This year, Caltech gave us two weeks for spring break instead of one. My friend (also a Techer) and I decided to spend the first week abroad and the second week at home with our families. In one week, we went to three countries - Hungary, Austria, and the Czech Republic! I’m doing one blog post per country, so stay tuned for the rest. :)
We flew from LAX -> BUD the Monday that spring break started. We landed in Budapest on Tuesday in the late afternoon. That day, we explored the area around our very affordable Airbnb and took some pictures with the Danube River in the background. I also tried kürtőskalács, which is Hungarian chimney cake. Imagine a round cylindrical loaf of sweet bread that was hollow in the middle, and you’ll have a rough idea of what chimney cakes are. Since we were tired from traveling, we decided to call it a day and rest up for the next day.
On Wednesday, we started off the morning by taking the bus to the Aquincum Roman Ruins. The public transportation in the places we visited was amazing by the way. It was extensive, cheap, and efficient. After the ruins, we went on a free walking tour and saw St. Stephen’s Basilica, the Chain Bridge, Matthias Church, and the Fisherman’s Bastion, among other sights. Additionally, we also spent a couple of hours soaking in the thermal baths (similar to Japanese onsen) and checking out a ruin pub. The ruin pubs are located in ruined buildings of the Jewish Quarter. Finally, I tried beef goulash, a popular Hungarian dish, and loved it!
Budapest was very fun and lively. It also has so much interesting history. Although it wasn’t my favorite of the trip - Vienna was - I had an amazing time and would love to go back at some point.
After a year spent in “soft-lockdown” at home in Atlanta, and as Caltech students prepared to finally return to campus, I was aboard an eight hour flight towards Edinburgh, Scotland. Since my junior year plans were interrupted by the virus who shall not be named, I’m spending my first term of senior year studying abroad through the Caltech - Edinburgh University International Exchange program. I’ve only been here just over a week yet have been exposed to so many new people, perspectives, foods, and classes.
When the announcement was first made that fall term was going to be online, I started talking to friends and looking for places to live. We were debating locations around the country: California, Florida, New York, etc.. there were plenty of options. Then it suddenly hit me, what is stopping us from going to Hawaii, covid numbers were better and a two week quarentine would ensure that numbers stayed down… I proposed this to my friend and we agreed it would be an amazing experience, but we didn’t want to get out hopes up. A month or so later we still haven’t decided where to live, Hawaii seemed too far and too difficult to plan. But we couldn’t get the idea out of our heads. We spent some time looking into plane tickets, places to stay, etc… and it actually didn’t seem so impossible after all. A couple weeks later and we were arriving here on the big island!
I visited Amsterdam for a brief two and a half days during my vacation. There were a few landmarks and neighborhoods I wanted to checkout, but did not plan the visit in detail. As such, when it came down to destinations with ticketed entries, I had to skip most of them, since they did not have day-of tickets left for sale. Fortunately, I was able to walk around most of the city and it was generally a good time.