Nashledanou, Praha…

This time in 24 hours I will be on a plane home to California.

I mean, I guess there’s worse places to go home to.

But packing up all my crap and knowing I have to leave feels worse than the ugliest breakup.

Let’s rewind…

You might remember my blog post “three weeks down, three months to go.” Well, about three weeks ago it was “three months down, three weeks to go.” And we were sitting at a table at U Sudu on Czech Independence day, sort of sad but also simultaneously really happy because it was such a good day filled with food and beer and friends, talking about how some of the best parts of abroad may not have even happened yet because we still had so much time left.

Those three weeks were the fastest of my entire life I think. But I digress.

So we’re in U Sudu talking and laughing over a Pilsner when, out of all the songs to possibly come on, “What a Wonderful World” starts to play. So OBVIOUSLY we start to sob, and then laugh about the irony of the situation- three girls crying in a bar to Louis Armstrong.

That was a Monday. I remember because school was cancelled for the holiday, and I don’t have class on Tuesdays.

So that Tuesday, Mandy and I decide to go to the gym, but instead ended up dicking around town and trying to find Prague’s best trdelnik. Typical. We stumble upon this hole in the wall Czech restaurant near Old Town Square where we both order beers and goulash in a bread bowl. They were setting up the Christmas markets so it was pretty crowded and busy, but there’s a band playing—can you guess what song?

Yup. A random Czech band started playing What a Wonderful World right as Mandy and I were walking through the square back to our apartment. I swear, I hadn’t heard that song in maybe six years and all of a sudden I hear it in Prague, twice in the span of 24 hours? It was the universe telling me to take it all in.

We were right to assume that the best parts of abroad hadn’t happened yet. The last three weeks have been some of my favorite, mostly because they’re hard to articulate to anyone who hasn’t spent the last four months here. I could tell you about them, I guess, but trying to explain them just wouldn’t do it justice.

It’s really, really bittersweet.

Arguably the weirdest part about leaving is saying goodbye to my professors and classmates that I’ve met here. It’s like “Thanks, I really enjoyed your class and have a Merry Christmas” directly translates to “have a nice life,” because realistically when am I ever going to see them again? I don’t even know if I would ever want to come back to Prague because any subsequent trip wouldn’t be the same without the friends and people I’ve met here with me.

But on the other hand, it’s kind of nice that we’re leaving on such a high note.

It was the trip of a lifetime. I can’t even begin to explain the memories I’ve made, but that’s okay. I love you, Prague.

 

Until the next adventure,

 

XX

 

LC

My First Meal in Paris was Chicken Nuggets at McDonalds

If we are being completely transparent, I don’t remember anything from high school.

I mean, yeah, I learned things.  But ask me if I’ve ever used trig since graduating… the answer is no.   I remember reading about the RER (a train that takes you from central Paris to Charles de Gaulle Airport) in my AP French class, and being like, why the hell am I reading about a train that I’m never going to take?

Fast forward to me in Paris three years later, taking the god forsaken RER from the 3rd arrondissement to CDG Airport to make my flight to Dublin.  Never mind that I didn’t pass my AP French exam–what do you know, I actually learned something useful in high school, it just took four years for me to apply it.


DCIM101GOPRO

Five years of academic French paid off during a blissful two days spent in Paris the last week of October.

It was almost surreal- I’d never associated feelings of romance towards Paris before, but I guess that’s what I would say if I were to describe how I felt getting off the plane.  Romance, mixed with fatigue, anxiousness, and remnants of a slight hangover. But that is neither here nor there…

Katie and I arrived at our hostel at 2AM, not after a night at the clubs, but after a sub par meal at McDonald’s after finding ourselves unbelievably lost and unable to figure out public transportation.

Yes.  My first meal in Paris, the culinary capital of the world, was chicken nuggets and fries (which can you believe costed 10 Euros?! Robbery).  Not a street crepe, not a baguette, not brie… McDonald’s.  But whatever, I was feeling pretty rusty with my French so ordering went something along the lines of “bonjour, je voudrais prendre…uh, chicken nuggets and fries?”

But that wasn’t what I’d intended for our first night in Paris.  After having such a great time in Croatia meeting new people, I’d booked us two beds at a party hostel (St Christopher’s Gare du Nord, for anyone looking to travel to Paris in the future), imagining us arriving sometime around 11, meeting other travelers after drinks at the hostel’s bar, then out for who knows how long.  Not the case.  Full, fatigued, and generally exhausted, Katie and I collapsed into one hostel bed in our room of sleeping strangers.  Oh well.

Anyways, our first day in Paris and the first day of Fall break was off to a great start after getting my phone pick pocketed first thing in the morning, leaving me with no phone (and, more importantly, no way to snapchat) for the next 10 days.  I called our Uber driver that morning to ask him if he’d seen my phone, but there was no such luck.

So far, Europe had stolen a pair of raybans, my macbook charger, and a brand new iphone, but I was determined not to let all of that ruin my trip.  I figured that as long as I had my computer and my passport, worse things could have happened.  And I still had my GoPro to take pictures.

So I cut my losses and Katie and I went off to explore before meeting up with Mandy, Laura, and Tayla.  We went to the Louvre, to the love lock bridge, a bakery with Kinder Bueno cupcakes, and to a chocolate butt plug museum!

To clarify: We did not know that it was a butt plug museum upon going inside.  Katie and I saw signs for “Paul McCarthy’s Chocolate Factory Exhibit: Free Admission” so we went in with no idea what we were getting ourselves into, maybe thinking there were chocolate Beatles figurines on display.  We then discovered that Paul McCarthy, not Paul McCartney, is a very controversial contemporary artist who literally made an exhibit of chocolate butt plugs, and Santas.  I would go more into detail here, but a picture is worth 1000 words:

DCIM101GOPRODCIM101GOPRODCIM101GOPRO

We left somewhat abruptly.  I tripped out the steps on the way out of the museum, to which the security either shouted “Attendez!” or “Arretez!” which either means hold on or stop, so I stopped and he sort of smirked and asked me if I liked the exhibit.  Interesting….

That evening, we met up with the boys for a picnic under the Eiffel tower for Mandy’s birthday, complete with nine bottles of wine for nine people.  I bet it wouldn’t surprise you, dear reader, that with a little vino my French was slightly perfect, as I was able to haggle the vendors into selling us bottles of champagne for 5 euros instead of 15.   My French was also slightly aggressive, as I adamantly denied that one of my friends thew up in the back of a taxi, but I digress.

In the morning, I walked to a bakery down the street from our hotel and consumed the best croissant of my entire life.  It was everything I ever wanted from life: crispy edges and a warm, buttery center that left my hands decently greasy, and in that moment I swear I was infinite I was in heaven.  Followed by a long overdue rendezvous with Chipotle, a street crêpe avec du nutella, four cheese pasta for dinner, of course, Ladurée and an overall A+ day for food.

DCIM101GOPRO

In the morning, I was off to visit Annalee after a ride on the RER, getting stuck between the metro doors, a delayed flight, a sub part chocolate croissant (I knew going into it that it wouldn’t compare to the previous day’s croissant, but still) that resulted in angrily eating a sub par Kinder Bueno bar and before I knew it, I was on my way to Cork Ireland.

Two days wasn’t long enough.  Until we meet again, Paris.

DCIM101GOPRO DCIM101GOPRO

xx

LC

For Now (and for my Grandmother)

To my dear Readers (if any exist…),

May I extend my most sincere apologies for not posting regularly in the month of November.  Would you be surprised to know that I literally have not traveled anywhere this month, and also have not posted anything about traveling to Paris, Ireland, and Barcelona for my fall break?

It seems like years ago… when in reality it’s been less than a month.

If you’ve been following me on twitter then you know that I’m already heartbroken about having to leave this land of euphoria (as we’ve been referring to it lately) and I leave in seventeen days.  Writing about it will never do this experience justice, and I almost dread posting on this blog because when I look back to remember what happened and what made me smile, it means that I’m that much closer to coming home.

Don’t get me wrong- I can’t wait to see my family and friends that I’ve missed so dearly.  But as I’ve said, no words will ever do my feelings justice as the dopest semester of my life comes to a close, as each day brings me closer to my flight on December 16th.

If you throw me a follow, you’ll be kept up to date as I work on posts for the next few days about

  • getting tonsillitis in Europe and living to tell the tale
  • my experience at Czech Indepence Day
  • actually learning something in high school (paris recap)
  • kygo in Prague/other fun things post tonsillitis recovery
  • crying myself to sleep everynight thinking about how I have to leave (kidding, but not really)

I had no idea what I was in for coming here, and I mean that in the best way possible.  I’ll leave it at that for now.

In the meantime, I’ve been posting on the CEA blog where you can see my really cool (?) author bio, a picture of me where I look like I’m thirty years old, and my most recent posts (a lot of it overlaps with posts I’ve written about on here, but it is what it is.)

Thursday is Thanksgiving.  I’m not really upset that I’m missing that holiday since I hate traditional Thanksgiving food and would much prefer a margarita and some tacos, but I will miss the company.  I’ll be in class until 9pm, then I’ll probably order a pizza for takeout, in case anyone was wondering.  Think of me, Mom and Dad (and Nana, as you stuff a god forsaken turkey that I won’t be present to complain about this year).

In other news, tomorrow I’m going to get drinks with a German boy from my night class where I’m the only American. Don’t worry- I didn’t meet him on Tinder.

xx

LC


Nature is Neat!

{We went to Divoká Šárka nature reserve, and it was Pretty Damn Cool}


 

DCIM101GOPROSo I finally spent about ten straight days in Prague (this is after my one month long bender, traveling through Croatia, Germany, and Poland in between the school week) before departing to France, Ireland, and Spain for our fall break.

Between losing my sanity cause of midterms and living out of a backpack on the weekends, I think I need to sleep for three days straight. But in the true spirit of trying to Carpe Diem everyday, I dragged myself out of bed and into the tundra that Prague has become as we enter the beginning of November.

It’s been getting pretty cold and windy here, with the highs during the day at about 45 degrees Farenheit, and even worse at night. And coming from south Orange County and my own personal distaste for wearing anything other than denim shorts and Rainbow sandals, it’s been a rough transition. But last Tuesday the weather was somewhat decent (about 55 degrees) so Katie, Laura and I decided to make a trip out to hike around the nature reserve of Divoká Šárka.

Don’t judge the fact that the trailhead is essentially a McDonald’s parking lot; Divoká Šárka is only about 30 minutes outside the city center of Prague if you take the 22 tram towards Malostranska Namesti and ride it to the end.

So we depart.

The thing about coming from USD to a place that actually has seasons is that I find myself resisting the urge to take a picture of every brown leaf or landscape that I look at. Seriously, it was so beyond beautiful and off the beaten path of typical things to do in Prague. We walked through the gorge and past the river, the water reserve, and the dam, sort of around a trailhead, over a bridge, and finally up to the top of the bluff.

Legend has it (according to a Wikipedia search I just did) that the reserve was named after the ancient warrior Šárka who threw herself off the cliffs up there to her death. I don’t necessarily recommend following in Šárka’s footsteps, but I do recommend making your way to the top of the bluff and chilling out in the grass for a little bit. We even found a tree swing that looks out over the gorge and the surrounding fields.

DCIM101GOPRO

just laying out hanging out
just laying out hanging out

So that was my little off the beaten path excursion. It’s a must see if you’re in Prague for more than a few days and are looking to get some fresh air. We’re even looking into taking a bus to find some waterfalls (and some cows, hopefully) the weekend we get back.

I’m pretty sick of airport security thinking that my GoPro stick is a weapon, anyways.

xx

LC

the most underrated travel destination in Europe

I’m so behind on recapping weekend trips/life itself, but for now here’s what I did in..

{Krakow, Poland}


So two weekends ago as a part of my program through CEA, I traveled with a considerably large group to Krakow, Poland.  Not coincidentally, I’m really, really Polish–as in, I probably am a twelfth generation Pole–so I really enjoyed this pilgrimage to the motherland.

I was a big fan of the way that CEA planned every aspect of the trip down to a T, basically because trying to coordinate buses and whatnot is exhausting.  But anyways, Krakow was probably my second favorite place I’ve been to (other than Prague, and Croatia of course) because it is so freakin cute.

I guess it had something to do that everyone was so happy: our waitresses were friendly, and helpful and just generally cheerful, a bride and a groom would walk through the town square about every thirty minutes, and there would be old Polish men playing the accordion in the park, reminding me of when we’d go to Nana’s house and Father Justin would play the Flying Dutchman in the backyard for all of us.

{Also, fun fact: Pope JPII went to college in Krakow (pronounced KRAH-kov).  I didn’t know him personally or anything, but I’ve been told that it was one of his favorite destinations and he’d venture back to Krakow at least once a year.}

So after a PAINFUL nine hour bus ride with a “break stop” at least once every half hour (kind of), we finally arrived in Krakow at 8PM or something like that.  We are ravenous despite binging on Milka bars and KFC for the majority of the day, so we went to the Kazimierz district in hopes to find food.

Well, we managed to find the most American diner in all of Krakow and naturally got the fattest burgers imaginable, chased with a few drinks at a bar called Alchemia in the Kazimierz district.  It would be a cool place to go with a small group of friends.

The reason I say that Krakow is underrated is because it’s a huge college town. It’s a pretty small town as it is, but there’s something like 80,000 twenty year olds studying there, which makes for a lively nightlife demographic.  Which is funny to say because to be quite honest, I didn’t really “go out” in Krakow. But a lot of my friends were raving about this club (Prozak) that had great music regardless of whether you’re into deep house or well known songs, and a great lounge area. So I guess check that out if anyone reading this is looking for nightlife in Krakow.

wining and dining in the town square
Lenka and Cesky wining and dining in the town square

This above picture was taken after a heaping sundae and two glasses of Chardonnay, followed by a trip to the salt mines on the outskirts of town.  Laura and I showed up pretty giddy, (there were SALT deposits in the salt mines, who would have guessed?) so we took it upon ourselves to test how salty they exactly were.  Picture two American girls walking through the salt tunnels 400 ft below ground, licking the walls….

I digress.

I think my favorite part of Krakow was the town square. This place is the definition of quaint—picture restaurants lining the square with patio seating and flowers everywhere. And another thing: apparently Poland is huge on flowers, because they have tents in the middle of the square with flower vendors selling roses and such in different shapes.

I also surprised myself with how adventurous of an eater I was in Krakow: I tried DUCK for the first time, in traditional Polish dumplings, a traditional Polish soup of some sort, Polish fried cheese, Polish taffy… the list goes on and is pretty indicative of how we’ve been gorging ourselves without shame for the last two months.

The other notable thing that we did included a visit to Auschwitz-Birkenau, the famous Nazi death camp about an hour south of Krakow.

I did a lot of research on the Holocaust in high school, going to the LA Museum of Tolerance and the Holocaust museum in both LA and Washington DC. It’s one thing when you’re in the states and looking at the displays of old suitcases and shoes left on the train platforms by victims who didn’t make it, but it’s an entirely different thing to walk through the actual camp and see rooms bigger than the downstairs of my house filled with them and see it for yourself.

I’d seen so many pictures that the place looked eerily familiar. And it was bizarre going with friends because no one really knew what to say to each other in between the tours. CEA even took a picture of my roommates and I outside the entrance to the museum and it is the most uncomfortable thing to look at because here we are—six American girls SMILING at Auschwitz.

DCIM101GOPRO IMG_1891 DCIM101GOPRO

It was horrifying and something I will never forget. But you owe it to the people who died there to make the journey for the sake of honoring them. Even just touring through the Jewish Quarter of Krakow you can tell what an impact the Holocaust had on the entire community. 94% of Polish Jews were deported to various camps and never made it back to Krakow.

So it was indeed a solemn conclusion to the weekend but an important part of European history that I felt was necessary as an American studying in Europe.

Xx

LC

Oktoberfest, done the right way

It’s been awhile since I’ve done a weekend recap, but here’s a brief guide to Munich, Germany and how to do Oktoberfest the right way.  Eventualy I’ll post the video compilation, eventually…

1.  Book your travel/accomodations EARLY.  Oktoberfest brings in 1.1 BILLION EUROS to the local economy of Munich, and hotels know that they can charge a pretty steep premium during the three weeks of the festival.  I booked my hotel in mid-july, and the pickings were slim but we managed to score a room in Hotel Meier (within walking distance of the tents and the main train and bus station) for about 210 US dollars between four girls.

2. Suck it up and buy a dirndl. Sure, they’re pricey, but I think they’re worth it.  We got to Munich on a national holiday so all of the shops were closed, but there was one stand that I got a costume-y one at for about 40 euros.  Other, more traditional dirndls, can be anywhere from 120-180 euros.  Point is, even the cheapest dororthy-takes-Oktoberfest costume is better than wearing jeans and a flannel in the tents.

3. Get to the tents EARLY.  Considering the fact that all of USD stormed the Hofbrauhaus (HB) tent during weekend three, it wasn’t crucial to stand in line at 5:30AM.  We got to the Hakker-Pschorr tent at 7:45 on Saturday and we were golden-even snagged three tables.  They do shut the tents relatively early in the morning though, so it’s better safe than sorry.

4.  Don’t rely on Munich’s shitty wifi.  If you’re meeting up with people, good luck.  Not many restaurants have free wifi and the hotels that do, well. It’s spotty at best.

5.  Whatever you do, don’t camp.  Most of my friends who booked their trips two weeks before camped with Stoke Travel.  Which is probably a really cool experience, if it wasn’t for Munich’s freezing temperatures during October.  I don’t know about you, but I wanted a hot shower and a warm bed over a small cramped tent any day.  But if worst comes to worst, you can always look for an airbnb near the city center.

So those are my five rules of thumb for planning/navigating Oktoberfest.  Oh, andddddd……

There is a huge hill outside the tents on the fairgrounds.  We were warned our freshman year “Beware of the hill, whatever you do, DON’T go on the hill.”  And I’ll admit that I had no idea what that meant at the time….

“The Hill,” oh the infamous hill, is basically where every belligerent man in Munich decides to pee, and also where my best friend Ashley tried to run up the hill through the mud to find a sparsely covered bush and do the same.  This happened in front of an audience of about 200 people, including a parade of German police, who applauded her once she was done.  So if you want to be around a bunch of belliegerent, drunk German people passed out by 11AM, by all means.  It’s great people watching.  But I promise you, as a female, there is definitely a better bathroom alternative than the infamous hill.

aftermath of falling down "the hill"
aftermath of falling down “the hill”

IMG_1718In other aspects, being inside the tents at Oktoberfest was one of the happiest (second to Poland, third to Croatia) weekends of my life.  Maybe it’s just something about paying ten euros a stein for beer that makes you so happy that you don’t even care that its the equivalent of three drinks at the Pennant.  I don’t know.  Maybe it’s because the alcohol percentage is higher than normal beers (and the highest in the HB tent, might I add) that you just want to sing your heart out after your second stein.  I don’t know.

Never mind that you don’t understand a word of the German beer songs, or you don’t know any of the people who are standing on top of tables and chugging their steins in about two and a half seconds–you are going to applaud and cheer for them like they have been your best friend since you were in diapers.

Definitely make some time to walk around Munich and see the clock, but let’s be honest.  If you’re a college student like me, you didn’t come to Munich for the historical sights.  You came for the beer.

xx

LC

follow me around the world as I pretend to know what I'm doing