bus (€4.20 return) and got to the closest point before we had to start walking up the mountain full of horse poop and brown snow slush. Yummy. We made it though, and took a ton of photos for the landing, but we knew that the most iconic photos of the castle were from the bridge, which had been poorly sectioned off due to snow. We didn’t let that stop us, so we jumped over the side and slipped and slid while I pounced in the snow to the bridge. Along our journey, we met these 2 guys, Aaron and Scott, from Minnesota who we started hanging out with. We finally made it to the bridge after some humorous attempts due to ice and it was well worth it. Absolutely incredible. Cinderella would have been so proud. We all slowly made our way down the mountain and checked out the other castle in the area, which was also very pretty, just not as impressive. We got back down to the train station in time for the 5pm train back to Munich. We had all decided to grab some drinks and dinner together when we got back to Munich, so we all went to our respective hostels, freshened up and we went to Euro Youth to drink and went to Augustiner Brew House for dinner. I actually tried beer, and it was good! It was some of the most fun I’ve had. Afterwards, David, Alex and Andrew said goodnight, but Scott, Aaron and I still wanted to go out. We got a few more drinks and then tried to find a good nightclub. Due to some unfavorable weather of sleet, we ended up under some sort of landing and made friends with some locals, Louis and Mermin, who we followed to a bar around the corner. We hung out for a few hours before I left and slept off the amount of alcohol I had just ingested.

Day 3
Woke up feeling like a champ, so I met up with the guys agin and we made our way over to BMW Welt and the Olympic Park. I feel like BMW Welt is better than Disneyland. I even got to ride in a small 1959 Capetta around the world. We checked out the cars, motorcycles and then went over to the museum, which cost too much money to get into, so we walked over to the Olympic stadium and checked out the memorial to the 16 slain Israeli Olympic athletes. After a so, I’d few hours, we headed back into town to relax and have some down time before heading out for dinner and hopefully this time, the club. We all met up at my hostel and shared some drinks, including the €5 pitchers of beer, where I saw Lizzie again and invited her to join the gang. After drinking to our hearts’ content, we went to this small place that apparently has some bomb schnitzel, although I did not partake as it was pork and settled on a baked potato and salad with a glass of wine for only €10. Unfortunately, two members of our pack were getting on a night train to Venice, so we said our goodbyes and headed to Sauna. The alcohol was definitely hitting me more tonight than last night. We got in, checked our coats and went up to the bar to order and guess who we see? Louis! The guy we hung out with all last night. He buys us rounds and rounds of shots while we listen to some awesome 80’s jams. It must have been getting late, so we all left and went back to my hostel to chill out, or in my case, flat out pass out. Yay alcohol?

Day 4
I woke up still drunk from the night before, so to say I did anything, especially since it was a Sunday in Bavaria, is to tell a lie. I went to the train station, bought my night ticket supplement, went in search of food (yay, huge €3 slice of pizza) and wandered around the somewhat deserted Christmas markets. I then waited around the train station for a train that wasn’t coming and had to figure out a new solution on how to make my night train from Mannheim. Stressful end, but that’s Europe, amiright?!

I made my way all the way back up to Oslo on 4 trains taking a total of 29 hours, including waiting time, for my flight on Tuesday.

I still can’t believe this is the end and that in less than 48 hours I will be home. I may physically be coming back, my heart will always be with those amazing memories and friends that I have made along the way. I will write a post Europe recap when I arrive home, and maybe sleep for a day or two. Until then, I hope that through my experience, you will find that Europe is an incredible place that can be much more affordable than many people believe.

Krakow :: Cold but Beautiful

Day 1
Arriving before the sun even rose, I walked out into the main area of the train statin to snow falling. It was incredible! The one thing I had hoped for more than anything was snow while I was here. My own version of a “white Christmas”. I walked the easy 10 minutes to my hostel, Goodbye Lenin Hostel, thanks to the map HostelOne Home gave me and checked in, dropping off my bag. I had heard that Oskar Schindler’s factory was free on Mondays and the receptionist said it would be busy for tickets, so I left early, around 8am to stand in line. By the time I took the tram, got lost and found the place (a very non-descript building in an area of factory buildings), it was only 8:45am, there was no line, and it was snowing. I tried to figure out if I should head back into town to exchange money, if I should grab a bite or what. I ended up exploring the area and gong to a warm cafe. When it was getting close to opening time, I made my way over to stand in a small, but respectable line. The factory itself is no longer there, but instead, part of the building had been turned into an exhibition, where you saw life in Krakow pre, during, and post war. It was very interesting and definitely worth the price ;)
After heading back into town, I exchanged my money for Polish Zlotys and grabbed a bite at Zapineks, a pierogi place. I ordered the mixed plate and that was my first mistake. They were delicious, but the meat was definitely of the pork variety and all the pierogis were covered in bacon and nuts. I couldn’t refuse, so I scraped everything off that I could, but my throat itched from the nuts and my lips felt a bit puffy. Eh, it was worth it. I got back to the hostel and took some allergy meds that seemed to do the trick. I hung out for a while and then started meeting people in common room, when we all decided to go out for dinner. We went to a traditional Polish place and since I was feeling under the weather, I ordered potatoes and soup for a reasonable 12 PLN. It hit the spot and we all just kind of shared and tried each other’s dishes. Thinking about going out, we ended up drinking hot chocolate and tea and saying cards in the common room for the better part of the night.

Day 2
Today was the day that I was dreading and yet knew that I had to do it. I went to Auschwitz and Birkenau. I got on the 9:30 bus for 28 PLN return and arrived to the center around 11, where I decided to go on the tour for 40 PLN. I almost wished I didn’t. I wanted more time to look around and explore the pain that people had gone through. It was really emotional for me, and I cried more than once. Unfortunately, my experience was a bit tainted thanks to rude class trips laughing, giggling and talking throughout every building. Then, there were people taking pictures of everything as our tour guide hurried us through every building. After a short break to warm up, we took the included bus to Birkenau, which was a huge complex full of destroyed buildings. We did go into some of the barracks and visited the destroyed gas chambers. It didn’t feel real knowing that people could do something like this and yet staring at it, you knew it was true. If anything, visiting this place made me even prouder to be Jewish and know that despite that these people who tried to wipe an entire religion and culture from existence, we are still here and still standing today. After the tour, we waited inside for the next bus at 3:50, but it never showed up, so a whole group of us stood in the cold for about 30 minutes until the next bus arrived. I was so cold and wanted to complain, but kept thinking about where I was. Emotionally and mentally drained, I took a nap on the bus. We arrived late into Krakow, and I met up with my new friend, Rachael, and we decided to grab some dinner at Hamsa, an Israeli restaurant. We ended up getting a feast of hummus, veggies, lamdeh, and falafel along with a ton of pita. I was still hungry and ordered the chicken with rice dish, which was amazing. There ended up being live Israeli music, which was a nice treat. The total for everything was about 84 PLN for the two of us, which is pricey, but still amazing for the amount of food. It was just such a nice counteraction to celebrate the life and people who I had just been witness of their attempted destruction. After dinner, we went for some dessert by having hot chocolate, and I mean, real hot chocolate. The kind that sticks to your spoon. It was amazing and by that time, we were so full and tired, we both went to sleep.

Day 3

Prague :: Party On

I arrived in Prague very late, around 11pm after an 8 hour train ride. I checked in to a party already going on; the music was loud and crazy and people had been drinking for hours. The hostel hosts at Hostel One Home were so kind, they offered me apple juice, dinner and cookies right away. Then, they asked if I was ready to come out to party with them that night. I had just come off Budapest and knew that my body needed sleep desperately. I politely refused and said goodnight to all the party revelers.

Day 1
I swear I had meant to get up early to see a few things in Prague, but my body thought better of it. After waking up at 11:30 (!), I showered and got ready for my day. I stopped at Bohemia Bagel for lunch and then joined a free walking tour, which was great and very informative, led by a local. After returning to the hostel, I got ready for the evening by eating the free dinner with everyone and having a bottle of wine. We were going out! We started off at this rock bar called Harley’s, where we danced, drank, and partied away. What was turning out to be a great night was very abruptly changed when a friend lost our coat check ticket and the coat check staff turned out to be rude, machoginistic pigs. They yelled at us, pushed a friend and told us to come back at 3am. We decided to go to another bar close by and thank god for gentleman who gave us their coats otherwise we would have froze. At 3, we went back to retrieve our coats and they denied us again, telling us to come back at 6am. I was livid at this point, went back to the hostel and waited until 6am. My friend fell asleep, so I went back to the bar, where they pushed me into the coat check area, I grabbed my friend’s jacket, but my jackets that I had out inside of hers were no longer there. I had a major freak out as these huge men were telling me to leave. I told them I wasn’t leaving without my shit. So I went through the jackets again and found them hanging up, separately. The huge bouncer grabbed them from me and asked if there was anything to identify that see jackets were mine. Uh, no dude, I don’t keep stuff in my pockets in case you would steal them. After giving him specific information on my jacket, he finally pushed them into my arms and I left. Lesson learned: never coat check.

Day 2
I passed out at 7am and woke up the next day around 12:30pm. Feeling exhausted and drained from the night before, I kept it an easy day, just chilling in the hostel, doing some light walking and exploring a bit of the old town. A big group got together and we all went to the beer museum (really, just a bar) to sample some local beer before dinner. After hosing down on vegetarian chili, we started our night by going to the brother hostel and hanging out with that group before heading to a huge nightclub. We had a ton of fun dancing the night away until we left at 2:30 to get some sleep so I could maybe actually do some things in the morning.

Day 3
I woke up relatively early at 9am, but feeling a little under the weather or otherwise known as Pragapestitis, I decided against going to Kutnà Hora and seeing the bone church, something I really wanted to see. Next time. I went shopping and got a new sweater and beanie to face the snow that is coming my way in Krakow and Munich. I walked around a bit of the old town again, exploring new areas before heading back to the hostel to meet up for the Praha hockey game. Huge, sold out game between Sparta and Slavia, two teams in Prague. It was crazy how much the fans get in to it. They take off their shirts, bang drums, set off confetti and just go nuts for their respective team. We got back to the hostel around 8pm, ate dinner and then I got ready to catch my night train to Krakow. So crazy that I really only have 1 more week in Europe!

Budapest :: Party Nights

I stayed in Budapest from Nov 14-21.

Where to begin, where to begin…oh, how I miss you Budapest. Now, I promised on my blog to write the truth to remember these times in 10, 15, even 20 years from now when my brain is clouded with other things.

Day 1
I arrived in Budapest the night before and decided to take it easy while everyone else went out and partied. I was pretty zonked after my 17 hour bus/train rides. It was Friday and I woke up late, went with Cameron (the hostel manager) to a place that exchanges currency for a pretty reasonable fee, plus they give you very close to market value, and then headed to Lidl, my favorite grocery store to pick up a few of the essentials. After a busy morning, I went on the free walking tour of the city, seeing some awesome sights that I have already seen, but hearing a bit more of the history was nice. And apparently, in Hungarian culture, they really like to rub statues for good luck. Horses’ balls for luck in love and exams and the toe of the saint to come back to Budapest. Of course, I rubbed them both. I headed back to the hostel to warm up and grab some of the awesome dinner they cooked at X Hostel (1000 HUF or about €3) every night. We all got ready by starting drinks and then headed out to the boat party for 6500 HUF, but everyone gets their own bottle of champagne. It was incredible and not too cold, but I’m sure that is due to the drinks. Seriously, if uou are going to Budapest, you have to go to this. When we docked, we all headed over to a pub to continue, but then two guys that worked at another hostel got into a fight, so we decided to go to Instant, a ruin bar and then Retox, a hostel bar. I somehow led myself plus a couple of other people back and we all crashed.

Day 2
I woke up the next morning, not feeling like complete crap, so that was a good sign. A few of us decided to check out some of the sights and went to Margathe Island and walked around the entirety of the park. After, we headed down to Central Market by walking there. Unfortunately, it was already closed on Saturday by 4pm. We then walked through the main shopping area, just in awe of everything. We ended up getting langosh, a local favorite of basically fried dough adorned with any sort of topping, but the main fare is sour cream, cheese, bacon, onions. I settled on the langosh with garlic sauce, sour cream and cheese. And they call Americans fat…psh. It’s not like we invented this stuff. Well, I did eat the whole thing (a bargain at 450 HUF) and felt so sick afterwards. No dinner for me. After a quick rest, we all started getting ready for Sparty. A spa party (get it?!) at the Lukas spa on Buda. We started drinking early since we didn’t want to pay for drinks at the spa and by the time we arrived, I was feeling pretty good. And that’s the last I remember. I changed, got into the thermal bath and the heat + alcohol made it very impossible to remember anything. I wound up waking up the next morning feeling like shit and wondering what happened. I did make it back to the hostel, alone, and threw up. Whoops. Lesson learned.

Day 3
Due to Sparty, I did absolutely nothing besides lay in bed, make food for my pathetic soul and watch movies. Sparty destroyed me. We did have a big Sunday roast for dinner as a family, and I can. Finally say that I like chicken thigh. Yay, little breakthroughs!

Day 4
Finally feeling myself again, I decided to headed with Tasha and Kathy to The Cat Cafe, which is even better than it sounds. There are really cats there for you to play with while you eat and drink. I had so much teasing them and watching them laze about. Most of them were medium or long hair, so I definitely took my allergy pill before I left. After finishing our treats, we found an American/British candy store and reminisced about all the things that Tasha and I were missing about home. I was really close to buying some yellow mustard. But feeling that I needed to do some more historical inquiries into the city, a big group of us braved the cold and rain to do the Jewish walking tour throughout the Jewish ghetto. We did stop for some kosher pastries. I had 7-layer cake. Delish, let me tell you and a steal at only 450 HUF. After our adventure, we stopped for some real hot chocolate, but I opted out since I wasn’t in the mood. Weird, I know. We went back to the hostel to see if we could regain feeling in our fingers, ate some dinner and got ready to go out for karaoke night at Morrison’s! We had a few drinks there (you pay to get in for 500 HUF, but it includes 3 beers in the price) and I got to sing “No Scrubs” with Kathy and “Hotel California” with Brian and majority of the bar. I had enough and called it quits around 1:30am so I could get up and go to the baths in the morning.

Day 5
Today was the day that I was going to pamper myself. I had researched all of the spas and knew that I wanted to get a massage along with it. I picked Kiràly, a small, local bath on Buda. It was everything i hoped for and more. There were quite a few old, fat Hungarian men in speedos. My favorite. Tasha and Kathy went along and we soaked in the 36 degree bath and Tash and I got massages later in the afternoon. The massage was both amazing and weird. She wanted me to get undressed and lay upwards facing her. I was waiting for her to exit the area to allow me to do so, but she just waited and clicked her tongue at me. So I obliged and undressed in front of her. If she wants to see it, then she’ll see it. The massage was incredible, definitely what I needed after carrying my pack around for the past 3 months. All for the bargain basement price of 5700 HUF or about $25. I seriously never wanted to leave this place.
Tasha and I were starving after the spa, so we stopped for our 250 HUF slice of pizza and made our way back to the hostel, so I could shower all the nasty old men off me. After regaining our strength, we set out in search of this delicious Hungarian food that some our friends, Kat and Kaaren had had the previous day. Without knowing the name or specific directions, we were SOL and settled in at Kiado for some goulash. It was so good and warm, but I could have eaten 2 bowls of it even with the huge slices of bread that accompanied it. I am American after all. And that’s exactly what I told the hostel people when I got back. They need to stop telling Americans that it is a big bowl of soup. It’s quite average, if not on the smaller side. They laughed at me. Wah, I was still hungry. I decided that after a relaxing and detoxifying day that I needed to give my body, and more specifically, my liver, a rest.

Day 6
My last full day in Budapest, I couldn’t believe it. I lazed about for a good portion of morning before a big group of us went and did our much needed laundry. The laundromat was really nice because you dropped it off and picked it up when it was ready. No need to sit and wait. We went for some food and relaxed back at hostel until it was time. And since it was my last night, we knew it was go big or go home, so we all went out for the 90’s night at Lost in Budapest. Having absolutely nothing remotely 90’s with me, we went to some thrift shops in search of the right look, where I purchased a fantastic Fresh Prince jacket that was wayyyyy too big on me. I made a switch with Brian who had on a smaller horse pattern jacket. I called my look “New York Jew from 1993″, which was completed with big, huge curls thanks to Kaaren. We danced, listened to times of my youth (ha!) and just had a generally awesome time. We then made our way to Instant when the bar closed where air lost some money and decided that it was time to leave. Epic last night for sure!

Dubrovnik :: Pearl of the Adriatic

I was in Dubrovnik from Nov 11-13, for a time reference. I am catching up a bit, sorry this is all so late!

Day 1
We arrived later than originally anticipated, but we went in search of food in the old town, only to discover prices were WAY above any of our budgets. We settled on a place outside of the city walls that was mediocre at best. I had some fries, just to satiate the hunger and made myself soup when we returned to the hostel. We hung out, got to know one another and called it a night, but not before some cheap boxed wine and ice cream. By the way, Dubrovnik is teeming with stray cats, so if you the garbage bag and see it moving, those would be the scavengers. I thought about stealing one of the smaller ones, but they don’t let you get close enough.

Day 2
The weather was absolutely terrible, so Alex and I decided to walk to the bus station so we could book tickets to our respective places. I booked a night bus from Dubrovnik to Zagreb for 204 HRK, where I could catch a train to Budapest. It hurt the bank, for sure. Plus, additional luggage is not included, so when you get to the bus, you have to fork over an additional 8 HRK. After my griping, we went to the grocery store for some food and walked back the almost 2.5km, chatting and taking in the sights. We returned back to the hostel, hung around a it thanks to a downpour and waited for Matt to get back to figure out what we were doing that night. I cooked myself some dinner, met some new people in the hostel, and from there, we all went out to this pub, where everyone shared in the 99 HRK 3L beer tap. I chose to have a few shots of rakija, the local distiller brandy and it was delicious. So many different favors, but I had settled on cherry and honey. We had an incredible time, but I knew I wanted to get some things done the next day, so around 1am, I left and headed back to the hostel. I wound up getting into a good book and when everyone else came back at 3, I finally went to sleep.

Day 3
The next day, Alex, Jacqui and I went up and climbed the city walls. It’s a bit expensive at 90 HRK a person, but it’s the #1 attraction there and definitely worth it.

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As you can see, just breathtaking. As we were walking along the walls, we stopped to take some photos and wound up seeing a family down below. The little boy was running around, up and down the rocks stark naked and the father was doing some sort of sexual yoga and stretching, all while the mother looked on. We just could not stop watching this scene unfolding. It was absolutely hilarious and at one point, we laughed so loud that the wife pointed up to her husband to let him know that he had an audience. After walking around for a couple of hours and our little show, we descended and wound up walking around the harbor area to see about getting gelato and some better photos of the ocean. We all got soaking wet thanks to high tide and wound up running into Matt, who had just woken up. We found a really cool church and set our sits on one of the cliff bars. We found one, took some amazing photos and made our way through alleys back to the old town main area. We wanted to get to the fort, but on our way there, we wound up finding some sort of filming crew. I asked what it was for and apparently it was for a Croatian soap and they were setting up and waiting for dark. Excited, we went back to the hostel to relax, and then with a huge group of people, we went back and watched them film. It was incredible.

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After it was over, we headed to the grocery store, me for snacks, and everyone else for food to make for dinner. We all made some different food and shared a bit of it, but after all of that excitement, I had to catch the bus to make my other bus.
That bus ride was very interesting. I slept for an hour, stopping for passport checks in Bosnia and Herzegovina, and again in Croatia 10 minutes later. Then, in the middle of the night, we met up with another bus, where they shuttled everyone over to that one. Of course, the one person that was snoring was an old man, and he had to sit directly behind me. I tried to get some sleep with all of the frequent stops and lights, but I ended up with very little.

Split :: Can’t Break Up

I thought I would be taking the train to Split, however, since there is construction on the rail line, I had to take the bus instead. I was able to get on for free since I had the Eurail pass, but normally, I believe it costs about 95 or 100 kuna. I’m usually pretty carsick, but I was able to read pretty much the entirety of the bus ride, which was nice. I arrived very confused in Split because a) I was really into a good book and b) I thought I saw a sign that said Zadar. Whoops. As I descended down the steps of the bus, I was immediately accosted by several women offering accommodation. I told them no several times, but they didn’t seem to get the message. I eventually was able to pull out the directions and find my hostel. I made myself some dinner and settled in for the night.

Day 1
I had met some nice people in the hostel the night before and we decided to go to the island of Brač off the coast. We hopped on the 9:30am ferry and arrived to the island about an hour later. After getting a map at the tourist office, we decided to walk along the coast to an old Roman quarry called Hercules. We explored around a bit, walking over 13km before starting to head back to make the 6pm ferry. While walking along the side of the road, this nice young couple who had been on the ferry with us picked us up and drove us all the way back to the ferry terminal. It was my first hitch hiking experience! Plus, we made it back in time for the 3:30pm ferry, which meant we could catch the sunset from the shore. It was nice to just have a relaxing day without too much to do. A return ticket costs 58 HRK, making it totally worth the trip.

Day 2
I did almost nothing on this day besides look into where to book my next destination. I did go out for a few walks to see the harbor. After some time, two of my new friends and I went out for dinner at Fife, the local place at everyone recommends for traditional Croatian cooking. I ordered the lamb with peas and mashed potatoes. The potatoes were literally just mashed potatoes without any butter, milk, salt, anything. The lamb was incredible, including the sauce it came in. Definitely a good choice. After dinner, we walked around and made plans to go out for the evening. We drank a little in the hostel and then made our way to the pubs, where we wound up having fishy-smelling glasses and moved onto Charlie’s, a travelers’ bar. We had some cheap drinks and met up with other friends. I met this guy with a awesome mustache, and yes, I took a pitot with him. Some people headed home, but I decided to head out with a few people to a club that opens at 1am. We headed out, danced a bit, and then I decided it was time to leave.

Day 3
After nursing a small hangover and deciding that it was wise to takes breather, I decided to book another night to give some time to soak up a bit of the city. For most of the day, I hung around, made myself lunch, went to the grocery store and wandered around the city before taking a nice nighttime walk around the city with a friend.

Day 4
I decided to actually go ahead and do something on my last full day in Split, so I went on the free walking tour in the morning of Diocletian’s Palace. From the outside and even the parts I had been in, it didn’t seem that large, but his tour guide was incredible and took us through a huge part of the complex that I had never even seen. Plus, we were graced with some fantastic traditional a cappella folk Croatian music. Granted, they were selling CDs, but it was nice to just hear the songs. After the tour wrapped up, I decided to take a short walk to the lookout point of the city and it was well worth the 400 steps or so up. Starving at this point, I went in search of food, looking at the Green Market full of fresh fruits and veggies and decided to get a small sandwich at the bakery instead.

Day 5
After much deliberation with myself, I decided to head down to Dubrovnik, a city that I had been dying to see since I heard about it almost 5 years ago. It was a decision between there and Romania. I went to the bus station and booked my ticket for 12:30pm, and ran to the grocery store for some bus snacks. Due to some weather conditions, the bus was running an hour late and we didn’t even arrive in Dubrovnik until 2 hours after promised. On the bus ride, I met Matt and Alexandra, and we found out we were staying in the same place, so we just sat and chatted almost the entire way, trying to forget about the sharp curves and the speed at which the driver was taking them, as well as his liberal application of the brakes at inappropriate times.

Zagreb + Plitvice Lakes :: Dreams Do Come True

I was in Zagreb/Plitvice from Nov 5-7.

Day 1
I was finally going to the place that I had dreamed about since studying abroad 4, almost 5 years ago. Tammy, Tina and I woke up early to begin our 8 hour trek to Zagreb by taking a nice walk to the train station. We hopped on the train, them in 1st class and me in 2nd class (thanks, Eurail…) and I was just amazed at the foggy, rainy, mountain scenery at we passed. At one point, we were in the clouds since they were so low. And snow couldn’t have been more than 200m above our heads. We had to switch trains at one of the last villages in Austria so we could make way through Slovenia into Croatia. I even got 2 new stamps in my passport! (one from Slovenia saying I left the Schengen area and one from Croatia since they aren’t part of it…yet) I love how full my passport is getting :) we arrived to Zagreb around 5pm and since we were at the same hostel, Hostel Shappy (I booked the same as them), we made our way and walked over into the downtown area. As I’ve said before, travel really takes it out of ya, so we were pretty wiped by the time we got there. Luckily, the place was super clean and pretty empty which was welcoming. We went to the local grocery store and bought some food for dinner and lunch the next day. We also made arrangements for a minibus to pick us up to take us out to Plitvice Lakes so we didn’t have to worry with bus schedules. We called it a night since we had a big day the following day.

Plitvice Day
Hold on while I let this out….AAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH! I was so flipping excited to go to the lakes that I barely got any sleep the night before. The bus driver picked us up at 9am and we made the 2.5 hour journey out there, stopping at this incredible small village full of waterfalls. We arrived around 11:45am and the driver was going to be leaving at 4pm, which basically gave us 4 hours in the park. We all wanted to do a bit of a walk, so once we had purchased our tickets, we started walking on the upper rim of the waterfalls and around the lakes. We made it all the way up to the beginning of the upper lakes before heading back down and to the ferry that would take us across to thee other side of the rim (we would have hiked, but we were pressed for time). We made our way through the waters and to some great scenic points before coming upon the Big Waterfall (yes, that is its real name) where we stood in awe of how incredible it was. Unfortunately, we had to skedaddle to make the bus back to Zagreb, but I got some amazing photos of it all.

After our return, Tina was pretty exhausted, so we hung out back at the hostel while Tammy and I headed out to this wine festival that we had been told about. We arrived to the big tent and hung out, listened to traditional Croatian folk music and sipped on our hot wine. We walked around to find some food and wound up getting huge things of curly fries for dinner. Wine + fries = diet of champions. Since they would be leaving early in the morning for Munich, we went back and fell asleep.

Day 3
I woke up to an empty room, which was nice, but strange. I checked out and decided to get a better look at Zagreb before I left at 12:45pm. I went to the church and checked out the main square before grabbing my stuff and heading to the train station to catch my..bus. Yeah, the rail track is under construction, so we had to take a direct bus to Split. Ha! I split for Split. The bus ride was quiet, so I was able to get a few things done including reading an entire book and figuring out my remaining time in Europe.

Cost Recap :: Austria

I stayed a total of 5 days and 4 nights in Austria, and have broken down my costs thusly:

Innsbruck
€24 :: Accommodation
€5.9 :: Food + Drink
€19.50 :: Activities
———————-
€49.40

Since I spent 2 days (really, only 1 day exploring), this equals out to be about €24.70 a day or $33.45 a day.

Salzburg
€60.45 :: Accommodation
€24 :: Food + Drink
€4 :: Incidentals
———————-
€88.45

Spending 3 days and 3 nights there, that equals out to be €29.48 or roughly $39.80 a day.

Not too bad, but considering I didn’t do many of the things I wanted to do thanks to the weather, I didn’t break the bank.

Salzburg :: The Hills are Alive…

Sorry for the late posts, I’ve been really living it up here for the past month. I stayed in Salzburg from Nov 2-5,for your frame of reference dear reader.

Day 1
I arrived to Salzburg after a shirt 2 hour train ride. Trying to gain my bearing, the only directions provided to me were to take the bus to the hostel, so I hopped on one not really having any idea of where I was going because it had started getting dark around 5pm. Whenever I take public transport, I’m always convinced that I’ve made a mistake, that I’m going the wrong direction or I’m going to be stranded somewhere, especially when it takes too long. But luckily, the stop that was promised arrived and I checked in to the hostel. Talking to the receptionist, I found out that everything is closed on Sundays and the grocery store is only open for another 30 minutes. I dashed across the road and picked up some of the essentials for food. Only €13 too!

I returned to the hostel, made myself a quick dinner and set in for an early night. However, I wound up meeting these really awesome girls from Boston, Tammy and Tina, and we hung out for a good chunk of the night and had made a plan to see things in the morning.

Day 2
We woke and got ready for our adventure. However, the weather disagreed with us and decided to pour down buckets as we were walking. We made it to Mirabelle Platz (the gardens where they sing Do-Ray-Me in the film) and promptly headed back due to the fact that we were soaked to the bone. After changing and relaxing for a few hours, the rain finally let up and we went to explore the fortress, Hohensalzburg Fortress, and take some incredible pictures of the sunset. After our exhausting, cold day, there is nothing better than warm Austrian food. Seeing as this was Sunday, during a holiday weekend, in Europe, our choices were limited. Thankfully, the hostel gave us a great recommendation of a place nearby, Ürban Keller where I got Austrian cheese dumplings and a salad, all for less than €10. I say that is a sweet deal. Well, after our failed attempts of trying to find the filming locations for The Sound of Music, we ended the night with a free showing at our hostel. It was awesome and the perfect end to the evening.

Day 3
Needing some bit of rest and relaxation, I stayed in for the morning while Tammy and Tina went to do some hiking. After pulling myself out of bed, I went and tried to check out the rest of the filming locations. Since this was a Monday in Europe, it means that even less is open than on Sundays. I was able to see the Nunnenberg Abbey, where the real Maria stayed, walked through many squares where they sang, tried to go to the concert hall, but that was closed and finished out my day checking out some Mozart locations. I headed back to the hostel and found Tammy, so we ventured to the grocery store to get some food and do a bit of a potluck that night. We all had to get up early to pack and hit the train, so we hung out and just chatted nonstop.

Innsbruck :: Austria was a Good Idea

After getting into Milan, I had no plans really of where I was going. I had planned on going to Venice for a couple days, but with nowhere to stay due to a state holiday, I just kept riding the trains to where it sounded good. I took a train to Verona and then just kept going all the way up to Innsbruck. As soon as I got off the train, I knew I made a good choice. I went to the tourist info center to see if there was any available accommodation. This was a very exhilarating and scary moment for me since this was the first time I rolled into a town without a plan or place to stay. But just my luck, there was a hostel that had room for the night. I walked over to the hostel through the main square and town which was bustling with people celebrating the holiday. The hostel was perfect. Quiet, comfortable and came with a nice bathroom, kitchen and free breakfast in the morning. Since I was exhausted from my long 17.5 hour journey and I was alone, I relaxed, watched movies and only ventured out to grab something to make for dinner. It was amazing.

The next day, I wanted to check out a few sites of the town. So, trying very hard to not spend a ton of money, I peeked into some churches, checked out the palace, the Golden Roof (the main attraction in Innsbruck) and Swarovski museum