Prague is the historical capital of Bohemia. Through the last few hundred years, the boundaries in this part of Europe have been notoriously fluid. The map here has been redrawn quite a few times as Empires have risen and fallen, but Bohemia has always been a notable region with a strong cultural identity. Today, Bohemia is more or less synonymous with the Czech Republic (formerly part of Czechoslovakia, and recently renamed to simply “Czechia”). With 2.6 million people living in its metro area, it’s the 14th largest city in the European Union. However, what it lacks in size relative to other European capitals, it more than makes up for in clout. When it comes to history and culture, few cities pack a punch in quite the same way Prague does.
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In July of 2012, a few friends and I were leaving Spain and embarking on what would be my first ever Euro-trip. In deciding where we wanted to go, I'd be lying if I told you that Amsterdam's famously progressive drug laws did not play a role in our decision to come to here. So our motives may not have been entirely academic, but once we arrived, I was enraptured. Amsterdam turned out to be one of the most beautiful cities that I had ever had the privilege of exploring. I’ve traveled a lot more today than I had back then, and Amsterdam is STILL one of the prettiest cities I’ve ever seen. We spent 5 days here, and in that time, I took more photographs than I had of any place I had visited prior.
So have you ever considered coming to Geneva? I’m betting the answer is no. Geneva isn’t a common stop-over in European travel, because it has a reputation for being super expensive and (tbh) kind of boring. It’s mostly a hub for international organizations like the WHO, WTO, Doctors Without Borders, and quite a few different UN offices. It’s also got a reputation for being home to a lot of “old money.” So this is a city that really does matter in the world… but might not be quite as relevant for your average traveler.
However, that doesn’t mean the city isn’t still gorgeous! Geneva is surrounded the Alps on all sides, and sits on the southernmost shores of Lake Geneva. It’s just a hop, skip, and a jump from some of the most beautiful terrain in the world, and the city itself is also very pretty.
Barcelona is the last Spanish city that is going to be covered in the #ThrowBackThursday series. I came here during my study abroad in 2012, during which I lived in 313 miles inland, in Madrid. Why did I choose to study abroad in Madrid? The short answer is that I didn’t. Madrid was, incredibly, the only study abroad option in the entire world that would count towards both my major and my minor. So if I wanted to go abroad, the choice was already made for me. But, in my mind, Barcelona was “the place to be” in Spain. Ideally, I would have lived in Barcelona.
When I finally arrived in Barcelona, it wasn’t quite what I was expecting…
Situated on the eastern coast of Spain, Valencia is the country's 3rd largest city, behind Madrid and Barcelona. There are roughly 800,000 people who live in Valencia proper and about 1.6 million that live in Valencia's metro area. It is also worth noting that Valencia's harbor is the busiest container port in the Mediterranean and the 5th busiest in Europe. That means that this is a city of economic importance. Stuff happens here.
Today, I’ll be telling you some of what happened to ME (and one very unlucky friend) while I was here.
When I made the move to Madrid in 2012, I hadn't done much research. Upon my arrival, I remember being very surprised at how green and lush the city was. This was not what I expected Spain to look like. I was expecting something a bit more arid, a bit more dry, a bit more brown-ish in color. I'm not sure where these preconceptions originally came from, but now I know that TOLEDO is what I expected Spain to look like. This was the image of Spain that I had in my head.
If you've been a reader for any amount of time, you probably know that I started this website when I moved to Hanoi, Vietnam to work as an English teacher. However, you might NOT know that Hanoi was actually the 2nd time I had lived internationally. The first time was my study abroad, during which I spent a semester living in Madrid, Spain.
This is the first installment of what is going to be a #ThrowBackThursday series. I'll be digging up some choice photos from my time in Europe, re-editing them, and sharing some thoughts and/or stories about each of the places I visited. So let's get to the good stuff!
Are you a "glass half full" or a "glass half empty" kind of person?
I think that your opinion on Sicily will pretty much answer that question for you. I like to think of myself as somebody who is able to look on the bright side of things, and to me, Sicily was beautiful. However, it was definitely also quite gritty. Today, we’re going to take a deep dive into all that garbage and graffiti and browse though some of my favorite examples of Sicilian street art.
Seriously, nothing can prepare you for how creepy this place is... but I'm getting ahead of myself.
I'll start from the beginning. The Capuchin Catacombs are always placed highly on people's lists of things to do and see in Palermo, and it's easy to see why. It's just SO outrageous! Before we dive into this article, I've got some serious explaining to do, because you are sure to have questions. I know that for me, the biggest question I had in all of this was just "why." Why does this place exist?
Buckle in, kids!
In the last article, we covered a lot of ground. I was a little out of breath by the time I finished writing it! But Palermo deserves to have some serious time spent, just taking it in, exploring. So now that you've been brought fully up to speed on the many historic layers of this city, I want to take a deep dive with you and just get out on the streets of Palermo.
Are you ready for a big dose of Sicily’s capital city?