Aaaaah travel. Were it not for a very terrible series of events, this last trip I would have not taken for at least a few years. However, my friendship duties called, and on (very) short notice I made my way with my BFF of 20 years to Europe….an anniversary of sorts as we had made the trip back in ’98 as teenage gals and were heading back on *nearly* the same path.
Without a lot of time to pack the biggest thing to cover was getting all the true essentials into one easy carry-on bag. I made a small listing of necessary items on a Facebook post:
– portable water bottle
– hand sanitizer
– lip balm
– baby wipes – for all surfaces of aircraft/trains
– a couple of pens
– a diary
– bergamot essential oils (in lieu of deodorant)
– peppermint oil (for headaches)
– wicked playlist
– good books
– podcasts that rock
– pre-packed workouts
– travel data plan
– last minute call to your banks
– phone charger
– power adapter
– foreign currency
I recently purchased a North Face small sized duffel bag which has become a miracle bag for me and travel. It converts to a backpack and fits enough in it for 2 weeks abroad in winter weather. A dream. Check it out HERE if you wish.
We boarded an 8pm flight from Calgary to London and from London on to Vienna and eventually Prague and East Germany.
Traveling over night is a great way to get your sleep on AND arrive a little refreshed. Unfortunately, I was enamored by in flight entertainment so I did not end up getting any rest. I did however, guzzle enough water to get a camel through the desert for a year…..random act of hydration, satisfied.
First stop: Vienna. What a town, what a place, what an amazing couple of nights. Not only had I never seen Vienna before, I had no idea what to expect and we had absolutely nothing planned. We found a great hotel near the middle of it all which had free internet and had been modernized. Hotel Mercur in Wein Zentrum. A little on the pricey side, no breakfast included however, free wifi and central. So, who’s complaining about working for their meals?
I have to admit, after booking the flights I soon quipped to my partner Jeff ” my god, Europe, what will I EAT?”. My last experience in 2011 with Spain and Morocco left me a little starved and disappointed. Lets just say, Vienna won it all back for me.
Kat and I walked just 5 minutes and happened upon a little vegetarian hole-in-the-wall gem (pictured above) that served some type of Turkish food. It wasn’t bad at all and whats more is it was better than most restaurants around Calgary. Full of flavour and colour. Beans, rice and a few dried fruits. This dinner was accompanied well by a glass of white wine and a walk in the chilly temperatures in and around the Danube and beautiful city of Vienna.
The hotel room we had was more than small, it was EENSY…but that was no match for work out number one as pictured below. With just 6′ x 3′ of space to work out I managed this couplet/butt series as well as a great walk around the city that night. I managed to have a great sleep for a full 7 hours after showering and a bit of reading and meditation.
We woke up on Friday morning to the task of finding breakfast and getting some train tickets purchased. The train station was all the way across town and ended up very near a lot of amazing sights like a gigantic palace where a lot of Viennese locals were jogging around the footpaths. (Insert jealous huffy face here). The second day and only full day out I managed to look at the step counter on my iphone and we made it over 20,000 steps that day! We saw sights, stopped for a beer and even found a random pub with a veggie burger.
We headed back to our room for a little nap and some meditation then made our way back out to find dinner. Man alive did we find the spot that knocked our socks off. Yamm. Vegan, Vegetarian, quality and amazing buffet style food. We loved it all so much we ended up going back to fill our plates twice AND sharing a small dessert. While Vienna pricing is not for the faint of heart, for the quality and atmosphere, this place was fabulous. Sadly, we planned to go back for breakfast the next day but were out of time.
After dinner we continued to walk the city and take in the sights…even finding a fantastic local/organic/slow food market called MERKUR which just about killed me with all the intense variety of salts, truffles and vegan delights. We bough freshly squeezed juices and fruit for our breakfast in the morning along with a few treats and even a VEGAN chocolate bar. Yes, heaven on earth is Vienna, Austria.
Upon returning to the room later that night I whipped off this little Ab 300 routine that was a perfect way to end an entire day on my feet. You should try this puppy out, she burns. I like to throw it in on days where I have no set routine. Pairs up perfectly with Leg 300 routines as well. Google or hit up my Pinterest for ideas.
Now that our fun in Vienna had come to an end….off we rode to Prague. Excited much? Unfortunately, on a 4 hour train trip there isn’t much to do for exercise but stretches and walking the aisles while I was stir crazy I managed to find a great new Yoga app that I’ll tell you about later on in this trip, and I managed to make some use of a pretty neat little meditation app I have called Stop, Breathe & Think. Click HERE for details.
Rolling out of Austrian borders and into the Czech Republic was obvious from the train window. Clean and tidy countryside became graffiti plastered, littered with garbage and generally more poor looking. While the Czech’s are part of the EU, don’t expect to see Euro’s here – they have kept their Crowns, so hit up a bank CZ-side…the upside? Way cheaper stuff. I don’t know how to communicate just how impressed I was by the food available in Prague. Last time I was there I was on an extremely small budget and ate buns and cheese from the market so I really have a narrow frame of reference however, I was floored by the amount of amazing vegan/vegetarian options and their proximity to the old and new parts of the city.
Prague has done a lot of changing since I was there last. Nothing that you would notice outwardly in the first few minutes but the vibe is definitely different, and I guess I’m different too! What we did notice a massive influx of were these Thai Massage storefront operations. We had no choice to partake on our first night after a Long walk through the city and a hotel room workout. This workout was great because I had a lot more space to get a good HIIT in. Try it out.
Day two was filled with seeing sites and walking over 30,000 steps that day. I was exhausted. Again, I can’t believe how handy this new iPhone iOS 8 update is…have a look at it a little further down the page. This day was so much fun, cold but a lot of great memories were brought up and we really had a fantastic time. We also managed to find FOUR Vegan/Vegetarian restaurants and got the chance to hit up two of them. I haven’t had such thoughtfully prepared Vegan fare since L.A. in August, I was a total peace and glowing after eating these meals. Impressed doesn’t even begin to describe how great the options were.
This night, Veganism took us to some amazing sites. We ended up at LoVeg where the food and atmosphere were second-to-none! To our surprise, there was a tiny rooftop terrace that we were shown to which just happened to look out onto the Castle lit up at night as well as a sprawling view of the rooftops of the old city. You know what? Eating differently, healthfully has really led me to be able to see a LOT of sights I wouldn’t have if things were different. To add, when trying to find a great place to get some exercise without equipment AND outside, I’ve stumbled upon some pretty awesome places as well. Like Petrin Hill Park (below) and the cool little funicular that ran from top to bottom.
The majority of the time spent in Prague we were major tourists and sightseers. We did find what I thought was a set of stairs heading up this hill the evening before this picture was taken. As is stands, in the daylight, it was an amazing park with a bunch of paved trails that lead uphill to a beautiful view of the orange and gold rooftops of new and old Prague. Breathtaking. There was even an old funicular railway system that I got to see running as I did some push-up sets on an old railing.
Czech out the Petrin Hill park HERE.
After a quick shower and a decent hotel breakfast at the Hotel Leonardo Prague, we were off to the races again. This time, a 6 hour train journey to North Eastern Germany. Hohen Demzin to be exact.
Now, the true reason for my travels was to say goodbye to my best friend Kat’s Oma (grandmother in German). She recently passed away peacefully yet completely unexpectedly. We had the great privilege of being able to stay at her home in a small village. The weather this time of year is not all that welcoming, though, with the natural and vast beauty of this part of Germany it didn’t really matter. Littered with amazing running/walking/biking paths, there is no way to stay sedentary even without a gym or equipment.
Here are just a few work outs I posted on my Facebook page:
I purchased a new 3-pack of these HIIT cards. Talk about making putting a workout together easy. You only need to pick the type of workout you want, match this by colour, add some cardio cards and you are off to the races! If you don’t have a list of possible workouts in your smart phone photos already – you really should pick these up. Cheap and easy workouts here folks. We also took an amazing 15 km bike ride up cobblestone paths and through a very large nature preserve-type area that housed dozens of amazing art installations. I even managed to see a bunch of castles and add some more handmade pottery to my collection! Using these smaller roadways I was able to fit in a 10km as well as a 7km run in this week. Even with the snow, the temperatures hovered above zero and made for some decent running weather. Minus a few mud puddles, all was well.
The yoga app I used here is called Yogify. It is made by EA Sports. There are some free classes on here in a variety of capacities so if you need instruction while you travel, this one works very well. Try your luck at using it HERE.
Karls. A wonderful delight about 1.5 hours down the Autobahn near Rostock. Strawberryland is really what it should be called. Anything and everything they can make out of strawberries exists here. And I mean anything. Jam, soap, liqueur. To die for. There were even ice sculptures, Gluhwein, ice skating, aquariums and DOGS allowed everywhere.
I did manage to go grocery shopping a couple of times to be able to eat cleanly. I was able to buy bananas, brussel sprouts, eggplants, lettuce, arugula, cucumber, tomato, onion, oranges, dried fruit, vegetarian mortadella as well as some decent quality unsalted mixed nuts and large bottles of water. What I didn’t prepare myself for were these chocolate covered rice cakes that Kat found. I didn’t buy any myself, but must admit that I had a couple and they were pretty darn great!
Traveling home again, I was prepared for the worst in food however, I was able to eat quite decent food all the way home. First stop: Berlin, Tegel airport. I managed to get a vegan bagel with avocado, sprouts and tomatoes at a coffee shop inside the terminal. Then, British Airways had a snack from Berlin to London that was a hummus wrap made with “all natural” ingredients and 100% vegetarian, THEN a stop in London where Apostrophe coffee shop had a curry hummus & roasted veggie sandwich on the menu. What I DIDN’T know was that Gordon Ramsay has a restaurant in Terminal 5 that will pack “plane picnics” for you. WTH??? Why am I not living in one of these amazing places?
Finally, getting on the flight home to Calgary I decided that because I was arriving at 5:45pm local time, I would stay up the duration of the 8.5 hour flight and try to head off jet lag. Usually, I sleep where I can so I don’t eat much and I bring and fill my own water bottle. I travel with a Platypus collapsible water container. Check it out HERE if you like. I find it to be awesome for saving space and keeping hydrated.
We were served a curried rice as well as a half decent cheese/jam type sandwich. If you’re starving, it hits the spot. Also, the food quality seemed to be pretty decent as far as airline food goes and with most airlines you aren’t offered much past some type of unidentifiable meat with a Pepsi/Coke product.
Travelling is fun, exhilarating and mind-blowing. It can also be expensive, frustrating and exhaustive. If you fall out of your routines on trips or vacations you could be placing more stress on yourself than you think. Guilt creeping in after too many fancy cocktails, brownie treats or lack of exercise can put a damper on your mental and physical “fun” vibes. Make a point to keep your endorphin’s running and your palate teased. Searching out amazing food can also lead to seeing amazing sights!