Czech Your First Impressions

The beautiful thing about Europe is that every country is so uniquely different.

I am was just in Prague, Czech Republic, for my first time last week. Two of my friends and I were in Europe together for our other friend’s wedding, and we decided to travel to a few places we have never been, before making our way to Innsbruck, Austria, where our bride-to-be lives.

I have never been more east in Europe than Munich, Germany, and as we rode the train from there to Prague, I noticed how much more “grey” it seemed to get. Not only am I talking about the weather, but I’m also talking about the feeling I got from the culture and atmosphere. People looked a little less friendly, teenagers and young adults had that punk rebel look, and the architecture/buildings were very dark, old and medieval looking. Obviously, this was only my first impression (on the train too) so I wanted to keep an open mind when I actually got into the city and was able to experience a little more of this Eastern European culture.

IMG_6937

 

IMG_6933

 

IMG_6938

Let’s just say my mind was blown. To begin with, the city is absolutely beautiful. The way it sits along the river reminded me a lot of both Paris and Florence. To get a better view of the city we walked up to the lookout point at the top of a hill. The view from up there was unreal. All the buildings seemed to have the burgundy roofs. You could also see the beautiful Prague castle, Charles bridge, and some other very dark, but architecturally breathtaking buildings.

My first impression of the people was somewhat accurate. They were some who were a little cold at first and had little patience. But most of them were very friendly and willing to help, especially when they found out we were from California. The other thing that I found fascinating about Prague was that it is one of the cities with the most amount of expats (people who are living in a foreign country) in the world. I almost felt like there were more expats than actual Czechs living in Prague. I looked up the reasoning behind this and the cost of living in Prague is very reasonable, especially for students and young adults. I wouldn’t mind studying there!

The food was also great. I had a traditional sausage dish that was very good, but my favorite dish I had was goulash. The meat was so tender, and the sauce had so much flavor in every bite. It also had a nice kick to it! I love me some spicy food.

IMG_6530

Overall, I came in thinking one thing about Prague, and after only 2 days, my first impression completely changed. A beautiful, multi-cultural city with so much history behind it. So… When can I go back?

A Paris Memory

Of all the places I have been to in the world, Paris is by far my favorite.

Picture this…

As you’re window shopping making your way down Champs-Elysees you find yourself walking through the beautiful Tuileries Garden. You stop to get a baguette at a little stand, and you look up to see the Louvre right in front of you. After admiring its beautiful structure, you keep walking and cross a bridge and see the sun setting perfectly behind Notre Dame. The sun sets and the first Eiffel tower light show of the night can be seen above the tall buildings around you. You follow the lights and turn a corner only to be presented with this picturesque moment:

IMG_4241

I was lying on the ground here to capture the Eiffel Tower in all its beauty, Paris, France. 

You proceed to walk underneath the tower and take a moment to appreciate the architecture of this true work of art.

IMG_4266

Stunning if I don’t say so myself, Paris, France.

A new day turns and the sun shines bright through your window. A day to the top of the Eiffel Tower is a must. After waiting in an hour+ line you finally start making your way up the 600 steps, along with one last lift ride to get you on top of the world. A deep breath in, a long exhale out. Fascinating.

IMG_4341

Stopping at step #400 to take a birds-eye view in the Eiffel Tower, Paris, France.

One of my favorite memories in Paris was engulfing myself in what I had heard about and seen in photos so many times in my life: The Eiffel Tower. Being able to witness it, in person, both underneath and above, is a huge check off my bucket list. Just like life, perspective is everything, I love seeing the world from all of its angles, even if it’s taking a photo lying on the dirty ground.

Literally every corner you turn in Paris you see something even more amazing than what you just witnessed. If you ever go there, give yourself at least a week to be able to see everything this city has to offer.

First Trip To Europe: Advice Part I

My first trip to Europe was with my two best friends when I was 17 years old. The trip was a high school graduation gift from my parents, but the only way all of our parents would allow us go on the trip at that age was if we went with an organized tour group. At that age I remember being quite the snotty teenager and complaining that going with a tour group was super “uncool.” No compromising there. Regardless of the tour group, the trip was one of the best experiences of my life.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Scenic bus stop on the way to Naples, Italy. 

Especially if you’re on the younger side and going to a foreign place for the first time, a tour group is a safe idea and a reasonably priced vacation package. My two best friends and I flew into Italy, and the bus tour took us to the major attractions in a few Southern Italy cities such as Rome, Naples, and Sorrento. We then took a ferry to Athens, Greece, and after a couple days there hopped on a cruise ship through the Greek Islands. I HIGHLY recommend going to both Southern Italy and Greece if you ever get a chance.

n10911940_32158061_9144

Octopi doing the Can-can dance, Mykonos, Greece.

Being the know-it-all teenagers that we were, we had a tendency to overlook the tour group itinerary and tried to plan our own getaways. That presented some problems for us in a few different instances (i.e. almost missing the bus, getting lost, etc.) So with that said, be sure to follow the itinerary. Otherwise, you may end up getting stuck in a foreign country (then again, what’s so bad with that?!)

One last piece of advice to end this post: eat, drink, and make unforgettable memories! Kind of hard not to do that…but seriously, eat and drink a lot. One man in our tour group was your stereotypical Texan; he wore his cowboy hat everywhere he went. Every night that we ate together as a group he would come over to our table and in a very thick Texas accent ask us, “Ya’ll want a White Russian?!” Although that drink wasn’t Italian or Greek,  I tried it just for the hell of it. Let’s just say it was a one-and-done type of drink for me.

Food is such a huge part of any culture, so immerse yourself in it by eating the native foods/dishes. Even being the 17-year-old picky eater I was, I made myself try new things, and ended up loving pretty much everything!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Left to right: Emilie, Rachael and Me. Homemade (right in front of us!) mozzarella tasting, Sorrento, Italy. 

Now when you’re thinking about what unforgettable memory to make, maybe jet skiing in the mediterranean sea (which we did) or drinking wine at the steps of the coliseum in Rome (which we also did) is a better idea than getting a tattoo (I guess I had to keep one-uping myself). Hey, at least it’s a story I can tell the rest of my life…

n10911940_32158040_8117

Right after I got a tattoo of the Greek symbol for eternity, Rhodes, Greece.