A Visit From Some Very Special People & Our Trip to Salzburg

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“I have next week off because my mom and aunt are coming to visit me.” Jana gave me a look of happy surprise.  I was trying to focus during my Friday morning session, just hours before my family members were set to arrive, but it was hard.  Luckily, Jana just wanted to talk.  Our hour together ticked by slowly and I finally cut us off at 8:56.  “Well, that’s all for today!” I said, maybe too excitedly.  “Okay, well enjoy your week off and your time with your mother and aunt,” Jana said.  And I knew I would.

Jordan and I went to the airport around 11 to pick up the crew: his mom, my mom, and my aunt.  I was so nervous and excited to see them!  We had a wonderful reunion and then came back to our apartment and got settled.  The travelers weren’t too tired so we decided to walk around Prague a bit to see the Charles Bridge, Old Town, and New Town.  We had dinner at a restaurant at the top of Petrin Hill with an amazing view over the city and great food.

On Saturday, we woke up and went on a Walking Tour around Prague.  Jordan and I had done it before and learned a lot, so we thought it would be a good thing for the visitors to do.  Before the walking tour, we got fruit and chocolate parfaits 🙂

For dinner we went on a Vltava River Cruise… It was so great to see the city from the river.  They had a Czech band and a great variety of different Czech foods.

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Sunday, we went to the Prague Castle.  We spent almost the whole day exploring the ins and outs of the different castle rooms and just enjoying the sights.

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We called it a night early on Sunday, because we had to get up early to go to Salzburg the next morning!  I made some Eggplant parm for everyone and we relaxed playing some cards.

We got to Salzburg on Sunday around 4 in the afternoon.  We were all starving, so we when to our hotel restaurant for dinner.  They had a special “Sound of Music” menu that included a lamb appetizer, pancake noodles in beef broth, pork schnitzel, and apple strudel.  We were all stuffed, but loved experiencing the classic Austrian food.

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After dinner, we walked into Old Town Salzburg and explored a bit.  We loved seeing the active lifestyle of the locals, and walking along the beautiful river.

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The next morning, we were more than amazed at the lovely hotel breakfast that was included in the price of our room.  It was the best continental breakfast any of us had ever seen before.  There was any kind of breakfast food you could imagine! We filled up and got ready for our busy day of tours!

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First was the Sound of Music Tour in which we saw many of the different sights that were used in the filming of the movie.

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This was the back of the Von Trap House where the kids fell in the water when the captain came home.

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This was the path where Maria sang “Confidence.”

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Here is the gazebo from 16 going on 17.

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This is the church where Maria and the captain got married.  They made it look a lot bigger for the movie but we still thought it looked grandiose. Half way through the tour, we got a chance for a coffee break and we had one of my favorite meals of the whole trip.  I had the raspberry torte and it was clear they had taken so much care to make it.  Inside the crust was a layer of chocolate and inside the cream in the middle was even a bit of cake.  WOW!

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Our last stop of the tour was Mirabelle Gardens.

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After the Sound of Music tour, we went on a Salt Mines Tour that brought us to even different parts of the area.  We got to go through a real salt mine where we learned about the way they mine salt, and different facts about the mine.  We got to ride on a train through the mine, as well as slide down an amazingly fun slide!

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Our last day day in Salzburg, we went to the Fortress and then to the Salzburg zoo.

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That night, we went to a restaurant that had a huge outdoor courtyard and I got Krautflekerl: an Austrian dish made of noodles and cabbage (YUM), and we all went a little wild over the desserts getting a waffle and an egg soufflé to share.

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The next day, we had to head back to Prague already.  We got back in the early afternoon and I took my mom and aunt to see the school where I teach at and we took a trip to Tesco, the grocery store near my house. At night we went to a concert in one of the churches near my house.  It was a four part string quartet as well as an organ that played classical music and we all really enjoyed it!

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Friday we went to the Lennon Wall and then to feed some birds at the nearby park.  We even saw Peacocks! Afterwards, we went up in the Petrin Tower and got a great view of the city.  Afterwards, we hung out and got Trdlnik for a snack, and the ladies loved it!  We went to the nearby Restaurant and Design Shop for dinner and it had great food and a wonderful atmosphere. IMG_4250 IMG_4261

Saturday was our last day together.  We went to Vysehrad and enjoyed walking around the parameter of the park and seeing the beautiful views of the city.

IMG_4276 IMG_4287We were all so sad when our time together was up.  It was the most amazing time to see my family and even to get to go on a little trip with them!  I am so lucky to be so loved!

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Is Your Bucket List Distracting You?

life“But most importantly try to surround yourself with people that you like and make cool stuff with them.  In the end, what you do isn’t going to be nearly as interesting or important as who you do it with.” -John Green

I often get a feeling of being overwhelmed when I think of all the new things I want to try and efforts that I want to pursue.  I think that I need to make a goal and a time frame for all of these things and try to accomplish them as soon as possible.  So many inspirational quotes, speakers, or programs that we have these days are all about maximizing productivity and living life to the fullest in the biggest way possible.  Well, sure, those things sound really attractive in theory, but what if you are like me and you get blindsided by your “to-do” list and loose sight of what really matters.

For example. I had skydiving on my bucket list, and when I was in Australia, I actually did it!  I went with a huge group of friends that I met while studying abroad and we made a day out of it, and it is literally something I will never forget.  I wouldn’t have wanted to skydive by myself, (A. I would have been way to scared!) because if you have no one to share it with, it is so less real and meaningful.  That’s how a lot of things in life are.  Don’t get me wrong, I love crossing things off my daily to do list just as much as the next guy, but what about that feeling when you get to share an experience with someone else.  Life is about the people you meet and the things you create with them.  You can not control others but what about finding someone with similar goals and creating something with them.  Maybe its planning a skydiving trip, maybe its a blog or a book, maybe its making dinner together.  Revel in each of these creations because they were done with another person and they are beautiful and real.  Create a friend-date day.  Enjoy eachother’s company and live in a moment of something you both will be able to remember for some time.

Wednesday Challenge!  Call up an old friend or relative who you  haven’t seen in a while (even better, make a list of 5 old friends).  If they are in the area, schedule a time to hang out, and stick to it!  If they live elsewhere, spend an hour on the phone with them catching up and enjoying each other’s company.  Let me know how it went in the comments below!

Moving In with your Significant Other

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The Story. Last night my boyfriend, Jordan, got home from his trip to Montreal, so we finally got a chance to talk for an extended period of time.  He got to tell me all about his trip, and, after chatting for a while, he told me his new couch that he ordered was coming the next day.  A couple weeks ago, I asked if I could have is old couch for an apartment that I wanted to get, and he told me that he would ask his parents if they could save it for me in the basement.  So when the subject came up, he asked if I still wanted the old couch.  

This brought up something I had been meaning to talk to him about.  Since he left just five days prior, I had three separate people tell me what they thought I should do about my living situation.  Of course, I love getting advice, especially from old and trusted friends, so I enjoyed the conversations with these ladies who all seemed concerned about when I would be moving.  I generally responded that I wanted to move once I got my full time job, but I wasn’t sure I would be able to since I didn’t have anyone to live with.  Although all of their responses were slightly varied, they all ended the conversation by telling me that landlords let extra people live in the places they are renting out all the time and that Jordan should at least ask his land lord if he would allow a third person to move into the apartment. 

By the third time I heard this, I was starting to get really worked up.  Had my boyfriend just been avoiding the subject with me this whole time?  Did he really just want to stay away from the idea of living together for as long as possible.  I remember being so angry with him that I came home and started talking to my mom about it almost in tears saying, ‘I think this is something we might break up over!’  Since Jordan was in another country and his cell phone didn’t work, I couldn’t talk to him directly about it, so I had a conversation with my mom that calmed me down and made me look at the situation in the bigger picture.  

A Friend’s Take on Your Relationship. Sometimes your friends think they know exactly what you need.  But when you think about it, how could they?  The way we choose to live our lives, handle our relationships, and interact with others is so specific to our very person, that most of the time no one else can come close to seeing inside these things.  When a friend gives you advice it is so easy to say, I really trust this person; this advice seems sound; I will believe their ideas.  Is that always the best?

As other recent college graduates may know, living back at home with your parents at times can be soul crushing.  It can be so easy to jump into a living situation with the wrong people  just in the hopes of getting out and being where the other 20somethings are.  But it is important to make sure that relationship is worthy of such a big commitment.  I am not religious, but I think these days when so many relationships — even marriages — fail, it is important to make sure you have nurtured your own relationship and your own self to the fullest before choosing to start a life together in the same space with your significant other.  Yes, it works for some people and that is so great.  If it works for you, I’m so happy for you.  But, to anyone who thinks they have good advice for a friend’s relationship, you probably don’t.  If you have not been there for every day, every fight, every sweet moment, you can’t look as far to the inside of the relationship as you think you can.  

In the end.  So don’t judge your friends or yourself when you feel that their/your relationship isn’t taking you to the new and exciting heights that it seems all your friends are doing.  Get to know yourself as well as you think you know your partner.  Realize that you missed so many big and small details about your partner that you would have needed to know before moving in.  Find a few things you love doing by yourself.  Travel alone and with your significant other.  Be a free agent.  Experience the world.  Then have the moving in conversation.

How to Brighten a Boyfriend’s Day

All Natural Peanut Butter Banana Cookies
All Natural Peanut Butter Banana Cookies (Recipe at End of Post!)
Made these delicious cookies into something lovely and meaningful
Made these delicious cookies into something lovely and meaningful

The Story.  Today my boyfriend is coming home from his trip to Montreal, Canada to the Osheaga Music Festival.  Since he has been away, we have just been sending a few Facebook messages back and forth each day.  He could only write to me once he got back to the hotel at night, and I would normally only read them when I woke up in the morning.  We have been used to talking (or being together) almost every waking hour for the past year and a half, so it was kind of interesting being totally separated for five days.

Couple’s Time Apart.  In many ways, being apart from someone you are so used to being with all the time can be a very positive thing.  From being apart for just a five day period, I have had a chance to call some old friends and enjoy some quality alone time in my parent’s house and going out with old high school friends.  I look at some couples who are always together and a part of me hopes that they are not missing out on other valuable parts of life.  It is very rewarding to be with a person who you love romantically and who you can be completely yourself around.  I feel that often, though, people get so comfortable with this one person that they lose sight of what it is like to create meaningful relationships with other people.  Women, especially, are often so blind-sighted by their unsurpassed love for their significant other, that having close friends of the same sex goes by the wayside, either because these friends are fed up with the woman’s distracted nature, or because no effort is made.  If this is the case, this person is missing out on a huge rewarding part of life.  There is something so essential about creating beautiful days with girl friends, enjoying a thrift store shopping spree, and snapping photographs of each other in silly model poses as the sun fades behind a tree.  There are some things that are so much better done with girl friends without our lovers looking over our shoulders and telling us its time to go home.  I hope that many of us women do not forget about those beautiful things.

A Welcome Home.  Regardless, the sweet moment when you see someone again who you have missed is something that happens constantly in our modern travelers world.  Army families, business workers, and far away friends all know the feeling of running into a long lost friendly face’s arms can’t be beat by much else.  Five days apart is not a lot compared to some of the things people go through these days, but I wanted to do something special for my boyfriend to show him that I missed him.  I baked him All Natural Peanut Butter Banana Cookies and they came out so deliciously!  There is something about making food for another person that is a sure way to warm their heart.  Words are easy to spread, but when you need something more than, ‘I love you’ or ‘I missed you,’ food is a surefire way into a man’s heart.