Food

Kolacky in McDonalds: Prague

“Hey, which way is the International Hotel?”

“I’m not sure, sorry.”

“Then can you tell me where the river is?”

“I’m actually not from here. But, I think it’s that way…..”

I had stepped away from my walking tour group for one moment to peel an orange in a garbage can, with my gloves on because it was cold, and my true Czech blood shined in the frosty sunlight. glint glint. Maybe such a strange thing would only be done by a true confident resident of Prague.

I blame/ thank Hostel Orange- free oranges. Cha-Ching!

It was nice to blend in with all the tall (normal sized really) people.

I’m always honored when a Spanish person asks me a question, or makes a low grumbled comment to me as if I totally understand. I grumble back si si si si. But they often realize their “error” within a split second and say ahhhh no eres de aqui as they crane their necks to look up at me.

Nope, so now I guess I’m completely incapable of helping you. Lucky me, bye!

In Prague and Vienna I think I could have tricked a few people if I said I was from there. They speak English better than I do, so that’s a non- issue.

I had my favorite little guidebook and led us to our first traditional meal, with some beer of course. Success.

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Pork and dumplings!

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First meal, a la two cats

First meal, a la two cats

Astronomical clock

Astronomical clock

market in the center, full of crepes, meat, mulled wine etc.

market in the center, full of crepes, meat, mulled wine etc.

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View from our Hostel. Hostel Orange.

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National Museum. Closed until 2016.

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Kafka.

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By the Jewish synagogue and cemetery.

Cemetery

Cemetery

Up by the palace area

Up by the palace area

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what a view

what a view

Aside from the guidebook leading us to all sorts of delights and sights my dad gave me a tip he read back in an issue of the Times about cool things to do in Prague. He said to walk up a hill on the other side of the river and go to a monastery, and have a beer. I’m not a beer lover, but when in Prague. It was actually really great and I think the reason I’m not a beer lover is because I usually drink beer that’s cheap and icky. But I’m still going to stick with wine while I’m here in La Rioja.

found it!

found it!

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ALMOST my name

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Dancing house. Me as a house.

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Not really advertised or included in any tours surprisingly….but worth a walk to for those colors.

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A cool looking house In the ex-Jewish neighborhood that is now the exclusively high end shops neighborhood. Actually all of Prague is totally high end classy and luxurious. It seems like if you live there you either drive a BMW, Porsche, Ferrari etc….Not one average car to be seen for miles.

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 A cafe my guidebook mentioned. It mentioned $$$$......all class and elegance

A cafe my guidebook mentioned. It mentioned $$$$……all class and elegance. Too much for us to blow on a coffee.

Another thing I was looking forward to on this trip was eating a kolacky (kol-atch-kee), like my grandma used to make. It’s a yummy cookie pastry that has either cheese, apricot, poppy seed, or other filling. I was more or less on the look out for it wherever we went to eat but didn’t see it anywhere. I thought maybe I was wrong about the culture and that they were really a Norwegian thing. Prague really had me doubting myself UNTIL one night we couldn’t pull it together to eat dinner at a normal time. We are all so full on Spanish at this point that dinner before 9pm seems crazy. Well that’s not how they do it in Prague, so everything was closing or almost closed. We ended up at the mall with the intention of eating apple strudel for dinner. Fail.

So we got some terrible mall cake. (Mall cake = you’re in a mall and there is a random kiosk with delicious looking cakes that are overpriced and dry). We were so disappointed we had to wash our regret down with something from McDonald’s, and low and behold Kolacky’s. 50 cents each. I could have died. I thought I would somehow bring shame on my family, or pride; but either way I was buying two. Cheese and poppy seed. The moral of the story is McDonald’s will never let you down. They were delicious.

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pretending it's nice out

pretending it’s nice out

The reality of the weather

The reality of the weather

Prague doesn’t seem to get the same kind of attention as say Rome, London, Paris, Madrid…the cities they put in songs, on clothing etc. but it really should. It’s safe, it’s gorgeous, it has excellent food and variety as well. The people are as attractive as the buildings, and BEER.

It was nice to connect with my roots and achieve a travel dream with my friends. I hope I can go back when it’s warmer one day with the Griswold’s (The Campbell’s) hahaha.

besos

The final leg of the trip was Vienna, and yes I did a Waltz.

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Underrated hotties: Budapest

Good to know exactly where you are.

Good to know exactly where you are.

Semana Santa for me this year and last have been the absolute best revenge on my own self for not having a disgustingly drunk and expensive Spring Break in college. Last year my travels through Italy left me in love and a little more curvy. This year a semi life long dream was achieved because I finally made it to Prague. I say semi life long since I’m not sure exactly when the dream started, but I know that I wanted to go discover and connect with my Czech roots. Turns out I also have some Austrian roots that shined through doing a waltz, but before I got to those places I wanted to see Budapest as it’s relatively near and also amazing.

Until this trip I had only traveled through Spain, France, Italy and Portugal. Your standard European countries. Similar languages, culture, and currency. I was expecting a whole new feel from Eastern Europe and I’m sure they are super glad about their money right now. The languages are  much more unrecognizable, with much less possibility of me successfully guessing how to pronounce a word like schezignksieuy…but I found that to be one of the most thrilling parts of setting off on the adventure.

 

The weather forecast: COLD. As expected in March/ April, but really it felt more like the cold of January. As you will see from the photos I had my giant North Face. The local cuisine was another excellent layer.

The first plan we made when discussing Budapest was going to a Spa. Budapest is actually a spa/ bath city and has many bath houses. On Easter weekend the spas were one of the few things open, but it was perfect since it was something we all really wanted to do. The spas can range from super cheap to expensive, sexy to gross, old to young, etc. etc. We decided to go with one of the bigger more famous spas since it was our one big chance to do that. It was an adrenaline rush to go out into ZERO degree weather in a bikini. I was becoming Hungarian. But when you plunge your body into the steamy water you just feel this incredible sense of insanity because you are looking at the cold night sky thinking about how earlier you were cold wearing a scarf and gloves, and now you are in a bikini and people around you are laughing, lounging, and running in and out of various temperatures of water. Once in a lifetime. Or hopefully more.

   http://www.szechenyibath.com/ definite recommendation.

 

 

la foto (2) la foto (1)

 

Much more of a tram culture

 

Dohany Street Synagogue. Largest in Europe. (5th largest in the world)

Dohany Street Synagogue. Largest in Europe. (5th largest in the world). Also called The Great Synagogue. Unfortunately it was closed for the holiday. 

Synagogue

 

la foto (4) - Copy

My first meal. Chicken paprikash. Big time paprika eaters.

My first meal. Chicken paprikash. Big time paprika eaters.

People eating ALWAYS inspire me to eat.

People eating ALWAYS inspire me to eat.

The death of 3 cakes

The death of 3 cakes

 

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St. Stephen’s Basilica

 

 

food, drinks, crafty things

food, drinks, crafty things

Market

Market

The Hungarians are tough. I think they are very sweet people, soby tough I mean that they could go outside in zero degrees in a light jean jacket, chop down a tree with their bare hands, and somehow be eating dumplings at the same time. I was content in my giant winter coat, but needed to make a fair share of stops to get coffee, tea, and of course mulled wine to withstand the harsh wind. These winds actually knocked down a few displays at the market, but people reacted quickly, efficiently and never once shivered.

Parliament

Parliament

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Crossing the Szechenyi Chain Bridge

Crossing the Szechenyi Chain Bridge

Budapest is actually Buda and Pest, separated by the Danube river. The Buda side is mainly residential from what I could tell and also the Buda castle area. This is confusing because there isn’t an actual castle but a whole palatial area. You don’t have to feel dumb if you go and ask where the castle is. Common mistake I’m sure.

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Matthias Church

Matthias Church

Golden horse balls, rub them for sexual luck....

Golden horse balls, rub them for sexual luck….

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Fisherman’s Bastian/ Castle area

Fisherman's Bastian/ Castle area

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Sour cream cabbage. This large pot includes cabbage filled with meat, more meat, and sour cream. I ate ALL of it.

Sour cream cabbage. This large pot includes cabbage filled with meat, more meat, and sour cream. I ate ALL of it.

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in Szimpla, a super groovy bar

in Szimpla, a super groovy bar. 

Since our trip was more about seeing the sights until we could no longer walk from fatigue, going out wasn’t a number one priority; but certainly important to really feel more into the culture. We had to check out a bar that numerous friends had told us about called Szimpla. It is a “ruin pub” or a former home inhabited by Jewish people left in ruins and then turned into a bar. You can imagine how the decor would be super funky and cool, and it is really popular for the young Hungarians to go to pubs like this. You might think you see someone walking into an abandoned building, but it’s probably a hopping bar. My favorite moment was probably when a waitress came by with a bucket of carrots and asked if we were would like to buy one. The idea is that at a bar when you are typically putting so much trash (beer, liquor, pizza) into your body that you should balance it out with a carrot and be healthy. If I had a bar I’d like to think i’d have a crazy idea like that.

 

As you come to the end of this entry and have perhaps forgotten the title of it, let me bring your attention back to it. Underrated hotties. Eastern Europe for me brings to mind large, hairy and not super attractive men. I’m not sure why though. I’m sure they exist too just like in any country, but actually Budapest was non stop hot boy alert. It was an unfortunate time to be trapped under a hood and look like a floating black marshmallow, but at least I still got to look. It was such a nice change to see tons of normal sized/ tall people. Spain may bring to mind attractive people as well, but good luck finding more than a handful of Spaniards taller than me.

 

Budapest is also a city with a RICH history that I’m ashamed to say I knew very little about. I would highly recommend looking it up if you don’t already know some facts. We had an excellent free walking tour with some historical interludes and it made me feel that much more awesome about the trip.

Prague and Vienna are also historically interesting cities, full of tall people (my people), flowing with, beer, pastries, more hearty foods and of course waltzing.

besos

Ask and you shall recieve: Lisboa

Got a new blonde hair du pre trip

Got a new blonde hair du pre trip

I’ve been much better at saving my money this year, and decided I could no longer pull off my attempt at having “ombre” hair A.K.A dark roots. I treated myself to a little hair style before leaving on a weekend trip to Lisbon so I could honor my Irish ancestors looking good in Portugal….

I also splurged on an Alsa Supra bus ticket because it was the only one that would get me to the airport at the perfect time before my flight. Let me tell you those 10 extra euros or so could not have been better spent. I watched a movie, got coffee, snacks, a huge comfy seat, and normal people around me?! IS THIS A BUS? I almost didn’t want to get off and go on my trip. Kidding. Totally kidding. But it was nice.

Obviously the true joy of saving my money was to go to Lisboa, which is so much more than a hair cut or a bus ride.

Some things cost more because they are MUCH better.

My personal entertainment screen. Some things cost more because they are better.

I met my friends at our hostel, which was also super nice (Am I a Real Housewife of Logrono or something?). I dropped my stuff and we headed out to see the sights while the day was nice. The weather was set for rain and luckily with many promises to the sky Gods we were in the clear for the whole weekend.

A vida Portuguesa

A vida Portuguesa

Happy Easter

Happy Easter

cool shop, "typical items" cute

cool shop, “typical items” cute

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stroll at dusk

stroll at dusk

fishin

fishin

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Rock a ritas at Hard Rock Lisboa

Rock a ritas at Hard Rock Lisboa

Lisbon is excellent at the narrow cobblestone street look.

Lisbon is excellent at the narrow cobblestone street look.

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azulejos

azulejos

open your eyes!

open your eyes!

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On the way to the castle I walked into a sponge.

On the way to the castle I walked into a sponge.

View from the Castle.

View from the Castle.

The castle in Lisbon is completely worth the glute workout that we did to get there. The view is spectacular and as students we got a major discount. The castle itself isn’t incredible in my opinion. It’s just a big lump of stones put together nicely, as are many buildings. But if you stop and think about it’s history and take in all of the surroundings it’s cool.

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Portugal

Portugal

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As time was precious we hopped in a taxi to get over to the Belem neighborhood. I think even if we had a lot of time we would have taken a taxi because it’s pretty far off and we’d really climbed around cobblestones enough. We had to try the famed pastry of the area “Belem” as many people had advised us that it was a must have.

Belem

Belem

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Such intricacy

Such intricacy

Bacalao a Braz

Bacalao a Braz

You'll wonder how you ever lived without these tasty morsels. Belems.

You’ll wonder how you ever lived without these tasty morsels. Belems.

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A famous and excellent place to get the Belem of a lifetime.

A famous and excellent place to get the Belem of a lifetime.

After a great seafood meal topped off by the most delicious pastry I have tried in my life….we had to squeeze in a little bit of being Irish. Who knew in Lisbon we’d find an Irish pub AND sit next to an Irish person (shout out to John).

St. Patrick's day!

St. Patrick’s day!

We actually sat next to an Irish man named John.

We saw a bartender wearing one and we had to ask if we could have some as well. Worth it! 

The sky Gods really listened!

The sky Gods really listened!

a typical cherry licor. Not a fan, but glad I tried.

a typical cherry licor. Not a fan, but glad I tried.

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We already saw one bus smashing.....

We already saw one bus smashing…..

Wish I had snapped more graffiti pics.

Wish I had snapped more graffiti pics.

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"I need some typical goods"

“I need some typical goods”

We would find a wine bar

We would find a wine bar

ceiling wine

ceiling wine

I just like that mans face in the glass

I just like that mans face in the glass

Wherever I go, the wine flows

Wherever I go, the wine flows

Arroz de mariscos. Salty but delightful.

Arroz de mariscos. Salty but delightful.

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We got a nice dinner recommendation from our hostel, and our final activity to cross off the list, something we refused to leave Lisbon without doing: listen to Fado. Our guidebook and the hostel told us about one place but it never seemed to be open, so we went with another place listed in the book and fell in love. We somehow got ourselves a front row table, ordered a bottle of wine and swooned with the passion and soul that is Fado. We ended up buying CD’s of two of the five singers, and now have their autographs. Cheesy!

SHHHH

SHHHH

#1 fans of Fado

#1 fans of Fado

passion, passion, passion.

passion, passion, passion.

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The trip could not have gone better. Our unplanned wandering lead us to some great sights, cute shops beautiful scenery, and cool bars and restaurants. We loved Lisboa, and it loved us.

 

 

Of course I got extra Belems to eat at the airport before our flight.

Of course I got extra Belems to eat at the airport before our flight.

Duh!

Duh!

Sometimes you buy Supra because regular bus seats (namely mine) start to fly off.

Sometimes you buy Supra because regular bus seats (namely mine) start to fly off.

My seat vs. the others. My seat is in the aisle.

My seat vs. the others. My seat is in the aisle. 

So although I had to hang on for dear life for half of the bus ride back to Logrono, and face the task of teaching English immediately, my mood remained joyous. Obrigada Lisboa!

Beijos, besos

It’s Jueves Santo, and I’ll be leaving for Budapest, Prague, and Viena. Thankful for this life.

 

Tondeluna: Foodgasm

False advertising, this is a place on Laurel! The Torre (tower of yummy)

False advertising, this is a place on Laurel! The Torre (tower of yummy)

Feliz final! a dessert pintxo

Feliz final! a dessert pintxo

People ask me all the time if I like Spanish food or American food more. First of all, I’m not sure what they mean when they ask me about American food- I’m assuming they mean hot dogs, hamburgers, and scrambled eggs. When I think of what I eat at home it’s more like Mexican food, Italian food, Chinese food, salmon, salad, yogurt, peanut butter, fruit, umm… normal things right? Does that make it American food? Sure than I like “American” food.

But I like the food here too because it’s food, and it’s good.

There are a number of restaurants around Logrono that I never got around to trying last year so I’m trying to make it to all of them.

One of them is Tondeluna, off the Espolon Plaza. It’s modern looking and cool. You sit at long tables with people you don’t know and you feel special for no reason.

http://tondeluna.com/node/1

I went with Drea to “celebrate” the end of our Chicago movie that still isn’t quite right but we needed a reason to have a fancy lunch.

I remember having two options for eating. You can do the tasting menu which is sampling  items from each of the 7 courses offered for 25 euros. No difference in price for week or weekend.  This is nice if you go with one other person and want to share a few things.

Or, you can also just order off the menu as you wish….

We did the sharing tasting option. Here was our experience.

Butter?!

Butter?!

jamon croquetas- super rico

jamon croquetas- super rico

I was determined to discover that an ensalada rusa could be great. It's fine.

I was determined to discover that an ensalada rusa could be great. It’s fine…never will be great.

wine

wine

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ensalada con tartar de tomate- salad with shrimp, garlic, yummm

ensalada con tartar de tomate- salad with shrimp, garlic, yummm

my date

my date

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some rissoto

some rissoto

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pastel de chocolate- with olive oil. Olive oil and chocolate together is my life.

pastel de chocolate- with olive oil. Olive oil and chocolate together is my life.

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The tasting menu was perfect and after eating all of that food we didn’t feel like we were going to explode. We didn’t feel super poor either. Every bite was totally worth it.

If you plan on going call and make a reservation especially if you go on the weekend because It’s pretty popular. At least that was the advice I got when I called.

Buen provecho, bon appetit, on egin, enjoy!

un beso

 

Tres tickets to 2013

Sevilla 2013 has been in the Campbell family plan since I decided to not have any other options but to return to Spain last year.

It’s one of the cities in Spain that I had heard only great things about from friends that had studied abroad, or other Spaniards that have gone on holiday (ha ha, vacation).

And because of Granada’s close (by U.S standards) proximity, the Alhambra was a must since the Moors are my dad’s “second favorite people, after the Romans.”

My stays in any given city are  no more than a quick weekend…2-3 days max. I run around, look at all the sites and only enter if they are free or cheap, eat everything, especially if it’s “typical”, and then return home dazed, happy, poorer, fatter, and maybe even more open minded….?

Well I was ready to have a slow paseo kind of a week in Sevilla. We didn’t have to run to 2-3 museums a day. We didn’t have to run at all! We could do one cultural touristy experience a day, and then live our lives normally since we rented a flat (aparment haha) where we could go home and read or nap in our own areas and not all be in the same hotel room like caged animals.

 

You made it my giant children!

You made it my giant children!

Our place was ideally located, in the Santa Cruz neighborhood….narrow streets, near the Cathedral and pretty much all the great toursity things.

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Columbus, C. Dead.

Columbus, C. Dead.

Those oranges and blue sky don't quit.

Those oranges and blue sky don’t quit.

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View from the top of the Giralda tower

View from the top of the Giralda tower

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Flamenco show 1

Flamenco show 1

Cuties

Cuties outside the Alcazar

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Photos from the Alcazar. An excellent wannabe of the Alhambra.

Mama

Mama

I'll give you one artsy shot, but I think if you want to see the Alcazar, you shouldn't experience it via internet.

I’ll give you one artsy shot, but I think if you want to see the Alcazar, you shouldn’t experience it via internet.

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Anyone have a baby? Perhaps a girl would work best?

Anyone have a baby? Perhaps a girl would work best.

If I was small....

If I was small….

Plaza Espana from the eyes of a girl on a tourist horse ride.

Plaza Espana from the eyes of a girl on a tourist horse ride.

7 boys, 1 bike

7 boys, 1 bike

Being with my parents was so great, but my aunt really said it best….it was like my practice for having children. (on vacation).

Lesson 1: Walk slow. I’m so used to running from class to class knocking over old people, and people that smoke (aka EVERYONE), and I only occasionally remember to slow down. My parents helped me remember that.

Lesson 2: Order everyone’s food: Pretty straightforward. My parents don’t speak Spanish, and I consider myself pretty good until it comes to menus. If you’re not sure, your default is that it’s part of a pig.

Lesson 3: naps. Yes i’m in Spain, but I don’t actually take a siesta. The time just exists for me to be incapable of doing anything except eat for 2 hours until I go teach again.

Lesson 4: Crazy questions: Hey, why is that woman wearing an ugly shirt? Why is this TV show so bad?  What are they eating? What’s this Latin scrawl mean? How come the sun is shining?

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in Plaza de Espana with the Logrono tile.

In Plaza de Espana with the Logrono tile.

Love of past, present and future.

Love of past, present and future.

Becquer and attacking angel.

Becquer and attacking angel.

12 grapes at the most anti climactic countdown....ever.

12 grapes at the most anti climactic countdown….ever.

dinner uvas

Nochevieja dinner uvas

headed towards Triana

headed towards Triana

If I see one more Belen....

If I see one more Belen….

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Carmen

Carmen

Worship Mary

Worship Mary. 

The sun sure did shine in Sevilla, and we had a steady temperature of 18 Celcius. The adjustment for my parents was with the fact that the sun doesn’t really start working until about 1 p.m. It’s similar in Logrono I guess, but I’m usually trapped indoors and it’s cold anyways so I don’t pay attention. And while those southern Spain dwellers could not have been more genius in their design for keeping things cool, I didn’t want to feel quite so cool in January. We took every opportunity to eat in a sunny plaza, or find a bench that wasn’t tucked in a cool narrow street corner. We had a sunny day in Granada.  Even though it was about as cold as Logrono, it was still nice for walking around the beautiful Alhambra gardens.

The Alhambra

The Alhambra in the distance.

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Since my only experience with Granada was the Alhambra, I can’t critique it too well as a city although it did seem like a nice size with good shopping and some interesting hippie dippy kind of people.

Sevilla showed me all the things that people think of when they think of Spain without having ever been. After studying abroad one summer in San Sebastian, and living for 8 months in Logrono and mainly keeping to the north, I didn’t understand why the top associations with Spain were always bulls, sangria, Flamenco, beaches….

It seems bogus (explain that in another language) to say that Sevilla confirmed many of the stereotypes about Spain, but it goes beyond all of those things. I got a special feeling being there that the city motto was further ingrained in me.

NO8DO. “No me ha dejado” “It (Sevilla) has not left me/abandoned me” It was those rather slow moments of walking around with my parents that I enjoyed just being there and looking at all the well dressed people and wondering why there was a crisis when I could barely enter the Corte Ingles without getting stampeded.

 

Now that It’s been 2013 for three weeks I could officially say my resolutions but I have to make sure they are really all possible and make sense first.

Friday I’m off to Palma-Mallorca for the weekend to gather some pearls and celebrate San Sebastian and chase away the devil with fireworks. I’m pretty sure both of those statements are real, but we’ll all know 100% next week.

un beso