Austria – Weekend in Salzburg

When you’re an expat, you can use any excuse for a trip.  Winters in Luxembourg are also pretty quiet, so we took advantage of any reason to mix things up.  Nico was in Munich for work, so I joined him for a weekend down in Salzburg, which is an hour and a half drive away from Munich.

Saturday

It was a cold and gloomy day when we walked around historic center.  Some things that Salzburg is known for became very apparent due to the amount of advertised tourism surrounding all three:

  1. Salzburg and some areas around were used as the setting for “The Sound of Music”.  I’ve never seen it, but I probably should.  There are entire tour buses dedicated to visiting all the filming sites for this 1965 movie.
  2. Salzburg means “salt fortress” due to barges carrying salt down the river Salzach. There’s also a salt mine that you can visit, as advertised with an interesting flyer.
  3. Salzburg was the birthplace of Mozart.  You can visit Mozart’s birthplace, Mozart’s residence, a Café Mozart, and eat Mozart chocolates.
20180217-IMG_4184
Domplatz Salzburg
20180217-IMG_4211
View of Salzburg and the river Salzach

Continue reading “Austria – Weekend in Salzburg”

Spain – Seville & Granada

I haven’t written about any of my travels in 2018 yet, and I’m not going to give excuses, but I’m here to try to catch up 🙂  In January, Nico and I were back in Europe after spending the holidays bouncing around New York and Texas.  It was a ton of traveling to be able to see all our family and friends, and we were looking forward to a week to ourselves in Spain.

Day 1 – Cordoba & Carmona

Nico and I had met up a childhood friend of his and his wife and spent New Year’s in Madrid with them.  On January 2nd, we drove down to Carmona with a super quick stop through Cordoba as we were already running late.

Cordoba definitely deserved more than the roughly 1 hour stop we took.  It’s full of beautiful gardens with mixed Roman, Islamic, and Christian architecture.  We were able to walk by the Roman bridge, see the outside of the Mosque Cathedral, and the inside of the Jardines del Alcázar all while surrounded by fragrant orange trees.

At the end of our 5 hour drive from Madrid was Carmona.  It’s a small fortressed town built atop a ridge outside of Sevilla where we stayed in a beautiful hotel from the 1500s.  There’s a lovely town center where we had the most delicious spinach and chickpea tapas.

Day 2 – Sevilla

After a cozy night in Carmona, we spent the next two days in Sevilla.  I must say, with the highest praise, that Sevilla is like the Austin of Spain 😉  Not only because it was the warmest and sunniest part of our trip, but mostly because it’s a student heavy city with a lively and colorful feel to it.  There were cute hipster cafes and tapas bars in the area by the Metropol Parasol that just made me want to live there.  Aaand that’s the main thing that reminded me of Austin, but I could have also been a little home sick.

Continue reading “Spain – Seville & Granada”

Money Diary – Lux Edition

What’s it like to live and work in Luxembourg?  I got inspiration from reading Refinery29’s Money Diaries, which I think is a great way to expand on the sometimes taboo topic of money.  I decided to write my own money diary for a week and present it here, excluding my salary information.  Everything that was in Euros has been converted to USD at a rate of 1.23, which is where it’s been around for the last 3 months.

Occupation: Business Analyst
Industry: Operations and Transportation
Age: 28
Location: Luxembourg

Monthly Expenses
Rent: $879.45  (Monthly total of €1,430 including water, trash, and heating is split in half with my boyfriend)
Student Loan Payment: $0  (I am extremely lucky to have generous parents)
Cell Phone Bill: $40.58
Internet: $23.92  (Monthly total of $47.85, split in half with my boyfriend)
Electricity: $19.47  (Monthly total of $38.94, split in half with my boyfriend)
Public Transportation: $22.79  (My company subsidizes roughly 50% of an annual pass that allows for unlimited travel throughout the country)
Spotify, Netflix, Adobe, iCloud: $26.41
Gym: $25.82
Charity: ~$50, to various organizations

45a19f4e-4af2-4f09-a814-eee6a65d04e7

Continue reading “Money Diary – Lux Edition”

Italy – A Winter Weekend in Piedmont

Living in a tiny country has gotten me used to frequent traveling, so after my ACL reconstruction, I felt like I was grounded in Luxembourg.  Although I did a fair bit around the city, I didn’t go anywhere else for over 2 months.  I had actually booked my flight to Turin the day after my surgery in anticipation.  However, I always equated Italy with warm weather (yes, I know the Alps are there, but that’s in a high elevation right?), so I wasn’t happy when I checked the forecast and it was colder than Luxembourg…  The good food more than made up for it though 🙂

20171203-DSCF9583
Palazzina di caccia of Stupinigi

Day 1 – Torino

Working in an international environment really has its perks.  Nico and I got several recommendations for where to eat and what to do from people who are either from Turin or had lived there before.  First up was to get some bicerin.  It’s a drink from Turin that is basically thick hot chocolate with espresso and milk.  We went to the popular Cafe Al Bicerin, est. 1763, where the decor is reminiscent of an old timey candy or coffee shop.  We had to wait in line outside because the space only fits about 15 people cozily.  If you’re in the mood for anything savory, you’re out of luck, but damn was the bicerin a perfect start for a cold day.

20171202-IMG_3619
Turino Advent Calendar

After we finished filling ourselves up with sugar, we took a stroll around the centro and then ducked into some indoor sites when it started raining.  We visited the Turin Cathedral of Saint John the Baptist, where the Shroud of Turin is stored.  It sits in a closed off area in a box, behind a curtain, behind glass.  Super exclusive.  They pull back the curtains once a day (?), and I was lucky enough to catch a glimpse of the box.  Afterwards, we checked out the Royal Library, Sabauda Art Gallery, and the Armory Museum.

20171202-IMG_3639
Sabauda Gallery

Continue reading “Italy – A Winter Weekend in Piedmont”

Luxembourg – 1 Year & Counting

I cannot believe that it’s already been a year since I moved to Luxembourg!  I came with a heart full of hope, love, and excitement for things to come, and none of that has diminished.

How It All Started

My first blog entry was about how I met Nico and wound up in Luxembourg, but it was very personal and I was hesitant to publish it publicly until now.  In short, I met him at a hostel in Peru while I was solo traveling after a breakup.  We spent a year cross-Atlantic long distance dating, until we moved to Luxembourg together.

Reflecting on that first post, I’m baffled by the amount of time that has flown by.  I still miss Austin here and there, but I’m really enjoying being in Luxembourg.  As part of that, and cause now I’m an “expert”, I’ll be posting more about what life is like here, as well as what to do around these parts 🙂

Ireland – Doolin, Limerick, Galway, & Whiskey

In September, Nico and I went to Newport, RI for his cousin’s wedding.  We were there for barely 48 hours, but it was my first time back in the US in 6 months, and this is what I realized that I missed the most (besides my friends and family, of course!): the ease and incredible selection when shopping for anything, the way restaurants give you a huge, free glass of water filled with ice without you even having to ask for it, and how friendly and chatty strangers are.

We flew from Dublin to Providence with Norwegian Air, which usually has really great deals between Europe and North America (I paid around $250 round trip, which was cheaper than my flight from Lux to Dublin lol).  As neither of us had been to Ireland before, of course we made a holiday out of it.

Day 1 – Doolin

We landed in Dublin jet lagged at 8am, picked up our rental car, and made it about 15 minutes before we had to stop at the nearest coffee shop to gather our wits.  Our ambitious plan was to drive 3 hours to a hostel in Doolin and then check out the Cliffs of Moher.  I’m lucky enough to be able to sleep on flights relatively easily, so I drove while tried to catch some Zs.

From our hotel in Doolin, we headed off on the Cliffs of Moher Walking Trail, but there is also a Hop On Hop Off bus that takes you straight to the visitor center and popular view points.

8b49204a-5b12-4a3c-ad2d-d0826ae1d1db
So windy

Holy crap, it was so windy.  It’s a beautiful little hike, a bit muddy, and the waves crashing into the cliffs are awesome.  That day, it was so windy that the mist from the waves down below were being blown straight up.  The wind also literally blew me off my feet, and I tweaked my injured knee and didn’t get to finish the hike.

20170911-DSCF9579
Cliffs of Moher

Continue reading “Ireland – Doolin, Limerick, Galway, & Whiskey”

Slovakia – Banská Štiavnica, High Tatra Mountains, Gerlachovský štít

I’m alive!  I suppose this is what happens when I work too much…  It’s been 3 months since my last post, so let’s get on with it, continuing from this post on my trip in the Czech Republic.

Day 6 – Banská Štiavnica

This whole trip involved a lot of driving and exploring and hiking, which are all things that I love.  Banská Štiavnica is a cute little medieval mining town about a 2.5 hour drive from Bratislava, with a population of about 10,000 people.  We even had lunch at a restaurant with an old mining shaft in it.  The town crest is decorated with a gold and a silver lizard, referring to the legend that says these lizards first led a shepherd to discover gold and silver ores.

IMG_3005
Banská Štiavnica
IMG_3024
Štôlňa Glanzenberg mining tunnel

We were hoping to get a massage to recover from our Sněžka hike, but were a bit deterred by this sign…

IMG_3025
ouch

Day 7 – High Tatras

The goal of this trip was to climb the highest point in Slovakia, which is located in the High Tatras Mountains.  We had driven in the night before to Štrbské Pleso, a little ski resort at the foot of the mountain range, where we spent the day relaxing and finally getting that massage.  For some reason, we opted for a “local special” as part of the massage, which involved getting strapped into a contraption and being flipped upside down and just hanging out for 15 minutes upside down.  Did not like.  Do not recommend.  Will never willingly do that again.

Continue reading “Slovakia – Banská Štiavnica, High Tatra Mountains, Gerlachovský štít”