Summer in Europe Part II

Summer in Europe Part II

I  hope you enjoyed my post last week recapping the first half of my trip abroad last month. As promised, I’m chronicling the second part now, including my time in Budapest, Hungary and a quick strop through London before heading home.

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After such a fabulous time in Croatia and Slovenia, it was time to explore Hungary, specifically the capital, Budapest. Budapest is an extremely modern and lively city, perfect for young travelers with plenty of shops and bars. On our first night, we had a much needed sit down dinner before watching the sun set on Danube river over drinks at a rooftop bar. Similar to Ljubljana, their are plenty of cobblestone streets with outdoor dining and gelato shops.

The following morning, we headed a little north to enjoy the famous Széchenyi Thermal baths for the afternoon. Budapest is known as a city of spas, with many places to relax, including this historic landmark.  I loved the architecture and culture of the area, with plenty of good people watching too. Budapest is also known for their “ruin bars” which refer to their bar scene of the old historic Jewish quarter. We headed to the very first Ruin Bar, Szimpla Kert to experience it all for ourselves. The historic district of Budapest has become extremely trendy and it’s the perfect area to stay in.

We broke up the trip to Budapest by doing a day trip to Szentendre on our last full day. The small beach town was full of great local vendors, dessert shops and colorful buildings. Even though I  love seeing the city life of a new country, often times I  can get a better taste of the local flavor in a smaller town. That’s where some of the best shopping is too! 😉

The last leg of the trip was a quick visit to our stomping grounds of London before heading home. With only 36 hours to explore London, we had to choose wisely. Plenty of walking around the city led to my favorite shopping at Spitalfield Market, followed by a tea bus tour. It’s the best way to see London while also enjoying a can’t miss activity! To finish off the last night of the entire trip we sat down to dinner at Duck & Waffle to look over the entire city.

The final dinner of any vacation is always a little bitter sweet, but it’s always fun to reminisce on the entire trip, talking about all the people we encountered and remembering our favorite moments. This adventure could not have been more perfect from start to finish! I can’t wait until the next, where new culture and experiences await.

More posts to come next week,

TW

Air BNB in Budapest

Restaurant and Bar in Budapest

Tea Tour and Dinner in London

Summer in Europe Part I

Summer in Europe Part I

It’s been quite a busy summer, specifically this past July! I’m still coming off a two week high from exploring eastern Europe with a close friend from my days studying abroad in London during our junior year of college. During our time abroad, we traveled as much as possible but knew that we’d need to make a return visit to Europe in order to cover all the ground we wanted to. 

With that being said, we began brainstorming on where we’d want to go on this return visit. We decided to start with Croatia, a coastal country that we’d both been eyeing for some time now. We decided to choose other neighboring countries and make this an eastern European adventure. I’ll be chronicling the two weeks of travel in a few blog posts, breaking down the trip in two parts! Part one begins with Croatia of course, followed by Slovenia. Part two, encompassing Hungary and London, will up shortly! 

 

 

Let’s get started, shall we? Like I mentioned before, Croatia was the first on our must list, as we’d been wanting to travel there for years. Surely, it did not disappoint. After what felt like a full days travel from Chicago, we made it to Split, a coastal town that I can only compare to as a lovechild of Greece and Italy. Split was full of charm, small shops and lots of outdoor eateries. 

The whole vacation was kicked off with a catamaran excursion around the Adriatic Sea, from sun up to sun down. We were given the chance to swim in the deep blue ocean and stop in Hvar, a ritzy island. (where I had the best pasta of my life) By the luck of timing, we got to watch Croatians celebrate their country’s World Cup Semi Final win. We loved watching the small beach town come to life that night.

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Although our time in Croatia was for only a split second, no pun intended, it was a great way to ease us into this adventure. From Split, we headed towards Slovenia. Some of you might be thinking, “what or where is Slovenia?” and I was right there with you up until planning this trip. Slovenia boarders the north of Croatia, and only gained its independence just 26 years ago. After being able to enjoy it for 3 days, it’s perhaps one of my new favorite places. 

 

 

Based in the capital of Ljubljana, we could not have loved our time there more. Unlike any other European city I’ve been to before, there was something about Ljbjanana that was unlike anywhere else. For starters, the entire city center was pedestrian only. Closed to local traffic, locals and travelers are free to roam the streets and enjoy outdoor eating and drinking. On our first night, we enjoyed a local street food fair and spent the night sipping on Aperol Spritz until sundown. Streets are full of colorful, Austrian inspired buildings. I felt like I had walked into a fairytale. 

The picture perfect surroundings didn’t stop there. The next day we took a day trip to Lake Bled, which was nothing short of stunning. The country’s lushest and ritziest lake town is centered around a tiny church, which you can only get to by row boat. For an even better view of the lake, we stormed the castle about Lake Bled. The view was breathtaking, and the photos don’t even do it justice. To unwind after such a busy morning, we took part in a wine tasting back in the city.

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The time we spent on this first half of the trip was fantastic, and we install fell in love with the charm of these two countries. There’s something about small European towns that feels effortless and begins to inspire me. More inspiration and photos to come in part two, coming soon!

-TW

Air BNB in Croatia and Slovenia

Restaurant and Excursion in Split

Day Trip and Wine Tasting in Ljubljana

Chicago Go-Tos

Chicago Go-Tos

For someone who enjoys traveling so much, coming home to Chicago is always an amazing feeling. As I  look out the window of my Uber, I always love being greeted by the skyline and know I’ve chosen a world-class city to call home. Between showing around out of town guests or receiving texts from friends asking for suggestions before coming into the Windy City, I  felt like it was time to chronicle my favorites over the past five years of living here.

Eat: If you’re coming to Chicago and you only have time to do one thing, it better be eat! I’ve been to some amazing places around the world with great food and Chicago is honestly my favorite food city. Some of my top picks include:

 

Willow Room for Brunch, RL Restaurant and Honey Butter Chicken for Lunch, and Little Goat Diner, Mott St. and Antique Taco for Dinner.

Restaurants here come and go, but the real winners stick around. Do you research first, or just come to me first. 😉

Drink: Chicago is also home to some spectacular cocktails and mixologist. Keep in mind a good drink is gonna cost you, depending on your location. The farther from the city center you go, the more affordable your drink will be. Think… $17 for the Grant Park view at Cindy’s or the $8 house punch at my favorite, The Whistler, in Wicker Park.

 

Other musts include The Broken Shaker (inside Freehand hotel), Billy Sunday in Logan Square, MoneyGun and Park & Field.

Do: You can never get bored here, another plus of the city. Even in its coldest months, there’s at least a handful of events or exhibits to check out. For a scenic views, try Field Museum, (featured pictured) the greenery around Garfield Park Observatory, or just walk around Lincoln Park Zoo!

 

For brunch and home inspiration, try Restoration Hardware and its 3 Arts Cafe.Shopping is just as good too, my personal favorites are UnaMae’s in Wicker Park, Festive Collective, and Gather Home+Lifestyle.

 

My absolute favorite part about Chicago is that it’s always changing. I’ve been here for five years and my list of new places to explore continues to grow! I’m always finding new murals to snap, bites to savor, or hidden gem bars in different neighborhoods.

Curious to hear what your favorite places in Chicago are, whether you’re a local or not! Comment them below if you’d like, just don’t forget to grab some Garret’s Chicago Mix on your next visit.

-TW