One night in Prague: making the most of a short trip

One of the great things about Budapest is the ability to hop on a train, bus, or rent a car and be in a different city quite quickly. We hopped on a night bus and headed to Prague just for a couple days. You know those cities that you walk around and say to yourself fairly quickly that you think you could live there? Yeah, Prague was one of those. It was clean, walkable, but transit seemed great. There were lots of things to see in the short amount of time we were there, and the vibe of the city was overall great.

First of all, the night bus was no where near as bad as I expected. I slept most of the way which was quite impressive for me considering I’m one of those weirdos that struggles sleeping in cars or on planes. It went much faster than I thought, and I fell asleep to a Joe Rogan podcast. Am I the only one who finds those weirdly relaxing? Upon arrival at around 6am, we grabbed a coffee at Starbucks and sat there for a few to figure out our next move and charge our phones. Our check in wasn’t till later so we had lots of time.

Tip: instead of buying transit tickets through the machine that require change, just download the PID Litacka app, and buy them through there

Because it was so early, we got to cross Charles Bridge before the hoards of tourists were there, and caught the sunrise. As we were walking through the streets, we found a bagel place for breakfast so we ate there. After, we made our way to the Prague Castle, looked at the St. Vitus Cathedral, and walked around up there.

Tip: wear sensible footwear, I didn’t and almost broke my ankle approximately 12 times

We checked into our hotel and then had a nap because we were exhausted, and at this time, the Christmas Market was still up so we went there. We also went to the mall, and just walked, a lot. For dinner, I got the Czech version of my fav Hungarian dish, Svíčková, and R got a pork knuckle. Typical. We then went to an Irish bar, also very typical, and got chips from the market after, bought champagne and orange juice, and made mimosa’s in the hotel room.

The next morning we went for breakfast at a cute little cafe and got bagels, again, and carrot cake to go to eat on the bus. We went on a search for Buchty, but it was the Czech Independence Day and everywhere was closed so we didn’t luck out there.

By then, we had to go back to the bus station to get home. This time felt 10x longer than the night bus to me but we returned to Budapest in the evening.

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A really really long list of things to do in Hungary

Another post about Hungary.. Are you surprised? This is basically a recap of every other post, but combined. In no particular order, here is a list of absolutely everything I can think of doing in Budapest and other areas of Hungary.

Thermal baths- Hungary is famous for these. I went in the winter, and don’t think I would enjoy going in the summer. The Szechenyi Thermal Baths are pictured here. It’s the largest one and I’d recommend it for your first time. You can make a day out of it and get a massage or other spa treatments.

Fisherman’s Bastion- Exploring around here is a must! You’ll get a gorgeous view of the city, and there are some nice cafes and restaurants up here. You can go up the funicular, but I prefer just walking up the stairs.

St. Stephens Basilica- You can go inside for a small price, I don’t remember how much but it wasn’t a lot. Then you can go to the top and get a beautiful view of the city.

Walk around fashion street- This is where to go if you want to shop. It’s also good to find souvenir shops and people watch.

Fashion Street

Fashion Street at Christmas

Eat a chimney cake– The walnut covered ones are the best. Hungarians love walnuts. (They are really cheap at the subway stations.)chimney cake

Eat goulash (at Balvaros Lugas)- This restaurant has such good traditional Hungarian food, and it’s fairly cheap.

Go to the ruin bars (Szimpla Kert)- Go to all of them, but Szimpla is my favourite.

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this was taken upstairs looking down

Walk around the Jewish District

Visit the Dohány Street Synagogue- The largest Synagogue in Europe, and the second largest in the world. There’s a museum attached to it.

Go to the Holocaust Memorial Centre and the House of Terror Museum

Run around Margaret Island– There is running track around the island. There’s also the water polo stadium, a small zoo, a hotel, and a couple bars on the island.

Go to a hockey game (HK Budapest, Ujpest, MAC)

Go to the Great Market Hall- Many locals grocery shop here, it’s busy and a great places to take in the culture.

Eat lángos- fried dough, garlic, sour cream. Buy this at the Great Market Hall.

Go to all the bridges

Go to the Citadella Sétány at night (or during the day I guess)

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The view from the Citadella

Hummus bar, Parasz Thai, Iguana– For more about restaurants, see my favourite restaurants in Budapest post.

Cake and pastry at Gerbaud or/and Ruzzwurm– These cafes are the best in the city. (Try Kremes, Dobostorta, the and cheese danish).

Cheap wine spritzers from Froccskocsma– This place is the best. They usually speak English here, just ask for a wine spritzer and it will be about 60 cents Canadian.

Have a beer at the High Note Sky Bar– It’s a bit fancy but they don’t care if you’re underdressed.

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(underdressed) at the High Note

Ride the Budapest Eye

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The Budapest Eye

Go to Lake Balaton– It’s not a far train ride  from Budapest and a really nice place to spend a day in the summer.

Lake Balaton

Lake Balaton

Go to some thrift stores

Have rose shaped gelato (Gelarto Rosa)

Gelarto Rose

Go to the zoo– I’m not a huge fan of zoos, but you can play with goats at this zoo, and it seems really nice.

Go to Boldogkőváralja– This isn’t close to Budapest, but if you have rented a car then why not?

Boldogkőváralja

Boldogkőváralja

Explore the Buda side– There isn’t as much going on as the Pest side, but it’s worth walking around.

Go to Hero’s Square

Hero's Square

Hero’s Square

Go to Vajdahunyad Castle in the city park

Vajdahunyad Castle

Vajdahunyad Castle

Go skating or rent peddle boats right next to the city park– Depending on the season, it will be ice or a lake.

Get bagels at Budapest Bagel- The area this little bagel store is in is really nice, so make sure you explore.

Go to Szentendre and walk around and have a picnic– Such a cute little town, the streets were magical.

 

Visit Esztergom Basillica (the largest church in Hungary)

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Get a chocolate bar filled with cheese (Turo Rudi)– A Hungarian thing- surprisingly good.

Eat chicken paprikash and stock up on paprika and erős pista.

Gundel Crepes (at Gundels)– Or any other restaurant. They light them on fire.

Get burgers at street bistro

Eat túrós táska for breakfast– My favourite pastry- a cheese filled danish.

Coffee at the New York Café– Or be like me, and just go in to take a photo.

See the shoes on the Danube- A memorial along the river for the Jewish people killed in 1944.

Walk around the Hungarian Parliament building– The number 2 tram on the Pest side is a gorgeous tram ride that will take you along the Danube. You’ll see the castle on the other side of the river, the chain bridge, and the parliament.

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Go on either a dinner cruise, or a party cruise down the Danube- Some party cruises are all you can drink for about fifty dollars Canadian.

Budapest

That’s everything I can think of, and what’s bothering me is that I know I’m missing some things. I hope when you visit this country you can take in everything it has to offer. If you can think of anything I’m missing in this post- let me know! For more specific details of some things listed here, there are more detailed posts in my “Hungary” category.

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Favourite day hikes in British Columbia

Being home is bittersweet. I really have no desire to live in this little town, but it’s nice to be settled and have a sense of routine again, and of course, see my dog. There’s nothing to do here, but there are some nice hikes close by and these are my favourites. The difficulty level is rated by me. I am in fairly good shape most of the time, and my cardio is usually decent, and even if it isn’t decent, I can’t let my dad beat me. Ever.

Elk Mountain- Chilliwack, BC

Difficulty- 7/10

I’ve done this hike a lot of times in the summer. It’s fairly difficult, but has a gorgeous view of Mt. Baker at the top. It’s super nice in the summer, once you get to the top, you can walk a little further up, and get to this meadow that has all of the wild flowers at the right time. My dad’s stayed overnight at the top of this one, but I draw the line at day hikes.

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Elk Mountain

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Elk Mountain

The Chief- Squamish, BC

Difficulty- 7/10

This hike has one of the most stunning views ever from the top. There are three peaks, and I’ve only gone to the first one, because I believe the view is the same from all three. It takes about an hour to get to the top. It’s became increasingly popular, and there’s now a gondola that goes to the top, so you could even just skip the hike and get to the view. You do you. Make sure you leash the fur babies on the top because there are lots of chipmunks they could chase and potentially go straight over the edge.

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The Chief

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The Chief

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The Chief

Lindeman Lake- Chilliwack, BC

Difficulty- 4/10

This hike is super easy, I did it when I was five. The lake at the top is a beautiful shade of green, and freezing. Yes, I’ve swam in it. There are spots to put a tent so you can camp by the lake. I believe it’s first come first serve, and you can’t reserve a spot for your tent.

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Lindeman Lake

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Lindeman Lake

Mt. Cheam- Chilliwack, BC

Difficulty- 7/10

THE MOST BEAUTIFUL VIEW EVER. Oh my god. This hike is amazing. I also did this hike when I was five, so it can’t be that hard, but when I did it last summer I remember thinking otherwise. The road to get here is really bad and you definitely need a vehicle with 4wd, and the snow doesn’t melt away until fairly late in the summer. It’s very cold at the peak, and has a stunning view of the lower mainland. The hike itself is beautiful, with meadows and mountains surrounding. One thing to note is that there is very minimal shade on this hike. Most is in the direct sunlight. 10/10 recommend this one, but make sure it’s sunny. The best part is the view from the top, and if it’s cloudy you’ll see nothing.

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Mt. Cheam

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Mt. Cheam

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Mt. Cheam

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Mt. Cheam (throwback)

Raven Bluff- Mission, BC

Difficulty- 6/10

This is a short hike, so it’s not too hard. It’s quite nice at the top, and at the bottom there’s a little river that people swim in during the summer. The trailhead is a bit difficult to find, so it’s never too crowded. One thing to pay attention to is the trail markets, because it’s not marked very well.

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Raven Bluff

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There is so much of the Vancouver area that I’ve yet to explore, although I have a love/hate relationship with hiking. I will refuse to do any hike that is overnight. I’ll only go on (shorter) day hikes, because I don’t like the outdoors as much as some people, and I’m not a person that hikes for the exercise, I go to the gym for that. I’m really lucky to live somewhere with so many options for hiking and exploring, and it’s one of my goals this year to take the dog on more adventures.

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best day hikes in the lower mainland (1)

10 reasons to visit Oslo, Norway

I know I said I hated this city. I don’t think it’s the city itself that I hated, but other factors that just happened while I was there; the reasons I needed out were not the city’s fault. There’s good in everything, and there’s good in this city. I should give it some credit.

In no particular order, here are some things that would be worth going back for.

1. Smoky BBQ Fajita Seasoning

We brought a bunch of taco and fajita seasoning with us because we weren’t sure if it would be easy to find in Norway, but every grocery store had a massive Mexican section. This kind was SO GOOD. I’ve never seen it in Canada or any other grocery stores. Fajita bowls were a staple meal for me in Norway thanks to this seasoning.

2. It’s pretty

The buildings are a mix of modern and old, and I love architecture. The Opera House, the pier, the view from my bedroom, the Barcode area, there’s something nice to look at anywhere you go. It really is a gorgeous city, and clean too.

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Oslo Barcode

3. I felt safe

I didn’t feel unsafe here when by myself, even at night, and I don’t think I can say that about a lot of places.

4. Everyone speaks English

I wasn’t expecting this, and it made life a lot easier here because I didn’t need to struggle with the language barrier.

5. Lots of things to do

From outdoor activities, museums, and shopping, this city has you covered. I did almost every tourist activity there was to do in my time there.

 

Holmenkollen

Holmenkollen

Vigeland Park

Vigeland Park

Opera House

Opera House

6. Lots of dogs

So many dogs and they were allowed on public transit and in most stores. This made me happy because I missed my dog. Why isn’t Vancouver more dog friendly?

7. Nature

You’re really close to nature everywhere you go. A short train, ferry, or bus ride, and you’ll find a hike or some type of view to look at. It reminded me of Vancouver in this way.

Hovedøya

Hovedøya

Hovedøya

Hovedøya

8. The police ride horses

I don’t know why, but I love this.

9. People don’t smoke

One thing I hate about Europe is that everyone smokes and it’s hard to avoid the smell of it on patios and crowded streets. Chew is way more popular in Norway so this isn’t an issue here.

10. Most people were friendly

I’ve been places where locals have been rude to those who don’t speak their language. Most people were nice and happy to speak English, and we met some great people.

Oslo has some great things to offer if you were to visit for a few days, or even a week. I have a couple posts in previous months about all of the touristy things Oslo has to offer. I’m a bit upset I didn’t stick around long enough to watch ski jumping or take the train to Bergen, but hey, I can always go back.

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reasons

Visiting Oslo on a Budget: Things to do, see, and eat

If you haven’t gathered, this country is expensive. Living is expensive, doing things is expensive, going out is expensive, except there are some things to do that aren’t so bad. They mostly involve looking at things outside. If you want through doors it will cost you..

If you’re coming to Oslo just for a weekend, get the Oslo Pass. It includes transit and gives you entry to almost all the museums. We’re planning on getting it one of these weekends and going to every museum and getting all the knowledge.

These things are only really fitting when it’s not raining because no one wants to walk around looking at things outside if it’s not a decent day out.

The Opera House

 

I was pretty blown away by this building. You can walk on the roof; there’s a nice view of the water, the ferries, and the pier. I think you can look inside for free too, but I didn’t. The architecture is amazing, my only question is how do they keep the roof so goddam white? Phenomenal.

Aker Brygge

 

This is where the Starbucks is that I go to and get kind of cheap beers and do homework. It’s on the pier and you can walk around and look at all the boats you can’t afford. The ferry also leaves from here. There are usually food trucks, some fancy looking restaurants, and the Nobel Peace Centre.

Hollmenkollen

Holmenkollen

Holmenkollen- ski jump

GO HERE. It is a must, go read my other post all about it.

Karl Johan’s Gate

The walking/shopping street- only free if you have self control around stores. People watching is always free though. Also, the best kebab place we could find is close by. It’s called Dronningens Kebab. They do this thing with their onions, 10/10 recommend. 

Akershus Fortress 

 

This is a medieval castle that was built to protect Oslo, and has also been used as a royal residential palace and as a prison. It’s another place you can walk around and look at things for free. There’s a restaurant and the resistance museum is here; also a good spot to find dogs to pet.

Mathallen Food Hall

We all know how much I enjoy grocery stores, and this place is paradise to me. So many specialty shops and cafes to look at. I can easily go here and spend a while looking at things, all the food looks amazing. Lots of local things are sold, and not just food.

We cook almost every night because it’s cheaper to buy groceries than go out (duh). To go out for a beer you’ll find yourself paying double what you’d pay in Vancouver, and honestly, the cheapest place to get a beer seems to be Starbucks, or the Stargate. But I don’t recommend the Stargate, it’s by far the sketchiest dive bar I’ve ever experienced. If you’re really struggling, just go to IKEA for food. It’s dirt cheap just like Canada, and who doesn’t love hot dogs and froyo?

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oslo on a budget

Things I’ve noticed after one month in Norway

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This country is lovely, the people are lovely, it’s beautiful here, but it is weird. I talked about some strange things I noticed in my first week here, but I’ve experienced more of the culture, and met more people, and noticed some things that I’ve never noticed at home.

Not finishing highschool

This is so weird to me. Highschool is so easy, everyone finishes highschool at home. It’s not a question. It’s very very common for people to not have their diploma here though.

Runners

Okay, maybe this is coming from the boot obsession I have, but everyone wears running shoes. Even when they’re dressed up, they’ll wear an otherwise fine looking outfit and then throw on a dirty pair of running shoes that look seven years old. Even men who are wearing suits toss on a pair of running shoes with it. Comfort first I guess? I will not be falling into this trend, I can tell you that for free.

Waffles

Instead of popcorn and hot dogs at the rink, they serve waffles that you put jam on, fold in half, and eat with your hands. I can get on board with this one.

Chew

Everyone chews- even girls- I’m judging them.

Nothing happens quickly or on time

Four weeks to get an appointment to pickup the Visa that took four weeks to get approved for. Ten days to get a tax number that you can only get when you have a work contract. Four to six weeks to get a bank account that you can only do online and after you get the tax number. Busses are either early or late. Really annoying for someone as impatient as me.

Vegetables

Two parts to this: A- it’s hard to find decent produce. B- everything’s individually wrapped in plastic, dumb.

I’m curious as to what weird things people notice about Canada when they visit. I mean, there’s gotta be a few things I don’t realize since I live there.

Holmenkollen: the famous ski jump in Oslo, Norway

The other day we went exploring in Holmenkollen to look at the ski jump. And let me tell you, it’s far more intimidating in person than the TV or pictures tell you. I mean, what kind of person does this sport. It’s insane. This place holds 70 thousand spectators and held the 1952 Winter Olympics. It’s a very beautiful train ride, not long from the city, and there’s a cafe, a museum and a ski jump simulator. One of these weekends, we’re going to get the Oslo Pass which will give us entry to most museums, including this one, so we will be back. This post will be mainly photos, as this day was mainly walking around.

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I swear it looks way steeper and scarier in person.

If you keep walking, there’s a roller ski track (I still think it’s funny that’s a thing here), and then you find the smaller ski jump, and then the baby ski jumps that I guess they learn on, and honestly the one we were sitting at the top of still looked terrifying.

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Directly across from the big jump, there’s the trolls! I think the trolls were 80% of the reason I wanted to go up here… But everything here was definitely well worth it.

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If you’re visiting Oslo, make visiting the ski jump a priority. It’s a bit out of the way, but by far one of the best places in the city.

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holmekollen

My first week in Oslo!!!

I have spent one week in Oslo. My apartment still doesn’t have wifi. Our fridge isn’t working. We went to IKEA three times in my first two days to get a bed, dresser, and other things (a fur carpet being one). Our apartment is on a massive hill, and I’m not exaggerating. I’m out of breath by the time I get to the top. City’s nice though.

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my cute little bedroom

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the view from my cute bedroom

Today we went and explored the castle and the Resistance Museum. There’s a Starbucks on the pier that’s nice to do homework at. The view from our bedroom window is beautiful. I could definitely get used to this place.

 

A few things I’ve noticed in the week I’ve been here…

  • the busses have seat belts (weird)
  • everyone drinks a mind-blowing amount of pop
  • IKEA hot dogs are just as cheap as in Canada
  • NOTHING is free
  • the buildings are a mix of ancient, or very modern
  • everyone speaks English (I was shocked)
  • THERE ARE SO MANY TESLAS. EVERYONE HAS A TESLA.
  • I can’t afford to get drunk in this country.

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I’m just happy to be here.