Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Fall break 2013: Budapest round 1

For my fall break from school in France I got 10 days of (a week and 2 weekend plus no Friday classes). So I planned a little trip to Eastern Europe with a few friends from my program. Our first stop was Budapest, and it could have been our only one as I quickly fell head over heels in love with this city. Word just cannot capture how amazing and perfect it was. So in love so in love!!

We stayed at Grandio Party hostel and it.WAS.PERFECT. If you EVER go to budapest (which every young traveler should) you MUST must MUST stay at a BPH hostel. there is nothing better in the world. Truly. Still to this day some of my best friends and I am counting down the minutes until I go back.

The first night we went out. General Debauchery ensued.

Then we had our first full day. We did all of castle hill which included walking over there, riding the funicular up the hill, seeing the castle and the views and as well as the gorgeous church.

We then made our way down and went to walk along the river, see the parliament from the outside and see the memorial shoes from the Nazi invasion on the side of the river.

We finished our day with a visit to market hall to check out the sights and sounds. That night was just a typical (incredible) night at BPH.

The next few days are a whirlwind of complete and total happiness. My friends moved on Sunday but I stayed until Tuesday because I just couldn't leave.. I saw the citadel, and all over town. I saw tons of stuff.

One of the highlights was a visit to the zoo where you can touch and play with the sloths. My friend Avril and I went and it was honestly too good to be true!

I went on the boat cruise with BPH. Look at that parliament. 

Tops the list as my favorite place ever so far. And its not being challenged anytime soon!

Monday, April 28, 2014

Malta: To heaven and back

For my fourth weekend in Europe while I was living in France I flew really cheaply to Malta.

My Weekend in Malta was fabulous. Such a beautiful warm sunny getaway. Cheap and amazing country. It's such a must-visit place!!!

We got in late on friday night, checked into our hostel, and quickly made friends. We stayed at Hostel Malti which was a 18 euro cab ride from the airport and it was such a great place! We really like it and it had such a friendly atmosphere with a great rooftop space.

Then we headed to paceville which is the place to go out in Malta. It was so MUCH fun! I have no idea what bar we are at, or where we went other than it was a blast, we made tons of friends and the place was extremely cheap.

We woke up on Saturday in not the best form, to say the least....

So we had to rally to the best of our ability and headed to the blue lagoon on the north side of the island. The blue lagoon is like the place to go in Malta. It was an hour on the bus, and then 20 minute boat ride.

Luckily, it was incredible. Beyond beautiful. You can just wade into the water and its the perfect temperature! It is the bluest water I have ever seen. We got perfect sunny and 80 degree weather.

We tanned and sat, then went exploring and cliff jumping.

After that we paid only 10 euros to go on an awesome tubing adventure!

Ridiculously fun. We couldn't get over saying how this was the best.day.ever

We brought a bottle of malibu and finished it overlooking the water in the last of the sunny hours. It was literally amazing. I think this was a dream....

It ended with a boat ride back to the island (which got pretty comic after a bottle of malibu....)

We made some awesome friends that night in Paceville! There were SO many wonderful people staying at our hostel.

The next morning with railed together 3 of them to join us for a day of hanging out at the beach (or I guess some rocks by water) again. Gotta soak up the sun while you can!

Sun and some beers. A good day. We caught a flight out that night, and cannot WAIT to go back!

What a fabulous weekend all around!

Thursday, April 24, 2014


In the midst of end of semester exams, but happy to be almost done and back to traveling. It's a mere 15 DAYS until I am off for a 7.5 month adventure!!

Monday, April 14, 2014

Fall 2013: Monaco Yatch show

I love boats. Completely love them. I dream of being a yachtie and working on boats. Just wait-my time will come for that job. Anyway when I heard from an Aussie in Rome say that the Monaco yacht show was going down next weekend, I had to be there. I saw close by just in Provence so I took a bus to Nice to be home base for the weekend. It have been to nice before but it has a fun party scene so I just enjoyed myself there

On Saturday I woke up completely flustered after a busy night out, but knowing I needed to get to that boat show. So I dressed up in my fancy clothes, attempted to rid myself of the sweat and beer smell of the club, and scrub residual makeup off my face. I walked(crawled.. limped?) to the train stop, and jumped on a bus to Monaco (bonus: it’s on a 1.50 euros and the view is incredible!). It was a short and sweet ride, except for the painful amount of growing nausea. That passed eventually.
            As we turned the last corner into Monaco I let out a gasp. Literally couldn’t breath. Have you seen these kinds of boats? The people next to me gave me some intensely harsh stares, but I was there. I was looking at the boats of the rich and famous. I was in HEAVen. SO many yatchies so many big big boats. Woahh.

 I started by walking around the outside of the show. I dressed up for the day, and beside the slight remnants of the last night I had just had, I thought I looked pretty darn good and fancy, by god. But then I realized I was walking around with some of quite possibly the richest, and classiest, people in the world, and I felt like I walked out of a walmart aid for bad hair and bargain dress-up clothes (Fyi my clothes were NOT cheap). Jesus christ I couldn’t compete…. but at least I was there. My hopes of having someone meet me and invite me into the show were drained. So I vowed to watch from afar and pretend I was enjoying the life of the rich and famous….

        But my day in Monaco did not just consist of stalking the life I want to lead, it also involved actually seeing Monaco. Or doing the best I could.  I walked up to monte carlo and looked around. Seeing that many nice (NICE) cars in one place was sure a slap in the face. As if just having to be seen looking like the zombie I did wasn’t enough. Jeessh. Monaco is not a self-confidence booster…

            I also walked the other way and climbed the stairs to the castle and old town. Again my outfit failed on me. Here I am dressed up in what I thought was a “fancy” and slightly tight pink skirt and I find myself trying to climb up about 200 stairs. Most definitely not a winning combination. I just couldn’t catch a break. But I finally made it to the top to watch the most comical marching of the guards. I think he does the 5 steps ball-change back step turn routine just for us idiot tourists. But hey whatever floats your boat Monaco

    I took a quick walk through the old town and randomly ended up at the choloaterie de Monaco- what do you know? (Lies I completely looked up and mapped where it was before leaving and took a picture of that map… priorities) After eyeing, and probably man-handling more than necessary quite a few chocolates, I picked out something to try. EH, not so good. I ate it on the way out and the chocolate was just decent quality, too sweet and no debt to the flavor.

After the chocolate rush I realized I hasn’t eaten since breakfast (apple) so I was hungry. I pulled out my handy dandy can of tuna. You know you’ve sunk low as a frugal traveler when you are not only eating tuna from a can but you are doing it with your fingers, in public, in Monaco. gotta do whatcha gotta do. Don’t stare at me old german tourists. Let me lick my fingers in peace over here. Unless you’re willing to buy me lunch…

            After completely proving myself unworthy of Monaco class with my eating habits, I headed back down to the boats to try my shot at that again and I found myself outside the crew lounge. That sounded like a magical land of fun. Freaking out I decided to hang out outside and see if I met anyone. I tried to look sweet and passed around some smiles for about 15 minutes. But the slightly dirty American girl who probably still had tuna smell on here did not attract many cute yachtie boys. I wonder why…

After my boat show rejection part 5 (50?) I decided to walk on. I seriously think the boating industry was created so that they could make us idiots who can’t afford boats look utterly useless compared to their classy and joyous lifestyle.

            At this point I remembered that one of my favorite chocolatiers in the world had a shop in Monaco and I had the address. NEW mission. I opened my map and found the street then took off. Hazah Back to monte carlo. I can do that. I have only walked for about 5  freaking hours today. Please let me continue.
             I found the street but didn’t know exactly where the shop would be. Let the hunt commence. I scoured the shops around me as I walked. Where was PIERRE MARCOLINI. I walked for about 15 minutes one direction down the street and hadn’t seen it. That’s when panic started to set in. This was my chance to redeem my day. Come on man get at me chocolate shop. I turned around and was actually starting to shake from fear of missing my chocolate shop. Where is it where is it where is it. I was about the give up. Here’s 27 but where is 26- that’s the end of the block. How can the block end and there be no chocolate here. And then a bus moved and across the street there it was.

I carelessly flung myself out into traffic in my haste to get.to.the.shop.now! Please avoid the insane American girl, cars. And this is the part where my day is redeemed. Now just so you know. This is a FANCY chocolate shop. I mean swanky. Like the Monaco yacht show of chocolate shops Beautiful men in white gloves serving out chocolate for you.  I’m up for that any and every day of my life. Yes yes please. I talked to the guy there in French for about 20 minutes about chocolate and we discussed everything. After dropping more money on gourmet chocolate than I’ve dropped on food in the last 3 weeks combined, I said goodbye and headed out for more adventures. Well if by more adventures I mean walking past the yacht show again, ogling at the rich and famous, walking smack into a really hot british yachtie (too busy looking at boats) and then finally getting on the bus back to nice looking someone worse for the wear than I did stepped off the bus hung over at 9am with unbrushed hair and mascara under my eyes (how is that even possible?).  I don’t think Monaco is eager to have me back.

            Well…. My day. Success? I have clearly proven that I am rich, classy and essentially amazing. Someone hire me to work on his or her multi-million dollar boat…please? (ill bring the chocolate)

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Brewery Tour Asheville

Friday afternoon/early evening we took a brewery tour since there are SO many fabulous local breweries in Asheville. We started at hi-wire brewery and then were driven first to French Broad Brewery. French Broad was a really small brewery and had a very intimate atmosphere. We tasted 5-6 beers at each location so it was hard to keep track of everything we tasted. They had a really great dark beer, as well as a bubbly type.

After French Broad we went to Highland. I really liked Highland because it was up on a mountain and massive with a huge outdoor seating area as well. We started off we two beers and took them with us into the factory room so that we could walk around and learn about making the beer. One of the brewers was is there and really great- he let us try beer straight from the tap. Highland beers had a lot of interesting flavors including ones with chocolate undertones which I took a liking too. Emily liked a more spicey, smokey one which was also fabulous.

Our last stop was back to hi-wire brewery. I honestly do not remember much about the beers there. I know we tried an IPA that wasn't too bad ( I am not a big IPA fan) and otherwise I had already had 6-7 beers, was beered out, and don't remember the differences. Hi-wire was a great brewery though, and small with a fun atmosphere. You could see their brewing tanks right in front of you.