Blackwater Bistro-ah-go-go

 

Milton eateries are hard to come by. We’ve discovered one that has quickly turned into a regular destination. Easy, delicious and friendly, Blackwater Bistro is on the top of my short, Milton ‘must eat’ list. I always show up for the buttermilk pie but usually end up taking it home, because I can’t say no to the pre-meal artichoke dip.

If you’re a beer lover, the Civil War is a must try, half yuengling, half aibta, half awesome. Get the large and thank me later.IMG_1874_1 IMG_1878_1 IMG_1880_1 IMG_1881_1

Fringe The Right Way

The thing about living in Milton, Florida is, there aren’t many places nearby to get a good photo backdrop. Our house will do for now.

Lazy Monday working from home calls for a casual, easy look. Wearing one of my favorite old kimono style tops from Phraseology LA. Based out of Los Angeles, founded by couple, Josh and Amber, they have some incredibly stylish, printed pieces. As a bonus, 10% of each purchase goes toward saving wildlife. Check out their store here and their story here. Denim by Rag & Bone from Scout in Pensacola!

I love the deep-V, fringe look. Perfect neckline for stacking some necklaces or sporting a body chain. 
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Prague in Review

TL;DR – SCROLL TO BOTTOM FOR RECAP, I get a bit postwench-like in this one.

A friend recently recommend I start posting reviews on cities I have visited. Although it would have been much smarter (and easier) for me to start this blog while I was actually in the heart of my journeys, I will do my best to rely on memory and photos until the next opportunity for travel presents itself.

Throughout the last few years I’ve found a lot of joy in recommending everything from cities and locations, to eateries and bars, to friends all over the world. It’s amazing connecting with other travelers and swapping stories and tid-bits about new places. I’m always up for a challenge and enjoy trying new things.

I’ll start with the most recent, and biggest adventure. I spent seven months living in Prague. While I was working very long days and was a home-body during the week, I took advantage of my temporary home and did a lot of exploring on the weekends. Prague is a wonderful, picturesque, tourist friendly city and as an added perk, is the perfect city to visit on a budget.

Transportation

Located in Central Europe, the Czech Republic is extremely accessible by plane, train, bus. Within Prague travel by using the easy to navigate underground system or the trams – buses are a bit more tricky to figure out but when you do they will quickly become your best friend. If you plan to travel outside of Prague to other Czech destinations or even nearby cities, look into taking a Student Agency bus. They’re very affordable, easy to catch, have individual TVs for each seat, AND they serve free hot chocolate! I took Student Agency three times to Vienna, once to Berlin, and a couple other times to small Czech destinations. I’m telling ya, they’re one of the best options I’ve seen throughout Europe!

Money

The Czech Republic uses the Czech Crown (koruna) and the exchange rate is quite nice for an American tourist. While I write this post, it is sitting at about 1 CZK is equivalent to 0.042 USD. The country overall is inexpensive and extremely accessible. I could spend an entire night out, including a hearty dinner, transportation, and many pivos (beers) and never spend more than $10. Oftentimes I would never pay more than $1 for a beer.

Room and Board 

If you plan on staying long term, renting a flat or a room is the way to go. There are some great resources out there for finding a spot. Flatshare in Prague is a great place to start. People are always advertising rooms or looking for flatmates.

I lived in a two-bedroom flat, East of Old Town, deep in the city area known as Žižkov. Žižkov is full of expats always looking for roommates. To give you an idea of what to expect in terms of pricing, my home, including water, heat, trash and maintenance was never more than $300 USD per person. It fluctuated monthly because I was there over the winter months.

If you are just planning on stopping through, there are many hostels worth looking into. I would suggest staying in or near Old Town just because on a short trip you will want to be near the excitement and tourist options. For a free lodging option, look into using a site like couchsurfing.com, where you can sign up to sleep at someone’s home free of charge. It’s a great way to meet a local and get some city insight.

Food and Drink

Czech food is absolutely delicious, hearty and heavy, but flavorful and enticing. Similar to German food, the Czech’s have a lot of meat and starches. Dumplings are a common side dish. Goulash, roast pork, and river rat (yum), sauerkraut and different types of strudels are also common Czech cuisine. Beer with every meal is the must, the Czech beer culture is an epidemic in itself. They really pride themselves on their beer and no one can blame them, it truly is some of the best.

My favorite restaurant for Czech food was called Lokal, located on Dlouhá street near Old Town Square. Upon first glance, Lokal appears to be a small hole in the wall beer hall filled with smoke. I was surprised to find that the place stretches back through almost a full city block. Might I suggest the potato dumplings and sausage sampler, with mustard. My favorite. Maybe plan for wearing pants with a bit of stretch that evening. 😉

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Bread dumplings
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Some lovely Czech friends had my roommate and myself over one afternoon and taught us how to make a traditional Czech meal; bread dumplings, pork with onions, sauerkraut, and of course, beer

A great friend and travel companion from London came for a long weekend and treated my roommate and me to a delicious meal at La Degustation. An incredible 12 course meal served in the most visually appealing way. Incredible menu filled will all sorts of delicacies turned tasty with a Bohemian twist.

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There are bars on every single corner. I found that my favorite adventures stemmed from wandering into any one and sharing beers and cheers with new friends. Many bars and clubs on Dlouhá street will provide for a fun filled night in Prague. The Beer Museum, across from Lokal is the perfect place to start the night.

As a side note, the best burgers in Prague are at The Tavern, near Riegrovy Sady

Activities

In terms of sightseeing and activities in the golden city, the opportunities are endless. Of course you must satisfy the tourist mission by visiting the famous Prague locations; Old Town Square, Prague Castle, Astronomical Clock, Charles Bridge, etc but for a bit more of a local experience might I suggest the following:

For a casual Saturday visit Žižkov Tower, the tallest (and possibly ugliest) building in Prague. You’ll notice that there are foreign structures that scale the side of the TV tower, upon closer inspection you will see that they are large, alien-like babies. These babies, along with many other vulgar and controversial artworks in the city are done by local Praguer, David Černý. After viewing the tower, mosey on over to the square at Jiřího z Poděbrad (JZP), on Metro Line A, where you will find a lovely Saturday market, full of locally grown veggies, food vendors, pottery, and live music; the JZP market is sure to please any visitor. If for some reason you can’t find a snack you desire, hit the West corner of the square for some incredible Vietnamese takeaway… quite possibly the best in Prague. Get your food and head a few blocks over to Riegrovy Sady, the massive mid city park, to enjoy some great views and people watching. Oh, and some pivos.

A few more city recommendations:

Cat Cafe (Kočkafé) – sip on wine and read a book while friendly cats weave in an out of your legs, and try to share your wine.

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Cat Cafe regulars

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There are daily, free walking tours that start in Old Town Square, look for large colorful umbrellas.

David Černý art, scattered all throughout the city, is sure to make an impact. My favorite piece is called Brown Nosers. Hard to find but worth the hunt, these humanlike rear ends stand propped up against the back of an art museum West of the Vltava River. Ladders lead to the hole of the butt where you can peek in to see a video of the Czech president, Václav Klaus, being fed baby food. Černý has been known for having strong objections to the president.

EXIT GAMES! A new craze throughout Europe, these games use logic and basic skills to escape from a room in a specific amount of time. I participated in one involving sneaking into the flat of a Soviet spy, we were locked in and had to find a key to get out in 60 minutes. Using clues it was necessary to break free of the apartment before the man got home and. There are many companies that offer these games but I did mine through Trap. An absolute must try!

TL;DR Prague is awesome, inexpensive, and beautiful. Good food, better beer. The only city that didn’t get bombed during WWII. You should visit.

 

Fort Pickens, FL

Over the last few years I’ve always made an effort to explore and get to know each unique place I have lived. Today my friend Brittany and I ventured out to historical Fort Pickens. Built in the 1830’s its purpose was to protect and defend the township of Pensacola.

Now the site is merely ruins; full of tunnels and damp, brick hallways dripping with stalactites and mold. A visitor can spend hours wandering through the crumbling hallways and rooms of the old fort. Quite a unique experience.

Brittany is a new friend and great photographer! She was teaching me the basics for a good shot on my new Canon Rebel SL1. 

Wearing: Free People shorts, similar ones here | Top from Pure Pilates in Pensacola | Georgina Sandal sold here or at Scout Boutique, also in Pensacola.

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There’s A Party On My Pants

I’m extra excited about yoga tonight thanks to my new Fiesta Leggings from Pure Pilates in Pensacola! I stopped by their shop on Palafox last week for the first time and was certainly happy about it. They had some awesome athletic pieces to motivate any type of sportswoman. I’m a sucker for colors and prints so I could not say ‘no’ to these leggings. They’re extremely lightweight and breathable, perfect for any class, especially hot yoga.

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Food For Thought: The Art of Stillness

I took my first hot yoga class this evening. I’ve been practicing at URU Yoga & Beyond in Pensacola, Florida. I’ll admit, after a day of work, hot yoga really kicked my ass. It was one of those workouts that pisses you off and makes you want to work harder.

At the end of the class, while we were in shavasana, the teacher had some great quote that I mentally logged to look up later.

In an age of acceleration, nothing can be more exhilarating than going slow. And in an age of distraction, nothing is so luxurious as paying attention. And in an age of constant movement, nothing is so urgent as sitting still. So you can go on your next vacation to Paris or Hawaii, or New Orleans; I bet you’ll have a wonderful time. But, if you want to come back home alive and full of fresh hope, in love with the world, I think you might want to try considering going nowhere.

I found that the quote was from a Ted Talk given by Pico Iyer in November of 2014. Iyer is a British travel writer with a great backstory including teaching at Harvard and working for Time magazine. After watching his 15 minute talk I’m feeling quite inspired. At age 29, Iyer decided to give up his ‘dream life’ and moved to Kyoto, Japan in search of stillness and ‘going nowhere’.

Iyer describes ‘going nowhere’ as taking a few minutes out of every day or a few days out of every season, or even, as some people do, a few years out of a life in order to sit still long enough to find out what moves you most, to recall where your truest happiness lies and to remember that sometimes making a living and making a life point in opposite directions.”

Much of our lives are spent in our minds, memories, and imaginations. Iyer notes that I found that the best way that I could develop more attentive and more appreciative eyes was, oddly, by going nowhere, just by sitting still.”

I have found in my personal life that whenever I attempt mindfulness or stillness, I struggle with what I may be missing while away, or what I could or should be doing for someone else. Iyer makes a good point:

And every season I do try to take three days off on retreat but a part of me still feels guilty to be leaving my poor wife behind and to be ignoring all those seemingly urgent emails from my bosses and maybe to be missing a friend’s birthday party. But as soon as I get to a place of real quiet, I realize that it’s only by going there that I’ll have anything fresh or creative or joyful to share with my wife or bosses or friends. Otherwise, really, I’m just foisting on them my exhaustion or my distractedness, which is no blessing at all.

While I haven’t physically tried to get away, this point hits close to home. Somedays I don’t realize what I could be bringing to the table in terms of ideas or attitude. I’m extremely guilty of being distracted and really up until now, haven’t realized how much my distractedness can affect those around me.

After watching this video, I’m now challenging myself to get my distractedness under control. From using my glowing screens less before bed to just being still in times of wait, I plan to incorporate stillness into my every day life.

Consider The Art of Stillness: Adventures in Going Nowhere by Pico Iyer added to my “To Read…” list.

The Broad Abroad Pt. 5 – What Travel ‘Looks’ Like

Hi again. In an attempt to make my blog more relevant I’ve collected photos of some of my favorite travel looks. Past posts elaborate on the actual travels, but now I want to incorporate my style choices. When I moved to the Czech Republic I took two suitcases and left a closet full of clothes in storage, woe is me. I managed to pack sensibly, as well as fashionably, for a warm fall and cool winter in central Europe.

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Paris, France Wearing: J Brand denim | Chelsea Boot by Clarks | Faux fur scarf from Madewell

 

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Vienna, Austria -Schönbrunn Palace Wearing: This Top Shop coat and H&M bag haunt my winter travels, it was always so cold that I ended up wearing my coat in almost every photo. It served me well along with the oversize, inexpensive bag. Perfect for carrying all travel necessities.

 

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Vienna, Austria – MuseumsQuartier Wearing: I managed to ditch the coat on second trip to Austria, as it was ever so slightly warmer. Top from Zara | Denim by French Connection | Chelsea Boot by Clarks

 

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Prague, Czech Repubic Wearing: Knee-high wool socks | Leather pleated skirt from Top Shop | Sleeveless top from Top Shop

 

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Czech Countryside Wearing: Adidas insulated running tights | Boots by Dr. Martens | My dad’s old plaid button-up | Vest by J-Crew | Kipling bag

 

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Berlin, Germany – The Berlin Wall Wearing: Faux fur coat from Zara | Top Shop denim | Puma tennis shoes (Thanks Cassy!)

 

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Paris, France Wearing: Turtle neck and skirt from TopShop

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**Below are more looks of key pieces recycled throughout my adventures.

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Český Krumlov, South Bohemia

 

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Prague, Czech Republic – Abandoned warehouse

 

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Switching trains in Linz, Austria

 

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Vienna, Austria – MuseumsQuartier

 

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In “The Nature” Czech Republic

 

Prague, Czech Republic – John Lennon Wall

 

Prague, Czech Republic – The Magical Cavern

 

 

 

The Broad Abroad Pt. 3 – Oktoberfest

I’m on a roll today, making up for ten months (or, a life?) of lost time. So, Oktoberfest 2014.

The Language House (TLH) came to a close days before the final weekend of Oktoberfest, how incredibly convenient. We booked our travels late in the game, but I was lucky to have friends already in Munich. We piggy backed on their plans and were fortunate enough to share their hotel room. After the final TLH exam we hopped on a Bavaria-bound train. After hours of riding through Czech Republic and German countrysides, slugging bier, and belting out songs with new friends from Israel, we arrived at München Hauptbahnhof (Munich Main Train Station).  Because it was already late on Thursday night we were greeted with hoards of drunk, dirndl and lederhosen-clad Germans fisting pretzels into their mouths, bellowing Ein Prosit (I salute you), and attempting to make their way home for the night. I wouldn’t expect to arrive any other way.

Upon arriving at the hotel I found a note and a bottle of vodka demanding that we catch up and meet my friends at a bar in the area. We wouldn’t want to upset our friends, now would we? We followed their instructions and kicked off Oktoberfest the right way.

After having experienced Munich’s Starkbierfest, or Strong Beer Festival, in February of 2012, I was well equipped for another Bavarian experience with my pink and green dirndl.

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