From Budapest to Prague over fall break – the experiences and opportunities never quite stop! Both places were amazing, and I loved experiencing them during one of the most beautiful times of the year.

I spent time in Budapest with one of my oldest friends, and that in itself made cave exploring, pub crawling, touring and walking all over this Hungarian city unforgettable! The weather in Eastern Europe is rather chilly right now, but that didn’t stop the people from dressing in their own … unique way. I definitely saw outfits that I only see at Halloween – but instead they were on everyone, everywhere – from the moment I stepped off the airplane till I left the city and the river behind me.

We spent our four days in Budapest exploring labyrinth caves beneath the ancient castle on the hill. We were the ultimate tourists on the double-decker buses – wrapped in blankets and sipping coffee as our tour guide stumbled her way through English to tell us the history of the city. With incredible baths, one of the oldest parliaments in the world and a zoo that rivals others, along with stories of Jewish neighborhoods, a famous Opera and histories of old battles and older markets and traditions – Budapest was an experience.

The parks and bridges were beautiful with the fall leaves draping the cold city in their awakening colors. I loved the diversity of the people and the differences everywhere you looked. The last night on our pub-crawl we spent six hours talking with friends we met from New Zealand, Canada, the Cayman Islands, Northern England and California … many memories and laughs!!

Then we were off to Prague …

Prague was absolutely beautiful! I have never quite been so speechless at the arrangement of color in a city. The skies were crisp, clear and blue every day, and the colors of fall seeped through the yellow and orange faded buildings.

The buildings all lined up, looking like they were eagerly bumping each other as if trying to get a better look at the calm river waltz by. They were all worn with time and age and sat amidst the old rock streets, but their beauty was nothing compared to the fire-orange, cranberry-red and organic-yellow colors of the trees that bent over the boulevards, covering doors and windows. Each tree stood out differently, and yet together they resembled a perfect sea of fall. They trickled up and down the river, through the cobble- and rock-covered streets, up on the hills surrounding the enormous castle and, of course, sprawling into the parks.

The bridges were full of vendors selling black and white paintings, trinkets unique to Prague, and there were children constantly running up and down laughing in the crisp air. The streets are all beautiful, making it easy to just wander up and down for hours – ducking into shops and cafes. We toured the city and climbed all 300 stairs to the top of the cathedral sitting on the hill – just to look out at the city and stand breathless at what was before us.

claire-prague2.jpgOur days and our memories were spent scattered over Prague – in the Old Town Square, in the parks around new town, walking through the shops or losing time as we aimlessly got lost walking along the calm river. The rivers in Europe hold these cities together – they have seen the history and watch the future unfold. They know the stories and are there to see the constant unspoken beauty.

We became a regular at Ebel’s Cafe right off the Old Town Square, sitting for hours reading in the sun-drenched window seats, watching the city walk by. My coffee cup was about the size of a small melon, and I felt like I was inside a Jamaican hut as I sat nestled amidst the tangerine and key lime green walls – a dramatic change from the crisp wind outside.

The colors of fall spilled onto the Old Town square – always full of people and surrounded by the old cathedrals and castles. All are beautifully standing and original and nearly untouched from the Wars. Everything from the clocks, to the views, to the side streets overflowing with people of all ages, cultures and ethnicities made Prague amazing!! It was definitely an unforgettable and relaxing time and a city that I wholeheartedly recommend.

Back in Paris now for my last handful of weeks abroad! It has been an amazing experience, and I look so forward to the memories still to come. The colors of fall are sprawled on the wide boulevards and reflected in the nightlights on the Seine. I feel more and more normal in Paris, but I am daily challenged by the little things – but that is the sweetest part!