Best of August
by Noelle and Dave
Although we are dismally lagging behind in our blog posts’ timeliness (yes, we realize it’s mid-October), due to family visits and a trek through the Nepali wilderness, we recently took some time to reflect on our favorite moments from our August spent traipsing across Eastern Europe.
10. Budapest’s Chain Bridge provided an incredibly romantic place to watch the world go by. Armed with wine and an assortment of snacks, we sat with our feet dangling over the Danube and enjoyed a quiet evening.
9. The bus ride from Split to Dubrovnik gave us some of the best coastal views I’ve ever seen. I am usually one to be found with my head in a book during long drives, but I found I couldn’t tear my eyes away from the window.
8. Our trip to Schonbrunn Palace in Vienna was a beautiful way to pass a sunny afternoon. We lazily strolled the impressive grounds and spent a few hours reading in the shade on a bench overlooking the gardens.
7. Catching a late night showing of Orson Welles’ 1949 black and white film, The Third Man, at a tiny theatre in Vienna will be something I’ll never forget. Watching a mystery unfold on the streets of a post-war Vienna was incredibly moving.
6. The Wiener Schnitzel at Vienna’s Figlmueller was life changing. That is all.
5. Walking the quaint streets of Cesky Krumlov as evening fell and feeling like the only people who’d ever been there. Loved the spontaneity of our trip to the tiny town, and the vibe was exactly what I had been craving from our European travels.
4. As our Istanbul visit straddles both August and September, you’ll most certainly find “Turkey food” on both Top 10 lists. The particular experience for this month was our 2 day-long quest to walk as much as we could, fueling ourselves with kebabs, fish sandwiches, baklava, street food and black tea along the way. With endless lamb, spices and sweets devoured in neighborhoods across the city, the culinary experiences this city provided will not soon be forgotten.
3. Prague beers. Cheap, delicious, everywhere.
2. Our day trip to Croatia’s Lokrum Island was just what we needed. Lounging on the stone beaches and snacking on a picnic of bread and meats between dips in the cool waters of the Adriatic Sea was absolute heaven.
1. Dave planned a date night in Istanbul for our first night of arrival, and it was the perfect introduction to a city we quickly fell in love with. After dinner at a cozy restaurant where the food was divine, we next headed to a rooftop with a stunning view of the Hagia Sophia and Blue Mosque as we sipped martinis. After our usual commitment to scrappiness, it’s always fun when you treat yo’self.
10. Our victory lap in Stellenbosch. Our flight up to Prague from South Africa was cheapest if we waited a few days after our safari ended, so we spent them in Stellenbosch to revisit one of our favorite stops in July. Really hope there will be a third trip in our future someday.
9. Eating pork knuckle in Cesky Krumlov. Our restaurant felt like we were eating backstage at Medieval Times, and the we got to eat this:
8. Walking Dubrovnik’s City Walls around Old Town. Despite the unfortunately negative connotation I have with much of our time in Croatia (mainly due to crowds and costs), it’s impossible to deny the appeal of the aesthetically pleasing and abundantly historic walls of the Old City as you walk the 2km length of its impossibly well-preserved walls.
7. Schnitzel and kuchen in Vienna. My opinion on many places we have been has been influenced by the food more than I could have imagined. And the breaded pieces of heaven and the sugar coated treats this city has on offer were pretty spectacular.
6. Dinner on the Danube in Budapast. We sat on the edge of the riverside walking path, feet dangling below us as we nommed on some cheap eats from the grocery store and sipped on cheap wine from a water bottle. And the view was pretty breathtaking. I know it’s technically just a lit-up bridge over the Danube, but the Chain Bridge in Budapest is a sight to see at night.
5. Walking the streets of Cesky Krumlov. Strolling the cobblestone streets of this enchanting little town makes you feel like you’re taking a walk back in time, with the medieval castle always over your shoulder as you turn down streets that have probably looked the same for centuries.
4. Our dinner date in Istanbul at a hidden gem of a fish restaurant didn’t disappoint. We’d just endured a brutally long travel day to get to Istanbul, and (excuse me while I pat myself on the back for planning this one) a quiet dinner at a “locals only” hole in the wall behind all the tourist traffic followed by drinks from a rooftop with a view of some of Istanbul’s lit-up landmarks was just what we needed to ease into what would turn out to be one of, if not the, best stops on the trip to date.
3. Walking and eating our way through the start of Istanbul. Our first three days included the Grand Bazaar, Spice Bazaar, Hagia Sophia, Blue Mosque, Basilica Cistern and no less than six “we have to tell someone about this because it’s so friggin’ good” meals – all accomplished on foot without a single train, cab or other form of transportation. Exhausting at times, but so worth it.
2. Our self-guided pub crawling through Prague started off as a plan for one of our days, but quickly became a theme (to varying extents) of each day spent here. With beer being cheaper than water in many places (and oh, so tasty), can you blame us?
1. Calling an itinerary audible in Croatia may seem like a minor event, but this was a game changer and re-energized us for the last half of August which became an amazing one and a half week stretch in Vienna, Budapest and Istanbul. These types of spontaneous decisions are one of the luxuries of this style of travel, and we love us a little spontaneity.