Nomadic Adventures: Prague

I have had several people ask me, which was my favourite out of the places we went… and it is really a tough call. I think I would say Prague, but ask me tomorrow and I might answer differently.

Coming into Czech, the countryside had sort of a run-down, low-income feel. Terrain-wise, it actually reminded me of a mix of Indiana, Tennessee, and Pennsylvania. There were also a ton of little huts!! They had whole strips of what appeared to be one room houses. They were so small and there were so many, that it was incredible! I am all for the tiny house movement, so I would live in one.

When we got into Prague, we carried our bags up a cobblestone sidewalk on a giant hill. Since we didn’t have a GPS and didn’t know the streets, finding the hostel was a bit of a problem. After some backtracking and stopping to gather ourselves, we found our way to Elf Hostel.

We were a little troubled when we walked up to the hostel because it was in a kind of rough looking area and there was barbed wire outside. But, the inside of the place was cute. Definitely eclectic, but cute. We ended up getting a huge six person room to ourselves because they were doing construction on the upstairs rooms. This was the only time that we didn’t have a bathroom in our room, but it wasn’t a problem at all because they had so many different rooms in the hall with either a shower, toilet, or sink.

After getting settled in, we realized that we didn’t have enough sunlight to make it to much in Prague, so we asked the desk where to go and were given a few suggestions. So, we headed out and found our way to the TV tower, where we went up an infinite elevator to the top and overlooked the whole city. They had these strange bubble seats that we sat in for a little while and looked out the windows.

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Afterwards, we walked around a bit and then realized that all of the shops around us were closing down even though it was only around 7 pm. We found out through research that in Prague, shops open early and close early.  I stopped at an ATM to withdraw a little bit of cash in their currency. We didn’t want to get stuck with a bunch of Korunas in the end, so I ended up being the only one to withdraw cash here and we used cards once we ran out. We ended up deciding to get take-away because it was getting dark and sketchy out. We found a busy Vietnamese place, grabbed some food, and took it back to the hostel.

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In the morning, we got up and headed out around 9:10. I was able to successfully navigate us to the metro so we didn’t waste time walking to the attractions. We did make sure to figure out how to buy tickets here, because from the reading it seemed like they were more strict about tickets and everyone around us seemed to be getting them. A notable event for the day was that upon leaving the metro, I stopped in at a “WC” (water closet) where I had to pay as usual, but also had to grab the toilet paper I needed before entering the stall.

We started out our day at Prague castle. On the way up, we met George, a street musician. He talked to us for quite a while and gave us suggestions on what to try and see. He told us that it would take at least a year of living in Prague to be able to fully appreciate and know the city. Before we continued the walk up to the castle, he played his violin for us and we took a selfie.


The castle had great views over the city. There were straight faced guards standing at the entrance to the estate. I decided that I wouldn’t be able to do that job because I would start laughing.

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Inside the property, there was really neat gothic architecture. Since we were limited on time, we couldn’t do everything they offered at the castle considering it was nearly 18 acres! We did go up the bell tower. The 282 steps wore me out, but the view was well worth it!

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After leaving the castle, we went to pick up our train tickets for the next day. Along the way, it felt wonderful outside and the sun was shining. We stopped and made giant soap bubbles with a guy in a park area. It was harder than it looked, but I was able to get a few bubbles made!

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The streets of Prague are adorable. They are pretty narrow and the streets are mostly cobble. After finding the ticket office, we stopped in a cafe for lunch and had some really great food. Dumplings are supposedly a big deal in Czech, so the dessert we shared was dumpling wrapped strawberries. Their dumplings aren’t what you would expect. Definitely not cracker barrel dumplings. Ali had some with her meal and it was almost just like a spongy bread.

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We continued on our way across Saint Charles Bridge, where we experience our most magical moment of the whole trip. The weather was gorgeous and views out over the water were extremely relaxing. Streets vendors and performers lined the bridge. There were several stands where you could get caricatures drawn. We ended up stopping at a stand with hand painted pebble necklaces made by a lady from Czech. I got one with a little hut on it because we saw so many of them on the train ride in.

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My pebble necklace

My pebble necklace

Just off the bridge was the Old Town square. All of the streets were still really eclectic and adorable. Yet again, we happened upon food stands with a bunch of Czech cultural foods. We had another chimney cake, for research purposes of course. We had to see how their chimney cake compared to that from Budapest. They were in fact different from each other. This one didn’t have the vanilla glaze, but it was fluffier. We also ate a plate of really delicious ham that had been roasted right there, along with some beer bread and a Staropramen beer. Pork and beer are two more huge food products for them. Czech has the highest per capita consumption of beer, and after trying their beer that makes a little more sense to me. I have found since coming to Europe that I do not enjoy the taste of beer, but I could handle Czech’s!

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After eating, we walked over to the really strange, huge clock. It has a bunch of symbols on it that people apparently don’t know the meaning of, but it was pretty impressive looking. While we were waiting for the hour to strike so we could see what the clock does, Ali tried joining in on a tour group. We had to leave because I am pretty sure the guide realized I wasn’t in the group. She kept giving me confused looks. We decided that I don’t have a familiar face like Ali does. Also while we were waiting, people kept trying to get us to do Segway tours and we were getting pretty annoyed. I finally walked away to get some hot chocolate from a stand nearby. The hot chocolate ended up being more like warm chocolate pudding. It still tasted good and warmed up my hands, so totally worth it. On the hour, the clock went off and pictures of saints scrolled across the top. Nothing else really happened, so it wasn’t too exciting, but still kind of neat.


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We found another wedding couple!


Pudding hot chocolate

From there, we tried going to the Jewish quarter to look at a cemetery there, but we again ran into the problem of everything closing early even though it was only around 5 pm. We were able to go into a neat little shop selling things made around the Czech. Afterwards, we decided to try and locate where we needed to go for the symphony we had tickets for. We walked back through Old Town Square, which was full of street performers: people painted in gold to look like statues, a guy dressed as a pirate with two little pigs on leashes, and even a man playing a grand piano!

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We stopped and got directions from a guy in the Municipal house, who we caught watching “Friends” on the computer when we walked up. He was extremely nice and printed off instructions for where we needed to head. We set off in the right direction and stopped in a cafe along the way since we had time to spare. The cafe had a ton of delicious looking desserts! They also had the biggest meringues I have ever seen. Ali and I ended up sharing a cheesecake with strawberries on it.


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We got to the church where the symphony was to be held, but were still an hour early. So, we sat outside the sanctuary, hung out, and compared what we look like crossing eyes. I am sure that’s not what most people attending that event do in their spare time, but it was fun.

ali  kelly mallory

We were finally seated inside in the sanctuary, which was elaborate as expected. I was surprised by how small the group playing was, but nevertheless, they were amazing. The concert lasted about 2 hours, and we enjoyed every minute of it. The clarinet was played so beautifully, with such great tone and precision. I was in awe.

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After the concert, we found our way back to the metro and then home. On the way back, we passed by a huge hole in the side of a bridge. Ali, Kelly, and I took off running because we were terrified of what or who was in there. It was hilarious after the fact, especially considering that people waiting at a cross-walk nearby were looking at us like we were crazy. We are… so that’s okay.

On our last day in Prague, we wandered around a bit since our train wasn’t scheduled to leave until around 10 pm. We were first going to go back to the Jewish cemetery,  but the lady at the desk said “Lunch time- ten minutes!” in a really snippy way, so we just left. We went back across the bridge that we loved so much the first day. There weren’t as many vendors because the weather was kind of nasty. Ali, Kelly, and I did majorly crash a selfie of a group. I fit perfectly into the background between two people from the group. We left when they put the selfie stick down, and upon reviewing their picture they noticed us in the picture and started yelling to us in Italian. I think they thought it was funny, but since we ran away and don’t know Italian… we will never know.


We walked back into the main city area and went into a candy store. We were able to see a candy making demonstration for their hard candy with designs in it. They make a big tube of the sugar substance with the design and then pull it out into tiny cylinders that are chopped up. It was pretty incredible. You can have them make some personalized, but you have to order 120 euros worth of them. While we were watching the candy making, we got free samples. A guy who was also watching, gave us a chocolate truffle that was probably really expensive. I have been told to never take candy from strangers, but considering he opened the container right next to us, we chanced it. We made friends with the Chef guy in charge and got another selfie.

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They sell the ends of the tubes they cut off

They sell the ends of the tubes they cut off

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We decided to go eat actual food, so we went into a cafe and stayed there for several hours because it was a coffee shop kind of day. We collectively drank 5 pots of tea while we were there. I had a 3 course lunch special that was very cheap and very spicy. My tongue had second degree burns from biting into chili peppers, but I ate through the pain because it tasted so good. From there we headed back to Hostel Elf to gather our belongings and get to the station before dark.

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Here are a few more notes from Prague:

1) Whenever we would laugh, we would say “Prahahaha.”

2) Cat and dachshund memorabilia are everywhere. There were a lot of real dachshunds as well. Dogs in general are primarily pure-bred and un-neutered.

3) People rush through the metro. It is important to stay right when standing on an escalator, because people run past on the left.

4) Statues of women are built with incredibly realistic figures. They carry fat in their midriffs in a relatable way. It is comforting actually.

Ignore the boobs

Ignore the boobs

5) Everything seems so colourful. Buildings, street art, etc.

6) You have to ask for your check here as well.

7) Tea is not as strong or good as in Ireland.

8) Dog poop is all over the streets.

9) Carts are small for their public transport. People are packed into buses and trams.

10) The cross walk “go” lasts for only a short time, so you have to hurry across the street.


We booked a sleeper car on the train, since this trip was pretty long and overnight. On the train, I went to go to the bathroom and forgot what number our sleeper cart was. The guy in the attendant room didn’t speak English and got really frustrated with me when I asked for help. He kept telling me “train to Poland,” which I knew. At one point, he rolled his eyes at me I decided to wait out in the hallway in hopes that Ali or Kelly would come out. The attendant kept stepping out and looking at me, so I went and hid in one of the bathrooms. I had a little bit of a migraine and I was really tired, so I sat on the floor of the bathroom that smelt strongly of pee and tried going to sleep with my head rested against the door, hoping that I could hear if anyone came calling for me. Finally, Kelly came and sort of knocked on the door. She rescued me, so I was able to go back to our tiny cart, where I attempted to sleep. I ended up waking up several times. Once was at 5:30 am to my alarm I had set on my watch in case I spent the whole night on the bathroom floor. We had to get up around 6 am anyway because the train made it to Krakow.

Nomadic Adventures: Vienna

Here we go: part two of four!

Off to Vienna!

Off to Vienna!

So, we got off the train at the right stop in Vienna, which was ideal considering that we could have otherwise ended up in Germany. After our experience with Skyline bus service in Budapest, we decided not to even chance a bus system, so we hailed a taxi. In Vienna, we stayed in Palace hostel, which overlooked the city. After being smack dab in the city for Budapest, it was nice to be in such a peaceful area.

Beautiful View

Beautiful View

Palace Hostel

Palace Hostel

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Even more beautiful view

Even more beautiful view

Once we checked in, we went on a little walk before finding a place to eat.


Roommate Jelly getting way too excited about dirty snow. Californians.

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It was called Villa Aurora. We were a little confused when people were parading out of the building carrying giant bowls of food, but we finally went inside. We were further confused when there was a giant dog sitting in the reception area. And the confusion did not stop there… the waiters started speaking to us in German and I am sure they saw the panic in our eyes. We told them we were lost but they thought we said that we had lost someone. Finally, Ali said “I am hungry,” and those three words alone were enough to clear up all confusion. They took us inside the seating area and said, “This is just a normal restaurant! Come inside! Why are you being so shy?” For dessert, we shared a creme strudel that had a delicious vanilla rum sauce. The restaurant was really calm and soothing, especially with the candle-lit tables, a wood burning fireplace, and the murmur of German from everyone around. Also at Villa Aurora, a girl came up and took one of the menus at our table to use; however, the waiters had given us special English menus. We watched her as she went back to her table and was really thrown off because she was anticipating that it would be in German. By this restaurant, we had learned that places in Europe don’t rush you out. You have to ask for the check because sitting and visiting is expected of customers.



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The second day, we got an early start because we basically only had one day planned for Vienna. After eating the rolls with every spread imaginable provided to us by the hostel, we set out to find our way into the city. We hopped on Bus 46A, which is ironic, because that is one of the numbers for the busses that service our campus back in Dublin. We couldn’t figure out when/if we had to pay. The bus driver who didn’t really speak English conveyed to us that we pay later because we also had to take a tram. So, we hopped off the bus at the stop the lady at reception wrote down on paper for us to get off on. When we got off, we started walking across the street to a tram stop, but the bus driver honked at us because he knew we were going to the wrong one. He motioned us to the right stop, and we successfully hopped on tram 10 and were off to the zoo.


The zoo in Vienna, called Tiergarten Schonbrunn, is the oldest in the world. It was really neat to see because of the Baroque architecture and cages. They had koalas, orangutans, and even Giant Pandas! Zoos make me a little sad because the animals are in captivity, but fortunately many of the animals there seemed to be pretty content.


My poor friend who wanted out

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Roommate Jelly’s Spirit Animal

Ali's spirit animal... jk, she hates them

Ali’s spirit animal… jk, she hates them


Mallory’s spirit animal?


Canopy Walk over the Zoo


I am pretty much a Giant Panda at heart

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After the zoo, we tried asking directions to walk to the city centre. The lady at the desk told us to take the tram multiple times. We went back to the tram station and asked someone else and they kept telling us to take the tram. It was beautiful outside and we were stubborn and determined to walk, so we started walking even though we weren’t really sure which direction we were supposed to be heading. We found a huge palace building with a ton of tourists. Ali and Kelly went separate ways to find help with directions. Both found out simultaneously that we were crazy for wanting to walk since the centre was forever away. So, we sucked it up and got on the tram. We quickly figured out the tram system, so we were fine except for the fact that we still didn’t know about paying.


The "we finally figured out how to get around Vienna" picture

The “we finally figured out how to get around Vienna” picture

The closed market

The closed market

The market we tried getting out at was closed, probably because it was Sunday. So, we got back on the tram and headed into their Heroes’ Square, which contained a bunch of very European looking buildings. We sat down in a park area, where there were a bunch of old people on benches. It was super cute, and being an 80 year old woman trapped in a 20 year old body, I felt right at home.

My posse

My posse


??? Unconventional Accordion Players

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Me being all distinguished with a dress… and hiking backpack

There was also an Asian couple who came through, getting their wedding pictures taken. While we were watching them, a little girl walked up really close to them and seemed mesmerized by the bride. She made a bit of a disgusted face when they kissed though. While the photo-shoot was going on, we also witnessed a guy pick his nose while cuddling with his girlfriend. After that scarring incident, we decided to go find a cafe because I was hungry. Earlier, Ali wouldn’t let me eat the apple I had with me, since my front four teeth are loose on top and I hadn’t brought a knife to cut the apple up. She was only looking out for my best interest, but you should never mess with a hungry college student. It also didn’t help that both Ali and Kelly ate their apples in front of me.

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While walking, we wandered upon a Winter festival going on! It happened to be the last day they were holding it. There was ice-skating on huge outdoor rinks with tracks connecting them. We ended up getting food from all but one of the stands; however, it only cost us around six euro a piece because we split everything we tried. First, we had Spatzle, which had egg noodles, spinach, and goat cheese. Then we had some sort of dessert that I don’t know the name of; it was like little squares of pancake with vanilla sauce. The pancake was less sweet than American pancakes and has more of an egg and corn base to it. After dessert, we went back for real food round two. We had sausage with cheese inside, which we read are sometimes referred to as “Eitriger.” Translation: pus-stick. Setting aside the unfortunate nick-name, it was actually delicious and came with a piece of beer bread (emphasis on the beer). There was also a stand selling roasted nuts. We split a bag of rum flavoured ones, and then each got a package for the road. I tried a coffee based flavour for my second one, and it was even better than the rum. The guy working at the booth didn’t speak any English, and the only words I recognized were Rum and Latte, hence my choices.





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After the festival, we went to go find the giant ferris wheel. We took the trams again and found their open amusement park. This was the first amusement park aside from the fair, where you just freely walk in and then pay per ride. We hopped on the ferris wheel, which had boxes instead of benches. So, each individual cart held a bunch of people. Some of the carts you could see go by were fitted with tables. I am guessing you can rent a cart for a fancy dinner. The views were spectacular! The wheel went up a lot higher than it appeared from below, and you could see all of the city!!

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Afterwards, we walked around the amusement park. The strangest thing is that they had a live carousel. I don’t think the horses were too happy to be walking around and around in circles, but I am sure that is how carousels originally were.

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Matching noses

Matching noses

After that, we hopped back on the tram and headed into the city to find a cafe. We were walking along the street window shopping when a drunk Frenchman came up to us on the street and said something about being beautiful mademoiselles and blew two kisses. We were able to kind of shoo him off, but as he walked away he let one rip. The acoustics of the nearly empty street had to have amplified it a bit. We all three lost it!


We found a cafe called Cafe Ritter, where we sat for a good couple of hours. We learned that Viennese coffee houses are huge deals. People linger around them for a really long time! Smoking is way more common in Europe, so there was actually a smoking parlor I had to walk through to get to the bathroom. It was almost too much for me to handle just breezing through, so fortunately we steered clear of it when we chose our seats. The building was otherwise full of charm. It was in really old building, so there was a bunch of built in molding and woodwork. On the way out, I noticed a stash of newspapers that each had their own handle contraption attached for easy reading.

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We figured out transport back to the hostel, where we first stopped to check out the twinkling city lights from the back lawn. Afterwards, we looked up things to do at the next stop and wound down for the night. We tried researching the whole paying for public transport thing, and apparently it’s not free. However, we just kept being told “pay later, pay later” by people in Vienna, and we never actually saw anyone else pay or have tickets, so it will forever remain a mystery. (At least until the Viennese police come knocking at my door for payment).

Pictures Commemorating that time we unintentionally ripped off Vienna by not paying for public transport:

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While we were waiting in the train station the next day, Ali had me listen to Billy Joel’s song “Vienna,” which I had heard before but love even more now. I told her we could probably make a soundtrack for our spring break trip, with that song and “Budapest” by George Ezra. We tried to find a good song for Prague, since that is were we were boarding the train for, but weren’t too successful. We decided that it would just be Polka music or some other strange thing.

Journaling about Vienna (with an audience)

Journaling about Vienna (with an audience)

Overall, Vienna was super great! I felt safe at all times, and the people were much nicer than our previous stop.

Nomadic Adventures: Budapest

I am super excited to get to blog about my Spring Break 2015, but at the same time it is kind of daunting because there is just so much to say. I am going to have to split it up…

Starting out, my roommates and I all received “idiot points” for waiting until the week before to book everything for the trip. We ended up staying up until 3 in the morning one night because we absolutely needed to get on buying our train tickets and book hostels. After a hot mess of a night as Kelly called it, we were able to get everything we needed in line to leave. The next challenge was packing. Packing enough clothes and shoes for that pretty lengthy period of time in a carry on that can’t exceed 10 kg is a challenge. I think I just got to the point where I threw clothes in the bag and said, “This is just going to have to do.” Before we left, I engineered a homemade weighing system so that we could make sure that our bags weren’t overweight. None of us were about to pay 50 euro to check an overweight bag. Using the empty milk jugs and orange juice carton we had, I filled them up with water to equal right under 10 kg and put them inside our trash can.

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We ended up leaving on a Wednesday night. Since I don’t have class on Friday, I only skipped one class Wednesday night and one class Thursday. Many of the Irish students stopped coming to class long ago, so it’s whatever I guess. Upon our arrival to Budapest, we were supposed to have a shuttle booked to take us into the city so we could find our hostel. We got in around midnight and the shuttle was scheduled to come at 0:55. Well… it didn’t. After scrounging up the coins for a payphone (thank goodness someone had given Kelly some forints), I went to call the company number provided. I was finally able to get ahold of a sassy guy who sounded like he was half-asleep, but all that he would say was “One… Twenty…. Seven.” He just kept repeating it over and over and over again. So finally I got confirmation that the new pick up time was 1:27. Only, it wasn’t because the shuttle still never showed up. Every other possible bus service showed up… but never Skyline. We waited around until about 2 am, when we gave up and called a taxi.


In Hungary, I depended on Ali and Kelly to buy everything for me because they each withdrew money from the ATM and I didn’t. We didn’t understand their currency when we went to withdraw money at the airport, the ATM was in Hungarian, and we probably weren’t completely with it because it was late and we were tired, so each of them accidentally withdrew around 200 euro in cash. I am not sure that I ever really got used to their currency. They use the forint in Hungary, so all the prices are really huge numbers. Also, they use periods in place of commas. It was really difficult to judge how expensive everything was and also make sure that we weren’t getting gypped, because the conversion factor was not simple.

The next morning we decided to just wander around Budapest since we didn’t exactly know where we were going. Budapest definitely has a different look and feel to it than Dublin. In the architecture there is a combination of Roman and Russian influence. There are courtyards, detailed stonework, pointy buildings, coloured tile roofs. It’s much quieter on the streets with fewer people walking around. More people drive cars rather than walk since the city is bigger.

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Our obsession with chimney cake started that morning as we stumbled across a roadside stand. After meandering in a couple of stores and then across a bridge, we managed to find ourselves in a touristy landmark which required a hike up a hill to Citadel. Before actually going up the hill, we stopped and ate a giant pretzel that was bigger than my face.

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It was really neat to overlook the whole city and see the landmarks we would eventually hit from above.

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At the top, there was also a playground. Naturally, we decided to spend some time there. The highlight was the giant hamster wheel. Surprisingly no one was injured… however, I did fly out of the wheel several times.

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After that, we found an shop where workers tried guessing our ethnicity. They thought I was Swedish or Norwegian, which is actually a common guess that I get over here. Since all we had to eat for the day at that point was basically bread, we found a cafe where I ate a paprika veal and egg noodle dish. Paprika spiced meat and goulash are trademark hungarian dishes. We also had some strange Hungarian dessert there. It was basically fried dough balls in a cream cheese sauce… not my favourite, but worth a try. Back at the hostel, we went down to the bar and used our coupons for a free drink. Hot wine is apparently a big deal in Hungary, and that was one of our choices, so we decided to give it a go. I actually liked it because it had less of a fermented flavour and more of an Apple Cider taste with the spices.

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Day two in Budapest, I made sure to come up with a plan of action and got us out the door early. On the way to the first stop, we saw the largest synagogue in Europe.1924828_10206187916122951_1089226462076294621_n

The first actual stop, we hit Great Market Hall. This was a huge indoor market with a bunch of grocery, craft, and food stands. I bought a little wooden spice scoop since Paprika is a big deal there. We also ate breakfast at the market. We had what was called langos, which reminded me of an elephant ear. Ours had vanilla pudding on top of it, so it was a delicious mess.

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After that, we shot up the road to the Parliament building. Along the way, we found wavy benches that were really comfortable; the sun shining on us made it even better. We also saw from across the Danube, Buda Castle, which was massive, and Matthias Church, which is supposedly the finest church in Budapest. There was also a memorial along the side of the Danube near the chain bridge, which was the first bridge to connect Buda and Pest. The memorial was a bunch of metal shoes right off the water. It was kind of eerie as it was to commemorate Jewish people who had been shot into the river.11026318_10206187918883020_9125115787686267764_n 11081110_10204883820869665_4421401268892021462_n1507561_10206187920723066_12309521279006569_n 11036303_10206187919443034_7131159363872020927_n    10404224_10206187921523086_7586561180433316821_n 11063612_10206187921323081_3781506934134979712_n984296_10206187919683040_225902336650985949_n

We finally reached the parliament building, which was a beautiful kind of scary because of the pointy roof along with the colouration.

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After that, we saw St. Stephen’s Basilica, Budapest’s largest Roman Catholic church. I have never seen a church so elaborately decorated. On the way out, there was a booth to buy merchandise. Ali says that Jesus probably would have flipped the table. She is right.11045844_10206187929723291_1593096928461873432_n  11061760_10206187927483235_6639036751672358923_n  11008419_10206187928683265_355752093107904070_n 11008419_10206187925003173_1290846494075059969_n 10985570_10206187929163277_2241361784058781324_n 10397979_10206187926963222_4498615397194159767_n 10981832_10206187928963272_5321524651903356245_n  10622702_10206187925443184_5530579444937030440_n 13373_10206187927163227_7334781044916705609_n

Then we walked up Andrassy street to Heroes Square, seeing the state opera house along the way. Heroes Square was a giant paved square with an extremely tall column in the middle along with a few arches of columns off to the side. It was incredibly huge!10952450_10206187932443359_426356370625726666_n 11063424_10206187931843344_1274374930802135262_n 10288708_10206187932563362_7262666775852508078_n 10924704_10206187931963347_6083644700079766428_n

After that, we walked around to Vajdahunyad Castle, which was too big to get in one picture. It kind of had a more Gothic look to it as well. There was a statue of George Washington outside it as a tribute to Hungarian Americans.11054352_10206187933643389_3122533468899505200_n   10380973_10206187934723416_8826762708880534219_n 10462769_10206187933483385_6687603382907887616_n   10422205_10206187934203403_4323856661475082571_n   21269_10206187933363382_5736607687023586297_n

Inside the castle, there was an agriculture museum, which Ali and I had to go into considering we are agriculture students. Kelly didn’t seem to mind either, because I think we have started converting her into an ag loving girl. The museum was endless and aside from the exhibits, it was worth paying to go into just for the architecture alone. There were stained glass windows throughout and definitely felt castle-like inside still.

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After the museum, we didn’t know what to do, so we decided to find food and then maybe try going to Buda’s castle. First we grabbed some more chimney cake and then we ate gyros at a little hole in the wall place. They were really cheap and really delicious, although they were quite spicy, which hurt my chapped lips. It was worth the pain. Stopping to eat also gave us time to rest our feet since we were hurting pretty bad by that point.

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On the way to Buda’s castle, we happened upon a Hungarian festival they were holding. We ate yet more chimney cake, but this time, we got to watch it be made right in front of us! Also, when we got it, it was super warm and delicious. (Lesson learned from that chimney cake is that it must be consumed the day you get it. I ate all mine that night, but Ali and Kelly left some for the morning. Both of them ended up getting sick from it.) We browsed the rest of the booths and ended our day watching the sun set behind Buda’s castle.

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When we got back, it was only around 7’clock, which seems super early but it was already pitch black outside. Later on, we ventured back outside to find dinner. We stopped at a place called Ramenka, which was a few streets down from us. Along the way, it was kind of dark and scary, so I told Ali and Kelly to keep up with my pace and we hurried quickly to the restaurant. At first Kelly and I were confused because the menus were in Hungarian, and Ali was confused why we were confused, but then we learned they had two sets of menus and Ali happened to pick up the English version. Since the place was packed, we took ours to go and made it home with hot ramen safe and sound. Me eating with chopsticks was a disaster. Kelly is half-Chinese so she tried her best to teach me. By the end of the meal, I had kind of sort of gotten the hang of it. After eating and reading a chapter of Mere Christianity together, we went back to the room to go to bed. Unknown to me until we reached Vienna, I left my scarf down there in the bar area because I had taken it off to avoid dropping food all over it. So now, we have changed the words to George Ezra’s song and instead of “My house in Budapest” it is now “My scarf’s in Budapest.”

The next morning was not nice to my blood pressure. The lady at the desk was as sassy as the man on the phone the first night. Hungarians in general don’t seem outwardly to be the happiest of people. They don’t laugh a whole lot. The day before, we were laughing a lot while walking around and Ali jokingly said, “Stop laughing, we are in Hungary.” After leaving the hostel in the morning, we couldn’t decipher the maps we had looked up. An uncharacteristically friendly Hungarian man with his wife came up and asked if we needed help. He could tell we were lost, but he pointed us in the direction to the train station, so we were off again! I had never seen a train station before, so I was super excited to see Keleti.

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Once there we asked a bunch of different booths for help and finally found platform 8 where we were supposed to be. While waiting, we decided to get some langos from a stand at the station. The menu was completely in Hungarian, so we could not figure out what toppings they had. The lady at the window only spoke Hungarian, so she was getting really mad at us when we didn’t understand what she was saying. It was terrifying. So, Kelly just got a Sprite and we left. The workers at the station helped us find our cart. One of them pretty much demanded a tip right after he helped us find our seats and load our luggage. It was deserved, but very abrupt with the way he asked for it. He also set us in the wrong seats because we had a man and then couple try to move us. The couple insisted we move, so we found what I guess were our actual seats. I was able to get Goulash on the train, so my Hungarian experience was officially complete.

Hiking and Home Visits

Totally meant to get this blog done before leaving for Spring holiday, but unfortunately this didn’t get checked off my to-do list. I have a ton to say about my adventures in Eastern Europe, but that will have to wait. In the meantime, the Facebook album I posted today can give you a preview.

I have gotten into hiking here in Ireland. I even broke down and bought a pair of hiking boots! They give me super great grip and are entirely waterproof, which is a must considering that wet socks is a pet peeve of mine.


This year, my Valentine’s Day belongs to the February 14th Hall of Fame. Ali and I set out for Howth. The train out to Howth was completely packed. At first we worried that we had chosen a hotspot for couples, but then we realized that the majority of the population on the train were men dressed in sports fan gear. Turns out there was a huge rugby game between Ireland and France, so Dublin was packed with people from both countries going to the game.

When we got to Howth, the weather was slightly warmer than it was last time we visited. It was just as beautiful as before, and this time we found the actual hiking trails. They ran right alongside the cliff and you could look out into the water and see all of the ships going by. As it got darker, the lighthouse shining along the shore could be seen.

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Ali and I shared a sweet Valentine’s day moment as we sat on the rocky hill eating pasta and bean salad with our hands. Ali told me that she hadn’t gotten tired of me yet, which is probably best considering we still had around three months left with each other at that point. We didn’t hike the full extent of the trails, partially because the path is hard to follow and partially because we had gotten a later start, which isn’t ideal when the sun sets around 5:30 pm.

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This doesn’t really count as a hike, but I want to include it in this blog anyways– on the Sunday after Valentine’s Day, we went to the farmer’s market. Kelly’s mom was in town, which is why Ali and I had hiked alone the day before. But, they told us they were going to a farmer’s market in Dun Laoghaire (pronounced Done Leery) and invited us to come along. My favourite place to be is a farmer’s market, so of course I was going to go! After church, we hopped on the bus and headed over to the market, which was actually pretty big! They have it every Sunday, and I would love to go again when it is warmer.


The last Saturday in March, Ali, Kelly, and I decided to try out somewhere new for hiking. We ended up going out to a place called Greystones. This was a unique hike, as it was along the water. We started out having to climb over huge rocks. I was certainly glad to have my hiking boots here. The rest of the walk was over sand and pebbles. The various little stones were really neat, so I had a pocket full of rocks by the end of the hike. At the end of the beach, we climbed up on a wall of rocks and looked out over the water. A sea lion popped his head up and stared at us. He kept watching us and then would disappear for a while before resurfacing.


Banana Chips Forever


Roommate Jelly has a killer selfie arm

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No selfie stick required

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The hike back was a bit more challenging since we were going against the wind! But it was all worth it, because at the end we were rewarded with a roadside fish stand. It was undoubtedly a place where the locals go. They only took cash and knew everyone by name. People did double takes when they heard our accents. You could tell the fish was fresh from the taste, and there were even still some scales on it! On the way home, we invented two point systems called “Clutch Points” (for when you do something really awesome) and “Idiot Points” (for when you have a duh moment or do something incredibly embarrassing). We have taken to awarding each other these points, and I have my fair share of Idiot Points. Major idiot points were awarded to me when I printed off my boarding pass for Spring Break on poster sized paper because I haven’t gotten the hang of their printers here. On the bright side, I now have a poster to decorate my white walls with, and a lot of people have gotten a kick out of it 🙂 The great thing about studying abroad is that you learn to laugh at yourself for making stupid mistake or having no idea as to what you are doing.


I am not homesick, but I have still come to appreciate reminders of home or just the feeling of being in a home. Whether it is letters, cards, or packages of peanut butter (thanks Uncle Jay!), it always makes my day when mail slips under my apartment door. I have had a few opportunities to be able to spend time in homes here in Ireland. It is such a nice feeling to be outside of the student residence apartment and instead in an actual house. It makes me feel all warm and cozy.

The first home visit I had was way out in the country side to Gillian’s house. I met Gillian in my Animal Physiology class here in Ireland. The first day of class the teacher asked if there were any international students, I raised my hand and said I was from Indiana. It just so happened that Gillian was sitting behind me and had spent the previous Fall semester in Indiana at none other than Purdue University.

One Friday we were working on a class project, and she asked if I wanted to head to her home town of Tulsk for the weekend. Since Ali also goes to Purdue, she came along as well. We learned to load up the turf burning heater, hung out with Granny and Patch the dog, became “proper” tea addicts, ate a ton of food, explored, and watched Gillian play Gaelic football like a champ! Ali and I each had our embarrassing moments on the trip. One of mine was getting locked into the bathroom because I couldn’t figure out how to work the skeleton key. I was stuck in there for about 15 minutes and was pretty sure I would have to spend the night on the floor or crawl out the window and explain to her family why I was coming from outside. Ali sat outside the bathroom door laughing and making sure there was video proof of my terrible moment. The next day, she had her moment, as she slipped and fell in a mud puddle after climbing on the horse statue.

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The Monday before we left for break, Ali, Kelly, and I were invited to the Hannings’ house. Ken and Jody are originally from Texas, but are living in Dublin. Ken is a church planter and serves as an assistant preacher for Dublin Vineyard, which is the church we attend here. The Hannings are such a friendly, hospitable family. We had a fantastic time talking, playing games with their daughter Ava, and eating a spectacular meal. They were even so kind as to come pick us up from the bus stop we got stranded at in the cold and then drive us back home after dinner. Being inside a family home was so relaxing in general, but Ken and Jody really made us feel at home.

Stranded at the Bus Stop

Stranded at the Bus Stop

There is no telling when I will get my Eastern Europe blog up considering that tomorrow is Saint Patrick’s day (well today technically for me) and I also have my Animal Physiology final on Thursday. Hopefully soon!

***A big thanks to Ali and Kelly for letting me steal their pictures 🙂 ***


Cool Words and Phrases:

  • “Ahh Sugar!” = “Dang it”
  • “Lads” for guys
  • “How did you get on?” = How did you do?
  • Gilet= Vest
  • “That’s class” = that’s nice or awesome
  • “That’s handy” = that’s nice or easy or something like that
  • “Some stage” for some point