A runner with an appetite for adventure!

Eastern Europe: Bite by Bite October 20, 2011

Filed under: Contiki,Dining Out,Europe,Food,Travel — Kelocity @ 6:24 am
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Oh Europe, why do you make such amazing food. As if your chocolate wasn’t delectable enough, you have to have things like strudel, schnitzel and french fries (why, WHY are the fries so darn good in Europe?!) I admit, I’m not much of a foodie. I don’t venture out to try strange foods, taste the art of famous chefs or pick restaurants based on reviews. Maybe someday my palate will be more refined, but that’s not to say I didn’t thoroughly enjoy my culinary experiences while on our recent trip.

Here is my recap of all things food from our 17 days over seas, grouped by category.

We dined at so many different restaurants. 15 full days x 3 meals a day = 45 places to eat. Here’s a few of our favorites! I think the winner goes to Zapieck in Krakow for their award winning pierogies.

Some highlights included Borsht in Warsaw, Paprika Soup in Budapest and French Onion Soup in Vienna.

I ordered mainly vegetarian meals every night (with the exception of a few chicken dishes) so I really enjoyed the European salads. The goat cheese is creamy like in Greece, and totally melts in your mouth. And all of the veggies were fresh from the earth. And the tomatoes! Oh, they were fantastic.

Skewered on kabobs, deep fried, swimming in sauce and paired with rice or fries. Nothing special, but all delicious.

I admit, I am not a huge fan of brats, but my husband LOVES them. I think there were some that went photographed, because there were a lot of brats on this trip. His favorite were the boiled ones from the Hofbrauhaus.

Breakfast was included each day of our tour. Some hotels had better choices than others. My favorite (by far) was the IBIS in prague because they had fresh watermelon both days they were there.

Irving ate just about everything, but I opted for mostly vegetarian. Contiki definitely does a great job accomodating and I felt satisfied after each meal. Here’s just a sample of the good (carb loaded) food that we ate.
Main Course

There are no words. We thought the chicken was better than the pork and our favorite was served at the Summer Palace in Vienna. Austria sure does love this dish. There is even a fast food chain called Wienerwald dedicated to serving schnitzel.

I’ve already declared my love for Pierogies in my post about Poland, but here they are again so we can honor their amazing-ness.

It’s Europe. Pizza costs about $4 for a whole pie. There was lots of pizza for on-the-go lunches and quick snacks. And you don’t have to share. You’re expected to eat the whole thing. Love.

Yes. European Fries get their own collage. They are SO GOOD. And they go with juuuust about everything.

We aren’t huge drinkers to begin with, but we did indulge when appropriate (ie. German Beer Halls).

It goes with beer. Enough said. (I always try to buy mine without salt though.)

I’m pretty sure I had dessert every night we were there. The hands down favorite was the Hotel Sacher chocolates from Vienna. Coming in a close second would be my nutella crepe from Slovakia. My least favorite? The Rum Raisin custard from Krakow.
Dessert and Snacks


Eastern Europe by the Numbers October 9, 2011

Filed under: Contiki,Europe — Kelocity @ 4:19 pm
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On our most recent trip to Europe… there were:

3,203 Pictures Taken

139.86 Miles Walked (Highest Milage day: 16.44… average per day: 8.74)

17 Days Traveling

11 Major Cities Visited

9 Plates of Pierogies Ordered

6 Countries Visited

5 Cities I got to visit for the second time around (Munich,  Salzburg, Vienna, Prague and Budapest)

4 Times traveled with Contiki

Eastern FOOD

(Full Food Post coming soon!)


Eastern Europe–What I Wore

Filed under: Contiki,Europe,Travel — Kelocity @ 6:06 am
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When I left, my suitcase looked like this:

So how does that translate into travel outfits? Here it is day by day.

DAY 1 – LAX to BERLIN (Travel Day)
We had a total of 18 hours in airports and airplanes, so comfort was key!


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DAY 5 – VIENNA Classical Music Concert
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Yep. I rewore a shirt. I had a few to rewear during this trip and here is the 1st. Don’t judge. Chalk it up to good packing. IMG_9014  IMG_9019

DAY 10 – Krakow to Warsaw
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DAY 11 – Warsaw
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DAY 11 – Warsaw by Night

Day 12 – Warsaw to Berlin
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Day 13 – Munich
Yep. Same shirt as day 3.
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Day 14 – Fussen and Salzburg
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Their clothes, not mine. LOL
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Which outfit was your favorite? Would you be caught dead in sneakers in Europe?  For me there isn’t an option. We walk way too much for strappy sandals. ha!


Salzburg: The Salt Mines October 8, 2011

Filed under: Austria,Europe,Travel — Kelocity @ 1:00 pm
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After we left the Sound of Music tour, we had one more thing on our to-do list: The Salzburg Salt Mines. I was kind of on the fence about doing this since we thought the Krakow ones were a little silly. But we heard good things about it so decided to give it a try.

It ended up being worth the trip and really fun. We were so glad we went. But first things first:

You have to dress the part. HAHA
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Yep. Now we’re ready to go! We said good bye to the daylight and descended into the mine.

This one wasn’t as vertically deep as the other one, but it was massive inside and you had to ride a train car to get around.


And that thing zoomed pretty fast through the tunnels. So fun!

One of the unique things about the mine is that it straddles both Germany and Austria!

Inside is a giant Brine Lake that we actually took a boat across. There were lights and sound involved, but it was actually quite nice.


But the best part was yet to come! We got to go down mining slides!! Just sit down… and go! (That’s what the white jump suits were for, besides being incredibly stylish!)


Here’s a video of us going down the steepest slide!

I was kind of sad to give back my awesome miners clothes. LOL
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On the grounds of the mines is a little recreated Celtic village to celebrate the lives of the first miners. We walked around for a bit before getting back in the car.

This was a self timer. Pretty good, huh?

We had a great time in Austria, but it was time to head back to Munich to catch our plane home. Thank goodness for the GPS though. It was SO helpful on those crazy European roads.

I had an amazing time in Europe. I think this was my favorite trip to date. So much history, scenery and adventures. The perfect combination. We’ll be back, Europe.

Thanks for reading all my recaps! Hope you enjoyed them! Thanks for letting me share my photos and stories with you!


Salzburg: The Hills are Alive October 7, 2011

(Just one more Trip Recap post left after this one! Bringing it back to Salzburg!)

We awoke on September 10th in beautiful Salzburg. Our bed was so comfortable I didn’t want to leave the hotel, but we had an exciting day planned. I would never sleep away a day in Europe. Too many fun things to explore!

We had Clif Bars for breakfast and jumped right into our Sound of Music Tour! When I did this tour in 2003 it was in a small 8 person van. This time, we were on one of TWO huge coach busses filled with tourists. I was a little annoyed, but it was still an excellent tour.

The tour brings you to all of the famous shooting locations for the film. Recognize this? It’s where the back patio and lake scenes were shot. Remember when the kids tipped over the canoe?!



We didn’t get too close, but this is where they shot the front of the house (see that yellow building in the background?) It’s also where Maria sang I Have Confidence when she first arrived at the Von Trapp house.

And right around the corner from that is where we were yesterday (at the Crazy Fountain Palace). We were so glad we took pictures the day before because this is what it looked like today:

We got a brief glimpse of the abbey up on the hill:

And then we headed off into the countryside to see a bit of the lakes region and a few more filming locations. The scenery was absolutely beautiful.

Is this where Maria sang The Hills are Alive? I don’t think it actually was, but any of these hills looked like they’d be excellent contenders. I love Austria, seriously everywhere you look there was something gorgeous to look at.


[Flashback 2003] Last time I was here it was cold and snowy!
sound of music tour


Next time I come back here I’m going to explore the outdoor activities a little more. See the skydiver?!

After a bit of driving, we arrived into the town of Mondsee where the wedding chapel scenes were filmed. Where Maria married the Captain.
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We had an hour for lunch so we found a cute restaurant across the street>

And ordered some quick pizzas. Delicious!


After the tour, we drove back to Salzburg and watched some of the scenes from the movie on the bus. Once we got back we explored Mirabell Gardens where most of the Do Re Mi sequence was filmed. Remember this scene?
steps [source]

Here it is! Irving looks like Friedrich doesn’t he? “I’m Friedrich. I’m fourteen and I’m impossible”. LOL

And remember this?

Here we are!



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[Flashback 2003:
Me and a girl i met in salzburg

And Now!


Just a week after we got back from our trip, we went to the Sound of Music sing-a-long at the Hollywood Bowl.

We try to go every year because it’s just so much fun. This year was extra special since we just got back from Salzburg!

Erica brought popcorn (love that girl!) and we brought Mozart Balls to share. I love me my Mozart balls! Anyone know if you can buy these in the states?
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Before the show, all of the actors who played the Von Trapp kids came out on stage!

My favorite part was when the (super hot) Captain sings Edelweiss and everyone holds up their cell phones. So funny. I love bowl nights. 

A great end to the bowl season too.

One last Europe recap post coming tomorrow!


Fussen & Salzburg: Second Time Around October 4, 2011

Filed under: Austria,Europe,Germany,Travel — Kelocity @ 11:59 am
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Where were we? Ah Yes. In Munich. We woke up at the crack of dawn on September 9th and made our way via subway to the airport. There, we picked up our rental car. It turned out to be outrageously expensive, but driving through the Austrian Alps sounded so romantic and I begged Irving to let us do it. I wanted to feel like I was on the Amazing Race navigating through the roads trying to translate the German signs.

It wasn’t until we buckled our seat belts that Irving admitted he hadn’t actually driven a stick shift in about 15 years. That’s ok babe. It’s like riding a bike. BAHAHA. (spoiler alert: we only stalled twice).

We had some maps from AAA and Google to get us from Germany into Austria and I was confident we’d be fine…. but thank GOD there was a built in GPS because we wouldn’t have even made it out of the airport without that thing. Seriously. My maps were so confusing it would have been a lost cause and I’m pretty sure my plan for a romantic drive would have backfired.

Before we made it into Salzburg, we made a detour to Fussen, home of the Neuschwanstein Castle. Sure you see gorgeous scenery from a train, but being in the car gave us so much more freedom. Plus the Autobahn is really super fun. Getting on and off the highways was hilarious for us since we don’t know how to downshift and upshift. LOL I have a video I’ll post later.

We enjoyed the quaint towns along the road and kept giggling that it looked like a postcard.

And finally we started to see our destination up in the mountains!

Neuschwanstein! The castle was built by the crazy Ludwig II, a royal who lived in Munich.


There are two ways to get up to the top. Horse and buggy….

Or by foot… we chose to walk since we’d been in the car all morning and didn’t want to wait for 2 hours in the line.

It was actually a pretty easy walk and soon we were up at the top.

Does it look familiar? It’s the castle that Walt Disney modeled his castle after.

Sadly we couldn’t go inside (you can only go in with a tour and we would have had to wait a few hours for the next English one.

But it was still fun to walk around and see the wacky architecture.

It looks like a lego castle, doesn’t it?

[FLASHBACK] I visited here in 2003 in the midst of winter. It looks much different now!
snowy castle

The view from the top was just as impressive as the castle itself:




And because Irving couldn’t pass up another opportunity to enjoy some Brats (and because it was lunch time), we stopped halfway down the hill for lunch. I was expecting it to be super expensive since it’s kind of a tourist trap, but it was actually quite reasonable.

And some Pasta for the lady.

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Across the street was another cute castle that I’m sure is worth a visit, but it was time to hit the road before it got too late.

Back in the car, we drove away from the castle.

I kept looking back at it in the distance as it faded away. I love Europe.

Just a few hours in the car, we made our way into the heart of Salzburg.

Our first stop was an afternoon tour of the Hellbrunn Palace. When you visit Salzburg, people will ask you if you saw two things: 1.) The Sound of Music Tour and 2.) The Crazy Palace.

So alas. Here we are at the Crazy Palace. Why is it called that? It looks pretty average, right?

Until you go around the back and walk through the gardens. Then you realize how fun it is. Let me explain.

It was built in the 1600s by Markus Sittijus von Hohenems, the Archbishop of Salzburg. And that man had an intense sense of humor. See this outdoor dining area? Seems like a good place to host your guests, right?

Well the whole place was rigged with secret water tricks that he could turn on and off to surprise and wow his visitors. With the push of a button he could soak them while they ate. And it was all operated with non-electrical power (it was the 1600s, remember?)

He had strange fountains and childlike displays all over the property that would dance and play on their own.

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At one point, Irving got nailed by some hidden fountains!

There are some displays inside the palace itself but the it’s the exterior that is worth a visit.


Know what else Hellbrunn is known for? The Sound of Music gazeebo is located on its property.

[FLASHBACK] I came here in 2003! (I know, where didn’t I go in 2003?!)
gazeebo from movie

Oh, want to see our car?! Here she is! A Renault!

Finally we made the drive into the city to find our hotel. On the way, we passed the fortress! Wish we would have had time to up there again. But we had a tight itinerary and couldn’t fit it in.

We dropped off our bags at the Radisson, but turned right back around to catch some of the city before the sun set.

Luckily our hotel was close to the river and we were able to walk into town.

Remember the scene in The Sound of Music when the kids are frolicking in the grass? This is where that was filmed!



We found someone who didn’t look like they’d run away with our camera to take our picture. Such a pretty backdrop.


We had just enough time to walk through the main squares before we lost our daylight altogether.

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Finally we surrendered to the night and enjoyed a nice dinner out.

All I wanted was veggies! We found a great place that had a salad bar for me…

And Oh. My. God. MORE schnitzel for Irving. Believe it.

Paired with some Austrian Beer. His and Hers.

It was nice to walk back after dinner and take in the city at night.

I might have to frame this one. It’s perfect. (Credit goes to Irving).

Sorry, these posts are so long. I fell in love with our photos and had to share them. Just one more Trip Recap post left!


Munich in A Day September 27, 2011

Filed under: Europe,Germany,Travel — Kelocity @ 8:07 pm
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After a fun morning in Munich, we found ourselves back into the center of old town completely alone. What? No tourguide? No bus waiting for us? No itinerary? It’s really no wonder we love Contiki, we need a little structure to our traveling or we get anxious we’re going to wander around and miss something important. Some people like to travel like that, but I prefer to check sights off a list.



Munich is like the crazy younger sibling to Berlin. It’s a little wild and crazy and trying to be different. Bavaria used to be it’s own state and has such unique characteristics than than the rest of Germany. It was previously ruled by a long line of crazy dukes before the outbreak of WWI.

This is the famous Glockenspiel right in the heart of Marienplatz. It only goes off three times a day, and we weren’t there when it did, but from what we hear, we didn’t miss much. It’s cute though.


But at the base of the clock, we met up with a free walking tour (Hooray! More tours! I was so excited!) When you have someone explaining what things are and why they are important is so much better than walking around with a map and wondering why I should care. We had a great guide.

He was excited to point out this funny sign to us too. Parking for dogs! huh?

One of our first stops was to see the Frauenkirche Church, also known as the Devil’s Church. There was a rumor that the devil had commissioned it and demanded it have no windows.

However as you walk inside the church, you realize there are lots of windows hidden behind each of the pillars.

The church was bombed with the rest of Munich by the Allies in WWII. During the raids the church was destroyed. After the war, the Jews of Munich gave money to help rebuild the church. As a way of saying thanks, there is a menorah painted on the ceiling if you look closely.

Nearby was another church that was also rebuilt after the war. Piece by piece they reassembled it exactly as it was…

And if you look closely, you can see a medieval cannon ball lodged in the sides. They made sure to place it right back where it was.

We also learned on our tour that the people of Munich looooove Michael Jackson. We passed a rather large memorial to him with all kinds of tributes on it.
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Then the tour took us back in time a bit to when the Nazis were vying for control of Munich. Hitler was gaining popularity and the Nazis were rallying for support. This led to the Beer Hall Putsch in 1923 when Hitler tried to overthrow the government. He was later thrown in jail for his actions, at which time he wrote Mein Kampf.

During the Putsch (which means “coup d’etat” in German), 16 Nazis were killed, along with four policemen. Later when Hitler was out of jail and clearly in control of Germany, he erected a memorial to be placed in a public square in this place.

See below what it looked like in the 1930s. Hitler required that anyone who walked by give the Nazi salute. Of course the residents of Munich were angry about being forced to salute a regime that they didn’t support. So in protest, people started avoiding the monument by walking around it instead of past it.

Anyone caught walking the alley instead of going past the wall was then captured and probably tortured or killed. A subtle memorial now remembers those people who tried to resist the regime. It’s a path of gold bricks to represent the route they chose to take.

Despite learning about the sad more recent history of Munich, we also learned about the happy traditions, and the city’s great love for their beer. It made sense then to head over to the Hofbrauhaus after our tour.IMG_7914





I know it’s super touristy, but Irving and I are the ultimate tourists and were excited to eat there.  Inside, it’s set up with long tables and you are encouraged to sit next to strangers. We found a seat next to some people from the UK and had fun chatting with them about their travels.

When in Munich… get the beer. We ordered a liter to share and it was pretty amazing.

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Irving ordered some sausages that he said were pretty great. [EDITED TO ADD:  he actually used the  phrase "amazing" and "that was the best sausage I have ever eaten, in my ENTIRE life."] I got a potato casserole that wasn’t anything special, but still pretty good. And we shared the bread basket of rolls and pretzels. Tip: Order the pretzels from the girls that walk around and not from your server. The ones from the kitchen are half the size of the ones the girls have.

On our way out we heard some German Folk Music playing inside. Such a fun, festive night on the town. We only had one day to do Munich and I think we definitely made the most of it. Tomorrow, we rent a car… wish us luck!


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