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.
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.
I’m so exhausted today that I’m feeling kind of loopy, chasing Mike around the grounds of Parliament at our tour around 7:30 a.m. Getting into Parliament, though, is no joke – you have to bring your passport and go through a security check just like at the airport to get in.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Long before Ubers or before I could even fathom paying a hefty taxi fare, there was one way and one way only to get to and from the airport – via my dad’s unreliable, smelly and stuffed pickup truck (all of which were of various ages and models, but possessed the same decidedly unsatisfactory qualities).
Even though my dad frequently missed the Newark Airport exit and cursed out traffic – coupled alongside my bag’s unavoidable soaking from the storm that always seemed to be happen on the day it was loaded into the pickup – I could never really imagine another, if not more uneventful, way to depart and come from my latest journey.
When I worked as an advertising account manager in 2013 and 2014 (thank god that’s over) my main job duty was to pretty much call every business in Morris County and solicit them for advertising. I always got interesting – sometimes rude and sometimes surprisingly receptive – answers from whoever had the misfortune of picking up my bored call. However, I still remember what the busy employee at Pub 199 said to me when I called them on one fateful day.
When New Jersey culinary legend Andrea “Andy” Clurfeld – 30-year food journalist, former James Beard Awards Committee member and Pulitzer Prize finalist – tells you that you just have to check out a new restaurant, you go.