We spent most of day two on the Buda side, which is known for its monumental castles, fortresses, and bathhouses. Highlights reel includes:

  • Fisherman’s Bastion and St Matthias, two great examples of Budapest’s beautiful architecture. The Bastion also provides stunning views of the Pest side of the city
  • Varbazar, which I believe is a church? Not really sure but it was a nice sight to walk past on our way to the bathhouse.
  • Gellert Bathhouse – Budapest is famous for its pretty bathhouses where you can relax in hot water for hours. We mistakenly took this pool to be the hot bath and it took us only 30 minutes of swimming in lukewarm water to realize the hot pools were in the back of the building.
  • Central Market Hall – Another rookie move was thinking we could eat lunch here when it’s really just an indoor’s farmer’s market with lots of fresh produce, butchers and spice shops. It’s a cool stop if you’re walking across the Liberty Bridge to get back to the Pest side but not a must see if you don’t have the time.
  • Hungarian Parliament Building – We took a boat tour at night and got a gorgeous view of the Parliament Building. By this point in the trip, I was pretty sick of Hungarian food (can I just say SO much stew aka goulash) and happily treated myself to McDonald’s. I stuffed my coat pockets with cheeseburgers and fries like the classy girl that I am, and while my friend was super embarrassed by me, I gleefully enjoyed the satisfaction that comes with simultaneously eating McDonald’s and looking at the pretty sights of Budapest light up at night.

         

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This past weekend, I visited my boyfriend in Chicago and the highlights reel includes:

  • A breathtaking helicopter tour for the coolest aerial views.
  • Dining at Spiaggia, a Michelin star Italian restaurant with the.best.free.bread.ever. Would 10 out of 10 go back just for the honey ricotta olive oil dip.
  • Strolling along the Chicago Riverwalk. Who needs moonlight on the beach?
  • Eating Stan’s donuts which I have done on all three of my trips to Chicago so far leading me to believe I have a donut problem.
  • Watching a cocktail chef practice his art at Green River.

Special thank you to my wonderful boyfriend for always planning the best weekends.

UNADJUSTEDNONRAW_thumb_bc1.jpgMy first full day in Budapest, which is actually made up of two cities, Buda and Pest (pronounced Pessshhht), didn’t start until about 4pm. No, it wasn’t the jetlag. I had prescribed myself a cocktail of two benadryls before our flight and needless to say, I passed out before our flight even left the gate. I woke up to a sunny morning in Zurich where we had a layover (as you can’t fly direct from NYC to Budapest).

Nope, I have to admit day one was cut short because after an evening walking tour during which we got this perfect view of Buda Castle from the Pest side, I shamelessly responded to the tour guide when asked if anyone had any questions, “So…like…where do you go clubbing?” Twelve $3 vodka sodas later (did I tell you Budapest is INSANELY cheap), and we somehow stumbled back to our hotel at 6am. HYjD0+IHQoqwphzvavdoCw_thumb_c02Our hotel was gorgeous by the way. We chose Boscolo because we wanted a 5 star hotel that was unique to Budapest (i.e. not a Four Seasons or Ritz Carlton). It didn’t hurt that this pretty thing only cost us less than a couple hundred a night.

dmX5gQlTTeyKEqKxJVAtsA_thumb_c14We also decided on Boscolo because it’s home to New York Cafe, a breathtaking restaurant that pre-dates to 1894 when writers would come to drink coffee and pen stories under ornate fixtures that reminded me of the Louvre. FryC0QjZRR+%M7e7eSrjaQ_thumb_e27We had tea and coffee to start, and then as a result of our miserable hangovers, proceeded to devour spaghetti bolognese and a hamburger that pretty much resembled a fancy big mac. Did I tell you the Hungarians were thrilled when the first McDonalds landed in Budapest?

To be honest, I would recommend only going to New York Cafe for the beautiful ambiance and just having tea and a pastry. The food was overpriced for Hungarian standards and most of the menu was American.Train and outfitSince I was feeling so sluggish, I threw on an easy sweater made interesting by ruffled sleeves and wore some jeans I had bought the night before when I realized I forgot to pack my favorite pair and only brought with me some insanely expensive, but splurgeworthy, Paige leather pants. Excuse the messy hair which was the result of a haphazard shower at 5:30am.W5ZGYTBcQoq7KdJGBoz5HQ_thumb_e1c

Collage - outfit and architectureAfter eating, we walked around the Jewish neighborhood and visited the synagogue. One thing I didn’t realize about Budapest before visiting was that the city is home to some gorgeous architecture. It’s interesting because the gilded window accents and windy streets totally remind me of Paris or Vienna, but you can definitely feel the remnants of communism when you turn a corner and see an unrenovated building.Synagogue.jpgThe Synagogue was breathtaking and had these immaculate ceilings. I have to say, I found it more beautiful than even the Notre Dame in Paris or St. Mark’s Basilica in Venice. The only religious site that I think tops this is La Sagrada Familia in Barcelona. Collage - synagogue ceiling and bridge outfit.jpgWe ended the day by walking across the Liberty Bridge and up a giant hill to Citadella, where I got this gorgeous sunset view of the city. Q4LbvL++R2uQoxJCT2UZhg_thumb_b15Our day began with a rough start, and I mean ROUGH. I don’t know if it was the pound of carbs I ate or  all the unique treasures of Budapest I saw, but by the end, I was cured and ready for day 2…which I can’t wait to show you come soon.

Immediately after my ex and I broke up, my best friend responded to my 911 distress signal by booking me a flight to visit her in SF. If that’s not real love, then I don’t know what is.

Though I had been to SF a handful of times before, I had never done the trip to Napa and an entire valley of wine seemed like a good solution to my heartache. The drive with Anna, her boyfriend and his best friend was beautiful and an amazing escape from the chaos of the real world.

We started at a picturesque winery that felt like Tuscany and had a flight of four full-bodied reds.

We then moved onto a Chateau where our server, Dean, told us about how he works at the vineyard as a hobby and he’s really a lawyer in real life (side note: giving legal advice + wine seems like a questionable combination). The best part of the day was when I wanted to order a third flight of wine and Dean responded, “Let me check the time because we can’t serve after 5:30,” then proceeded to literally SPRINT to the kitchen when he saw it was 5:29. Dean quickly replaced Anna as my best friend during this trip. For our Napa excursion, I wore a crewneck J. Crew knit sweater, a sequined Endless Rose cargo jacket from Bloomingdale’s, and my favorite high waisted BDG jeans. I used to spend $200 on J.Brand’s every season but realized that Urban Outfitters’ jeans actually fit me better and save my wallet a lot of moolah.As a disclaimer, I look super happy in these photos, and for some part of it I really was, but coming to term with the end of a relationship inevitably causes a flood of emotions, and that flood came pouring in after 10 samples of wine. Thank you, Anna, for loving me unconditionally even after I cried a river of mascara onto your white pillow cases.

P.S. I am doing well and very much over the break-up now :)