Checking out Czech Republic and Slovakia

Main Square pointy church towers Prague Czech Slovakia

After five weeks apart, Chris and I reunited in Czech Republic to continue our year abroad. We picked Prague for our city to meet in due to its easy train and plane connections.

Prague

We spent a fun three days exploring the city and eating Czech cuisine and drinking beer. We found Prague to be hugely crowded and with good reason: beautiful gothic and baroque architecture, a rich and textured history, and a vibrant old town city center. From reading a few articles, and going on a walking tour, we enjoyed learning some of the weird and funny stories of Prague through the ages, such as why there is a human arm hanging in one of the churches, and the popularity of “defenestration” in Prague’s history.

Our Lady Before Tyne Church
Astronomical Clock
Kafka Statue

Kromêrîž

After having visited both Vienna and Prague back to back, I was ready to get out of town to a smaller place and enjoy some peace and quiet and nature. We took a train to the town of Kromêrîž, population 20,000, site of an archbishop’s palace and huge French garden, along the Moravia River. One of the nights we were there we went to an open-air acoustic guitar concert on the town square, which was perfect. We walked in the gardens and admired the peacocks during the day. A brewery next to our hotel featured their own delightful beer as well as sausages, cheese, and beer cheesecake. We were glad we chose to visit the town.

Town Square
Proud Peacock

Bratislava

We took the train to Bratislava and stayed in an apartment just outside of the main walking area- and I have to say, it is my favorite place we’ve stayed in a while. It felt like being at home, with a terrace outside and a large living room. Best of all, it was next door to the Slovak Pub, which served the best of Slovakia’s national dishes: cabbage soup with sausage and cream, and bryndzovè halušky, which is a gnocchi-like dumpling with sheep’s cheese and crispy bacon.

Chris calls it “Commie Mac and Cheese”, I just call it delicious

In Bratislava, we took a Communism tour and an Old Town walking tour. We also hiked up to the radio/tv tour outside of town for a great view- the highest point in Bratislava!

Bratislava Castle
Bratislava
The art nouveau Blue Church

 

Bratislava
Old Town and the “UFO” bridge
Chris at the KGB Pub

Bojnice

With a record heat-wave in Central Europe, we left Bratislava and headed into the mountainous central part of the country. We arrived in Bojnice, site of a beautiful old castle and the country’s oldest zoo. With a quiet town promenade, plenty of cafes and taverns, an escape room, and a thermal spa, I think this town is on the rise for vacationers (Lonely Planet named the Tatras mountains in Slovakia the number one tourist destination for 2019, so be ready to see a lot more of Slovakia in articles and blogs!).

Bojnice, Slovakia
Enjoying a walk around the castle at dusk

 

Bojnice Slovakia
The small town of Bojnice

And now, we head to Hungary and Romania! Any travel advice for us?

Switzerland and Austria: the crossroads of Europe

clock tower tall pointy church zurich switzerland

With all the times I’ve visited Europe, I’ve actually never been to Switzerland and Austria. Well, except for airport transfers and one brief rental car mishap. So as I was heading to Prague to meet up with Chris, I decided to go overland through these two beautiful countries. With such multi-faceted cities and ages of history within each, I barely had time to get more than an overview of the places I visited, and make a list of things to see next time I’m there. Here’s my favorites for each.

History lurks behind every corner here in Switzerland

Zurich

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Monaco in One Day

picture frame monaco yachts harbor

Monaco is the second-smallest microstate in Europe, but is still the most densely-populated country in the world- is it possible to visit for just one day and see it all? Of course not. But you can see the highlights, even if you’re on a budget. Here’s how.

The Port of Monaco

Where to Stay

Unfortunately, Monaco does not have very many budget hotels. The Hotel Forum, literally on the border of France and Monaco, Continue reading “Monaco in One Day”

Reality check on the Camino de Santiago

Boots cairn peton Camino Santiago Spain

I had a few weeks’ time to fill in May, so I decided that I would hike the Camino de Santiago across Northern Spain. My husband Chris had done it two years ago, and he said it was great, I’d love it, after our Nepal hike it would be a breeze. So I flew to Madrid and took a bus to Burgos and got started.

A dawn start from Burgos with my new friend Araceli

The Camino can be started at almost any point in Europe- some paths start from Germany, France, or even Rome- although generally peregrinos Continue reading “Reality check on the Camino de Santiago”

Georgia 🇬🇪

Geographically in Asia, politically in Europe, Georgia is the perfect base for exploring the Caucasus. We visited Georgia before, between, and after visiting Azerbaijan and Armenia (Americans can enter Georgia without a visa for up to one year). Each time we visited, we explored a different part. We both really liked Georgia and hope to visit again one day. It’s beautiful, it has a rich history, and it has nice weather. And they are the oldest makers of wine in the world. What’s not to like?

“Tamada”, or toastmaster statue

Continue reading “Georgia 🇬🇪”