“I see your point, but…”

A few months ago my mother, over dinner, told me about something she had learned that day. A simple thing, that makes discussions or arguments with coworkers, friends, and loved-ones much less combative.

People normally say “I see your point, but…” or “I understand where you’re coming from, but…”

Instead, you should say “I see your point, and…” “I understand where you’re coming from, and…”

That one little word makes the whole tone of your opinion more inviting, don’t you think?

Crazy how that works.

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Hiking Nedvězí Hill and a 360 View of Northern Bohemia

On Nedvězí Hill you can see 1/3 of Northern Bohemia.

Nice.

So first of all, I apologize if this post isn’t exactly as…useful as some of the others have been. I think I did ok in the end, but as I started writing this, I realized just how much I blindly followed my Czech friend around on this daytrip.

Definitely didn’t pay as much attention to my surroundings as a blogger should!

But, I did include some good links and names and photos here, and at least I can tell you that hiking in to Nedvězí Hill just as fun as hiking anywhere else in that great country!

So, first we started off in the town of Dubá, a cute little place which is a bit over an hour north of Prague and easily accessible by bus.

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We then hiked out of the little town (the first photo below was 1 minute outside of town) towards the Kokořínsko mountains*/rock formations.

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On the way into the forest we passed rhubarb and cherries and picked raspberries and blueberries, stuffing our faces to our hearts’ content.

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Fun fact: On the photo below, notice how the vegetation is very different from the left to the right side of the road? The right side is the native forest of Bohemia – very swampy and lush and full of light trees and ferns. The left side was introduced waaayyy back in the day from places like Germany for easy-growth lumber, and it has definitely become and invasive species. There are extensive native-growth re-forestation projects going on in Bohemia, and even on our hike we passed 3 workers tending a small patch of baby bohemian trees.

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It was an easy hike and followed those easy trail markers (red ones, again!) that the CZ is so famous for. After that hike/stroll among the forest and berries, we reached the bottom of a hill called Nedvězí (the end point of our hike) and started to climb. The photo below does not do the hill justice.

At all.

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But, after persevering through woods and scree and past cottages and fruit trees, we left the shade to enter a sea of tall grasses, stretching on and on to end somewhere up above. And once we finally reached the top?

We were greeted with a 360 view so wide that it covered one third of all of Northern Bohemia.

That’s a lot of land.

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In every direction ran expansive valleys and rolling green hills. Definitely worth the intense hike up!

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We caught our breath and sat in the sun relaxing before reluctantly deciding to continue on. But luckily, on the way down, the views continued. We were treated to even more forested hills, although this time interspersed with golden fields and little cottages.

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Just adorable golden fields,

 

And even cuter historical Czech cottages.

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Oh and don’t forget the little towns with picturesque one-room churches.

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After that rewarding view at the top of the hill, it was nice to find the return trip to be as pleasant and photo-worthy!

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The whole trip took us 4 hours, and was about 20 km (if I remember correctly). So a good morning’s hike, and one that involves a good healthy work-out, although isn’t too strenuous throughout.

And as always, don’t forget to schedule in time for a beer in Dubá before your bus home!

Because no Czech hike would be complete without…

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Logistics:

In my previous post about how easy it is to go hiking in the CZ, there are some links to general sites that promote hiking in the CZ. If you can’t find what you want there, you can also just type in “hiking czech republic nedvězí” to google and you’ll find routes and maps.

If you’re interested in another place to go hiking, here’s information about Český ráj, the beautiful nature preserve called the Czech Paradise.

And as always, bring water and some power-snacks, a jacket for changing weather, and good knowledge about the return bus/train times!

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*”mountains” means kinda steep rolling hills, mind you. The Czechs don’t really have MOUNTAINS.

My Great Grandfather’s Yashica A

While packing for my cross-country move (which consisted of only 3 suitcases, 3 plastic containers, and 1 purse. Apparently I still don’t move with the idea of permanence), I pulled out my great grandpa’s camera to bring with me.

This camera.

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I’m not a good photographer by any real stretch of the imagination. I am a daughter of photo editing software and smart phone filters and have no idea how to work a real dark room and an old camera with all these dials and shutter speeds and aperture sizes.*

But it’s so so fun to try.

I experimented with it 3 years ago on my last cross country road trip, and recently scanned the images into the computer.

The scanning unfortunately ruined the mute matteness of the physical photographs and instead brought out a weird grainy quality.

But regardless, they have just an old beautiful feel to them, don’t they?

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*I have a cheat sheet I wrote out that I refer to every time I take a shot. It takes me minutes for each photo…

 

7 Awesome Links to Make Your Friday Better

Ibn Tulun Mosque, Cairo, Egypt

This Czech photographer shoots herself as part of different families. She’s really a chameleon! It’s also fascinating if you want a look into the more stereotypical Czech families/classes/types of people.

Where are the hardest places to live in the US?

George Washington had quite the bar tab

Americans taste exotic Asian food (and it’s what you’d expect)

Shield maidens did exist!!

Laura Ingalls Wilder’s life was a bit different than what she wrote about

And finally, cell phones are making people flaky. Yes. Yes they are.

Prague Review: Kaaba – The Best Bar/Cafe in Vinohrady

One of the things I love about Prague and the Czech Republic are all the little venues that are cafe by day and bar by night, easily and smoothly making the transition from one to the other.

Have a favorite cafe nearby where you know people go for fast wifi, excellent coffee, and great food? Stick around until evening to see the same people come back for a quick beer after work (and a couple on a Friday night). Or, if you’re not working that day, pop in at 2:30 for the ever-present wifi and, why not? a drink. Half the people there will have a latte in hand, but the other half will be nursing a beer while furiously working on their computers.

Kaaba is the perfect example of this type of Prague cafe. A cute, retro-inspired place that serves great coffee, great food (including breakfast!), and excellent drinks to boot. Add to that a laid-back, neighborhood atmosphere, and you have a place that will easily become your favorite haunt, whether you live in Prague or are only visiting for the week.

In fact, it’s so great it’s dangerous. When I went back to visit Prague, I was staying in a flat about a block away…so yes, I spent quite a lot of time and money in that place, sometimes literally going twice a day!

But who wouldn’t, when it’s this darn cute??

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Logistics:

Kaaba

Mánesova 20
Praha 2

tel 222 25 40 21
e-mail: kavarna@kaaba.cz

The menu (and website) can be found here. The beer (they have Žatec on tap) is normally priced at 33 kc for a half liter, and while the coffee can be a tad more expensive than other places outside the tourist centers (a latte is 44 kc, an americano is 37), it’s still excellent coffee, and normal-to-cheap for people coming from Euros and USD. Also, keep in mind, they don’t have drip coffee – most places don’t in Prague.

And do make sure to check out the breakfast. It’s a great deal and kind of unique! They have a pretty extensive menu that’s served all week, from cornflakes with milk and honey for just 44 kc, to an omelette or a bagel or to what I always got, the farmer’s: coffee or tea, egg, jam, butter, and a good sized bread basket for just 72 kc.

They’re open from 8am-1am Mon-Fri, 9am-1am Saturday, and 10am-1(?)am on Sunday, and they have free wifi from 8am-6pm every day (they turn it off at 6), and it’s non-smoking (which can be hard to find!) until 9pm every night.

For those of you who don’t speak Czech, like many places in Prague, the staff speaks excellent English.

Finally, be sure to bring cash as they don’t take cards! (I had one embarrassing moment when I didn’t have cash to pay for my meal and had to run to an atm…don’t be me)

Follow me on Instagram!

So tomorrow I head off on a cross-country road trip to live in…wait for it…..the South.

Duh-duh-duhhh

Hah, just kidding, I’m sure it will be a delightful experience!

Anyways, as part of these life changes I’m updating my social media self, and I thought I would share that with you all.

Mainly, I’m joining Instagram! Finally!

I was holding out on it since I was moving to Saudi, but since Saudi is out and the South is in, I’m plunging right in. Look for photos and the usual cultural comments by following me at foreignholidays. (I would give a link if I could…for some reason Instagram is not sure about my computer yet. Loves my phone, but doesn’t trust my computer)

And as a reminder, you can also follow me on twitter @holidayeng and pinterest holidaying (yes, yes, one is supposed to have an “e” and one an “i”. Not many handles were available on twitter…)

Enjoy the rest of your Wednesday!!

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Signs From the Universe And a Change of Life Plans

There are times when you have to choose between two (or many) options by listening to your contradicting heart and having to make massive pro and con lists without ever getting a clear idea of what is right and what is wrong.

And then there are those times when the universe screams “THIS IS THE WAY TO GO” at you at the top of its lungs while shoving blinking cartoon arrows in your face.

You probably should listen at that point.

So when I found myself at the bad end of bureaucracy once again while watching opportunities go by in another direction, I just threw up my hands in defeat, and listened to the universe.

No more unanswered emails for weeks on end, no more endless phone calls at 3 am to places halfway across the world (that never – once – picked up), no more mistakes by my employer that cost me months of time and hundreds of dollars. I was through. Finished. FINI. FINITO. HOTOVY.

And immediately, the universe lined things up.

In less than 24 hours I had a plan to leave in a week, take a cross country road trip to deliver a vehicle, visit my relatives, move to a new city, move into a house, have opportunities for jobs open up, and have a new plan to leave the country in half a year.

So goodbye, my possible life in Saudi. I can’t say how sad I am to give up on you and all the adventures and experiences I might have had.

But hello, Raleigh and South Korea.

According to the universe, good times are ahead.

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10 Awesome Links to Make Your Friday Better

aurorae:  (by rufeng0758)

oh HELLOOO

I can not tell you how many times I’ve planned out this Friday post thinking “oooh, maybe my visa will have come through by the time this goes up! Maybe I’ll be out of the country!”

I guess hope springs eternal.

Here’s to hoping, and here are your links! Happy weekend :)

The changing times of life as an expat in Kabul. (it’s a long piece in Rolling Stone, but a good one)

The travel habits of Americans and hotels are putting together “selfie vacations??” And on the selfie note, if you missed the death-by-selfie that happened recently, here you are. Be careful out there, people.

Here’s a list of the cheapest major cities to visit in Europe!! I’m still gunning for Budapest, January 2015. Freaking cold? yes. Amazing to visit nonetheless? Absolutely. (and apparently will only cost me $187.79 for a weekend. wow.)

Because the new season of Doctor Who is starting!

Finally! The NYTimes Crossword is being written by a person in a younger generation :D

Yet another article extolling the virtues of the Pacific NW. yeah. Because it’s amazing.

Man. I feel every week xkcd posts a new insightful, funny comic. Writing Skills (which I’ve renamed to “writing skillz”) is no exception.

Amy Poehler’s website, Smart Girls At The Party, is just awesome.

The 5 love languages. Actually very very insightful.

And lastly – here are some people getting tasered (for art). …because.

The Greek Watermelon Truck

In Greece, they have watermelon trucks.

It’s kind of like an icecream truck, but with WATERMELONS.

When Vann and I were hanging out at our host’s house, we all of a sudden heard someone speaking in Greek over a loud speaker. We both immediately thought of a political campaign or a fanatic pronouncing something to the masses (says something that our minds went there first, non?).

But then, what should appear slowly moving past the garden gate, but this!

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And what a nice truck it is, too!

 

Two Travel Search Engines I Always Use for International Travel

If you’re an American like me, you’ve probably grown up (in the internet age at least) with using plane ticket sites like Expedia and Cheaptickets.

And while those are still pretty good for US travel (in fact I used Expedia in a couple of my recent trips), when I’m traveling overseas, I find myself seeking out other websites.

Why? Because a lot of the international airlines (and discount international airlines in particular) don’t seem to come up on those US search engines, leaving you with only the more expensive options.

For example, I just searched a round-trip ticket from London to Budapest for Sept. 19th and Sept. 23rd on Expedia and Cheaptickets. The price? 336 USD.

And then I checked with two other sites. The price? 176 USD.

Now that is a chunk of change!

Why the difference? Because it included Ryanair and Wizz Air (which, for how annoying it is to use those sites, you can’t deny they cost a heck of a lot less).

And so what are these price-hacking sites, you might ask?

Momondo.com and Skyscanner.com*

Now neither of these are particularly new or unknown I realize, but I’m surprised by how many of my American friends haven’t heard of them.

So Americans, time to upgrade! Time to join the 2010s! With easy interfaces and a huge collection of international airlines, either can get you the best deal.

Buuttttt I must say, my ultimate favorite is Momondo.

It shows you so many options for each flight. The cheapest option, the shortest (in time) option, and the best of both worlds option. It even has an easy day-by-day visual to compare prices in case you have a flexible schedule. Plus it allows you to easily see what baggage you’ll be paying for, and how to avoid an extra cost with a particular company by using a certain credit card.

It’s kind of like the future of flight search.

So USE IT.

Your life** will be better.

*By the way, after writing this I remembered Kayak and checked their prices. I was pleasantly surprised. They included the budget airlines, too!

**(in terms of international flight searches)

(As always, I wasn’t endorsed by either site, and all opinions are purely my own)