Home!

So I have been home for a little over two weeks now!  After three flights and over 27 hours of traveling I finally made it home to San Francisco  AND I only cried twice!  With the kind of trip I had thats a low number.  I was expecting to have extreme reversal culture shock as I reentered the United States, but coming back was surprisingly easy.   After two days of being home it already felt like I had been there for months.  Thats not to say I don’t absolutely miss Budapest and all the amazing people I met and places I saw, I was just expecting coming home to be more dramatic.

I am extremely grateful for my time abroad, I have learned so much about myself and I have so much more confidence in myself and my ability to live independently.  I think about Budapest everyday and I still cannot believe my study abroad, the semester I have been looking forward to since entering college, is over.  I feel very lucky to have had the experience that I did, and although times were not always easy, I wouldn’t change one second of it.

On Friday I leave for Dublin!  I will spend the summer there taking a business class and interning at the Bank of Ireland.  I am very excited, it will be interesting living in Western Europe as opposed to Central Europe (as I learned in one of my classes, Hungary is NOT Eastern Europe).

Thank you everyone, if anyone, who read this blog and followed my awkward hand antics as I travelled throughout Europe.  I have one last thing to share.  When I came back home my mom showed me a picture, which I am sharing with you now.  I guess my awkward hands has been an issue all my life, I just never realized it until I went to Europe.

Can you find me? (Hint: look for the awkward hand)
Can you find me? (Hint: look for the awkward hand)

Thats all!  Thanks for reading!

Lisbon and Prague

Another couple weeks spent traveling!

Two weekends ago I went to Portugal for about 3ish days.  Grace and I originally booked this trip early on when the weather was still very cold in Budapest.  We were so desperate for warmth we thought we would try to travel as far west as possible to find it, resulting in us booking a trip to Portugal for the first weekend in April.  We were convinced by then it would be nice and hot in Portugal and we could have a mini spring break there since Budapest doesn’t believe in an actual spring break (one of the very few not so great things about this place).  We originally planned on spending one day in Lisbon and two days in the south of Portugal in Lagos (where we planned on laying on the beach all day sipping on mojitos).  The week before we left, however, we looked at the weather and realized it would be in the 50s and kind of rainy the whole time we were there…and the worst part was Budapest was going to be in the 70s all that weekend.  Our plan kind of back fired on us so we decided to spend the full three days in Lisbon instead.

Despite being disappointed in the weather, I can’t complain that it forced us to hang out in Lisbon for the weekend!  Lisbon was absolutely beautiful!  It reminded me a lot of San Francisco with all the hills and of course the Ponte 25 de Abril bridge.  While there we ended up taking two different free walking tours that allowed us to explore different areas of Lisbon.  I had never been on a walking tour before but I really enjoyed the two I went on, the walking tour guides were really great and gave us plenty of suggestions on things to do.  Thursday and Friday we would start our day with a walking tour that usually lasted around 3 hours and then after we would wander around on our own (and of course get plenty of sea food!).

On Thursday after our tour we went to a city about 20 minutes from Lisbon called Belem where we got amazing pastries that the city is known for.  After each having one it took less than 10 seconds for us to justify having another.  On Friday we did some shopping and had dinner at a delicious cafe called Noobai that had an amazing view of the golden gate look-a-like bridge.  Saturday we followed the suggestion of our walking tour guides and took a 40 minute train to a town called Sintra.  I definitely recommend going to this town if you find yourself in Lisbon for a couple days.  Its a small town tucked into lush, green mountains.  The town is adorable and you can go all the way to the top of one of the mountains to an absolutely incredible palace and extensive garden (with white and black swans!!).  When we were there it was a very foggy day but it was still pleasant out so we were able to enjoy the town and it was so refreshing to see so much green!  The whole place kind of reminded me of Disneyland.  We decided to follow signs and walk up the mountain to the palace.  What we thought would be a 20 minute walk ended up being an hour hike.  We were one of the few who hiked up, apparently most people take a bus or drive…  I am so happy we hiked up though because it was so nice to be surrounded by so much green and fog.  Anyways enjoy some pictures!

Awkward hand makes appearance early on in the trip
Awkward hand makes appearance early on in the trip
Destruction from 1755 earthquake, which led to a tsunami, which led to a fire- killing 40% of Portugal’s population
Most delicious custard pastries (a specialty of Belem)
Most delicious custard pastries (a specialty of Belem)
view of Lisbon
view of Lisbon
Pad thai shrimp from Noobai cafe- instead of a peanut sauce it had a hot lime sauce- soooo good
Pad thai shrimp from Noobai cafe- instead of a peanut sauce it had a hot lime sauce- soooo good
Enjoying art in Sintra
Enjoying art in Sintra
Just the beginning of the largest garden I have ever been in (in Sintra)
Just the beginning of the largest garden I have ever been in (in Sintra)
Enjoying more of the gardens in Sintra
Enjoying more of the gardens in Sintra
Amazing view from the palace in Sintra
Amazing view from the palace in Sintra

This past weekend I went to Prague to celebrate the 21st birthday of my friend Eli!  I really liked Prague, it reminded me a lot of Budapest but I have to admit overall I thought Prague was more beautiful.  Budapest feels more like a city so its broken up more in style but in Prague everything was so cohesive and the style of the buildings and streets were so cute I loved it.  Prague is also really cool because you can turn almost any corner and see a realllllly reallllly old church or some sort of historical monument.

On Friday I was lucky enough to have my own personal tour guide (Eli) show me all the major sites of Prague.  After spending so many weekends in new cities on my own it was really nice to be with someone who knew where to go so I didn’t have to refer to a map every couple steps.  My favorite area of Prague was the Old Town square.  The square was so beautiful and since its almost Easter there was a little market in the square that was fun to walk through (they even had a petting zoo in which I fed the cutest baby goat mwaha).

On Saturday we didn’t do much.  The bday boy was still recovering from his long night out so we hung around his apartment most of the day.  We finally made it out at 8pm to get dinner and then out again to continue the birthday celebration- in which we ended the night with a qurrito box.  Oh, what is a qurrito box you ask?  Only the best thing KFC has ever made ever.  Its a quesadilla with BBQ sauce and KFC fried chicken, five wings, and fries.  I could hardly finish my qurrito but I guess there are some people out there who can finish the whole box…

On Sunday, before heading to the airport, we decided to end the trip by going pedal boating on the river in Prague.  It was a great way to end a great trip!

Prague!
Prague!
Old Town
Old Town
This hurt my eyes
This hurt my eyes
Can you find my head?
Can you find my head?
Potato on a stick!
Potato on a stick!
Casual garden with wild, mating peacocks
Casual garden with wild, mating peacocks
Probably the nerdiest picture anyone has ever taken in front of the John Lennon wall
Probably the nerdiest picture anyone has ever taken in front of the John Lennon wall
Introduced to the qurrito box...a qurrito (quesadilla with BBQ sauce and fried chicken) with wings and fries
Introduced to the qurrito box…a qurrito (quesadilla with BBQ sauce and fried chicken) with wings and fries
Bday boy!
Bday boy!

The Groesbecks Come to Budapest!

This weekend my parents and sister journeyed all the way out to Budapest to visit me!  They got here on Tuesday and left Sunday.  It was so nice to see them and stay in a hotel for a couple of days!  It felt like I had my own mini vacation in Budapest and I definitely enjoyed getting to see all the popular sights of Budapest again.  Before my parents came, though, I went caving!  On the Buda side there are a lot more mountains and you can do a two hour caving tour.  I had only gone caving once before so I was really excited to try it out again.  They gave us big overalls to slide around in, a helmet, and a helmet light.  The tour was a lot more intense than I thought it was going to be- it felt like every couple of yards we were back on the ground sliding through little holes that I swear normal sized people are not suppose to fit through (however we had a couple really big guys on our tour who were able to slide through even the smallest holes to my surprise).  It was a great workout and my arms and legs were sore for a good three days afterwards.

Entering the cave
Entering the cave
Inside the cave!  (don't be fooled this was one of the few bigger/open areas)
Inside the cave! (don’t be fooled this was one of the few bigger/open areas)

I really had a great time and I’m happy I wasn’t informed as to how intense the whole tour would be because knowing me I probably would have wimped out.

Anyways back to my family!  As I said I had a great time pretending to be on vacation all week.  I left all my homework in my dorm and just let myself relax and enjoy some time with the family.  I think the best part of staying in the hotel was that THEY HAD BREAKFAST.  I almost made myself feel sick every morning because I literally stuffed my face with breakfast foods.  I had omelets, pancakes, pastries, breakfast potatoes, nutella, and more every morning.  Pretty much my immediate thought after every breakfast was, “I can’t wait for breakfast TOMORROW!”.

The first night my parents and sister were here we took it easy and  just walked around down a popular street and then around to my school and up to my dorm.  We got gyros that night (at my insistence) and I took them to my favorite spot.  It was interesting because, since I knew where we were going, I thought the whole walk was relatively short.  My family, however, kept asking me how much longer and it made me realize how high my tolerance for walking long distances had become.

The second day I had class until mid afternoon, but afterwards I took them on a walking tour across Chain bridge, up to Buda castle, and around Fisherman’s Bastion.

Mother, daughter pic in front of Fisherman's Bation
Mother, daughter pic in front of Fisherman’s Bation
Dad and I being kewl
Dad and I being kewl
Shooting some bow and arrows behind Buda castle (Hannah was pretty pumped)
Shooting some bow and arrows behind Buda castle (Hannah was pretty pumped)

After touring around we had dinner at probably one of the fanciest places I have ever eaten at.  It was in the FIsherman’s Bastion so it had a great view of everything.  We trudged in wearing our casual walking clothes and I immediately felt like I needed to go take a shower STAT.  The restaurant was so nice- it had huge domed ceilings, beautiful chandeliers, a violinist playing in the corner, and we had about five waiters constantly serving us.  I think I melted in my chair when they brought out our food all at once with those food cover things, and at the same time they lifted them for us.  I had a steak (first one here!) and it was so good I could have easily eaten another one (or two or five).  After dinner I made my parents and sister all try palinka and unicum (hungarian alcohol- one tastes like everclear and the other taste like pine tar).  They didn’t like it very much.  We also got amazing desserts but I am realizing how I am writing too much about the food and I am suddenly self conscious so I am going to stop.  My biggest regret of the night was not taking pictures of the food to show you guys!

On Thursday we went to the House of Terror which is a museum about WW2 and the communist era that followed afterwards in Hungary.  We spent a couple hours there and I definitely recommend going to this museum.  It was nice because I am taking a history class here so I understand a lot of the WW2 part and the history of it in Hungary, however we are just now learning about communism in Hungary so I would like to go back again after we finish learning about that.  The House of Terror was the actual head quarters of the fascist and communist parties and many people were tortured and killed in that building.  It was a bit overwhelming, especially for my sister, but we were all happy we went.

Later that day we got dinner at the Gerbeaud cafe.  It is mainly a place to get desserts but they also have a bistro and the food was very good!  It is very touristy but I feel like everyone who visits has to go at least once because the dessert is beautifully made and very tasty.  Ugh why did I not take more pictures.

On Friday I took my family to Heros Square and after we walked around the park behind the square where the baths are.  It was a really nice day out and we all enjoyed just strolling around and taking it easy.

Hanging out!
Hanging out!
Awk hand makes first appearance- apparently thats what my other hand does when I drink coffee
Awk hand makes first appearance- apparently thats what my other hand does when I drink coffee

That night we went on a dinner boat tour.  It was a great way to spend the evening.  The tour was about two and a half hours and the walls/ceiling of the boat were made of glass so we could sight see while we ate dinner.  We went up and down the river one and a half times and enjoyed being able to see all of Budapest at the convenience of our dinner table. And of course, in case your were wondering, the food was definitely better than I thought it was going to be (but not as good as the other nights).

Dad looking STOKED to be on a dinner cruise
Dad looking STOKED to be on a dinner cruise

My family made a habit of going to the Four Seasons every night at the end the day to have drinks since our hotel was so close.  Its an absolutely stunning hotel and we enjoyed spending a couple hours drinking wine and chatting.  On Friday night we got really excited because we realized Melissa McCarthy was sitting at the table behind us with a very well dressed man going through what looked like a script.  I was waaaay too nervous to say hello but I definitely snuck a couple glances.

Imagine this sitting behind you
Imagine this sitting behind you

The last day my family was here, Saturday, we just took it easy and explored Deak Ferenc street.  We did some shopping, got some goulash soup, and had a couple drinks.  I took them to Szimpla, one of the most famous ruined bars in Budapest, and afterwards we went to a steakhouse to have dinner with a friend of mine whose parents were also here.  On Sunday we all had breakfast (obviously) and then they headed out.  I was pretty happy because my dad got me a late check out so once they all left I laid around the hotel room and pretended for a couple more hours that I was on vacation.  I’m sad there gone but its nice to get back in my routine and this weekend I go to Portugal!

Istanbul and Dublin

Before I start this post I have realized I have yet to mention my third roommate!  Her name is Hajnalka and she is from Serbia.  She is a couple years older than Grace and I and is almost done with school.  It has been really fun getting to know her, she is really sweet and, after being so nervous to find out who my third roommate would be, I could not be happier with my living arrangements!  She speaks english very well, however there has obviously still been some issues with understanding one another and I think it has been really funny trying to figure out what the other is trying to say when we have miscommunications.  The other day she taught us how to make goulash soup (a very common soup in Hungary).  Grace and I thought we were just going to make some soup, but she also surprised us with her favorite sweet wine from home and some other snacks she enjoys.  The soup was so good I need to make this when I am back home!

Goulash soup- made with beef, onions, carrots, peppers, and more deliciousness
Goulash soup- made with beef, onions, carrots, peppers, and more deliciousness

Two weekends ago I went to Istanbul and it was absolutely crazy!  I’ve been to Turkey once before (for a day- I went to a city on the coast but can’t remember the name) so I was excited to see another part of the country.  Grace and I went together, and although we were only there for about one and a half days we really tried to make the most of it and we ended seeing a lot more things than we had originally planned.  Part of the reason we were able to see more was because four of Istanbul’s main attractions are only a couple minutes walking distance from each other.

We left for Istanbul around 4am on Friday and finally got to our hostel around 12:30pm that same day.  Despite being very tired Grace and I spent the rest of the day at the Spice Bazaar and Grand Bazaar.  For those of you who don’t know, these are two different markets in Istanbul.  Both are huge and sell a variety of things and are also VERY crowded.  The whole time we were there Grace and I couldn’t help but wish we had two huge body guards with us, as we could hardly move in some areas since there were so many people and we were the target of a lot of people trying to sell things to us.

A typical street around the Grand Bazaar
A typical street around the Grand Bazaar

Despite being stressed out by the amount of people in these markets, Grace and I had a great time walking around and buying little souvenirs.  It was so easy to spend the rest of the day there because both markets were so big and and sold so many things (including food!!!).

One of the many booths at the spice market
One of the many booths at the spice market

That night we were so exhausted that Grace and I decided to go to bed early so we could be up early the next morning to have a full day of sight seeing.  Before we went to bed, however, we discovered THIS and it just about changed our lives..these are everywhere in Istanbul…

Waffle with nutella, strawberries, and more!
Waffle with nutella, strawberries, and more!

On Saturday we woke up early, drank some turkish coffees (and then got Starbucks), and headed out to explore!  We saw the Basilica Cistern, Topkapi Palace, the Blue Mosque, and Hagia Sophia.  When we were in Rome we saw so many different sights but didn’t pay to actually go into anything- this time we surprised ourselves and paid to go into everything.  We even attended a informational session about the Blue Mosque.  We also ended up spending a lot more time at each attraction than we had originally planned so we easily spent about five or six hours at these four sights.  We were both pretty proud of ourselves because we stuck it out and saw all these sights in cold/rainy weather.  Rather than writing an essay on each sight I’ll just let you enjoy the pictures!

Basilica Cistern
Basilica Cistern
Upside down head of Medusa - Basilica Cistern
Upside down head of Medusa – Basilica Cistern
Hagia Sophia
Hagia Sophia
Hagia Sophia - church turned mosque turned museum
Hagia Sophia – church turned mosque turned museum
In front of the Blue Mosque (intentionally shaped my hands like so around the umbrella to avoid any awk hand...still looks a little awk)
In front of the Blue Mosque (intentionally shaped my hands like so around the umbrella to avoid any awk hand…still looks a little awk)
Inside the Blue Mosque
Inside the Blue Mosque
Topkapi Palace
Topkapi Palace
Inside the Topkapi Palace- we weren't allowed to take pictures of the exhibits but we were able to see a 86-carat diamond!  I wouldn't mind that..
Inside the Topkapi Palace- we weren’t allowed to take pictures of the exhibits but we were able to see a 86-carat diamond! I wouldn’t mind that..

Saturday night we had another relaxing night since we had to get up at 5am to catch our flight back to Budapest.  We wandered down the main street in Istabul, Istikal Avenue, and got some baklava and more waffles!  We really enjoyed Istikal Avenue because so many people were out and we loved the energy of the street.

Blending in
Blending in

Overall I loved Istanbul and would love to go back just so I could eat more food there!  Everything I ate there was delicious and I am already having dreams about those waffles.  Two more things about Istanbul before I move onto Dublin.

1) I definitely experienced some culture shock here from the call to prayer that occurs five times a day there.  Since a majority of Turkish people are Islamic, there are speakers at each mosque and five times a day they project the call to prayer.

2) There were so many stray animals- especially dogs!  We had such a hard time seeing so many stray dogs- they were so skinny and since it was so cold/rainy the day we were there they just looked miserable.  We ended buying some sausage for a stray dog we found on a small street and he in return acted as our guard dog as we tried to find our way home.  I am so use to seeing lots of dogs on the street in Budapest with their loving owners, it was really sad to see so many dogs who were homeless and hungry. (side note I also think I just really miss my dogs- well at least one of them)

Moving onto Dublin!

This past weekend I went to Dublin for St. Patrick’s weekend!  I didn’t get to stay for the actual holiday but I had a great time celebrating during the weekend.  My cousin (the same one who visited me in Budapest) works in Dublin so I visited her again as well as my other cousin and aunt (her brother and mom).  I spent the weekend enjoying some quality family time, exploring the Guinness factory and being officially certified to pour a pint of Guinness, spending a day in Howth, causally watching Ireland win the Six Nations something (rugby), having breakfast in a pub, drinking, drinking some more, eating delicious food, and sleeping in a bed bigger than a twin!

I knew I was going to love Dublin the second I got off the plane- as soon as I smelled the fresh air I could feel the ocean within miles of me (obviously I knew an ocean was close but still).  Dublin reminded me a lot of home with all the water, fog, and wind and I absolutely loved it (but I guess it could have been a litttttle less windy).

Now since I am getting too lazy to write, enjoy some pictures!

IMG_7758
DUBLINNNN
IMG_7743
Howth (reminded me so much of home!)
IMG_7809
Christine and I after the big Ireland win
Concentrating very hard as I try to earn my Guinness certificate (passed with flying colors pshhhh)
Concentrating very hard as I try to earn my Guinness certificate (passed with flying colors pshhhh)
IMG_7783
“My Goodness, My Guinness”
Being weird and enjoying my first ever Guinness with the cuz!
Being weird and enjoying my first ever Guinness with the cuz!
St. Patty's trivia
St. Patty’s trivia
Ireland won! I now think football is lame- rugby is way better
Ireland won! I now think football is lame- rugby is way better
My platter of food- delicious tender beef cooked in a bbq sauce with some salad stuff and grilled corn and SWEET POTATO FRIES
My platter of food- delicious tender beef cooked in a bbq sauce with some salad stuff and grilled corn and SWEET POTATO FRIES

These past two weekends have been so much fun.  Next weekend if things work out I may fly to Scotland for a day or two to meet up with my cousins again (they are road trippin’) or I may spend a weekend in Budapest.  Then the next week my parents and sister come!  We are going to explore Bootypest and perhaps go to Krakow- I am so excited to see them!

Christine and Rome!

Once again these past two weeks have been full of adventures, food, and more food!  My cousin, Christine (who works in Ireland), visited me two weekends ago.  We made plans before I left for Budapest for her and one of her coworkers to come visit because it just so happened she worked with a guy who is close family friends with another guy who was going to be on my program!  Small world.

Christine & me on vday ;)
Christine & me on vday ;)

I wasn’t 100% sure what to expect with the visit- Christine is a pretty awesome person and I knew it was going to be a really fun weekend but I also realized we had never hung out for a whole weekend alone as legal adults, so I was curious to see what would happen.  It ended up being so fun!  I had a great time showing her and her coworkers around and taking them out to the “hotspots” in Budapest (with the help of Zach of course).  It was also really fun taking Christine to some of the more popular bars and clubs and everyone on my program fell in love with her and her two coworkers the second they bought us all a round of beers.  We are a pretty easy crowd to please.

Cheering to Christine
Cheering to Christine

I also really enjoyed Christine’s visit because I have been traveling so much during the weekends it was nice to have an excuse to stay in Budapest.  I finally got to do a lot of the sight seeing I hadn’t made time for yet- so when we took Christine and her coworkers around Budapest most of the stuff we were showing them were also things I had never seen before.

Zach, Kelly, Christine, Dutty, Luke
Zach, Kelly, Christine, (dutty), Luke

Also while Christine was here there was a fish market that served the most delicious food!  We got a little overwhelmed by how crowded it was but stuck it out long enough to try a couple things.  It was such a cool market and I am crossing my fingers it returns ASAP.

Mega churro
Mega churro

Overall it was a great weekend to catch up with my cousin and I am PUMPED (lolz) to visit her again in Dublin for St. Patricks Day!

Moving onto Rome!

This trip to Rome was my third visit and definitely my favorite!  Grace and I went on our own for a girls trip and had so much fun exploring and wandering the streets together.  We saw the Colosseum, Trevi Fountain, Spanish Steps, Pantheon, Piazza Navona,  Vatican City, and much much more.  It was fun to revisit things at an age and time where I could truly appreciate what I was looking at.  My all time favorite thing to see in Rome is the Trevi Fountain.  Its so beautiful and I could literally spend all day sitting by it (as long as there is either a gelato or piece of pizza in my hand).

Awkward hand pose three- trying to look cute making a wish at the Trevi Fountain but my hand had other plans
Awkward hand pose three- trying to look cute making a wish at the Trevi Fountain but my hand had other plans

When Grace and I weren’t being all touristy, we were eating.  Now time for the food portion of this blog!  For three days we ate nothing but bread, pasta, pizza, and gelato- and we couldn’t have been happier.  I would say my favorite dish I had (and Grace’s too) was simply gnocchi in tomato sauce and cheese.  Some may find this pretty unoriginal but the gnocchi literally melted in my mouth with each bite and it was definitely the best pasta I had all weekend.

Imagine each bite turning into gooey goodness...drool
Imagine each bite turning into gooey goodness…drool

The gelato was also amazing- but hands down the gelato we got on the last day was the best.  I knew it was going to be good the moment I stepped into the gelateria- the employees spoke little english and there was huge line filled with Italians.  If you are ever in Rome you HAVE to go to La Romana gelateria!  It was the best gelato- best dessert- I have ever had.  They had two sinks with dark and white chocolate pouring out and if you get  a cone you can fill the bottom up with chocolate.  That sentence alone should prove my point.  They also give you very generous servings of the most creamy gelato you will ever taste and then you can pick from four types of cream to put on top!  I couldn’t really understand my server but I ended up getting some sort of cookies and cream and carmely ice cream with nutella cream on top (we missed communicated and I got no chocolate at the bottom of my cone which was a pretty sad moment for me).  Enough talking look at my pictures!

YUM.
YUM.
Grace's gelato- four scopes of deliciousness with chocolate cream on top and chocolate filled cone...in case you were wondering she finished the whole thing
Grace’s gelato- four scopes of deliciousness with chocolate cream on top and chocolate filled cone…in case you were wondering she finished the whole thing

Another delicious treat I got (last food run on sentence I promise) were some yummy macaroons from Laudurée.  You’ve probably heard of Laudurée but if you haven’t its a very famous macaroon store in France that only has one location outside of France- and that just so happens to be in Rome!  I got six macaroons but this one was definitely my favroite because just look at it!

My perfect cookie
My perfect cookie

I absolutely fell in love with Rome all over again this weekend.  Grace and I kept remarking how nice and easy it would be to study abroad there- pizza and wine everyday, history tucked into every street corner, and learning Italian (which seemed much friendlier to us than Hungarian).  However, we concluded that we would most definitely gain 40+ pounds and probably be too happy.

These next two weekends I have no plans to travel anywhere but I am sure some of us will book a trip somewhere!  I am really enjoying my time abroad and I feel truly happy to wake up in Budapest every morning (that I’m not traveling).  I miss my friends and family at home but I am really living in the present here as time is already flying by!  Next weekend it will be March…can we put a pause on things for a second??

Vienna and Warsaw

These past two weekends I went to Vienna and Warsaw!

The trip to Vienna was a spontaneous decision.  I was excited because I went to Vienna a couple summers ago and loved it!  However, the last time I went I was only there for about a day so there were a lot of things I didn’t get the chance to see.  While there I was able to see Belvedere Palace and St. Stephen’s.  Both were very beautiful and had been things I had wanted to see the first time I was there, so I was really happy I got to see them this time around.

Upper Belvedere
Upper Belvedere
St. Stephen's
St. Stephen’s

I think my favorite part of Vienna, however, was the market we walked through on Saturday.  There were so many stands filled with delicious foods, I had a really hard time deciding what to buy!  Towards the end it turns into a flea market where you can buy random little knick knacks.

fooooood!
fooooood!

While Vienna was beautiful there were some not so great parts.  One, it is really expensive!  I ended up spending more money there then I had planned simply because nothing is cheap (compared to Budapest).  I have already become use to Budapest and all the cheap prices here, it made me grateful that I was studying abroad in Budapest and not Vienna (paying to get into a club is not Budapest’s style).  Also, it was SO COLD AND WINDY.  I had a hard time enjoying wandering outside because of the weather.  However, despite this I still really enjoyed the Vienna trip and the things I was able to experience there.

This weekend I went to Warsaw to see Ellie Goulding!  Our ticket situation was a complete disaster (resulting in the journey of a lifetime into the middle of Hungary) but we were able to go to the concert, which was so much fun!  Definitely the highlight of the weekend.

Thanking the higher power that got us into the concert
Thanking the higher power that got us into the concert

After the concert the rest of the weekend was interesting because, well, we weren’t really sure what to do.  I know there are many things to do and see in Warsaw, but the whole trip had been planned around the concert and once that was over we hadn’t really thought too hard about what we were going to do on Friday and Saturday.  My roommate, Grace, and I had never had any desire to go to Poland so we just followed the guys around.  Friday we went to a museum about World War II that was really interesting, but Saturday we went to an area called Old Town that really made the trip worth while!  I definitely recommend going to this area if you ever find yourself in Warsaw.

A small square in the middle of Old Town
A small square in the middle of Old Town
The Warsaw group!
The Warsaw group!
Once again my hands naturally made this awkward pose
Once again my hands naturally made this awkward pose

The hostel we stayed at was pretty nice, they put on a cooking class for us and we got to make pierogi (a polish dish- basically dumplings).  The hostel situation itself was interesting- my roommate and I plus five guys from our program all shared one room.  It really wasn’t as bad as it could have been as we have all become very comfortable with each other, but my roommate and I are thinking that we will definitely try to get our own room the next time we all travel together.

making pierogi (filled with meat, cabbage, and potato)
making pierogi (filled with meat, cabbage, and potato)

To conclude, my favorite part of Warsaw was the fact that Grace and I found a restaurant that served AMERICAN BREAKFAST!  If you know me, you know that I have an intense love for breakfast and it has been kind of depressing to eat bread every morning.  Grace and I ended up going there both mornings and got the same thing both times (it was that good)- scrambled eggs with ham, cheese, onion, tomato, and mushrooms and then we also split an order of french toast.  We also always ended up getting there in the early afternoon so they also served us warm loafs of bread with a garlic butter.  Writing about this is already making me hungry again.  Enjoy the picture!

Drooling
Drooling

Three Thoughts

One:

I am always cold here.  I mean, everyone is cold, but they somehow manage to wear fitted coats and normal walking shoes.  One or two people may wear a hat or gloves.  I, however, must always be bundled up.  It is getting kind of embarrassing.  My daily attire is a shirt, light sweater, heavy sweater, and then to really top things off my fat Northface that goes down to my knees.  I also always wear my Ugg walking boots (not the typically Ugg boot- the one that is made for intense snowy weather) along with gloves, a hat, and a scarf.  This outfit wouldn’t typically stick out so much if it wasn’t for the fact that it it seems I am the only person in all of Budapest to own a Northface that isn’t black.  Also I have realized that my scarfs, hats, and gloves all have shades of pink in them so I reallllllly stick out here.  Note the picture below.

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My hands naturally did that…how do I have friends

Two:

All the other travel blogs I have been reading have all talked about gelato this gelato that.  Here in Budapest gelato is not really popular- here it is all about the pastries!  Pastries and chocolatey cake with extra chocolate and fudge.  They love extremely rich servings of dessert and I couldn’t be happier about it.  Luckily my roomie is also very down to try each and every pastry we see so it is a match made in heaven.

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So much cake!!!

Three:

Despite being in a foreign country people here still get so confused about my name!  One of the things I was secretly excited about when going abroad was that no one would know my name is typically a boys name and I would not longer meet people who, after introducing myself, say either “You know Dustin is a boys name, right?” or “Woah I was expecting a boy!”.  For some reason my name really surprises people and I get either of those two responses extremely often. But nooooope.  People here are somehow very aware that I have a boys name and continue to be surprised.  Sigh.

I went to Vienna last weekend and I am going to Warsaw next weekend!  I’ll write another post when I get back!

Budapest!!

Has it really been only four days?? It feels like I have been here for so long!  I am not going to lie I was really nervous when I first got to Budapest.  My roommate, Grace, and I were so excited to be here but the first day we kept remarking on how different everything is here.  You readers are probably thinking “duh” but the realization that this was going to be our home for the next couple of months made all the differences a lot more noticeable.  However, each day has gotten so much better!  I really like everyone from IU and we have met a lot of people from DePaul who are very nice.

I haven’t been doing as much sight seeing as I would have liked to do these past couple of days but that is mainly because there are no day trips or sight seeing tours set up for us and we are still trying to learn the transportation system here.  My roommate and I have successfully mastered using the metro to get to and from an indoor mall that has a Starbucks and our new favorite store, Media Mart!

The night life here is so much fun! All the clubs and bars we have been going to are insanely decorated.  Last night we went to a club that basically felt like someone had taken an abandoned building and put some lights and a DJ in it- but it was a lot of fun!  I even danced which is pretty crazy for me if you know me well.

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Some interesting decor at a club called Instant
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At a ruined bar- this bar was so cool it had so many different parts it was like six bars in one!
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Not quite sure how this photo happened but I love it- me with my roommate and two girls from DePaul

Today my roommate, two guys from IU, and I went exploring.  What was suppose to be a low key trip to the mall to buy some pots and hangers turned into a five hour excursion and miles of walking.  After hanging out at the mall we decided to walk to the Parliament building (which is the same building as the picture on the top of my blog!) since it was pretty close.  On the way there we past a tiny store that sold peanut butter!!  We ended up buying three of the four peanut butter jars and the guy working there was laughing the whole time because he thought it was so funny.

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After tasting it my roommate and I agreed it was more like peanut paste

After walking by the Parliament we decided to go into Buda (Budapest is made up of Buda and Pest- my dorm is in Pest).  In Buda we stopped at a coffee shop and decided to see the closest attraction on our map- BEST. DECISION. EVER.  We went to Fisherman’s Bastion and it was absolutely gorgeous.  I posted some pictures but they don’t come close to doing it justice.  It was great because we got there just as it was getting dark so all the buildings were starting to light up.  We saw some amazing views and the area itself was breath taking because it had a light layer of snow covering all the buildings.  I felt like I was in Disneyland and anyone who goes to Budapest has to see it!

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Me, my roommate Grace, Cory, and Matt
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Fisherman’s Bastion
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View from Fisherman’s Bastion- in person the fog was beautiful and added some mystery hehe
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Fisherman’s Bastion

After wandering around Fisherman’s Bastion we realized how cold/late it was getting and decided to head back.  Unfortunately, as I said earlier, we are still learning the metro/tram/bus system and somehow ended walking ALLLL the way back to our dorm.  It was an extremely long walk and we were very cold by the time we got back but I like to think it really bonded us haha!  Anyways that is all for now!

Let the Adventure Begin…

I cannot believe I leave in four days to begin my semester in Budapest!  One minute I am completely scared and nervous to leave home and the next I am stalking people on Facebook who are already abroad and feeling extremely envious as I click through all their fun European-y pictures.  I have literally been looking forward to this semester since I began college and I can’t believe the time is finally here.

To begin my abroad journey, I am leaving on the 23rd to fly to Boston to visit my sister. Oh yeah, and to celebrate my 21st birthday!!!  I get to enjoy being legal in the US for a good 24 hours before I fly to a country where being 21 doesn’t even matter…

I then will fly to Washington DC on the 26th, land in Frankfurt on the 27th, and then fly into Budapest that afternoon!  I have yet to pack (does throwing random clothes on the floor of my room count?) so I am kind of nervous that I will forget something crucial but I guess that is all a part of the experience.

The program I am going on is directly through the Kelley School of Business so I will be going with 8 other business students from IU (yay business..).  Of the nine, there are two girls on the program, me and another girl I am rooming with.  The rooming situation will be interesting because there are three people per room so we are automatically rooming with a Hungarian student as well which I think is pretty cool!  Going into the trip I didn’t know anyone else going to Budapest but I randomly was able to meet two others on the program through I-core (so I-core was good for something I guess!).

I already have booked a trip to Warsaw with people from IU from February 6th-9th.  While we are there we are going to see Ellie Goulding!  Then the next weekend my cousin who is working in Dublin is going to come visit me in Budapest!  So my first two weekends abroad should be really fun.

Okay, that’s all for now, thanks for reading!