Prague Part 2: Old Town

A very belated part 2 of our visit to Prague! You can read part 1 here.

Where are we? 

This blog post I’m concentrating on our time in Old Town, on the right side of the river.

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Old Town (or Staré Město) dates all the way back to 1100 AD when the settlement was known for trade, particularly markets held on Saturdays. After the traders gained wealth, King Wenceslaus I of Bohemia granted them the privileges of township and Město pražské was formed; originally the town was surrounded by a moat and 13 gates.

The Sites:

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Prague’s Astronomical Clock (Pražský orloj) was built in 1410. This makes it the third oldest astronomical clock in the world and oldest one still in operation.

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According to a local legend, hard times will come to the Czech people if the clock stops working.

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The dial represents the positions of the Moon and Sun, along with a skeleton representing Death, which strikes the time. 

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Jewish Museum of Prague (established in 1906). 

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Old-New Synagogue (built between 1210-1280).

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Maisel Synagogue (built in the 16th century)

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St. Nicholas Church (first mentioned in 1273) was burned down by the French in 1689 and was rebuilt in the 1700s. 

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Russian Tsar Nicholas II donated the chandelier of Harrachov crystals. 

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Chuch of Our Lady Before Tyn built in the 1200s. 

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View from the Astronomical Clock

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Old Town Square

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Seven Foot Sigmund Freud designed by David Cerney. The sculpture was created to signify his struggle and fear of death. Freud himself committed suicide after struggling with mouth cancer. 

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View of the castle

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St. Charles Bridge

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National Memorial to the Heroes of the Heydrich Terror. Not located in Old Town, but we wanted to see the memorial for the Czech paratroopers behind the assassination of Reinhard Heydrich in 1942. 

Restaurants & Pubs:

Sisters:

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We stopped by Sisters for sandwiches and the restaurant is a great place for a quick snack. Opened by two sisters, the shop specializes in “chlebicek” or open faced sandwiches. There were a ton of varieties but I couldn’t say no to the beet puree.

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Fat Cat:

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Fat Cat is the perfect place for burgers and sides. The burgers were YYYUUUUUGGGEEE and they had a ton of options for all types of eaters. They also had a number of beers on tap. I forgot to take a picture because I was so overwhelmed by how amazing and how much food we ordered. We had an awesome time with friends.

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Prague Beer Museum:

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With over thirty beers on tap and one of the best places to try Czech brews, the Prague Beer Museum was our favorite pub. Prague is the beer capital of Eastern Europe and the selection at Prague Beer Museum definitely represented that title.

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Joystick Arcade Bar:

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An AMAZING find, the Joystick Arcade Bar is one of the underground gems of Prague. Filled with old school video games (include Sonic the Hedgehog and Jurassic Park Pinball!!!!!) we had a blast playing games while enjoying a few beers with friends. Okay, so I probably played Jurassic Park Pinball for at least an hour….

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Klášterní Pivovar Strahov:

Records of this small microbrewery in Old Town show that the operation was around as early as the 13th century. Today Klášterní Pivovar Strahov includes a courtyard, restaurant, and three beers on tap. Highly recommend for a good local beer while visiting Old Town.

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Special Mention Bric a Brack Antiques:

Bric a Brack Antiques was one of the coolest shops in Old Town. We stumbled onto the shop by accident and I could have stayed there the entire day looking at treasures.

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Others that I loved:

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My inner Sean Connery Celebrity Jeopardy laughed wayyyy too long at this

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So 90s

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–Ashlyn

RIP

Reading: Charlene Gilbert’s Homecoming

Watching: Batman Season 1 (RIP Adam West)

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Prague Part 1: Malá Strana & the Left Bank of the Vltava

This March we spent a few days in Prague, Czech Republic and we had such a great time (read: I took too many pictures) that I thought it might be best to split this adventure up into two separate posts. We spent our first day in Malá Strana and wandering around the left side of the Vltava River.

Where are we?

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The capital and largest city in the Czech Republic, Prague is about a four and a half hour drive for us. Having been in existence for over a thousand years, the city is known for its many historical and cultural sites, as well as an expanding food and beer scene. Germanic tribes replaced the Celtics living in modern-day Prague around 100 BC. In 400 AD the fall of the Roman Empire caused most of these Germanic peoples to move west to Germany; Slavic tribes from Russia and Asia replaced them by the end of the sixth century.

Prague was officially founded by Princess Libuše, an ancestor of the Přemyslid dynasty and the Czech people. The youngest and wisest of three sisters, she became queen after their father died. She held the gift of foreseeing the future, legend states that upon seeing the Vltava River from a cliff, Libuše prophesied:

“I see a great city whose glory will touch the stars.”

She then ordered the castle to be built overlooking the river. Construction started in the late 8th century and you can still read some of the masonry under the castle dating back to 885. Another fun Libuše legend I wanted to share: When the male leaders of her tribe were unhappy with a woman ruling, they demanded she marry. Libuše, already in love with a plowman named Přemysl, claimed to have a vision of a farmer with one broken sandal plowing a field. The councilmen found Přemysl in nearby Stadice just as she said; the two were married and had three sons.

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“I just might be the next ruler in the making.” #slay

The city is divided by the Vlata River. This first post I’ll just concentrate on our time in Malá Strana and the left bank of the river.

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The Sights:

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Kostel svateho Josefa built by the Carmelite sisters in 1686-1686.

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View from the Castle

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Entrance to the castle. The compound is the largest ancient castle in the world.

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Prague Castle

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The compound (larger than seven football fields) includes the St. Vitus Cathedral.

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Mala Strana District

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Mala Strana District

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Church of Saint Nicholas was built between 1704-1755 on the same site where a 13th century church stood before plans to rebuild the church began.

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Prague Castle at night.

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St. Charles Bridge

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Czech scuplter David Cerny is known for his “tongue and cheek” pieces including this one called “Piss.” We saw more of his work in Old Town.

 

Restaurants:

Malostranská Pivnice:

After wandering around Malá Strana looking for a couple of bars that were only open in the summer (damn seasonality!) we found Malostranská Pivnice on our way back to the apartment. Apparently the pub is located on a former hangman’s house built in 1664 and was opened as a bar in 2002.

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Too cute not to snap a picture

I wish I had taken more photos but I was wayyyyy too distracted by the amazing accordion player who was taking folk requests from a group of Russians in the pub. I uploaded these amazing jams here and here.

Cafe Lounge:

Cafe Lounge had an amazing breakfast and coffee menu. The restaurant had a really cool art-deco Great Gatsby vibe that was super cute.

I was overenthusiastic about sitting outside (in March) and the barista kindly reminded us that no normal person wants to enjoy their brunch outdoors during this time of the year. Inside it is!

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The Farm Letna: Urban Kitchen & Coffee:

Breakfast all day, changing menu each week, and bike rentals, what else do you need in life? We had lunch at Farm Letna our last morning in Prague.

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The restaurant concentrates on using locally sourced produce, meat, and coffee. Shockingly, I chose lunch over breakfast (I know!) because that day they had a soup special that sounded great.

I had the best beet-based veggie burger of my life and Chris had the club sandwich, which was a perfect opportunity to state all of the Lion King “cub” sandwich puns from the elephant graveyard scene.

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Random:

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View from the Airbnb

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Obligatory Prague Castle Selfie

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My favorite house

 

Up Next: Prague Part 2 including Old Town, Beer Museums, and the quest for Jurassic Park arcade games.

Currently:

Watching: Master of None Season 2

Listening: Team Fortress 2 Fight Songs Soundtrack

Reading: Milk & Honey by Rupi Kaur

Mood:

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❤ Ashlyn

Things I’m Loving 4.21

To Watch: Trailer Park Boys Legends of the Hidden Temple

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For those not familiar with the beauty of this show, Trailer Park Boys is a mockumentary centered around three friends (Ricky, Bubbles, and Julian) living in the Sunnyville Trailer Park in Nova Scotia, Canada. The show follows the trashiest, most wonderful adventures of the boys making money and escaping their alcoholic, ex-cop of a Trailer Park Supervisor, Mr. Lahey. First released in 2003 and now in the eighth season, it’s crazy that the actors have been playing these characters for so long.

The eighth season of Trailer Park Boys was released by Netflix two weeks ago. Admittedly, there is a hole in my heart without J-Roc on the show, but its TPB so I’ll take what I can get. If you haven’t seen the show please do yourself a favor and start.

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 Legends of the Hidden Temple

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Oh, Legends of the Hidden Temple. Oh, Olmec. Oh, Kirk Fog. Oh, childhood things. Did you know that you can watch old episodes of the show on YouTube? 90s kids–your life is about to change.

The Nickelodeon show ran from 1993-1995 with teams competing for prizes based on physical challenges, answering questions, and, most importantly, escaping the guards and finding the hidden object in the temple run. Legends of the Hidden Temple featured a giant talking face named Olmec and Fog as the khaki-shorts-and-utility-belt-wearing-trying-to-keep-a-straight-face-host.

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This show is just so 90’s I can’t handle it. The glasses, the socks, the haircuts, and the prizes (DON’T WORRY! THEY’RE STILL GETTING THE REMOTE CONTROL CAR AND THE FASHION BUG GIFT CARD!) are so amazing that you owe it to yourself to rewatch them. Watching these kids continuously mess up putting together the Shrine of the Silver Monkey (COME ON IT’S THREE PIECES!) is still just as frustrating today as it was in 1994.

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Chris and I have been rewatching episodes and choosing to cheer for our teams as if we were watching college football. Highly recommend.

To Play: 99% Invisible

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Last month two friends told me about the 99% Invisible podcast. Hosted by Roman Mars and a collaboration between the American Institute of Architects and radio station KALW, each episode overviews an aspect of design that is largely absent from view. I first listened to “The Falling of the Lenins“, which discussed how Ukrainians are literally dismantling history by tearing down Soviet-era statues of Vladimir Lenin in towns across the country. How do cultures evolve and see their society? What do statues and other forms of public displays actually mean? Of course I fangirl-ed the hell out of this episode. A bonus episode I recommend is “War and Pizza“, a collaboration with Gravy. The episode details the history of the American military in developing many of the processed foods we see in grocery stores today.

To Do: Local Markets

Spring is finally here (-ishhhhh considering we had a random snowstorm this week) and there are a ton of cute markets selling different cheeses, produce, and homemade goods.

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Market in nearby Nagygimot

Got to spend the morning wandering around with this cute pup ❤

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Random trip to Austria in a snowstorm for craft beers

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Being a part of a lovely spring floral design workshop featuring local flowers (the tulips here are incredibly beautiful) and a wonderful host

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When the local dairy farm opens a shop how can you choose just one specialty cheese?

To Eat: Homemade Pizza Boats

One of the greatest successes of my life is getting Chris to call french bread pizzas their true name–pizza boats. My family always called them that and growing up they were one of our favorite dinners. In Charleston, Chris and I would buy baguettes from our neighborhood bakery (EVO Pizza) and make our own. Here in Pápa, I was at the grocery store and randomly saw the baker wrap up a few olive baguettes still warm from the oven.

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Chris is a great cook, especially when it comes to grilling. After grilling our baguette, we loaded them up with toppings: szalami (pepperoni) for Chris and gomba (mushrooms) for me. They were so good and so filling I nearly fell asleep half way through eating mine.

To Self Care: Sacred Circle Herbal Apothecary 

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All photos via Sacred Circle Herbal Apothecary Facebook page

Former intern and overall wonderful person Alexandra Keane just opened her own herbal remedies shop, Sacred Circle Herbal Apothecary. As a student, she was always drawn to herbal medicinal practices and native knowledge; while working for the Sustainability Office, we helped re-establish the outdoor garden at the political science department where she was able to actually put these interests into practice. After graduation Alexandra worked with the College of Charleston’s Grounds Department where she developed the Restorative Agriculture Program.

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Following her success at CofC, she opened her own online shop of homemade and locally sourced teas, salves, and other products meant to promote self care and the healing power of herbal plants. We ordered the fire cider (helps with digestion, relieves sinus congestion, and helps ward off the flu and colds) and lavender salve (calming skin moisturizer and lovely to use before bed) a few weeks ago; it was like receiving a little box of positivity in the mail. Chris and I take shots of the cider each morning and I use the salve before bed and to help heal the cracking on my hands (my now southerner blood is definitely not used to this thinner European air!)

One of the greatest aspects about Sacred Circle is that every product is made with care and incredibly locally sourced; ingredients are either grown in Alexandra’s own garden or from growers in Charleston. Check out this amazingly detailed blog about the life cycle of one her salves (an LCA nerd myself–basically my entire graduate research–it’s this attention to detail that really sets Sacred Circle Herbal Apothecary apart from other herbal shops). As someone who struggles with taking time for herself, practicing self care, and generally skeptic of how businesses source their ingredients, I love being one of her customers (we just ordered more fire cider and other goodies yesterday).

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So proud of this amazing woman and all she has accomplished! Check out her shop (she currently has Seasonal Wellness and Get Well kits available) and this badass interview with There Could Be Blackberries!

To Look Forward To: Babushkas of Chernobyl

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I am so excited that the Babushkas of Chernobyl documentary was finally released on iTunes this week. Director Holly Morris recorded the lives of the elderly Babushkas who returned to villages within the toxic “Exclusion Zone” right outside of Chernobyl’s deadly nuclear site. While the villages near the center were originally evacuated–it is currently against the law to live or travel in the Exclusion Zone–roughly one hundred women returned to their homes and currently subsist off the toxic landscape.

Many of the women lived through Nazi occupation and the Soviet-implemented Holodomor before being forced to leave their homes following the meltdown of Reactor #4. For them, the independence and love for their homeland brought them back:

“At her cottage, Hanna Zavorotyna brews homemade moonshine and slices thick chunks of salo, raw pig fat – though it is strictly forbidden to eat local food. “Starvation is what scares me, not radiation,” she says. That stark choice reveals an incredible journey the women have traveled: from Stalin’s enforced famines in the 1930s, through Nazi occupation, to nuclear disaster. Like the wolves, moose, wild boar and other wildlife not seen for decades that have come back to the abandoned forests around Chernobyl, the women of the Exclusion Zone, too, have an extraordinary story of survival, and offer a dark yet strangely affirming portrait of life post-apocalypse.”

You can watch the trailer here. Even if you don’t watch the film, the trailer is worth a viewing just to hear one of the Babushkas talk about where the men have gone.

—Ashlyn

“Why you so worried about time anyway? The only time I’m concerned with is having a good one.”                    —JRoc

“It’s so hard to Dance & Drink at the Same Time!”: Adventures in Ljubljana, Slovenia

On our way back from Italy were able to stop in Slovenia’s capital, Ljubljana, for one night. Never in my life would I have thought I’d have the opportunity to visit and fall in love with the capital of Slovenia, but Ljubljana was lovely and I can’t wait to go back.

Where are we?

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The name Ljubljana (Lue-be-on-a) originates from the Slavic verb “ljublyoob” which translates as“to love.” The name is fitting to the gorgeous city. Settlements near the Ljubljana marshes were first mentioned in 2000 BC and is also where the oldest wagon wheel in the world was found. The city is known for its “Ljubljana Dragon”, which is illustrated on the top tower of the castle. According to Slavic legend, the slaying of a dragon releases water–therefore ensuring the Earth’s fertility–and again corresponds with the city’s marshes.

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Driving from Italy. What isn’t depicted here is me screaming boy band lyrics while Chris is driving.

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View from our apartment:

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Castle view. Lol like I’m going up there but you get the point.

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Chris: Classy vs. Classic Chris

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A trip to Preseren Square:

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Franciscan Church of the Annunciation (Construction began in 1646)

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At Night

The next day we visited Prešeren Square and wandered around the surrounding districts. Thankfully the weather held up and we were able to see a lot of the city before heading home.

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Preseren Monument

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Robba Fountain (Fountain of the Three Carniolan Rivers) represents the gods of the three rivers of Carniola: Lubljanica, Sava, and Kirka

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St. Nicholas’s Church (built in 1700)

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Side of the Cathedral with a Portrait of the Bishops

Me and Mo: Giggly and Singing Beyonce

Eat: Pop’s Place Burgers

We only had a chance to have one meal while visiting Ljubljana and it was awesome. Pop’s Place has a ton of different burgers, apps, and locally sourced beer and ingredients. Our server was awesome; he was super knowledgeable and had a laugh with us.

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These peppers were pretty similar to shoshito, one of my favorite dishes in Charleston.

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Wings

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Veggie Burger (maybe shed a little tear here)

Plus a little bonus Keanu (from Parenthood, one of my favorites!) with Slovenian subtitles:

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What more can you ask for in life?

—Ashlyn

Pizza, Wine, and Exploring Italy

Two weeks ago Chris and I visited our dear friend before she moves back to the states. She’s lived in Italy for the past couple of years and it really sucks that we didn’t have a lot of time in Europe to hang out but I think we made the most of it.

Where are we?

We visited Sacile, Polcenigo, and Aviano, about a six hour drive for us through either Austria (which we took on the way there) or Slovenia (our trip on the way back).

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Sacile It’s a beautiful little town and thankfully the weather was gorgeous during our visit.

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We also had pizza (twice) while visiting.

And too much wine (of course).

We also visited the Gorgazzo Springs in Polcinego (seriously looks like they are out of a Disney movie):

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Anyone think this looks like the Deatheater signal? 

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Finally, a trip to Aviano to stock up on the American things we miss (hot sauce, ranch, Cheez-Its):

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I don’t know if its the 29 years I’ve lived on immensely flat land (Texas, Ohio, South Carolina) but the mountains are just so overwhelming to me.

❤ Ashlyn

Things I’m Loving 3.10

To Watch: 30 Rock and Taboo

30 Rock:

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Live every week like Shark Week

Alright, I’m just going to say this: 30 Rock is an American treasure and rewatching the show gives me life. Created by Tina Fey, the show aired from 2006-2013 and is loosely based on Fey’s time as head writer on SNL. There are just so many good things to say about this show–the writing, the actors, the guest stars, the live shows, Tracy Jordan quotes–that I can’t even begin to go through them all or else this post will be “Why Every Person Needs to Watch 30 Rock or Readjust Their Life.” Maybe a future post?

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As much as I’d hope to be more like Jack Donaghy, let’s face it, I’m Liz Lemon. Hangry and spending most of my professional life herding cats, I feel ya Liz.

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This might be highly controversial but I’m going to go out on a limb and say Dr. Spaceman is my favorite character. Every. Single. Line. Is. Gold.

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Okay maybe a tie with Dennis “technology is cyclical” Duffy. Don’t judge.

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My favorite guest stars have to be Jon “I’m the inspiration for Eric from the Little Mermaid” Hamm as Lemon’s beautiful albeit idiot boyfriend and of course Steve Buscemi for giving the world this meme:

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Taboo:

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Tom Hardy Goes Full Tom Hardy

Polar opposite of 30 Rock is our new favorite show, Taboo. Written by Steven Wright (of Peaky Blinders), Tom Hardy, and his dad, Taboo is basically an hour of Tom Hardy wearing a top hat and stomping around London.

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Probably 80% of the show

Hardy plays James Delaney, a former employee of the East India Trading Company, returning to London after 12 years in Africa. In the first few episodes we learn Delaney’s father owns a very important piece of land in the New World that the British, Americans, and East India all want to get their hands on. Basically the show is Hardy being a badass–with a great supporting cast including the amazing Tom Hollander and Michael Kelly–and trying to maintain his father’s land while making a new start for himself (along with making out with his half-sister).

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Indeed.

To Play: Southern Foodways Alliance’s Gravy Podcast 

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Recommended by a former student and all-around amazing friend, Abby, Gravy is my new favorite podcast. Developed by the Southern Foodways Alliance, the podcast discusses the ever-changing American south through stories about food. The Emotional Life of Eating was my introductory episode to the podcast and I was immediately blown away. One listener shared the menus she discovered while researching the American Japanese camps during WWII; these camps also held her family prisoner during the war.

Two of my other favorites include A Tale of Two Krauts, an episode on the history of food fermentation featuring an interview with Sandor Katz and Louise Frazier, a woman who has been fermenting for over 75 years. Reclaiming Native Ground discusses the changing landscape and food insecurity of the Pointe-au-Chien tribe in Louisiana. After centuries of subsistence living, the tribe now faces shrinking land and polluted water caused by years of oil drilling, dredging, natural and man-made disasters; for the first time  in generations the tribe now has to dependent on grocery stores and processed food to survive.

To Do: Remembering Good Times

Last month we made the very difficult decision to put our cat Wino to sleep. After ten years with us and her amazing Godparents, she developed a “feline injection-site sarcoma” (caused by vaccines) in August of last year. After surgery to remove the cancerous tumors in November, we saw that the tumors were coming back at an even faster rate when we visited Charleston a month later. After medication, more tests, and more medicine, the tumors unfortunately kept growing. This decision was one of the hardest. This type of cancer doesn’t spread in the traditional sense (reaching her organs and eventually taking over) but rather just grows larger through tumors. On such a tiny kitten (less than 10 pounds) we knew that containing the growth was impossible. We found an amazing vet able to perform the procedure at home, surrounded by the people who love her and all of her favorite toys. In classic Wino style, the procedure took much longer than originally thought; she of course was stubborn until the very end.

Typing all of this makes me so sad so I just want to jump to the nice part. We went through all of our old pictures–most were on a giant harddrive so old you have to plug it in–and discovered these gems:

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She had a love/hate with Ike’s Grandpa

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Eating dogfood like one of the boys

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Please do your research before vaccinating your pets. Wino was only vaccinated twice in her ten years and it was enough to cause her cancer. The specialists were so convinced that the cancer was vaccine-induced that they contacted the manufacturer and they agreed to be at fault.

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Miss you crazy girl. (Also notice the fear in Porkchop’s eyes)

To Eat: Pimento Cheese + Pita Chips

A trip to Aviano, Italy meant stocking up on all of the terrible American food we can’t get here in Hungary. Honestly having white cheddar Cheez Its on hand is both a blessing and a curse, but the real thing I’ve been missing is pimento cheese and jalapeño pita chips.

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YAAAAAASSSSS.

Probably the worst thing you can eat but as a good friend once told me: “If its good for your soul, its good for you” (in moderation). We discovered pimento cheese about a year after moving to Charleston and our lives haven’t been the same. Pimento cheese is good on everything: pita chips, burgers, stuffed peppers, whatever you want.

To Read: Mindy Kaling’s Why Not Me? & Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me?

Let’s face it: we’ve all been Mindy Kaling at least once in our lives.

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One of the head writers of The Office and writing/starring in The Mindy Project, I’ve been meaning to read her books for a while. Funny, entertaining, and just so freaking genuine, I’d recommend both books. They’re full of sound advice including:

“Sometimes you just have to put on lip gloss and pretend to be psyched.”

“If I’m at a party where I’m not enjoying myself, I will put some cookies in my jacket pocket and leave without saying good-bye.”

And in honor of International Women’s Day:

“And the scary thing I have noticed is that some people really feel uncomfortable around women who don’t hate themselves. So that’s why you need to be a little bit brave.”

“Teenage girls, please don’t worry about being super popular in high school, or being the best actress in high school, or the best athlete. Not only do people not care about any of that the second you graduate, but when you get older, if you reference your successes in high school too much, it actually makes you look kind of pitiful, like some babbling old Tennessee Williams character with nothing else going on in her current life. What I’ve noticed is that almost no one who was a big star in high school is also big star later in life. For us overlooked kids, it’s so wonderfully fair.”

All the clapping hands emojis.

To Look Forward To: Traveling to Avoid Aging

This month has been travel, travel, travel. 5+ countries two weeks!  For whatever reason, these two weeks have just magically worked out that we can visit a couple of amazing places with awesome friends. The best part of traveling is that it distracts me from the fact that I’m turning THIRTY, that’s right THIRTY in two weeks. I mean, we all know that I’ve been an 85 year old man at heart for the past ten years (WHERE’S MY COFFEE AT A SENIOR CITIZEN DISCOUNT?!), but hitting the big 3-0 is depressing.

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All ya’ll celebrating your 24th and 25th birthdays don’t know real aging until you have to wrap your bum ankle because you antique-shopped too hardcore the day before (me this morning).

❤ Ashlyn

Shot Put, Javelin, Hammer Throw: Wandering Around Zagreb, Croatia

Last month we met up with an old friend in Croatia’s capital and largest city, Zagreb. We’ve known Meagen since high school (middle school?) days so it was amazing to see her before she moves out of Europe.

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Where is Zagreb?

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About a three hour drive from Pápa, we drove through a very rural portion of Hungary, which was beautiful, albeit bumpy AF, before crossing into Croatia:

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Zagreb is officially my new favorite city. The Roman town of Andautonia (1st-5th century AD) was the first settlement near the now developed city; the first mention of Zagreb dates all the way back to 1094 AD. Here’s the legend behind Zabreb’s name:

Somewhere in the early eleventh century, a young lad decided to leave his home and become a wandering knight. He spent many years on adventures throughout the area, doing good deeds with his wit and sword. Once he was going through a dark forest in the vicinity of Bear Mountain. As it came to be, he lost his way and became mortally thirsty.

There was no stream or pond to save him, and he sat in the dirt hoping for rain. Then, all of the sudden, a beautiful maiden came out of nowhere. At that moment, he was so thirsty he could barely speak, but the girl couldn’t help him as she wasn’t carrying any water. However, she advised the knight to dig on the place of his respite.

“Zagrebite!” said the girl. Or, in English if you wish, “Scratch it!” she yelled, pointing at the dirt below the knight’s feet. The young man scratched the ground to soon find water pouring from the shallow hole he dug.

The adventurer thought young girl was of elven kind, but she introduced herself as a poor human orphan, without anybody of her own. Her name was Mandusa. The young lad smiled, named the stream Mandusevac , and asked for her hand in marriage, with promises of building a huge city in which they would dwell. As she accepted, rays of sunlight engulfed the pair, and through some kind of enchantment, showed them the size and fame of the town in the future.

Therefore, Zagreb literally means “The place which is scratched,” while its heart, Mandusevac fountain on Jelacic square, is the place it was founded.

All the hearts emojis.

Back to our visit:

Tourist Spots: 

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View from our Airbnb

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Main city square

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Statue of Ban Josip Jelacic

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Statue of the Virgin Mary

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Zagreb Cathedral (1217)

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Museum of Torture:

We visited the Museum of Torture, a last minute decision that I’m glad we were able to fit into our weekend. The museum was small but scary; it’s insane to me how much time and effort humans go through to inflict pain on each other.

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They also had a friendly version of the Chokey from Matilda–which if you haven’t seen you need to reassess your life–but I’ll provide an illustration for you:

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Shot put, javelin, hammer throw

Museum of Broken Relationships:

The Museum of Broken Relationships is one of my favorite spots we’ve visited. I love using stories as a narrative to share experiences (historical, cultural, etc) to connect people to others. While this museum might sound depressing–in some ways it was–I really enjoyed reading these stories. The exhibits encouraged a lot of reflection and discussion around identities, family, love, and justice.

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This donation was one of the most powerful on display:

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British Square Market:

I wish I would have taken more pictures of the market but I was so overwhelmed and surprised by the sheer number of people selling old things! Of course I was in heaven and wanted to buy everything. We randomly ran into our market on the way to breakfast and there were so many amazing treasures to see.

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Unfortunately I wasn’t able to buy any Croatian treasures (and Chris was getting crabby because he wanted to eat) but now I have an excuse to go back .

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Saint Cyril And Methodius (1681)

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Church of St. Marks (12th Century)

Restaurants/Bars:

Chris loved the fact that you could smoke basically anywhere in Zagreb. We went to a number of awesome places to eat and have a drink.

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We grabbed coffee near our apartment both here and the Treehouse Cafe. The Irish coffee at Treehouse was delicious.

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Kava Tava:

A majority of the food (and mimosas) we had were between the two Kava Tava locations in Zagreb. The first, near our apartment, played the best smooth jazz versions of 2000s pop songs, which Meg and I happily sang while devouring this banana and chocolate dessert.

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Vegetable panini, egg sandwich, and banana/chocolate tower

At the first Kava Tava we noticed they had a second “airplane themed” location near the British Square. We found our way (after the great market distraction of 2017) and once inside Meagen basically yells at the hostess: “YES IS THIS THE AIRPLANE RESTAURANT?!”

When she asked if we wanted to sit in their repurposed airline rows, of course we enthusiastically nodded.

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Chris: “Where is my food? Why is everyone so giggly?”

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Oh man this brunch.

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Otto & Frank:

Otto & Frank is where we spent the remainder of our dinner times. A cute restaurant with great coffee, Chris and Meagen had wings one night while I enjoyed this flatbread:

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Tommy’s Street Burgers: (Tkalciceva Street)

If I didn’t have a photo to prove its existence, I would have thought this burger was all a dream. While wandering down Tkalciceva Street we came across a small street vendor selling diner-esque burgers and fries. A super tiny spot, we came back later that night to order and alas they were closed. Heartbroken, the next day we made sure we were there on time to order. Honestly, the absolute best seitan burger. Homemade and with fries, it was my favorite meal of Zagreb. Tommy’s isn’t listed anywhere except this list of best burgers, but I promise it exists.

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The Cookie Factory:

Located on Tkalciceva, the Cookie Factory was the cutest dessert shop we stopped at.

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PC trying to get fresh with my carrot cake

Bars:

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We stopped at so many places on Tkalciceva and Radiceva that I can’t list them all but a few of our favorites included Destino Valhalla Metal Bar (Croatian metal bands yaaasssss), and basically any bar on Tkalciceva.

 

 

 

 

 

Random:

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Typical Meagen and Ashlyn: Our obsession with the OJ Made in America documentary remains a constant

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I can’t wait to go back.

It is absolutely insane to me that 15 years ago Meagen and I were part of the JV Cheerleading squad,  to now all of us wandering around Croatia. Crazy.

❤ Ashlyn

It’s been a long February. Power through my friends. It’s almost March.

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“It’s Penn State All Over Again”: An Update on the Abuse in USA Gymnastics

I wrote about the sexual abuse allegations against USA Gymnastics, their former National Team Doctor, and numerous coaches here.I wanted to update my previous post as more survivors have come forward and the extent of the abuse is just starting to be understood.

Brian McKeen, a Detroit attorney representing one of the survivors, stated:

“It’s Penn State all over again. You have the same kind of institutional failures, involving multiple victims violated by a trusted staffer.”

Larry Nassar 

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The former National Team Doctor for USA Gymnastics was arrested after child pornography (many filmed by the doctor himself) was found in his home. Now over 60 women have filed charges against Nassar, 40 of whom have filed lawsuits as well. He is still being held without bail.

While USA Gymnastics claimed they reported Nassar to the FBI upon first hearing about the allegations against him, a Wall Street Journal investigation found that USAG did not report to the FBI until ten days after receiving the complaint. The charges stated that a coach overheard two athletes discussing Nassar’s treatment while at the Karolyi Ranch (National Team Training Center) in 2015: “’He put his fingers in there again,’ one teammate said to the other, the gymnast’s mother and her lawyer told the Journal. ‘What’s with that?'”

The fact that many of these women told someone–a parent, a coach, a friend–that Nassar’s procedures felt wrong is indicative of institutional failure. Former Michigan State athletes (gymnasts and non-gymnasts) continuously complained about Nassar to coaching staff and trainers, but their issues were not brought forward to proper authorities. Kathie Klages, the women’s head coach, was recently suspended after one athlete filed a lawsuit stating that the three time Big 10 Coach of Year dismissed her allegations and “told the teen that ‘a formal complaint could lead to serious consequences for the girl and for Nassar.'”

One survivor, who testified in court that the abuse began at the age of six, explained that her family was close with the Nassars and her parents were reluctant to believe their friend was abusing their daughter, even insisting that she was making up the stories. Prior to leaving for college, she explained the years of abuse to her parents; her father committed suicide last year. Another father noted:

“It’s not okay,” the father of the alleged victim said. “It’s not OK they let him keep doing this, knowing because so many people have been affected…little girls…my little girl is still a little girl. He’s the worst kind of predator there is and they let him do it.”

60 Minutes

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Jeannette Antolin, Jessica Howard, Jamie Dantzscher

This past week 60 Minutes aired a segment on the USAG abuse scandal; the episode featured interviews with former national team member Jeanette Antolin, 2000 Olympian Jamie Dantzscher, and US National Champion (rhythmic) Jessica Howard. Dantzscher stated that she is the original Jane Doe who filed a civil lawsuit against Nassar last year.

Howard, a rhythmic gymnast who did not normally train at the (artistic) National Training Center, was directed to the ranch after suffering an injury. She notes:

“He started massaging me. And — he had asked me not to wear any underwear. And then he just continued to go into more and more intimate places … I remember thinking something was off but I didn’t feel like I was able to say anything because he was, you know, this very high-profile doctor. And I was very lucky to be at the ranch working with him.”

All three women were underage at the time and described how Nassar was able to gain their trust at the Karolyi Ranch. In a stressful environment–there are many allegations of emotional and mental abuse at the hands of the Karolyis–he earned athlete trust by being “on their side” as noted by Dantzscher; he brought extra food and listened to their issues. The girls felt the procedure was normal because of how respected he was in the sport. He even conducted his “procedures” in the bedrooms of the athletes, again without gloves or with a guardian present. Antolin also explains, “I remember being uncomfortable because of the area. But– in my mind, I was like, ‘If this helps, I’ll do anything.'” Antolin, who was coached by 1984 Olympic team coach who is now banned from coaching because of sexual abuse, not only suffered at the hands of her coach and Nassar, but Karolyi as well: “Bela Karolyi grabbed my butt and told me to lose it.”

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It’s also important to note how World Championship and Olympic teams are chosen in artistic gymnastics. The 5-7 athletes are chosen by a committee (up until 2016 at the ranch). The team choices were/are made subjectively; Bela was the coordinator in 2000 and his wife from 2001-2016.

John Manly, the attorney representing these athletes and nearly 40 others (some as young as nine years old) stated:

“Because this is somebody who is a serial predator. But the story here is that no one was watching to protect these girls. And they put medals and money first. I believe what– at the end of the day there are members of every single Olympic team since 1996 he did this to. That’s what we’re gonna end up with. Because this is somebody who is a serial predator. But the story here is that no one was watching to protect these girls. And they [USA Gymnastics, the Karolyis] put medals and money first.”

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Response by USA Gymnastics

Prior to the 60 Minutes segment, USA Gymnastics posted the following on Twitter:

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In addition to these posts, they also added the following:

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Wrong, wrong, wrong on so many levels. First, Nassar abused women for years at their national training center, many Olympic and World team coaches (Don Peters, Marvin Sharp) along with club trainers continued coaching even with allegations against them, and USAG did not notify MSU that Nassar “retired” because of the abuse, allowing him to perpetuate abuse against athletes. Finally, just because Tasha Schwikert–a 2000 Olympian along with Dantzscher–had a positive experience with USAG does not discount the claims by the other women coming forward.

Vitaly Marinitch

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An interview released by Gymcastic yesterday reveals the sexual assault allegations against former men’s head coach Vitaly Marinitch. Their interview with former trampoline gymnast Alaina Legendre and her husband Steven, a former national men’s team member, discloses how Marinitch harassed Alaina after a competition in 2014. She states that he drunkenly put his hand down the back of her pants, which he then joked about to her husband when he approached the coach about the harassment. When officers arrived, Alainia opted not to press charges out of fear for her husband; at the time Steven was still a national gymnast (a professional athlete whose income they depended on) and she worried the incident might be held against him when they chose the world team that year.

The Legendres heard similar stories about Marinitch’s harassment from multiple athletes. He was quietly removed as the Head Coach for the 2014 team and later “resigned” from his position, although USAG stated: “this decision was not related to anything that has been in the recent coverage of the Indianapolis Star”. In 2016, President of USAG called the couple twice in one day insisting he knew nothing about the extent of the assault against Alainia. Marinitch is currently a staff member at a club within the Colorado Training Center (the official training center for men’s gymnastics).

Congressional Legislation

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As USA Gymnastics continues to claim they did everything in their power to protect athletes from abuse and dodging responsibility, Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) has started legislation that, if passed, would create guidelines requiring amateur sporting associations (this includes national governing bodies of sport) to report abuse allegations.

“Our bill would apply to all amateur athletics governing bodies, the organizations responsible for overseeing amateur sports nationwide,” Feinstein said in a statement. “They have a special obligation to protect young athletes and must immediately put an end to any abuse they become aware of.”

Feinstein is currently working with other members of Congress, as well as meeting with athlete survivors of Nassar.

These new allegations, coupled with already established stories of abuse, show the absolute mishandling of abuse by USA Gymnastics. Survivors were/are afraid to come forward. In many instances they did, only to be told that their concerns weren’t valid. When an atmosphere of stress, submission, and power is created, even instituted, you create a culture that allows abuse. Clearly, individual and institutional changes need to happen moving forward. These changes should include consent and bystander awareness training for athletes and coaches, an overhaul at the institutional level of procedures for reporting abuse, and greater transparency of practices, along with the creation of an environment that encourages athletes to speak out. Otherwise, we have yet another Penn State. Another Catholic Church scandal. Another USAG legacy of abuse.

 

 

 

Sources not linked in text:

Armour, Nancy and Rachel Axon. 2017. “Couple Unhappy with USA Gymnastics Handling of Groping Complaint.” USA Today Online. Available here.

Chastain, Mary. 2017. “New Sports Sex Abuse Scandal? Allegations Against U.S. Doctor Aired.” Legal Insurrection Online. Available here.

Illitch, Alexandra. 2017. “Father of Alleged Nassar Victim: ‘He’s the Worst Kind of Predator There is, and They let him do it.” WLNS Online. Available here.

Budapest Part Deux

A part 2 of my favorite spots in Budapest/an excuse to research Hot Shots Part Deux gifs.

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One of my favorite movies as a kid.

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I can’t promise there isn’t more later.

Places:

Cake & Beer

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Via Facebook

A relatively new pub (they opened in November 2016) the name says it all. Cake & beer (and also card games). The beer was great–we tried the Ubik Eklektik Herbál IPA, Budapest–and it was really great, one of the best beers I’ve had since we moved. They also have sandwiches and coffee for the morning visitors too. We didn’t get a chance to try the coffee, but it sounded great. We also played a solid two hours of Uno and Rummy while enjoying our beers.

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Cat playing cards!

Blue Bird Cafe

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Via Facebook

Such great breakfast and lunch we had to go twice (in one weekend). Blue Bird is a cafe by day and insane karaoke by night. The cutest restaurant with amazing food, house roasted coffee, and homemade cheesecake, Blue Bird is my new favorite spot.

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I’m dying of cuteness.

I ordered the vegetarian eggs Benedict both days and Chris had Philly cheesesteak and pulled pork bagel.

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And I also ordered cheesecake….

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Via Facebook. I ordered blueberry.

Fat Mama’s

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We had Christmas lunch at Fat Mama’s and it was delicious. Chris ordered a BBQ burger (shredded beef neck) and I ordered the veg burger because we were both craving fries.

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But I really want to visit again to try this adorable/amazing breakfast menu:

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Azteca Tex Mex:

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We stopped by Azteca because it was close to our Airbnb and we were craving burritos. Really extensive menu, fast service, solid food! Plus they deliver.

Manufaktor

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Via Facebook

An adorable shop near Blue Bird, they hand make and sell art prints, toys, puppets, and cards around the theatre theme. The art studio is home to work of Garami Richard and Ötvös; you can also buy their work online via their Etsy shop.

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Via Facebook

Budapest State Opera House:

This January we went to see Pushkin’s Evgeny Onegin performed by the Hungarian ballet at the Budapest Opera House. It was a beautiful building and great performances.

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Incapable of taking “nice” pictures.

Random Sites:

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Ashlyn inspired outdoor seating if I ever saw it.

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Calling my name.

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Old Man Status 😦

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-Ashlyn

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Cooking with Porkchop & Ike: Roasted Red Pepper Pasta for All

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Catching me pull the veggies out of the fridge. Also Ike is NOT taking no for an answer.

We’ve all got friends with dietary restrictions. When you’re cooking for people who eat meat, don’t eat meat, eat fish but not cheese, have a gluten allergy, or whatever might come up, it can be difficult to make a good meal that doesn’t leave anyone out.

This recipe can not only be used for any occasion but can be altered for even the most restrictive dietary restriction. On the scale of “I grew these tomatoes and garlic in my backyard” to “Prego” this dish falls more on the homemade side without all of the extra effort. You’re not Ina Garten, but I think she would probably approve.

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My hero.

We’re going to start with the sauce, then outline how you can customize the rest of recipe depending on who you’re feeding. This dish is easy but tastes better if you let it cook down for a while, meaning you have an excuse to watch those extra episodes of Its Always Sunny in Philadelphia/America’s Next Top Model and have a beer/glass of wine because “I’m cooking!” Do you.

Roasted Red Pepper Pasta for All

(Adapted from my Mom. She had a pasta sauce recipe that I’ve been altering for the past few years.)

Pasta Sauce:

Ingredients:

  1. 3 onions (sweet or white, whatever you prefer)
  2. 4 garlic Cloves
  3. 2 red peppers
  4. 2 cans whole peeled tomatoes
  5. 2 cans tomato paste
  6. 1 can crushed tomatoes
  7. Couple of tablespoons of olive oil
  8. Seasonings: salt, pepper, red pepper, garlic powder, whatever else you like in sauce!

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Directions:

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Roasted red peppers are seriously the best. Turn your oven onto broil and place your two whole red peppers on a baking pan. You can line the pan with tin foil or parchment paper to help with cleanup. Put your peppers in the oven and check every 10 minutes or so, CAREFULLY moving the peppers around so they char evenly. They’ll sweat in the oven so make sure you’re super careful moving them; this means don’t flip them while reading the ending of Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince.

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Once they’re charred and deflated (about 30 minutes depending on your oven), take them out and carefully put the peppers in a bowl, covering with a towel so they can cool.

While the peppers are roasting, peel and cut your onions and garlic. The cuts don’t have to be super exact or anything–that’s the beauty of letting this sauce cook for a while–no one will be able to see them in the final dish anyway. Heat a couple of tablespoons of olive oil in a pan over medium heat and cook your onions and garlic until they’re translucent and your house smells awesome.

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I’m the laziest slicer ever.

Once your onions and garlic are done scoop the cans of tomato paste into your mixture. Stir and allow the paste to cook, about 8-10 minutes. It’s really important to make sure the paste is cooked through or else it can still retain that metal can taste.

Once the paste is cooked through, remove the pot from the heat and add one (drained) can crushed tomatoes. Then one at a time, the two cans of whole tomatoes. Use your hands to squeeze the whole tomatoes into oblivion; take all that anger and stress out on those tomatoes. Then return the pot to medium-low heat and stir, adding salt, pepper, red pepper, garlic and onion powder to your liking.

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Carefully dice up your peppers (including the skin) and add them to your pasta sauce, stir, and cover.

Cook your sauce for the next hour or two, making sure to stir in between episodes of whatever show you’re watching. Make sure to taste your sauce and season accordingly. I like a thicker sauce but if this is too thick for your likening you can add a bit of stock to thin it out. Again, do you.

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Now for the All Part:

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These are just suggestions of how to pair your sauce with different dietary restrictions.

Pasta: Gluten Free/Not Gluten Free

  1. Regular Pasta: Boil half a box of your favorite pasta (I prefer penne) to al dente.
  2. Gluten-Free: Gluten-free pasta is available at most grocery stores. Just like with all pasta, make sure you don’t overcook it. Gluten-free pasta tastes fine but it can get super rubbery if it’s cooked for too long.
  3. Healthy Option: Use zucchini-noodles (zoodles). Again, make sure you don’t overcook them. I usually slice two zucchinis length-wise on a cheese grater, then cook them for about 5 minutes over medium heat with s+p.

Want to add more than just pasta to your sauce? Duh me too. The key here is to use the same seasonings from the sauce with whatever you add to the dish.

Meat Eaters:

  1. The Way Your Mom Made It: Brown 1 pound of ground meat (chicken, pork, beef, whatever you prefer) and add same seasonings used in your pasta (onion powder, garlic powder, red pepper) until done.
  2. Healthier Option: Season one pound of chicken breasts and place on a baking pan sprayed with olive oil. Bake on 200 degrees Celsius and flip once until fully cooked. Once finished, remove from oven and carefully slice chicken and add to your dish.
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Chris prefers old school.

Vegetarians/Vegans:

  1. Mushrooms are Awesome: I like to use a variety of mushrooms including portabello and cremini. The other day I found some insane looking mushrooms (enoki) that were really great too. You want to cook mushrooms like proteins. Roughly chop (I like bigger pieces) your mushrooms and cook them with a little olive oil (mushrooms hold a lot of water so you don’t need a lot of olive oil) over medium heat. Add your seasonings and cook for about 8-15 minutes, making sure to stir. If making enoki mushrooms, heat a small amount of oil in a pan on high. Once the pan is hot, add the enoki mushrooms and flip once until they’re crispy (about 3 minutes).
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Weird little enoki on the left. They were super good!

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Cheese:

  1. Vegetarians/Meat Eaters: I’m a mid-best girl so I like cheese. You can top your pasta with any cheese you like, although I prefer mozzarella or this awesome combination of gouda/paprika.
  2. Vegans/Lactose Intolerant: Don’t use cheese

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Pretty easy dish with a lot of options for even the pickiest and most restrictive of eaters.Bonus points for this pasta sauce because it lasts a couple of days so if you aren’t cooking for a ton of people it’s there for you on the laziest of weekends. It doesn’t judge.

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Let’s be real, I may have written this just as an excuse to include an enoki pun.

—Ashlyn

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Bonus picture of Ike’s swagger

What I’m Listening To: Funeral (Arcade Fire)

What I’m Watching: American Splendor (Directed by: Ewan McGregor)