A European Road Trip – Switzerland & Slovenia

I had been planning one big European adventure before moving back to America. Switzerland has been on my bucket list since I studied abroad in 2011. I had also recently become enamored with the beauty of Slovenia. It was obvious to me that these two countries were next on my “to-do” list. This trip was also my first European road trip, which added to the excitement. My fiancé Kuba and I rented a car and ended up driving 2,566 km (nearly 1,600 miles) throughout the 9-day trip. We visited Zurich, Lucerne, and Grindelwald in Switzerland and Ljubljana, Lake Bled, Postojna Caves, and Predjama Castle in Slovenia.

Although we only spent one day in Zurich, it was a great introduction to Switzerland. Because we explored Zurich on a Sunday, most of the shops were unfortunately closed (which we weren’t aware of before –oops!). But we did get to have a peaceful afternoon of exploring on foot. A few of my favorite spots in Zurich were Old Town and Lindenhofplatz, which provides a perfect scenic view of Zurich city.

View from Lindenhofplatz

Our next stop was Lucerne, Switzerland, about a 40-minute drive from Zurich. We stayed in Lucerne for 3 days. The small city was quite enchanting. From eclectic buildings to Old Town and Lake Lucerne, the city did not disappoint. On our first day in Lucerne, Kuba and I hopped on a lake cruise. It provided us with a nice introduction to the city and did not skimp on mountain views. More personal favorites of mine included: Old Town, Hof Church, and Chapel Bridge, the oldest wooden bridge in Europe. Lucerne is an extremely walkable city and can be done almost entirely on foot. The well-preserved Old Town took me back in time.

Views from the cruise
Chapel Bridge

Hof Church

After enjoying a few laidback days in Lucerne, Kuba and I headed to the heart of the Swiss Alps. The village of Grindelwald is about an hour and a half drive from Lucerne. The short drive was a maze of twists, turns, and sudden drop-offs (needless to say, Kuba was our driver). Entering the Swiss Alps was nothing short of magical. Our quaint hotel, Hotel Blumisalp, felt as if it was smack dab in the center of the Alps. Although a bit outside Grindelwald’s center, the old hotel had an authentic vibe and unbeatable views. After settling into our hotel, Kuba and I caught a bus to the center of Grindelwald where we purchased our tickets for the Grindelwald-First lift up to the First summit. The gondola ride to the very top took approx. 25 minutes (with options to get off at three different stops). Being moderately afraid of heights, I have to say that the gondola ride was a bit daunting. Once we finally reached the top, I couldn’t believe my eyes. The Alps were nothing short of extraordinary. We were so high up that it felt as if you could reach out and touch the mountaintop.

After enjoying an outdoor lunch, Kuba and I headed for a 6km hike to Bachalpsee Lake. During my research prior to the trip, this hike was described as “easy”. The hike had many hills and twists that proved to be more challenging than we’d initially thought. We ended up stopping on more than one occasion to rest and were glad that we’d brought a giant bottle of water. Although it was definitely not an easy stroll, the reward at the end was more than worth the pain in my thighs. Once we finally reached the glacial lake of Bachalpsee, our efforts had paid off. The gorgeous lake reflected the Swiss Alps and the scene nearly took my breath away. There were few people around and cows roaming about, all adding to the surreal experience. We lingered a bit and took in the view for about 20 minutes before returning to First and catching the last gondola ride of the day back to the village. Although we only spent 24 hours in the village of Grindelwald, it’s a special memory that I won’t soon forget.

First Gondola
Gondola ride with Kuba
Views from the hike
Bachalpsee Lake

After a long night’s sleep, we awoke the next morning and geared up for an 8 and a half hour drive to Ljubljana, Slovenia. Once we finally made it safely to Slovenia’s capital city, we spent the evening and entire next day exploring the small city of Ljubljana. Another walkable city, Kuba and I spent most of our time exploring Old Town, Triple Bridge, and Ljubljana Castle. We even took part in a guided tour of the history of Ljubljana Castle and were greeted with characters in costume. The castle tower also provides an awesome panoramic view of the city. Ljubljana is very green and the Old Town is car-free, making it super easy to stroll about. This often overlooked capital city, in my opinion, is well worth the visit.

View from Ljubljana Castle Tower

The final part of our trip consisted of a few day trips from Ljubljana. Firstly, we made our way to the famous Lake Bled, Slovenia. Although the weather refused to cooperate with us on that particular day, Lake Bled’s beauty was undeniable despite the gloomy rain. Kuba and I took a small boat to the island in the middle of the lake to see the castle. We climbed the 99 steps up to the castle and paid a small fee to enter. The views were incredible and we even got to sign our names in the castle guestbook. Although we had originally planned on checking out Vintgar Gorge afterward, the rain proved to be a huge damper on our plans (pun intended). Instead, Kuba and I called it a day and returned to Ljubljana to relax at our Airbnb apartment.

View from the castle
Lake Bled Castle

The final day of our trip brought us to Postojna Caves and Predjama Castle in Slovenia. The Postojna Caves has a railway system inside that you can ride, bringing you to the beginning of a guided walking tour. A train ride in a cave? Yes, please! Throughout the tour, we entered a series of tunnels and passages as we admired stalactites and stalagmites. After our 90-minute guided cave tour, we took a shuttle bus to Predjama Castle (about 10-15 minutes away). Predjama Castle is the oldest castle cave in the world. Kuba and I followed an audioguide tour throughout the castle to learn about its history and check out the views from the top. We spent about an hour and a half touring the inside and making our way up and down many steps. By the end of the day, we were happy and exhausted and felt accomplished. This marked the end of our 9-day trip and we were eager to sleep in our own bed again. This road trip took a ton of planning and research, and I couldn’t have been happier with how it turned out.

Train ride in the caves
Kuba and I at Predjama Castle
A first look at Predjama Castle

The End of an Era

Just recently, life came at me pretty fast. My entire life in Prague has flashed before my eyes. It’s surreal to think that I’ve been living in Europe for nearly 3.5 years. There have been ups and lots of downs to balance it all out. I’ve found love, heartbreak, and have had countless experiences that have helped shape me into the person that I am today. I’ve grown more in these past 3 and a half years than I ever have in my entire life. That is why it’s so hard to come to terms with the fact that I’ll soon be saying goodbye.

My one-way ticket home is dated for September 25th, just 5 days after my 27th birthday. Although I had been anticipating this moment for awhile now, the reality of moving back hit me like a ton of bricks. Once the decision became more than just an “idea”, reality sunk in. I will be departing the place I call home in just a little over 1 month. I must say goodbye to this European life that I’ve created for myself. Although I’ve always been open with my struggles of living in a foreign country, I will miss this city more than you know. I will miss hearing three different languages at once, I will miss passing by the Prague Castle on my tram rides, and most importantly – I will miss the people who stay behind. Prague has given me deep connections with countless people. I fear that I won’t find these unique connections in America. I fear that people won’t be as open and knowledgeable about the world as they are here. I fear that this experience has changed me so much that I won’t know how to fit in anymore. Although these fears and doubts follow me back to the U.S., I remain steadfast in the belief that this experience has shaped me into the person I was always meant to be.

Entering Prague’s Old Town

So as I prepare to say goodbye to the city, I promise to make the most out of the time that I have left. I will visit my favorite pubs, bars, and cafes and make sure to catch one last glimpse of all the famous Prague landmarks. I am 100% sure I will be back one day, but I know that it will never feel quite the same as it does in this moment. So, for now, I will soak up the beauty of this city and remind myself that this isn’t really goodbye, but “see you later”.

Bergen & Stockholm – A Scandinavian Adventure

In March, Kuba and I took a six-day trip to Scandinavia. We spent three days in Bergen, Norway and the next three in Stockholm, Sweden. It was a first for both of us, and we were really excited to see what Scandinavia had to offer. Our first stop was Bergen. From what I’d heard about Norway, I knew that we were in for some pretty spectacular nature. Bergen is quite a small city (less than 300,000 people). When we visited at the end of March, the weather was just as dreary as they said it’d be. Although cold and rainy every day, it didn’t put a damper on our trip. With umbrellas in hand, Kuba and I spent our time wandering the small town. My two favorite Bergen activities were the the Fløibanen Funicular (cable car to the top of Mount Fløyen), and the Fjord Cruise. The funicular was a really neat experience. Although unlucky in weather, this meant that we had the funicular mostly to ourselves. When we reached the top, it was actually snowing! The wind was whipping and it was freezing cold, but you couldn’t beat the view. There was even a gift shop and cafe to warm up in.

Foggy view from the top of Mount Fløyen
Trying to keep my eyes open!

Another highlight of Norway was our Fjord Cruise. Although the cruise wasn’t exactly cheap (around $60 per person), we had heard good things and wanted to explore more of Norway’s countryside. The 3-hour cruise ended up being worth every penny. We got to go out on the front and top decks to see everything up close. If possible, it was even colder than the top of Mount Floyen! But we buttoned up and put on our bravest faces. The wind was so strong that my eyes were nearly closed in every picture we took! The scenery was so picturesque and gorgeous that I don’t think any of us even cared. We saw fishing villages, gorgeous mountainsides, and waterfalls. We even got close enough to a waterfall to gather some fresh water. After climbing down from the top deck (for about the 5th time), we warmed up with some hot chocolate and enjoyed the cozy boat on our way back to the Bergen dock. Even though the weather didn’t cooperate with us, Bergen had something special.

I swear the city has a touch of magic.

The second part of our trip landed us in Stockholm, Sweden. The first thing we noticed upon arrival was the change in weather. Although the temperature was only around the mid 50’s, Kuba and I felt like it was summer! We shed our umbrellas and went exploring. There is so much to see in Stockholm.  With a population of nearly 910,000, you can imagine how different Stockholm was from Bergen. The city has a cool, hipster vibe with many young people. One of my favorite places that we visited was the Skansen Open-Air Museum

Me at the aquarium in Skansen

Kuba and I spent the majority of the afternoon here, exploring the world’s oldest open-air museum. There was a lot of history involved and many animals native to Scandinavia. We saw bear cubs just out of hibernation, pigs, seals, and even some sloths and spiders at the aquarium! It was a really cool, vast outdoor area and even had a town square with glass blowers, pottery makers, and a quaint cafe. Another spot worth visiting in Stockholm is the Fotografiska museum. This is an eclectic photography museum with a contemporary vibe. I’m not much of an artsy person myself, but I really enjoyed wandering around exploring the photos. There is also a restaurant/cafe on the top floor of the museum with an amazing view of the city. 

Even though we had visited our fair share of restaurants in Stockholm, our favorite by far was a Japanese-inspired restaurant called Bistro Barbro. We didn’t make a reservation but were lucky enough to grab seats by the bar. This was actually one of the best spots in my opinion, as we got to see the chefs prepare the dishes right in front of us. We ordered 4 dishes between the two of us (each dish is meant to be shared). Our favorite dish was the tuna rolls topped with chipotle sauce! The cuisine was much different than anything we’d ever tried and it didn’t disappoint. The bill didn’t come cheap, but Kuba and I decided it was worth it for a great last meal in Stockholm!

Overall, I really enjoyed our little Scandinavian adventure. Norway’s fjords were breathtaking and the vibe in Stockholm was cool and hip. I also couldn’t help but notice how friendly Scandinavians are. No matter where we went, locals were more than willing help us out by practicing their English. I highly recommend checking out Norway and Sweden on your European travels if you haven’t done so already! 

Waterfall spotted on the Fjord Cruise
Scenery in Norway
Our meal at Bistro Barbro


Cheers to Three Years

March 13th marks my three year anniversary of living in Prague. Three. Years. When did that happen? I can envision the moment I left the U.S. so vividly. I remember crying in the airport bathroom as I was overcome with emotion and anxiety. I remember waving goodbye to my tearful mom and dad. I remember crying in uncertainty once more as I looked out the airplane window on the plane that would take me to a new adventure with no clear end. When I had made the decision to move to the Czech Republic, I expected to stay until around the six-month mark. I never planned on living here long-term. I wanted the new, thrilling experience of living in another country while traveling a bit along the way. I wasn’t mentally prepared to indulge the idea that I’d be away from home for an extended period of time. Little did I know I’d make a life for myself here three years down the road.

Although I know that I will eventually make a new home for myself in the U.S., Prague has become a part of me. If I’m being honest, it no longer holds the luster that it did in the beginning. It’s not to say that I don’t still love the city (I do), but much like my previous post where I discussed expat life, living in a foreign country can be difficult. I still struggle daily with the language barrier. Even though I recently took a beginner’s Czech course, it will be years down the road before I’ll be fluent.

Little did I know I’d make a life for myself here three years down the road.

Being an expat can be tough for a number of reasons. You make friends from all over the world. Many of which come into your life for short periods of time. It can be hard to find pure connections. I find myself struggling to find the connections here that I have with my friends back home. It can get lonely feeling like you don’t have many close friends to lean on. Striking a bond here similar to the ones you share with people you’ve known your entire life is rare. I find my Prague friendships few and far between. Although I’ve had many amazing, inspiring people come in and out of my life these past three years, many of them don’t stay for one reason or another. It’s not something I’m bitter about. I am thankful for all the people I’ve met along the way throughout my journey. Some have provided me with a new perspective, while others have taught me valuable life lessons. I still find myself yearning for the strong connections that I have with my friends back in the U.S. Expat life can be a lonely business. Thankfully, I have the support of my boyfriend to fall back on. Kuba is a beacon of light in my life. He’s supportive, kind, and always has my back. I’m so grateful he came into my life and am still baffled at times by his love.

So yes, these past three years have been a trial of up’s-and-down’s. I’ve experienced happiness, heartbreak, and nearly everything in-between. But throughout this experience, I’ve managed to learn more about myself and blossom into the person that I’m meant to be. Although I’m still that stubborn American girl from Northwestern Pennsylvania, I’m learning to see the world from a new perspective. I empathize with those different from myself and understand that the world doesn’t fully revolve around me (much to the dismay of my teenage self). I’ve realized that I’m worthy and deserving of love. I’ve realized that some people are meant to come into your life to teach you a lesson. And I have these past three tumultuous years to thank for that.

Brussels: a solo adventure

As mentioned in my previous post, I’d recently booked a cheap flight to Brussels. Well seeing as it’s now February, I guess it’s no longer that recent. Let’s get updated then, shall we?

Back in mid-November, I embarked on a weekend solo trip to Brussels, Belgium. Although my main motivation for visiting Brussels was the $50 flight that I’d scored, I was pleasantly surprised at how much I enjoyed the city. I had been to Bruges in 2011 while studying abroad; but other than that, Belgium was quite a mystery to me. After braving my very first Ryanair flight (hello tiny seats!), I successfully navigated the shuttle into the city and managed to find my hotel without taking an Uber or taxi. That first night, I asked the hotel staff where I could find a nice restaurant in the area. When I finally found the place that they had suggested, I was the only one there (it was about 9:30PM). One of the owners saw that I was by myself and came and sat down with me. We had a nice chat as I enjoyed my (delicious) calzone with the promise of visiting again before the weekend was over.

I spent the majority of Saturday morning exploring sights that I’d previously researched. I used the app CityMaps2Go to find my way around (bonus: it works without data!). There was a lot to see and I spent most of the morning walking the city. I also let myself wander a bit to see what I could discover. The thrill of getting lost in a new city is one of the best feelings. My favorite part of Brussels by far was the Grand Place-Grote Markt, or the main city square. The beautiful square is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and houses the City Hall. I found it so magical that I Facetimed my mom so I could share the moment with someone!15078596_10153839251821230_6420008361767794489_n

awkward selfie in the square

After an eventful morning of sightseeing, I took a rest at my hotel and anxiously awaited the Beer and Chocolate Tour that I had booked. Although this particular tour was a bit over my budget, it had positive reviews on TripAdvisor and I figured that it’d be a nice way to familiarize myself with the city (okay, and with Belgian beer). This tour ended up being the best part of my trip! It consisted of a small group of about 8. The first part of the tour was all about chocolate. Our guide Marie took us to her favorite local chocolate shops and let us try a variety of flavors. I even got to try basil-infused chocolate (very good, by the way) and pure cocoa (not so good). She was also really great at providing us with her own personal insight and history of Brussels as we walked from place to place. The second part of the tour was all about the beer. We got the chance to try 6 different types of beer at local pubs and learn about how they’re made. The tour concluded in a traditional Belgian bar with a glass of beer and a toast. Most of our group decided that since we were having such a good time, why not stay for another drink (or two)? I ended up drinking more Belgian beer and walking around the city with new friends. We were an eclectic group of Canadian, British, Australian, and American travelers of varying ages. We even managed to stumble into a random bar where “Wonderwall” was playing live. It goes without saying that we belted out our best rendition (which turned out to be not very good, after). The night ended with some famous Belgian frites to soak up the alcohol and the promise of new Facebook friends.

Goodnight, Brussels!

The next day was Sunday, my final day in Brussels. I had the morning to explore before catching a flight back to Prague. Although I wasn’t feeling my best (too much beer?), I managed to get myself out of bed to see the magical square one last time. I also picked up some Belgian chocolates at Chocopolis, one of the shops that Marie had shown us the day before. As a hangover cure, I indulged in one last batch of delicious homemade Belgian frites. Lastly, I stopped by the restaurant that I’d visited my first night and had a coffee and a chat with the owner, my new Brussels acquaintance.

Belgian frites with spicy mayo

Although I came to Brussels not knowing exactly what to expect, it ended up being one of my best trips yet. Exploring the city with new friends and meeting a local were definitely a few of the highlights. Although I’ve said it before, I do truly adore solo travel. That sense of pride you feel after successfully navigating a new city on your own is unprecedented. You’re forced out of your comfort zone and into the unfamiliar. You end up meeting amazing, likeminded people along the way and begin to realize that no matter where we come from, we are all the same. So, go on, fellow travelers. Don’t be afraid to (safely) put yourself out there. You might be surprised what you can find.

Boyfriends and Brews

I can’t believe it’s been 4 months since I’ve written a new post. So let’s bring you up to speed, shall we? Since June, I went on a solo trip, turned 26, found a boyfriend, moved in with said boyfriend, and booked a flight home for Christmas. Exciting right? Let’s start with the boyfriend. Jakub (Kuba for short) and I started talking at the end of June and things got serious pretty fast. My lease was reaching an end in October and I simply couldn’t afford to live on my own anymore. The thought of having roommates wasn’t super thrilling either. So Kuba and I dove right in with the third option and decided that living together made the most sense for both of us financially. Live life to the fullest and all that, right?

The apartment hunt was tedious, annoying, and caused a lot of tears (on my end). But we finally found a cute one-bedroom flat in Prague 2, Vinohrady. In our rush to lock down a place, we quickly took our current apartment before anyone else could. Although it is old and charming, it has also come with a lot of unexpected problems. Non-flushing toilets, no warm water, non-working freezer, you name it we’ve dealt with it. But perhaps my favorite event was the night the washer decided to explode and turn our kitchen into a scene from the Titanic. I walked in to find a pool of water emerging from underneath the washer. We spent about two hours mopping, cleaning, and draining the washer until we could find our wet clothes buried in the swamp. That weekend, we spent 3 hours (and $20) at the local laundromat. Oh, the adventures! Our landlord is still “in the process” of fixing it, so I’ve recently become a hand washing guru and started pretending that wearing the same bra two days in a row is a new fashion statement. I try to make light of the situation, but honestly I’ve been quite stressed about all the problems we’ve faced since moving in. Thankfully, Kuba is Czech and handles these types of situations much better than I do. He’s the one talking on the phone to our (only Czech-speaking) landlord and calming me down when I have a freak out. Honestly, he’s been quite the godsend. And although we’ve sped up our relationship, I am content. I stopped worrying about what people from home might think when they found out I moved in with my boyfriend of only a few months. We’re happy and doing what’s best for us and that’s all that matters.

Pilsen Brewery

Kuba and I even went on our first little adventure together to see the Czech town of Pilsen, an hour outside of Prague. We stayed in a nice hotel and spent our time wandering the streets, smoking shisha, and touring the famous Pilsner Urquell Brewery. We even got to go down to the cellars and enjoy a glass of unfiltered, unpasteurized Pilsner straight from the barrel. It was a really nice weekend and it reminded me just how much I craved new adventures. Speaking of adventures, I just booked another spur-of-the-moment solo trip to Brussels. I found a $5o roundtrip ticket (thanks RyanAir) and will be on my way next month. There’s something about the prospect of breathing in the air of new places that brings me so much giddiness and excitement. It reminds me that my life isn’t as monotonous as I make it out to be and adventures are always waiting to be had.

Kuba and I on our Pilsen trip!

Kuba has also decided to come to America with me to celebrate Christmas! It will be his first time in the U.S. and he’s really anxious to see what it’s like. I’m really excited to introduce him to my family and friends and to finally just be home. I can’t believe that another year has passed since I’ve set foot in the U.S. Time goes by so quickly; it honestly baffles me. I can’t believe how much life has changed in the past 2.5 years since I’ve been in Europe. If you told me back then that I’d one day be bringing my Czech boyfriend home for Christmas, I would’ve laughed in your face. But that’s life is, isn’t it? A series of unexpected surprises. I’m learning to take the good ones with the bad and be thankful for every experience in my life (including the exploding washer incident). This realization makes me feel like I’m finally starting to properly adjust into adulthood at the ripe old age of 26. And that, certainly, makes my soul happy.


My Top 5 European Travel Spots (So Far)

To date, I’ve visited the following European countries: Belgium, Austria, Croatia, Czech Republic, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, and the U.K.

Although I’ve done a fair bit of traveling within Europe, I still feel like I’ve only yet scratched the surface. There’s so much to do and see and I’m always looking for my next adventure! That being said, I wanted to share with you some of my favorite spots that I’ve traveled to thus far.

1.) Budapest, Hungary


Budapest was truly a hidden treasure for me. Quite embarrassingly, I didn’t know where Budapest even was prior to visiting. In the summer of 2014, my flatmate (at the time) and I took a bus from Prague to Budapest for a weekend trip. And wow! It’s safe to say that the city exceeded our expectations. We didn’t have an extensive amount of knowledge on the city, so we just walked around and explored for the majority of the trip. During our travels, we found a random stone stairway and aimlessly climbed to the top to find the most beautiful view!

The view!

We also visited Kiraly Baths, one of the many thermal spas in Budapest. We spent our time in the spa hopping between the sauna and one of the cold baths and sunbathing outside. That night, we also joined a free pub crawl and had the best time. We got drunk off Hungarian liquor and sat around bullshitting with the locals. This city rivals Prague, in my opinion. I was blown away by the beautiful architecture, the thermal baths, and the overall relaxed ambience. I’m determined to make my way back to Budapest.

2.) Cesky Krumlov, Czech Republic




Cesky Krumlov is a city about 2.5 hours from Prague. I took a weekend trip with my local friend to explore this enchanting city that I had heard so much about. Well, let me tell you, it definitely lived up to the hype. Cesky Krumlov is often referred to as a “pocket-sized Prague”, and I concur. It has all the “fairytale-esque” qualities of Prague, yet nowhere near the overwhelming amount of tourists. Walking through the cobblestone streets made me feel as though I had been transported back in time. My friend and I took a tour of the Former Cesky Krumlov Brewery and also indulged in some authentic Czech cuisine.

Although the nightlife in Cesky Krumlov is scarce, we managed to find a pub open late (can’t remember the name, sorry!) and enjoyed our Czech pivo over a game of foosball. Overall, it was the perfect getaway. The city is easily accessible by bus from Prague, which makes it an ideal weekend trip. It was so nice to get out of the hustle and bustle of Prague and enjoy some peace and tranquility. 

3.) Dubrovnik, Croatia


Oh, Dubrovnik. Where do I even begin? I had the good fortune of visiting Dubrovnik two times last year. Once on a solo trip through the country and another time on a trip with my mom and family friend. Both times, the city managed to absolutely hypnotize me with its splendor.

If you’re visiting Dubrovnik, I highly recommend you take a tour of the Ancient City Walls and make a trip on the cable car (amazing view of the entire city). Also, I strongly recommend a stop at Buza Bar. It’s a little bar located in the city walls. The views are stunning. I enjoyed a beer (or two) here on my 25th birthday while watching the waves crash onto the rocks below. There were even some people jumping off the rocks into the water. You can take a walk down to to get closer view of the beautiful water.

View from Buza Bar

Dubrovnik has stolen my heart. And I can’t wait to go back.

4.) Barcelona, Spain

View from the top of Sagrada Familia

Barcelona was just as lovely as I imagined it’d be. During my trip, I visited Park Guell was not disappointed. It’s a large city park with pathways, a large spire house, and many other quirks that make it truly unique. Also a must: Sagrada Familia. This beautiful basilica took my breath away with its sheer size and gorgeous stained glass windows. Take the optional tour; you won’t be disappointed. After a few days of exploring churches and parks, I got to settle down on the beach and sip mojitos. Talk about a perfect ending!

Beach living

5.) Aegina Island, Greece

My travel buddies and I took a boat from Athens (I believe it took around 40 min.) to reach the small island of Aegina. We stayed on the island only one night because we were unsure of all it had to offer. Well, let me tell you…I would’ve stayed on that island forever if you’d let me! It was my own little version of paradise. We stayed at a lovely family-run hostel called the Seaside Village Rooms. The hostel had a walking path right down to the rocks where you could jump off into the sea. Most of the time, it was just my travel buddies and I down at the rock. Occasionally, another guest from the hostel would come and join, but for the most part it felt like our own private part of the world (yes, skinny-dipping ensued).

We rented ATVS and mopeds for a day and circled around the entire island. This was the highlight of the trip for me. We stopped along the way to take pictures of the sea, reveling in its beauty. It was the perfect way to see the whole island!

Although my stay in Aegina was short lived, I’ll always remember it as my own little piece of paradise.

Our little “private” rock
Stopped during my ATV ride to snap this pic

These are just a few of the places that I’ve visited that have really stood out to me. What are some of your favorite European spots? I’d love to know!

To Live Would Be an Awfully Big Adventure

Bucket lists: love them or hate them? Personally, I love a good bucket list. They get me excited for the future and are good reminders to live, not simply exist.

I’ve attempted multiple bucket lists in the past.The last one I made was in October of 2015, featuring things I’ve already ticked off and things I’ve yet to do. You can take a look at the old one on my previous blog here.

I’ve had many experiences in my 25 years that I’m very grateful for. However, this new and improved bucket list highlights only the things I’ve yet to do (and hopefully what’s to come!)

 stay close to (3)

stay close to (5)

So maybe I’m a little overzealous, so what? Gotta think big to be big! 🙂 Is there anything on your bucket that you think I missed? Let me know! 















When One Door Closes…

If you read my last post, you’ll know that I’ve been on the job hunt. Well, guess whose luck has finally turned? That’s right, this girl!  I scored a job as a Social Media Moderator for a start-up travel company here in Prague. Isn’t that the funny thing about life? It knocks you down then builds you back up.

As you already know, I’ve been incessantly searching for job leads for the past month and a half. Two weeks before I landed my new job, I made a deal with myself. If I was still unemployed by the upcoming week, I’d start searching for teaching jobs. Although teaching kids was basically soul-sucking, I didn’t mind teaching private lessons to adults. In fact, I had picked up two students as a side job and was actually really enjoying it. And here’s the thing: with my certification, finding a teaching job was pretty much guaranteed. There are countless language schools searching for native English teachers and I knew that I could find a job without too much trouble. I wasn’t thrilled with the thought of teaching a class of adults (cue anxiety), but what was the alternative? Sitting in my flat, broke and searching for the “perfect” job because I refused to teach? With that sentiment in mind, I swallowed my pride and the search began.

By Monday, I had applied to a few languages schools to teach either private students or small group classes. Unsurprisingly, all the replies I received asked me to prepare a 60-90 minute lesson. Okay, so here’s the thing…I actually forgot how to create a proper lesson plan (very different from preparing a conversation lesson). I finished my TEFL course over two years ago and I threw away all my resources after moving into my new flat (in my defense, the papers were collecting dust on the shelf for almost two years). I asked my fellow TEFL friends for their resources and slowly began relearning the methodology of teaching English. Preparing a 90-minute grammar lesson was painful, to say the least. I was getting more and more frustrated with every passing minute as I tried to create a comprehensible lesson plan. In the midst of my concentration, I had nearly forgotten about the upcoming interview I’d scored with a hostel. Although the position was only part-time, I was holding on to the hope that it’d get me out of teaching as much. I hopped on the tram en route to my interview, abandoning my lesson plan and promising myself that I’d finish after.

Fast forward to an hour later. I’m leaving my hostel interview, replaying the events of the past hour in my head. Although the job was basically offered to me, the atmosphere was odd and the whole thing just felt a little off. Knowing in my heart I wouldn’t take the job, I slowly walked to the tram, absentmindedly checking my email along the way. I had been expecting an email from the travel company I interviewed with a week back with the old “we regret to inform you” line. I spotted a new message from them and almost skipped over it, when a few lines made me do a double-take. The words “we would love to cooperate with you” popped out at me through the screen. Wait, was I reading this correctly? They wanted me? The interviewing process for the job was definitely the most demanding one I’d experienced recently. The interview consisted of a 30-minute “test” of sorts creating hypothetical content and responding to mock customer enquiries. As I was leaving that interview, I vaguely remember my potential boss telling me that “many people” applied for the job. That pretty much made it clear (to me, at least) that I was not getting the job. So to receive this email solidifying the fact that they wanted ME was a huge shock, and that’s putting it lightly. Rejection after rejection and I’d finally received a big fat yes!

It’s been about a month since I’ve taken on my new role at the company and I couldn’t be happier. The exhaustion I feel at the end of the day is welcome and oddly comforting. I walk through the door at the end of each workday to see that unfinished English lesson plan sitting on the table, beckoning me. A reminder of what could have been. A commemoration to the phase of my life I can finally leave behind. And maybe I’m a just sucker for a good cliche, but I can’t help but to feel that the lesson plan is a sentiment to the past. A chapter that I can finally leave behind.

Expat Life: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

Since my last post, my life has changed substantially (for better or for worse is up to you to decide). My amazing managing/proofreading job ended around the same time as my 12 month lease. Lately, there have been a lot more downs than ups, to be honest. I knew that when I took on my job at Zoot, it was essentially a temporary project and my contract was ending in March. However, the workflow was steady and I was pretty confident (after speaking with my boss) that it would get extended. All those hopes flew out the window when my co-worker and I were called in separately for a meeting. We both got the boot (my exit more brisk because of my job). Although I received the utmost praise from one of my proofreaders and well wishes from my boss, I couldn’t help but feel disappointed. However, I was optimistic that I’d find something equally as appealing soon enough.

Fast forward to nearly two months later. Here I am sitting in my new expensive (yet lovely) flat scouring the internet, once again, for job openings. Thus far, I’ve had two interviews. One that I’ve yet to hear back from, and the other ending in false hope after realizing they hadn’t a clue on how to legally hire a non-EU citizen (first we need to see your visa…err, just kidding…do you have a work permit?). Oh, the joys of being an expat. And this is where I get down to the nitty gritty of this post…sometimes being an expat is hard. Like, really hard. Although I live in Prague, that doesn’t make the daily hardships any easier. In fact, sometimes it’s just the opposite. At first, everything was shiny and new. You could discover something fresh and exciting around every cobblestone corner. After around the six month mark, the shininess begins to fade and you find yourself cursing the crowded trams and the tourists who take up far too much room on the sidewalk. You become jaded.

Add in a foreign language and the stress of moving, and you’re basically screwed. The first few days of moving into my new flat were pretty much a disaster. Not only was I exhausted and stressed from the move, but I also found the most mundane tasks inconceivable. I couldn’t figure out how to turn on the gas, the washer, or even where to take out the garbage (pro tip: the dumpster on your street corner is locked). The fact that no one had bothered to clue me in on this was frustrating enough, but realizing that my landlady probably couldn’t communicate it to me in English anyway made it even worse. I ended up Face-timing my mom in tears that day because I didn’t know how to work my goddamn washing machine (can’t a girl have some clean underwear?!). During the first few weeks of my move-in, I just remember continually having one single thought: “something so easy shouldn’t be this hard”.

On top of crying over my washer, I also had to deal with the legality aspects of changing addresses (yay!). My landlady had to sign and notarize some papers that I didn’t understand so I could send them off to immigration. And let’s not even talk about battling the Czech post office! That’s another headache in and of itself. All these tasks kept stacking up, eventually toppling over and nearly crushing me with their weight. All the while I just kept cursing myself…why does it have to be so hard.

Although I originally planned this post being more upbeat, I felt it necessary to show the less than stellar aspects of living in a foreign country. And that’s not to say it’s all bad. The good days far outweigh the bad. But I’ve learned that you can’t go into this experience expecting your life to be shiny and happy-go-lucky all the time. In fact, some days just plain suck. It sucks being afraid to go to the lekarna (pharmacy) to ask for cold medicine and it sucks going to the post office trying to figure out which line to get in all the while receiving death glares. But even after all these frustrating days and maddening tasks, I force myself to remember one thing…how much I wanted it in the first place. I wanted a life full of culture and adventure. I wanted new, exciting experiences for myself in a foreign country. And that’s what I got. It may be messy at times and it might not always be what I had envisioned, but it’s real. It’s life. It’s my life. Even on my worst days, I never question if I made the right decision moving here. For better or for worse, Prague holds a special place in my heart. And that’s something I wouldn’t change for the world.