The Last Leg: Prague & Amsterdam

3:21 PM Manda Manning 0 Comments


Here we go... The last leg of the Manning Sister Europe Trip! Note that we switched it up a bit on the last one and Leah let me have my turn to have my entry appear first. ;) We hope you've enjoyed following our adventures - we certainly appreciate everyone who has been reading! This isn't the end, though, of the Sisters That Stray Together. We will be posting another blog soon about our reflections on the trip as whole, and posting updates on our Summer 2016 travel plans!

Prague


Let's see... How I can put this in a way that won't make me look bad to future potential employers. Ah, hell. It was Prague. What else do you do in that city except party every night in the five story nightclub (also known as the biggest music club in Central Europe -- no big deal), Karlovy Lázně?
Our time in Prague was essentially one long sh*t show (excuse my French, er, or Czech?), but in the best way possible.

First of all, we arrived after five and a half hour bus ride that we had to catch at 7 a.m. Then, we had to exchange our remaining Euro for Czech Crowns, because for some reason the Czech Republic is one of nine European countries that don't use the Euro. Whatever, CR, do you, I guess. I never did quite catch on to the Crowns to USD conversion - it's like, 1 USD = 24 CZK, so it's a bit bewildering when your dinner bill is 500 CZK. I just let Leah handle the money in Prague. Anyways, we get to the hostel, go to a Mexican restaurant to eat and attempt to order margaritas, but they're out of ice and apparently that's a necessary ingredient to make a margarita, so we order wine (ugh). We immediately find the infamous pub crawl that Leah went on when she was in Prague before and purchase two tickets for the 7:45 p.m. crawl.

It was REALLY cold that night, but we had time before the pub crawl so we decided to walk the Charles Bridge anyways. Although it was packed with tourists, it was still an incredible sight, especially just at dusk. It felt like stepping back in time with all of the Gothic and Baroque style architecture overlooking the city. There was an almost eerie, haunted feel, which wasn't so much unsettling as it was thrilling.

As we sat at an Irish pub (where else?), I struggled to finish my drink and wondered how I was going to finish the long night ahead of us. We worried that not many others were going on the pub crawl, but a nice sized group ended up showing up. Leah wrote more about the people we met below, and I can't emphasize enough how that was truly my favorite part of the experience. We're always able to entertain ourselves when it's just the two of us, but since you're with the same group of people all night, it's hard not to make new friends. The people we met were from all different parts of the world, but we all came together and danced and laughed and drank and had the best time together. I think when you're in that situation, you just let your usual walls or defenses down and embrace the craziness that is a true Prague pub crawl experience.

The next day we were both feeling quite hungover, needless to say. We managed to get coffee and breakfast, but our two cloudy heads combined, it took probably twenty minutes to figure out how to take the bus to the Castle District. And once on the bus, still groggy with a cup of coffee in hand, I lost my footing during a sharp turn and fell backwards onto some very annoyed locals who were not entertained by our stupefied state. Then, we somehow manage to climb an endless number of stairs to the top of the Castle District and wandered around, following random groups of tourists until we found our way to the Prague Castle. The views of the city below were magical and completely impossible to accurately capture on camera, although I still made an attempt.

Naturally we signed up to do the same pub crawl again that night. It was an even better night than the one before. This time we managed to make it to the five story club where we made even more friends/dancing partners. (Shout out to the Scottish pub crawl guide who got us on the right bus home. Oh, and shout out to the very pleasant Uber driver in the black Mercedes who smiled and nodded while Leah chatted his hear off in the front seat for the whole six minute drive to our hostel.)

-M

I knew exactly what was about to go down in Prague. I have visited the city before with a group of friends, so I knew there were a few sights to check out but the main event was the pub crawl. There are a lot of different pub crawls in Prague, offered at different locations and venues, but most of them are only seasonal so most of them were done for the season while we were there. There is one pub crawl in Prague that goes on everyday of the year, which is the one we participated in.

Our first evening in Prague we checked out the Charles Bridge and wandered around Old Town long enough to snack on pizza and trdelnik (a traditional Czech sweet pasty). Then it was time for the pub crawl to start. The way the pub crawl works is you pay 20 Euro to participate and you follow around your tour guides to three pubs where you are given a couple of free drinks in each place. The group stays at each pub for about an hour. The final destination is a five story club called Karlovy Lázně. We did this pub crawl both nights we were there, which was quite an accomplishment I would say. The first night we met a couple from New York who were visiting Prague for vacation. We stuck with them most of the night, and chatted about our travels, laughed, danced, and ended up leaving the five story club to grab a bucket of chicken. Not proud of that last part.

We tried the pub crawl for a second time hoping to actually see the five story club this time. We met more new friends, including a Scottish guy who was one of the tour guides, and a local girl who ended up in all of our snapchats (typical). We safely made it back to the hostel by 5 a.m. and struggled to roll out of bed and throw our obnoxiously huge backpacks on at 8 a.m. to make our flight to Amsterdam.

-L































Amsterdam


Amsterdam was the perfect end to our trip. The city was so picturesque that we kept asking each other, "Is this place even real?" The cobblestone streets, the peaceful canals, the colorful Autumn leaves, the adorable Dutch houses leaning against each other, and the people - oh my gosh, the Dutch are the most beautiful, pleasant people I've ever encountered. We were in love instantly.

At this point in the trek, we had done all of the socializing we were capable of and were ready for some peace and quiet. We were barely able to tolerate each other - I compared us to an old married couple one night at dinner. Not that there was much filter to begin with, but it was completely gone by now. Every time Leah ripped her scarf and coat off in the restaurant, complaining how hot she was, I would reply with "Shut up, would ya." (This exchange had become a pattern throughout the trip, so it was a running joke between us now.)

We bypassed the Red Light District/Downtown area due to the crowds, and opted to stay in the outskirts around the lovely, peaceful Uptown and Jewish Quarter areas. Although we had been really looking forward to staying at and had heard great things about the Flying Pig Hostel Uptown, by the time we arrived, we avoided the bar area altogether -- too many people. Instead, we would stroll the beautiful streets outside and pop into coffee shops with relaxed vibes and occupied by locals and then look for the next restaurant to try. We had had some amazing food during our time in Europe, but I have to say, Amsterdam unexpectedly delivered some of the absolute best dining experiences of the entire trip. Everything from the friendly service to the delectable, mouthwatering dishes was *everything* that we were looking for. We don't have many good pictures of the food, unfortunately, because it was all very low lighting - just how we like it.

By our last day in Amsterdam, we were ready to be home again in the comfort of our own space and our own beds, but we still had a difficult time parting with the city we had become so fond of. It was a sanctuary to the two of us when we needed downtime to pause and reflect on our trip. Thank you, Amsterdam. Love you forever. Be back soon. Xo.

-M 


When we arrived in Amsterdam we were physically and mentally drained. If I could go back and do something differently on the trip, I would take an entire day off just to rest. Our bodies were so exhausted, but we were in a new city so there was still the sense of excitement and the desire to explore. Amsterdam was one of the cities I was most excited for while planning the trip, and it turned out to be our favorite three days of our entire time in Europe.

Our first stop was The Seafood Bar, where we snacked on raw oysters and calamari and sipped on a Bloody Mary. We wandered around the Uptown neighborhood and lost track of time in a coffee shop. We had plans to go to a sushi restaurant that I had been to during my previous trip to Amsterdam, but instead stumbled upon a restaurant called Dubble that looked cozy and tasty, and proved to be just that. This was one of our favorite dining experiences in Europe, the staff was friendly and welcoming and the food was divine. The next two days were spent walking through Vondel Park, relaxing at coffee shops, taking in the incredibly beautiful views of the city, and of course, eating our way through it all.

We fell in love with this city. The Dutch are very easy going, down to earth, welcoming people, which was so refreshing for us after traveling for three weeks and considering most Europeans aren't completely thrilled on tourists. The beautiful views of the canals and architecture make for a truly unique city. Amsterdam is effortlessly beautiful. It is peaceful yet full of life.

Manda, on the other hand, is the opposite of peaceful *eye roll*. We were leaving the Amsterdam train station to head to Brussels to make our flight home, and when we arrived to our platform, Manda asks me if I have her phone. Of course, when she asked me I knew right away she had lost it. We looked at each other with terror because, like I mentioned before, Manda's phone was basically our life line as far as navigating. She frantically ran off to retrace her steps, and in the mean time I called her phone hoping someone would answer. A German woman answered the phone, which was even more terrifying because she wasn't speaking any English at first. She was with someone who could speak English so we were able to communicate, but the catch was they were on a train leaving Amsterdam and wouldn't be back until four hours later. We missed our train to Brussels and had to waste four hours in the train station, staring into space blankly, people watching and snacking on croissants. The two ladies ended up keeping their word and met us in the train station to return Manda's phone. I honestly didn't think we would ever see the phone again.

Only Manda would have that kind of luck - lost her phone in Amsterdam and had it returned only hours later. We made it to Brussels a little delayed, but all in one piece. We only had one evening in Brussels, so we checked out the Grand Place square and Delirium, a brewery that a Scottish friend we made in Cinque Terre had recommended.

And that concludes our Manning Sister Euro Tour. Cheers!

-L




































0 comments: