• Europe,  France,  Travel

    Lille, Ma Ville

    I lived in Lille, France for 8 months between 2016-2017 while I was a Teaching Assistant.  Lille is the capital of Hauts-de-France, the northernmost region of France. This region is relatively new, combining the two former regions of Nord-Pas-de-Calais and Picardy.  Lille is specifically located in French Flanders, close to the France/Belgium border.   When applying to the TAPIF program, candidates select three of their top choices of regions where they hope to be assigned.  Luckily for me, I wasn’t assigned to any of my choices!  I was assigned to the Lille region, and I immediately fell in love with it!  The city has so much charm!  Pin it: XoXo

  • Europe,  France,  Travel

    An Afternoon in Honfleur, France

    When I visited Étretat last month, we rented an Airbnb in Le Havre.  Apparently, my landlady grew up in that town! During an afternoon apéritif with my family at their home next door, she recommended that we stop in Honfleur! She said it was a beautiful and historic french town.  It turned out to be great advice, as Honfleur is only ten minutes out of the way driving from Le Havre to Paris.  We decided to spend a quick afternoon there, before heading to Paris for the weekend. Honfleur is in the French Department of Calvados.  It sits right at the estuary that connects the Seine to the English Channel, just…

  • Europe,  France,  Travel

    Returning to Étretat

    When I was 16 years old, I had an opportunity to go on a ten day trip to Northern France through my high school! Though I feel like I wasn’t old/mature enough to truly appreciate it, the trip was amazing.  We went to Paris (of course!) and then proceeded to other areas in the north.  There are bits that I remember more vividly than others. The one town that absolutely stuck out to me was Étretat! In this town we had a lot of free time.  I broke off from the group with a couple friends and we climbed up to the top of one of the falaises and explored!…

  • Europe,  Travel

    A Tour of Prague, Czech Republic

    Following my visits to the capitals of Hungary and Austria, I finished my February holiday with several days in Prague!  Prague is the capital of the Czech Republic and is nicknamed “The City of a Hundred Spires.”  I was actually surprised at how small the historic center was!  Though it is a large city, it has a small town feel with very well preserved architecture. Prague is a beautiful city with lots of history.  Of course, I went on a walking tour as soon as I arrived (shocker!).  There are Sandemans Free Tours in Prague, unlike in Vienna.  This walking tour was one of the longest I’ve been on (3 hours),…

  • Europe,  Travel

    My Visit to Vienna, Austria

    Vienna is the capital of Austria, but I might describe it as the cultural capital of Eastern Europe.  I’ve never had such a culture-filled visit!  There are so many amazing things to do and see in Vienna.  The only downside is that it’s a pretty expensive city!  The prices seemed especially daunting after visiting Budapest, where one euro is 300 Hungarian forint! Heurige Vienna was so fun to visit!  During my February holiday, I was traveling solo.  However, I happened to overlap a day in Vienna with a friend who knew someone living in Wien so we met up for a nice lunch!  We met in the city and rode the…

  • Europe,  Hungary,  Travel

    My Visit to the Labyrinth at Castle Hill

    Disclaimer:  If you plan on going to the Labyrinth at Castle Hill in Budapest, don’t read this!  It will spoil the whole experience! Before arriving in Budapest, I read briefly about the Labyrinth under Castle Hill.  I also read about the caves that you can access with private tours.  After getting to know the city for a couple days, I was a bit jumbled up.  I stopped at a tourist stand to ask how to get to the caves or the labyrinth.  He gave me directions to two different underground tunnels available to tourists.  He described “Hospital of the Rock” as having been used as a hospital at one time,…

  • Europe,  Hungary,  Travel

    Thermal Baths in Budapest

    One of the first things you will see when you google Budapest is “City of Baths!”  Budapest is located on top of more than 120 hot springs!  These springs were used by the Romans during the Roman Empire.  Then, when Hungary was occupied by Turkey during the 16th and 17th centuries the springs were converted to bathhouses.  Most of the thermal baths in Budapest now are more modernized, but some have the original Turkish domes. Budapest has a number of different thermal baths, offering an amazing selection based on personal taste.  This article breaks down the difference between the different spas quite well.  I chose to visit Széchenyi thermal bath,…

  • Europe,  Hungary,  Travel

    Highlights of Budapest, Hungary

    Before arriving in Budapest, I didn’t know very much about it!  I had my list of things to do and see in Budapest, but knew little to nothing of the history of the city. Between the prices, spas, and nightlife, this city quickly won me over.  I spent nearly 5 full days in Budapest and was still upset to leave! Usually I try to go on walking tours with Sandemans when that company is available; however, they don’t have tours in Budapest.  After peeking around online, I saw some great reviews for Free Budapest Tours.  They offer both general tours and specialized tours if you’d like to focus on communism…

  • Belgium,  Europe,  Travel

    24 Hours in Brussels, Belgium

    Brussels is the capital of Belgium, and home to the infamous Mannequin Pis.  When my mother visited in December, we dedicated two days to visiting both the capital of Belgium and the nearby charming city of Bruges.  Although Brussels is quite large for just a one-day visit, it’s manageable to see the highlights during that timeframe. Brussels by Day We started the day in Brussels by checking out the Eglise Saint Nicolas and the little shops around Grand Place.  During December, there were several Christmas markets around.  As we walked around the center city we peeked at the various huts of food, crafts, and tchotchkes.  Grand Place is absolutely stunning, both…

  • France,  Travel

    Only Lyon, France

    What I love most about France is that each region of the country is so different from the next.  There are so many different cultures and traditions within this country alone!  Lyon is the third largest city in France, behind Paris and Marseille.  Situated in the middle of the Rhône-Alpes region, this city is a UNESCO World Heritage site.  It used to be an important site for silk production.  This is where the light festival, Fête des Lumières, that I previously blogged about takes place.  Another interesting tidbit involving the term Lumière – Lyon was home of the Lumière brothers!  They were some of the first filmmakers in history. I visited…