I’m excited to finally be sitting down to write about Copenhagen, even if it is five months later. When people ask me my favorite place I went, I always say, besides Budapest (which of course I am biased about because I spent the longest time there), it was Copenhagen.
It was one of the only cities I could picture myself actually living in, if it wasn’t for the lack of daylight in the winter and the outrageous prices. But I’m from the Midwest, so I’m used to dark winters, and if I made a salary in Danish krone, then I think I could make it work.
Our outstandingly comfortable Ryan Air flight (hint – sarcasm) landed around 5pm, so our first day in the city was short. We took public transit from the airport to our hostel; the trains in Copenhagen are very clean and they have nifty headphone ports built in for you to listen to the radio, albeit with a lot of static.
If you’re traveling to Copenhagen though, I don’t recommend relying on public transit. You have to specify when buying your ticket which station you are getting off at and tickets are very infrequently checked by patrolling workers, which leaves you with the moral dilemma of paying for a $5 ticket or risking it in the hope that yours won’t get checked. It’s also just inconvenient – there aren’t enough stops to make it easy to get around the whole city. But while I was there, they were building new stations, so I think the city knows it has room to improve in that department. We found it quickest and easiest to bike, although it’s a little difficult when you have to stop and pull out your phone for directions frequently. So most of the time we walked. A lot.
When living in a new country, it’s probably best not to see only one city. Following the advice of my father to go somewhere in Hungary besides Budapest, a few friends and I took a day trip to Eger in early October.
I wasn’t going to blog about Eger at first, but then I thought, small towns deserve as much recognition as big cities! Why not tell you all about somewhere you’ve most likely never heard of? So here’s a short post about the cute little town of Eger, Hungary!
Eger can be reached by a two-hour train ride from Budapest. The best advice I can give about Eger is just to stroll around and take your time. It’s not a very big town, however it is quite charming. There are a few pretty churches, a nice main square, cute restaurants, a castle, and best of all, Szépasszonyvölgy, or more commonly known among tourists as the Valley of Beautiful Women.
If you’ve been following my blog, you may have noticed that it’s been a while since I’ve posted about a trip. My first excuse was midterms, but those have long come and gone. In fact, finals start in two weeks. My current excuse is life, which isn’t really an excuse. However, a trip almost every weekend with classes, homework, and laundry to fit in between each trip is exhausting and all I want to do during my limited free time is watch Netflix and sleep.
But I finally decided – no more excuses! If this blog is going to be consistent, I have to make time for it in my life, no matter how busy it is. A few minutes ago, I hesitated between clicking the next Gossip Girl episode or finally starting this blog post. It’s not that I don’t enjoy blogging at all; I do enjoy writing this blog quite a lot. But I decided that it’s time for a new post format.
Rather than go through each detail of my trip, I’ve decided to just play you the highlight reel. The length of my past posts made me put off writing this one, which is not something I want to feel about my blog. Now with the excuses out of the way, let’s talk about Kraków!
I left for Kraków on October 22nd… yeah I’m a month behind on posts. But I am determined to catch up! Anyways, my friend Margaret and I took the 10-hour overnight train from Budapest to Kraków, which was not that bad because we got beds and slept the whole time.
Right when we arrived we walked through the park surrounding the city center, which made a great first impression. People were running, biking, walking their dogs, and taking their kids to school. The foliage was full of beautiful yellows, reds, and oranges. Definitely take time to just walk around the city through the park, especially if you visit Kraków in the fall.
Vienna is my kind of city – palaces, fancy cafés, beautiful architecture, and an appreciation for coffee. Plus, Austrians like their desserts as much as I do. Excuse my language, but Vienna makes you feel like one classy-ass-motherfucker. Great vibes made for a great weekend.
On Friday morning, my friends Derek, Molly, and I hopped on the bus for a three hour ride from Budapest to Vienna. After flights and overnight buses for previous trips, a short bus ride was very welcome. We arrived around 10:30am and walked about 20 minutes to our hostel to drop off our bags and buy metro passes for the weekend. We each bought a “Vienna Card” because it was only a few more dollars than a metro pass and included the metro as well as other discounts to museums and restaurants around the city. Don’t buy this if you are a student. At every single place where the Vienna card gives a discount the student discount is either the same or better. It was only a few extra dollars though and we learned our lesson to research before we buy anything like that in the future.
From there we took the metro to the Naschmarkt, which is an outdoor market. It was raining but we still wandered around. We kept seeing a certain pastry at many of the stalls so each of us decided to try one. I can’t remember the name of it or seem to find on Google, but there were a few different fillings; poppy seed and walnut seemed to be the most traditional, but there was also sour cherry cheesecake, apple, and apricot. I tried the cherry and it was pretty good! We needed a little more nourishment than a pastry provided though so we found a restaurant for brunch. After some eggs and coffee, we started wandering the city.
We looked at the Secession, which is a beautiful art nouveau building. From there we saw the St. Charles church (Karlskirche), where we impulsively decided to buy a cheap ticket to go inside, which was totally worth it. The church is beautiful and there is a lift up to the dome where you are just a few feet from stunning frescoes and can get a great view of the city. One thing I love about Vienna is that you can literally just walk around and find something cool to see or do. You could spend the whole day walking without a plan and have a great day.
Last Sunday night I arrived back at my dorm tired and exhausted, both physically and mentally. I definitely didn’t feel like a million bucks, but I had just gotten back from a weekend in Italy with views, people, food, and experiences worth more than a million bucks.
Thursday morning we awoke at 4:15 to make our 7:00 flight from Budapest to the Rome Fiumicino Airport. I traveled with my friends Molly, Margaret, and Solveiga, who all live on my floor and go to DePaul as well. After sleeping most of the hour and a half long flight, we landed in Rome at 8:30. The adventures began when we split a cab to Termini station; the cab driver weaved in and out of traffic quite dangerously (which I’ve come to expect of all European cab drivers at this point), tried to point out landmarks to us in very broken English and mostly Italian (which none of us speak), and literally exclaimed “Mama Mia!” several times. The cab ride ended at the Termini train station where we dropped off our carry-on bags so we wouldn’t have to bring them around all day. By this point it was 10:30 and we were starving, so we tracked down a paper map and set off to find some food.
After some mediocre sandwiches at the first food place we could find, we ventured towards the Colosseum. We took in the beauty and fascinating history of the Colosseum and the Forum, then walked to the Victor Emmanuel monument, which is very grand and regal. On the way to more monuments, we stopped for some gelato, which I proceeded to spill all over my hands and onto my white shirt… typical. However, the stop was not in vain because we found ruins that operate as a cat sanctuary, much to Molly’s delight. After petting some cats we walked to the Pantheon, which was probably my favorite monument just because it is such a marvelous building. On the way to the Trevi Fountain, Molly and I stumbled upon the Church of St. Ignatius; the ceiling fresco is definitely worth the visit if you are ever in Rome. From there we found our way to the Trevi Fountain, which was disappointingly under construction. The fountain is very beautiful, but the water effects weren’t operating. I still threw a coin into the small area they left for coin tossing because apparently doing so means you will return to Rome one day.
As you can guess from the title of this, I’ve arrived in Budapest! I’m studying abroad at Corvinus University and will be here until December 20th. It’s been a busy whirlwind so far and I haven’t had much time to sit down and write. I can’t believe I’ve been here a week already!
I arrived to the Budapest airport last Monday afternoon. The university assigns us each a tandem partner, who is a local student that helps us assimilate and get to know the area. I took a cab with my tandem partner and another DePaul student to the dorm. My dorm is on Ráday Utca (utca = street), which is one of the best streets to find some great cheap food on the Pest side of the Danube River. It is a very convenient street to live on when you get hungry.
Minnesotans are very prideful people. We love our lakes, Bob Dylan, Prince, and our generally awful sports teams. But we especially love our state fair. Don’t you Iowans dare tell us that your fair is better. Even Wisconsin natives know that their fair sucks and readily admit to it. The Minnesota state fair reigns supreme over all others except maybe Texas, which I’ve heard has a pretty bangin’ fair too. But they are far enough away that they aren’t too much of a threat. As they say, everything’s bigger in Texas.
Some people go for the rides, others for the animals, but most go for the food. I personally go primarily for the food, people watching, and riding the giant slide. The sky ride is pretty fun too if you’ve got time.
I went on the opening day this year with my brother Gus, which sadly is the only time I will make it this year. I would go several times if I could, but for the sake of my waistline and my wallet I usually stick to twice at most.
I stumbled upon a New York Times article about longevity recently, and I wanted to share a quick excerpt with you all.
In the article, the author spends a day with longevity expert Dan Buettner, author of The Blue Zones. In a very brief synopsis, The Blue Zones basically studies several areas of the world where people tend to live the longest. I bought the book after reading the New York Times article and I’m currently only a few chapters in, however it seems like sensible advice so far and I look forward to reading the rest of the book. Here is the excerpt I particularly liked:
…in longevity idylls like Icaria, it’s not just about what you eat, but how you eat, and how much you and your friends enjoy a meal together.
“Dan, do any of the Blue Zones people eat kale salad?” Mr. Solomon asked.
“No,” Mr. Buettner replied. “They eat food that they enjoy.”
You don’t need to know where Icaria is or who Mr. Solomon is to understand the point of this quote. I, like many, often get distracted by new health foods and fads that claim to be healthier than the last. However, one thing that I never forget is that food is to be enjoyed. I truly believe that food is one of the greatest sources of joy in life. Other than a game of poker, not much else brings a group of people to sit down at a table together for leisure purposes. I love sitting down to a meal with my family or friends, enjoying each other’s company while absorbing the unique flavors of the food.
I don’t plan on going into this much more because I think the quote speaks for itself. It’s a reminder for me as much as anyone else. Bottom line: eat with your friends and family, eat food that tastes good, and don’t force kale down your throat if you don’t like it.