I clicked my Timbs three times and I was back home in NYC! Here's a roundup of what I did while I was home.
Traveling can be a luxury but you can definitely go abroad without spending out of your means. There are plenty of sites that share low flight fares and Groupon is a great source for package deals. Last September I traveled to Eastern Europe, visiting Budapest, Prague and Vienna and I only spent less than $1200 for the entire trip. Here’s my breakdown.
I swear! I only paid $30 for the entire flight. I received a $1000 voucher from Delta Airlines due to an overbook flight. I took the offer and had to stay one evening in Atlanta, but it was worth it.
I spent 14 days in three different countries and decided the cheapest option would be to stay at Airbnb. I rented a room in each location and most were less than $80 a night. I also made sure every place I stayed offered breakfast so I eliminated purchasing one meal a day.
For 4 nights in Budapest - $284.94
1 night in Budapest - $75.00
4 nights in Prague - $202.95
4 nights in Vienna 142.95
To travel to each country, I opt to take trains to each destination. I also splurged and purchased first class seats for each train ride, but you can definitely purchase economy seating to keep your spending as low as possible.
For a 6 hour train from Budapest to Prague - $176
4 hour train ride from Prague to Vienna - $142
2 ½ hour ride from Vienna to Budapest - $93
Overall I spent $1146.79
Another way I cut cost of spending, I used public transportation instead of using taxis or shuttle buses. Most were $2 round trip, and many locals are happy to help you get around or your hosts at the Airbnb.
How are some ways you’ve been able to cut costs for traveling?
When I told my friends that not only would I spent two weeks in Europe but also as #SingleBrittny, all of them rejoiced. My one friend, Jack, even found the SNL skit "Dongs All Over the World" and declared it as my official vacation anthem. As I touched down in Prague, I re-opened my Tinder account (I have such a love-hate relationship with that app) and started exploring my options. However, after a few swipes, I encountered THIS in Prague. I just couldn't do it and never opened the app again during my stay.
Fast forward to Vienna and Budapest, I legit embodied the lyrics, "I'm a modern day Columbus and I claim this dong for me." I felt like a kid in a candy store with countless amounts of options. I knew it would be a success because the first song I heard when I arrived to Vienna was Britney Spears' "Hot As Ice."
By the end of my stay in Vienna and the last leg of my trip in Budapest, I was getting countless date offers on Tinder and in person. I ended up going on three dates in a row. I could have gone for four but I was mentally exhausted from men (don't you hate when they do that?).
Let's break down each man/date:
The Austrian Novelist
First off his Tinder was very mysterious, so obviously I swiped right because I'm the kind of person who is too impatient while reading a novel and cut to the end to see what happens. Even though we connected on Tinder, he had originally said he was unable to meet with me due to personal plans. But Saturday morning I got a message from him that stated: "What are the chances of meeting an attractive writer? I can't pass up that opportunity." *Heart eyes emoji.* So we set up a date.
I'm not into blondes, however the Novelist was a very tall and handsome and I was into it. We met at a really cute bar near to where I was staying. Automatically he received cool points for not judging me for ordering like a 7 year old, after several hours of not eating from my day trip to Salzburg. He introduced me to delicious Austrian red wine, we bonded over being writers and the constant struggle of being creative, and other random things ones discuss on a first date. He explained to me a clinic in Switzerland named Dignitas, where people pay to commit suicide. I was intrigued but confused as to why anyone would willingly pay to commit suicide when you can do it for free. Aside from the melancholy topic, we had great conversations and even hotter make out session in the rain after we shut down the bar. Afterwards, I was totally in lust over the Novelist but the next morning I was off to Budapest which meant on to the next one.
The Italian Lover
Oh how I adored the Italian. He was such an interesting character to hang out with for a few hours. Before we met, he immediately bombarded me with basketball knowledge after I told him I live in Cleveland and he told me I live in Lebronland (which is basically true). He was a huge fan of hip-hop and expressed how much he wanted to visit places in America where hip-hop is known for, especially Compton. I have never heard anyone say the one place they want to visit in America would be....COMPTON. We met for dinner at an Italian restaurant where I chowed down on bolognese and sipped on multiple glasses of Hungarian wine (I drank a lot of wine in Europe. I'm surprised they're not low on stock in Eastern Europe). We had a great discussion on the many differences between America and Europe like "why do we call a bill, a check?" and "why do you call salami pepperoni?" (fun fact, pepperoni in Italy is simply just peppers) I of course didn't have the answers for any of these questions.
Since I knew the Italian loved hip-hop, I had to ask who were his top 5 favorite rappers. His answer: 1. Tupac, 2. 50 Cent, 3. Nelly, 4. Chingy and I can't remember the fifth because I was still stuck on the fact he had Nelly and Chingy on his top 5 list. I forgave him for his odd list because he was so handsome. However I did have to mention before the night was over that I have never met anyone who had Nelly or Chingy in their top 5 which he found alarming. Is Nelly and Chingy a huge deal in Europe and we have no clue about it?
Southern (Not So) Charming
How I ended up meeting another American on my "Dongs All Over the World" is beyond me and actually I'm quite mad at myself. I can get an American any time I want, and a southern one at that. But we both wanted to check out Hungarian food and drinks together which made me accept the offer. That being said, he doesn't rank high like all the European men I had met prior to him. He wasn't that much interesting, our conversations were kind of dull and I was reaching to find interesting topics to discuss to the point that my brain went on low fuel. He picked a restaurant called "Getto Giulyas," which at first I low key felt offended he wanted to take me to a place called "getto," but it had great reviews on Google. To both of our surprises it was a romantic wine restaurant, which would have been perfect with anyone BUT him. We both ordered a beef stew and tried duck liver for the first time, both were amazing. Then later that night I tried a Hungarian must, a shot of Palinka which is an awful liquor that all Hungarians know is bad but are very proud of. They say you haven't had an Hungarian experience until you've had the shot. Well... I took the shot and was chasing coke cola for the rest of the night to get rid of the after taste. Even with the strong shot didn't make him more enjoyable. I had way more fun afterwards being drunk on Facebook live with my favorites in the Dome.
Then I returned back to America and realized that my love/hate relationship with Tinder really is just the quality of men on there. European men were so much more chivalrous, respectful, upfront of what they wanted, and had worldly experiences and knowledge. It was just a nice change compared to what I've experience with Tinder in Cleveland. But it was nice to date elsewhere and feel really good about myself for a few days.
After my eventful time in Prague, it was off to Vienna, Austria. I embarked on a 4 1/2 hour train ride from Prague to Vienna, which I mostly slept on. I spent the first day being lazy and eating at a Lebanese/Italian restaurant. The following day I went on a walking tour of the city and saw what Vienna had to offer. During the tour, we saw Hofburg Palace which was the birthplace of Marie Antionette, Parliament, and their gorgeous National Library.
I went on a day trip to Salzburg which was about 3 hours west of Vienna. I wish I took pictures of the rest stop restaurant we stopped at because it looked like an euro Cracker Barrel which I didn't even know was humanly possible. Also, no one told me Salzburg would be hella cold and rainy compared to the nice weather in Vienna. With just a sweatshirt to keep me warm, I was cold and damp for most of the day.
While in Salzburg, I visited where Mozart lived. His childhood home was a small little museum that showed sheet music he composed, his pianos he had over the years, love letters he sent his wife and other cool things he owned during his lifetime. I can't say I'm well versed in Mozart's music other than his famous songs, but Amadeus is one of my favorite movies (which was filmed in Prague and I saw some of the filming locations while on my Prague city tour). There was a second home over the little river where Mozart's family lived once he made money for the family to afford a bigger place to live. However, the building is a replica as the original was destroyed during World War II.
Salzburg is also well known for the Von Trapp home and is where many of the iconic scenes of the Sound of Music were filmed. Unfortunately, I didn't see their home but did visit most of the filming locations of the Sound of Music. I have so many fond memories of watching the film and Broadway show with my family growing up that it was surreal to walk the same paths as Julie Andrews. The only time I wish I wasn't alone on my trip was this time so I could have reenacted the "Do Re Mi" scene on the steps.
One of my favorite moments was this sweet Dutch lady telling me, "You have a special President in America," she said. "I just loved Barack and Michelle Obama, I really miss them." GIRL, me too!
Last year on a whim, I decided to purchase a cheap round trip ticket and traveled to Amsterdam, Paris and Brussels on my own. It was freeing, and liberating to be able to travel to several countries on my own, not knowing the native languages, and to figure it out all on my own. I enjoyed it so much, I decided to take another solo trip and visit some more new countries I've never been to before. Since last Saturday, I've been touring Eastern Europe and seeing part of the world I never thought I'd see. Aside from traveling and broadening my horizons, this trip was to self reflect, and understand the woman I am becoming in my thirties. But enough of that sappy stuff, let's see what I did at my first stop, Prague, Czech Republic.
The moment I stepped out of the train station into Prague, I was amazed by the architecture. The buildings were stunning and meticulous with how they were structured, every detail creating such gorgeous architecture that was simply breathtaking. I'm such an American that seeing such gorgeous, old style buildings resembled something almost unreal to me; I had stepped into Disney World, where they have fantasy buildings and sets to make you believe you're in New York City in the 1920's.
Aside from roaming around the city and understanding my "home" for a few days, I did some shopping. I couldn't help myself, especially since there were two malls near where I was staying. The most important item I purchased was an Adidas sweatshirt which was highly needed during the evening. My bomber jacket wasn't going to keep me warm with the low 60 degree temperatures at night.
During my second day, I toured the old and new city of Prague, where I saw most of the Prague Castle and the famous Charles Bridge.
I even had my own Britney Spears "Slave 4 U" moment with a yellow python. It was cute and fun at first, but then the head started getting closer to my face and all I could think about was the movie Anaconda and how my life could come to an end at any moment. (mind you, there was also a giant snake behind me as well.) It was quite possible.
My last full day in Prague I went to the Museum Kampa which had an Manolo Blahnik exhibit, showing off some of his most iconic shoes, drawings, and even some costumes from the film Marie Antoinette, which he was the head shoe designer for. I had died and gone to shoe heaven. I felt I was finally becoming Carrie Bradshaw, I couldn't take home all the fabulous shoes, but at least I was in the same proximity of them.
As a big Beatles fan, I visited the John Lennon Wall, a long wall with graffiti drawings and words inspired by love, peace, and happiness. With the current political climate in America, it was nice to escape the madness and take in some positivity, and sing joyous songs with complete strangers. (Shout out to my Kate Spade purse that found its way into most of my pics.)
Is it just me or is summer flying by. Or maybe I’m just having way too much for, but whatever it may be, I am nowhere near ready to embark my trip to solo dolo trip overseas. I swear it felt like it would be forever from now but as the days creep up, I’m wondering where time went. If you haven’t noticed, I’m a huge music love and have a huge passion sharing playlists. If you’re ever looking for a playlist, I’m the girl for you. I create a playlist for everything, when I need time to unwind, songs to block out loud colleagues when I’m trying to focus, the soundtrack to be my runway tunes aka songs I strut to when I’m walking around Cleveland, OH. Of course, I created a playlist not only for myself but for my fellow travelers. I prefer to compile chill out tunes to help me relax while flying but also help with my anxiety. I will also share a few podcasts that I’ve been listening to that you can add to your queue while you’re at your layover.
Here are 3 tracks to maybe persuade you into checking out my playlist
Don’t Touch My Hair | Solange
A Seat at the Table really resonated with me on so many levels, as being a proud black woman and as someone trying to figure out who I am. “Don’t Touch My Hair” is the first song to lyrically explain how important my hair means to me, especially hearing it from another black woman with natural hair.
Maiden Voyage/ Everything In Its Right Place | Robert Glasper
This isn’t your mama’s jazz music. Robert infuses hip-hop over smooth jazz melodies. Robert beautifully covers Radiohead’s “Everything In Its Right Place’.
Tsunami | Katy Perry
I know it’s popular to hate on Katy Perry at the moment but there are some decent tracks on Witness. If you can overlook that it’s another Katy song that uses metaphors for sex and silly cliché lyrics, “Tsunami” is a stand out track for Perry.
Podcasts I’m Currently Subscribed To
Hosted by Real Housewives enthusiasts Casey Wilson and Danielle Schneider. The duo gives a hilarious take on the latest episodes of the Housewives but also share equally hilarious stories from their personal lives. Bitch Sesh was my introduction into listening to podcast but it also changed my life. One day I will open up about how special this podcast means to me on a personal level.
You can listen here
Watch What Crappens
Everyone who knows me, knows I’m obsessed with all things Housewives and housewives adjacent shows to the point my TV is always on Bravo. Watch What Crappens can be difficult to get into with all the different imitations the hosts does and inside jokes, but once you get it, it’s hilarious. So many times I’ve listened to the episodes on a flight and bust out laughing and immediately embarrass myself.
You can listen here
As much as I love listening to Housewives recaps, I sometimes feel like it could potentially lower my IQ. Which is why I started seeking more intellect podcasts. Two NYT culture writers Jenna Wortham and Wesley Morris dissect the hottest topics from the week that was discussing politics and pop culture. Jenna and Wesley will passionately discuss how the Charlotteville protests personally affected them but also giddily discuss all things Beyoncé.
You can listen here
You Must Remember This
Katrina Longworth beautifully explores the lives of old Hollywood biggest stars and scandals. Recently she shares the parallels of actresses Jane Fonda and Jean Seberg in nine episodes. If you’re a movie buff or love the allure of old Hollywood, this is the perfect podcast for you.
You can listen here
Desus and Mero are the only thing helping me cope with the current political climate. The Bronx duo always find humor in all the craziness this country is experiencing which also reminds you how incredibly ridiculous we must look to other countries but also it’s okay to laugh through the pain. Plus, listening to them reminds me so much of being back home in New York City.
You can listen here
What podcasts are you listening to?
Check out my Transatlantic playlist below. Enjoy!