Thursday, September 25, 2014

Nostalgic for New England

I am finding myself missing certain things about New England in the past couple months <3.  There are, of course, things I have loved about living in Europe thus far.  The cafe culture, one of my absolute favorite activities either with a friend or alone while reading or writing in my notebook.  Sitting at a cafe with a pot of tea, eating cake and assuming I am with a friend, having great conversation.  LOVE this.  Also, train transportation.  The ease with which one can hop on a train and be in another country in just a few hours (and for quite cheap if you plan far enough in advance).  I also love the sense that over here, there isnt the mindset that one should live to work.  Not like in the US, where to earn even a decent living, it seems like one has to wile away the majority of their waking hours in the office and only gets 2 meager weeks of vacation a year.  Here, you work 40 hours a week, are compensated fairly for it and if you work overtime, these are hours one can leave early on another day when they wish (Imagine that.  As an American, this was fairly shocking for me at first.  One's company not trying to take advantage of you and make you work as much as possible).  And you are given 5 weeks of vacation a year, STARTING out in your career.  That is the standard.  If a European were offered just two weeks, that prospective employee would laugh you out of the room.  Five is expected when starting.  Later on in one's career here, I believe they eventually get around 8-12 weeks per year.  NUTS, eh?

So there is much I really love about European life and life over here in general.

But, some things I am finding myself really nostalgic for in New England as of late...including:

1. New England snowfalls. Gorgeous, romantic, so cozy when you're watching the snow from somewhere inside (ideally by a roaring fire).

2. The fall foliage. My god. The explosion of colors is stunning. Makes me think of back to school and the exciting anticipation of a new year coming.

3. Seafood. First off, I'm not a big seafood fan. But what I do like, I love. And there aren't many better places for good seafood aside from New England. Especially crab cakes and salmon.

4. Being close (within 1 hour drive) to the ocean. The best.

5. All things pumpkin. But my personal favorites: pumpkin pie, cheesecake, bread and donuts.

6. Whoopie Pies. Enough said ;-)

7. Boston. LOVE this city. It has everything. Its charming, historic, modern, old. There are hundreds of amazing restaurants. You can see concerts or sporting events in the city. You are one hour driving from: mountains, ocean, fall foliage. The city is happening and exciting, yet peaceful and scenic too.

8. Back Bay in Boston. One of my two favorite parts of the city. Back Bay is the more glamorous and trendy area of Boston. Its also home of the famous Newbury street. I always loved walking down this street. It is THE place to shop, eat, see and be seen. Lots of fun fashion and people watching here.

9. Beacon Hill, my other favorite part of Boston. So charming and old. Cobblestoned streets, gas-lit street lamps, beautiful. In my dreams, I could afford to live here someday ;-)

10. Last but not least, I surprised myself by adding these to the list but Cosi and Panera Bread. Two chain but actually quite decent cafe/sandwich shops/bakeries. Yum. I've dreamed about the Tomato Basil Mozzarella melt at Cosi and the Frontega chicken melt, French onion soup and Bear Claw pastry from Panera Bread.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Wonderful Moments/Memories in the Past Year!

Some favorite photos/moments from the past year of my life...

Moved to PRAGUE in September, 2013!!!!

Magical.  Loved this city.  It is definitely in my top three favorite cities ever, so far.

Trdelnik! The typical Prague dessert :-D and the name of my blog.

Oktoberfest in Munich.  Now THAT was an experience.

The cathedral in Munich!  Really stunning and gothic.

My TEFL group!!!!!!!!!!

Amazing pumpkin bread with chocolate chips, made from scratch.  My TEFL-mate, Greg and I were cooking buddies for a short while there while I lived in Prague.  Lots of fun!  This was the best thing we made, for sure.  Greg even roasted the pumpkin himself for this item.

Delicious German bread I made myself, from scratch!!!  So yummy.

Loved these afternoons.

Pastries in Prague.  YUM.

LOVE the architecture and colors of Prague.  Fantastic.

Stunning colors with Prague castle dominating the background.  The best.  One of the coolest European cities.

Spent this afternoon walking all over Prague with my TEFL classmates Abi, Nic and Erin.  It was LOTS of fun.
The children I took care of in Frankfurt, Germany.  My first job upon arriving.  Constance, Gabriel and Theodore, so sweet.  I really enjoyed this job and spending time with them every afternoon.  Watching movies, playing Uno, teaching them the card game Mille Bornes, playing the piano and cooking them dinner.

Experiencing the famed Christmas markets in Germany.  LOVED this.  Magical, wintery and so much fun.

Wurtzburg, Germany.  A really cute little German town, had a similar feel to it like Prague.

My first night out in Frankfurt ever with my friend , Judith.  We went to a thumping and pretty crazy club in the city called Gibson!  We took a taxi back to her place at around 3:30am.  This was SO late for me, yet this is the norm here in Germany.  Intense ;-)

Big change for me, I moved from Darmstadt to Frankfurt. This is the house next door to my apartment building.  LOVE the purple wisteria.  So pretty.

Photo fun in Frankfurt with Dali :-D

Frankfurt Zoo with Francine.

The Romerberg Square in Frankfurt. Incredibly famous.

With Somayeh :-D

Rhino at the Zoo

I love the expression in his eyes.

Incredible brunch at Yours bar.  All you can eat.  Oh. Yeah.  That would be a Crepe with cinnamon and sugar, watermelon pieces, Tiramisu, Chocolate mousse and some kind of a coconut cake.

More of the brunch at Yours.  This would be French toast, eggs, bacon, a quesadilla type thing with potatoes and cheese inside, a cucumber and tomato salad and apple strudel.

One of my very favorite things to do in Europe, and with each of my friends.  Sit together over a pot of tea and some pastries, along with great conversation for a couple of hours.  Relaxing, yummy, cozy and lots of fun.  It's a great European activity.

Becca, a friend I made in the TEFL program in Prague, came to visit me in Frankfurt for a long weekend.  So much fun with her!  I really enjoyed this.  We had a picnic together in Hochst on the river, lounged together by the Main river in Frankfurt, went out for beers and nachos on Saturday night, had brunch on Sunday.  It was great.

Bienenstich, the BEST German dessert.

With Judith, a great friend :-)

The heavens finally re-opened this outstanding door for me.  I found an INCREDIBLE burger place in Frankfurt.  Almost like a real American burger.  It's called Hero's.  They are my Hero ;-) the burgers here are bomb.  As you can see...

Another American food I miss...nachos.  Found it here.  REALLY enjoyed it :-p

Best birthday gift ever.  A box of Duncan Hines Red Velvet cake mix.  This is the result.  It was gone in 3 days.  Mmmmmmmmmmmmmm, so, so good.

<3 so sweet.  Made my week.

My first SOLO vacation ever, to Florence, Italy!!!!!!!!  For an entire week.  Completely by myself.  I was so scared I would feel lonely or that I wouldnt love it.  But I was shocked to find that I absolutely loved it.  I would do it again, a solo vacation, in a heartbeat.  And its an experience I recommend to everyone.

Vernazza in the Cinque Terre (Italy).  Paradise.

More of the Cinque Terre...

Tuscany, Italy.  Took a day-long group bicycle ride all through the hills of Tuscany.  It was amazing, though we got DOWNPOURED on for a good two hours.  That was a story, let me tell you.  If I had fallen in a lake, gotten out and climbed on a bicycle, that is how wet I was.  Insane.  But by 1pm, the sky cleared, the sun came out and we all dried off in the warmth.  Lots of fun.

LOVE this photo of Florence...the white flowers on the bottom...the colors of the clouds above.  Super pretty.  Like a spring painting.

One of the best dishes I have ever eaten in Italy (I've been there 3 times now).  Pear and Gorgonzola gnocchi.  Mouthwatering.

The perfect dessert.  A rich flourless chocolate torte.

Florence!!!! <3
The meetup group my friend, Judith and I started together this September 2014.  We've had 3 meetings thus far, all successful.  A really cool venture and experience so far.