the hills are alive

Sooooo, I’m officially down to my last week in Leeds…which is extremely bitter sweet but that also means that this week I will be finishing up all my travel posts. ūüė¶ But, there’s a lot to look forward to this summer, like DIY posts with all the things I’ve collected from travels and more fashion and beauty posts. Yaya. Just wanted to mention it before I get started.

We arrived in Salzburg happy not only to see the sun shining but also to feel it’s warmth on our skin. And with that we began our Official Sound Music Tour. It took us to six different filming locations and our guide David told us so much about the movie that I didn’t know beforehand. There was quite a lot of trickery and planning that went into the making of movie….

Touring around Salzburg was incredible. I almost wished that we had skipped Vienna and spent more time in Salzburg. Just another reason to come back someday…..the Lake District was truly breath taking. And, we finally got to try some authentic Apple Strudel with vanilla ice cream, which we enjoyed right outside the cathedral where Maria married the Captain. Definitely the best way to enjoy strudel.

Once back in town after the tour we got to explore a bit before dinner. After dinner we headed back to the station to await our one and only night train of the Easter break trip. It was a 2:30am train that would take us to Zurich….more on that in the next post…but what I will say is that becasue we got the train in the middle of the night we couldn’t get our seats becasue people where sleeping and thus taking up extra seats for their legs. One guy had hung up a hammock and was sleeping in that. It was fing ridiculous. So we ended up sharing a coach with some freaky lady….no worries we survived and made it to Zurich.

And, it might have sucked, but it was totally worth becasue we got to go to Salzburg and do the tour.



Pics here


lazy and confused: vienna

The train ride to Vienna was as per usual. And we got to the hostel only to find we had 3 flights of stairs to climb to get to our room. But it was kind of cool becasue since there were other apartments in the buildings it felt like we were living with the locals.

Since we got in late afternoonish we took some time just to veg and relax as it was much needed. When traveling nonstop for a month, sometimes you just need a break. When we got hungry we found a place around the corner to grab a nice traditional Austria dish, Wiener Schnitzel…along with a nice Austrian beer it was just what we needed to refuel.

After a good night sleep we were finally ready to see what Vienna had to offer. And we headed towards what we thought was St. Charles Church, apparently it’s a must see. And, we got lost. Vienna is a really confusing city to navigate even with a map. The streets are all named the same thing and nothing really makes sense….we ended up at the Votive church instead, which was pretty nontheless, lol.

We managed to get our bearings and started to make our way to St. Charles (sidenote: when I wrote St. Charles the 1st thing I thought of was the road that runs through Elmhurst, got some home vibes going) and managed to see most of the city along the way. We finally made it to the right church, even though the girls tried to challenge me that it wasn’t the right place…hey I was just following the map.

The church was actually kind of a let down, they made it seem like there was this great panoramic view from the top but once you got up there you couldn’t even see out becasue there were grates on the windows. Not to mention the scaffolding all over the church just to support the stairs the lead up there. V odd, if you ask me.

From there we headed to the Nasch Market which was only a few blocks over. This might have been my favorite part of the city. It was everything a city market should be. Vendor after vendor selling veggies, fruits, dried fruits, sweets, falafel….anything and everything really. We found something to eat there before we headed to the palace.

It was a easy train ride over on their metro system. And once we got to the palace we got to walk the grounds for free and it was absolutely gorgeous. I wish that it was later in the season so that we could have seen the flowers in bloom, but still it was nice to enjoy the views. I was actually really jealous becasue there were a ton of people running through the grounds and I wish that Leeds had a place like that. But, it’s so hilly here running really is no fun. In that respect, I’m ready to get back to the flat land in Illinois.

                                                         Only about 2 weeks till then.



P.S. Shoutouts to my viewers from the Netherlands and Philippines you guys are the best! ….now giving shoutouts so you know you want to get involved and maybe you’ll get one in the next post.

Vienna pics

easter in prague

Lucky for me I was able to Skype with my family on Easter Sunday to say hi to everyone. It was hard to miss as Easter is probably my favorite holiday food wise. But, I mentioned this because as I said hello to each one of my family members they all asked where I was. I think I said ‘I’m in Prague’ no less than 20 times, lol. Just had to share that.

We got into Prague in the earlier afternoon and managed to somewhat figure out the conversion rate for their currency. And after checking into the hostel we head to find some food. It was Easter Sunday after all and so after our meal we headed out to find some chocolate. I was determined to get a Chocolate Bunny…And I did, plus it was super cheap too. We spent the night watching the Sound of Music in preparation for our upcoming tour in Salzburg.

The next day we started off with a free walking tour, no surprise there really. And, the morning also started off with a snow storm, in spring. It was literally not far off from being a Blizzard. Props to us for sticking it out, a lot of people bailed out. But anyways I actually knew nothing about Prague and I was shocked that when our guide mentioned that the reason the Jewish Quarter stayed intact during WWII was becasue Hitler wanted to turn it into a museum that show why the Jewish needed to be extinguished. I was absolutely horrified, the thought of that is unfathomable.

After the tour we were in need of warmth so we headed to find some lunch. We all got goulash and beef with bread dumplings, some traditional Czech stuff. It was good.

Then we headed to find the John Lennon wall, that everyone takes picture by in Prague. It’s actually really hidden and slightly confusing to get to but we got to cross the river on the way which was really really beautiful. One of the best parts of the city…it was full of street performs and vendors, btw the street performs in Prague were some of the best we encountered throughout our trip.

By that point the sun had actually come out and it turned into a beautiful but windy day. We headed up to the castle and thought it was steep the buildings along the way were beautiful. Once on the castle grounds we walked around and enjoyed the view…it was like it’s own little separate town up there.

And that was about it.



P.S. Like said in my post yesterday, I really really really want to here from you guys….so leave a comment below or just click the like button and you’ll help me get famous… ūüôā

pics here


Berlin marks the official halfway point. But, that also means that I am running very far behind on my posts. Since my last exam at Uni was today my plan is to do about a post a day until I get catch up. I did the math and I believe there will be 7 maybe 8 until I all caught up with spring break, which will be perfect timing as I can then post about my very last trip that’s coming up.

The train ride into Berlin was also worth noting because little did we know the train we where on had been in operation for too long so we needed to switch trains. But, since they were making these said announcements about switch trains in German we had no clue. If it wasn’t for the sweet old man who explained to us what was happening we might have never made it. Thankful we managed to successfully switch trains in Hanover. Though, we were highly confused as to where we were to sit. The train was all first class cars and we had second class tickets. It took us longer than it should have to realize we just had to sit where we could find a seat.

Courtney and I had to walk the entire train to find seats, but we finally did and it was a quite comfortable ride from there. At least we weren’t stupid enough to leave our passports on the other train like some girl did when we had to do the switch….After that we decided to take a cab to the hostel in Berlin rather than trying to walk, we were beat. And, thankfully we were able to get our laundry done at the hostel….more on that in a bit.

With the afternoon to explore we headed to Checkpoint Charlie and then enjoyed a nice German Beer nearby. The next morning we were anxious to see what our visit to Sachsenhausen would have in store for us. But, first we went to go pick up our laundry…. In a nutshell they forgot to do our laundry because so it wasn’t ready and so they offered us free breakfast to make up for it. They only gave us 2 plates for the 4 of us so we just shared off that but then the guy tried to make us pay the difference because it was only 2 bags of laundry not 4, even though there were 4 different peoples laundry in there. The guy was an absolute dick (pardon my french but he really was). DO NOT EVER STAY AT THE CITY STAY HOSTEL IN BERLIN. For the full story see my trip advisor review.

ps. I stole your pen and I don’t feel bad about it at all.

After that nice morning pick me up we headed for our tour…and we knew the day was turning around when our guide Roy, made a High School Musical Reference about 2 minutes in. When we finally arrived I was a bit of a mess. I really didn’t know what to expect. But Roy, did seriously an awesome job at giving a detailed description of the camp. It just bothered me that some people in our group were being so disrespectful and just standing in the back making jokes the whole time. Not cool.

The visit to Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp Memorial was worth ever penny. Like the Ann Frank House is was a very introspective thing, I could have spend hours there taking it all in. I will say though that when we went to the crematorium I felt like I wasn’t allowed to breathe.

Once back in Berlin we headed to check out the Berlin Wall. It’s definitely one of those things where you don’t realize it’s significance until you are there seeing it for your own eyes. I liked just being able to run my fingers along the wall to see what it felt like. And, I appreciated that I could do that as so many things are ‘do not touch.’ A lot of the wall still remains today and we only just saw a small section. If I ever get back to Berlin I’d like to walk the whole thing.



P.S. I’m trying a new format style with all the pictures at the end. Click the ‘Like’ button if you like it or leave a comment with suggestions! I want to hear from you all!

more photos here

im on a boat

Oh Amsterdam. Where to begin?

Day 1

I guess the highlight of the train ride to Amsterdam had to have been when we were comparing our different Belgian chocolates and Allison offered to show what her piece looked like…only to realize it was already in her month. We definitely had a good laugh or two after that.

Other notable happens on the train ride include the announcement to beware of thieves that came half way through the train ride and the reduced speed due to the storm, though the sky was clear. By the time we got into Amsterdam we were anxious to see what our Hostelboat had in store for us.

After wandering the piers long enough to come across a boat with the name ‘Anna Maria II’ we wondered if we’d found our home for the next 3 nights. After standing in front of boat for a few minutes confused as to whether or not this was the right boat we ask the man and he just pointed to the sign like ‘duh’ this is it.

¬†But, lucky for you that’s not even the best part. You see we had the pleasure of staying in the largest room on the boat the catch being that it had it’s own separate entrance…so basically if we need to shower or take a comfort break we had to exit our room, walk across the boat and use the main entrance to do so….it actually wasn’t as bad as it seemed, expect the one night i had to get up in the middle to the next for a potty break and had to walk across the boat alone at night….but, I survived.

Ok, enough about the boat. We headed to check out the town and pick up an extra layer as the wind was insane. And then I had my very first…… coffee. It was really good too! And now I’m really into it so go me. From there we went for some dinner at a Mexican place because we had coupons for free tequila shots. How could we not?

¬†¬†¬†Let just say it was a dinner full of laughs. But as we walked through the red light district on the way back we were anything but laughing. It was a chilling experience and sadly, it was exactly as I pictured it would be. The worst part was we even saw someone go inside….

Day 2

We started with breakfast on the boat where we met the owner, Dave’s, wife and baby girl. She was adorable. From there we headed into some bi-polar weather. It was raining then hailing then sunny but we made it to the infamous ‘I Amsterdam’ letters and proceeded to take a bunch of pics with the letters. Which aren’t actually as big as they look in pictures.

     Then we headed to the Heineken Experience, which was wayyyyy better than Guinness. It was a great time, like who knew you could have so much fun at a museum. If you want to know the details about our Heineken Experience ask me about it sometime, lol.

 Later that day we had our must anticipated pizza cruise. We, or at least I, had been looking forward to it ever since we booked the ticket. And honestly the ride and views of the city from the canals were better than the pizza. It was relaxing and perfect and I loved seeing the city from the water.

           Day 3

Day 3’s agenda included a visit to the Ann Frank house. So we headed there with our fingers crossed that the line/wait wouldn’t be to long. Well, 2.5hours later standing in the freezing cold and wind we finally made it in only to find out that the house wasn’t heated. But hey, we made it inside so it was quite the test of our patience.

¬†The house and the whole experience was a lot different than I thought it would be. Actually as most things this trip have been. I thought walking through it would be a lot more eerie and dark than it actually was. I also don’t think I ever read the Diary of Ann Frank so I didn’t have much context.

The space itself was quite big, I didn’t realize how much space they had considering they were in hiding. It was also weird to think that at a time people were hiding there, I felt like I couldn’t touch anything because it wasn’t mine.

I was glad I got to inside and experience it for myself, it was a very introspective thing as it should be.

We didn’t do much more after that, we grabbed lunch and warmed up and after wandering a bit more we grabbed some take away and headed back to the boat.

¬†¬†¬†We survived staying on the Hostelboat and it actually ended up being quite fun. It you ever go to Amsterdam, I’d recommend it, even if you only spend one night.



P.S. picture captions to come, other pics here

a most delicious day

After getting on a train that we weren’t sure would take us to Brussels we were off. No worries it was the right train and we made it to Brussels. And, with a good old fashion map we made to our hostel. This hostel was probably had the best decor, it was so random but so great. Now I’m really only mentioning this night of the trip because in this hostel we had a 6 bed female room. We met our one roomie a nice aussie chick, she was cool. The 5 of us then went to bed without having met roommate 6….well we had quick the rude awakening from her in the middle of the night. So roommate 6 comes back real drunk and with a male to our FEMALE dorm…they were being obnoxious and making a fuss and the aussie said something but they didn’t seem to care. Then he leaves and she proceeds to make a phone call mind you, at like 3 am…and she had the bathroom light on so the whole room was bright. What a b….I was not happy. You’re in a shared room, like be respectful…i’ve gotten ready in the dark before because people were still sleeping the room and I didn’t want to turn the light on.

But, ok moving on. The next day was Courtney’s bday, so we started the morning right by treating her and ourselves to Belgium waffles. Heaven on earth. It was like eating clouds (word for word what I wrote in my journal). Full on waffles we headed out on a free tour with Yas, our guide. He was super chill and the tour was the perfect combo of stories and sites. Two thumbs up. He told us where to get the best fresh frites and 2 euro Belgium beers, the tour finished at the Mont Des Arts, seriously the best view of the city. Mannekin Pis and the Gran Plaz were great too.


Photos: mont des arts, mannekin pis, tin tin, gran plaz

We took just about all of Yas’s advice in regards to food and got fresh frites covered in mayo and then 2 euro beer. I’m actually surprised by how much I liked the beer because I don’t drink beer ever. It was called Orval and for that price I should have gotten two, lol. After picking up some Belgium chocolate we relaxed before getting some traditional Belgium dinner, at least i think it was traditional food they eat. But, actually all the food in Brussels comes with frites….like really though, it’s great.


Photos: more of the gran plaz and the surrounding area

The night was ended at Delirium a much talked about bar in Brussels as it has over 2000 beers to choose from. I choose the Delirium Red and after accidentally ordering twice and running away before they could yell at me we found a table to sit at downstairs. Clearly I don’t like ordering drinks at the bar. But, the highlight had to be the table of Belgium boys sittign next to us. It was one of their bdays so we all sang together and had a good laugh or two. And we met locals so go us!

Photos: delirium

Definitely one of my top 3 places of the whole trip.



Pics here!

hot chocolate, rain and crappy umbrellas

By the command of my sister to put up a new post, here goes.

So after our day in Paris we headed to Luxembourg. Since it is right in between Paris and Brussels, how could we not stop there for an afternoon. For the ride there we were assigned seats and happened to be in different coaches which was fine until the train stopped for a mysteriously long amount time. And naturally all of the announcements where in french so SOL meesh. But, actually SOL because I did almost get off at the wrong stop….for future reference Metz is not Luxembourg.

   Photos: Luxembourg skyline in the rain

At little behind schedule we finally made it, and we didn’t mind being late because it was raining and it was windy. Aka the weather was just beautiful if you could imagine…anyways we headed towards what we thought was the city center and looked for a place to eat. Unsure of what authentic Luxembourg food is we settled for a chain Mexican restaurant because after that train ride we were due for a margarita or 2.


Photos: Nature shots

From lunch we headed to get some hot chocolate because it seems all our adventures revolve around food. But, it wasn’t just any hot chocolate apparently this place is really known for it. After running into some pretty buildings we actually found the place we were looking for, I had some doubts about finding it, as I generally do….Nothing beats the one night we tried to go to the O2 and I was just about in tears because I thought we were legit lost and had no clue where we were going. We were actually like right in front of the place…but I still almost cried, ask Cathy she remembers lol.


Photos: closeups around the city

Got to love a good a good digression. Ok, so we got the hot chocolate for takeaway and they had a whole wall full of different flavors but I went for plain chocolate because a lot of the flavors had nuts in them. It was definitely good, but not the best hot chocolate I’ve ever had. Also, since we did get take away we were drinking it outside in the cold wind and rain. And of course since I was trying to take pics at the same time so needless to say I made a huge mess. I got the chocolate everywhere, especially on my scarf. Unfortunately the stain stayed until i threw the scarf out in Italy.


Photos: the guard, guarding an important build I assume & a city street

Also, 99% sure my umbrella also broke because it couldn’t handle the wind. And I’d like to say here that I always thought people would carried the big umbrellas that are borderline walking sticks were just ridiculous….well now I know why they do because they can actually hold up to the crazy wind and rain. Needless to say we called it quits pretty early and headed back to the station to wait for the train to Brussels…



P.S. Paris photos here …& Luxembourg photos here

lighting up the night…

First, just realized how misleading that title can be. It’s not like ‘lighting up’ it’s like in reference to the fact that Paris is the city of lights. And there’s no denying the fact that Paris really is the city of lights. As we were landing I was looking out the window and all of the sudden you could just see the Eiffel tower in the distance doing it’s little light show. It was a total fan girl moment as Cathy and I look at each other and smiled, needless to say we were happy to be in Paris.

Photo: Paris skyline on a gloomy day

We only had a day in Paris but I think we made the most of it, we started with breakfast at the hostel. And I only mention breakfast because it was definitely my favorite hostel breakfast of them all. It was mini baguette and croissant and it was delicious. So good, that it was worth writing about, lol.

Then we grabbed the metro, which is actually really really confusing. Maybe it has to do with the language but in comparison the tube is just so much more sensible. And, at one point the metro was so crowded that when the doors opened there was no room to get on and so I just stood there on the platform staring into the crowded car unsure what to do, we ended up having to move down the platform and wait for the next train, lol. Anyways we made it to Saint Michel just in time to start a free walking tour of the city. Key word there, free.

Photos: St. Michel, I think and the metro

The tour was filled with story after story and what I learned is that I really know nothing about Europe’s history. Looks like I have some reading to do. But, I actually did learn some valuable stuff like that Hitler was never able to go to the top of the Eiffel tower, so he never really conquered Paris.

               Photos: around Paris on the tour

After the tour we headed for food because we were starving. We found a good enough looking cafe and sat down where we proceeded to order a 7 euro bottle of water by accident. Oh well. Then we headed to see the Eiffel tower up close. And in my experience traveling so far I feel like big monuments look so different in person, this was definitely true for the Eiffel tower. Up close it was actually quite a lot different from what I expected.

       Photos: the tower and near the tower

But it was a good different, the color was more of a n olive green and the metal has a very soft look to it, where I had expected it to be more hard and industrial looking. After taking in the scenery and atmosphere we found a little crepe stand and I got to try my very first crepe. I got it with chocolate and it basically tasted like a chocolate chip pancake….no offense I think I am still partial to the pancake.

After that we killed time until it got dark so we could enjoy the light show at the tower. It was cool and sparkly. I really enjoyed walking down the streets of Paris and taking it all in. For me Paris was one of those places where the little things really stood out to me like people buying meat from the butcher or a open window where you could see a chandelier hanging or just a small garden terrace. Those are the things that I enjoy most.


Photos: the tower at night



P.S. I tried nutella in Paris and discovered that I can eat it just fine, even though I’m technically allergic.

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