The World’s #2 City: Budapest

Despite CNN’s tendency these days to use its Facebook page mostly to share stories of extreme weight loss, I’ve yet to unlike them, and today that decision paid off when they linked me to a story about Condé Nast Traveler’s list of the world’s top 25 cities. To my great surprise, my personal favorites like Budapest, Krakow, and Prague prevailed over typical tourist choices like Paris. Let me tell you, that list was doing it right.

Reading the list reminded me that I still(!) haven’t posted anything about that 10-day Central/Eastern European odyssey I embarked on back in May, so today seemed like as good a day as ever to finally write my love letter to Budapest. Continue reading “The World’s #2 City: Budapest”

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Eurotrip

Yeah, yeah, I’ve let the blogging fall by the wayside again. But this time I’ve got a decent excuse, at least for 10 days of my absence — I was busy seeing Berlin, Prague, Budapest, and Vienna! I guess the rest of the silence can just be chalked up to laziness (or, if you want to be more charitable, to being consumed by travel prep before I left and travel-weariness in the days after I got back to the UK).

Of all the cities I visited, Budapest has to be my favorite. Even though it was a bit chilly and drizzly for some of the time I was there, the city was breathtaking. But I enjoyed my time in all four places, so in the next couple of weeks I’ll post about some of my favorite things, like where I went running in Berlin, what served as my birthday cake in Vienna, and the high points of my visit to Budapest. For now, I’ll leave you with a few photos: Continue reading “Eurotrip”

A Day on the Isle of Wight

Just about 24 hours after I handed in my 10,000 words to the Law, Politics, and Sociology Department (yes! I’m finally done!), an acquaintance posted on Facebook that she was selling a ticket to the International Student Office’s trip to the Isle of Wight because she still had a paper to finish. Obviously I snapped that up — and with just 12 hours to spare before the trip was set to depart from campus.

I was kind of apprehensive about this impulse-buy (as I’ve mentioned before, I usually like to book stuff like this months ahead of time, so this was a bit of a walk on the wild side), but it turned out to be such a good idea. We visited a beach and some cliffs and the natural beauty of the island was just incredible. I’ll let my photos do the rest of the talking. Continue reading “A Day on the Isle of Wight”

Spoiler: There Wasn’t Money in the Banana Stand

As I’ve already mentioned a couple of times, it’s finals crunch time here at the University of Sussex, and like every other college student in my situation, I’ve become desperate for procrastination methods. I just added the second book in George R.R. Martin’s “A Song of Ice and Fire” series to my iBooks library. I’ve actually been remembering to blog. And I finally finished watching season three of Arrested Development (after binge-watching all of the episodes I’d already seen, of course).

Turns out, that procrastination choice was not a huge mistake. Actually, it was incredibly well-timed. I already sort of knew that because the internet has been going insane as the launch of the Netflix reboot gets closer. But I didn’t know that just four days after I finished my Arrested Development marathon, the show would be setting up shop in Leicester Square. It literally took me less than ten minutes on Wednesday night to read about the event, process what was happening, and find myself staring at a Southern booking confirmation page for a spontaneous trip to London the next day — some next-level TV-related procrastination. Continue reading “Spoiler: There Wasn’t Money in the Banana Stand”

Things to Do in Ireland

I tend to have a pretty weird travel strategy. With certain things, I’m incredibly type-A and obsessive – I research my hostels as extensively as possible before picking one and then book them (along with my plane and train tickets) weeks or months in advance. Sure, this doesn’t lend itself so well to spontaneity, but it’s saved me quite a bit of cash in some cases and it saves me from the anxiety of making decisions on the fly.

Despite this neurotic planning of accommodations and transportation, I’m woefully bad at planning out how, exactly, to fill the days I’m spending in a certain city or country. I always ask friends who have visited or lived in a place before to give me some recommendations, and I always check to see what places I can cross off in that 1000 Places to See Before You Die book (with which I have a semi-unhealthy obsession), but if I’m going to a less popular destination, I sometimes find myself with vague ideas of things to do but end up sitting around in a coffee shop. Don’t get me wrong, one of my favorite things about traveling is finding new favorite cafes, but hanging out and drinking coffee is something I can do anytime in Brighton or back in the states. Continue reading “Things to Do in Ireland”

Hosteling in Ireland

Coming from a family with a history of strong identification with its Irish roots (I recall a St. Patrick’s Day when my dad considered pouring Jameson — or maybe Bailey’s — into his mother’s ashes and the only reason he decided that might be a bad idea was that he feared it would reanimate her), I couldn’t go to Ireland and only see Dublin. I wanted to do at least one reasonably long train ride through the countryside and really see as much of the country as possible in my five-day time frame. So my trip ended up involving three cities and two quite different hostels.

Generator Hostel in Dublin was sleek, hip, and polished, with some of the most updated furnishings I’ve seen in any hostel (power sockets — yes, plural — built into each bunk bed headboard? Yes, please!), a nice-looking bar and cafe (which I never actually tried, but it looked like everyone else was enjoying it), a spacious and comfy lobby, and a great location just around the corner from the Old Jameson Distillery and a quick walk from the Smithfield Luas stop. The front desk offered everything from towel rentals to the range of toiletries hotels always have around in case you’ve forgotten something (although, this being a hostel, those toiletries definitely weren’t free). They seemed to take a lot of care to make you forget that you were in a place where rates start at €9 a night, an illusion I was totally willing to buy into. Continue reading “Hosteling in Ireland”

Sunday at St. Patrick’s Cathedral

Despite having spent the first nine years of my education at a Catholic school, I’m far from devout. Very, very far. Like, haven’t been to Mass or confession in 7 years far. But when I found out one could bypass the €5.50 entry fee to St. Patrick’s Cathedral by attending a service – and you get to hear the incredible choir – I figured it would be worth it to suck it up and go to church.

It was very much worth my while. Continue reading “Sunday at St. Patrick’s Cathedral”