Linz, Austria

A few days ago I booked a trip for a friend of mine to Chicago. Afterwards, she was kind enough to write me a raving review about my services and reminisce on trips I’d planned for us while studying abroad before Bucket List Bookings was even a thought. While reading her post my mind was made  up – this week I’ll write my blog post about Linz. I ‘ll write about what that city taught me and who it helped me become. Linz, Austria… it was this small town that had the largest impact on my life (I say small in comparison to Chicago or Dallas but it is in fact the third largest in Austria). It was in this small town where I discovered: myself, my desire to see the world, that while distance does test the heart, it truly makes the heart grow fonder and that traveling does ultimately change and shape you.

Travel connoisseurs and adults will tell you that traveling will teach you more about yourself than you ever knew and reap the importance of going off and doing these things while “you’re still young”. Not that I am old and wise by any means but I do know they are right; 100%, absolutely, no doubt about it, so darn right! But there’s something I don’t know… why?

What was it about that antique Austrian town, or my spontaneous weekend ventures to foreign countries with practical strangers I called friends? What was it about getting lost in places I couldn’t even speak their language and trusting some local (aka the people your parents told you to never talk to) to help me get home safely? What was it about living in a dorm and routinely having 10 drinks too many with people from all over the world… What was it about any of it? I don’t know. What about those things made me grow, open up, become stronger, more independent, feel OK when completely vulnerable? I don’t know. Sure, being thrown into that small town all by myself forced me to feel more confident and sociable, and forced me to think more on my feet but doesn’t high school force us to do the same? Doesn’t being thrown out into the real world with only a piece of paper proving your somewhat educated do that to us? What is it about traveling specifically that has a much larger and lifelong impact? Whatever IT is, I thank IT for turning me into the independent, fearless, cultured, knowledgeable and travel bug infused person I am today. Now, lets talk about Linz a little more specifically.

Linz is nestled in northern Austria right along both sides the Danube and is 132km/82 miles east of Salzburg and 185km/115 miles west of Vienna. This town has the best of both worlds – farm and rolling green land and a beautiful and busy city. Imagine all of that wrapped up together sprinkled with the best shops, cafes, pubs, museums and churches dumped into a big bowl of culture; that’s Linz! Because of the large variety of lifestyles the city can accommodate, its streets are filled with families, university students, older couples, immigrants and the crazy crazy Erasmus students (that was me and 200 of my closest stranger friends). And because the town is filled with such a variety of people and backed by a notorious art and music scene, is why Linz was chosen as one of the European Capitals of Culture! How neat is that? Life in Linz is simple yet sophisticated. The transportation system in Linz is complex yet easy. The University in Linz is casual yet challenging. Linz truly has it all and would greet you with open arms if you were to ever visit.

When you decide to take your adventure to become a “better and wiser and more in touch with yourself” you, make sure Linz is on your list. Maybe you can stop there on your way from Budapest to Munich? Or Prague to Zagreb? Milan to Warsaw? Being one of the most centrally located cities in Europe makes traveling to and from incredibly accessible AND being the home to the HARIBO GUMMY BEAR FACTORY is a reason on it’s own to pay a visit. Oh, and don’t forget a slice (or five) of Linzer torte and your soccer cleats!

Linz, Austria Map

Linz, Austria Collage

 

 

Milan, Italy

or Milano as I was often asked to say.

While living abroad in Germany last year for work I had the great privilege of… A CAR! It’s a well known fact that the European rail systems are fantastic so having one was definitely not necessary but it did certainly give me my freedom and make my list of travel destinations endless. I also had the great privilege of having two good friends staying in France the same time I was abroad so it only made sense to meet them somewhere in the middle for a weekend adventure. We took a look at the map and one place in particular caught our eye- Milan. Friday after work I hopped in my car and started making my way through Germany, Austria, Lichtenstein, Switzerland and finally Italy. What sounds like a long journey only took about 5 hours.

There were two specific things about Milan that have caused it to live in a special place in my heart; the place we stayed and the people we met. I have stayed in many hostels throughout Europe and for the most part have nothing but raving things to say about them. This hostel was different – the energy of the workers radiated throughout the entire place. The smiles and friendliness of fellow travelers was contagious. It was wildly obvious how much passion the staff had for their jobs, the hostel itself and for making sure their visitors had a beyond memorable stay. I remember walking in the front door, being greeted by the diverse staff chattering, laughing and smiling while practically shoving a beer into my hand as I checked in and being told to hurry and get a plate of their complementary dinner when they handed me my keys. I remember hanging out at the bar and meeting people from cultures I had never interacted with before. I remember walking out on the beautiful back terrace and up on the rooftop filled with couches and hammocks exchanging laughs and stories with these people that just moments ago were strangers to me. I remember connecting so quickly and so deeply to so many beautiful souls that quickly became more than just fellow travelers.

I know everything I’m going on and on about doesn’t benefit people looking to find out more about Milan but I just wanted to express how blissful this place made me feel. When I was planning this trip I figured it would just be a convenient place to meet friends and a beautiful city to explore. I never thought I would be sitting here almost a year later still feeling overwhelmed by the joy the places and people of that city brought me. But that’s what happens when you travel… you meet people and experience things you never knew your heart was missing. I think this is the realization that one of my favorite quotes comes from- “I am love with cities I’ve never been to and people I’ve never met”. Leaving Milan left me with the feelings to truly understand that phrase. Leaving Milan also sent me into a state of sadness and withdrawals; so much so that the next Friday after work I hopped in my car and started making my way through Germany, Austria, Lichtenstein, Switzerland and once again, Italy. My heart felt so empty not being surrounded by those souls I met and that atmosphere I felt so comfortable in. I just needed a few more days to soak it all in.

I can’t guarantee that Milan will be the place that makes you feel these things but I can suggest to at least give it a try because I know I am not the only one that left there feeling that way. Outside of the hostel, Milan is just as beautiful of a place. The Duomo is absolutely breathtaking. The Navigli canals are unbelievable. The wine is better than words can describe. The risotto… I don’t have words for that either. The only thing I could have done without was needing to drive through the city. I know I started off this post by saying how thankful I was that I had a car to make these last minute trips possible but drivers and street markings in Italy are just a little too much for me.

In addition to exploring the touristy things of Milan we had the amazing opportunity to visit the World Expo. Before going I was a little hesitant on going just because I am not much of a “museum person” and had no idea what to actually expect. I cannot even begin to explain how wrong my assumptions were and how glad I am that I went. It was truly a one-0f-a-kind experience and one that I hope everyone can eventually experience. Each countries creation and representation of their culture and their people was so intriguing. To be honest, there were quite a few countries I had never even heard of. There were customs and traditions showcased that I didn’t know existed. It was a way to open your mind and explore new places without needing to hop on a train or a plane. The World Expo is a travel enthusiasts dream come true.

With all that being said, you never know what you’ll come across when you travel somewhere new so buy a ticket and go there, somewhere… anywhere.

Collage

Deep Ellum – Dallas, TX

Happy Friday! First off, thank you so much for visiting my page and following my travels. My adventures mean nothing if I don’t have people to share them with.

For my first blog post I figured I would feature the place that has grown to become “home” over the past 4 months. Moving across the country isn’t exactly a vacation or a trip but it is most definitely an adventure.

I moved to Dallas, Texas in January of this year. I had an idea of what to expect because I had visited my fiancé a few times who had moved here in April of last year. I knew that Dallas was a place busting at the seams with opportunity! I knew I’d see a few cowboys here and there, I’d here a lot of ya’ll, I’d have no problem finding BBQ and chicken biscuits and that I’d get people offering me Coke when they were really talking about Pepsi, but what I didn’t expect was to find a place like Deep Ellum. Deep Ellum is an area of Dallas located just northeast of the city.

Like all of Dallas, the population of Deep Ellum is growing extremely rapidly. The growth of new business in the area is unbelievable. Every time I turn around there’s a new restaurant, coffee shop, barber shop, thrift store, boutique and whatever else you can image a Main Street would be filled with. What’s different about Deep Ellum is the culture, art and history that the city is fueled by. Brick-and-mortars show their age through their structures deep cracks and the steel entry doors that separate the cobblestone sidewalks from the buildings modern and swanky interiors… things in Deep Ellum are old but nonetheless absolutely beautiful to a certain kind of eye. Every brick wall is covered in the most exquisite street murals by artists, music of all genres fills the streets at night and the people walking the streets whether small business owners, artists, up-and-coming musicians or brewers are there making a name for themselves. I could go on and on about what Deep Ellum looks like and why it’s so different from the Uptown or Greenville of Dallas but I think what’s important to focus on here is what this area has taught me.

Traveling is all about opening up and learning or realizing things about you and the world around you. Coming from Chicago I was so used to even the oldest buildings looking pristine and put together – Deep Ellum made me realize that old and “run down” if you will, is beautiful too! Because it’s not that the people don’t have money to fix it up. It’s not that they don’t care about what it looks like. It’s that they value their history (Deep Ellum was the home of one of Henry Ford’s earliest car plants and European immigrants in the 1800’s). They understand that every building has a story behind it. But most of all, they understand it’s the people and their talents which make up the patchwork community that is the most beautiful and important thing. Every time I’m in Deep Ellum I feel differently; I feel relaxed, grounded, I feel free.

All in all, I am so excited to be living here in Dallas and to be adventuring through this city on a daily basis. If you’re looking to get away for a weekend and to experience all this growing city has to offer, please fill out the contact form on the contact me tab or send an email to bucketlistbookings@yahoo.com! Until next week my fellow travel enthusiasts!

Blog - Deep Ellum TX