jill honeycutt

DESIGNER + CREATIVE THINKER

dublin, ireland.

travelJill HoneycuttComment

I want to try to write about this trip before I forget any of the details. This is such a cool experience for Wade and I to spend with my grandparents. We had so many people tell us they would love to visit us in Germany, and who actually shows up—papaw and Barb. 

day 92 // fri april 13

Since Papaw and Barbara arrived on Thursday, we had a relaxing morning on Friday. Our flight to Dublin was around 4PM. We loaded up and took the bus to the Bonn-Cologne Airport. We had no problems and made it through security/passport checks in a breeze! We were flying RyanAir and you guys all know how I feel about that. We had a delay, but nothing too bad.

Once we landed we got our baggage and headed for our bus. I had pre-bought tickets on a charter bus to take us into the city. We used AirCoach, I would recommend—very easy to find and they dropped us in a very central part of the city. From there we walked to our Airbnb. It was a decent place,  not my favorite but it worked for our needs! 

We rested up for just a bit then decided to go find some dinner. Since we had all had a long few days we took a cab. The first place we went to was in the Temple Bar area and it was PACKED. We decided it probably wasn’t our scene (haha) and headed to a place across the street.  We had Thai fish cakes for a starter, and then I ordered a beef Guinness stew with mash and had an Irish Cidre—it was yummy!  

We took a cab back to the apartment and hit the hay to rest up for the next full couple of days.

day 93 // sat april 14

Our first day in Dublin was packed to the brim. We 'dubbed' (haha) this day as our day in the city to explore. We had breakfast at a little cafe near our airbnb called Candy Cafe. We all had coffee and scones. They were delicious. Served with butter and jam! First up on the sights was the Book of Kells. We bought tickets online which was cheaper and there was no real line to wait in-definitely recommend. We spent about 1.5 hours in the exhibition and library. Supposedly the library inspired the Harry Potter library, I guess I could see that. After that we walked around the Trinity College campus. 

The day before we actually left for Dublin my grandpa said he really wanted to visit an Irish golf course. He said it was something he had been wanting to do. Not sure why I didn't think about it before? (Also, talk about last minute!) I looked around online and found a few cool options. We decided on one called The Carton House which is the home of the Golfing Union of Ireland (GUI). It was a little out of town, but when I called on Thursday to inquire if we could even go see the golf course without being members and/or paying for a round of golf, they were so great. A very friendly man answered the phone, he said his name was Gerry. I told him it had been a dream of my grandpa's to see a course in Ireland. He said no problem and to tell them Gerry sent you. 

We took a city bus about 45 minutes out of town and arrived. It was a very pretty course, but the people made it great, seriously the nicest staff around. We walked up to the club house, which happened to be a castle, no big deal. There was a guy outside messing with the carts. I asked, "you don't happen to be Gerry, do you?" Sure enough it was our friend Gerry! We chatted for a long time, then he walked us inside to show us where we could grab some food. He then came back and gave us a bag of little goodies to take back to the boys. Seriously THE nicest. We stopped in the clubhouse restaurant for some lunch. I had fish & chips. It didn't disappoint. Only sad thing was that we couldn't go into the main part of the club they were filming a L'Oreal commercial in there. Cool though! Another employee gave papaw a personal tour on a golf cart. Afterwards we were saying our goodbyes and Gerry asked where we were headed. We told him the bus stop, he insisted on giving us a ride in the nicest BMW ever. Overall a really, really cool experience.

I will never forget the smile papaw had the whole time. He even offered for me to take his picture. Normally I make him, haha! It doesn't take much to make him happy. Really, a Pepsi and a snickers will do, but I get teary-eyed thinking about the joy he had that day. A special moment for sure. 

 We took the city bus back to the city and had a little bit of time to kill before our Guinness Storehouse Tour. Wade found us a little coffee shop, called Wuff. Papaw ordered a fancy tea which he thought was hilarious. Then I made him take my picture with my ice coffee. Seriously the cutest. We all felt refreshed and recaffeinated. 

Next up was the Guinness tour. I also had booked those tickets online. To be honest, none of us are beer drinkers really but I had read online that the storehouse was still a cool experience. I would agree. From a design standpoint the environment was very thought through. Once we were all tuckered out we hopped on one of the big red tour buses and took it back to the nearest stop. We didn’t feel like eating a huge dinner so Wade and I went to the nearest store to grab baguettes, cheese and chorizo. We made little sandwiches and ate some snacks we had packed. It was a nice evening after a full day of sightseeing. 

day 94 // sun april 15

When planning this trip I knew I wanted to keep things as easy as possible for my grandpa. I booked a tour with a company called PaddyWagon. It was a day trip that left at 7:45AM and returned 12 hours later. We drove across the entire island of Ireland. We made a few stops along the way. This was a great way for us to see a lot of Ireland with very little walking or planning on my end! 

We stopped in a little fishing village called, Kinvara . We only had a few minutes there but enough to walk around and snap a few photos. Our tour guide was nice enough. He was very knowledgeable about Ireland, it’s history and landmarks. 

We stopped for lunch in another village nearby the Cliffs of Moher. I had salmon—papaw had beef and potatoes. Afterwards we had ice cream of course. I knew my grandpa liked ice cream but it was nice to be reminded how much he enjoyed strawberry ice cream. The last stop before the main event were the “baby cliffs” at Fanore Beach which were just a little preview of what was to come. 

We arrived at the Cliffs of MOher and got off the charter bus. The visitor center is very cool. It’s built into the sides of the Cliffs. You wouldn’t really know it’s there if you weren’t looking for it. We trekked up to the 2nd cliff to get a good view. It is SO windy up there. I honestly felt like I could have blown over. I was proud of papaw, he was a trooper climbing tons of stairs and walking miles on end. You would definitely not know he was 81 years old. 

Ps–the cliffs are no joke, y'all. They were even taller than I had imagined. So pretty! 

day 95 // mon april 16

Dangit, Burger King! Looking back at this day I get SO cracked up. We got to the airport at a normal time. We thought we had enough time to sit and have lunch. We ordered Burger King (options were pretty limited). Next thing we know the time to load our plane had come and gone. Apparently I read the "gate closing" time as the "start boarding" time. We literally ran to our gate! They even said our names on the loudspeaker. It was intense. Just picture it. Running through the Dublin with my 81 year old grandpa. It was quite the show! 

Needless to say we barely made it to our gate. Thank you to the sassy flight attendant, the experience wouldn't have been the same without you. The flight back to Germany was only an hour and half. We made it back to Bonn safely. When we got back Papaw and Barb wanted to buy us a set of Dominoes. SO we stopped by toy store on the way to the apartment and found a decent set. We rested up, played some dominos and had sandwiches for dinner. It was pretty perfect.

twenty-nine.

familyJill HoneycuttComment

Birthdays are funny to me. It's the same as any other day really, but I always find myself a lot more reflective on that particular day. To ring in this 29th year of life I had an opportunity to welcome my papaw and Barbara to Germany. We had dinner at a traditional German restaurant, ate gelato, and played several rounds of spades. 

birthday.jpg

During my 28th year of life:

  • enrolled in graduate school
  • completed my first semester of grad school
  • got in the best shape of my lifein turn, lost 30 pounds
  • also shifted my outlook of health and my relationship with it
  • painted our house blue
  • got our sweet tillie babe

Next comes 30. That's a big number, it is also impossible for me to even believe that I am almost 30. Growing up I heard people call your late twenties "your prime." I would have to believe them. These are some of the best years!

bonn, germany.

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day 86 // sat april 7

It's always fun to be a tourist in your own city. Saturday was the day we had to say goodbye to Ris & Jarrod, so sad. We walked them to the train station and decided we would hunker down to get some work done. Well, that was short lived because about an hour later Jens texted and asked if we wanted to go to the Poppelsdorfer neighborhood and explore. The day was too pretty not to say yes—75 degrees and sunny. 

We first walked across town to Poppelsdorf Palace. This is currently part of the University of Bonn. It hosts a botanical garden and lots of great lawn space for people to lounge. Jens had been telling us about this great Tibetan place. I personally had never had Tibetan food, but he said they made the noodles right in front of you and it was delicious. The place was really tiny, but with tons of character—my favorite type of restaurant. 

After grubbing (for real) we continued our walk through Poppelsdorf. This is a cool area of Bonn I didn't even know existed as a student. There are lots of cool restaurants, cafes and beer gardens. Jens is a volunteer firefighter so he took us to his station, which is part of an old fortress (pretty cool). We wanted to stop by a well known coffee shop called Brews Lee, but it's apparently closed on Saturdays. Sad day. Instead we stopped at Fiddler's, an Irish pub. He took us through parts of the new University of Bonn campus. I didn't realize how big and how many students attended the university. Lastly we stopped by a bicycle coffee stand that Jens frequents often. Super nice guy that owns it. 

It was a fun day! 

day 87 // sun april 8

We went to a local basketball game with a few other faculty members from A&M that are also currently working at AIB. We all live in the same building so we meet up for pizza first. It was a fun experience to see how other culture experience sports. Especially coming from such a strong background like A&M, I wasn't sure what to expect. 

strasbourg, france.

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day 79 // sat mar 31

Strasbourg was a breath of fresh air for us! Paris was amazing, but we had literally zero plans for our stay in Strasbourg. Just some facts for you—the city has been known as a cultural bridge between France and Germany for centuries. Strasbourg is also the capital and largest city of the Grand Est region of France. It is the official seat of the European Parliament. Just so ya know! 

We arrived in Strasbourg early afternoon. We easily found our Airbnb and were SO happy. It was beautiful. It was also located on the Gutenberg Square which was very cool. The first picture below is the view from our window, amazing.

day 80 // sun april 1

day 81 // mon april 2

paris, france.

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day 77 // thur march 29

Oh my, what a day! Wade and I booked a train out of Köln for Paris leaving at 12:42PM. We knew we wanted to get on the 11:53AM train from Bonn to Köln. That gave us 25 minutes to switch trains—totally doable. We were running a bit behind that morning and walked/jogged very fast to be sure we didn't miss the first train to Köln. We made it and quote Wade, "the hardest part of the journey is over." Well, he was wrong. Our train stopped... just stopped. When we heard the long German announcement come over the loudspeaker we got very nervous, but we happened to sitting by a nice lady that translated the message. Turns out she was also trying to catch the 12:42PM train to Paris. Apparently there were some issues with something or someone on the tracks near the main station which meant we weren't moving in the foreseeable future. To keep this brief, after about 20 minutes of waiting, running around (literally), and stress we decided we had to take a cab in order to MAYBE catch our train. We split the fare with 3 other people also trying to get to the main station. We got to Köln HBF and had sadly had missed our train. We went to the service desk and asked for advice on what to do. We had pre-bought tickets (that weren't cheap) for that specific train to Paris. The German train line said we had to talk to the French train line, and vice versa. Very coooool. Essentially no one could help us and the verdict was that they recommended buying all new (very expensive) train tickets. Luckily the nice French lady we met on the first train, Marie, encouraged us to take a risk and get on the later train to Paris at 4:20PM with her. She said we could most likely, fingers crossed, convince the train conductor that we DID have tickets but missed our train do to a problem on the German train line. We took the risk and it paid off! Marie stayed with us the entire journey to Paris and talked to the train conductors explaining why we had a different ticket. She was a total God send or I probably would've given up. While waiting on our new train in Köln we had coffee and pie with our friend Marie. We also walked down the river and chatted. She was very kind! 

After all of that, we finally made to Paris!! Ris and Jarrod were waiting for us at the platform. I almost cried, no lie. It was so good to see friends, especially a friend that I shared this journey with before. We made so many memories, now we were getting to share those memories with our spouses. So surreal. 

We left the train station and took the metro back to our Airbnb. We caught up for a little bit, but by this point we had all had a very long day of travel (even more so for them, talk about jet lag). We found a cafe near our apartment and had a nice meal. We called it a night because we knew the next day would be packed to the brim. 

day 78 // fri march 30

We decided to divide and conquer this morning. Jarrod and Wade really wanted to go to the Louvre while Ris and I had already been and decided we would rather explore a different area of Paris. Ris had done a ton of research and planning so I let her take the lead. The boys headed out to see some art and us girls for some shopping. First Ris and I want to the Tuileries Garden. It wasn’t quite in bloom yet, nonetheless still pretty! We then wandered through a few bookstores and ended up at a macaron shop. We had two on our list for the day—I’ll compare them later, don’t worry. 

You guys, I had chips and salsa! I die. Marissa found this found taco joint on a blog and knew we had to try it out. It didn't disappoint. Maybe that was because I have haven't had any semblance of Mexican food in several months, or maybe it was just that yummy. One may never know. Then we wandered through this cute neighborhood called Haut Marais. I highly recommend it, if even only to window shop. It's supposedly very up-and-coming. We found such great storefronts and tiny little shops. One of my favorites was a gallery called Slow Galerie, go figure. It was filled to the brim with artists' prints. Even after our tacos we passed a bakery that we just couldn't say no to. We were both itching for a real croissant. I had the best pastry with crispy almonds on top. Makes my mouth water thinking about it. After our lives had been forever changed, we checked out this cool department store called Mercí that was like a mix of World Market, Urban Outfitters and Pottery Barn. 

We eventually met back up with the boys. From here we headed toward the Notre Dame. We weren't even really thinking about it being Good Friday. We got in line to go inside and it turned out they were actually having a service start soon. We decided to stay for about 15-20 minutes to hear the choir sing and see the start of the service. What a cool experience, definitely the right time at the right place. 

We eventually strolled our way to our dinner spot. It was also in a very cute area of town. The restaurant was called Season. Cool vibes with decent food. 

Some of my favorite stops in Paris:

  • Tuileries Garden - garden, duh - 113 Rue de Rivoli, 75001 Paris, France
  • Ladurée - my fav macarons - 14 Rue de Castiglione, 75001 Paris, France
  • Pierre Hermé - second fave macarons - 4 Rue Cambon, 75001 Paris, France
  • Candelaria - cool taco joint - 52 Rue de Saintonge, 75003 Paris, France
  • Mercí - really rad department store - 111 Boulevard Beaumarchais, 75003 Paris, France 
  • Kilo Shop - pay by the kilo thrift store - 69-71 Rue de la Verrerie, 75004 Paris, France
  • Slow Galerie - artist shop - 5 Rue Jean-Pierre Timbaud, 75011 Paris, France
  • Season - cool dinner spot - 1 Rue Charles-François Dupuis, 75003 Paris, France
  • Boulangerie 59 RdS - amazing bakery - 59 Rue de Saintonge, 75003 Paris, France

Now for the burning question: Ladurée vs. Pierre Hermé

I loved Ladurée! The macarons were SO soft and airy. The Pierre Hermé macarons were good, don't get me wrong, but the Ladurée ones won hands down. The flavor choices could also play a roll in my decision, but I am still sticking with Ladurée. I got 3 different ones at Ladurée—a strawberry poppy, gingerbread, and lemon. At Pierre Hermé I got Ispahan (rose, litchi, and raspberry) and a classic chocolate. Jarrod said the pecan one from PH was to die for. He said it was like the filling of a Texas pecan pie, yes please. That will have to be for next time! So if you only had time (or money because they add up quick) for one macron shop, I vote Ladurée. Not to mention the store is so cute and their neon sign was pretty great. 

day 79 // sat march 31

Saturday we had about half a day in Paris before our train left for Strasbourg. We knew we wanted to go have a photoshoot at the eiffel tower. But first we needed to drop off our bags near the train station. We took the metro what seemed like forever to Paris Est and dropped our bags at a hotel. We used a service called Nanny Bag. You pay per bag to store your luggage until your train or plane leaves. I think it was 30euro for all of us. We then headed to the tower. I will say I was kind of bummed because there was so much construction around it. When Ris and I were there last you could walk underneath the tower, but this time they had everything blocked off. Wade said it was smaller than he had imagined it. I think it's hard to see or feel the scale without being super close to it. Oh well. Any way, we hung out at the field and took tons of photos. As were about to leave I asked a nice older gentleman to take a group photo of us on my phone. He killed it honestly. I love when you find that tourist that takes the best photo. He even did the photography stance, you know the one I'm talking about! Proof is in the pudding above. 

After our photoshoot we were on a mission to find this store Marissa and I had gone to the day before. I found this black jumpsuit I really wanted. (I don't know why I just didn't get it the previous day. whatever, maybe I'm indecisive). We walked up and down the street until finally we spotted the store. I tried on a few things and decided it was a go! After our little shopping excursion we found a cool burger place on one of the back streets. 

*side note: burger joints are SO popular in Europe right now. After talking with a few German friends it seems they are popping up like wildfire. I feel like this trend hit a few years back in the states. It's funny to see how food trends migrate.

It was probably one of the best burgers I've had while in Europe. You got handed a menu and you got to build your own burger. There were options for avocado, caramelized onion, 4 different cheese, etc. I had to double check to be sure that all of this wasn't additional. I feel like at most places in America avocado and grilled onions are like $4 extra. Not here. Needless to say it was really yummy—served with fries and aioli (my fav). We eventually wondered to the train station and loaded up. It was just a short ride to Strasbourg.

Paris, you were fun. I loved exploring the cool little neighborhoods and shops. I felt inspired and oh so full of amazing sweets. This go-round in Paris felt different in a good way. We experience things differently the older we get. We also appreciate things more, or at least I do. 

 

tarragona, spain.

travelJill HoneycuttComment

I'm so behind on writing—I've got to be better! Nonetheless, we went to Spain and it was great. Read more below! 

day 70 // thur march 23

Gotta love airstrikes, ya know? I was honestly so excited because we were not flying RyanAir flying to Spain. Somehow I still ended up disappointed in our flight. Due to a super convenitinet air controller strike in France our flight couldn't leave at the scheduled time. We sat in the airport about an hour pa. After we finally boarded the plane, we sat on the runway for another hour or more! So frustrating, especially knowing someone was meeting us at our destination. 

Once we finally arrived in Barcelona, Nathan greeted us at the airport. He was so kind to give us a ride back to Tina's house. By the time we finally got there we were starving. Originally our flight was set to land at 7PM. We actually arrived about 9:30PM. He took us to an outdoor mall with a lot of food options, it was late though so it was pretty quiet. We had some food and caught up for awhile until they kicked us out of the restaurant. 

He drove us back to Tina's house where we were staying and got us settled. Marissa and I also stayed with Ms. Tina back in 2011. She was so kind to open up her home to me, both times! 

day 71 // fri march 22

We spent the day in Tarragona. This is smaller port city located in northeast Spain, about an hour outside of Barcelona. The weather was perfect! I was dying for some sunshine and the good Lord provided. We had a nice slow morning with yummy coffee and breakfast then Nathan and family came to pick us up. Our first stop was the Ferreres Aqueduct which was part of the Roman aqueduct built to supply water to the ancient city of Tarragona. Wade was itching to go to the aqueducts in Rome, but we just didn't have time so I'm glad we got to see these! 

After that we headed towards the coast. We walked through a lot of the Roman ruins. This included amphitheatre, walls, tower, and more. The view was stunning! We had a late (normal for the Spanish) lunch at the nice restaurant in an old house. It was really yummy! I had a salad with goat cheese, fish, then a creme pudding. We kept exploring and even did a little shopping. Before we knew it it was evening time. We dropped Nathan's girls at the swimming practice and headed back to the apartment. Tina laid out quite the spread with bread, cheese, proscuttio, and more. My favorite type of meal. We all just chatted until time for bed. 

day 72 // sat march 24

We knew from looking at the weather it was going to rain, pretty sure it said 100% all day. With that being said, we had another slow morning. Nathan picked Wade and I up mid-morning and took us to their house. We had the nicest day catching up. We sat around the table for at least 10 hours talking and eating (of course). Sheila was so kind to make us SUCH good food. For lunch we had gazpacho and a really, really yummy dish that I can't remember the name of. Trust me, it was very good. Then we had strawberries with whipped cream. 

Of course we had coffee that afternoon. Then later had croquetas, cheese, and tortilla. Makes my stomach and heart so full thinking back on that day. Obviously you can see we talked and ate all day, and I wouldn't have it any other way! It was so nice. Wade and I have been going and travelling so much it gets tiring. That's not a complaint in the least, but it was nice to feel at home. To have good, meaningful conversation around a table. 

day 73 // sun march 25

Sunday was our last day, but luckily our flight wasn't until 8PM. We loaded up and went into Barcelona. First up was the Sagrada Familia. It's a must see. It had changed so much since I saw it last. There were totally new sections that had been built! We explored for awhile before we had to head to the airport. Nathan, Shelia, Tina and family are always such kind hosts. Wade and I left feeling like part of the family. 

the same, but different.

Jill HoneycuttComment

It’s funny looking back on this same, but very different journey, I had in 2011. 

I will say I appreciate this experience much more today than I did seven years ago. I’m extremely blessed to be able to share what (little) knowledge I have with a group of students, not to mention doing that while in a different country. Thus far I have found myself having conversations with students that have feelings I myself felt so strongly not that long ago. The first month everything is still so new and exciting, then the reality sets in that this place and these people will be your home and family for the next few months. Personally, as a student that had never been away from home or my family, the emotions were overwhelming. 

Now I get to be a voice of reason, an encouraging face to advise them to fully soak up the experience to its fullest. I have said on multiple occasions, “you most likely won’t get an opportunity like this again,” but here I sit on a train winding through Germany once more.

Wade and I are making it a goal to explore of the city we’re living in as well as more of Germany itself. So far we’ve spent time in Mainz, Heidelberg, Koblenz, Bad Guzberg, Cologne and soon to spend a week in Berlin. We have a school trip planned for Stuttgart at the end of the semester as well.

I love it here but I do miss my home—the physicality of it. Although my home is here with Wade, I do wake up on occasion and long to see my perfect shiplap wall and the way the light hits the kitchen walls in the morning.

I also miss the ease of communicating with my family and friends. Not to mention it’s baby season back in Texas and so many of my best friends are in a new stage of life growing their families. Although this trip makes time go by so fast that when we get back all the babies will be here before I know it! Also, this step in our journey means we ourselves can be closer to starting a family. Not just yet though, hold your horses just a bit longer.

I know this is silly, but I miss our little fur baby. I swear if she hates me when I get back I will be devastated. Maybe an entire bag of cat treats and gallon of milk will win her back? That or I will have to come to terms that she liked her host family more than us, it’s fine. I’ll be fine. ps- thanks to Trey & Jacalyn for loving our little one while we’re gone.

Last time I remember missing Diet Coke and Mexican food, but I don’t drink soda anymore so that it isn’t even a concern. I have only had slight cravings for Mexican food, maybe because we are eating really well and trying so many good foods. I do miss my blender, ha! My green shake in the morning never sounded so good.

Here are some lists I copied from my old germany blog from 2011. Thought they were interesting! 

things I miss about Texas:

  1. diet vanilla cokes from sonic
  2. not wearing a jacket
  3. mexican food
  4. walking around barefoot
  5. seeing my family
  6. my bed
  7. sandals! (with pretty polished toes, of course)
  8. the sun

things I love about Europe:

  1. interesting foods
  2. more relaxed
  3. traveling is so convenient
  4. nutella
  5. coke light
  6. no cars
  7. eco-friendly
  8. STYLE

things I've learned while in Europe:

  1. don’t order €6 water, esp. when you have your own in your backpack.
  2. if you’re the oldest “kid” on the bus, get off; it’s a school bus.
  3. sometimes in hotels the shower is in the room.
  4. if you go on a canal tour, there will not be camels.
  5. clothes disappear for a very long time, you might get them back.
  6. sometimes you have to pay to pee.
  7. only order 50 cent pizza at the window.
  8. don’t get juice at the supermarket unless you’re sure it’s not yogurt/milk.
  9. don’t get on the bus unless you’re sure it’s going the right way.
  10. public transportation kills your headphones.

 

venice, italy.

travelJill HoneycuttComment

day 65 // sat march 17

Last up on our Italian spring break tour was Venice! For some reason Venice had a bit of a bad rep for us. Many people had told us, “it’s so touristy and expensive.” With all that being said, we made a choice to only spend a small amount of time here. (also because we only had 9 days and a realllll long list of things to see). I do wish we had more time in Venice, but very glad we spent a day there. Visually it was the most stunning for me—SO much texture and color. It is definitely a tourist city though, I heard more English speaking people than I have in awhile! The streets were jammed packed... I would hate to see it in the summer with nicer weather.

We spent most of our time in Venice getting lost in the narrow streets. It’s very easy to get lost, but so fun to see what you find. Always a new canal with new boats and buildings with new colors. 

 

We had lunch at the place called CapaToast that had been haunting me all week! We saw one in Florence then in Rome, but never had the time to try it out. If you know me, you know I love a good sandwich. It was obviously a franchise since I had seen them in other Italian cities, but nonetheless the branding was nice... and sandwiches. Wade and I split a club sandwich with some fries. It had egg on it which is something I miss! Love me some scrambled eggs.   

Then we took off to explore. First thing I found was a bakery in the Jewish quarter called Panificio Volpe Giovanni. I'm not sure what exactly we ordered but it was yummy! My pastry almost looked like a bread, but it was crunchy on the outside and cake-like in the middle. Delicious, but pricier than most pastries in Europe. We continued on and found our way to the main "path." This is hard to miss in Venice because literally everyone is filing through the streets. It started raining, but we toughed it out. Even through the rain the city and colors were stunning. 

That evening for dinner we had some pizza at a more modern restaurant. We didn't want to sit for a fancy meal at this point in the day. After dinner we got one last serving on gelato before saying goodbye to Italy! I had a tiramisu with chunks of cookies and chocolate pieces. Wade and I decided we are going to bring a gelato shop to College Station, so be on the lookout–ha!

day 66 // sun march 18

We took another early train from Venice to Milan to Bergamo then a flight back to Bonn! I got a random croissant filled with cream in the Venice train station and it was the best croissant I’ve ever had. I immediately regretted not getting two... or three. It literally melted in my mouth. I wish I had another one right now, maybe multiple if we’re being honest.

The next few weeks are going to be jammed and I can’t wait. Next up is Barcelona to see Nathan Wheatley and family. Shoutout to Ms. Tina for letting us stay with you! <3

naples, italy.

travelJill HoneycuttComment

day 63 // thur march 15

First impressions of Naples were rough. We arrived in the afternoon and met our Airbnb host. She was very sweet. We had zero plans in Naples besides eating pizza. I've never seen a city with so much graffiti. It reminded me of the less-traveled parts of Rome.

We knew which restaurant we wanted to go to that evening so we thought we would browse the markets on the way to dinner. We took off into the tiny streets that were PACKED with stuff. I've never seen so much stuff. The vendors were lined up on either side of the street with trinkets, statues, busts, etc. So visually overwhelmed. We finally we made it to our destination: Attilios Pizzeria. We saw this place featured on the Netflix original show “Ugly Delicious.” The place was hidden in the tiny, crazy streets deep in the city. These streets gave me so much anxiety with the craziest scooter drivers I've ever encountered. Anywho, we ordered a traditional margherita pizza and then a more specialty pizza that had ricotta stuffed crust. Both were delicious! When we were leaving Attilio himself came out and we decided we were gonna ask for a picture. The pizza cook saw the screenshot on my phone and said “Netflix?” I felt caught red handed, haha. He was so proud and agreed to take a picture with us. Overall a great experience!

day 64 // friday march 16

The next morning we woke up early to head to Pompeii. We easily mastered the subway system. The train from Naples to Pompeii was super cheap and convenient. The ride was about 45 minutes. We arrived early morning and bought our tickets to the ruins. We spent most of the morning and early afternoon exploring. Such an interesting story and so much still left of the city to see. Afterwards we decided to get more pizza, duh. Then we took the train back to the city. We did a little window shopping and got some gelato. We tried to walk to the water/coast but had little luck finding a view. The harbor is super industrial and aesthetically uninteresting. It was also very overcast and foggy. For dinner we (or me specifically) wanted to have one more traditional Neapolitan pizza. We found a place near our Airbnb. It was probably my 2nd favorite pie. 

day 65 // sat march 17

We had an early 7:30am train from Naples to Venice. We had a game plan and all was going well until we get to the subway to head toward the train station.... and there was no place to buy tickets. Luckily we had enough time to drag our suitcase through the streets to the station. We made it with a few minutes to spare, but no time for coffee or breakfast. Whew! Overall the trip to Naples/Pompeii was nice, not somewhere I would want to spend a full week, but that pizza though.... 

 

rome, italy.

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day 60 // mon march 12

We got to Rome about 11AM on Monday. We had the most time scheduled in Rome because it’s so big and there is so much to see, plus the Vatican is a city in itself. Wade was most excited about visiting Rome. It is always a cool experience to see something you've grown up seeing in movies, on tv and in textbooks. 

We found and checked into our Airbnb. This was my favorite Airbnb so far. It was owned by a couple that were designers of some sort. It was simple and clean but the extra touches made it feel cozy. We had an espresso machine in the room, plus every morning around 9am they would put a basket of breakfast goodies outside your door—nothing too extravagant but muffins, toast and orange juice. It was a very nice gesture. 

 

After getting settled in we decided to explore because the weather was so perfect! Our Airbnb ended up being a 10 minutes walk to the colosseum, a cool surprise! We walked around the perimeter, but didn’t want to go in just yet, that was for the next day. We eventually found the Trevi Fountain, the Pantheon, and this pastry shop called Regoli Pasticceria that was recommended by our Airbnb host. You know it’s going to be good when no one really speaks English. Regoli is an artisan bakery founded in 1916 and is still run by the Regoli Family. We decided on a traditional Roman pastry, a strawberry tart, and another puff pastry of sorts. The strawberry tart was SO good. Would recommend the little bakery hands down. 

After scarfing down our pastries we took a nap and relaxed in our apartment. For dinner we went to a place nearby that had pretty good reviews for some pizza. I had a Diavlo with spicy salami. I enjoyed it. Then I ordered 2 desserts... whatever, when in Rome. I had tiramisu and catlana (which was essentially a cream brûlée).

day 61 // tue march 13

Our first full day in Rome began with a relaxed morning. We had read that it’s best to buy your tickets to the Roman Forum and Colosseum at Palatine Hill. Much less of a wait, plus an easier entrance. I would agree 100%. We walked passed the crowded and waited less than 15 minutes. We started at Palatine Hill, then strolled along, soaking up the sun and the sites. We walked through the Roman Forum (so much to see!). I couldn’t get over how great the weather was—sun shining, blue skies, and great temps! We took a lunch break and found a by-the-slice pizza joint. We each got a slice and took it back to the steps of a nice building we spotted along the way. We enjoyed our late lunch then decided it was time for the main show. We headed to the colosseum and there was no line at all. Since we had already bought a combine ticket that morning at Palatine Hill we just walked right in.

Later that night a group of students who were also in Rome had reached out about having dinner. This entire experience was a hoot. The place we originally wanted to go wouldn’t take a group as large as ours until 10pm. Our backup plan was a place across the street. We all sat down then ordered, and I don’t even know how to explain it... it was like the manager and the waiter were arguing? They also were almost convincing you on what to order. All that to say, my food was actually tasty, but the entire experience just felt awkward and anxiety laden for me. 

After our full day of perfect weather we were pooped. We laid in bed and watched netflix (it was the first time we had a TV since being in Europe). 

day 62 // wed march 14

The next day was dedicated to the Vatican. We took the subway to a stop nearby. Apparently we arrived there right after the Pope had been speaking (we didn’t even know that was happening, oh well). We had to wait a few minutes for the gates to open back up, but once they did the crowds flooded in. We waited probably 30 minutes to get into the church. Afterwards we bought our Vatican Museum and Sistine Chapel ticket at a booth inside the Vatican. It was 4 euro more a person, but that allowed us to skip the line at the actual museum—definitely recommend. We spent a few hours in the museum and made it to the Sistine Chapel which is at the end of the journey. Wade and I were both blown away by the ceiling, although it wasn't what either of us were expecting. 

Wade then met a friend from school at a video game museum. I walked around the neighborhood and eventually took a break at a  cafe. I ordered a small sandwich and did some people watching. After reuniting we took a walk down the river to the neighborhood where we had dinner reservations. I had found this place via another blogger online. She had 1 picture of the place and I was sold. Not to mention it was pretty far off the beaten path. We got there a little early, but they were able to seat us immediately. The restaurant was called Meridionale. It was such a cute place! We started with an appetizer of squash pie with fontina cheese. I ordered carbonara and it was SO good! We then ordered tiramisu and it was served in a cute little coffee cup. Probably one of my top favorite meals so far this journey. 

After dinner we wanted to see the Trevi fountain at night, so we walked through the streets to the last destination of the evening. We through a coin in and called it a night. 

day 63 // thur march 15

The last thing to cross off our list while in Rome were the Spanish steps. We headed that direction, found them, got handed roses like a million times, then decided to move on. We found this neat park close by that we explored for awhile. It had the coolest busts scattered throughout the park. After 3.5 jammed packed days we left and headed south towards Naples. This was my pick because I wanted to see coastal Italy and Cinque Terre was too far out of our travel path. Not to mention I LOVE me some Neapolitan–style pizza. Let’s get real. (the pizza did not disappoint, the city itself, well)

florence, italy.

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day 57 // fri march 9

Spring Break, woo! Our first Italian stop was Florence! We flew (Ryan Air again, sadly) but this time we had a little better luck. I even sat front row on the plane with lots of legroom. Wade however was not as lucky. We took off around 4:30, landed in Bergamo (a smaller town outside of Milan), took a train to Milan then switched trains to Florence. We arrived in Florence that evening around 10:00pm. At this point we had travelled by plane, bus and train which meant we were hungry! We found a place called Mr. Pizza and each had a pie. Don’t judge. That’s one of my favorite parts about Italy. You are encouraged, even expected, to eat an entire pizza by yourself. In fact I feel like it is looked down on if you don't—my kind of country. 

Being Spring Break and all we decided to take it easy. We really had no “plans” for Florence besides the main attractions, a few sandwich places recommended by friends, and then 1 or 2 other internet finds. 

day 58 // sat march 10

Day 1 was our 'exploring day'. We walked a total of 11 something miles. We saw the Ponte Vecchio first, then explored some of the markets. We found one of the main markets. I had a pizza flatbread with eggplant and brie. It was amazing. I ate the whole dang thing. While browsing the markets, I really wanted to buy an Italian leather jacket, but being me I wanted to research to be sure I was buying the real thing. I read so many horror stories of spending 200+ euro on an “Italian” leather jacket that was just a reproduction. Needless to say I couldn’t find one I was ready to commit to. I had a vision of what I wanted, but just couldn’t pull the trigger. Oh well, gives me a reason to go back, right? 

My favorite part about Florence was the hidden beauty at every turn. You would just be walking and then boom the Duomo. There were statues galore, literally all over the city. We hiked up to one of the tallest points of the city to see a garden and view overlooking the main city but it was closed—we got a workout in, though. We had coffee (or I did) and gelato twice that day. For dinner we went to a place near our Airbnb. Speaking of, our Airbnb was the ideal location literally steps from all of the main areas and sights. It was a bit noisy a night, but totally worth it for the location. Any way, for dinner we ate at a place called Osteria Il Gatto E la Volpe or "The cat & The Fox. I had carbonara and Wade had truffle pasta. He won that one. I could bathe in truffle oil, but maybe that’s tmi. Of course after  dinner we went out for gelato. After the 11 miles and all that pasta we were definitely ready for sleep. 

day 59 // sun march 11

Our plan for the second day in Florence was to get up early and get in line at the Uffizi. We got there a little after 8am which was definitely a good choice. It opened at 8:30am and we were inside by 9AM. We planned well because the weather outside was less than ideal. Super rainy, but perfect for museum visiting. The Uffizi is one of the most well known art museums and it didn’t disappoint. This thing was a huge. When visiting Florence with Marissa we didn’t go into the museum, so it was new to me! Actually Marissa and I didn’t see too many museums. Just not our thing. We sat and wrote a lot. Wadde and I spent the entire morning at the museum then went to a little sandwich shop Virginia had recommended. I unfortunately ordered the wrong thing and wasn’t a huge fan. (Also since being so sick last week I’ve had semi-meat aversion) We did have these truffle fried dough balls that were killer. The weather was still unfortunate so we went back to the Airbnb for an afternoon siesta. We eventually headed back out  for another round of pizza and gelato. It was still very rainy, but we found a place we could set-up shop and people watch. We found the Bronze Boar statue and Wade rubbed his nose for a return to trip to Florence. He also dropped a coin out of his mouth, but it didn't bode as well, no good luck for us! 

day 60 // mon march 12

We had a 9am train to head to Rome. The sun was bright and shiny, made me sad to leave! I love Florence and would gladly go back. I feel like it is a city you can visit so many times and never get bored. 

bologna, italy.

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This post is waaaay late—partially because I just am slow, and partially because I got SO SICK a few weeks ago. I started feeling funny late that Tuesday with a weird feeling in my chest. Wednesday I woke up and definitely felt achy, which we all know is not a good sign this time a year. By that afternoon I was sitting in class freezing to death (wearing my heavy coat and still shivering). I knew I probably had the flu. Thursday came around and things got worse. By the time Friday hit I knew I should see a doctor. She said I had the flu, gave me some meds for fever and stomach pains. Although we soon came to the conclusion that I had the nasty Norovirus rather than a normal case of the flu. The norovirus has all the same symptoms as the flu BUT with the addition of belly issues. All of that to say I was down for the count 5 days. My poor, sweet husband took good care of me. I was pitiful.  

Now back to your regularly programmed entertainment. 

day 43 // fri feb 23 

Wade and I had an open weekend and were browsing for cheap flights. We saw Bologna, Italy. Not a place most people even consider because they are intrigued with Rome, Florence and Venice. But when we read that Bologna is a city for food lovers, we were in. It’s the largest city in the Emilia Romagna region, one of the most prolific food regions in the world producing products like Parmigiano-Reggiano, Modena balsamic vinegar, and prosciutto.

We flew Ryan Air—which is the worst. Please don't do it unless the deal is just too good to pass up. We have had much better experience with EuroWings, also cheaper but way nicer and timely. We got to the Bonn-Cologne airport around 4PM and then waited forever. and ever. Our flight was delayed, then as approaching the aircraft they made us check our backpacks... say what? Since when is that a thing? Like I said, just avoid if at all possible.

Once in the air the flight was less than an hour. We finally made it to Bologna but it was later than we had originally planned. It was also very rainy. We took a taxi to our Airbnb. It was a cute little place with great details. After unloading we quickly ventured out to see what we could eat at this late hour. We stumbled across a few places that were still open but nothing really caught our eye. We found one place that looked tiny and quaint. We walked in and the Italian owner sat us down. There were no menus, he just began reading off a list of options. I decided on tortellini and Wade a lasagna with ham. THEN he just kept naming things and we soon realized that was only the first course. We were giggling because our plan was to just "get something small," then head back. We embraced it and dubbed it our honeymoon meal. We even ordered desserts. When in Bologna, right? 

day 44 // sat feb 24

The next morning came bright and early. We booked a tour with Italian Days and they were picking us up at our Airbnb at 7AM sharp. Early, but a cool perk of the tour we booked so we didn't have to try to find our on way. We were greeted with a couple in the van, then proceeded to pick up one other couple. We then drove out of town for about an hour. We arrived at our first stop: A Parmigiano Reggiano Cheese Factory. This place was nuts. We got to see the artisan cheesemakers making the cheese, and were walked through the process. Very cool to see. They had thousands and thousands of wheels of cheese. 

Then we headed to stop two: Traditional Balsamic Vinegar of Modena. We got to taste 12 year aged balsamic vinegar, and THEN they were like, "oh try this 25 year aged Balsamic Vinegar too." It was unlike any balsamic vinegar you have probably every tasted. Very good. When I thought it couldn't get any better they brought out ricotta cheese that was made that morning at our first stop and topped it with said vinegar. MELT IN YOUR MOUTH GOOD. 

Our last tour stop was Prosciutto Factory. My least favorite for obvious reasons, but really interesting nonetheless. They had over 93,000 prosciutto which is insane. After the tour we did some tastings. Wade and I both really liked one that was truffle flavored. Yummy! 

After all the tours they say you get a "light lunch." Don't trust Italians. We had food on food. We went to a private room of this restaurant and they just kept bringing out food. There was tortellini, bolognese, bread, cheese, salami, more bread, and then dessert. Needless to say we didn't do much else that day due to our food comas. 

day 45 // sun feb 25

One of the sweet couples we met at the tour was a local couple and recommended the best place to get a cappuccino and a brioche. It did NOT disappoint. Wade and I wondered around for a bit. It was raining at first then eventually started to snow. The snow was beautiful! Also I had like 3 cups of cappuccino that day because they are like 1,50 and SO good. I can't help myself.  We found a little pizza joint for lunch that served by the slice. Wade said it was his favorite so far, although I'm more of a Neapolitan style pizza gal myself. We had an early afternoon flight back to Bonn. 

Overall rating of Bologna was good! Definitely a food city, which we really enjoyed (and knew going in). Not as touristy as other Italian cities, which we also really liked. 

berlin, germany.

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day 33 // tue feb 13th

We met at the train station at 7:30AM to head out for Berlin. This is a class excursion which means all 35 A&M students travel together for the week. This is a great experience for them and Berlin is a great city full of history, technology and culture!

We arrived in Berlin around 1:00PM. The Berlin train station is probably the nicest one I've seen thus far on our journey. We had about 45 minutes to grab something to eat before our hop on hop off bus tour started. We grabbed some asian food from a little place nearby. 

We met our tour guides for the evening and got onto a super nice (& warm) charter bus. The first stop was the German Reichstag. Marissa and I have a classic jumping in front of this building, so I did my best to recreate without her, sad. Also, hey Drift

reichstag.jpg
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Next up was the Brandenburg Gate, a very cool structure. From here we went to square and walked to the Bebelplatz. The Bebelplatz is known as the site of one of the infamous Nazi book burning ceremonies held in the evening of 10 May 1933 in many German university cities.

Once it got dark, our bus drove us to our hotel. We checked into our hotel, Hotel Alex. We freshened up then all met downstairs for a group dinner. 

day 34 // wed feb 14th

The next day was what we called "My Berlin Day" at the program. The students were divided into groups to partake in different tours and experiences. That evening they were asked to give a short presentation of what they took away from their Berlin Day. I went with Wade's group to the Wall Museum (Museum Haus am Checkpoint Charlie). From here I met our program coordinator to check out the Buchstabenmuseum, or the letter museum. I had found this place years and years ago when pinterest first came out. I had it pinned as "places to go one day." I did some research and was super bummed that the website said it was closed. I reached out to our coordinators to see if perchance they could call (since I don't speak fluent German quite yet). They responded and said they were still closed. THEN the heavens opened up and I got a text saying 'plot twist there is a private tour at 2PM'. HECK YES. 

We met at 2 and the fun began. The museum itself is actually not fully finished or functional yet. They relocated into a new bigger space underneath the metro (very cool) but are waiting for permits and legal things before being fully operational, thus why the website saying they were closed. We met a tour guide and she gave us some history on some of the neons in the collection. It was a cool experience. We also just explored for awhile—stacks and stacks of letters and neons. Some of them were in working condition, others in need of restoration. 

"The Buchstabenmuseum is the first museum in the world to collect letterforms from public spaces and display them as part of urban history. We preserve and document three-dimensional letters and signage, and their history, as well as providing information about their origins and construction. Our collection has captured the imagination of visitors from all around the world for over 10 years. Hundreds of letters have been saved from being battered by the elements or ending up on the scrap heap."

SO. COOL. day made. 

After the evening presentations from the students Wade and I left to find a nice spot for our Valentine's Day Dinner (did I mention it was Valentine's day?). We found another cute Bao Burger restaurant—we're not obsessed, you're obsessed. It was a tiny little joint with a line so it must be good, right? We ended up only waiting for about 10 minutes. I had a salmon burger again and Wade had a classic Cheese Burger. We ordered both the sweet potato fries and the reg ones. Both good! Overall a pretty dang good day. 

day 35 // thurs feb 15th

Today the group went to the Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp. A pretty heavy day, and I had gone as a student so I decided to stay and get some work done. I ventured out to Father Carpenter coffee shop. The baristas were Australian so it was nice to hear english speaking. Then I had been eyeing this blush pink denim jacket from H&M. I decided to make the jump. Later that day when Wade returned we went to the Computerspielemuseum (Computer Game Museum). It was fun museum with a lot of interactive parts (like games). Berlin is a great city that is very design oriented and design-conscious. I wish we had more time to go to some of the markets and street fairs, next time! 

prague, czech republic.

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day 29 // fri feb 9th

Prague, oh Prague. You have stolen our hearts. Our first impression of Prague was much, much different than the vibe we got in Brussels. I came to Prague during my 2011 adventures and legitimately fractured my foot stepping off the train into Prague. Needless to say, I liked the city then, but it was slightly tarnished by the fact I had to hobble everywhere.

Wade and I flew to Prague via Eurowings for under €120 each. We were tempted with train tickets but they were more expensive and took way longer. We left the Bonn-Cologne airport at 1:55 and arrive in Prague at 2:55. So worth it.

Okay so preface: I had watched several YouTube videos about Prague and I kept seeing that you could get a traditional Czech meal for a good price at the cafeteria in the airport. It is where most of the employees eat, but is also open to the public. When we landed we were both starving so we thought we might as well try! It actually didn’t disappoint. I had a traditional Czech meal, which I couldn't pronounce. The total was around €10 for 2 meals, a piece of cake, and a soda. We left the airport via a short bus ride to the nearest metro line. Travel day passes were only around €5 a person, definitely a smart investment for this city! We got off the metro at our stop and it opened up to a beautiful square with a cathedral and the cutest line of buildings. We met our Airbnb host and he was very kind to show us the space. Nothing fancy, but the neighborhood made up for it tenfold.

We settled in for a little and then ventured out. Prague has amazing public transportation as mentioned above (like most all of Europe) but here specifically they have an above-ground tram, bus and metro system. All 3 of which are included in that €5 day pass. They also have the longest escalators I have ever seen! We hopped on the metro and took it a few stops down to Wenceslas Square. We wondered around a bit, bought some new socks for me-ha, and stumbled upon this big face sculpture that was pretty cool.

After a bit we decided we would head back to our neighborhood for dinner, but we took a tram back this time to see a little more of the city. We found a few good options, but we weren’t aware that almost all places here need a reservation. Boo! We finally picked a different place (it wasn’t our first choice) but it ended up being decent. Then we then found another little cafe to end the night with some dessert.

day 30 // sat feb 10th

You guys. I had a huge latte the next morning and it brought me so much joy. My morning coffee and quiet time are seriously the fave part of my day. We went to Costa which is a bigger chain of cafes (similar to Starbucks I’m guessing). I ordered a tiramisu latte and it was massive—it even had two handles! We enjoyed the slow morning and trekked to see some sights.

Wade and I’s travel style is to walk around and see what we find, hit the main points, then venture off the beaten path. We are also currently eating our way through Europe and I’m totally okay with that. We both lost quite a bit a weight last year, and don’t want to go nuts, but the food is SO good. Not to mention we average 10 miles a day on the weekend so I don’t feel too terrible. All of that to say, our weekend “to-do” lists include a few main sites per city, then really good food places! On that list today was Mr. HotDog. I found it via Instagram and knew I had to try it out. First all, I love hot dogs. Secondly, I love a good neon sign and look how cute! We then headed to the Lennon Wall, the Dancing House, Old Prague Square, Charles Bridge—all the main attractions. We had a pretty early night, just the way we like it.

day 31 // sun feb 11th

We woke up Sunday with 2 things on our agenda; the Prague Castle and eating at Eska. We took the metro to the castle stop then hiked, a for real hike through tiny streets, up to the top. The views were beautiful!

eska.jpg

After the castle we headed off to find the restaurant I'd found online with pretty good reviews and a beautiful aesthetic. &&& Holy Moly! Eska was my favorite meal I’ve had in Europe so far. Here is a list of what we ordered: 

  • Homemade sourdough bread with egg spread and radish
  • Sausages from Naše maso, mustard and a sweet horseradish
  • Crepes with homemade strawberry jam and soft curd cheese
  • Rosehip cappuccino—with homemade rosehip syrup that it was DELICIOUS.

day 28 // thurs feb 8th – day 32 // mon feb 12th

Karneval in Bonn! 

On Thursday we met at the AIB to get everyone in the spirit of Karneval and to put the finishing touches on our costumes. They had music, face paint and Berliners (traditional Karneval goodies—aka jelly filled donuts).

We went to watch a parade in a neighbor of Bonn called Beuel. The parade was fun but so cold! We brought a bag to catch the massive amounts of candy that was thrown from the parade floats. I mean lots and lots of candy. 

We got back from Prague on Sunday and Monday we went to the big Karneval Parade in Bonn. We met up with a few people from AIB and got a lot more goodies and more Hairbo than we could ever want or need-ha! 

brussels, belgium.

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day 22 // fri feb 2

Took a train from Bonn to Köln to Brussels. It was a pretty short train ride, about 2.5 hrs total. We arrived at the Brussels Main Train Station around 5:30PM. Not going to lie, our first impression of Brussels was not my favorite. We walked to find our Airbnb—this was a task in itself. Once we found our place it was a really cool complex that looked like it could have been an old school turned into lofts or something? Either way, we met our host and he showed us our space. He had a Nespresso maker in our room so I made myself a decaf espresso with a splash of milk. 

After freshening up we sorted out the path to the city center. The night life was just getting started, so people were starting to hit the streets. Still not super impressed with the city at the point, but it was definitely improving the further we walked. We found the city center and it started to get more interesting. We walked around for awhile taking in the sights and decided we should get some grub. We couldn't find a place to eat, y'all know the struggle, am I right? We had finally decided on this Noodle Bar, but right as we had finally made up our minds, a group of 12 people walked in the door right before us. Next, please! Literally 4 doors down we saw this place with a very nicely designed logo out front. Honestly, that's the first good sign for me and it's something I gravitate towards, obviously. This place was called Baogo. It was pretty dang stellar. They had a decently small menu with relatively few choices (which i also love) I ordered a Panko Salmon Bao (Crispy Salmon with Avocado, Fennel, Dill and Cucumber Slaw, Coriander, Basil Mayo) and Wade ordered a Pulled Pork Bao (Slow Cooked Pork in Five Spice Marinade with Asian Slaw, Spring Onions, Pickled Cucumber, Crushed Peanuts). We both had fries, one spicy and one regular. They were served with spicy thai mayo and a garlic mayo. I love me some dipping sauce. It was definitely meant to be that we ended up in this restaurant. Probably a major highlight of the city for me, is that lame?

We ended the evening with a warm nutella waffle and headed to our apartment to rest up. Night one was a success!

day 23 // sat feb 3

We had a good night's sleep and headed out for a full day of exploring. We only walked 8.5 miles today, not as many as last weekend. Our first stop was a breakfast pastry, then to find the Comic Book Museum. We spent a good amount of time at the museum and Wade was totally digging it.  We also learned that a lot of popular comics were started in Belgium. The Adventures of Tintin was created by a Belgian artist in 1929, so there are a lot cool prints and figurines on display. Then we were on the hunt for a place called Maison Antoine which someone from Brussels told us was THE place to get fries. Little did we know that apparently there is also a lace store on the Grand Place square called 'Maison Antoine'. You could imagine how disappointed to find lace, not fries—haha!

We eventually found the real fry place on the map and it was pretty far from where we were so we decided we would grab something small and keep wondering. We ended at a small sandwich joint, then hopped from chocolate shop to chocolate shop. Ps–check out those chocolate tools below that legitimately look real-life. We unfortunately didn't but those, but did get a variety of other Belgian chocolates including almonds, truffles, espresso beans, and raisins. 

At last we found our fries!! Also, the most interesting thing to me is that all of the restaurants/bars  surrounding the Maison Antoine place have signs posted outside that say "fries accepted." I guess that's when you know these fries are the jam. They were also served with a side of mayo and ketchup. Boy do I love that they eat fries with mayo. Not sure why that isn't more of a thing in the US. 

After we finished our fries we opted for the easier route and took an Uber back to the center. We decided we needed one last waffle before retreating to our airbnb. This time around we got nutella, banana, and whipped cream. SO good. Overall a good day! 

Brussels Recommendations: 

Baogo - Rue Grétry 50, 1000 Bruxelles, Belgium

Maison Antoine - Place Jourdan 1, 1040 Etterbeek, Belgium

 

day 24 // sun feb 4

We had an early train back to Bonn so we didn't do any sightseeing.  We enjoyed Brussels, but probably mostly the food-ha! We are traveling to Prague this weekend and will keep you posted! 

 

day 18 – 21 // mon jan 29 – thur feb 1

Photos below are from the past week. Pretty chill week. Wade and I had a date night Monday to dinner and a movie. Tuesday we had a faculty dinner at a very nice Spanish restaurant. AIB provided tapas for the table and it was a good chance to meet some of the other current faculty and professors on staff. See below the sweet latte art from a local Bonn coffee shop. We also found a German "Chipotle" style restaurant this week. It was relatively good, but also had very cool aesthetic and as you know that's a win in my book. I also dressed like I was going to a biker gang meeting and then a funeral, but was actually going to the gym. Gotta keep people guessin'.

heidelberg, germany.

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day 15 // fri jan 26 

Our train left Bonn at 3PM on Friday and headed South down the Rhine. It was such a pretty train ride. I lost count of all the castles I saw along the way. We arrived around 5:45 at the Heidelberg main train station. From here we stopped by the information desk. *Pro tip–I always recommend stopping by the tourist desk or info desk at the main train station—even if you feel lame, they most always speak English and have good info to share. We got a city map and she pointed us in the right direction of our Airbnb. We found our cute little place which was about a 15 minute walk from the station. Airbnb tour coming soon! 

We settled in for a bit then decided to venture out for dinner. Wade and I were traveling with our friend from school, Lin. We decided on an Asian place and split food family style. I know, I know not traditional German food, but hey we are here for awhile and I will definitely have my fair share of schnitzel before the time is up! 

day 16 // sat jan 27

Holy walking Batman. We walked 10.51 miles or 23,862 stinking steps today. Worth it, though! We started bright and early and ventured toward Old Town. There were only a handful of people out and about at this hour. I played my basic card and got a skinny caramel latte at Starbucks. Partially because I really was craving it, and partially because we had to go to the bathroom and you had to pay, so might as well get a coffee with that money and pee for free. Sorry, TMI. I also love the way Germans tend to spell “Gill” maybe I’ll start spelling it that way, spice it up a little.

Okay, enough of that. We walked through the streets of Old Town Heidelberg which was like an outdoor shopping mall mixed with historically beautiful storefronts. We found the well-known Karl Theodor Bridge, literally called the "old bridge." But we were sad it was so foggy and hard to really see a lot of the cool landscapes and castle views. 

After this we found another info desk and the nice lady informed us the fog was out of the norm and she hadn’t seen it this bad in pretty much ever. coooool. She did however sell us tram tickets plus entrance to the Castle for €4 euro a person (with the student discount), we will take it!  

We eventually stopped for lunch at a little cafe. I had a mozzarella and tomato focaccia sandwich. It was cheap and definitely worth the carbs. Wade had ham & cheese pizza bites, which was essentially a calzone with a garlic sauce.   

THEN, my nerd dreams came true again and we found a packaging museum. It was €3 a person and a cute little spot. They were showcasing a traveling exhibit on Stollwerck. Stollwerck is a German chocolate manufacturer. It was founded in 1839 and expanded internationally in Europe and America, becoming the second largest producer of chocolate in the United States by 1900. The museum showcased an assortment of packaging designs, processes and tons of really beautiful intricate designs.

After our museum visit we took a tram up the mountainside to the Heidelberg Castle. This was very cool. They had a free exhibit of the history of pharmacy. They also had what I assume is the world’s biggest wine barrel. That thing was massive! 

We started to head back to the Airbnb but were pleasantly surprise when we stumbled upon a little store front with loads of people outside. I asked what they were waiting for and they said Schneeballen... um sure, sign us up! Turns out they are essentially a fried crunchy dough covered in your choice of chocolate, cinnamon, or whatever option you could dream up. We got an apple cinnamon sugar one and one with chocolate inside. So good. The stranger in the street really sold us on them, maybe he was secretly getting paid by them, who knows. He said they were a Heidelberg tradition, but he could also be making that up. Nonetheless they were yummy. After our accidental find we took an afternoon break and relaxed at the apartment for a bit. 

Being the culturally adventurous people we are, we went to an Indian place for dinner. Then we were pooped. Fun day. 

day 17 // sun jan 28

Totally writing this from a McDonald’s waiting on our train. I forgot from my last study abroad that Germany closes shop on Sundays. Like everything. That being said, we had a little time to kill before our train so here we are. ALTHOUGH, I am usually never disappointed in McDonald’s coffee. Isn’t that right, Netta? Haters gonna hate, but the flavor of their coffee is pretty good. 

Our train leaves soon then back to Bonn we go! We have a busy week with several excursions to Cologne for school things. Tomorrow we go to a cinema to see the moving ‘Loving Vincent’ and then again on Tue/Thursday for museums visits.

Brussels, Belgium this weekend. We also bought our tickets to Spain which I’m pretty pumped about! Also, Ris and Jarrod have officially booked their flights to France for Easter. All the good things to look forward to, or as my boy Mat Kearney says, “all the feels tonight are real. All that’s real you can’t buy or steal.” Except train tickets to different countries, those you can totally buy. 

Lastly, here are some pictures from our Airbnb! I love the way it was styled. We rented this space for two nights. The owner was a photographer and had a very cool style/vibe in his apartment. We picked up the key at a restaurant across the street which made it feel even cooler? Maybe that was just me. Here's the link if you're interested. 

cologne, germany.

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day 11 // mon jan 22nd

Mondays are movie nights. Down the street from our apartment/school is a local theatre that does a €5 English screening of a movie that isn’t out yet in the states. It’s apparently a very big deal and the movie theatre was recently voted one of the best in Germany. That being said, we had planned on going this week but tickets sold out faster than normal (due to mentioned award above) so we forfeit our tickets to a few of the students. Maybe next week though! 

 

day 12 // tue jan 23rd

Normal class day—nothing too fancy. I have been going to a gym this week, though. My thought is that I can feel better about eating ALL the amazing goodness if I work out during the week. All about balance right? Speaking of, we have a weekly faculty meeting for all the visiting faculty to met each other, discuss the program and socialize once a week. This week we met at Beirhaus Machold, which is a traditional German style restaurant. Wade had jägerschnitzel and I had something I couldn’t pronounce but it reminded me of a potatoe pancake topped with apple compote. Felt like I needed a nap after that meal. 

 

day 13 // wed jan 24th

I woke up with a bit of cold, maybe due the fact we ran around Koblenz in the rain last weekend? Anywho, I took it easy (and took Dayquil) before adventuring that afternoon to the Haus der Geschichte (House of the History of the Federal Republic of Germany) Museum in Bonn. This museum focuses on the history of German after WW2 and gets around 1 million visitors every year. We had a led tour that was very informative and intriguing.

 

day 14 // thurs jan 25th 

Today we had a day-trip to Cologne, Germany. It's very near to Bonn and very full of life. We started the day off with a trip to the Wallraf-Richartz Art Museum. We went to lunch at a chain-style restaurant that is pretty well known and for good reason. It was called Vapiano's. I had a pesto and spinach pizza and Wade had mushroom risotto! Then we did a guided walking tour of the city and last, but definitely not least, we toured the Cologne Cathedral (Köln Dom). We had a roof-top tour that is not generally offered to the public. You literally take the work elevator up, then crawlled through the very top attic-like parts of one of the biggest (top 4) cathedrals in all of Europe. We took a tiny spiral staircase all the way up. So cool and only slightly terrifying! 

koblenz, germany.

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day 8 // fri jan 19th

School day today and a historic city tour of Bonn in the afternoon. We had lunch at an Asian/Thai  joint that our friend Lin found one day. They had a curry special for 4,90 euro and it was tasty. Wade loves curry and I've now jumped on the curry bandwagon since our time together.

Our tour guide was a sweet lady originally from London but had been in Bonn for 30+ years. She had a great sense of humor and her english was obviously very good. We learned a lot of some of the neat details about this interesting city.

That evening Wade and I had been dreaming about this burger place called Burger Manufaktur that our AIB directors had for lunch one day this week. It smelled and looked delicious so we knew we had to try it. It was about a half a mile walk from our apartment, so not too bad. It was a tiny little place with such a cute ambiance. We ordered and waited for a seat. The fries y'all—they were to die for! 

day 9 // sat jan 20th

Wade and I took a day trip to Koblenz, Germany. It was about an hour train ride south of Bonn. We got to the train station to purchase tickets, which we thought we did correctly, but immediately doubted ourselves and had to ask someone to verify. 

We got on the correct train and made it a few stops. Then we realized we were almost the only ones still on the train. We politely asked a woman if this train was going to the Koblenz HBF and she said yes that's where she was going, too. We proceed to sit back down then frantically she comes up to us and said she had misspoken and only part of the train was proceeding ahead! We darted off the train and ran to a different car that WAS going to Koblenz. All very funny looking back at it now. 

Once arriving in Koblenz we got to the main train station and I paid 1 euro to go to the restroom. I then took a selfie in their full-length mirror because well, I paid 1 euro for it. After that we got a chocolate covered pastry with a little clown on it (I'm guessing for Karneval, not totally sure) and started to explore. It was slightly raining, but then it started to come down more and more. We found a cute little pizza place and took a lunch break inside for a bit hoping the rain would lighten. We shared a salami pizza. 

We eventually found the Deutsches Eck (or 'German Corner') where the Mosel river joins the Rhine. This corner is known for a HUGE monumental equestrian statue of William I, the first German Emperor, erected in 1897 in appreciation of his merits in the unification of Germany. This thing was massive and so cool. We were both in awe of its size. 

We explored some more and decided it was time to head back to Bonn. It was a nice day even if the rain was trying to dampen our spirits (pun intended).

PS - today was the 5 year anniversary of Wade and I's first date. the cutest <3 

 

day 10 // sun jan 21st

I took a spin class today... totally in German. I've taken spin classes at the student rec for awhile now, but nothing like this. The instructor taught me how to set up the bike with purely hand motions and a handful of words neither fully understood. The nice thing about spin is that it's all about rhythm and personal drive. At the end he gave me a high-five and complimented me... I think. 

gutenberg museum.

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day 6 // wed jan 17th

You guys, for real. Today didn't even seem like real life. It was my heaven on earth—what design nerd dreams are made of. First off, we woke up in a CASTLE, then we took a train to Mainz, Germany. Which is birthplace of Johannes Gutenberg, who introduced the world to mechanical movable type printing and essentially started the printing revolution. Meaning, he was a big freaking deal. We went to a huge museum dedicated to printing and I even got to see 1.5 Gutenberg Bibles. These were amazing and under very tight lock and key. Meaning no pictures, BUT the memory will for sure last forever. The museum currently owns 1.5 original Gutenberg bibles. They were so big and heavy that the book binders back then decided to make the bible into two seperate books. 

After our tour we got to do a letterpress workshop and make some really cool prints that I will treasure! We then had lunch at a local fish market recommended by our tour guide. *pro tip-always ask your guides and/or a local where to eat. This is something I didn't do my first go round in europe cause we (Ris & I) were on a strict budget and probably a little scared to venture too far out of our comfort zone. Wade and I both had fresh cod and different types of potatoes. Very delicious. 

Still on a high from this experience. I told Wade I could spend an entire day there. Who knows, maybe we will go back! 

day 7 // thurs jan 18th

We've been exactly a week, which to me seems impossible! We have already explored and seen so much. Official classes started today and our days will be a bit more structured now. I am teaching a class on motion design with specific emphasis on cultural reflection and exploration. I think the results will be very cool. 

castle dreams.

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day 4 // mon jan 15th

This was one Monday I had no problem getting out bed. I was excited to get the first full week started. We had some meetings this morning at school for our visas as well as Wade's first German class. We did a little exploring during lunch to find something new to eat. Bonn is a very interesting city, it was the capital of West Germany while it was still divided, so there are a lot of large historic buildings and landmarks. Also, Haribo (the gummy bear company) is a German founded company with specific ties to Bonn—the "bo" in Haribo actually represents the word 'Bonn'. Needless to say there are a plethora of gummies here. Wade ended up getting a chicken döner wrap for lunch and I had a spinach feta pastry thing that was yummy! Our evening was quiet, we both worked on some homework/school work and hit they hay for our early morning adventure. 

day 5 // tue jan 16th

On Tuesday we left for a bonding trip with the students. Our program directors at AIB have several excursions planned throughout the semester which is a really great experience for students to see interesting museums and get to know each other outside of the classroom. We woke up very early and met at a bus stop. From there we rode about an hour and half to Bad Kreuznach, Germany. A nice little town nestled on the river. Here we went to a puppet museum, sounds sort of creepy, but not entirely–ha. Puppetry as a form of theatre was very popular in Europe, so the history behind it was pretty interesting. After our tour we walked down the river about 4 miles to our lunch spot. I had traditional German Schnitzel with fries and a delicious apple dessert. Then we advenutred a little higher the mountainside to our castle in Ebernburg. Here the students did an photography and light workshop with a local Germany artist. That evening we had dinner in an 800 year old medieval building. A husband and wife bought this structure and turned it into a working restaurant named Kurpfälzer Amtshof. It was lit with mostly candles, had uneven rock floors and served very delicious food. The owner even let us stay for awhile and enjoy the evening. Then we treked back up to the castle we were staying in and all my princess dreams came true. :)