Finale

The last full day in Europe! It definitely went by really fast. We were able to spend some time in Krakow before heading to the airport to fly back to Paris for the last leg home. We went to the Pharmacy Museum and I really had a blast. There was so much history and they had such a pretty display of mortars, pestles, scales, dried plants, and everything. They had a huge monstera plant on the top floor and I was quite happy to see it since they’re one of my favorite plants.

We stayed one night in Paris before flying out the next morning. And I had booked an Airbnb for the night in Roissy en France which was close to the CDG airport that we would be flying out from. The hosts sat and chatted with us for about 30 minutes asking about our journey. It was a private room in a house and the hosts were unbelievably nice! They served us some wine and crackers. The host’s brother spoke English pretty well and even showed us around the town and gave us recommendations on where to get dinner. We ended up at a crepe restaurant. I thought it was a fitting finish to the trip.

Of course we had to go for the dessert crepe as well

After dinner we walked around the park and the town. It was March and they had some cherry blossoms and we even encountered some bee hives in the park. It was such a charming town and we really enjoyed walking around together.

The next morning we took an uber to the airport. Easy as pie!

On regards to Krakow…
PROS:
Walkable
Less crowded
Very affordable
Angie, she made it effortless for us to get around!

CONS:
Wish we had a little more time to explore

It was such a fun trip and I can’t wait to come back and visit other places. Everything in Europe is so close and it just so easy to hop around.

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A look into the past

The next day we went on an all day tour to Auschwitz (concentration camp during the Holocaust) and the Salt Mines. It was a really long day, but well worth the experience. We took a Sprinter van with about 15 other people for the tour. I specified Sprinter because we actually have a van that we’re building out as a camper! A post on that sometime 🙂 Our tour guide was great and was so knowledgable. He went into great detail about everything.

Our first stop was at the concentration camp. It was a heavy experience. I didn’t take too many pictures because I wanted to just listen and take it in. We walked around the barracks of where people crammed into. They turned these barracks into a museum with displays of personal items like shoes, clothing, suitcases, etc to photographs and stories. There was one room where I saw something extremely disturbing. If you want to know, feel free to ask me I’ll respond personally to you. I feel slightly uncomfortable stating that here. We also toured the second camp, Birkenau, that was built to ease congestion at the first camp. I know. Pretty sad.

Good thing we ended on a happy note at the Wieliczka Salt Mines! It was about an hour drive away. We were one of the last groups to enter the Salt Mines before closing. They had one main elevator so it took awhile to get everyone down beneath the ground. I must say it was a spectacular sight so see so much salt everywhere! No, I didn’t lick the walls to try, although it is tempting. There were statues, sculptures, and even a chandelier out of salt (man made of course).

It was a really long day but well worth it to see everything to see in a short amount of time. I’d recommend this tour for sure!

PROS:
Got to see two of the main attractions in one day
Small tour group ~15 people
Very affordable

CONS:
Long day – about 12 hours
Long time in the car, bring snacks!

Overall, I’d recommend to do this tour especially if you are crunched on time. It’s very informative and the sights are starkly different. I’m glad you end with the salt mines to leave it on a positive note.

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Czesc!

One of the first words I learned in Polish was hello, which is the title. One of my best friends was going to school in Krakow so we thought we’d visit her and some countries in Europe (we actually spent half of our trip exploring with her). We were spoiled with to be able to stay with her and take us around. Surprise! We were greeted with a welcome breakfast plate by her parents.

Ang lives pretty close to some cool sights so she took us on a nice stroll by the Wawel castle and the fire breathing dragon. The dragon randomly has fire lit from its mouth! I thought it was a neat feature.

Walked towards the Jewish Quarter and found some food (of course). First stop was this hip cafe/bar that had a vintage theme and had Singer sewing machines in the front. Got our caffeine fix in, which btw sadly Krakow doesn’t have great coffee. Ang made us try zapiekanka aka open toasted faced sandwiches. The one we got had cheese, mushrooms, pepperoni, pickles, sweet ketchup, and onions. There were so many stands to choose from!

Walked around some more and saw some tons of street art. It’s quirky and interesting and really made it fun to just wander around.

After walking around, we got some delicious pierogis! They are essentially filled dumplings with savory and sweet goodies. They can be boiled or pan fried. Ang took us to Pirozki U Vicenta, a really cute Vincent Van Gogh themed restaurant, but also has really good pierogis. We got apples & sour cream and a meat one. The apples with sour cream were really good!

We then walked around the main square of Krakow and it was huge! One of the largest squares in Europe. It has a gorgeous cathedral and at the top of the hour, there is a trumpeter that plays reflects upon the history of how it was used to signal the opening or closing of gates or alarm the city of a fire or enemy. The end of the song is abrupt to mimic of how he was shot through the throat by an archer.

The square has street performers, stalls selling souvenirs and goods, and rows of shops. On our way back, we stopped by to get Ang’s favorite donut – cinnamon glazed jelly filled! We took the street train back to the apartment to rest before our next busy day.

PROS:
I can’t say it enough – how affordable it is!
Easy transportation/walkable
Friendly
Less crowded

CONS:
Language can be a little difficult

I wish we had more time to visit!

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Lisbon continued

We took it easy our second day in Lisbon because it was supposed to rain. We started the day with some coffee from Copenhagen Coffee Lab just a few blocks away. They were so busy they had to stop taking orders! We were in no hurry and caffeined up for the day. By the way – our whole coffee experience throughout Europe wasn’t particularly the best. It was actually kind of hard to find good coffee! Our next stop was for some food at The Mill, which also had a bit of a wait but it was worth it! Their fresh squeezed orange juice was delicious. Got the avocado toast with bacon and two sunny side up eggs. Johnny got butter toast with chorizo/ mushroom/ tomato combo and an egg.

After brunch, we walked around the city some more. Walked up and down hills, checked out some parks. This one had a cool tree support structure. The city is also known for all the orange tiled roofs everywhere.

Of course it was time for a snack after all of the walking. We stopped in for some decadent chocolate cake at Landeau Chocolate, which was rumored to have the best chocolate cake in the world?! Welp it was pretty darn good.

We took in more sights and our fair share of cable cars on our way back to the Airbnb.

And painted tiles… (second pic of our key for our Airbnb which had the cutest little backyard. It had a lemon tree!)

We got some wine nearby ($4 bucks!) to chill in the afternoon. Then Ang and I hit up a wine bar for some sangria and cheese for a little snack. We may look fancy.. but it was actually super cheap. I think it was less than $15 for all of this.

Wandered around a little more then we were off to our last meal in Lisbon. We dined at Petiscaria Ideal and ate some classic Portuguese food. Reservations were required when we came and we didn’t have one.. so I had made one online after talking to them haha.

Pear, goat cheese, honey, endive, pecan salad (probably the highlight of the meal)
Sweet potato chips with mayo/lime aioli
Tenderloin and mushroom sandwich
Polenta with tomatoes and clams

I also have to share this… I love Haribo and had such a great time trying all the different kinds in Europe.

PROS:
Less crowded – although I feel like it’s an up and coming destination
Slightly cheaper than other places
Beautiful art with all of the tiles
Very nice people
Lots of transportation
Laidback

CONS:
Hills (if you do a lot of walking)

I really enjoyed Portugal! It has a lot to offer and I can’t get enough of those egg tarts.

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The San Francisco of Europe

Next stop on the trip was Lisbon, the capital of Portugal and a different type of coastal city than Porto. I noticed the striking similarities quite quickly between San Francisco and Lisbon…
-Hilly
-Street cars
-Rust colored suspension bridge (Lisbon = Ponte 25 de Abril bridge)

We got in late the first night in Lisbon and decided to get some sleep because we were actually going on a day trip to Sintra. Sintra sits on the coast of Portugal and is about an hour away from Lisbon and known for its castles and palaces. We woke up at the break of dawn to get on the train out to Sintra because we knew it was going to be crowded. Missed the 8am so we got on the 9am. We really only planned to the the Pena Palace so we opted for an Uber versus taking the bus that takes you in a loop around all of the palaces. We also opted for the garden ticket, which lets you roam around outside the palace and all around but does not permit you to go inside the palace. We were fine with that because we spent plenty of time outside! Plus the line to get inside wrapped around.

After wandering around for a couple hours, we ubered back to the main area of Sintra, grabbed some quick lunch and made our way back to Lisbon. We walked around the central area and even happened to find this random pink street.

By now we were hungry again and made our way to Time Out Market, which is a large food hall. A pretty fancy food hall too! It had lots to choose from. We opted for some squid ink pasta with seaweed salad, pork belly with green puree (forgot what it actually was), and fries with spicy mayo (not pictured).

Our adventure continues! After full bellies, we made our way on the train to the Belem area and walked along the water. It’s located on the west side of Lisbon, along the water. It’s iconic for the tower of Belem, built as a fort to protect the city. We also saw a huge monument that commemorates maritime explorers – notice all the beautiful tiling on the ground.

No stop is complete in Belem without a visit to Pasteis de Belem! More egg tarts. Yum.

After that, we headed back to our Airbnb. We did lots and were completely pooped for the first night in Lisbon.

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