Here, there, everywhere

Why hello!

It turns out leaving a great job, starting a new one, taking a pre-marital class, planning a wedding, joining a new Bible study group, getting another exhaustive round of health tests, having a health “scare,” traveling for two weeks and keeping up a blog (technically two) is very hard to do. This all seems perfectly obvious here on screen but somehow in my head seems like what we optimists call “a challenge.” I like challenges. I guess you could consider it my outlet for any and all of my competitiveness, because it sure isn’t making an appearance on a field or court any time soon. But at some point my realistic side goes, “Enough is enough. Why can’t I just go galavant around Italy again??”

Okay, so maybe not so realistic.

Not Italy, but I did manage to squeeze in some adventures…Here’s a peek into my impromptu blogging hiatus in LA and then Austin for SXSW:

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Hello, Turkey

Finally! After severely underestimating the amount of photos I took in Istanbul (and Pamukkale), I now have something to show for it. Can you really blame me that every seaside walk provided the most beautiful views I’ve ever seen or the best [wrap, meatball, pudding, etc.] I’ve ever tasted? Okay, so maybe not everything was 100% superlative, but the whole Turkish thing added a few points to the grading curve.

And without further ado, Istanbul.

One overnight bus later...Pamukkale.
One overnight bus later…Pamukkale.
Nope, not ice! Just a white stone mountain with a constant stream of mineral water and sparkling pools. Also known as the warmest we would be the whole time in Turkey.
Nope, not ice! Just a white stone mountain with a constant stream of mineral water and sparkling pools. Also known as the warmest we would be the whole time in Turkey.
This is real. And we swam in it.
This is real. And we swam in it.
Another overnight bus later...we made it! Considering our complete disorientation and lack of Turkish this is a miracle in and of itself.
Another overnight bus later…we made it! Considering our complete disorientation and lack of Turkish this is a miracle in and of itself.
Our first cafe complete with hot Turkish tea and jazz. Both hugely popular in Istanbul it turns out.
Our first cafe complete with hot Turkish tea and jazz. Both hugely popular in Istanbul it turns out.
Oh you know...just a jaunt along the Bosphorous fishing villages.
Oh you know…just a jaunt along the Bosphorous fishing villages.
Seafood seaside.
Seafood seaside.
Drinking like the locals. Raki, liquid (alcoholic) licorice.
Drinking like the locals. Raki, liquid (alcoholic) licorice.
Started our 'Old City' day with the view from the Sultans' Palace.
Started our ‘Old City’ day with the view from the Sultans’ Palace.
Inside the Hagia Sophia, my favorite of the Old City.
Inside the Hagia Sophia, my favorite of the Old City.
Sultanahmet, aka the 'Blue' Mosque.
Sultanahmet, aka the ‘Blue’ Mosque.
A look back...the path between Hagia Sophia and Sultanahmet.
A look back…the path between Hagia Sophia and Sultanahmet.
Fresh-squeezed pomegranate juice street-side. Cheers.
Fresh-squeezed pomegranate juice street-side. Cheers.
The locals literally line the street for this Turkish coffee shop. Souvenirs? Check.
The locals literally line the street for this Turkish coffee shop. Souvenirs? Check.
Nobody does brunching like Turkey. Plate after plate of delicious dips, fruit, cheese and bread with - what else? - cup after cup of hot tea.
Nobody does brunching like Turkey. Plate after plate of delicious dips, fruit, cheese and bread with – what else? – cup after cup of hot tea.
Holy Coffee - Home to Berk, Turkish hipster/drummer for SXSW bands, and traditional Turkish drink, Salep. Not only did they buy the ingredients fresh for us, Berk invited us to a coffeeshop dance party and brought us along to a Turkish "home party."
Holy Coffee – Home to Berk, Turkish hipster/drummer for SXSW bands, and traditional Turkish drink, Salep. Not only did they buy the ingredients fresh for us, Berk invited us to a coffeeshop dance party and brought us along to a Turkish “home party.”
Taking a break from vintage shopping to appreciate the architecture...one of far too many photos.
Taking a break from vintage shopping to appreciate the architecture…one of far too many photos.
Welcome to our day of epic eating. Best of the best? This spicy meat wrap, courtesy of this guy.
Welcome to our day of epic eating. Best of the best? This spicy meat wrap, courtesy of this guy.
Finding our way to "hipster bar" Peyote for some live music and dancing. "You're going to a-love this place" - our friend Berk.
Finding our way to “hipster bar” Peyote for some live music and dancing. “You’re going to a-love this place” – our friend Berk.
The top of Galata Tower...Hello, Istanbul.
The top of Galata Tower…Hello, Istanbul.
Istanbul has islands, who knew? Enjoying a ferry on our way.
Istanbul has islands, who knew? Enjoying a ferry on our way.
Dodging sea gulls on the boat.
Dodging sea gulls on the boat.
Checking out the fish market before awkwardly crashing a way too nice restaurant just for their special fish soup. Worth it.
Checking out the fish market before awkwardly crashing a way too nice restaurant just for their special fish soup. Worth it.
We found the best Turkish coffee in Istanbul, a little hideaway in an alley. Still not sure if you're supposed to drink the grounds in the cup...
We found the best Turkish coffee in Istanbul, a little hideaway in an alley. Still not sure if you’re supposed to drink the grounds in the cup…
Goodbye for now, Istanbul! You were all I had hoped, and I would love to return.
Goodbye for now, Istanbul! You were all I had hoped, and I would love to return.

Why Istanbul?

istanbul sign

istanbul meatballs

istanbul streets

Isn’t funny how different countries can sometimes seem just the same and completely unique all at the same time?

I’ve now had the opportunity to drive through the countryside in the US, Italy, England and Turkey, and I’m always struck by how, once you are a little removed from the concentrated culture of the city, everyone’s fields and mountains look like just that…fields and mountains.

I suppose there’s a metaphor in there somewhere.

For me, my recent trip had a lot to do with perceptions. I started my travels with some hazy, largely unconscious ideas pieced together by a mix of picturesque Pinterest pins, inflammatory news reports and well-meaning but under-educated overheard discussions.

Upon hearing my travel plans, everyone asked, “Why Istanbul?” To be honest, there’s really no one thing. Unfortunately despite good people and a greater God, religion gets it wrong sometimes, which I’ve noticed happens most when cultural and personal biases get lumped in with it by us fallible humans. So I grew up in my church bubble dismissing the region largely due to unawareness and therefore avoidance about Islam. “Classic American,” right? Luckily, through traveling opportunities and curiosity about other cultures that ignorance was not to stay for too long. After taking a missions class about world cultures about 2 years ago, I was even more excited about the area. Out of nowhere, Istanbul was on my mind and seemed to be everywhere…on book covers, Pinterest feeds, a vacation giveaway email and more. I became captivated by the beautiful mosques, long history, fascinating convergence of East / West and completely different but delicious flavor profile.

Here’s just a few of the perceptions, some my own and some that I’ve heard, that I found challenged during my visit:

Turkish people speak far less English than guidebooks and blogs led me to believe. Thankfully, they’re also some of the most hospitable people I have come across so the worst ‘mishap’ experienced was receiving an awful lot of hot tea (çay) when asking for the similarly pronounced check and the more than occasional appreciative laughter at our failing attempts to master “thank you” (teşekkürler).

Yes, the Muslim call to prayer happened every day, multiple times a day. But contrary to popular (American) belief, the city did not stop functioning during those times and no one made us feel awkward or out of place for not participating. Besides hearing it over the city’s loudspeakers, I never really noticed. Honestly, I found the idea of an entire country not only accepting but broadcasting its optional call to united prayer really neat, coming from the US where religion seems to be more and more of an incendiary topic and one we often skirt around in conversation.

Americans. Single women. You are perfectly safe in Istanbul. If you are smart and respectful, there is no reason why these sweet people would have any problem with you. There are bad people in every country, and the only time we received any sort of negative attention was from a passing car while walking back from a club at 1:30 in the morning in a dress and red lipstick…and we just ignored them so they kept on going. Overall, Turkish people really are incredibly welcoming, kind and helpful people. I can’t tell you how many times someone noticed our complete confusion with the bus schedule and approached us to help in whatever way they could despite language limitations. It makes me sad to think that many Turkish people might not have the same reception from every American if the situation was reversed. Because if I’m being honest, I can’t say before that I would have stopped unsolicited in the middle of my daily commute to help a lost tourist.

Turkish people are quite stylish and modern. They’re really into vintage clothes in the New City side of Istanbul, so there were strings of fantastic shops. Women’s unique, fashion-forward combinations were both beautiful and inspiring. The guys especially are very well-groomed, smartly dressed…and really dang attractive. We decided it must be the great cheekbones that everyone seemed to have.

I hope this helps paint a slightly different picture for you than maybe you’ve heard before. And I hope you decide to find out for yourself!

A perfect New York weekend

I’m ba-aaack!

One, I’ve returned from a week and a half vacation reuniting with my long-time love (New York City) and discovering new ones (basically all Turkish people, ever…it helps that they fed me. Very, very well.) Two, it’s time this little month-long blogging hiatus came to an end.

It’s been a crazy last month that on my end only involved 7 – 7 work days trying to make time for The Great Turkish Adventure. But it’s not all work over here – Finding Tiffany’s Lydia was busy becoming a published author (by someone other than ourselves)! It being a story about Italian food only makes it that much more exciting…just imagine all the delicious “research” this piece entailed. Congratulations, Lydia!

As for New York and Turkey, I could probably write a whole novella. For now, though, I thought I’d at least share some of the highlights. Up first, New York City:

This is what a perfect start to vacation looks like.
This is what a perfect start to vacation looks like.
Brooklyn Soda Works. Yes.
Brooklyn Soda Works. Yes.
Gnocchi at Smorgasburg.
Gnocchi at Smorgasburg.

Smorgasburg. Um, delicious. Picture walking in sunny 70 degree weather through tents of fresh food, sipping a refreshing Apple Ginger soda then picnicking along the banks of the East River admiring the skyline. Highly recommend. Plus, I always love me some hipsters, and Williamsburg is basically their home base.

Found it! What a show.
Found it! What a show.

Newsies on Broadway. Dream come true. Even though you can’t see my fangirl Google search history, the occasional Newsies reference on FT might have already given me away as a long-time proponent. I was a little worried this cast couldn’t live up to Christian Bale and co., but I was blown away by their voices, dancing skills and how completely magnetizing this Jack Kelly was even when just in the background of a scene. New goal: go back and pay for the very front row of the mezzanine. Worth it.

The beginning of one of the top five brunches of my life...so far.
The beginning of one of the top five brunches of my life…so far.
New York patio in September? Don't mind if I do.
New York patio in September? Pass the prosecco, please.
Jalapeno sliders...and The Fries.
Jalapeno sliders…and The Fries.

Brunch at Hudson Clearwater. You know when you look up directions to a restaurant and the only ones that come up are from a blog including the words, “When facing North, take fifteen paces to the left and you should find a small, unmarked green door” that this is going to be a food adventure. This place had all the trendy makings to be as pretentious as they wanted to be, but I’m happily surprised to say they were some of the most welcoming servers I’ve met. Sean didn’t even look at us that funny when we told him we were writing a haiku about their french fries because they were so good they tasted like poetry, which, let’s face it, he totally would have been entitled to.

Walking the High Line...beautiful.
Walking the High Line by the Hudson…beautiful.
View from the High Line.
View from the High Line.
Tried to get a shot of my People's Pops and got these precious ones kicking each other instead. #notmadaboutit
Tried to get a shot of my People’s Pops and got these precious ones kicking each other instead. #notmadaboutit
Stocking up on coffee for an afternoon at Central Park
Stocking up on coffee for an afternoon at Central Park
Just a small stop on the way...
Just a small stop on the way…
Central Park.
Central Park. Made it!
Taking a break...deliberating over Instagram filters can be hard work.
Taking a break…deliberating over Instagram filters can be hard work.

We also got to spend some fantastic time catching up with friends from high school and college, without whose hospitality this trip really couldn’t have happened. Let the saving begin for Round Three!

It’s all happening

Istanbul - Hagia Sophia

We had a plan.

After sharing my unfounded but very real passion for Istanbul with my now roommate, we made a pact to make the trip at the end of our lease together – a last hurrah for us in a way, and if things kept on the path they seemed to be, perhaps even a last hurrah for my ‘single’ self.

Partly in hopes of rationing the voice in my head that said things like too far, too expensive, too different, I tried to be responsible. I plotted vacation days on my calendar. I spent hours researching the best credit card for miles (Chase Sapphire Preferred, by the way) then actually got it this time. I steered clear of city research to avoid getting too excited too soon or worse, let down.

Istanbul Streets

Then out of the blue, I got a text: “I can go to Istanbul!!! Let’s GO”

The five (or ten) that followed were filled with dates, exclamation points, summer sale prices and more than our fair share of smiley face variations. One quick trip to Starbucks later we had researched plane tickets and the roommate was literally bouncing off the chair to hit “purchase” when that voice came back again with “reasons”…what if it uses all of my vacation days, what if it costs too much without all my bonus miles, what if it disrupts my dietary needs/issues?

I’m a pretty impulsive traveler by nature, so all this hesitation was so unlike me. For example, my first ticket to New York was purchased on a whim immediately upon opening a travel deal email and without a second thought toward where we’d sleep…and it turned out to be one of the best weeks of my life!

Turkish Coffee in Istanbul

One week later, though, it was clear: the only thing holding me back from Istanbul was me. With the green light from my work and bank, there really was no reason NOT to hit purchase…so we did.

That’s right – I’ll be spending an entire week in ISTANBUL in just 5 weeks! We also timed it perfectly to squeeze out a weekend in New York beforehand.

Pamukkale Turkey

Seriously.

If you’ve been following Finding Tiffany’s for awhile, my wanderlust is no secret. It’s also no secret that I’ve been obsessing over both Istanbul and New York, specifically, for quite some time now. I’m literally going on my ideal trip, accomplishing my latest major life-travel goal.

I’m not exactly sure when I allowed the aforementioned fear to creep in, but I realize now why it did. It’s kinda a scary thing when you accomplish what you thought was a huge goal much sooner than you expected. Yeah there’s always the fear of being disappointed after all the hype, but really it’s more the wide-open realization…Now what?

In the words of my coworker: “Now you need a bigger goal.”

Istanbul Bridge Europe to Asia, East and West

Chicago, finally

I know you’ve all been doing absolutely nothing besides wait for me to post the long-promised pictures from Chicago, so I’m happy to tell you…the wait is over.

In all seriousness, I do feel badly for leading you on for so long. I also hope you do have many better things to do, but if you’re looking to escape from a particularly stressful work day or kill time waiting in line or traffic, I’m happy to oblige with the below stream of photos. (Except the traffic part. Do what I don’t and put. down. the phone.)

My week off work for the Wisconsin wedding and Chicago visit was 100% the re-energizing, fulfilling, fun, relaxing and all those other awesome adjectives that vacations are supposed to be. One major takeaway was the revelation that Madison, WI is quite the cool city with a Portland/Austin vibe: adorable painted houses, two lakes, bike-friendly, focus on local food and businesses, lots of live music and probably more. Who knew? I would completely go back, if only to participate in the (genius) Brunch & Bike event.

As for Chicago, we didn’t make it to a Cubs game, but we did do everything else I hoped for and more including a sunset architecture boat tour through the city, Second City improv show, Hot Doug’s for a real Chicago hot dog, drinking coffee and checking out record shops and bookstores through Wicker Park / Bucktown (the “hipster” neighborhoods, can’t you tell?), a leisurely walk through Lincoln Park and the beach and rooftop swims at our downtown place.

I also found my favorite place in all of Chicago, a cafe called Fabcakes where I enjoyed the most delicious lavendar latte and vegan and gluten-free oatmeal cookies. It wasn’t until after making insta-friends with the lovely people behind the counter and going back for seconds that I saw it – the neighboring restaurant’s hugely printed name next to the cafe’s shaded outdoor patio, “Prosecco.” If that’s not a sign of perfection, I don’t know what is.

school grounds coffee WIwisconsin flowerswisconsin school grounds coffeemadison sourdough bakerymadison sourdough bakery breadWicker Park Bucktown ChicagoView from our downtown Chicago apartmentDowntown Chicago BuildingsLake Street Chicago RiverChicago River architecture boat tourChicago architecture boat tourChicago Skyline at NightSprinkles ATM Chicago - My first dessert of 2013!Chicago BeanWrigley Field and Chicago CubsFabcakes Chicago PatioProsecco Chicago RestaurantChicago Beach and BikesChicago - Lake Michigan

Fun, sun and fourth

fourth of july sparklersfourth of july recipesred white and blue pool partyfourth of july style

Happy Fourth of July!

While I’m fully aware that next to no one is online and blog-reading today, I couldn’t help but share a little of the day with you all before I set out for an afternoon of pool-side and rooftop celebrations, followed by a wedding at an idyllic-sounding bed & breakfast in Wisconsin and a couple days reveling in the joys of tall buildings and public transportation in Chicago. I started 2013 with the commitment to finally get myself up to Chicago, which is also around the time I decided to cut out added sugar / desserts for a multitude of health / lifestyle reasons I’ve talked about before. Next week not only will I be able to cross Chicago of my resolutions list, but I will also be treating myself to my first real dessert (fruit doesn’t count) of 2013…a Sprinkles cupcake, naturally, circa their cupcake ATM.

It’s a big week.

But for right now, I’m just soaking up all things Fourth of July. The combination of the sunny outdoors, pools, friends, hot dogs and fireworks makes this holiday pretty much unbeatable in my mind. Like everyone probably does with their favorite holiday, I hype it up a lot, but it really never disappoints.

My new royal blue sundress? Drying.

Beer and prosecco? Chilling.

Now if I could just get my hands on some sparklers, I’d say this day is complete. Have a great holiday, everybody!

Un giorno molto Italiano

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“A very Italian day”

Today was a very Italian day, which is to say, I was in my element.

After going on weeks of eating out for every meal due to a gas leak in our old-fashioned oven (ah, the charming joys of old home ownership), I enjoyed a fresh lunch thrown together from cucumbers and basil from my mother’s garden, olive oil and a pinch (or two) of salt. Heaven in my mouth, I tell you.

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The offending appliance.

I followed my summer lunch with a glass of “just got home from work during a stressfully short week” wine and what I’ll just call a ‘highly passionate’ conversation. My roommate and I ended the night with a long walk in our new tree-lined neighborhood (dare I say…passeggiata?) and gelato before dinner – also known as sorbet for my dairy-free self. It was literally all I could do to keep from telling the generous sample-giving high schooler behind the counter, “Posso avere un piccolo con limone e anguria, per favore.”

I don’t know if it’s all the Under the Tuscan Sun I’ve been reading lately, nostalgia or just my genes taking over (one can only hope), but I am always up for incorporating a little more Italiano in daily life. In my experience, the Italians are all about appreciating the little things, pacing themselves through life, loving on those around them and of course, doing it all with good food, wine and friends.

While Italy is a place that I miss often, days like this remind me it is also a mindset. Despite all odds, I can look back on my day now and see the good, which makes me breathe just a little easier and makes me feel like “Tiffany’s” might not be so out of reach after all.

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Food, friends and Franklin’s

Hey, remember back when I mentioned I spent a great weekend in Austin? My pictures have been begging me to go ahead and upload them already ever since. “You took us to be seen, didn’t you?” they say pointedly while taking up desktop space in a most guilt-inducing manner.

As with most Austin trips, food played quite the prominent role – and the Italian in me vehemently believes good food should be shared. So without further adieu…

franklin barbecue Austin porch

The boyfriend and I made the trek to visit with friends (just the sweetest couple, really) and make another attempt at Franklin Barbecue. You might have heard about this place recently seeing as Texas Monthly’s “Barbecue Guy” (it’s true, this job exists) just ranked it as the #1 best barbecue in Texas, and it’s been recognized as the best in the country by Bon Appetit. See, round one didn’t go so ideally in that I wasn’t actually there, everyone was apparently sleep deprived, one was too hungover to make it despite a valiant effort and one gas station stop for the impending sickness, it poured the Texas equivalent of freezing rain throughout the multiple hour outdoor wait and did I mention I wasn’t there? Despite all this, they came back from lunch saying how more than 100% worth it all this mess was because the meat was just. that. good.

This time around I made sure to secure my invitation and checked the weather – it was sunny skies ahead. Friday night drinking was held to a moderate level during our trip to a laid back downtown bar, Handlebar (as in mustache, found courtesy of a “Austin hipster restaurants” Google search), and dinner at Frank, whose hot dogs and bloody mary’s have made a couple tv appearances for their deliciousness. Bonus: they have plenty of gluten-free options! Of course, I couldn’t say no to a little champagne while watching the sunset and bats on the Congress Ave bridge, too.

congress avenue bridge austin bats

We woke up the next morning and made it to Franklin by 8:30 a.m. with lawn chairs and a cooler of mimosas and bloody mary’s in tow. A line was already beginning, but we weren’t too far back and the weather was beautiful so we were feeling pretty optimistic. While Franklin actually opens at 11, they’ve sold out of everything every day since opening two years ago, so you want to get there early to make sure they’ll still have the menu items you want. After a leisurely wait in an atmosphere of giddy anticipation from the crowd, the doors opened. I can’t even describe the richness of flavor, the silky texture of the meat, the way it literally fell off the bone and melted in my mouth…Just go there.

franklin barbecue line waiting tips

franklin barbecue BBQ food

franklin barbecue brisket picture

We wrapped up the weekend sunning our stuffed stomachs by the pool. Perfection.

Texas Monthly also ranked Dallas’ Pecan Lodge as number two, so we’ll be reuniting soon to see how it measures up. I’ll keep you posted!

The return of the wanderlust

Well, ya’ll, I am back. Where do I even start?

The trip was so amazing. Each city was so different and lovely that as hard as I try, I can’t even begin to pick a favorite. And trust me, since that is the question that everyone asks, I’ve definitely given it some thought.

Rick Steves. Is a travel God among us simple tourists. He walked us through the Vatican City, all of Rome, and nooks and crannies of Paris. He provided things to look at, to take note of and then let you know why what you were looking at was so amazing. We didn’t always follow him word for word, but it was great to have him in our pockets as a reference. We love him. Like really. We love him.

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Everything in Paris. The two main meals I had in Paris were both so perfect and so French. Going of the beaten path served us so well. One night we had dinner with a friend who lives in Paris and she brought us to a little place where the waitresses don’t speak very much English (i.e. not a tourist spot – a sign we looked for throughout the trip for good food) – it was entirely perfect. The other night we just followed our hearts off main road and found this small little alley way with super small French restaurants. Both meals were so delicious! It’s also important to note that macaroons were just as delicious and classy as I dreamed they would be. I also died over the Pompidou Museum. It’s the Modern Art museum in Paris and it was so sick. The museum itself was artwork. OH and the lover’s locks. I’m a sucker for a lover’s lock. Screen shot 2013-04-05 at 12.45.59 PM Screen shot 2013-04-05 at 12.46.22 PM Screen shot 2013-04-05 at 12.46.38 PM Screen shot 2013-04-05 at 12.46.52 PM

Friends in Sevilla. First off, I got my wallet stollen in Sevilla. That’s literally all I’m going to say about that because I’m trying to pretend it didn’t happen. On a positive note, this is where my best friend lives. We all hung out, ate, drank and danced with her friends. I can’t even express how much I enjoyed this. They were all so nice and friendly..not that Dallas doesn’t have some great people but I noticed in my travels that people who live abroad are so much more open to meeting people and making new friends. We had group dinners and lunches involving a ton of tapas to share.

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That one night in Roma. One night in Rome we camped out on the Spanish Steps and a modpodge of a meal of baguette, brei, jamon, Prosecco, and a few other European sides. We just hung out for a while people watching, reading Rick Steves (our savior) info on the steps and getting a happy Prosecco buzz going. Afterwards we met up with a group of Italian grad student men and we all bonded over a mutual interest in hanging out. So with Italians in tow, we wandered to the almost deserted Trevi Fountain around midnight and mosied the streets of Rome until the wee hours of the morning. There’s nothing like seeing iconic historical sights in the middle of the night with no one around. It was simply magical.

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Fairytale land in Prague. Prague looks like you stepped into Anastasia. No joke. The cobblestone roads, the castle in the background, stunning bridges – oh and shots of liquor that greeted us at our hostel. We really took it easy in Prague. We went on a brief free walking tour, the notorious tourst dance club, and really just kinda existed in Prague for a few days. It was  a great break from the busyness of Rome and the busyness that was to come in Berlin. Many say that Prague is a tourist spot, and I don’t disagree. But I had some amazing food, fun, and delicious hot wine so I’m not complaining.

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Berlin living. By the time we got to Berlin, we were pretty exhausted and pretty jaded. We had trouble mustering the strength to even step foot in one of the hundreds of museums and couldn’t read another word from Rick. Luckily our hostel was another wicked amazing choice and we attended a free guided tour. It ended up taking us to all the major sights and even gave us a great breakdown of Berlin history (including book recommendations – how divine!). It wasn’t till a long run I went on my last day that Berlin really won me over. I’ve come to the conclusion that, among the cities we visited, this is the city I can most see myself living in. I’d love to live amongst the street art, the history, the beauty and most importantly the making of history that is happening right now in the reconstruction of the city. (PS. Is anyone else aware they are tearing down the East Side Gallery? I’m upset. Where do I write my letter of complaint?)

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So that’s just a brief summary of some of the things that I loved on my travels. It was a complete exhausting, eye opening, amazing trip that is totally worth the credit card debt and lack of vacation days. My wonderlust yearning has subsided for now, but that is likely due to the issues getting new credit cards, my slight credit card debt and the mound of laundry I have yet to look at. Plus, it was a dream come true to reunite with my soul sista best friend after all this time!

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