My vacation is over. Here was my itinerary
Cesky Krumlov, Czech Republic
Prague, Czech Republic
Rather then go into play by play of all the minutiae of my trip, here are some thoughts:
How do these people eat so much meat, potato and bread and stay thin? It is a great mystery to me.
My guess is that these Europeans are very much like you and I, and eat a wide variety of food rather then what we think they eat. Andy, my Airbnb host in Munich was like ‘what do you want to eat? Vietnamese? Japanese? Kebab? Pizza?” when I asked him about eating suggestions. I was expecting him to point me towards the nearest German food restaurant.
Here are some things I enjoyed eating
Look at the size of this crackling I got with this roast pork. Pork skin roasted is awesome regardless of country.
Once in a while, I’d like to remind myself that I have a full time job (well this trip, my email reminds me I have a job) which means I have income. Having income allows me to go to fancy restaurants with tasting menus and wine pairings. Went to this place in Munich that served us
Beef tongue salad
Red Deer steak
Char with Charrd (nice play on words)
But seriously, meat. Look at this pork knuckle for two in Vienna. TWO people to eat all this meat? serious?
It was very tasty.
Food is cheap in eastern Europe. People at hostels will tell you that you can have a good meal for like 2 dollars. That is not where you derive the most value. The value lies in nice restaurants.
In Budapest, you can get amazing, gorgeous meals for roughly 30 dollars Canadian each. Now you might be thinking 30 dollars is a lot! However, if you had the same meal in Canada, that meal would cost you easily 50 or 60 dollars. We went to this place called Menza in Budapest and ordered the following:
Garlic cream soup with traditional Hungarian fried bread topped with sour cream and cheese
Roasted duck liver served with mashed potatoes and sour cherry sauce
Duck breast with gratin potato and chestnut sauce
Bottle of wine
came out to about 30 dollars a person. How cheap is that? I almost died eating this duck liver dish. It was so rich.
Things to see:
Europe, as you can imagine, is kind of old. It is also kind of religious (not as much now, but still). Anyone who has been to Europe more then a few times will know that every city will have their fair share of these:
Okay, the last one might be reserved for a only a few countries. They are all very cool looking but after awhile, they kind of blend in together. It takes something spectacular to really blow me away.
Munich‘s history is rather interesting, because it was basically Nazi HQ and well, it’s still “too soon” for that city, if you know what I mean. Difficult to determine how the world would have been if Hitler had only got accepted into art school. He would have ended up a barista in Vienna somewhere.
Somewhere near Salzburg are ice caves. Basically, it’s a cave in the mountains that has a lot of ice in it. It’s kind of cool, and the trek up is very pretty and allowed for some nature time in the Alps which is a welcome change after visiting the cities. It’s also on the Unesco list. Unesco list is how I pretty much pick where to travel.
I’m like most people, and use trip advisor to get a general consensus for how good something is. While I was researching the Ice caves, I came upon a lot of reviews saying the ice caves were difficult and that it is hard.
It is not.
It’s a 40 minute walk uphill on a paved trail, followed by some steps inside a cave. The elevation was only 1600 meters which isn’t that high at all. Now having gone back and read those reviews, I realized most of those people who reviewed were probably older or live in places where you have to drive everywhere. Now for them, yes, perhaps this was bit difficult and it’s not really trip advisor’s fault that they write the most reviews. I just wish I could filter out certain things by age/fitness/travel experience.
Cesky Krumlov is a very cute little old city tucked away in a river bend in the Czech Republic. If I had to use a modern word for it, I would say it’s “precious”. It’s a city the Czech would put on tumblr and get a bunch of shares. I think a whole lot of appeal for Cesky Krumlov is that all the roofs have the same colour, it makes it very picturesque. Look at this picture, it’s so pretty and I didn’t even frame it or anything (I never do)
Prague is very pretty. Maybe it was off season, but people there seemed really chilled. No beggars or people trying to scam me all the time, which I liked. Even during low season, this place was overrun with tourists. I think it’s the Vegas of Europe or something. People come here to party.
The Americans have done an excellent job during the cold war in subliminally making us all scared of Eastern Europeans. They were always the enemies in action movies and let me just say, when I see a bunch of pale skin Czechs with thin buzz cuts and leather jackets walking the streets, I sometimes have to remind myself that they aren’t enemies and I’m not in an action movie.
I also don’t know how they drink so much light beer. As a fan of hopper, heavier stuff, I found myself at a bit of a disadvantage here in Central Europe. However, all the beers here have been good so I guess I can’t really complain. No bad beers here, and they really are dirt cheap.
I’ve also realized I have totally gotten used to not having people smoke in clubs and bars. They allow this in Prague and I really don’t like smelling like a cigarette after leaving the bar. Sadly, this is going to be the norm, and not the exception this trip.
Vienna is like that older brother in art school who is no longer cool. Hardly anyone talks about going to Vienna, yet there it is. Vienna has a fantastic, fantastic zoo. Any zoo that has Pandas is fantastic. They also have giant anteaters. Their exhibits showed a lot of trust in the people as some exhibits had no barriers between animal and people. They wouldn’t be able to do that in America. They have good dive bars in Vienna. It feels like a city that people live in, which I enjoyed.
Budapest was easily the best. It’s definitely the prettiest. It has the coolest bars, but sadly probably the shittiest beer out of the countries. Still, it does not detract from the vibe of the city. It also has baths. Baths are awesome places, especially after you figure out that going from cold water to extremely hot water and back is basically the best thing ever. I would do that every day if I could. Ruin bars for life.