Don't Call the Embassy Quite Yet

apparently Wolfgang is legit. I am safe and sound in Budapest.

Also, you should know I missed one of my connecting trains on the way to meet Wolfgang. It was in another city and I was absolutely lost. I had to ask someone where my train was, and they helped me find it...right as the clock struck departure time.
It was just like a film - where the person ends up running madly after the train right as it's pulling away...

Yeah, I did that. And then when it didn't stop for me [!!], I broke out into hysterical sobs right there in the middle of the train platform. The girl on the platform across from me gave me one of the most disgusted sneers I have ever received to date.

Well, good for you, girl. Apparently you are better at catching trains than I am.

But Wolfgang waited for me, and now I am in Budapest, and it looks super cool. Except for my roommates are asleep. Pfft.

Excited to be here =)



My Life is Just So Complicated, You Wouldn't Really Understand

wow. It took me about five tries to put the apostrophe in the right place when typing out the word "Wouldn't". Contractions are really challenging sometimes, I think.

After copious amounts of complications and indecision, I have finally decided to go to Budapest this weekend. Partially because Eastern Europe is wicked cheap [coming from Munich], partially because who goes to Hungary?? Now that I've been to Prague, I'm kind of digging the Eastern European vibe...it's kind of different.

I am catching a ride using one of those travel along websites, where you pay someone to let you ride along. Like hitchhiking, but it costs money. Only the guy I planned on riding with has a meeting tomorrow, so he needs to meet him in a town an hour away. To be fair, he did give me the train info, but also to be fair, I don't want to pay the extra 20 euros. But to be fair again, he did agree to drop me directly off at my hostel because I am scared to walk alone at night in Budapest and accidentally end up being enslaved in the red light district or something. So....I guess avoiding indentured servitude in Budapest's underbelly is worth an extra twenty euros [not that that stopped me from asking if I could get a discount on the original price...I hope my mom is proud of me right now].

Also, my ride has an Audi. People with Audi's are legit, right? Right. I think that's the way it works. I'm riding back with this guy on Sunday as well.

Just so we're clear...if you Amis don't hear from me on my blog by...say...8:00 on Sunday evening your time, please feel free to be slightly concerned and call the embassy [is that what you do when traveling goes awry?]. I'm riding with a guy named Wolfgang in an Audi A5, I think.

That's right...Wolfgang had better not try any funny business. I just posted this on my blog. Which a lot of people read.

Anyways, I haven't really decided what to do in Budapest. After hours of painful agonizing, I finally picked one of the last hostels with remaining rooms. And get this...I'm staying in a shared room :|
I am a little nervous about my first lone hosteling experience, but I figure it'll be good to get to know some other people, and maybe get some more ideas about what to do in the two cities of Buda and Pest [you didn't know Budapest was actually two cities, did you??].

There's a free walking tour [on it], thermal spas, an incredible market with lots of fresh foods for lunch, and this island where you can rent a bike and travel around and stuff.
Maybe I'll actually be able to ride a bike as if I have full control over my limbs. That'd be nice...

My very first margarita. Tequila is something else... I think I'll stick to my fruity daiquiris. Light on the daiquiri. In other words, a fruit smoothie.
After a long day at work, we went out for Mexican food. Germexican food. It was fairly delicious. But then we began to talk about all the American foods we miss. Namely barbecue. (Vinegar based, n00bs).

This has been long and rambly, so...I would apologize, but it's kind of on par for my posts, I think.

And remember, if you Amuricans don't hear from me by 8:00 on Sunday, do the Amurican thing and phone it in! We're watching you, Wolfgang....



Alles Gute!

Happy Birthday 
to a very special kid.

It is very difficult to find a picture of my brother with his shirt on. Unnecessarily difficult.
Also, I still look this in shape.
Even though I ate a bag of Haribo for dinner.

His name is Jarrett, but I've always called him Hairrete. I started to search for that on Facebook today....apparently Jarrett doesn't go by the name "Hairrete" on the web. Odd.

1. He is way taller than I am
2. He once was so tired that he came home and tinkled in the dryer (to be fair, he was like, 8)
3. A ton of the music on his iPod is movie scores. I don't get it.
4. He doesn't wear shirts in, say, 97% of his photos
5. Once, when we went on a cruise, he ordered a steak at dinner every day

Anyways, Happy Birthday, Broseph. I hope you are having a wonderful birthday and are doing things that won't tarnish the family name too badly.


My Praguers Understand Me

10 points if you know who said the title...

My first hour in Prague did not bode well, as you might have already read. As it turns out, my hotel was in a much more quiet and deserted area than the rest of the city...when I arrived, it was already dusk, everything was silent, and I saw one lone man limping towards me from afar.

It was a little eerie, and I thought to myself that that is probably what a zombie apocalypse looks like. Do normal people think thoughts like that?

BUT. On Saturday I went on Sandeman's Free New Europe Tour of Prague. The premise behind the free tour is that everyone should be able to enjoy a well-done tour regardless of his or her budget, and I definitely loved this tour. These sorts of tours can be found in numerous cities throughout Europe and even in the Middle East, I think, and I highly recommend them. The guides work only for tips and are both knowledgeable and engaging. Do it, if you have the chance.

I hope to do the walking tour of Munich before I fly back.

** These are compressed at different rates, so some are blurrier than others.

Our first stop was the Prague astronomical clock. According to our guide, this was ranked the third most disappointing attraction in the entire world, understandably so, given the pathetic hourly showing.. It is preceded only by the Glockenspiel in Marienplatz [holla atchu, Munich] in second place and then the Mona Lisa in first. Hah.

sideways - you know the drill. Turn your computer over.

I forget what the name of this building is [and it is right side up in real life, btdubs], but Mozart conducted here many many times, and the Czech national anthem was first played in this hall.

You should also know that the national anthem of Bhutan is "The Thunder Dragon Kingdom", or something to that effect. I learned that on my tour as well.

They built a casino directly atop the museum of communism.
Irony. Just like 10,000 spoons.

 I might be wrong, but I think this is the oldest standing synagogue in the Jewish sector. The Gollum (mud-man), protector of the Jews against the Nazis, is rumored to live here...in that attic.

I can neither confirm or deny its existence....

I love taking sneak pictures of brides. I love it even more when they are right side up.

Some of these pictures are from the castle tour I took in Prague. I do not recommend the castle tour for those who do not especially care too much about Czech History. Free tour - do it. Castle tour - meh. 

The picture above is from the cathedral within the castle. Also, the castle was not one giant sort of palace thing, but rather a series of buildings that didn't really look like Cinderella's castle. Which is really the only sort of castle I care about.

I forget the who or why, but someone decided he [or she] wanted modern business men carved on the castle's cathedral facade.

I guess if I was super rich, I'd flaunt my crazy too.

I hate that this is so blurry, but the inside of the church looked like a kaleidoscope as the setting sun shone through the stained glass windows.

Can you spot the tourists in this picture?

Trick question, it's Prague, they're all tourists.

Can you spot the loser tourists in this picture?

When the Jews were sequestered in the Jewish quarter, they had only a tiny space for a graveyard. When it was filled, they requested a plot outside their walls for more cemetery land. When the request was denied, they removed the tombstones, added more dirt, and began burying bodies on top of the old ones. This continued again and again for hundreds of years. Now the graveyard stands way above street level, and the tombstones are absolutely piled right up against one another, if you cannot see that from this picture.

The actual number of bodies buried in that graveyard is unknown.

Wenceslas Square

According to our guide, this is a common place to meet for your first blind date. Apparently businessmen make a habit of getting a sandwich and coming here after work to make fun of the nervous boys that stand there waiting for the girls that never show up.


On Sunday, since I felt I'd seen a good bit of Prague in my free tour and castle tour, I thought I'd go on a tour to another town, Kutna Hora, about an hour outside of the city. I've heard that you meet really interesting people when you travel, but I hadn't really had the opportunity to meet anyone before this longer tour.

We only had six people on the Kutna Hora tour, all girls.

Kerri works in the atheletic department at the Fashion Institute of Technology. She has been to a crazy long list of places, and whenever she has time, she simply hops a plane to wherever and wings her way around for a week or so. I love that.

Yvonne is a psychologist from Australia, and after touring Paris, she came to Prague. She, too, is traveling on her own.

Three girls, Renee, and two sisters (whose names I did not catch) are from Mexico. Renee and the older sister are medical students. They travel every summer.

On the train ride over, we ended up sitting and chatting in the same compartment as another girl, Helena. Helena listened to our conversation, and then she began to chime in after telling us how interesting we all sounded.

However, Helena speaks around four languages, has lived in London, now lives outside of Prague [funny enough though, she says her Czech is terrible], and is going to be studying Nuclear Physics in the fall. Also she had the most amazing platinum/ash blonde hair, and she was gorgeous. 

You really do meet incredible people while traveling.

Notice the skulls on the top of the church?

The famous ossuary. I don't remember if the church was to be built on a mass grave of plague victims, or if the grave was right beside the church, but either way, the bones of numerous plague victims were stored in the church.

At some point, a peasant artist was hired to use the bones to decorate the room. It took him over four years to catalog, preserve, and arrange the bones around the room.

The pope was asked years later if the use of these bones for decoration was disrespectful to the dead, and he said no.

And what the pope says goes.

Saint Barbara's Church in Kutna Hora.

Saint Barbara was [is?] the patron saint of miners. The citizens of Kutna Hora were at one point extremely rich, as the town was right on top of a silver mine.

Flying buttresses

I love how this picture turned out.

Our guide, Michalis [half Irish, half Greek], said that this painting of a lion within the church made him wonder if the people of Kutna Hora had ever seen a lion.

That blue man in the corner makes me wonder if the people of Kutna Hora had ever seen anyone who isn't white. 

Beside the church was a small, hillside vineyard from which the Kutna Hora's own wine is made. 

Apparently, it's a really terrible wine.

My lunch of strawberry juice, roast duck, red cabbage, and lard bread dumplings.

Those dumplings are no joke - there are actual pieces of fat in them. But as we all know, calories count half on vacation.

Doesn't that look like something from a fairy tale?

That's not nearly all of my pictures, but I think I'll have to stop here for now.




well, then

I had the greatest intentions of thinking about possibly beginning my Prague post.

I took a nap instead.

So I'll just tell you a story. I went to the grocery store today.

They didn't have my spinach in stock. Nor the pretzels I and my food baby wanted to buy for breakfast. But I am a really understanding and adaptable person, so I let it slide.
I worked around it and bought cookies instead, which is kind of the same thing except better tasting.

Once I had all of my groceries in order, I went to check out. I got stuck behind some broseph buying two super fancy bottles of beer. I was trying to figure out if this hipster was American or German. I stared at him both rudely and intently, and then decided he must be American because I have yet to see a German hipster.
And then I re-decided that I really didn't care.

Fortunately for me and the mental debate going on in my head, the cash register man took approximately 55 minutes to up each person and had to call customer service twice - once to ring up bananas, and also because he didn't know how to use coupons.
I thought about getting really aggravated, and I almost asked him, "Ist heute deine erste Tag bei der Rewe?" in a snotty voice, too, but then I remembered that I actually did not have anything better to do than wait on Boss here to figure out how to work a cash register.

Sometimes it is very convenient to have no life.

Anyways, here is a Prague teaser picture:

Maybe that's not much of a tease...I don't know how exciting stained glass really is...




    I would like to formally recant my Negative Nancy Prague post a couple of posts back. And since I am the sole author, editor, and, on some days, reader of Conversations, I have the editorial authority to do so. Bestowed by me.

I LOVED Prague. It far exceeded my expectations, and I can't wait to show and tell you guys about it in my next post. Coming...eventually.

I wasn't too cheery in that previous post because, to be completely honest...
I was homesick.

There are definitely a lot of merits to traveling alone. I loved making last minute decisions about what I wanted to do or where I wanted to go (I'm kind of a planner's worst nightmare). I like doing things the way I want, on my own schedule. I don't have to see what someone else wants to see, and I don't have to worry about someone else's situation.

But at the end of the day, when you're sitting alone in a strange hotel in a super foreign land (I assume Germany still counts as foreign, but it feels more like home to me than any other European country), and when the television plays shows in a language you don't understand at all...

you begin to feel homesick.

Not in the way that I miss my own bed...I would sleep on a hardwood floor if that floor was somewhere cool (done it). Not in the way that I miss sweet tea (I do) or English or driving my car or petting my li'l rat-a-tat-tats [and I do miss them, believe it or not].

But in a way where you miss being around those who understand you. Not merely your language, but...just you. As a person. You sit alone in your hotel and think about how nice it would be to have someone who gets your jokes, or knows how to handle you when you're frustrated. Which you are, in a foreign country with a strange currency and not a lot of languages you understand.

Someone to talk to or laugh with or be mad at in a familiar sort of way. You know? Someone who takes the scary out of the whole foreign country situation.

I only get this way once in a blue moon - once at college, occasionally when I've been away for months at a time, in Colorado or Europe or wherever. I have perpetual wanderlust - I generally can't wait to go off and explore new things, even if it's alone. But sometimes, all you want is family or a good friend.

Fortunately, my trip was amazing and so so beautiful and got much better.

But just so you know.

Even those with perpetual wanderlust get a little homesick from time to time.




 brown dress with white dots

What would you do if you knew you could not fail?

-Robert H. Schuller


Czech and Mate

[i like to pretend things like that ^^^ make me witty]

Another commercial with music you might like, Webs.

Nikon Coolpix S8000 comes with great music, apparently...

Song: Welcome Home
Artist: Radical Face

I'm currently writing from Prague.

I was a winner and forgot my passport, so my ride had to drive across Munich in crazy traffic before getting on the road. It only took us...an extra hour. 

I didn't really know what to expect from the Czech Republic, but so far it's been interesting. Most people will say that Prague is more Central Europe than Eastern Europe, but, coming from Deutschland, it's more Eastern-y than I am used to. Munich is a little bit of a fashion metropolis (well...at least these girls look way cuter than I do), but Prague is kinda old school. It's a bit more dated, and it doesn't feel quite as safe as Munich. But then again, I spent an hour on the train, which means...50% of my time here has been on the train, so what do I know?

Unfortunately, I don't know an ounce of Czech (is that the language here? I'm just going to go ahead and assume so), and many of the people I've run into don't know English. It was actually a little scary trying to find my hotel, because I couldn't find any street signs (what is this, a scavenger hunt?), and I wasn't sure I was going in the right direction from the train station, and everything was closed. It was kind of funny though, I finally decided to step into a restaurant on a random street and ask for directions. I asked for the street my hotel is on, and the lady looked at me and said, "this is it!" 

By the grace of God, I managed to accidentally turn onto the right street. That Guy watches out for me, I think.

Also, I'm not whining...but...it's really bizarre trying to deal in a currency that doesn't equate neatly with the dollar. The krone [crone?] is about 16.4 USD, and 24.5 euros. Try doing that math in your head.

I'm here, in my hotel, safe and sound. Traveling by yourself can be a little bit lonely. I started to turn on the TV, but none of the channels are in English. Except for a sports channel. And hulu and fox and cbs and all those websites? They don't stream outside of the US.

So now I'm either going to be a sketchster and try and find Pretty Little Liars on youtube, maybe read a book...or maybe just go to bed at 10pm on a Friday night? I bet that's totally something they do here in Prague...

If you wanna shout a prayer out for my safety while I'm cluelessly galavanting [is that a real word?] about, I 
wouldn't mind.
bRob galavanting.
daaaang, check out those crow's feet!




Image via swiss miss
Artist Eiko Ishzawa via sfgirlbybay

oh, i want one. for sure.

that isn't made out of real bear.




**So I just realized I should be compressing my pictures so they upload faster. Sometimes I find myself most embarrassing.

This past weekend Erin and I went to visit...


It's been a dream of mine to visit Greece for a while now, and I'm so excited I got this opportunity. I figured I'd share some of my pics with you, but know that I am also trying to up my pathetic July post count.

Landing in Athens.

A makeshift bed on the 8-hr overnight ferry to Santorini. 
I really wanted to visit one of the islands, and I'm glad we were able to make it work..
Even though almost 14 hours of ferries on top of 5 hrs of flight is pretty exhausting for one weekend...

After we checked into our hotel on the island, Erin and I decided to do a volcano + hot springs tour. I was worried about taking my camera to the hot springs, so I did not take any pictures.

I could kick myself.

The hot springs were not as hot as I was thinking, but you should know that the water is SO blue around the islands. And the volcano was...very rocky. But I hiked it all the way to the top in flip flops, so I'm proud.

We went to Oia for dinner and the sunset. 
I'd heard that Oia, on the Caldera, is the best place to see the sunset.

Also, sorry for dressing like a scanty hobo. We wanted to keep our bathing suits on for the day because we weren't sure what time we'd head out to the beach.

I decided to be adventurous and try the stuffed calamari.

It was disgusting.

Adventure fail.

Gute idee.

 Sunsets take a lot longer than you might think...

This picture doesn't really even begin to illustrate how crowded it was.

Erin and I got there about 45 minutes probably before the sun began to set, and we had amazing seats. We spent the next two hours being shoved around by obnoxious Europeans vying for our spot.

Including a lady with a larger behind clad in leopard-print spandex who kept trying to butt-push me out of her way. 

Whoah now, tiger.

Rooftop romance. 


We wanted to go for a late night swim on Santorini's famous black beach, Perissa, but the water was just a bit too nippy...

So we opted to get cocktails and sip them on the beach instead. 

25 Euros will get you... a bed.

Sunrise in Fira

We had to take a taxi back down to the port in the morning...
we were kind of hoping this was it.
It wasn't.

We got back to Athens in time to spend a couple of hours around the city before our flight.

Only it was a bazillion degrees and I think we both finally snapped a little and stopped caring about old stuff.

Pictured above: something old.

I think the Agora, maybe? Note the fluted columns. In Art History, I had to memorize all the different types of Grecian columns. I've since forgotten them.

We were in a much better mood after we ate food.

Sorry the pictures aren't so high in quality, but at least they are all here.

Be sure to check out Erin's blog, Ich weiss nicht, to see more pictures as well as get her take on the trip.


PS I'm so seriously sunburnt it isn't even funny. I just kind of lie there in my bed trying not to move...
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