Wednesday, August 7, 2013


As part of BYUs way of apologizing for canceling our morocco part of the trip, they paid for a bus to take us to Budapest for a day trip from Vienna! 

Although it was only a quick 8 hours in Hungary, it was such a great day!

Skelsje bought herself a real sheep rug.... She was pretty excited about her purchase. We're still figuring out how she is going to get that through customs on our way home haha

Like I said, we didn't have much time to walk around so decided to join a hop on hop off bus tour of the city and then we took a detour and stopped off at a Turkish bath! We didn't have our swimsuits so we couldn't go inside, however we did get massages at the bath for only $20! It was a steal, and for my first professional massage, it was pretty great.

We found this great market that sold amazing fruit for so cheap! I bought a huge bag of blackberries for $2! I was thinking of my dad the entire time, he would have been in heaven!

Inside the market

That's it for Hungary, now to our final stop---- SPAIN!

Monday, August 5, 2013

left my heart in Prague

Even now, I am a little sad writing you about Prague just because I miss it so much. After it was announced to the group that we wouldn't be going to Morocco, we decided we should make the most of it by taking as many day trips as possible from Vienna to make up for our slight detour, so a couple of groups decided to buy bus tickets and travel to Prague! I was on the fence about going the entire time but I am so glad I did.

My cousin Ethan just barley got home from his mission from the Czech Republic and when I told him I was visiting Prague, he gave me a list of sights to see and sold me on my buying a bus ticket!
Our little group left early Saturday morning and after traveling, spent the entire day running (and biking) around Prague seeing all the sights we could in 24 hours!
This is some of the many reasons why I fell in love with Prague:

This little city reminded me so much of Switzerland. It was much smaller and less busy than many of the cities I've been in over the summer and I loved the old town feel that came with it. I guess it kind of reminded me of going to Swiss days with my family when I was a little girl. The city of Prague is so colorful. Both in architecture and also with the people. I honestly can't even describe why I loved it so much- I guess it was just one of those moments where you connect with a person or a place without even knowing why. Everything about Prague- the atmosphere, the art, the architecture, the people- I loved! 
I will admit, I was completely baffled by their currency. 1 dollar is equivalent to 150 fronces or something like that. Needless to say I had my calculator and currency convertor app out all the day long. 

From the top of Lobkowicz Palace 

St. Vitus Cathedral

Trdelniks are my new favorite thing! They are dough that is rolled on a stick and baked over a fire and then they roll them in different toppings! They were so yummy!

Old Town Square

Tessa and I in front of the Astronomical clock in Old Town. One of the only astronomical clocks still working today.

We rented bikes and took a ride around the city :)

Riding through the streets of Prague!

Dad this ones for you- check out that sweet car in the background! You can rent it for the day, I definitely thought of you 

This is the part that I feel very proud of! So our little group of 6 decided that if we were taking the 3 hour bus ride to Prague that we might as well spend the night there... So we stayed in a hostel! I know to some of you this may be silly but I am very proud of myself for staying in one. I went into this thinking that a hostel was basically a step up from a homeless shelter filled with creepy men waiting to steal my passport while I was sleeping so as you can image, I was pleasantly surprised when I found it full of teenaged and young adults that were doing the exact same thing as us- traveling across Europe for the summer. It was great. I met so many cool people from all over the world and that shared some of their stories from all the places they've been this summer. I loved it! The picture above is of our hostel- "The Blind Eye" (sounds a little sketchy doesn't it?) haha

I love Prague!!!

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Florence, Italy

This week has been a bit wild. In total, we have traveled to 4 different cities within a one week spand. I am loving every minute that I am here apart of this wild adventure. After we stopped in Venice for 2 days, we traveled to Florence for 2 days/1 night. Because of our lack of time in each city, we were rushing through each city attempting to see as much as possible in the small amount of time we had. 
When we first arrived in Florence, we made our way to this amazing church that is in top of the hill called the San Miniato al Monte. I personally thought it was the best way to welcome me to Florence. Check out this view
(Ignore the thumb print in the corner, sorry) 

The church on top of the hill...San Miniato al Monte

View from another spot, just around the corner

Saw the fake David. Seeing the real David was the #1 thing to do on my list in Florence, but apparently you have to make a reservation ahead of time in order to get in so this is as good as it got for me this time. Another reason to go back to Italy right?

We then took a little walk down to the Bridge of Gold

On the bridge of gold there are tons of shops selling... You guessed it, GOLD. It's quite the tourist attraction with plenty of people shopping and local musicians playing on bridge.

View from the bridge at sunset. It was magical. 

Later that night, we went exploring in the heart of the city. We happened to run across a Symphonic Pops Concert just about to start in a plaza downtown. Taylor (a musical geek like me from the study abroad) and I decided to see what all the hype was about and I'm so glad we did! The concert was a blast! They played music from Mama Mia, Grease, Pink Floyd, Phil Collins, Sting and many more. I wish my mom could have been ther with me, you would have been loving every minute of it! I think what I loved most about it was the fact that there were so many local Italians there to support their friends and family who were playing in the symphony. It was probably my highlight of Florence.
Unfortunately my camera and phone both died right before the concert started so I didn't get any photos. :/

The next morning, we woke up and went to see the famous cathedral in Florence called the Duomo.
It's really hard to tell in pictures but the detail and design of this cathedral is amazing. I found this cathedral especially interesting because the exterior is ornate and detailed compared to the inside. You look at the outside and examine all the fine details and then you go inside expecting it to be equivalent to the outside and I hate to say it, but its a bit disappointing. 

Like so many other cathedrals, you can climb to the top of this one as well! With all the stairs I am climbing, im getting my booty workout in without even trying!

The view from the top!

The view is absolutely breathtaking 

We only had a short visit in Florence but it was fabulous... Now we are off to Rome!

Vienna, Austria

If you are following along my original itinary, you might be confused about why i am in Vienna and not Morocco. Last week, we heard the sad news that BYU was canceling our trip to Morocco because of safety concerns. Although we were all really sad about the news, we were trying to make the best of it and when we heard we were going to Vienna instead, I was really really excited! Because it was not on our original itinerary, I hadn't done any research on Vienna before hand nor did I ask anyone for travel advice on which sights were must sees when I arrived. I did quite a bit of research for everywhere else I had traveled before I left, so I was actually pretty excited to be traveling to a city with absolutely no expectations. 
When we arrived in Vienna, we got in very late/early in the morning at 1 AM. We all struggled to our rooms and I didn't even sleep because a few of us decided to go to Prague, but that's for another post, another time! 
So lets fast forward 2 days when we arrived back in Vienna!

Our little group arrived back in Vienna Sunday early afternoon. All of the traveling and the constant go go go in Prague was quite exhausting so we took it pretty easy on Sunday. We went for a walk that evening and saw a few fun sights and ate dinner at this amazing restaurant called mini. I had the best apple lemonade there, I've been searching for a recipe ever since! Monday morning we attended a briefing at the Organization for Security and Coopersation in Europe (OSCE). We spoke specifically about anti terrorism activities and the programs in use to prevent future attacks. The two men we spoke to at the agency were both former BYU grads which made it pretty fun bc they were very candid with their fellow classmates than I think they would have been. It was fun to see the inside scoop on another branch of the foreign service and confirm once again my desire to never join! Haha 
After that briefing we went to the Hofberg Treasury Museum which housed the Crown Jewels of Austria!

One wing of Hofberg Palace

The following day we visited the Museum of Military History which was a tribute to the war history of Austria and parts of Europe.

The car that drove Franz Ferdinand while he was assassinated. 

Courtyard of tanks ha

The boys in our group taking their model shot. 

After the war museum we went to see the Klimt exhibit inside Belvedere Palace... This building is amazing

Unfortunately we weren't allowed to take pictures inside the museum, however if you are not familiar with Klimt's work, I suggest you look it up. His most famous work is entitled "the kiss" which is breathtaking when seen in person. Although I had heard of Klimt before, I fell in love with his work while visiting the palace. 

Probably one of my favorite things we did in Vienna was attend a film festival going on at the time. Every summer Vienna hosts a film/concert/opera festival which is free to the public. They have tons of yummy good vendors from all over the world and so you can buy food from wherever you please and then at 9:30, they project a movie/opera/concert on a huge project that is placed in front of an amazing church. It's such a cool environment and for one of the first times ever on this trip, I felt entrenched in the local culture. It was definitely one of the highlights of Vienna for me!

Hard to see but there the food vendors on either side.

Some other highlights of Vienna:
Stephanplatz square 

Visited a butterfly museum/garden that housed hundreds of butterflies. Raquel, if you're reading this- I thought of you the entire time I was in there!! :)

Our last stop in Vienna was the Schonbrunn Palace which is known to be a sort of mini-Versailles! It was beautiful and have great views of Vienna- the perfect way to say goodbye to Austria!

Sorry, it's sort of a crappy picture, but you get the idea haha

Now off to Barcelona!!