Vienna, Austria

Vienna. My favorite city in my favorite country.

Vienna, or Wein (pronounced with a “V” sound in German), is absolutely beautiful. Over 50% of the city is devoted to parkland. Walking around there you forget you’re in an urban metropolis- not to mention its the cleanest city I’ve ever seen. Definitely puts Los Angeles to shame.

Gothic churches are a main focal point in Vienna. The central one is Stephensplatz, a huge Gothic masterpiece with high ceilinged arches and gargoyles leering down from every corner. Fun fact about gargoyles- they are meant to protect the church. They are different creatures made in the Devils image, since he was afraid of his own image. The only problem was no one knew what the Devil looked like, so no two gargoyles are alike. They tried to cover all their baseslightly eerie but so beautiful.

Im finding that on this extended trip the part of traveling I love most is the little things. Food markets filled with spices and novelties I’ve never even heard of.Cappuccinos and pastries on the sidewalk. Tripping along cobblestone streets with my neck craned upwards so I don’t miss a single bit of architecture. Not that I don’t appreciate the artistic masterpieces I’ve gotten to see, but it’s the little things rather than the famous museums and landmarks that I love.

My digression brings me to my favorite part of Vienna- the coffeehouses. Legend has it that Polish- Hapsburg soldiers found a number of sacks with strange beans. Initially, they thought it was camel feed and tried toburn it. Instead, the sacks were granted to Franciszek Kulcycki, who opened the first coffeehouse.

The coffee houses have become an institution in Vienna. Artists, politicians, and writers used to congregate there. And you don’t just order a coffee- at times it seemed more complicated than Starbucks. We needed Emma’s guidebook to decipher it all. My favorite is an Einsplanner, a large espresso with whipped cream.

Since we’ve been in Vienna for a week, we got to so some cool day trips as well. We went to Durnstein one day, a medieval town in the Wachau Valley now devoted to winemaking. Besides being unbelievably, fairytale picturesque, there are some awesome castle ruins atop the town, where King Richard the Lionheart (Robin Hood anyone?) was imprisoned when he returned home from the Crusades. So. Cool. The pics below are Emily and I atop the castle ruins.

Finally, when Emma got here, (our best friend from college who met up with us for a week) we went to Salzburg for the day. Aka the place where the Sound of Music was filmed. To my excitement and Emily’s dismay (she hates musicals but was a trooper and came along! Sign of a good travel buddy). We saw all the famous sites where Julie Andrews skipped along, including the Pegasus Fountain, “Do Re Mi” steps, the lake, and even the gazebo. Salzburg is also home to a giant fortress, nunnery, and monastery- the town is considered a world heritage site. And Mozart was born there.

And we went to the Viennese opera! Geez almost forgot. Vienna, being Mozart’s city, has become a city built on music. We bought standing room tickets at the opera and were able to go see a performance!

We’re in Prague now, freezing our California toes off but loving every minute! Ill update you all on Prague soon. Much love! ❤

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Surprise! We’re in Barcelona!

We’ve officially been traveling for a week! It has been so much fun, and by now were almost metro pros.
Oh and we’re in Barcelona, Spain! Surprise! We had 4 nights until we met Emily’s mom in Florence, so after brainstorming over a glass of wine, we booked a flight and here we are!
It is so beautiful- the architecture is incredible- where Paris is very elegant, Barcelona is whimsical and much more colorful- I absolutely love it. (See pics below)
After arriving last night in the pouring rain, it was finally sunny. We wandered down Las Ramblas, a famous street filled with shops and restaurants, and stopped for lunch down by the port. We got seafood paella (a rice dish with shrimp, scallops, and mussels), and a pitcher of sangria. It. Was. Amazing.
The pace of life here is so different. For example, we went out last night around 8 to grab a bite after we arrived. We walked by several restaurants only to find that nothing was open until 9 pm! Everything is much more leisurely, and open later. At 7 people are enjoying a drink. Dinner starts around 9ish, some bars don’t open till midnight, and some nightclubs don’t even open until 2am! Have to admit I kind of like the slow pace…and I could get used to daily siestas. 😉
Anyways it’s now 8 over here so I’m off to get ready for dinner! I’ve put some pictures below from our trip, including some from France. One from the light show at the Eiffel Tower in Paris (magical), one at the Musee D’orsay, and me and Em in Barcelona! And Las Ramblas.

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The Books That Got Me Here

“A truly good book teaches me better than to read it. I must soon lay it down, and commence living on its hint. What I began by reading, I must finish by acting.”  –Henry David Thoreau

I’m a bookworm, first and foremost. I keep this love to myself mostly. My friends (bless their hearts) have no interest in any of the classic literature that I so dearly love. James Joyce. Jane Austen. Shakespeare. J.K. Rowling (see how I threw you a curveball there?). You could say my nerd level is pretty high.

I truly committed to making this trip happen the summer after I graduated from college. I always wanted to travel, but just wasn’t sure how to make it work. I worked at Nordstrom, then took a temp job (disastrous), and finally in an unexpected blessing, got a job as a Social Media Producer at an amazing company who graciously is giving me a six week leave to go travel (incredible, right? More on that later).

As I was going through all this,there were three books that got me through it, each in different times. They were both inspiring and practical in their advice, kicking my butt into action when I doubted that I would be able to pull this trip off.

Delaying the Real World, Colleen Kinder
In my opinion, the best title ever. 😉 The author is a Yale graduate who has spent the last few years living in Cuba, traveling through Latin America, and volunteering with the elderly. The book is filled with tips, ideas, resources and programs you can use to create your own post-graduate adventure. I read this my junior year of college; it implanted the travel bug in me.

The Lost Girls, Jennifer Baggett, Holly C. Corbett & Amanda Pressner
Three best friends take a year off in their thirties, leaving boyfriends, careers and family to traverse the entire globe. The best part? It’s a true story. This one inspired me, and strengthened my resolve and desire to travel. I passed the book onto Emily, who is reading it now.

Lonely Planet Europe on a Shoestring, Tom Masters
The fun part! I received this as a Christmas gift from my parents (who also bought me my backpack), and has been instrumental as I plan my trip. It breaks down Europe by country and then city and has everything imaginable from hostels to eateries and train information. Truly essential, it is the one book I will take with me on my trip.

These are the books that got me from an idea to a concrete trip, straight from an English nerd to you. Hope they help! Thanks for tuning in.

Delaying the Real World -Colleen Kinder  Lonely Planet Europe On a Shoestring    The Lost Girls

Happy Travels,
Erin