Kraków + Budapest

PART 4 OF #TBT/#FBF SERIES: Kraków + Budapest

St. Mary’s Basilica, Kraków

So sorry for the delay in posts! I just got back from a two week Eurotrip (Italy + Poland + Spain) and I got so caught up with the whole process of planning, packing, actually traveling & being on vacation, and then getting over my jet lag that I fell behind on my posts. I am back and hoping to get you all caught up soon. The OCD part of me is telling me to blog in chronological order and continue with my #TBT/#FBF series from my Eurotrip last year.

So here’s where we left off…

Day 3: Arriving in Kraków

View from our hotel room

We left Berlin at 11 am, eating rest stop sandwiches along the way, and arrived in Kraków around 5 pm. We stayed at a wonderful apartment near the main market square–the area felt so quaint and charming as we went out to explore the area. It was a pretty busy area, but not overwhelmingly so–it just felt like this pretty little city was alive and ready to be experienced. We had dinner by the main square–pierogi & fried porkchop–and ended the night with an evening stroll.

Fried Porkchop + Pierogi

Day 4: More Polish Delights

We woke up and had the most perfect breakfast at a place called Good Time. We then went on to visit the Wawel Cathedral near the Wawel Castle (which we did not go in, sadly). Afterwards, we headed to the Jagiellonian University, where Nicolaus Copernicus and Pope John Paul II studied, and joined a tour group. We ended the day with dinner in Kazimierz–I got pierogi (again, but I mean, when in Poland) and Lukasz had steak.

Our delicious, filling breakfast

Day 5: No Words

We left Kraków in the morning and visited Auschwitz I and Auschwitz II-Birkenau on our way to Budapest. It was a very solemn, draining experience–I could not believe I was at the sites where such atrocities took place, the source of so many individuals’ pain and suffering. It was hard to process actually being at the sites of such a dark, low point in human history–and it really was not that long ago and such atrocities are still taking place in this day and age. I did not take many pictures that day–I just tried to take it in quietly. I am still trying to process it…

Day 5 continued: Being Buda-Pests

We passed through Slovakia briefly on the way to Budapest–mainly to stop to buy a vignette, a permit sticker that you must display on your windshield or risk getting fined. This was the first time I had heard about these vignettes, but turns out that many European countries require them on certain roads. The whole drive took about 6.5 hours from Kraków and we arrived in Budapest at midnight. We had trouble locating the hotel because it actually turned out to be an apartment–the reception was in a different building. A nice girl came down to escort us to the apartment a couple of blocks away and give us the key. We felt guilty for arriving so late, but had we known the reception was in a different building we would have tried to get there earlier. Luckily, she was very kind and accomodating–we would book the same apartment again.

Day 6: So Hungary

We arrived so late the night before and had no idea how/where/whether or not we needed to pay for the parking spot right outside the building, so we just left the car thinking it would be okay for a couple of hours. Sadly, luck was not on our side that night because we woke up to a nice surprise on our car–they had placed a boot on it! They really do not mess around with parking tickets–they force you to call someone to have the boot removed. So, seeing as we already had a boot on our car and were starving, we just decided to leave the car (What were they going to do–put a 2nd boot on it?). We figured it would be fine for a bit longer–plus we were starving and had no Hungarian money.

Throw some Forints on it

We left the area to find an ATM (which proved impossible to find in the immediate area surrounding the hotel, so we ended up exchanging money) and grab some cheap brunch (we got lured into a fancy restaurant that turned out to be not so cheap). On the plus side, the food was delicious and I was stuffed (I ordered some sort of lamb stew)–the down side was that I overate and ended up feeling sick for most of the day. I really cannot eat huge amounts before extensive amounts of physical activity (we ended up walking A LOT that day)–the fact that we stuffed ourselves at a KFC the day before probably did not help either…

Though I felt sick, we still managed to see a good chunk of Budapest:

  • Castle Hill (Varhegy)
  • Buda Royal Palace (also known as Buda Castle or Budavári Palota)

  • Chain Bridge (Széchenyi Lánchíd)

  • Heroes’ Square (Hősök tere)

Plus, we got the car boot removed at the end of the day. We hoped that the next day would be a much better day, but I mean #shithappens when you travel.

Day 7: A Much An Exponentially Better Day

We had better luck with the metro than we did the day before (the reason we walked so much was because two of the metro stops we went to were closed and/or the ticket machines were broken and/or there was nobody present in the booths to sell us tickets nor give us information, and the one worker we tried to communicate with did not speak English). A lot of factors worked against us the day before, but we took it a lot easier that day because I only had one location I absolutely needed to see: the Central Market Hall (Nagy Vasarcsarnok). Visiting markets is one of my absolute favorite parts of traveling to new cities.

The Central Market Hall is apparently one of the largest market halls in Europe and it is stocked with fruits, veggies, meats, souvenirs, etc. After reading the reviews on TripAdvisor, I came to this market with one goal in mind: try lángos. Lángos is a deep fried flat bread, which can be eaten plain or with toppings. Obviously, we opted for toppings–I went for the more traditional toppings with sour cream, cheese & ham; Lukasz went all out and basically ordered the lángos equivalent of a combination pizza. His tasted so much better–he always seems to have better luck when he orders!

Lukasz’s glorious lángos

Afterwards, we headed to the famous Turkish Baths. I wasn’t too keen on the idea of immersing myself in hot water because the temperature in Budapest was already boiling hot (it felt like it was at least 90 degrees Fahrenheit–probably closer to 100–the whole time we were in Budapest). However, I was pleasantly surprised–there were multiple pools with different temperatures of water to suit every level of heat tolerance. The whole experience turned out to be a lot of fun and rather relaxing. Again, Lukasz was winning with the ideas.

Check back next week for the next post in this series!

Berlin: Let the Road Trip Begin

PART 3 OF #TBT/#FBF SERIES: Berlin

Day 1: Heading to Berlin

So much for a #TBT series since this is a day left, but luckily there’s still #FBF! We left Antwerp on a Sunday morning and headed to Berlin. The drive took about 8 hours and we arrived at around 5 pm–just in time to grab some dinner at a nearby restaurant called Good Time, which served Asian Fusion. It was just decent–nothing exceptional and a bit pricey, but I guess I had high expectations for a place that goes by the name “Good Time.”

Expectations: Good Time – Reality: Decent Time
(p.s. sorry for the bad quality iPhone photo)

After our decent dinner, we wandered around the city to experience a taste of the Berlin nightlife. Sadly, we were a day too late–the city seemed pretty dead on a Sunday night. I was looking forward to checking out some raging night clubs as promised to me in my copy of The New York Times: 36 Hours 125 Weekends in Europe

, i.e. Berghain, which may have very well been the club to end all clubs (its opening hours on Friday are 11:30 pm to 2:00 pm the next day!). I guess I’ll never know until I go back. Lesson learned: Party don’t stop until Sunday when Berghain is completely shut down. Plan on being in Berlin on a Friday if you’re lookin’ for a good time.

Looking for a place to go on a Sunday night proved to be a challenge–we ended up at a bar/club/restaurant-hybrid called White Trash Fast Food. The scene/decor reminded me of a TGI Friday’s mixed in with Disneyland and an Asian restaurant–it was a very unique experience to say the least. I would have loved to have tried some of their food (FYI: they’re known for their burgers), but we were still pretty stuffed from our dinner.

White Trashy Classy

Day 2: Being as Tourist-y as Possible

We had the most amazingly satisfying breakfast at Leckerback–it was the perfect amount of food to start the day. We then went to these popular sites:

  • Brandenburg Gate

  • Reichstag (sadly did not get a chance to go inside)
  • Holocaust Memorial
  • Unter den Linden
  • Museuminsel (Museum Island)
  • Berliner Dom (Berlin Catheral)

But first, let me take a selfie.

  • DDR Museum (very cool & interactive!)
  • Checkpoint Charlie



Checkpoint Curry

We ended the day with Italian food at a random restaurant I didn’t get the name of (food was
OK) and walked through the city at night, passing by the Berliner Dom (definitely a sight to see after dark!).

We stayed at the Titanic Comfort Mitte (sidenote: not sure why they wanted to name the hotel after a ship that sank, but luckily it was on solid ground) and it ended up being one of my favorite hotels we staying at during our road trip. It is located in downtown Berlin right near the Spittelmarkt U-Bahn underground station. However, we did not even end up using the underground and opted to walk everywhere. If you don’t feel like spending money on transportation, seeing the sites by foot in Berlin is doable–plus, it’s great exercise!

Now, we’re off to Poland in the next post! Be sure to check back soon…

 

Fallin’

Forever 21 hat,  J. Crew Factory sweater,  Urban Outfitters harem pants,  Banana Republic crossbody bag (direct link here), Gap genuine leather boots (direct link here)

I keep on fallin’ in and out of love…with hats. Ten points if you got that reference–bonus points if you actually enjoyed it.

I’m a repeat-outfit hat offender, which I really don’t mind. Wear what makes you feel happy/what you feel good in! And who knows if I’ll even like hats tomorrow, so I might as well wear it out while I’m still in the honeymoon stage. It’s actually funny that I’m so obsessed with this hat lately because I actually got it 2 years ago (here are some embarassing pictures of me first wearing the hat back in 2012). Don’t you love when you rediscover items that you’ve had and you end up wearing them to death?

Anyways, enough about my love affair with this hat–the other pieces in this outfit are some of my top picks for fall. I got this sweater from J. Crew Factory recently and am in love with how light and soft the wool feels–the elbow patches are a nice added touch. I also got the bag + boots recently as well–fall is on its way and you better believe I’m stocking up!

Burgundy/oxblood is one of my favorite colors for fall and I have been on the hunt for a bag in this color for a while–looks like my search is over…for now. I’ve also been searching for black boots with a chunky black  heel reminiscent of the ’90s, but it was a challenge finding a pair that didn’t look like I was walking around on two clunky blocks. I also love how this pair look more classic and can be worn well after this ’90s craze has passed.

What are your some of your fall favorites this year?

Belgium: Fashion + Fries

PART 2 OF #TBT SERIES: Belgium

After spending the weekend in London, we headed back to Belgium for a week to rest + plan our road trip.

Day 1: Hello Antwerp!

We drove into Antwerp and visited the main sites, such as Cathedral of Our Lady and Grote Markt. I had never been around Antwerp before so I was excited to explore. From first impressions, it is a quaint, pretty little city. After seeing those two big sites, we stopped by the main shopping street, Meir, and then grabbed an infamous Belgian waffle covered in chocolate. I also tried Kriek for the first time, which is a Belgian beer made of fermented sour Morello cherries–yum!

Cathedral of Our Lady

You can’t say you’ve been to Belgium ’til you’ve tried one of these!

Day 2: Antwerp-in’ Around

We wandered around Antwerp more and grabbed some ice cream to combat the summer heat. Also, being in Antwerp, I felt obligated to go check out the fashion scene and any of the shops of the Antwerp Six. We found ourselves at Renaissance and Ann Demeulemeester, where we felt like two kids in a museum. Maybe one day we will be able to afford some designer duds, but today was not one of those days…

Photo Cred: We-Heart-Fashion (see their in-depth post on Renaissance here)

Day 3: The Foray into Fashion Continues…

We felt like being tourist-y and going to a museum, so we decided to check out the MoMu (Mode Museum–Belgium’s Fashion Museum). I was so excited to go to a museum that was specifically for fashion, but, sadly, the museum was quite small and overwhelming. Plus, it was overpriced–definitely not a place we would go to again.

Afterwards, we set out to check out another one of the Antwerp Six’s shops: Dries Van Noten. Once again, we quickly realized we weren’t willing to pony up for anything, so we settled on shopping for goods within our price range. We went to a store called Fish & Chips where I picked up a pair of flat sandals on sale–my heeled sandals were killing me on the cobblestone streets with all the walking we were doing!

After we shopped, we strolled down an alley filled with graffiti/street art/whatever the politically correct term is. It was awesome! I love seeing what local artists are creating.

Belgium’s version of “Painted Ladies”
(shop similar Kate Spade bag here)

Day 4: Getting Out of the City

The weather was so nice–perfect for being outdoors–so we headed to Galderse Meren, an area of recreational lakes in the Netherlands that was created as a result of sand mining. I love me some fun in the sun!

Day 5: Antwerp >> Brussels

The day was spent feasting + walking around Antwerp more. We had a delicious, super-filling meal at Mama’s Garden where we each ordered a plate of shwawarma. The food comes with an assortment of sauces–naturally my favorite was the garlic one and I kept piling it on. In the end, I definitely could not finish the whole plate so I had to tap in Lukasz to finish it for me.

#allthenomz @ Mama’s Garden

We then went to Het Steen (a medieval fortress) and the Butcher’s Hall. Then, since it was still light out, we decided–why not just head to Brussels?

View from below @ Grand Place

Lacey, white #ootd–in honor of Belgian lace
(shop similar style here)

Day 6: Mussels from Brussels Antwerp

After spending some time with Lukasz’s family, we scarfed down some mussels in Antwerp’s Grote Markt–correction: I scarfed them down because Lukasz isn’t a big fan. And, honestly, that was all we really did that day but I still felt pretty Jean-Claude Van Damme accomplished.

Jean-Claude Van Damme these were good! (sorry, not sorry, I just had to throw in another JCVD reference in there)

Grote Markt, Antwerpen at night

Peace out for now, Belgium! Check out next week’s post to see where we went next…