February 2017 Recap

As I wrote in my January recap, I waited a while for my 2017 to begin. After returning from India right before Thanksgiving and spending all of December and January either in New Jersey or New York, I was ready to take off – and take off I did. In February, I landed on a new (to me) continent, added five more countries to my list, and, for the first time, visited a European city and country I’d been before.

What I Wrote:

Posts on 10 Miles Behind Me in February:

Guest & Collaboration Posts Elsewhere:

Something that’s important to me that readers understand is that before I’m anything else, I’m a traveler – as I write on my “About Me” page. Traditionally, I’m not the greatest at keeping up with social media and writing while I’m in the middle of the trip, because selfishly, I want to enjoy where I am and be in the moment. In addition, when I’m traveling with others, I don’t want to be in my phone or on my computer too much and I rarely have good luck with wifi while on the road, although this hotel in Dresden has enough to fuel this post finally. I say all this as an excuse, but also to let you know that I’ll be writing about this trip for months to come, as you can see I’m still doing with Myanmar, where I was in August and September.

Cape Town, South Africa

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Continent number five! I’ve wanted to go to Africa for as long as I can remember and have been talking about potential trips I could take for years. When I attended my first Travel Massive in months after returning from India, my friend Marie told me she was going to Cape Town in February, where she had lived for years. She was meeting our friend Cathy, who also used to live there and who I’d met through Marie as she was traveling in Myanmar the same time I was. The timing worked out and I decided to tag along with them for 10 days before starting my Eurotrip.

Cape Town is a wonderful city. The entrepreneurial spirit and food reminded me of Brooklyn, but the cool views in the background of the city reminded me of Sedona. We ate like royalty (and I rounded up my top 10 meals and top 2 desserts in this post), shopped more than I ever have while traveling, watched amazing sunsets from a variety of viewpoints, and SAW PENGUINS IN THE WILD – a major bucket list item for me. I also had the opportunity to visit two organizations as part of my role as an ambassador for Visit.org, a website that connects travelers with local experiences.

We rented a car {via Around About Cars} and spent a few days in the winelands, seeing another side of South Africa. There are so many adorable towns with awesome main drags that reminded me a little of the smaller beach towns near where I grew up. We stayed in an Airbnb on an almond farm in what felt like the middle of no where and had views for days. We of course visited some vineyards and enjoyed a lot of South African wine, which I would have brought home had I been going straight back.

Cape Town is one of those cities that I knew right away I would return to. I definitely want to see more of the continent so I may just have to build in some side trips when I go back.

London, United Kingdom

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I hadn’t initially been planning on a European trip in this time off, only because it’s more expensive than other areas on my list and I have limited funds right now. But then one of my dearest friends from home got engaged to a Brit we’d met in a bar one night together and OF COURSE I wanted to be there for it. Before I even knew about Cape Town, I had decided that if I was going to be in Europe, I was going to stay a while. I wrote about my London return in this post, but to sum it up, the wedding (and the bride & groom) were GORGEOUS as was the weather.

Budapest, Hungary

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Budapest kicked off my solo part of the trip. I hadn’t traveled solo since Myanmar. Even though I traveled to India by myself, I was with others the entire time, and while I loved being with friends in both Cape Town and London, I was looking forward to exploring on my own.

While my family has been in America for a long time by all counts, I still feel connected to the countries and cultures of the past. I was excited to be in Hungary, from where two of my great-great-grandparents had come in 1901. The borders have changed several times since then, so they could have actually been a different current-day country, but when I was in Budapest, I felt like they had been there.

I stayed at the St. George Residence on the Buda side of the river. I hadn’t even known before I started planning the trip that Buda and Pest were physically separated by the Danube. The historical and old and unique to Budapest stuff is all on the Buda side, and the Pest side is more modern, commercial, and kinda could be anywhere in Europe. I loved walking across the Chain Bridge multiple times a day to explore. The food scene there was insane, especially because I kept accidentally taking myself to really nice places I’d never have gone by myself in the States.

Bratislava, Slovakia

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When I saw that Bratislava was only two hours from Budapest and one hour from Vienna, two cities I had on my list for this trip, I decided it was worth adding. While Rick Steves suggested it could be done as a daytrip from either city, I wanted to stay there two days so that I could officially say I’d been there and get more out of it than I could out of a few hours. I was traveling solo of course, but I actually felt *by myself* in Bratislava. There were not that many tourists and I walked down so many adorable side alleys in the old town that I don’t know if I should have been in, just because I wanted to see it all.

In this city, I tried out Ambiente Apartments, a serviced apartment company, which had the variety and privacy of apartments like Airbnb with the benefits and availability of a staff like a hotel.

Vienna, Austria

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For some reason, I decided before I even left on my trip that Vienna wasn’t going to be my favorite. I figured I wouldn’t be into the opera, classical music, and the palaces and that it would be more of a place to rest as a halfway point in my trip. Because I decided this ahead of time, it didn’t end up being my favorite place – funny how that works. I did find some things that I liked about Vienna – especially the coffee culture, the street art along the riverfront, and a winter festival I came across with ice-skating, a ferris wheel, and wooden food stalls – but I definitely should have done more research. It’s a reason to return and explore the countryside and the Alps of Austria as well.

Cesky Krumlov, Czech Republic

I’ve heard that the Czechs still want to call Czechia the Czech Republic since Czechia is too close to Chechnya so I will do so here as well. Since I only spent one day in the Czech Republic in February and the rest of the time I was there was in March, I’m going to save it for my next post. Also I’m sleepy and want to be ready to explore tomorrow.

What’s Next?

So far in March, I’ve already been to, loved, and decided I want to move to Prague and I arrived in Dresden, Germany this afternoon. After this, I’m heading to Berlin and then ending my trip in Paris. I’ve been in the Paris airport countless times and have been hesitant to visit the city just in case it’s not as magical as I think it’s going to be. But I learned my lesson from Vienna, so if I think I’m going to love Paris, I’m going to love Paris. If nothing else, they have macarons.

xx

This post contains an affiliate link, which means some cash will be contributed to my chai latte/everything bagel fund if you purchase a product or experience I recommend. I would never recommend something I did not believe in. This one is for Visit.org.

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