Champagne, Hot Dogs, & Harry Potter: England Part 1

London has been on my list of must-visit places for nearly as long as I can remember. Now that one of my dear friends is kicking ass as a Producer for BBC World Service, I have all the excuses to visit the UK. I had a blast visiting Haley and checking off all the tourist sites in the city.

Where are we?

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Just a quick two hour flight from Vienna, Austria

Of course it basically rained the entire long weekend I was there, which made walking around definitely an adventure. We took a trip to Windsor Castle that I’ll publish next week; there was so much to see (not to mention my first ever Pims) that it definitely needs its own post.

London:

The largest and capital city of both England and the United Kingdom, London sits on the Thames and is known for a million things, but most importantly Monty Python and Harry Potter. With history extending as far back as the Bronze Age–recently archeologists found the remains of a bridge crossing the Thames–London is officially recognized as a settlement in 43 AD during the invasion of the Romans.

My first stop was visiting BBC; now I can say I’ve been to the headquarters of my two favorite broadcasting companies (I toured NPR in 2011). Also, I’m a nerd.

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View of BBC Headquarters. Haley gave me an amazing tour of the building!

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View from the top

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Ever wonder how BBC World Service is made?

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Buckingham Palace gate

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Buckingham Palace (Originally built as a townhouse for the Duke of Buckingham in 1703)

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The palace became the official residence for the monarchy in 1837

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Westminster Abbey was founded in 960, 1057 years ago!

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In 1950 the church became known as “a Church of England ‘Royal Peculiar'” meaning that it’s directly responsible to the sovereign

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All British and English coronations have been held here since 1066 (William the Conqueror) along with 16 royal weddings starting in 1100

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Westminster Abbey is also a memorial; over a thousand people are buried here

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Big Ben, the Great Bell of the Clock located at the northern side of the Palace of Westminster. The clock was completed in 1858 and was named Elizabeth Tower in 2012 after the Queen

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Westminster Palace (also known as the Houses of Parliament) is the central meeting place for the House of Commons and House of Lords. Originally built in 1016, the palace was destroyed by fire in 1834 and rebuilt.

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My interpretation of the “London Tourist Sites Postcard”

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The Palace of Westminster was the first official place of residence for the royals until 1512.

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Let’s be real, my biggest reason for visiting was to reenact the “Look kids! Big Ben! Parliament!” scene from European Vacation when Clark is stuck in the roundabout:

I really wanted a picture of the police in their uniforms due to our obsession with the movie Hot Fuzz. Trying to be sneaky with my camera didn’t work (of course as I’m the most obvious person in the world) and the officers posed for a picture for me:

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If you haven’t seen this movie, please do yourself a favor and watch it ASAP

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The London Eye was completed in 2000 and stands at 443 feet tall. Also, a big hell no to ever riding one of the world’s tallest ferris wheels.

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The Millennium Bridge is a pedestrian walking bridge that was completed in 2000.

For Harry Potter reasons (and also fear of bridges reasons) I did not walk the Millennium Bridge.

Who knows what He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named is up to these days?

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Tower Bridge

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It was awesome to visit the Tower Bridge after seeing it as one of the iconic sites during the 2012 London Olympics. The Bridge held both the Olympic rings and Paralympic emblem

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Tower Bridge (built between 1886-1894) and the Tower of London (founded in 1066!)

The Tower of London was one of the few sites I actually paid to tour. The fortress is pretty big and well worth the cost; Used as a prison, menagerie, and a palace, the Tower of London has been a prominent part of British history. Unfortunately it was pouring while I was walking the (largely outdoor) grounds so I wasn’t able to take many pictures.

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The Tower also houses the Crown Jewels, but they were hardly guarded at all…

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South face of the Waterloo Block

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The moat was an important part of the fortress’s defenses

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90% of my snaps that day

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ALL MY DREAMS ARE COMING TRUE 

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In line to see the platform! 

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Hufflepuff v. Slytherin

Food & Beer

Haley’s House:

Known for her egg-making expertise, of course we had to have eggs and toast my first morning in London:

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After a rather long (and dance party filled) night she was nice enough to make homemade pizza for dinner the following day.

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The Hop Locker:

Located under the Hungerford Bridge, the Hop Locker was an awesome and surprising find after I crossing the park behind the Eye.

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The beer-truck had a couple of really great options. I tried Verdant Brewing‘s Roy, I want a Hilux, an American Pale Ale brewed in Falmouth, England.

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So happy for a beer and a spot out of the rain

Gourmet Burger Kitchen:

I stopped in Gourmet Burger Kitchen to get out of the rain and charge my phone (and let’s be honest, truffle cheese fries). I ordered the Californian because I was craving avocado. Pretty good burger, great fries, and a ton of options for the pickiest of eaters.

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Bubbledogs:

After a long news day for Haley and my miles in the rain around London, Bubbledogs was the absolute perfect stop for dinner.

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Yea, thats a macaroni and cheese dog

Bubbledogs is founded on a simple ideology: gourmet hot dogs and champagne. They have meat and veggie dogs available with a ton of options for toppings (I of course chose macaroni and cheese). Also–TOTS.

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Me being a creep and snapping a picture of the orders arriving to the table next to us

Bad Bean Coffee: 

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My last brunch in London! We originally wanted to go to another spot for breakfast but the line was ridiculously long and being the impatient, hangry people we are, Haley and I walked across the street to Bad Bean. I’m so glad we did!

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Matching cappuccinos 

Known for their coffee, Bad Bean also specializes in breakfast sandwiches, sides, and a variety of amazing looking treats. We ordered eggs+toast and both were ahhhmazing.

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In the famous words of Haley Elaine: “Part of growing up is falling apart.”

 

Reading: Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by JK Rowling

Listening: Ash & Ice by The Kills

Amsterdam & The Hague

This spring Chris and I spent a couple of days visiting our lovely and amazing friend Kelsey in The Hague, Netherlands. We also traveled to Amsterdam to see one of our favorite bands, Pokey Lafarge & the South City Three. Chris had visited Eindhoven before, but this was my first trip; it was great seeing Kelsey for the first time since New Years!

Where are we?

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We flew from Budapest to Eindhoven, then took the train to The Hague. The public transportation was awesome; the trains and buses were super clean and organized. SO MANY BIKES EVERYWHERE. It was awesome to see infrastructure that promoted walking, biking, and public transport over driving.

The Cities

The Hague: The third largest city and the capital of South Holland, The Hague (Den Haag) is located near the coast. First mentioned in 1230, the city was heavily damaged during WWII and was largely rebuilt after the War. The Hague is also known as the “International City of Peace and Justice” due to the city’s hosting of multiple peace talks and conferences since the late 1800s.

Located north of The Hague, Amsterdam is the Netherlands’ capital and largest city. Originally a small fishing village established around a dam on the Amstel River in the 1100s, the city soon became one of the most important trading ports for the kingdom. Amsterdam has 165 canals (combined has a length of over sixty miles!) and 1,281 bridges throughout the city.

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The Hague: Walking to the beach

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The Hague: View from Kelsey’s townhouse

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The Hague: Mauritshuis Art Museum (established in 1822)

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The Hague: Ridderzaal (Hall of Knights) was completed in the 1200s (!!).

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The Hague

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The Hague

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Amsterdam

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Amsterdam: Royal Palace (1648)

 

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Amsterdam: Ann Frank’s House. The Secret Annex that hid her family before they were betrayed to the Nazis is located in the back of the building.

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Amsterdam

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Amsterdam

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Amsterdam: Paradiso (1968) is a converted church that is now used as a music and arts venue

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Amsterdam

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Amsterdam: Oude Kerk (Old Church) is the city’s oldest oldest building and church (1213!)

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Pokey Lafarge and the South City Three

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Our fourth time seeing the band. We’ve been to shows on the Ohio River, Cleveland OH, Asheville NC, and Atlanta GA.

Bonus video of Ryan Koening playing the hell out of the spoons.

Restaurants & Food

The Hague: Beachclub Indigo

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We had an amazing brunch at Beachclub Indigo. A gorgeous walk down the beach, the restaurant had a ton of burger options and seating right on the water. My first 2017 beach trip!

Amsterdam: Pancakes Amsterdam 

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Chris had ham and cheese while chose the goat cheese option.

After our train ride to Amsterdam all I wanted in my life was Dutch pancakes. We stopped at Pancakes Amsterdam before wandering around the city and loved it. They had a variety of sweet and savory options, as well as a cute atmosphere to escape the rain (because of course it was raining).

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Mint tea: My new favorite

Kelsey introduced me to mint tea and I am officially a fan. Rather than using a tea bag, you place a ton of fresh mint leaves into a glass of hot water and let them steep for a couple of minutes. So good.

The Hague: Kelsey’s House

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Our all time best meal in the Netherlands was hosted by Kelsey’s roommate. Raising money for a non-profit (she was in this super cool non-profit certification program) her roommate hosted a home-cooked five course (TWO DESSERTS) meal for a dozen people in their apartment. WOW. It was absolutely amazing. Lovely wine, out-of-control cooking, and wonderful people–what else can you ask for? I wish I had taken pictures of the food but I was too busy being the emoji-with-hearts-for-eyes brought to life.

Breweries & Pubs

Amsterdam: Cafe ‘t Smalle

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Our lovely friend in Pápa, who spent a summer in Amsterdam a few years ago, recommended Cafe ‘t Smalle as a place to stop right on the water for a quick drink and snack. She mentioned that she had always wanted to visit the small cafe but never had the chance during the summer she was abroad. Thankfully we were able to visit while in Amsterdam! It was so lovely and right on the canal.

Amsterdam: De Prael Brewery

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Having a friend who works at a brewery definitely has its perks, among them being great recommendations for craft beer in the Netherlands. We LOVED De Prael and ended up trying a couple of their beers while in Amsterdam.

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Amsterdam: The Beer Temple

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Whoa, the Beer Temple was such a great place to stop on our way to the show. Their selection is enormous, with beer even from South Carolina! We overheard a group talking about beer from Mt. Pleasant, SC and were both thinking “wait, whaaa?” before realizing they also carried Westbrook as well. I don’t even know the last time I had their Gosa, so it was an unexpected surprise.

The Hague: Kompaan

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I can not say enough amazing things about Kompaan. They have great beer, amazing food, and an awesome atmosphere. This was probably the best beer we’ve had since moving abroad and it was really special to share this with Kelsey. The atmosphere reminded us both so much of Holy City Brewing, which made me a little homesick, but so cool to see what other countries are doing in terms of developing new beer. From the clever names, to the genuineness of the staff, and the quality of the food and beer, Kompaan is a must.

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I love all the things.

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Solid advice

The Hague: Huppel de Pub

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Huppel de Pub was a solid post-Guardians-of-the-Galaxy-2 viewing stop. They had a ton of great options (including Kompaan) and a really comfortable atmosphere.

Honorable Mentions:

The Hague: Instock

Sadly we weren’t able to eat at Instock while visiting, but I wanted to mention the super cool work they’re doing in the area of food waste. Their chefs use food surpluses that would otherwise be taken to the landfill and make amazing meals from them. They source mostly from grocery stores that don’t sell their “ugly” produce, which is fruit and veg that is perfectly fine but not the prettiest of the bunch (think tomatoes that aren’t cute enough for a BLT but just fine for sauce or a banana too bruised for purchasing but perfect for banana bread). Their  menu changes with what’s available and they serve breakfast, lunch, and (four course) dinners. When one third of food is wasted, operations like these help break this linear cycle. SUPERMARKT_en-603x180@2x.pngThe Hague: Zaal 3

We visited Zaal 3 for a super cool event they were hosting that combined local beer and used records. I scored Buddy Holly and Elvis records (I finally have Suspicious Minds! My favorite as a kid!) while enjoying beer sourced from the area.

-Ashlyn

Watching: The Next Food Network Star Season 12

Listening: It’s Blitz! by the Yeah Yeah Yeahs

 

Things I’m Loving 7.10

Things have been crazy lately and I haven’t been updating as much as I’d like… Side-note: How is it already July?!

To Watch: Rick & Morty & Mad Men

Rick & Morty

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Alright, alright. It’s taken me literally years to get on the Rick & Morty train but I’m so glad to finally be aboard. The first time I watched a few episodes I was determinedly “meh” about the entire show, until my brother-in-law forced me to give the adventures of mad scientist Rick and his grandson another chance.

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Not all heroes wear capes Skye Thompson

Created by Justin Roiland and Dan Harmon, the show centers on the sci-fi adventures of Grandpa Rick and his teenage grandson Morty. Rick, a scientific genius, is often dragging Morty to different planets and galaxies while his daughter (Sarah Chalke) and her husband (the AMAZING Dr. Spaceman, oops I mean Chris Parnell) deal with many of the consequences of their space adventures back on Earth. The show is funny and really well written; my favorite episodes have to be their take on Inception (Lawnmower Dog) and the John Oliver guest starring Anatomy Park.  

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The new season of the Adult Swim cartoon comes out later this month and you can watch the trailer here.

Mad Men

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Oh Mad Men. With a ton of traveling over the past few months–along with the addition of Mad Men to Hungarian Netflix–rewatching one of my favorite shows of all time became an absolute necessity. I never thought watching the show back in Ladson, SC that I’d be rewatching episodes on trains through London or Amsterdam or on a flight to San Francisco, but here we are.

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Mad Men follows the life of Ad Executive Don Draper from the 1940s-1970s (thankfully the show ended before bell-bottoms became a thing, so we were spared Don in 70s dress for the most part). Don, with his questionable history and ever-constant unfaithfulness, is the hero/anti-hero of the show. I love Don but my favorite characters are his first wife Bettie (the underrated and often vilified January Jones), his protege Peggy (the amazing Elisabeth Moss), and his drunken boss Sterling (the dapper John Slatterly).

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Iconic

I could write an entire piece on the unfair treatment shown to the cold Bettie Draper, often listed as one of TV’s worst mothers of all time, but also someone with one of the most fucked up childhoods and treatment as a woman during this time period. As the seasons progress, Don makes similar mistakes over and over, as does Sterling. The progression of Peggy from secretary (“the men who make these machines made them simple enough for a woman to use”) to Copy Chief is one of the most important story-lines of Mad Men. Not to mention her roller-skating in the final season is one of the greatest scenes of the show.

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If you haven’t watched it, I’d definitely recommend (clearly, considering that I could apparently write an entire post just on the show). However, I skipped the last two episodes of the final season this time around, because, ugh.

To Play: Fight Songs: The Music of Team Fortress 2 

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So incredibly nerdy, I know. Team Fortress 2 is probably my all time favorite game (turning 10 this year!) and I was so excited to see that they were publishing the ridiculous and yet amazing music from the game on a two disc vinyl set. The cartoon-y sequel to Team Fortress Classic (a game I played with my sister wayyyyy back in the day) is known for its fun maps and distinct characters. Chris and I have been listening to the soundtrack non-stop; a few of my favorites are Right Behind You, Rocket Jump Waltz, and Dapper Cadaver.

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Bonus video: Meet the Spy which includes my all-time favorite quote: “Pornography starring your mother will be the second worst thing to happen to you today.”

To Do: Gardening

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I started a small garden bed this year and am so excited that things are actually growing! I have a few tomato plants, pepper plants, a zucchini plant, and a bunch of herbs. I’ve found that tomatoes grow almost horizontally here (like a bush) so it has been a little difficult making sure my pepper plants have enough room; right now I feel like they’re in a “back off me bro!” stage.

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My goal was to make my own paprika. I’m not sure I’ll have enough peppers this summer, but I’m hoping that next year I can have a few of additional beds to accommodate more plants!

To Eat: Hot Cheetos with Lime

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Oh man, so apparently Hot Cheetos with Lime have always been a thing, I just never knew of their existence until I visited California. Here in Hungary, we not only don’t have Hot Cheetos readily accessible, but even the regular cheetos (KETCHUP FLAVORED) don’t ever quench that Hot Cheeto hunger. I was able to bring a bag back with me; although when they forced me to check the carry-on bag containing this love of my life (thanks a lot Air Canada), I had a mini mental spazz attack. Thankfully they made the trip.

Related: 23 Symptoms of Being Addicted to Hot Cheetos.

Related: Cheeto that looks like Harambe sells for $100,000.

 

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I was unable to put Yaa Gyasi’s debut novel down; it is one of the most impactful and powerful works of non-fiction I’ve read. Each chapter covers a different branch of two families of descendants from Africa; one family of descendants were captured by slavers and brought to the US while the other, a part of the collaboration with the British to sell slaves to the Americas, has an entirely different history. While each chapter is a different story, I felt that Gyasi (herself from Ghana and later grew up in Alabama) did a decent job connecting all the narratives to form a collection of perspectives both from the coast of Africa and the African American experiences in the states (slavery, reconstruction, Jim Crow, etc.). While difficult to read at times, Homegoing strives to share these upsetting experiences that are often left out of history books.
To Look Forward To: Icarus
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Being released by Netflix on August 4th, the Sundance winner Icarus details the background and extent of the 2014 Russian doping scandal. First time filmmaker Bryan Fogel originally begins the documentary in a “Super-Size Me” style by trying to understand how much performance enhancing drugs could help him become better at sports. With the help of whistleblower and the head of the Russian doping program, Dr. Grigory Rodchenkov, Fogel switches gears and begins investigating the extent of doping of Russian Olympic athletes.
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As we know with investigative work such as Spotlight’s uncovering of Catholic Church sexual abuse and USA Gymnastics’s involvement in the sexual abuse of gymnasts, understanding the institutional aspects of a particular issue can be difficult to prove. Icarus attempts to show that doping was in fact systematic and that knowledge of the illegal use of performance enhancing drugs was known at the highest levels of government. The trailer for the upcoming documentary can be found here.
—Ashlyn
Remember:
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Watching: Better Call Saul Season 2

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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