A Letter to Hallstatt

Right now I’m on spring break in Venice…make sure to follow along on Instagram

dear hallstatt

Dearest Hallstatt,

Just like your sister Vienna, I struggled to find the words to describe you.

In your case, however, this is a love letter.

I knew before I saw you that I would love you. This has happened a handful of times in my life, where my insane expectations have been surpassed by the beautiful place I am finally seeing in person. I try so hard not to have these expectations, but you are quite famous, Hallstatt. There are endless pictures and blog posts and raves about you–you are so incredible there is even a replica of you in China!

I struggled to find the words to adequately describe you, Hallstatt, because frankly, what hasn’t been said about you? You’re beautiful, you’re picturesque, you’re quaint, you’re a pretty little piece of the puzzle of Europe.

Instead of merely listing your many attributes, I would also like to thank you.

Thank you, Hallstatt, for being you. But also, thank you for…

…these crystal blue skies.

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…the access to these views.

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…the view from our balcony.

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…the foggy mornings.

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…your many swans.

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…your well-preserved, charming buildings.

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…encouraging your residents to keep up their traditions, like lederhosen.

…putting on such a gorgeous show in the autumn.

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…for being just as picture-perfect as I hoped, but even better because you’re not just a picture, but you’re real.

I hope to see you again, Hallstatt!

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Love always,

Amy

Linking up with Travel Tuesday

Daily Life in Prague, v. 6

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+ I’m so excited to be guest posting on Sara’s blog, Big World Small Me! If you haven’t, make sure to cheek out her blog detailing her adventures in London and the world. Her blog is lovely, and I was lucky enough to spontaneously meet up with her at a Christmas market in Cologne (the infamous gnome one!) so I can attest that she is lovely in person, as well. I had so much fun writing about my time in Southeast Asia that I may need to do some more throwback posts myself. Also, now I’m itching to go back!

villagelifethaiThailand, 2010

+ Spring break is next week! Woo! Follow me on Instagram to see if you can find out where we decided to go! Hint: it’s an easy one. For another hint, it’s neither of the places I was originally deciding between in this post (Slovenia or Portugal, to refresh your memory). A really cheap ticket popped up unexpectedly and I couldn’t resist this new location! We won’t be gone the entire week, which is unusual for me, as I usually try to make the most of every second of vacation by traveling. The tickets just happened to be cheapest for Tuesday-Saturday, and I really am loving the idea of having a few extra days in Prague without lessons.

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+ I am so ready for a break, and I think all of my students are, as well. Many of them are already on vacation, or at home with the chicken pox. There is another illness going around the school, mostly among the younger kids, and when I asked one parent she said: “oh, it’s scarlet fever.” I’m sure that’s not right, as her English isn’t very strong and my Czech is pretty much nonexistent. I wonder if it’s a Czech word that just sounds like scarlet fever? It’s a mystery! Anyway, most of my younger kids are out with the pox or this other illness, but the ones that are left are going crazy. Spring break we’re ready for you!!!

+ I’ve officially been taking Czech lessons for a month now! (And that reminds me–I need to ask my teacher about the scarlet fever thing). I can’t say much more than “I am Amy” and “two dark beers” but I’m really enjoying learning. The pronunciation of the Czech letters are quite difficult, but one thing I enjoy is the easy spelling–once you know the pronunciation of the word, you know how to spell it! I’m a huge geek and I love spelling things correctly.

+ I’ve shared the fact that I’m learning Czech with many of my private, older students. Most of them are delighted and immediately want to add to my vocabulary. My favorite? When two teenage girls, sisters, shared some of the Czech Harry Potter words. Apparently the words weren’t just “Dumbledore” or “Gryffindor” as I would have expected, but rather changed to made-up Czech words, as well. I didn’t know any translations did this type of thing, and I’m especially loving the Harry Potter ones…like “Zmijozel” for Slytherin. Would you stop reading if I did an entire post dedicated to the translation of Harry Potter into Czech?

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+ One nice thing about having a blog is how it helps you keep track of things. When I realized that I first started whining complaining subtly about being sick two months ago, I was shocked. That was enough of a wake-up call to make me hunt up a doctor for real (although I did try several times prior). I finally got me some antibiotics, and oh my gosh I feel like a new woman. Now that I feel so much better (still not 100% but I think I’m close!) I feel less guilty about all of the things that went downhill while I was sick. Instead of coming home and collapsing after a work day, I actually have the energy to do things. Things like talking a walk to the river and going grocery shopping and putting my laundry away and walking up the hill to work suddenly don’t seem like giant obstacles getting in my way. Antibiotics! They work!

IMG_9034a blurry walk through the neighborhood

+ Is it just me or has February essentially evaporated? January felt like an endless blur of illness, exhaustion, teaching and darkness. February, while not much warmer, has been slightly lighter and sunnier, and not as busy–but it’s gone much faster! I can’t believe March is only a few days away. I normally love winter and fall the most, but I am seriously looking forward to experiencing Prague in the spring.

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+ Along with spring comes the promise of late spring/summer visitors. Two sets of visitors have officially booked their tickets, and I couldn’t be more excited! Our best couple friends, who sent us this epic package in the fall, are coming for the first week in May. We’re meeting them for a quick weekend in Budapest, spending a few days in Prague, then going to Dublin for a long weekend. I haven’t been back to Ireland since 2007 and it remains one of my favorites, so I’m over the moon to be visiting again soon. I also can’t wait to show off Prague, and really just hang out with some great friends!

From Courtney 032Ross Castle, 2007

+ E’s family has also booked a trip here for 10 days in July, and my cousin in planning on visiting in early June. I think right in between those, my parents will also visit! Which means we’ll have about three months straight of visitors…it might be a little stressful, but mostly we are so grateful that so many loved ones get the chance to visit this beautiful place we are lucky enough to call home for a little while!

+ March is also the month we have to officially decide if we will stay in Prague another year or not. I’ve been avoiding this subject on the blog (and kind of in real life) because I don’t really want to make a decision in this matter at all. I love Prague and want to stay–but there might also be another place for us to go, too. No announcements on this anytime soon until we actually make a decision, but I’ll keep you posted! Now, I’m going to get back to my life in Prague and live in denial that it might ever end.

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Question:

What has daily life been like for you lately?

Linking up with the #SundayTraveler

Outtakes: Paris Edition

In case you missed it: Outtakes (1st Edition).

Paris, honestly, kind of felt like one giant outtake at times. Our first AirBnB was a disaster–it didn’t have heat, and Paris was freezing. The stress of finding a new place–and trying to keep warm–had the first few days flying by in a stressful blur. For some reason, I didn’t anticipate the crowds, so we spent much more time in line and fighting crowds than I thought we would. I’m not sure I’ve ever been in a city as crowded as Paris was at the end of December! We also bought a Museum Pass, which would have been a much better deal if our time period to use it hadn’t coincided with New Year’s Day, when everything was closed (I promise we aren’t idiots…I did look a lot of this stuff up online, but many of the monuments don’t have reliable times posted on their websites).

Despite all of this and so much more (see below!), I loved Paris. It was exactly how I imagined Paris would be: lovely and romantic, busy and monumental, ancient yet modern. I feel like we only touched the surface in the week we were there, and it’s one of those places I know I’ll go back to–just as soon as my bank account recovers!

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Take 1 // Going back to a museum because I realized that–in my rush–a painting I’ve always wanted to see is housed there and I missed it the first time. Only to find out upon searching and finally asking for help–said painting is on loan. To Texas.

Take 2 // Eating about 20 macaroons a day (hey, those things are small, right?).

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Take 3 // Spending way too many minutes on the metro due to poor planning (also, Paris is huge).

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Take 4 // Taking fifty photos in the Hall of Mirrors at Versailles…we never could get one without a billion other reflections in it. Also the lighting in terrible in there…how do people get such fantastic selfies in those mirrors?!

IMG_8471 IMG_8470^^also, I kept cutting E’s head out.

Take 5 // Inhaling one last crepe before going home…standing in line in the freezing cold. (We ate a lot of food while waiting in line).

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Take 6 // Climbing the staircase at the Louvre for a classic picture, but after seven hours of running around the museum, I gave up halfway there.

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Take 7 // Trying to get a glimpse of the Mona Lisa.

IMG_8211^^a pretty good picture of this random security guy, though.

 

Take 8 // Thinking this photo through the roof of a boat would be cool and artsy.

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Take 9 // Not realizing there are actually pillars designed to help you take this iconic photo.

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Take 10 // Attempting many, many failed selfies at the Eiffel Tower.

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Take 11 // Going back to a cafe because we overslept and missed our reservations at another one.

Take 12 // Climbing up the Arc de Triomphe for what is supposedly the best view in Paris (for the record, I disagree–the Tours de Notre Dame was the best) only to find it rainy and foggy.

IMG_8733^^still is a killer view, though.

Take 13 // Spending three hours lingering over the biggest meal I ate in Paris.

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Take 14 // Getting caught in the rain in Montmartre–the one day we didn’t bother with umbrellas.

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Take 15 // Trapping about 20 people on a winding staircase while I struggled to get the best shot from Notre Dame that also included the chimeras (or gargoyles).

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Take 16 // Being artsy (or trying) with Paris’ best hot chocolate and my lipstick.

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Take 17 // Maneuvering the Louvre.

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Do you have outtakes from your travels/life?

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Linking up with Travel Tuesday.