To Fall in Love With a Place

A few days ago, I took a quick trip to Florence. I completely fell in love with this romantic little city adorned with greenery, good wine, and even better people. But this is not about Florence, nor the fact that spending two days in a city can spiral you into a deep and utter lust for more.

This is about Prague, and how in just a couple months it has me completely fixated on its cobblestone streets and pastel structures. This is about the grass that has inched its way across the hillsides and the flowers that have managed to sprout during my two day absence. In the short time I was gone, the days had gotten longer and the people friendlier. Returning back home, Prague was a completely new city.

Its crazy how a little dose of sunshine can change your world. Wintertime meant cold days and long naps. But spring has sprung, and evenings are filled with drinks on the river and feeding swans that are nipping at your toe tips. Today, for example, we finished class, grabbed a bottle of wine, and sat on the river watching the ducks and canoes. Everything seemed lighter. For once, I wasn’t stressed about the three midterms I have tomorrow or the fact that I have absolutely zero summer plans. Instead of focusing on the next internship to hold, I found myself daydreaming of what it would be like to spend my summer living with my best friend in Germany, working at a coffee shop and living simply.

To fall in love with a place is to fall in love with a person. To endure the good and the bad – the harshest winter Prague has experienced in years next to the wonderful days like today filled with leisure and good company. To breathe and feel with one another – the change of scenery that mirrors the change in your mood and makes you wholly and completely appreciate every aspect of this place. To spend time figuring the inter-workings of it all – wandering the streets, discovering cafes, and losing the restrictions of maps and guides. It is beyond me how to describe what it’s like to want to spend every living second with a person, a place, a pet, a thing, yourself. To be in love is more than just to love someone. There is so much more beyond that. Out there lies a whole world and not enough days to experience it.. to fall in love with it. For now, I’ll just slowly soak in my last days in this temporary home.

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On Friends

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The past few weeks I’ve spent can be summarized in short: food, fun, canals, markets, bars, swings, drinks, art, smiles, giggles, laughs of all sorts, rooftops and undergrounds, castles, crepes, and candy, green, Guinness, fog, and most importantly, friends.

I’ve found myself strolling the East Side Gallery in Berlin with Natalie and Sabrina, sipping Prosecco overlooking Prague with Yao, and running around the St. Patricks Day Parade in Dublin with all my best friends from school and back home. It makes the biggest difference as to what kind of people you let into your life. These are the people that lift you up and genuinely make you a better you. My friends are people that I look up to every day in life and are some of the biggest influences in my life.

Sabrina is one of the funniest people I’ve met but is also one of the most hard working and genuine people I know. Natalie is a little ball of sunshine that shines on even the cloudiest of days. Aury is a cute Persian Meerkat that knows me like the back of her hand and is always there for the good times and the bad. I admire how much knowledge Yao contains and how her witty jokes never get old. Josh can make you laugh at literally any point of the day and is one of the most well-versed and beautiful poets out there. Nasty Nate, contrary to your name, you’re the absolute sweetest and kindest human being there is – a true gentleman which nowadays is so rare to come across. To my dear Eliza, we’ve quite literally traveled the globe together so whether we’re cheers’ing Pilsners in Ecuador or Guinness in Dublin, I’m so happy you’re by my side. And Iris, oh Iris, she is somehow one of the silliest people in the world yet so driven and talented at following her dreams.

So here’s to you friends, thank you for these past few weeks and years of my life. You guys make me whole and truly make the world a better place! I can’t wait to see where life takes us next ❤

Bliss in the Swiss

If you haven’t seen my thousands of pictures by now, I spent this past weekend soaking in the sun (and rain) in Interlaken, Switzerland. It was my first real trip, despite a quick overnight stay in Vienna last weekend to visit an old friend. Vienna was beautiful – we walked around a butterfly exhibit and strolled through Schönbrunn Palace, saw St. Stephen’s Cathedral, grabbed a few drinks, and then I was off!

Another few days passed in Prague, where my friends and I successfully continued our tradition of not going to the same place twice. Sammy and I discovered an amazing pasta place right across from our house where we got gnocchi and risotto. Then, back to packing for another weekend of fun!

Although the bus ride was a tragic 11 hours, it was well worth it. The first day in Interlaken was cloudy and overcast, so we took refuge in Funky Chocolate Club where we made our own Swiss chocolate! We then meandered the streets, stumbling upon a few cute shops before the rain rolled in and we were forced inside. We ended our night with fondue, which in my opinion tasted and smelled like feet.

The next day was absolutely stunning. Crystal clear skies reflected turquoise blue on the lake, and it was perfect temperature for our 11am paragliding session! Shannon, Padget and I were able to go together. Even the view from the car window was beautiful, but absolutely nothing compared to what was coming. The instructors didn’t really instruct, rather they just suited us up, buckled us in, and told us to start running. Before I knew it, my feet were dangling and we were hundreds of feet up suspended between trees, lakes, and snow-topped mountains. I spent the entire 30 minutes taking it all in, breathless. There is no real way to describe that feeling – invigorating, alive, insane… it could go on forever. We pretty much talked about it the entire rest of the day over bottles of wine at the edge of Lake Brienz. To top it off, we came back for sunset with the rest of our crew, listened to music, skipped rocks, and fed some happy Swiss cows handfuls of salt.  Recipe for the perfect day: achieved.

Finally, Sunday rolled around and it felt good to go home. Prague really is a home now, being able to return and relax after a long weekend. This is exactly what I needed and exactly what I wanted. I cannot wait for the adventures to come.  Next stop: Berlin!

Check out the Gallery for more pictures!

 

Prague ; the beginning

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It’s been roughly a week here in Prague. To sum it up would be to merge every emotion you think can be humanly possible, pull them apart, break them, deprive them of sleep, throw them around through classes and pubs, and finally, 10 days later, give them just one small moment to finally start to settle.

Prague has been everything I could imagine and more. Strolling the streets always ends in a cute cafe on the side of the road while stumbling past art installations and historic sites on the way. A night on the town means meeting new people, singing to 80’s throwbacks, and hopping from pub to club. Choosing to travel to a place all on my own where the language, weather, and culture would be so different was a hard decision to make but I have never felt more confident in my choice.


I was the first of my apartment to arrive, but one by one my roommates appeared and day by day they became some of my closest friends. They all know other people in our building, so it was easy to make a few new friends. After a couple days of following the guides of where to go and what to eat, we decided we were going to stop looking at them and get to know the city on our own. Some of the best meals I’ve had so far were from random pubs on the side of the road for no more than $4. My favorite was this delicious meal on the left from Kozovna Lidika – fresh fish in a creamy sauce with a potato pastry and to compliment it, a liter of Prague’s famous half light half dark “řezané pivo.” Other favorites included a light breakfast from Cafe Savoy and $3 eggs benedict from Cafe Corte di Anglelo. Money truly does go a long way here!


When people describe Prague as a fairytale, they aren’t lying. The snow-adorned rooftops and pastel buildings perfectly line the river’s rims, and if you continue your gaze you can see the beautiful Prague Castle nestled atop a hill. I’ve had some time here to wander around and see landmarks such as Old Town Square and spray paint the John Lennon wall, but what I’m really looking forward to is later this week when we get to visit castles such as this one and Krivoklát Castle in another area of the Czech Republic.


I’ll try and post more as the days start getting less hectic, but as for now Našhledanou and head to my Gallery to see more photos!

Beyond the Bridge

I’ve been back at Berkeley for about a month and a half now, and beyond recruitment, classes starting up, and catching up with friends old and new, I haven’t had a moment to just breathe. Last Friday, 3 of my best friends and I set apart our whole afternoon to escape the Berkeley bubble and explore a bit. We set out in Natalie’s bug with the initial plans of roaming the city, and somehow found ourselves dipping through art museums and venturing way beyond the bridge.


We started off at the Legion of Honor Fine Arts Museum where Nat picked up some coffee and we aimlessly wandered through hallways and rooms of frozen history. There were some really, really interesting pieces – but here’s just a few of my favorites.


While searching for food, we took a wrong turn and all of a sudden we were crossing the bridge. We decided to let Natalie guide us through her home of Marin county, showing us parts of Sausalito, Mill Valley, and my personal favorite, Tiburon.


We curbed our hunger by stopping at Sol Food, a Puerto Rican diner. Natalie talks about it all the time – and it was even better than she built it up to be! Mango iced tea, rice and beans, and a bistec sandwich.


 We proceeded to Tiburon to catch the sunset. The clouds were building that day, so we knew it was gonna be a good one.


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LA Lookbook: The Endless City

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On a Monday Morning, Eliza and I took a drive. Headed up the 101 towards downtown Los Angeles. After meeting up with Torie, we headed into The Last Bookstore – LA’s oldest book shop. We escaped from the bright & bustling streets into this dark and eerie space lined with collections of books old & new. Upstairs, we discovered an art gallery, shops adorned with knick knacks, and a complex labyrinth of bookshelves weaving throughout the second story. One of my favorite parts was the criminal and horror section inside of a walk-in vault – just pray no one slams the door shut because once you’re in there’s no way out. Downstairs was also one of the raddest collections of records tucked away in a warm, homey corner of the store.
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Next, we stopped for lunch in an unsuspecting maze of shops within a building. It reminded me a lot of Pike’s Place Market.   IMG_7012 IMG_7007

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By 1pm we were boarding the Metro towards Chinatown. Another never-ending market was hidden within a seemingly small storefront. Despite mounds of trinkets and racks of clothing, my one purchase was a small package of smoke bombs for some future occasion.

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The Metro then took us to Union Station & Olvera Street, famously known for its Latin American culture & feel. 

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Finally, we headed into Hollywood where we came across a vintage thrift store adorned with Levi’s on Levi’s, and wandered aimlessly along the streets until settling for a tomato provolone grilled cheese and sweet potato fries and heading home. 

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Alaska: Land of the Midnight Sun

This past week, I did a lot of firsts. First time going on a cruise, first time to Alaska, first 4th of July spent in a different country. With firsts, comes first impressions. All I can say is I fell in love with the world just a wee bit more.

My first cruise experience was interesting. Everything is all inclusive, so at first it was awesome being able to eat anything I wanted, wherever, whenever. But I found that by the 4th day, I was ordering 2 appetizers, a couple entrees, and unlimited desserts. It wasn’t lookin’ so good when I got hungry 6 times a day and had every opportunity to stuff myself full. It’s pretty hard to contain your inner gluttony when everything is “seemingly” free. Besides turning into a feeding machine, the cruise was great. We had a little over 2 days where we were stuck on the boat all day long, but they keep you busy with comedy shows, magicians, FOOD, and surprisingly sunny days by the pool. The one catch – no wifi. Well, wifi costed about $1 per minute.. so no wifi. Some people complained, but to me it was actually really nice being able to detach from the world and be able to appreciate all that was around us.

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There were things we experienced that could only be seen from a boat’s perspective. The first day we took off from Seattle, there wasn’t much to see due to cloudy skies. But as we got closer and closer to Alaskan waters, our surroundings became clear, glassy, and green. Our first stop was Ketchikan. This oceanfront little town was adorable, and we got to shop around a bit before heading inland for a rainforest hike. There were eagles everywhere! I probably saw over 100 in just one day. We also got to experience some rare sunsets, seeing as days up north are about 20 hours long!

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Next, we sailed onto Juneau. On our way, we cruised through Tracy Arm Fjords, which was probably my favorite part of the trip. You can only see these amazing, tree-covered cliffs by boat, so we woke up at 4:30am to enjoy the scenic views from our back deck. The pictures say it all:


At Juneau, we went whale watching and visited Mendenhall Glacier. I thought we would be lucky enough to see a few whales, but we saw much much more! Some of the most exciting parts were seeing a baby whale breach and experience bubble net fishing (where the whales push all the krill to the surface and then dive from the bottom up to eat them). The glacier was amazing too – a complete mountain made of ice! This was just the tip of the iceberg (hehe punny) cause apparently this sheet of ice expands for over 70,000 miles between Juneau and Skagway, blocking any entry or exit by car!IMG_6687

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After a long day, we journeyed on to Skagway. Skagway and Juneau are big competitors because Juneau steals away all the cruise ships but Skagway needs the tourism more to boost their economy of 936 people. The cruise ships bring in over 12,000 a day! Because their town is so small and they can’t get over to Juneau without flying, grocery shipments only come in once a week and they’re often out of essentials like eggs and milk by the first day. Our tour guide was telling us how this lifestyle really makes them appreciate a simple life where little things like bananas are a pleasure. (Sometimes, he would even drive over 8 hours roundtrip to Canada just for bananas!). I could see myself easily enjoying life here. In Skagway, we took a bus ride to the Klondike Summit and into Canada, and you could really tell the change of scenery in a different country, even though they are side by side!

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Heading back home, it took a few days before our last stop in Victoria, British Columbia – Canada. It just so happened that it was 4th of July! Too bad we weren’t even in the U.S. haha so it was kind of a let down but we were still able to grab a beer and celebrate. The town was booming with life whether it was down at Fisherman’s Wharf, the streetside entertainment, or the reggae festival we stumbled upon. Everything seemed much simpler and less stressful than the U.S. is. People seemed genuinely happy. Overall, my travels had to come to an end but I had so much fun along the way. I was able to share this amazing experience with 23 of my family members in celebration of my grandma’s 85th, and it couldn’t have been a more hilarious, fun, and incredible journey without these crazies by my side (I’ll have to dedicate a whole post to my family because I wouldn’t be able to describe them in less than 20 minutes of your time). Till next time, Court