Munich- Best Pretzels and Beer

Our trip came to end in Munich.  Even though it  meant the trip was over, we were so excited to get there because everyone we had to talked to about Munich said it was one of their favorite places. We of course took a train because in Europe that is an easy and cheap way to get from country to country.

We had an interesting adventure with the trains this time around.  We were sleeping on the train because that was our designated sleeping time, or so it seemed it was the only time we were able to get some shut eye.  The train came to a stop and we didn’t move because we knew we had about another hour before we were supposed to arrive.  Then some older couples started pounding on our windows and screaming something in German at us. In a panic we grabbed our things and got off the train.  We then realized where we were, which was the middle of no-where-farm-town Germany, and that the train would not go any further.  There was an accident on the track and they were sending buses to take us to Munich.  We let the first bus go without pushing and shoving to get on, but quickly realized that there was probably only one more bus coming and way more people than space on the bus so we pushed and shoved and I had the door close on me. I screamed and frantically made my way on. No way was I going to be left behind. This was a public transportation bus so we had to stand/sit on the steps the rest of the way. But it made for a good story and in the end we got to Munich only and hour late.

After settling into our hotels we immediately went out and headed toward the Rathaus-Glockenspiel in Marienplatz and then stopped in for a beer at the famous Hofbräuhaus house. We walked around a bit more and then went to the absolute best thing we did in Munich, Mike’s Bike Tour.  It was beyond fun.  The guide was hilarious, personable, and we learned a lot of history and saw some amazing sites.  My favorite building was the Bayerische Staatskanzlei which is the state agency of the German Free State of Bavaria, and the appendant builidng, aka where Merkel gets stuff done.  The center part of the building is the former Bavarian Army Museum, and was demolished in WW II.  There are bullet holes in the pillars of the part of the building that was able to be salvaged.  The building was rebuilt with glass to represent transparency.

We stopped for a snack aka amazing pretzel and beers.  In the beer garden in Englischer Garten, which is bigger than Central Park.  They served a cheese dip with the pretzel’s that our guide could only describe as an “angel taking a dump in your mouth, that’s how good it is.”  Sorry if that was too graphic.  We went home and changed to go out for the evening.  We went to the hostel across from us to have some drinks then went to another hostel called Euro Hostel just because it was next door and to our surprise it was amazing.  The décor first off was awesome and sophisticated and a ton of people from all over.  Then we hit the town and went to a few clubs.

 The next morning we woke and headed to the first concentration camp, Dachau, in Germany.  It was a very intense experience.  To lighten the mode we headed back to Englischer Garten and went in the man made river, Eisbach.  They even created a wave, so you can see the surfers of Munich.  It is flowing and about five feet deep and so cold, but so fun!  We thought, key word thought this was our last night, so we went to another famous beer house Augustiner Keller for dinner.  We did a little beer pub hopping and ended the night back at Euro Hostel.

We got up the next morning with the idea that we were getting home.  To our surprise, my friend Caitlin and I were shocked when I only got a seat.  We panicked and gave up my seat since we didn’t want to split up.  Really smart, not.  Since we are flying standby you should always split up because tomorrow there could also only be one seat, so take a seat when you get it is the moral of the story.  We went back in to Munich and went to Olympic park.  A few of our friends were still there for one more night so luckily we got to stay on their floor for the night.  We got out the next day thank god, but it was pretty stressful, lots of running thorugh the airport and holding up the planes.

We made it to Charleston 24 hours later, tired, ready for bed, but once again planning our next trip…flying standby.

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Denver and Pumpkin

I have officially been in Denver now for two weeks and one day.  I’m loving living in a town with the mountains so close and have been enjoying them on the two weekends I’ve been here.  Looking at the leaves changing from a mountain top is pretty extraordinary.  As a welcome to Denver post I decided to tie it in with a welcome to fall post.  I love, repeat, love cooking anything with pumpkin in it.  This weekend I made a pumpkin swirl bread.  It’s a play on Pepperridge Farm’s Pumpkin Spice bread. You can find this bread on the shelves for a limited time, but in case you can’t…try making it.  This bread was such a hit at the breakfast table.  The best part about it is that its not too sweet; it has just the right amount.  Kick off the fall season with this bread—maybe even at a tailgate!

Swirled Pumpkin Bread

The only thing I changed in this recipe was using golden raisins versus regular one. And I only did this to keep the colors fally.

Don’t have a rolling pin? No problem!

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Salzburg: Best Music

The hills are alive with the sound of music in Salzburg.  Sorry I couldn’t help myself from having that as the lead in this post.  But for real they are—if you go on the Sound of Music tour while you are there that is.  We arrived into Salzburg to a cloudy rainy day, but it was the only day we had any issues with weather and it cleared up by mid-afternoon.  We checked in to our hostel and waited to be picked up for the tour.  We found a food truck next to our hostel and decided that would be lunch.  I had the curry sausage and it was probably the best sausage I had the whole trip.  It was covered in a ketchupy-curry sauce that was incredible.  If you are going to Salzburg let me know and I’ll tell you where this truck was.

The tour started and we went around the city and saw places like the back of the house from the movie. Which due to complications with laws and so on, they only used the patio and lake to film and the house itself was never shown. We saw the pavilion that “Sixteen Going on Seventeen” was sang in; and another little interesting fact was that it was only built for the film.  We saw the path that Marie sang down on her way to the house and the trees the kids played in after singing “Do-Re-Mi.”  We then left the heart of Salzburg and headed for the hills. In case you were wondering, they did play the Sound of Music soundtrack during parts of the tour.

The real abbey where Maria von Trapp studied to be a nun.

Some of us didn’t enjoy the tour as much as others.

We stopped in Mondsee, which was an adorable tiny town that housed the Mondsee Cathedral that was used to film the wedding scene from the movie. Another great thing about this stop were the strudels.  Known for strudels, the oldest strudel recipe in Austria dates back to 1696.  We had apple and cheese strudels, some with a cream sauce and some with ice cream.  Obviously the cheese strudel was my favorite with the cream sauce.  Nice doughy crust on the outside with a warm filming soaked with sauce.

After the tour we explored the Mirabell Gardens, that has the Pegasus fountain, the “Do-Re-Mi” steps and other locations for that song.  The weather was finally clearing up and it was absolutely breath taking views of the garden with the Fortress Hohensalzburg in the background.  We explored the old town, saw Mozart’s statue and his birth home.

We had without a doubt the weirdest dinner experience that almost had us eating at Japanese/pizza serving restaurant.  We got lured in by the all-you-can-eat sign—we’re so American.  Don’t worry we ended eating a delicious Italian meal from a restaurant across the street.

The most hilarious fact we learned on the Sound of Music tour was about the end of the movie. When the family is climbing over the mountains in the last scene to flee Austria and the German Nazi’s, they are marching over Untersberg which borders Austria and Germany, so if you haven’t figured it out yet, they would’ve have been hiking directly into Germany. A little Hollywood trick. The real story is that they hopped on a Train down to Italy, no hiking involved.

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Vienna- Best Architecture on Every Corner

Vienna is the capital of Austria and the “city of music” which is the city where the waltz originated.  We waltzed our way into that city without a real plan, which was sort of a trend with us on this trip.  We first headed over to see a building made by my friends Phil and Claire’s Great-great-grandfather (they think) which was a building that had an amazing gold leaf dome.

We then realized we had checked off the only thing on our list and didn’t know what else to see, so we did what I love to do—hopped on a hour long bus tour.  It took us all around the city and we got to hear a lot of great history.  We also learned on this tour about Viennese’s coffee shops and how important coffee shops are to their culture.  Rumor has it that the Polish army brought some “strange bags of beans” over with them after they invaded Turkey and one of the officers was given the beans and started the first coffee shop and the rest is history.

After our tour we enjoyed delicious street hotdogs and pretzels—so good.

We then toured some on foot and of course ate gelato.    I had been to Vienna before when I was in 7th grade so it was fun remembering things or finding familiar buildings and statues.  This is also the city where the famous Lipizzaner Stallions are from.  When I was here before I watched them perform in the palace.  These horses basically do horse ballet; it is incredible.  The horses stable is in the Schönbrunn Palace.  The thing that the group decided on that was the most amazing part about Vienna was that on every corner  the architecture is beautiful.  The buildings are just spectacular and similar looking wherever you end up.

We stayed in a hotel in Vienna, thanks to Phil’s Marriot points.  We went back to the  hotel took naps and got ready and went to an amazing dinner at Zwolf Apostelkeller.  The dining room was a basement brick dining room and went pretty deep under ground. We shared a meat platter, cheese platter, schznitzel platter and sides of potatoes, saurkrawt and dumplings.  I got to try a first here too.  On the meat platter they had blood sausage.  Blood sausage is basically what is sounds like and I’m not going to go into detail about it because it may gross some people out.  If you want to know in depth about it, just google it.  It had a very weird spread like consistancy and the taste was very similar to liver.  Not bad though.

We walked the streets and ended up getting beer at a bubble tea stand; odd but fun.  We also found another Pub like the one in Prague with the beer taps at the tables.  We hit the hay a little bit earlier than usual and got up early to take the train to Salzburg.

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Bratislava- Best “No Expectations” City

We added Bratislava to our trip just because it was on the way to Vienna from Budapest; thinking, “why not stay a night.” The more we talked to other people and thought about EuroTrip’s portrayal of the city we start to get a little nervous that we were spending too much time in Bratislava.  We thought about skipping it but we had already bought our “Botel” room.  So we went.

First let me say that EuroTrip’s depiction of the city is completely false.  Bratislava is a cute, tiny, historic city.  One of the best things about it was that we had very low expectations for it so there was no pressure.  In the other cities we visited we knew there were certain landmarks that we had to see so we were constantly running around and in Bratislava we were able to just relax and enjoy the city.  We ended up on a pub/gelato tour.  We would walk a little stop for a drink, then walk some more and stop for gelato, then repeat.  Don’t miss the “Men at Work” statue.  The man popping his head out of the street hole is named Cumil aka The Watcher.  While he doesn’t represent a history for Bratislava he has quickly become a famous attraction. We stayed in a botel like I mentioned before which is what it sounds like a hotel that is a boat.

Blending in with the locals.

We also had such an amazing meal.  We asked a local for a suggestion for a good meal and she suggested that we dine a brewery called Bratislavsky Mestiansky Pivovar.  We literally feasted (yes, Phil, literally).  We started with home-made cracklings in fat and a cheese dish that was beer cheese, spring onion, beer foam, mustard and garlic and when brought to the table you mix it all together. The we had beloved home-made tripe soup and of course  creamy garlic soup in a “bosniak” bowl (bread bowl). Then for dinner I had a young pork knuckle with saurkraut and potato dumplings.  Others had steak and duck.  We were beyond full and it was fabulous!

We chilled for a few hours at a pub to digest the food before heading out into the night life of Bratislava.  We went to the only night club in Bratislava and it was also possibly the smallest night club in the world, think living room size.  It was hilarious but also really fun!

Next stop, Vienna for some waltzing!

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Budapest- Best View

After a seven hour bus drive, we were more than ready to explore Budapest. We headed straight to our hostel  to meet up with the rest of our group and get the night started!  We stayed at Bazar Hostel , which is on the Pest side, in Budapest and actually enjoyed the hostel.  It was in a location that was great for walking to the sights, bars and restaurants and it was clean and comfortable.  Add it to you list of must’s for Budapest.

Another two places to add to your must do list are Szimpla (above) and Instant.  They are the two bars that we went to in Budapest and they were awesome.  Szimpla was a funky bar that had an indoor and a huge outdoor area.  Good music, cheap drinks and fun people.  Instant was a little more interesting.  It could be called a club, pub or bar depending on what room you found yourself in. It without a doubt was the strangest decorated bar I have ever been too; but I won’t give it all away and will save some for you to discover.  These were suggested to our group and we 100 percent would suggest them to anyone visiting, we had a blast at these places.

Now that I have the night life out of the way I can talk about what was the “best” of Budapest.  Simple answer, the views.  The way the cities, Buda and Pest are split by the Danube river creates the most magnificent views.  You see the castle, the Hungarian tiles and you can’t miss the Parliament building.  We went on the hop on hop off bus tour and I think that was a great way to see the city and learn all the history.  Plus you got a free boat tour with it so that was a good bonus.  The city sites really speak for themselves, the pictures prove it.

Besides amazing views, Budapest is also known for their thermal baths because of the natural hot springs.  We went to one in city park and thing that amazed us the most was the “watch technology” they had.  Instead of having a key for your locker you would wear a “watch” (it wasn’t an actual one but it looked like it).  You would put the face up to the locker and it was your key, sounds weird but it was amazing!

Now, we of course were hungry in Hungary, I’ve been waiting to use that line.  In Budapest we had one of the best, if not the best dinners of the whole trip (it’s still in debate).  We ate at a traditional Hugarian restaurant and had cream of garlic soup with cheese bread and a hugarian appetizar plate with meats  for the appetizer. This was the best garlic soup we had period!  We then had goulash with dill and cottage cheese potato dumplings and a side of sztrapacska, which was like a noodle dumpling with a creamy blue cheese flavored sauce.  The food was delicio, wine was flowing and it was just an amazing meal.

We also got to taste the street food of Budapest. We had langos, which is Hungarian fried bread and sometimes called Hungarian pizza.  The crust tasted like an elephant ear, that was topped with sour cream, red onions, cheese and ham.  It was to die for.  I love anything with sour cream so I knew I was going to love this.  It was hot from the bread and cool with the sour cream and onions– so tasty.

We were sad to leave Budapest but had to keep going on our journey.  Next stop Bratislava.

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Drivin, Drivin, Drivin

I am happy to tell everyone that I have accepted an internship with 5280 magazine!  The only thing is, that it is in Denver, Colorado (hence the title of this post).  Some might see this as a bad thing, to leave the beautiful city of Charleston, that is–but I love Denver.  I love the mountains and the snow and couldn’t be more excited.  I’m sad to leave my friends and Charleston behind, but I am ready to experience another part of the country and work with 5280.

My friend Becky, who is clearly a saint, drove with me from Charleston to Dallas (where I stopped to visit my sister and break up the drive).  And believe it or not we made the 18 hour drive in one sitting.  It also could be harder to believe that we made the journey with no ipod and only one cd, Britney Spear’s “Baby One More Time”.  We left Charleston at 6 am eastern time and arrived in Dallas at 11:30 pm central time.  To say I needed two days to just chill is an understatement.

I am headed out tomorrow for the final 14 hours to Denver.  Fingers crossed it goes as well as the first drive!

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Praha- Best Street Food

The first stop on my Europe trip was Prague, or as the Czech say Praha.  My three girlfriends and I landed at 10 am and were leaving on a 3 pm bus the next day.  With only a little over 24 hours we knew we had to hit the ground running and never stop.  We checked into our hotel quickly showered and got ready and left to explore the attractions Prague had to offer.

We headed into the Old Town Square and had to stop to take it all in. Prague is such a old quaint city with stone roads that its easy to get lost in the moment of just staring in all directions.  We headed up the  clock tower in the old town hall, which is a must do.  It only cost about $2 and you get an amazing view of the city.

We walked up instead of taking the elevator despite some complaints, cough cough Ashley and Caitlin.  So we had worked up quite an appetite at this point.  It was time to explore the street vendors.  We chose a vendor that had what else, meat and potatoes.  But don’t let meat and potatoes fool you, they were the most amazing street dishes I had the entire trip.  The potato dish was a mixture of gnocchi potato, sauerkraut and ham. I am going to have to try to remake this dish sometime soon, thats how good it was.  Paired with a sausage, rye bread and the local mustard.  The mustard I encountered in all the countries I visited was a stronger more horseradishy flavored mustard, which is the perfect pairing for a bit of hot greasy sausage. And of course you must wash it down with a local beer.

We spent the rest of the day visiting the Jewish Quarter, lingering the streets and then of course eating another meal.  We had an fantastic dinner that included goose leg, potato dumplings and goulash.  Just in case you are like me and didn’t know goulash is the dish of South Eastern Europe, it is no question about it. It varied from city to  city but it was the most reliable dish to be found on any menu.  Czech’s goulash reminded me of a chili.  It was next to potato and bread circles that were stacked.  Delicious.

Enjoying the night life we made our way over to The Pub (Thanks Shannon!) another must do.  It is a bar that has taps at the table, so you serve yourself.  Genius! Even though we know America couldn’t handle this; we would find a way to ruin it.

The next day we crossed the famous chain bridge, visited the Prague Castle and had our first encounter with garlic soup. Garlic soup like goulash became a frequent visiter on our journey and nobody was complaining.

Oh I forgot to mention the dessert!  We had delicious street food dessert.  Trdelnik is a rolled pastry  that is doughy with cinnamon and sugar on the outside.  A little crunch and then hot and soft in the middle with a vanilla flavor it was perfect.  We found these in Budapest too, but they were much better in Prague.

We left beautiful Praha on a bus headed for Budapest and seven hours later we arrived.

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