Cousins in Scandinavia! Travel Break 2

Nothing brightens up 3:30pm sunsets quite like a week of travelling Europe and seeing family again. My travel break last week matched up with my cousin and her husband’s trip from Seattle to Scandinavia, a wonderful coincidence. DIS has two weeks (!) reserved for travelling, one for Core Course trips and the other for personal trips. I kicked off my week by showing my family around Stockholm, then ventured to Prague and Budapest before reuniting with my family in Copenhagen.

Stockholm: 

After classes on Friday, my roommate and I met up with my cousin’s husband at Aifur, a true-to-form Viking bar, heavily researched to be as historically accurate as possible. It’s  a wonderful and lively experience, and afterwards we ventured to Sjätte tunnan, another medieval-age bar in Gamla Stan. It was wonderful to reconnect with family, and after another day of exploring the city with a few pub stops, I flew out to Prague.

 

Prague:

I had an incredible time here, its up there with Amsterdam as my favorite European city so far. The architecture is wonderful, from the gorgeous castles and museums to the regular houses and shops on the street.

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 My friends and I went to a cool music club and had local fare at a low-key, yet delicious, pub with the cousin of another DIS student who lives in the city. The city is brimming with energy, and the cheap prices (beers are $1.25!) meant we could soak it all in. The old town square is beautiful, with tasty food stands, and the whole city is an eclectic mix of new and old businesses and styles, with amazing sights in every direction. I could say so much more about Prague, but since I’m spending Christmas here with my family I’ll save more details for a holiday post. In the meantime, I’ve got plenty of pictures to share:

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Budapest:

I got my first (of many more) overnight train experience, starting the nearly nine hour journey from Prague at midnight. Even without a sleeping car, I was tired out from exploring Prague on foot and got a great night of sleep while saving on a hostel.  I can’t recommend trains enough- No security line, central locations, cheap tickets, and no need to arrive more than 15 minutes early. The whole overnight trip worked out great, and I will definitely be making use of more night trains next semester in Madrid.

As for Budapest itself, I had a lovely weekend and feel I got a very complete experience. From Buda Castle and the parliament building to Margaret Island and the famous thermal baths, there was plenty to do in my two days here.

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Budapest is also known for its “ruin pubs” nondescript bars in run-down buildings enclosing a vibrant nightlife scene. I went to the original, Szimpla Kert, and was absolutely amazed. An amalgamation of bar counters, secluded rooms, grunge art, and festive lights, this really was a jaw-dropping place. And right next door, KARAVÁN, a grouping of street food vendors on a pedestrian walkway. The perfect end to a night at the ruin pub! Food truck groupings like KARAVÁN rank with street markets as some of my favorite things to try when travelling, and this pairing made for a great night.

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 Copenhagen: 

I ended my week of travel back in Copenhagen with my visiting cousins from Seattle and my cousin from Argentina who lives here. We explored the city on foot and bike, and all got dinner together at Copenhagen Street Food on Paper Island. With ample stops for pastries and beers (getting into the holiday spirit with several local Christmas-themed beers!), we ventured through Christiana, the royal palace, and the Glypotek art museum. Seeing family on both sides was a wonderful way to end my travel week, and I had a blast reconnecting with them and catching up.

It was a full week of adventures, with friends and family, and I’m so glad to have gotten the opportunity to roam around Europe. I’ve met some great people here and an having unmatched experiences in some wonderful places, but it was so nice to reconnect with family. There’s really nothing like spending time with people you’re really close with, and I’m very much looking forward to my family coming to visit for the holidays. With all the travelling I’ve been doing its hard to believe there’s only 5 weeks left in the semester, but I’ll sure make the most of them.

Next Week:

I let my friends from Tulane show me around Paris, and recap my then-completed Public Finance Core Course.

Food Pic: 

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Lángos! Traditional Hungarian deep-fried dough with cheese and sour cream

So many choices! (Trdelnik in Prague, Smørrebrød in Copenhagen, and Swedish meatballs in Stockholm) But the winner comes from Budapest- Lángos. Traditional street fare, its quickly fried dough smothered in sour cream, freshly grated cheese, and a hearty dose of garlic. Crispy, chewy, savory- all topped with melting cheese! Truthfully, I’ve had this once before at a longstanding pizzeria near my grandmother’s house in California with Hungarian roots, but that was nearly 10 years ago. This version was phenomenal. Its not technically a part of a balanced breakfast, but its a must-have in Budapest. Best of all, thanks to a favorable exchange rate in Hungary, this filling meal set me back just $1.75 USD.

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