Hanoi City Break

It's been so long since I've had some time to myself. Sometimes life gets so hectic that I can't even hear myself think! So when the opportunity came up for me to get away from it all for a few days, I've decided to jet off to Hanoi. It was the perfect city break for my exhausted soul. The city is crammed with affordable luxuries. My days were filled with wandering through streets of Hanoi searching for exotic and delicious street food, hopping from one museum to another according to my eccentricities and interests, and at the end of the day, relax in one of the city's many spas for a massage or pedicure. At the end of my 6 day break in Hanoi, I felt rested, inspired and ready to take on what ever life throws at me.


4 Beauty Must Haves I Travel With

I'm not high maintenance when it comes to my skincare regimen while traveling. I don't like to stuff my luggage with bottles of makeup and creams. But traveling exposes your skin to the elements and pollution. Traipsing through different time zones and adjusting to irregular sleeping schedules can also wreck havoc on your skin.That's why I always make an extra effort to care for my skin while traveling. There are 4 items that I will not travel without. These items are natural, multifunctional and so good for your skin.

Wild Rose Balm: I use the Wild Rose Balm from Neal's Yard Remedies.This balm is a little pricey but so multifunctional. You can use it as a makeup remover, a mask, to exfoliate, soothe cuticles and dry cracked skin, for chapped skin from wind burns, etc. I love to dab some on my cheeks in the winter to prevent wind burns and protect my skin from the wintry air. I don't wear a lot of makeup while traveling so I don't like to bring a bottle of makeup remover just for the times I do wear it. I use the wild rose balm to remove my makeup when I don't have makeup remover on hand. It removes even waterproof eyeliner!  

Chapstick: I use my chapstick everyday, 3 times a day, sometimes more. I have to have a chapstick on me at all times. Especially while on the plane and in hotels with the heater or air conditioner blasting, I reapply every 2 hours. I usually keep 2 or 3 on me. My favorite is Dr. Bronner's organic lip balm because it's natural and it feels great on my lips.

Sunblock: When I was young I rarely use sunblock. I hated the sticky feel of sunblock and it tends to make me breakout every time I use it. But as soon as I turned 30, I noticed spots and uneven pigment on my face. It was a wake up call! Hours of sightseeing outdoors under the sun can do lots of damage. So I took the time and money to try out different types of sunblock for my face and I found the one I love. Vichy's UV PRO SPF 50 tinted Sunblock. It's feels very light on my skin and it doesn't make me break out, it comes in a small tube that's light and easy to carry and it has a tint to even out my skin tone without having to wear powder or foundation.  

Dr. Bronner's 18-in-1 soap: I love this soap! I use it for everything. When I travel, I like to use the tea tree one for it's antibacterial and oil reducing properties. I use it to wash my face, body, clothes, dishes, and sometimes even to brush my teeth. It's so good for overnight trips where you want to carry as little as possible. There was one time that I used it to remove a huge curry stain off of my light blue jeans. The oily yellow stain completely came off after 2 washes by hand.

Depending on the places and time of the year I go, sometimes I bring more skincare products, sometimes I bring less. But these 4 items are things I will not travel without. What beauty products do you like to travel with? Please share!


Travel Must Haves

I have done quite a bit of traveling with and without kids in the recent years. The reaction I get most often when my friends and family are scrolling through my travel photos is, "How can you travel with so little?" Well, after numerous trips across the globe, I kind of figured a few things out. My packing philosophy is "pack items that are multifunctional". Here is a list of items I never travel without.

Safety pins 

Safety pins are great as makeshift locks. I use it to pin the zippers of my bag together. Although not a sturdy lock but at least it would make it a tiny bit harder for pickpockets. I also use it to pin my money pouch onto my bag to prevent it from pickpockets or slipping out. Safety pins can be used as a broach. Not the prettiest broach in the world but it serves a great purpose in holding my scarf in place. Using safety pins is a smart way to dry loose items and save money on laundry. I always wash delicates by hand when I travel. But not all hotels and apartments are equipped with a clothes line. I use safety pins to pin socks, undies, bras onto the window curtain to hang dry. But if you do this, make sure to remove these items before having guests over to prevent an embarrassing situation.   


I love bringing a light cotton scarf when I travel. It's great as a blanket on airplanes, trains, buses, cars, air conditioned rooms...etc. It's lighter than a jacket so I can keep it in my day pack. There were times when I used it as a bath towel. It's multifunctional in that I can use it as beach wear. In warm climates, I have used it as a wrap skirt, a halter dress and a beach cover up. On sunny days, I drape it around my shoulders to prevent sunburn while sightseeing.

Smart phone 

I remember the days when I used to fill up half my suitcase with maps, travel guides, and novels. Thanks to the invention of smart phones, I can now cut down the weight of my travel pack. I just download what I need as I go. There are several essential travel apps I love to use. I use Skype to stay in touch with family and friends, ebook and music apps that help fill the mundane train and bus rides. The best part is the offline maps! It's a life saver for a person like me, who has no sense of direction. Another convenience of traveling with a smart phone is the development of car rental apps. Relayrides offers airport rentals across America and the app can easily be obtained through its website.

Zip lock bags

Zip lock bags are useful on a trip anywhere in the world; not to mention very budget friendly. I use it as a doggie bag for unfinished snacks/food, car/air sick bag, bag for storing delicates, waterproof bag, and packing cubes. It's also perfect for storing and organizing loose items. I had stored my cell phone in a ziplock bag on a rafting trip in Cesky Krumlov and it was the smartest thing I had done! My phone fell into puddles of water multiple times and it was banged around in my bag but the zip lock bag was sturdy enough so that not a single drop of water got on the phone.

With these few items in my travel pack, I haven't found the need to bring a whole lot on my travels. To ensure a safe and comfortable trip, I always check to make sure I have these items with me before departing. 


Less Money, More Happiness

Would it ever make sense if I say, "at this point in my life, I only want to make enough money to get by?"  I mean, it's tiring always thinking, always worrying, always comparing. But depending on what kind of family you grew up in, an idea like this is nearing taboo. I grew up in a first generation immigrant family. My parents never made enough money to get by. My brother and I watched as the lines on our parents' faces cut deeper and deeper from years of worry and hard work.

"It all would be worth it in the end," my mother would say, "if you two do well in school, get a good job and make lots of money."

The ideal has always been for me to get a job in Wall Street as an investment banker and make millions. But they had never expected me to be married at 23, move back to Asia, have kids and become a stay at home mom. The years of lectures and support from my parents that would surely lead me onto the path for glory and success went down the drain. My dad had taken this disappointment like a blunt force trauma. They were disappointed but they thought I just needed some time to do what Americans call "soul searching". Even 5 years later when I thought it possible to start working again, they still held out hope. Hoping that I would continue the American dream.

While I am grateful for all the life experiences I've had walking towards my parents' dream life, I know I cannot be happy living in it.

"You will have happiness and family once you have a career that makes lots of money." My dad had always taught me.

There is even a saying in Chinese saying that roughly translates to, "all will go badly for the husband and wife who lives in poverty." How can I argue with a centuries old maxim? 

But I don't want to argue. Not anymore. Nor do I want to justify why I continue to disappoint and defy my parents' good intentions. I felt I've already wasted too much time chasing something that I don't want. Now I just want to spend my time doing things that I've always wanted to try but never had the time or courage.

This all sounds straight forward and maybe even a little whiny. But I assure you, this is a long and arduous process. And it continues to be a struggle everyday. Recently, I've found a job as an English Teacher.

"You? A teacher? Can you teach? How much money can you make as a part time English teacher?" Many have questioned as I make this transition. 

Here is my answer, "yes, me, a teacher. I can teach, that's why they hired me. Don't make big bucks but it provided me with the opportunity to try and learn something new."

Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying I don't need money to live. I'm just saying I don't need tons of money to make me happy once I figured out what actually makes me happy. Freedom makes me happy. Teaching makes me happy. Writing makes me happy. Traveling makes me happy. watching my kids grow makes me happy. Eating makes me happy. While some of these things may not require lots of money, it does however, require time. I'm saving the time that I spend on making more money (working more) and instead use it on doing things that gives my life meaning. As an economist would say, I think I have reached a parietal optimum.  



Day Trip with Kids: Gouda

When I arrived in Amsterdam on my own with two kids under five years old, I didn't think I would get a chance to explore any further than this eclectic canal city. Instead of signing on for a hop on hop off bus, I purchased a weekly tram ticket so I can take the kids on tram rides and some sightseeing. Four days went by and the kids and I became very familiar with the city and it's sights through our numerous tram rides. We have visited museums, parks, markets and even art galleries. Then I thought, maybe I can try going a little farther now that the kids are settled and has gotten over jet lag. My first attempt at a day trip on my own with the kids, Gouda.  

Gouda is a town in South Holland known for its cheese. The city center is compact and easy to navigate, which is great when visiting with kids. Taking a train from Amsterdam central, Gouda can be reached in a little under an hour. Once we arrived in Gouda's train station, it was an easy 10 minute stroll (under 10 minutes if walking without kids) to the market square. The market square was filled with stalls selling all kinds of fruits and vegetables, cheese and knick knacks. With the snacks we purchased from the market in hand, we headed to a quiet spot next to the canal to enjoy. After our tummies are full from our delicious yet budget friendly meal, we started exploring.

Market square

Gouda's Old Town Hall is the oldest Gothic town hall in The Netherlands, built between 1448-50. However, there was a wedding there that day and we didn't feel right to intrude. So we admired it from the outside.

Old Town Hall

Across from the Old Town Hall is The Weighing House where most of the cheese business was and are still conducted. The building consists of a souvenir shop on the first floor, a pipe making demonstration on the second and a cheese museum on the third. The cheese museum had cheese making equipments and scales on display. A video on the process of cheese making was shown. It wasn't the most interesting thing I've ever seen but the kids seem to enjoy it.

Cheese weighing equipment at The Weighing House

Pipe making demonstration

Following the tourist signs, we snaked in and out of small streets and peeked into the Museum of Gouda and Saint John's Church. This is the part we all enjoyed. Exploring what seems like a quiet, forgotten garden by the Museum of Gouda and Saint John's Church is thrilling yet paradoxically, relaxing. We sat on the benches for a while and made up stories of the bricks and ruins we stumbled upon. There was also a beautiful terrace outside of the Gouda Museum which looked like it was serving afternoon tea. It looked very classy and elegant.

Museum Cafe Gouda
In the late afternoon, I decided to do some cheese shopping. We popped in and out of dozens of cheese shops and sampled more varieties of Gouda cheeses than I've ever imagined existed. The kids enjoyed it immensely and was patient with the whole shopping experience; which was rare. What I thought would be a 10 minute grab and go turned into a full hour of cheese tasting.

Cheese Shops

To end our day trip with a bang...we walked back to the train station only to find it on lock down. There was a bomb threat in the train station. We were trapped! No trains or buses were allowed to leave Gouda until...god knows when! We waited around the station for an hour and still no news of when there will be running trains again. By this time the kids are tired and cranky. I can sense a melt down coming. So, we headed back into the town center and hung around a cafe for 2 hours. Luckily, the cafe had toys and games to keep the kids entertained. While the kids played, my brain was running in circles trying to find a way home. At last, I did!

La Place
We circled the main street a couple of times to see if there were any buses. I saw a tour bus with loads of people getting on and I asked to hop on. Since I was a single woman traveling with two kids, the driver deemed it safe for us to get on. We were dropped off at the nearest train station and from there we took the train back to Amsterdam. By this time the kids had fallen asleep and I was carrying the younger one on my hip and pushing the older one on the stroller. It seemed like a bleak moment until strangers on the street came to my aid. One woman went out of her way to take me to the train I was supposed to take, waited until the train came, and another helped me carry the stroller with my son on it on to the train. I've heard about the kindness of strangers but it's the first time I've ever had an encounter. Words cannot express the gratitude I felt for these strangers; these people whom I've never met and probably will never see again. Not only did they come to my aid in the time of need and weakness but they also made me see that there are people out there who are kind just to be kind. Sitting on the train on the way back to Amsterdam, the ending to The Diary of Anne Frank flashed through my mind, "In spite of everything, I still believe that people are really good at heart." It's been years since reading Anne's diary, but I believe what she believes to be true because I've seen it. And it's ironic that I just happened to be in Amsterdam at the time of this epiphany.

Statue of Anne Frank in Amsterdam

The kids were exhausted from the long day and I'm glad to be back safe in our apartment. I know the bomb threat is not an everyday occurrence and The Netherlands is generally a safe country, so it didn't deter me from taking another day trip with the kids after we all got a couple days of rest.   


Carry On Do's and Don'ts When Traveling with Kids

In the materialistic world we live in, kids are often surrounded with the newest gadgets and coolest toys. This new generation of kids are so used to living with things our parents and grandparents never needed or even heard of. It is when I really needed to pack a light day bag while towing two kids on my own across the European continent did I give serious thoughts as to what to pack in my day bag. What do I need to bring with me at all times when traveling with two kids? After countless day trips, overnight trips, international trips with babies and toddlers I have learned a thing or two about packing a carry on bag. When traveling with kids, bringing too much stuff can be hazardous or just down right exhausting. The balance between what you think you need and what you actually need is a tough equation to solve. Bringing items that are multifunctional is an excellent way to avoid over packing. Below is a list of items in my day bag; a list that has seen the tests of many trips and adventures.


Burp Cloth: Burp cloths are not just for babies. Even if your babies have out grown out of using a burp cloth, don't throw them away just yet. It can double as an emergency sling (tested), tissue (much more eco friendly than paper tissue and much more practical for runny noses), dish cloth, bib, scarf, light blanket, pillow case, bath towel...etc. It's amazing how one little piece of cloth can do so much!

Water bottle: It's especially important to keep kids hydrated while out and about. Keeping them hydrated not only for health reasons but it also prevent melt downs. Carrying a disposable water bottle can double as a portable potty for the boys. I have actually tested this in Amsterdam with my son. We were walking down the street on a Sunday morning and nothing was open, that was the moment when he needed to pee. I pulled him into a corner, provided him cover and he peed into the water bottle. After he finished his business, I screwed the cap back on and put it back in my bag until I see a garbage for disposal. The bottle saved me the hassle of running around frantically looking for a bathroom.    

Hand sanitizer: All that bathroom talk leads straight to hand sanitizers. The antibacterial properties in hand sanitizers are essential when traveling to third world countries or just crowded places. You never know what kids touch while you're not looking. It's easy to pick one up in drug stores or make your own. I make my own antibacterial spray with rubbing alcohol and tea tree oil. Not only does this spray kill bacteria but I also use it to remove odors on fabrics the kids may have caused; such as vomit, pee pee, poo poo...etc.  

Snacks: Here is another trick of preventing melt downs. Kids need breaks no matter how much fun they're having. Sitting down for some snacks can re-energize them and keep them in good spirits. I usually bring a trail mix of chocolate chips, almonds and cranberries/raisins. It's healthy but not messy. Another good snack option are rice/saltine crackers but watch out for crumbs. For a high protein snack, hard boil eggs is also a good option. They're easy to cook, easy to carry around. Note: Make sure you're not bringing tons of sugary snacks that can cause sugar highs and sugar crashes at the end of the day. High sugar intake can cause major melt downs in kids as well as adults.

Wet wipes: Kids can be sticky, messy, and oftentimes dirty. It's good to have around wet wipes for a wipe down after finishing a meal of spaghetti at a restaurant, a play session in the playground during a hot summer day.

Band aids: Kids are prone to scrapes and scratches. Whether you have girls or boys (especially boys), band aids will always be good to have handy. There is no need to let a small boo boo ruin a good trip.

Benedryl / Allergy medication: This is strictly for precautionary measure for people who are prone to allergies such as myself and my son. I've been on outings where suddenly my eyelids would swell up. I had no idea what I ate or what I was exposed to to cause such reactions. But luckily I always carry allergy medication on me. My eyelids start to deflate  within 30 minutes of taking the medication. Take some allergy meds with you if you know for sure you and your kids will be exposed to a new environment and new foods. It can save you a trip to the emergency room and lots of money.

Zip lock bags: Zip lock bags is a versatile item. I have used them as take out bags, to reseal unfinished snacks/juice boxes to prevent leakage and sticky messes, temporary garbage bag, air/car sick bag, waterproof bag, make up bag (especially at the airport). It is another versatile item to have in your day bag.

Optional Items (Good to have but not essential)

Diaper: Bring a diaper in your day bag even if your kids no longer use them. Diapers are useful for emergency toilet situations or if you know the public restrooms will be horrid.

Entertainment: Kids get bored easily. When going on long train rides or out for long dinners, it's good to have a few coloring/drawing/game books ready. I usually bring along Travel Doodles for occasions like this. This pack of 50 wipe-clean cards come with loads of games and activities. A more high-tech option would probably be an ipad/tablet PC. But going old school with books and Travel Doodles is a good way to limit kids' time on the ipad. 

Things You Don't Need in Your Day Bag

Eating utensils: I have seen parents travel with bowls, plates, cups, forks, spoons, scissors and chopsticks...the whole set from home. Unless your child absolutely would not eat a single bite without them, chances are it's not necessary to have them in your day bag. The reason why some parents would bring loads of eating utensils is because there are sanitary concerns. However, unless you're going to third world countries where hygiene and sanitary practices are below par, a little rinse of the kiddies' eating utensils with some tea or hot water will suffice. If you're traveling with a baby who has just started solid foods, all you need is a teaspoon.

Toys: I agree that allowing kids to pick one toy to bring with them on the road makes them feel secure and safe. It's a piece of reminder of home and it's good entertainment when you're too busy to entertain them. But filling half of your bag with toys is not only unnecessary but it will also interfere with the quality of your kids' time on exploring new things. The objective of traveling and day tripping is to see and experience things that won't be available to you at home. I have traveled with my kids for 3 months in Europe and I've never heard them complain once that they miss their toys at home. There are so much more out there that captures and is worthy of their attention.

Full size bottles: Packing light is hard when traveling with a baby. Your baby bag probably contains diaper rash creams, lotions, milk bottles, formula, a chew toy, baby powder, diapers, wet wipes...etc. And that's just the basics. I recommend switching out all the full size containers for travel size containers. You won't need more than 2 days' worth of supplies in your day bag at one time.

There is a correlation between how you pack your day bag and how ready you are for your day. The more you pack doesn't mean you're more ready. But bringing the right things along with you can make your trip infinitely better. Lastly, a good rule of thumb is: if you don't have it, you probably don't need it; and if you do need it, improvise and compromise.  




84 Days of Summer

This is a 3 month trip across 3/4 of the European continent with travelers spanning 3 generations. Naturally, my family and friends are curious as to how it turned out. Here are a few statistics I have gathered from our trip as a brief summary.

Length of trip: 84 days

What we carried: 3 pairs of pants, 3 short sleeve shirts, 2 long sleeve shirts, 1 jacket, 1 pair of slippers, 1 pair of walking shoes, 1 umbrella, 4 pairs of underwear. (Items per person). Shampoo bar, 1 bar of soap, iphone, tablet PC, Kids' security blankets, and other toiletries.  

Number of hours on airplanes: 27.20 hours

Hong Kong International Airport

Number of hours on trains: 64.20 hours

On a crowded train from Berlin to Prague

Modes of transportation: Airplane, Train, Car, Bus, Tram, Ferry, Raft, Boat, Horse Carriage, Bicycle, Cable Car, Metro/Subway.   

Number of countries visited: 9


Countries: The Netherlands, Belgium, France, Denmark, Germany, Czech Republic, Austria, Slovakia, Hungary.

Number of cities/towns visited: 28

Cities/Towns: Amsterdam, Amersfoort, Gouda, Rotterdam, The Hague, Brussels, Brugge, Libin, Leuven, Charleville Meziere, Bastogne, Copenhagen, Odense, Lubeck, Berlin, Prague, Karlstejn, Cesky Krumlov, Vienna (transfer), Bratislava, Kosice, Budapest, Munich (Transfer), Frankfurt (Transfer), Nuremberg, Bamberg, Koblenz, Trier. 

Nuremberg, Germany

Number of Museums visited: 37

Museums Visited By City

Amsterdam: Maritime Museum, Bags and Purses Museum, Rembrandt House, Van Loon Museum.

Rembrandt House

Gouda: Gouda Cheese Museum

Gouda Cheese Museum

Antwerp: Fashion Museum.

Brussels: Auto world, Royal Museum of Fine Art, Margeritte Museum, Musical Instrument Museum, Natural Science Museum, Chocolate Museum.

Musical Instrument Musum

 Brugge: Fries Museum.

Copenhagen: National Museum, Rosenborg Treasury.

Rosenborg Treasury

Odense: H.C. Anderson Museum, Railway Museum.

H.C. Anderson Museum

Berlin: Altes Museum, Neues Museum, Alte Nationalgalerie, Bode Museum, Pergamon Museum, Museum of Technology Berlin, Gemaldgalerie.

Edouard Manet's "Im Wintergarten" at the Alte Nationalgalerie

Cesky Krumlov: Castle museum.

Wenceslas Cellars of the IVth courtyard of the castle

Bratislava: Municipal Museum, Museum of Wine Making.

Municipal Museum

Kosice: East Slovak Museum, Miklus Prison Museum.

Miklus Prison Museum dated from 13th century

Budapest: House of Terror, Transportation Museum

House of Terror

Nuremberg: Toy Museum, Albert Durer House, Museum of Nuremberg Trials.

Courtroom 600 of the Nuremberg Trials

Bamberg: Cathedral Treasury

The Alte Hofhaltung medieval courtyard

Trier: Karl Marx House

Rotterdam: Maritime Museum.

The beginning of his pirate phase

Number of Castles/Palaces visited: 9

Castles and Palaces: Feudal Castle (La Roche-en-Ardenne),Rosenburg Castle (Copenhagen), Amalienborg (Copenhagen), Prague Castle, Karlstejn Castle (near Prague), Cesky Krumlov Castle, Bratislava Castle, Vajdahunyad Castle (Budapest), Nuremberg Castle, Peace Palace (The Hague).

Feudal Castle (La Roche-en-Ardenne), Belgium

Number of day trips taken: 14

Day trips: Gouda (Netherlands), Amersfoort (Netherlands), Antwerp (Belgium), Brugge (Belgium), Bastogne (Belgium), La Roche-en-Ardenne (Belgium),  Leuven (Belgium), Charleville Meziere (France), Odense (Denmark),Travemunde (Germany), Karsteijn (Czech Republic), Bamburg (Germany), Trier (Germany), The Hague (Netherlands). 

Brugge, Belgium

Note worthy attractions: Amersfoort Zoo, Tivoli Garden (Copenhagen), Koblenz (Ehrenbreitstein) Fortress, Singing Fountain (Kosice), Nyhavn (Copenhagen), Legoland Discovery Center (Berlin), Fisherman's Bastion (Budapest),Labyrinth of Buda Castle (Budapest),

Ehrenbreitstein Fortress, Koblenz, Germany

Note worthy religious institutions: Cathedral of St. Michael and St. Gudula (Brussels), Strahov Monastery (Prague), St. Vitus Cathedral (Prague), St. Elizabeth's/Blue Church (Bratislava), Franciscan Church (Bratislava), Cathedral of St. Elizabeth (Kosice), Basilica of Constantine (Trier), The Dom (Trier).

Library of the Strahov Monastery in Prague

Note worthy architecture: Antwerp Train Station, Dancing House (Prague)

Dancing House (Prague)

Shopping: Strøget (Copenhagen), Turkish Market (Berlin), Haschermarkt (Berlin), Vaci Utca (Budapest), Central Market Hall (Budapest).

Strøget: The longest pedestrian shopping street in the world!

If I must choose...

Child friendly day trips:  Amersfoort (Netherlands) and Travemunde (Germany).

Dinosaur forest in Amersfoort Zoo

Travemunde beach

Favorite cities with kids: Amsterdam for it's many playgrounds, parks and eclectic museums. The lay back atmosphere is perfect when traveling with kids. Brussels for the food and children friendly museums. Belgian specialties: fries, chocolate, and waffles are all big hits with kids. Museums like Auto world, Musical Instrument Museum and Chocolate museum is a great way to introduce children to museum culture.  

A whimsical character on the canal

Chocolate Museum Brussels

Favorite museums with kids:  National Museum Copenhagen and Museum of Technology Berlin. The National Museum of Copenhagen with vast collections of viking culture and Danish heritage. Free entrance for all with a Junior museum located on the first floor. The Museum of Technology Berlin is a museum complex that features collections of aviation, railway, telecommunications, automobiles, textile, navigation, power engineering, etc. There is even a historical brewery and outdoor picnic space.
National Museum Copenhagen

Technology museum Berlin

Most scenic train ride: Koblenz - Trier. Castles sitting on hilltops and vineyards covered hills along the Rhine.

Please excuse the shadow of my creepy hand in this beautiful scene

Most eventful train ride: Copenhagen - Lubeck. The entire train goes onto a Ferry that takes it from Rodby (Denmark) to Puttgarden (Germany)

Preparing the train for the ferry

Most memorable religious institution visited: The Cathedral of St. Peter (Trier). This impressive Romanesque structure sits above the former palace of Roman emperor Constantine the Great. It is also where the Holy Robe, one of the most significant relics of Christendom is kept.

Favorite off the beaten path destination: Kosice is the most eastern city of the European Union. Voted as European Capital of Culture for 2013, it is a city full of promise. It is worth sitting through a 5 hour train ride, cutting across Slovakia for. Must visit before this hidden gem is discovered by mass tourism. 

The Singing Fountain

Favorite castle: Cesky Krumlov Castle. Just opened to tourists in 2011, this castle offer great panoramic views of the city and unique exhibits.

Memorable meals: Pork knuckle in Cesky Krumlov and open face sandwiches in Copenhagen.

Krcma v Satlavske

Best sandwiches ever! It tastes a lot better than it looks!

Surprise encounters:

I've seen flash mobs in movies but this is the first real encounter (Brussels)
Rodin's "Thinking Man". It's smaller than I thought.

Chanting monks on the streets of Bratislava

We live in an age of contrasts

Mind baffling moment: Learning to use the coin op washing machines in Copenhagen.

It really was harder than it looks

Cities I would love to visit again: Berlin and Trier. Berlin for its festive mood for every season, to see the rest of the hundreds of museums of anything and everything, and its boho chic neighborhoods. It is also the most affordable city to visit in all of western Europe. Trier for its fascinating history as the oldest city in Germany, founded by Augustus in 15 B.C.. There also stands some of the best preserved Roman architecture in all of Europe. 

A second hand book store in the boho chic neighborhood of Kreuzburg

Trier's main market square, in use since 882 A.D.

Cities I probably won't be visiting again: Prague and Budapest. Once the hidden gem of eastern Europe, these cities are now over populated by tourists and prices has also been inflated as a result. It has lost some of it's authenticity and character. For those who would like to avoid the problems caused by mass tourism, I strongly encourage going in the winter months where crowds are thinner and hotel prices are more reasonable. Warning: Hungarian winters are unbearably cold.

Charles Bridge

On top of St. Stephen's Basilica

Beautiful sunsets: Prague, Budapest, Copenhagen.

Hungarian Parliament

Fisherman's Bastion, Budapest


Little Mermaid, Copenhagen

Charles Bridge Prague

Well, this pretty much summarized our 84 days of summer. I was a little sad when it came to an end, but there were also plenty to look forward to once we're home. This will not be the only post of our amazing trip. I will try my best to upload more info about the places we've visited and things we've done.