Monday, July 28, 2014

Pretty Pretty Prague

Everybody loves Prague! 

"So, where are you headed next?" -  standard question asked by every traveller ya meet.

"Prague!!!!" - me. 

"I love Prague!" - every traveller ya meet!

"Why???" - me. 

.............. and I never got an answer. NO ONE could tell me what was so great about Prague. But ERRBODY loved it! THE SUSPENSE WAS KILLING ME. 



SO let me tell you why I loved Prague: it's just sooooooooooo darn pretty!!!!









We stayed at Hostel Tyn, which was a perfect location, just a short walk away from the Old Town Square. But... I don't know if I would go back. Our room was nice but there wasn't really a bar or any kind of common area, there weren't enough bathrooms and MY FOOD GOT STOLEN FROM THE KITCHEN :( :( :( in the grand scheme of life not a big deal and I know it's not the hostel's fault but it still made me sad. Backpackers shouldn't steal from backpackers!! 










There's something about Prague that's hard to describe. 

Now I get why all of those people couldn't put their fingers on it for me. 

There's just a vibe, u kno?? 

It reminded me of a more jazzed up Krakow. Same pretty colours, same gothic architecture, but bigger, brighter, cleaner, a little more upbeat and alive! 

In a maze of cobblestone streets and courtyards, it's easy for the aimless wanderer to roam about Prague for hours. There's endless museums, cathedrals, shops, caf├ęs, and art to admire. 

Most notably, there's a ton of modern art placed all over town, which I thought was so hip and happening!! Prague you hipster. Like this piece, "In Utero", by David Cerny. 



Prague has a great nightlife (DO THE PUBCRAWL!) and THE BEST BEER IN THE WORLD. 

We tried this stuff called "Tank beer", I'VE NEVER TASTED ANYTHING SO PHRESH!

From my understanding, most beer is pasteurized, a process that entails sterilizing the beer at a high temperature in order to kill any bacteria that may be present. Unfortunately, this can result in the odd bottle having a flat taste and nasty flavour. Tank beer on the other hand, is unpasteurized, and is pressed out of giant tanks right in the bar via an air compressor. The result... so light so crisp so fresh! 



In terms of the "sights" to see, there's the Charles Bridge, a famous 14th century bridge kinda swarmed with tourists (go early in the morning or late in the evening!). 









The John Lennon Wall, which was smaller than anticipated but still worth the visit (good for a colourful Instagram or 2)!





Some love locks leading up to the Lennon Wall (not really a "sight" I just really like love locks hehe). 




The Old Town Square. In the square, there's an astronomical clock that puts on a little show every hour. Apparently it's one of the most overrated tourist attractions in Europe, but WHATEVER.  Ya it's underwhelming but you're there and it takes a minute so yaaa might as well! 



While you're in the square, take a breather after the clock show and grab some traditional Czech sweet bread, called Trdelnik! 







In addition to the Old Town free walking tour, we also did the castle walking tour. 









The castle tour cost a bit of extra money, but we learned fun facts!! 

Like:

1. How the Czech president is usually drunk. Apparently he isn't very well liked!! 

2. Czech people actually aren't religious at all (most of their cathedrals have been converted to museums or are used for shows because no one goes to them anymore, the Czech are tolerant and indifferent towards religion which I thought was so cool!)

And 3. Our tour guide took us to a neat little spot where we were able to try beer brewed by monks. How bad ass is that! 


We also went to the ballet! A "mini" version of Swan Lake. 



And hit up one of many beer gardens to catch a World Cup game. 


I could have easily spent another day or two in Prague. There's just something about it... 

I'm still not sure if I've figured it out!! I'm not sure if I ever will.

But a rolling stone gathers no moss. 

Smell ya later, Prague!

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Krakow, Poland

What do you think of when you think of Krakow, Poland? 

Before this trip, I didn't think of anything, really! 

Which is PERFECT!!!!! I didn't have any expectations at all. My slate was completely blank going in. 

And in the end, I ended up being pleasantly surprised. 

Welcome to Krakow, Poland!





After my elective in Geneva, I met up with my friend Amanda, and some of her friends for a couple weeks of backpacking. 

They were nice enough to let me tag-on to their trip a little late in the game, so the itinerary was already set and almost everything was already booked. Which was GREAT!! It took me to some places I never would have thought of on my own, one of them being Krakow.




We stayed at Greg & Tom Beer House Hostel, which could not have been better located. Right on the main street, steps away from the main square. 

But the best part about this hostel, is that THEY FEED YOU DINNER, FO' FREE! Like a reeeeeeal restaurant quality meal: soup, main course, and even dessert. JACKPOT. 

They also have a pub-crawl which was A TON OF FUN!!!!! 







Krakow is set up like most European cities. There's a main square, a castle, a big church, and a main street. There's also a Jewish Quarter (I did the free walking tour! It's also where all the best bars are at) and an Old Town. 

Despite a somewhat tumultuous history and Nazi occupation during World War II, Krakow emerged largely intact. The Old Town is ADORABLEEEE. I loved the colours (I'm a sucker for pastels)! Buildings in greens, pinks, blues and yellows with intricate white moulding framing the windows and rooftops line narrow cobblestone streets. 

The main square has a market, selling mostly flowers and some tacky souvenirs, and you can find a pretzel stand on almost every corner (you better believe I got one!). 
  









But my favourite part of Krakow, was the small square just beside the big one. For one reason really: the food!! (and beer and wine!! and music and general liveliness.)




I tried Oscypek for the first time, a traditional Polish cheese that is smoked and made of sheep's milk. Sounds whatever, but is sooooo tasty!! I discovered it on my last day in Krakow, which makes me a sad panda only because I didn't get to eat MORE of it!





I also visited Auschwitz while in Krakow, but decided to leave the camera at home. Something about it just didn't seem right. 

But I will say this, if you ever have the opportunity to visit a concentration camp, DO IT. My day at Auschwitz was completely unfathomable - it's such a dark but important part of our history and finally seeing in real life what you've read about for years in history books gives you a completely new perspective.  



Although I really enjoyed my time in Krakow, I didn't looove everything about it. One thing I noticed (which is kind of minuscule and weird but I still noticed!!!) was that everyone dresses in pretty drab colours. Normally not a big deal, but it's July people!! I walked out in a pretty yellow sundress and walked RIGHT BACK inside and took it off. I stuck out like a sore thumb!

But other than that, Krakow is lovely. A hidden treasure :) 



Aaaaaaand a hunky Polish man (haha) even gave us roses!!!!!


We are lucky ladies!!! 

Now off to the next adventure :)