Down with foofy food

As a food writer, the restaurants I hear about most are the ones with dedicated PR teams, high-resolution press photos and a constant barrage of events that make for quick and easy stories for our news site – the most expensive and upscale restaurants that the Garden State can offer.

To not much surprise, then, I’ve always been a little infatuated with these five-star eateries that, as a teen living with my single mom, I could only drive by. Hell, I didn’t even have something to wear to these types of places even if I could go.

Objects in photo may be smaller than they appear.

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Saying goodbye to Eastern Europe

I’m much less excited to get up for our morning tour now that I feel I have already given myself a pretty good Prague tour thanks to my Lonely Planet guidebook, plus I’m exhausted and it’s about 20 degrees colder than it was during our wandering yesterday. Luckily, the rain holds off for our two-hour tour, which also shows us the Municipal House, Powder Tower and the Jewish Quarter.

Wandering through Prague.

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Prague, a labyrinth of cobblestone and chimney cakes

After a pretty pleasant six-hour bus ride from Vienna, we have arrived in Prague, which is bittersweet since this will mark the last destination of our Eastern European journey. However, it’s hard to still not be excited when driving into a city marked by centuries-old cobblestone streets, sky-scraping cathedrals and rolling hills.

The Old Town Square in Prague.

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A surprise trip to Bratislava

This morning, I’m excited to take the one-hour bus ride to Bratislava, the capital of Slovenia, adding another city and country to my growing list of 26 visited countries that I wasn’t even aware when we booked the tour that we would be going to. Although I’m so exhausted in Bratislava after days of sub-six hour sleep, I still truly feel richer having visited so many new places on this trip.

Mike and I in Bratislava.

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From imperial palaces to outdoor brews in Vienna

This morning, we finally get a chance to really see Vienna in all of its glory, as the sun is shining and we hop on the bus bright and early to check out Schonbrunn Palace, the former summer residence of the Hapsburg emperors. Since we get here early with our tour group, we avoid the daily influx of 12,000 tourists and we have a place to ourselves for a bit, seeing the insane opulence of the palace and its even more impressive and expansive grounds with winding trails, secret gardens and over-the-top fountains and statues.

Me at Schönbrunn Palace.

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My return to Budapest, six years later

When I studied abroad in Florence, Italy in college, one of my last trips was to Budapest, Hungary, where I spent a long weekend with my college roommate, Alex, and her family after she came to visit me from the States.

However, after a few months of traveling to six other countries and 15 Italian cities, I was feeling tired and a bit homesick. So, when Alex and I trekked to Budapest, we spent more time than we probably should have hanging out in our beautiful hotel room at the Marriott (I was used to questionable hostels and bunk beds), eating American food as we celebrated Thanksgiving and taking dopey pictures that only best friends take.

Me at our hotel, Danubius Spa in Budapest.

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6 items to always bring on your journey abroad

As anyone who reads this blog is probably already aware, I’m going to Prague, Vienna and Budapest on Monday and I am counting the minutes until I can escape from the winter wonderland that is New Jersey right now.

However, before I hop on a plane – and before any of you do, either – I have to do what I dread doing most – packing.

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My very personalized backpack.

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After 26 years, a place to call my own

Growing up in Long Valley, a small, one-traffic-light town in northwestern New Jersey, I had a real penchant for sleeping out.

No, not like that, but it seemed like in a effort to quell my boredom and my discomfort with being in yet another new home (and one that was constantly in jeopardy as that one sat on the market for years), I would often sleep at friends’ houses, where I felt more comfortable and more at peace than I did in my own bed.

A glimpse inside my humble abode.

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The best way to see a city is from your feet

Ever since my freshman high school volleyball team made a not-so-hard pass at my membership more than 10 years ago, I’ve been a runner.

With hundreds of 5Ks, five-milers and 10Ks, four spring and four winter track seasons, two half marathons and one full marathon under my belt, I’m realizing now, as I fight my nearly year-long battle with posterior tibial tendonitis which has kept me out of my sneakers since December that like a crappy boyfriend, I’ve been taking running for granted.

Jenna Intersimone at the New York City Marathon.

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