Filed In: Travel

Hungary for Travel

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This blog post is waaayyyyy overdue. This goes all the way back to my summer Europe adventures with my sisters. This semester just kicked into high gear these past two weeks with test, projects, papers, and more. I can’t catch a break, but it’s important to find some personal time to do the things you love! For me, that’s blogging, spending times with friends, pinterest (for inspiration of course!), and reminiscing on positive memories! With half of my friends studying abroad, I find myself enviously staring at their photos with great beer, awesome food, and wonderful architecture. I think my subconscious is trying to tell me that I need a vacation!

After struggling through a long train ride while sitting next to a 400 lb. local that smelled like onions, literally, I could not have been happier to reach our destination. Budapest, Hungary was our final stop before our Europe trip would come to an end. I absolutely loved Budapest for the rich history, culture/lifestyle, and aged architecture. Finding the hostel was like entering a maze with cobblestone streets that were encased by connected, ruin-like architecture and buildings on on either side. There were no gaps in between the buildings that were home to shops, restaurants, and cafes, which added to this maze-like aspect of these smaller aged streets. I loved how Budapest kept their ancient architecture in place and utilized each space even as their society evolved. It gives it so much character and allows travelers to still experience the present-day culture while getting a taste of their ancient history. There were so many sites to see and we only had about three days to accomplish everything! We spent our first day drinking wine and relaxing at a cute little cafe. This is where I tried Ratatouille for the first time, which inspired me to create my Ratatouille dish when I got back to the states.

We explored the streets a bit before heading out to dinner later that night. After that we decided we should experience the clubbing life in Budapest just to say that we had! As we struggled to navigate the streets, we noticed we had a follower- a creepy local guy on a bike who was sporting a devilish smile, a shaved head, and tatted arms. I recommend traveling in big groups when in unfamiliar territory because there’s always safety in numbers. Apparently three people is not a sufficient group size… I got spanked as he yelled inappropriate things to me and my sisters! We immediately turned around and gave up on the whole clubbing idea. This was the only unfortunate thing about Budapest, some parts were lively and nice, others were a little deserted, run down, and not as safe.

As we walked back through the narrow streets towards our hostel, we stumbled across an old, ruin-like bar. It caught our attention because of the hustle and bustle that was concentrated around its entrance. We had luckily found The Original Ruin Bar: Szimpla Kertmozi. It was busy with locals and had the most amazing eclectic atmosphere! All the decorations were old pieces of metal from cars, chairs, and other miscellaneous objects. It was like Mackelmore and Ryan Lewis maxed out their credit cards at thrift shop! With all these old fishing nets, lights, tiles, and mismatched chairs, we were tempted to explore every inch of the bar with our festive cocktails!

The next day we set out for our adventure to Castle Hill. The castle had beautiful rooftops and an amazing view of the entire city. The architecture was amazing and the statues were a site worth seeing. My favorite statue was Matthias Well by Alajos Strobl, which depicts King Matthias after a deer hunt- this was a breath-taking statue. We stopped to eat lunch at an adorable cafe and enjoyed the weather while sipping on white wine! This place was soooo relaxing!

Later that night we got dressed for a nicer evening. We went and admired the Basilica before heading to Di Vino, a modern wine bar. This was a great hangout with a mellow atmosphere. All of their drink choices were displayed attractively in wine cubbies that were built into the walls… I need floor to ceiling wine cubbies in my apartment! We enjoyed our white wine and even ordered an amazing charcuterie appetizer, which was hands down the best bread and proscuitto I’ve ever had! After gorging on our appetizer it was time to catch our reservations at Spoon. Spoon was an amazing restaurant that was actually on a yacht which was docked on the Danube River. It’s huge windows faced Castle Hill and the Chain Bridge- such a jaw dropping view. After dinner we headed back to the hostel to rest up for our final day’s adventure: The Szechenyi Thermal Baths!

The next morning was a little bitter sweet when I came to the realization that it was the last full day before our long trip home. We still made the best of it though! We all slipped into our swimsuits and coverups and headed to the Wombat’s (our hostel) complimentary breakfast. After lots of walking, some wrong turns, and a few trains, we arrived at the famous thermal baths. These baths had changing rooms and complimentary towels, so no need to bring your own. Each bath on the floor was a slightly different temperature and each contained their own vitamin or mineral which was infused into the water- I’m assuming this provided some therapeutic benefit! Not only did they have indoor and outdoor heated pools, they had a few saunas. After all of the wine drinking and gorging ourselves over the past two weeks, I think it’s safe to say that we needed to really sweat out all the toxins! Not only was this place super relaxing, it was also very entertaining. Being in close proximity with a lot of other humans- being all shapes and sizes- these baths provided my sisters and I with some interesting people watching for a few hours. After shriveling into prunes, we decided to head back to the hostel to pack and get ready for dinner.

Our last evening consisted of cards games with complimentary beer at our hostel! We went and enjoyed some amazing gyros and then a glass of wine at a local bar to calmly end our night before our long journey ahead. As the trip came to a close I was a little bummed, but I couldn’t help but realize how lucky we all were to be able to take two weeks off to run around together and experience Europe!

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Visiting Vienna

vienna, europe trip, travel, the life eclectic, caroline culwell

Our next stop on our eventful trip was Vienna, Austria. At this point everyone was over their illnesses and ready to make up for lost time. After arriving at the train station we stopped for lunch at an awesome little restaurant, Vapiano’s. After eating we wasted no time at all in exploring Vienna.

vienna, austria, europe trip, travel, the life eclectic, caroline culwell

vienna, austria, europe trip, travel, the life eclectic, caroline culwell

The weather was wonderful, the people were lively, and there were so many historical sights to see! The statues were huge and elegant, and all of the churches has intricate stained glass windows and beautifully painted ceilings. I recommend spending a whole day just sight seeing!

vienna, julius meinl, austria, europe trip, the life eclectic, caroline culwell

If you love coffee as much as me and my sisters do, then you must stop at a Julius Meinl coffee shop. They brew the best coffee I have ever had. They even had a small grocery store attached with all of their products for purchase. They had all sorts of teas, coffees, and chocolates. The location of this coffee house was even better. We all sat on the outdoor patio and enjoyed cappuccinos right in the middle of the city.

vienna, gold necklace, austrian market, the life eclectic, caroline culwell

Later that night we came across a little outdoor market. They had a small bar so we all grabbed ourselves a glass of wine as we shopped around for souvenirs. My sister Blair bought an awesome looking silver ring, and Katherine purchased a really cool wooden cheese board. I found a shop that was selling handmade gold pendents that were so unique. I loved the shops here because they were full of so many one-of-a-kind collectables. Vienna had such a positive and relaxing feel to it, every time we turned the corner there was another exciting event to explore!

vienna, europe trip, austrian market, food, the life eclectic, caroline culwell

vienna, europe trip, travel, the life eclectic, caroline culwell

The next morning we made plans to visit some smaller food markets. This was probably my favorite part of Vienna. There were so isles filled with little stores selling meats, cheeses, fruits, chocolates, and exotic cooking spices. We all tried so much food when walking down this market, we bought lots of little candies and other souvenirs. We came across a small restaurant that totally open to the outside market and covered by a small roof. We all had the best salads here, they were so fresh and made with the best ingredients. The food in Vienna had to have been my favorite by far! As the suns tarted to go down, we bounced around from small bars within the market, enjoying a drink at each one!

vienna, europe trip, travel, picnic, the life eclectic, caroline culwell

Our last day in Vienna was only a half day because we had to get to Budapest in the afternoon. We walked through the same food market from the day before, collecting all sorts of goodies and some good beer. We found a park nearby and enjoyed our feast. The lifestyle in Vienna was so relaxing, and experiencing so much freedom in such a beautiful place really makes you appreciate the little things in life! I will definitely be stopping by on my next trip to Europe!

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Bitter Sweet Memories in Munich

Our next destination was Munich which I was especially excited for because of all the awesome stories I had heard. The beer gardens, giant pretzels, steins, and the Hofbrauhaus! My sister Blair was just recovering from her stomach bug as we were making our trip to Munich. We were all excited about this because we wanted to experience everything together.

We arrived later in the afternoon and enjoyed some beer at our Wombat hostel then headed to a traditional German restaurant. The food was hearty and rustic with potatoes and sauerkraut served as sides. For some reason I thought it would be a good idea to try and eat a little lighter that night to create more beer drinking room for later in the fight. I decided to eat catfish without realizing that Munich’s culinary specialties are closer to wursts (sausages), schweinshaxe (roasted pig’s knuckle), schnitzel, and knodel (dumplings). I should have just indulged in these heavy dishes, because at 1:00 am I woke up with horrible food poisoning. It was as if Blair had transferred her ill luck to me. I spent the entire night jumping down from my top bunk running to the bathroom.

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The next morning my sisters were very aware of how sick I was and went down to the hostel’s breakfast to get me something stable to eat. They left it on the table and took off for their awesome bike tour. I saw that they had let me a cute little note. It made me feel a little better, but I was still very bummed about missing out on everything. Instead I spent the entire day dealing with our three foreign roommates laughing at me while I hugged the trash can helplessly in my top bunk. We did not exactly see eye to eye with these girls, so we will refer to them as ‘the others’. I am pretty sure they were making fun of me because they thought I was too hungover to do anything. I wanted to tell them to shutup, but they didn’t speak a lick of English. They spent a lot of time in the room eating sushi… fish, the food that made me sick. A combination of this fishy smell and their horrible slurping and smacking sounds was enough to make me sick, again. Unfortunately one of ‘the others’ was occupying the only bathroom in the room. Yes, I had to take my trashcan and vomit in the hallway where people could see me. I had reached an all time low at this point, I wasn’t sure how I could get over this horrible food poisoning.

europe travel, munich, stein, the life eclectic, caroline culwell

The next day I was feeling slightly better so I texted my sisters to tell them that I would like to meet up with them at one of the beer gardens. They texted me where they were and I slowly made my way in that direction. I conveniently forgot my map so I had to wait for my sister to find me as I waited by the Glockenspiel. I was starting to feel a little queazy from walking, and standing in the sun wasn’t helping either. My sister found me and we walked back to the beer garden. My stomach was now doing flips. I asked my sisters for their plastic bag they bag acquired while shopping for fresh produce just in case I needed it. All of the sudden I felt it coming, I knew I was going to be sick. I ran into a restaurant in hopes of using their bathroom. I looked to my left, raw smelly fish, I looked to my right, sauerkraut… I also got sick in the middle of the restaurant. I sprinted back outside and crouched down between a trash can and a store wall. I was wrong when I thought getting sick in the hostel hallway was bad, this was way worse. Feeling defeated and upset on missing out on the fun, I slowly walked back to the hostel.

europe travel, munich, hofbrauhaus, sisters, the life eclectic, caroline culwell

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The next day I was feeling better and knew the sickness had passed. I was weak and still had a queazy stomach so I still didn’t get to enjoy any beer, but I did get to see a little bit of Munich. Even though I was totally exhausted and the sight of any food was still unsettling, I still managed to sit in the Hofbrauhaus and experience the culture that I was craving. If I learned anything from this trip to Munich I would say, no fish, and don’t book a shared hostel room with ‘the others’.

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Belgian Beer and Long Nights

brussels, europe, travel, architecture, the life eclectic, caroline culwell

brussels, travel, beer, foodie, the life eclectic, caroline culwell

This past summer I took an amazing trip to Europe with my two older sisters, Blair and Katherine. I have been to Europe one other time after my Senior graduation from high school. This trip was fast and furious… little sleep, lots of tours, a no drinking rule, and a strict itinerary. Needless to say, not my style. Although I was thankful for this trip, being with my sisters who are pros at navigating the backroads of Europe was an unforgettable experience. We visited Brussels, Munich, Vienna, and Budapest. Brussels, Belgium had an old-world atmosphere with beautiful architecture. Interestingly enough, they had the best asian food I have ever eaten, and I’m a huge asian food fan. I also have to give credit to Belgium for solidifying my love for beer. If you are a beer person you must visit Belgium.

brussels, europe, travel, delirium cafe, the life eclectic, caroline culwell

On our first day in Brussels, we stopped at a cute little bakery for lunch. Being completely jet-lagged, we decided to take a two hour nap, max, that way we could realign our sleep schedules. 5 hours later… we woke up, crawled out of bed, and proceed to a fantastic asian restaurant, K.Touch. Our original plan was to go to a bar after dinner and have a beer than head back to our hostel. We met some other Americans who worked for the air force and could not divulge the reason of their stay in Belgium, so naturally we agreed to accompany them to Delirium Cafe for more Belgian beer! Once at the bar we met a flight attendant form Iceland who flew into Houston, Texas weekly and was sporting a way-to-tight cowboy getup with a western bolo tie. When I say tight, I mean jeggings tight, but he was so proud of the western look that he created all on his own. We appreciated his southern pride but decided he needed a proper name. My oldest sister Blair coined the name, Icelandia!

brussels, europe, travel, delirium cafe, the life eclectic, caroline culwell

brussels, europe, travel, sissters, delirium cafe, caroline culwell

After about 5 beers we decided we needed a refill and headed towards the bar where we ran into a thin homeless guy, probably in his mid 20’s. He wore what looked like a snowboarding outfit and sported some stylish dreadlocks that were as long as Santa’s reindeer reigns. After that we continued to drink more beer and met all sorts of interesting characters, but we decided we should head home for some sleep. As we climbed the endless swirly staircase in our hostel and stumbled through our door, we noticed the sun creeping through our window. As we stuffed our faces with Hawaiian trailmix we checked the time… our phones read 5:00 am. I had never stayed up that late in my life before, but I guess there is a first time for everything!

The next morning we toured the city and did lots of sight seeing. I recommend seeing Mannekin Pis while enjoying a tasty Belgian waffle with your choice of any topping imaginable. The next day my oldest sister got sick and could not accompany Katherine and I on our day trip to Ghent. Katherine and I navigated our way on the trains to Ghent, which proved to be quite the challenge due to the lack of signs. This city is packed with history! We visited the Ghent castle which had rooms full of armor and weapons. The other rooms were full of prisoner chambers and disturbing torture devices. After seeing this, Katherine and I bounced around from pub to pub enjoying more awesome beer! This was a great way to end our stay in Belgium, the next day we were off to Munich, Germany!

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