Over Carnaval break in February, three of my friends and I went on a whirlwind week long trip to Prague, Czech Republic; Budapest, Hungary; and Copenhagen, Denmark, which calls for….a really long blog post! It was a week full of public transportation, currency exchanges, hostels, eating out, sightseeing and wandering (meandering, if you will 😉 ). I’ve been collecting city maps from all of the cities I have visited so far and after this trip, my wall is almost totally covered in them!

Our first stop was the beautiful Prague. We left on a Tuesday, and our travel to get to Charleroi Airport in Belgium was pretty extensive…we walked to the bus stop in Maastricht, took a bus to the train station, took 2 trains, then another bus to get to the airport. It took about 3 hours! We had dinner in the airport (which also very much resembled a mall…what is it with these crazy Europeans? And they think Americans are materialistic…well, maybe the shops are for the American tourists…), hopped on our plane and landed in Prague at 8. We took a bus, then a subway to get to our hostel, Sophie’s Hostel. I told ya we took a lot of public transit! I’m still pretty amazed that it all went so flawlessly. By the time we got to the hostel we were absolutely RAVENOUS and pretty exhausted, but the concierge made our night so much better when he told us that we got upgraded from a dormitory-style room to our own private apartment! It was huge and comfortable. We went out for dinner practically the second we set our bags down, and went to an Czech/Italian restaurant. Our waitress was so nice, she even taught us some Czech. The Czech people really know how to do dessert.

Our first morning in Prague was spent on a 3 hour walking tour of the city center. Amidst walking between a sea of segways everywhere we turned (yup, segways.), we saw the Old Town Center with the Astronomical Clock Tower and the Jewish Quarter. The tour gave us a taste of how beautiful the buildings in Prague are–so coloful and unique. We had lunch at a traditional Czech restaurant recommended to us by a friend, and it was delicious! Have you ever had potato croquettes before? Well, if you haven’t then you need to hunt some down. I’m not sure if they have them in America, though….

Overall, Prague was my fave. We walked along the Vltrava River before heading to the other side of it–where the famous Prague Castle is. We did a lot of wandering, but after a while we finally came across the John Lennon Wall. The moments I spent there are some I will remember for the rest of my life. I felt so at peace, and my mind was completely focused on that exact moment, that exact place. A man was playing guitar and singing “All You Need Is Love” so needless to say, I felt as though I was in a dream. The wall was beautiful, as well, with really thoughtful sayings painted and written on to it. Yet again, graffiti has impressed me! I even signed a little “MC”, try to find it!

Our next stop was the Prague Castle which was absolutely breathtaking, the views were absolutely unREAL (of course we only got to see them after struggling up the ungodly amount of stairs to the top). There were guards outside like at Buckingham Palace but I decided to keep my cool and not be a crazy tourist by trying to provoke them (no one else was doing it, apparently they’re too respectful in Czech Republic!). We were up there during sunset so we got to watch the city slowly turn on its lights as darkness crept over the hills surrounding it. It was just beautiful. For dessert and drinks we went to an old Monastery that specialized in wine-making and ate in what seemed like caves but it was the old wine cellar!

We went back to our apartment after and just rested–there was a bathtub so I of course had to take advantage of that, who knows the next time I’ll have that opportunity?!

Thursday morning Mary-Brent and I decided to leave later than Amanda and Anya, so we leisurely went out to breakfast (I had the best scrambled eggs of my life) and their specialty was a weird sort of drink that was kind of like a bubbly juice. I have gotten much more adventurous with foods since coming to Europe (my dad has been waiting for me to say that my whole life)…so I tried it and it was delicious!


We met up with Amanda and Anya at the clock tower, it is definitely the easiest place to meet because you just can’t miss it (and if you do miss it, everyone else knows where it is so you can easily ask). We got there just in time to watch the “show” that happens every hour on the hour, and luckily our tour guide told us not to get our hopes up for it. She also said that if she is ever feeling down, she just goes to the clock tower on the hour and watches the tourists’ faces when the show starts…the looks of utter disappointment. It makes her feel better about her life. Pretty funny if you ask me! We then climbed to the top and as if we hadn’t gotten enough scenic lookouts from the Prague Castle, this one was even better, believe it or not. Words simply can’t describe it, and pictures don’t do it justice but I will show you anyway! Also, the inside of the clock tower is underratedly pretty.

We then went to the Jewish Quarter. This was one of the few places that Hitler preserved in his take over of Prague, which we found out was not because it is so historic and striking, but because he wanted to use it as a museum of how horrible Jews were. This is a horrible reason, but I am so glad that it got preserved because it is a must-see in Prague.

After lunch, which was Mexican food–I know I should be ashamed of eating non-Czech food while in Czech Republic but I haven’t had Mexican in so long–we walked around some more and came across more street performers. One guy had this crazy bubble-making contraption. So many children were entertained by this (maybe I was, too…) so I decided to give him some coins. After I did this, he so graciously had someone take my picture and let me get up close to the bubbles, in the middle of Old Town Square. Those are some of the best pictures ever!

The Vysehrad was our next place. We weren’t totally sure what to expect and it was a bit of a walk to get there, but it was well worth it! It turned out to be a park with a cathedral and the most beautiful and peaceful cemetery I have ever seen, the graves were so elaborate. Again, another amazing lookout spot over the city of Prague with Prague Castle in the background! We watched the sunset up here, as well.

We got a quick dinner before heading over to the Opera House. We scored some crazy-good tickets for a very low price to see Don Giovanni in the State Opera House. Mozart composed this piece, and he actually premiered it in that very opera house. You can imagine how surreal being there was, let alone seeing the opera, and not to mention the decoration of the theatre! As it turns out, we were incredibly underdressed for the evening (there were women in floor-length gowns) but we were at the very top of the theatre so no one important saw us!

We headed over to the train station after this, because we had a midnight train to Budapest! That doesn’t sound as good as a midnight train to Georgia, but Budapest is pretty cool. Anyways, I seriously felt like I was in Harry Potter on my way to Hogwarts on the Hogwarts Express in that train. We had our own compartment, with our own beds and everything! It was such a cool experience and I am so glad we did it. Night traveling is the best because you save time by not traveling during the day when you could be doing things, and you save money by not having to pay for accommodations! AND you get to feel like Harry Potter. It’s a win-win-win.

I woke up earlier than I needed to while we were on the train and I got to watch the Carpathian Mountains whisk by, along with small villages nestled into them and a river winding next to us. It was a perfect morning.

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We arrived in Budapest around 8 am, so we scoured around for a nice breakfast place and came upon a tea cafe! We had some pretty yummy drinks (not tea though) and wicked good croissants. I have eaten an unbelievable amount of croissants in Europe.

After dropping our bags off at our hostel (not as nice as the other one, but nothing can beat that so it’s okay!), we headed over to Fisherman’s Bastion, a cathedral with a phenomenal view of Budapest. I know, there are SO many lookout views of cities here, it’s pretty crazy, but also very necessary because how else are you to be expected to get nice pictures?! The cathedral on the inside was so intricate, there were paintings all around it. I really officially felt like I was in Eastern Europe. We saw the Hungarian Parliament building for the first time, which is the giant castle-looking type thing with the red dome!

We took the bus down the hill and went to lunch, then met up for our free walking tour. These free walking tours are so helpful and fun, I highly recommend going on them when traveling in Europe! Our tour guide in Budapest was the best yet, she was so helpful and informative while fun at the same time. She took us around to St. Stephen’s Basilica, Deak Ferenc (a park), the Danube Promenade, the Royal Palace, and ended at St. Matthias and Fisherman’s Bastion. She gave us so much interesting historical insight, and made me really appreciate Hungary’s rich (and somewhat unlucky) history.

We went over to Szecheyni Baths for an evening of relaxation, but it ended up being pretty stressful because the employees were being very unhelpful! So, we decided to go back there the next day. The good thing about going up there was that we got to ride on the oldest metro in continental Europe (second only to London)! The subway cars were really cool. We decided instead of the baths, we would go on a night cruise, what we planned for the next night. The cruise was so much fun, and going at night was especially good because we got to see all of the buildings lit up. It wasn’t the most environmentally friendly thing I’ve ever seen, but I guess I’ll have to get over it!

Friday morning we got breakfast at the cutest place ever! We got a full-course meal for basically $5. The exchange rate to Hungarian Forints is INSANELY low so we made out like bandits and ate like queens for our stay there. It’s good for us, and good for Hungary because we spend more I guess! We started our day off by going into St. Stephen’s Basilica, which was absolutely gigantic. There was marble everywhere, huge domed ceilings, paintings, the whole nine yards. Here we saw the ~magical~ hand of St. Stephen which hasn’t rotted since his death in 1038. It was in a glorified golden birdhouse to be honest!

Next we went to the Central Market. It was a giant indoor setup filled with vendors of food, souvenirs and clothing. I got a scarf! I’ve become a scarf person here because people look at you weirdly if you aren’t wearing one, it’s really strange! We walked around the market for an hour and we didn’t even see everything…that’s how big it was.

After grabbing some traditional Hungarian lunch (a tubular donut thing) we headed to the baths, for real this time! We spent about 4 hours in them, and it was the best time ever. Back when the Romans invaded Hungary, they started making baths like they had in Rome. While building them, they discovered that underneath Hungary lies a giant ocean of hot, mineral-rich water. The water of the hot baths was totally natural and relaxing, it soothed the aches of my feet from walking around so much! We had a lot of fun.

We got a low-key dinner, rested in the hostel for a bit, then went to a bar called Szimpla–it is one of the top 3 bars in the world, and it lived up to its reputation. In Budapest there are a lot of “ruin bars” bars made from old warehouses, etc. The decor of this place was so funny–weird lamps, paintings, furniture. There were all sorts of different sections in it, a wine section, beer, liquor, cocktail, smoking, dancing, sitting…you name it! It was a lot of fun, and I got to sit in a bathtub all night with some of my besties.

Sunday morning, Anya had her flight home because she had class on Monday, while the rest of us didn’t! Amanda and I went on a tour of the Hungarian Parliament building, which was the #1 most beautiful building I have seen to date in my life. There is actual real gold on all of the walls that are above an arm’s reach. There is a red carpet that runs through all of the hallways and rooms, and while we were listening to the tour guide, all of a sudden she said, “everyone please get off the carpet” so we stepped onto the marble floor, and watched a man and his body guard walk by. I’m not exactly sure who it was, but it was definitely someone important! The building is still used today for parliamentary meetings, and it’s pretty funny, they have little cigar holders outside of the meeting rooms that are numbered so you can leave your cigar there and know which is yours when they get out!

After a little lunch (it was Valentine’s day so we got hearts on our plates!) we took a train and a bus to the airport, where we waited for our flight to Copenhagen. All the traveling went really flawlessly.

We arrived in Copenhagen around 4 or 5 pm, and since it is so far north it was already dark out! We took a train into the city center and our hostel was right next to the station, it was so lucky. When we exchanged our money to Danish Crowns, we were told that $20 wouldn’t be enough, even if we were there for just dinner that one night. Denmark is notoriously expensive so we took this as a challenge and only exchanged $20!

…that wasn’t the smartest thing we could’ve done. We had some difficulty finding a place to have dinner, and we eventually decided to just eat in our hostel. It ended up being really delicious (and it was only like $12…HA “only”)! Then we walked over to Nyhavn, the famous harbor area of Copenhagen. Even though it was dark out and felt really late, it wasn’t, so, pleasantly there were a lot of people around and performers playing accordions an guitars. It was a great evening!

We left early  Monday morning for our flight back, which ended up being delayed for a bit. During this delay, I decided to indulge myself in some Starbucks (I know, I’m horrible). For my chai and croissant, it ended up being $9! NINE! Goes to show you how expensive Denmark is. (Starbucks is still worth it though)

This whirlwind 7 day trip will definitely always be a highlight of my time abroad. I had so much fun, saw so many things, and tried a lot of new foods. I spent it with some pretty great people, too 🙂 Thank you for following along!




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