Running low on travel funds and needing to survive the two weeks until my flight back to the states, I asked the internet to please tell me which cities in Europe are the least expensive to visit. Krakow and Budapest were high, but in addition to having already been to each of these wonderful cities, Belgrade was rated even more highly for the cash-strapped. And so, knowing little or nothing about the history of Serbia, former Yugoslavia, or even the contemporary culture, I bused overnight from Zurich to Belgrade.
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The Salt Mines near Krakow, Poland, have been compared to the Pyramids of Egypt. Kings have visited, Copernicus visited, and I visited. They liked it, and so there are statues of them carved out of salt. I didn’t think too highly, so I capped my tour with a beer.
It’s true; the Salt Mines are unlike anything that I’ve seen. Almost 1,000 years of hacking and mining salt have given us over 2,000 caverns, including a cathedral, a couple of underwater lakes, and walkways as deep as 135 meters beneath the surface. It’s not that the carvings aren’t amazing, and the depth at which a city has been made, impossible to fathom. In fact, everything old and practical about the mines is, as some have said, on par with the skyward reaching pyramids.
It’s the actual “touring” of the mines that ruined the mines. There are a couple of access points and as many companies offering tours of the mines. I chose the tour that I went on so that I wouldn’t have to wear a sort of mining costume and hard-hat. Dressing up like someone who does things more badass than writing is tempting, but only when the outfit serves some sort of practical purpose. Not when the outfit is a costume to make tourists look absurd. In the case of the mines, the hard-hat and astronaut suit are a costume.
Krakow is like a European version of Nashville or Charlotte. The city is small enough to quickly become familiar, but the breadth and depth of history and culture lure many young Europeans. The population is growing, there are many students, and yet, for those coming from countries using the dollar or Euro, Krakow is pleasantly inexpensive. The nightlife is heralded amongst the young students and travelers, (many of whom visit this city just for the night’s), but also boasts historical attractions such as the salt mines and “Jewish District.” Old Town, Krakow is paved with cobblestones and lit by lamps. The teashops in the, “Jewish District,” are marked by vintage signs, and the late-night clubs blaze the bright neon of Vegas.
A Very Aussie Christmas or how I've adapted to spending holidays in completely opposite environments
Today, I’m in Sydney. It’s rather overcast to be honest but most of last week was spent sweltering in the sticky, hot humidity that marks the Sydney summer. Looking out the bus window as I traveled down the main straight in the city, the storefronts are adorned with wreaths and multi-colored Christmas lights. All the while the locals are skipping down the street with the flip flops loudly clapping against the pavements. Flowing dresses fill the streets and you won’t see any signs of mulled wine or chestnuts roasting here. An eye-opener to say the least. To an Aussie, Christmas means lazy days spent on one of the coastlines famous beaches. Sweating through the holiday cheer, wrapping gifts and sunburns. I have to admit it’s a cultu...
I saw this wild TV show about a tomato festival somewhere in Italy where basically the whole town throws truckloads of tomatoes at each other.
Is this a summer thing or fall?
Is this concentrated in one town or are they all over? What do they do with all the tomatoes afterwards, make a big pot of spaghetti?
I guess this isn’t really a blog post so I apologize for that,
i just want to be there when the town goes SPLAT
splat splat spalt
tomatoes in the air
you better duck or you’ll get tomatoes in your hiar
related to the nightshade,
tasty in the belly
im gonna shovel the streets and make tomato jelly
Don’t call me crazy,
Inevitably, even after the long, hot Italian summer, the temperature is dropping and fall is in the air. The grapes have been picked and the chestnuts are being brought to street corners throughout the city center.
As has been the case in recent years, chances are that it will snow on or around December 17th, the day when study abroad students attempt to go home and the city will be overcome by chaos as buses are abandoned by the side of the road and locals take hours to get home from work.
Florence, and most other European cities have a romantic charm that is only highlighted in the winter months. As snow falls silently through the air the sights and sounds of Christmas markets fill the air and highlight the accents of anci...
It was June 2010 and I had just finished a horrible job teaching English with a company that had neglected me, miscommunicated my duties and hours and made me feel utterly useless. I was newly jobless, I was worried about how I would fund my future in a country where I barely spoke the language and I was all-around feeling kicked to the curb.
I had been anxiously looking forward to the last weekend in June as it was a public holiday in Italy meaning that my company was giving its employees, and therefore its three contracted teachers, a full three-days off in addition to the weekend. Lorenzo and I had wanted to plan something special, a few days away maybe in Paris, a place that we’d talked about going for months, but with the su...
As the summer is winding down and the temperature has finally dropped to comfortable eighty-five degrees, the beach may not be what’s on your mind this month in Italy. But let’s be honest here, it is still the Italian summer. As we pass into October, the sun is still out to play and it would be beneficial to take advantage of its warm rays before it takes refuge in the dark clouds of winter. I know many of you are back at work now that the fantastic August ferie is over but take advantage of your warm weekends by hopping a train or bus and heading to the coast.
I’m a bit biased here because I was able to settle in quite nicely to the quiet beach town of Vada. You may remember my last article on this tiny Italian seaside villa...
It can be scary to pick up all you know and move to another city, another country and place where they don’t speak your language. As is generally the case, you can ease back into the comforts of home, you can learn the language and you eventually find your way on the winding streets of the unknown. For some people there are certain aspects of their comfort that can be harder to find than others. For me, one of those things is my hairdresser. Not because I have a crazy amount of work done on my hair with dyes, style cuts and extensions going into the mix but because I have a hair type that is hard for so many stylists to know what to do with.
I’ve always wanted full, flowing hair with just enough of an added style to keep me up ...
Have you lived through an Italian summer yet? And I don’t just mean the blistering heat and humidity that seem to suffocate any attempt you might make at having a leisurely day in the city center. In the middle of August, arguably the hottest month of the year, the Italians simply abandon ship. To anywhere. All to often instead of heading somewhere to escape the heat, they head somewhere hotter, it doesn’t matter where, as long as there is water.
During the most of the month of August, tourists might find the major Italian cities as a disappointment as many of the locals have closed up shop and headed toward the endearing call of the salty sea water and sand in their toes.
Growing up in the United States, I have to say t...