• Berlins and Outs,  The Great European Adventure

    Berlin, Revisited

    As you (probably) know, I did a lot of traveling around Europe 6 years ago. Gosh, it pains me to realize that trip was 6 years ago. This feeling is only going to get worse as I get older, isn’t it? Sometimes when I travel, I have to assume I’ll be back again someday. Otherwise I drive myself mad trying to fit in as many experiences as possible and lamenting all the things I don’t have time for. Three years ago, E and I took a vacation to Barcelona and a couple days into the trip, I was in tears because I realized there wasn’t time to show him everything…

  • The Great European Adventure

    I Know Nothing About Architecture

    Facebook keeps reminding me that I was in Paris 4 years ago today and, on the one hand, I appreciate that. It’s nice to be greeted at the top of my newsfeed with a smiling photo of me and my mother. We had such a lovely time on that trip. On the other hand, it makes me nostalgic, and a little jealous of past-Emma, and also, didn’t I tell facebook to turn off that feature? Anyway, I was looking through my photos from Paris and I stumbled across the one at the top of this post. I can’t remember anything about this part of the city or the moment I…

  • That Time I Studied Abroad,  The Great European Adventure

    Churros con Chocolate

    One thing that is better in Europe than in the United States is hot chocolate. Hands. Down. This is not to say you can’t find delicious hot chocolate in the U.S., but the standard hot chocolate in this country is a far cry from the standard hot chocolate in countries like Spain and France. I particularly love ordering hot chocolate in Spain when it comes with a healthy serving of churros (fried dough) for dipping. And by “healthy” I mean “large,” just to clarify. Hot chocolate in Spain is mostly melted dark chocolate with a little milk and sugar mixed into it. Sometimes it’s so thick you need to drink…

  • The Great European Adventure

    Da Vinci and Me

    I’m currently working in an exhibit about Leonardo Da Vinci, and while the focus is mostly on his inventions, there’s also a large section on the Mona Lisa and an interesting video about The Last Supper. I could have seen The Last Supper in person when I was in Milan in 2012 but… I didn’t. There are a limited number of tickets to view the mural each day and you usually have to get one as part of a larger tour package and I wasn’t organized or motivated enough to make it happen. To be perfectly honest, I don’t have much interest in Renaissance art and I ended up in…

  • The Great European Adventure

    The Rooftops of Paris

    When I think of Paris, I picture these gray-blue rooftops and their red-orange chimneys. Of course, I also picture the Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame, the Arc de Triomphe, and a whole host of other prominent landmarks. These places are so iconic, such a part of our cultural consciousness, I could picture them before I’d ever visited Paris. I remember my mother and I were so surprised to see Parisians walking the streets of their city wearing berets and carrying baguettes that we started to keep a tally. The behavior seemed too obviously, stereotypically French to be real, and yet there it was. Conversely, no one had ever told me about…

  • The Great European Adventure

    The Obligatory Plitvice Post: A Photo Essay

    I can’t NOT write about Plitvice Lakes National Park in Croatia. If there’s a “beaten path” for backpacking Europe, Plitvice is definitely on it. I know many travel bloggers before me have visited and written about this place, but Plitvice is awesome, so I’m going to go ahead and join their ranks. In particular, I feel the need to share my photos because I visited under different circumstances than many travelers. This is the classic Plitvice photo: Beautiful, no? And you can get this shot just by walking along the trail: Well, I visited on a rainy day in November, and this was my experience with the same view: Not…

  • Tea Tuesday,  The Great European Adventure

    Franz & Sophie: Another Reason to Love Sarajevo

    Yesterday, I wrote about my love for Sarajevo. And today, I’m sharing the last (and possibly most important) reason I fell for this city. Are you at all surprised that my reason is a teahouse? Katie and I read about a teahouse called Franz & Sophie when we were looking up interesting restaurants in Sarajevo on TripAdvisor. The reviews are so good, it’s number 3 in the restaurants category, and they don’t even serve food. Or coffee for that matter. Be warned non-tea-drinkers, this is not a tea and coffee shop where you can grab a cup of joe and a pastry while your tea obsessed friend (that’s me) ogles…

  • The Great European Adventure

    I LOVED Sarajevo

    I can’t put my finger on why, exactly, but I LOVED Sarajevo. And it’s a good thing too, considering how much trouble Katie and I went through to get there (see: this post). For some reason, Sarajevo called to both of us. When we first met up in Istanbul, Katie and I talked about where we wanted to go over the 3 weeks we’d be traveling together. We knew the trip was going to end in Dubrovnik, Croatia, because Katie had booked a flight to London from there, and after Istanbul we were going to Greece, but it was unclear what we would do in between. Katie shyly suggested Sarajevo,…

  • The Great European Adventure

    Get Off Your Butt and Do Something (in Bulgaria)

    After catching a ferry back to the mainland, Katie and I took an overnight train from Athens to Thessaloniki. From there we hoped to take a train to Belgrade (Serbia) and then onward to Sarajevo (Bosnia and Herzegovina), where we planned to spend a few days. As it turned out, there were no trains departing Thessaloniki for anywhere outside of Greece, so, our best (and only) option was to take a bus to Sofia (Bulgaria) where we could get on another overnight train to Belgrade and from there, finally, catch a train to Sarajevo. You may have noticed that our mistake was trying to get from Kea to Sarajevo without…

  • The Great European Adventure

    Relaxing Off-Season Travel in The Greek Isles

    There’s this thing about backpacking and long term travel, and it can be hard to admit at first: sometimes you would rather relax than sight-see. I know, it’s hard to believe that you can buy a plane ticket to another continent and have days when you would rather watch tv than visit another church, museum, landmark, or charming sidewalk cafe. If you’re spending a weekend away or even enjoying a week-long trip somewhere, it’s possible to sight-see for 16 hours a day and crash every night. But that’s not sustainable when you’re traveling long-term and, although I’ve written about this before, I think it bears repeating. The first time I…