post update

So I know what you are thinking… Where are all my travel posts? …Well my intentions were to blog about my travels while I was abroad. I even brought my computer with me and managed to get my London post up while there. But, I underestimated the amount of time that I would actually be spending exploring different cities each day.

Now that I am state side I will be starting to post about my travels within the next few days. I’ll also be posting some other travel tips and tricks plus I have some hopefully exciting news to share with you all.

So stay tuned because the travel posts I promised are coming!

Here’s a little sneak peak…

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cheers.

~meesh

the beauty in budapest

To get to Budapest this time around we decided to a take a legit night train. It was a total of ten hours and we slept in a couchette. Basically it was like 3 couch bed, stacked on each side like bunk beds. Lucky for me I got to take on of the very top beds, which was fine when I was laying down but you couldn’t sit up straight because of the ceiling so it was an intense hunch that was very uncomfortable.

Even still, I’m glad we got to experience it, it was kind of fun actually, to know you were sleeping on a moving train and woke up not only in a different city but in a different country. And it definitely didn’t feel like it took ten hours so I’d say it was a success.

We got into Budapest well rested and drop our bags at the Airbnb, which again worked out lovely. After freshening up we headed out to see the city. We grab lunch at some place nearby…it said traditional Hungarian food, but who knows. Then we stopped at the market, which was incredible. The first floor was like a grocery store and the second floor was everything from souvenirs to clothes and accessories. The whole thing was open too.

Afterwards we spent the rest of the day walking the city. When we turned the corner to walk along the river I was in shock because I did not expect to see this beautiful mountain and all these ornate buildings visible in the distance. I was taken aback by the beauty I found around every corner in Budapest.

It truly was a most beautiful city and because we only had the day we didn’t get a chance to see everything and didn’t get a chance to check out the famous baths either, so I will definitely be returning at some point in life.

Even though Hungary is a second world country, when you’re in Budapest you don’t get that vibe, in fact instead it seems like a very royal place with all the incredible architecture that can be found.

I should also mention that we had been planning all along to get fish pedicures in Budapest. We just decided that that was the place we wanted to get them done. Now, I am deathly afraid of fish, my phobia goes back a long ways but I do not like them and the thought of them touching me…..but I told myself that it was time I face my fears so I said I would do it.

When we got there, they couldn’t take us all at the same time, and so I obviously opted not to go first because I wanted to see what it would be like first. Omg the way those fish attacked their feet I was like hell no. So I didn’t do it because there was and is no way I’m about to watch fish eat me. Sorry not sorry but I’m not about that.

Call me a loser, a wimp or whatever you’d like really….maybe one day I’ll finally face my fear but the day in Budapest was just not that day.

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Cheers.

~meesh

P.S. Only one travel post left to go :/

pics here

a loss for words

I have to apologize because once I got back into the states things got really crazy, and I just didn’t have time to get these last few travel posts in right away. But, I’m finally starting to get into somewhat of a regular routine so I promise this week, I WILL finish up my travel posts. Also, this post was supposed to go up yesterday but since the storms were so bad our internet was out. :/

So then, my last ‘big’ trip of the semester was to Poland and Budapest. Poland was first up and we conveniently left for our flight the morning after my flat mate’s 21st birthday celebrations…lol I didn’t keep my eyes open for more than 5 minutes during the entire flight. All of us were beat, but we made it.

In Krakow we decided to go with an Airbnb instead of a hostel and boy was it nice. We had this studio apartment all to ourselves, it was great…I kind of really wished we had did the whole Airbnb sooner but…oh well.

I won’t lie but after we had some pierogis for lunch we spent much of the afternoon and early evening napping as we hadn’t fully recovered from the lack of sleep the night before. So basically we got there, ate, napped, ate again and when back to bed.

It’s really fine because the next day we saw it all. The first half of the day was spent at Auschwitz, which was the number 1 on my bucket list for study abroad (I didn’t think I was going to get the chance to go on this trip so I was glad to be able to make it work).

It’s really interesting because people ask me how it was and, for me to say it was incredible seems weird because I don’t associate the word incredible with something that is so somber. It’s extremely difficult to put into words what the experience was like. The piles of hair, of luggage, of shoes both of children and adults it’s just…writing this even now I can’t seem to find the right words.

In the simplest terms,…It made me sick, it made me scared and it made me sad. But it was worth it. I don’t really want to go into it that much more because everyone has their own individual experience and it’s something I want to keep to myself.

But, anyways we got back into Krakow and decided to do a free afternoon walking tour because we hadn’t really seen anything the day before. And let me just say here that Krakow is stunning. It is so beautiful and so so so clean, like we talked about how clean it was multiple times. And I was really surprised by this; I didn’t expect Poland to be as beautiful as it was.

The city center is surrounded by pedestrian streets making it easy to leisurely walk around. And as per usual the tour offered us good insight into the city’s history. Although, our tour guide talked a little too much I can’t complain because it was free and I learned a thing or two.

I’d have to say Poland is up there on my list of favorites. If you ever get the chance, go, not only to visit Auschwitz but to appreciate the beauty and rich history of its cities.

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Cheers.

~meesh

Pics here

touring with the fam

A couple of weeks ago my family was able to come a visit me. After a having a proper cry upon seeing them for the first time in months I was excited to show them around my stomping grounds. We had a pretty jam packed schedule so like Italy, I’ll just summarize each place.

PARIS

We started with a weekend in Paris and boy what a weekend it was. We enjoyed crepes next to the Eiffel Tower and even got to go to the top, took a boat cruise along the river Seine, went inside the Notre Dame and just enjoyed the life in city. Were we shocked at how full of life the city was after dark, people grabbing dinner around 10pm and just casually out strolling the streets. If only we could take a weekend getaway to Paris whenever we wanted…


            

   LONDON

Our first day in London happen to be VE Day (Victory Europe) so after I showed the fam around Oxford and Piccadilly Circus, China Town, Covent Garden, Trafalgar and Leicester Square we headed towards parliament and ran right into the parade. And we stay to watch because we were stuck and were told the Queen would be coming round and duh, we wanted to see her. She didn’t end up coming :(, but we got to see lots of cute Veterans, which I enjoyed. Other than that we pretty much hit all the major stuff, Big Ben, the Eye, Tower of London, Westminster, Harrods, Hyde Park….the list goes on and on. But instead of going to see a show at Piccadilly we decided to do a Jack the Ripper Tour instead…and it was well worth it. Our guide Barney, a Beefeater, was engaging and knowledgeable and it was nice intimate group. I think my family would agree with me when I say that was one of our favorite things we did in London. If you ever go to London I’ll gladly give you the info for the tour.


                           STRATFORD UPON AVON

Stratford was a typical quaint English village and happens to also be the home of Shakespeare. We got to tour his house and gardens and it’s crazy how well preserved his house is today. They also gave us free scones and sparkling wine, so that obviously made the experience better. I think we all enjoyed the visit and it was really the first time my family got to see a true English town.


       BATH

Bath blew me away with it’s beauty. I almost wish I had considered studying abroad in Bath becasue it really was that beautiful. All the buildings are made with stone from bath and it’s set on a hill so the views are incredible. While there we got to tour the Roman Baths and enjoy some true Cornish Pasties. I think we all wished we got to spend a bit more time there and agreed we would when we come back.


            

STONEHENGE

Stonehenge was interesting. To be honest it was kind of creepy. They are just the big and tall stones set up in a specific way but no one really knows why…and then in all the land surrounding the stones there are these human burial grounds that form little hills, so you basically know you are surrounded by dead people. I’m really glad I got to experience it and looking back I still don’t really know how I feel about it.


         EDINBURGH

I might dare to say that I liked Scotland better than Ireland…Edinburgh was so beautiful, the views were incredible from every angle. We got to check out Edinburgh Castle and the Scottish Crown Jewels, walk the royal mile and taste about every free sample of whiskey there was. We also took a hike up a cliff, but didn’t got too far as we weren’t properly equipped and we are old and out of shape. It’d seemed there were bagpipes being played everywhere and I couldn’t have asked for a more lovely day in Scotland with my family.


                

SCARBOROUGH

Scarborough is on the East coast of the country and it’s a place that definitely comes to life in the summer. With it’s long stretch of beach, and arcades full of carnival games it is pretty much a child’s paradise. Nonetheless it was still lovely to walk along the beach and enjoy the seaside smell. It was quite refreshing actually. It was the perfect way to spend our second to last mornign together.


       YORK

York is your typical medieval English town. The city walls are almost still fully in tact and the shambles are so picturesque. We got to enjoy a proper high tea at Betty’s, the best in Yorkshire, and then enjoyed walking down all the pedestrian streets looking through the windows into the cute little shops. It was also race day in York so while relaxing for a bit before out tour we encountered many people in really good ‘moods’ and all had a laugh at that.


                 Writing this post makes me miss my time with my family but it’s a good thing I return home in about 2 days.

Cheers.

~meesh

P.S. I’ve got about 3 more travel posts to go

italy plus vatican city

MILAN

Milan was super urban I loved it. Not only did we get to attend mass at the Duomo we also got to hang out in the park behind the castle with all the locals. There were these dogs chasing ducks around in the pond there and it was so adorable. Also huge shoutout to my friend Allison for giving us an awesome suggestion for where to eat. Oscar’s was delicious and everything we’d expected an Italian restaurant in Italy to be.


             VENICE

Venice was breath taking. Around ever corner was either a stunning view or a dead end, lol. Our gondola ride was everything you’d expect it to be, although I wish our driver (not sure what you call them…) sang to us. I thought them singing was supposed to be a thing. Guess not. Also, the city is full of mas vendors and the masks are exquisite. It was a city full of life even after dark and I loved every minute of it.


           FLORENCE

Florence was my least favorite city in Italy. It was the one place I did not fell safe or comfortable. Don’t get me wrong it’s a beautiful place with some great vantage points for views of the city but that doesn’t make up for the fact that you couldn’t walk down a street without bumping into someone at least 10 times. I almost broke down and had a panic attack becasue it made me so nervous. But, we did enjoy one of our favorite meals of Italy there and the leather goods were top notch. So it wasn’t all that bad. Just not the city for me.


                 PISA

Pisa and the leaning tower of Pisa is pretty much everything you’d expect it to be. Seeing the tower in person it looks exactly as it does in photographs. Unlike the Eiffel Tower or Big Ben which pictures can’t accurate capture, the with the leaning tower of Pisa, what you see in pictures is what you get. Still a cool thing to have been able to see in person though.


   CINQUE TERRE

The two towns we visited in the Cinque Terre region blew me away. Monterosso and Vernazza were everything you’d expect an Italian coastal city to be. Breathtaking views, beaches and brightly colored buildings. We got to hike from Monterosso to Vernazza and at the beginning it was like climbing the stairs to heaven. At least that’s what it felt like becasue there were so many. But once we got up to the trail the views were unreal. The stairs were definitely worth it for the views. One day I’d like to go back and hike all five villages becasue it was that beautiful. The hike was probably one of the top activities we did on the trip. And it was nice to dangle our feet in the water once we reached Vernazza.


                       ROME

Rome was kind of a big let down. And not just becasue the Trevi Fountain was under construction (I don’t even want to talk about it much less think about it). I guess in comparison to the other places we’d seen in Italy leading up to it Rome just didn’t do it. I mean the Colosseum was cool as was the Parthenon but other than that it was just ok. I really like hanging out on the Spanish steps and the Piazza Navona was probably my favorite place as it was full of artists and performers and just life in general…but I guess at that point we were all pretty much ready to get back to Leeds.


              

      

VATICAN CITY

Seeing the Basilica and the Sistine Chapel was cool. The city is a pretty massive place and I would have liked to explore it more…and also it would have been nice to see the Pope. But I’ll live. There’s this great shop there run by the nuns that sells a million different religious things that I quite enjoyed. Overall it’s a nice place.


                   Cheers.

~meesh

P.S. If you click the city names it will take you to all the photos.

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. 😦 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.


                             Cheers.

~meesh

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.

Cheers.

~meesh

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

berlin

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.


                                     Cheers.

~meesh

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.

Cheers.

~meesh

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.

Cheers.

~meesh

Pics here!