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May 1, 2016

GPS My Posts with GPSMYCITY

Now several of my blog posts are linked to maps within the GPSmyCity apps! The posts themselves are free to download and keep on your smart device, then linking to the map portion of the app is $0.99 fee.

The blog post integration is currently only available for Apple devices, but will be expanding to the Android platform soon (but you can download the GPSmyCity app to Android already). I will also be uploading various new city articles to this list, so feel free to check back for updates every now and then.


Whether you download none, all, or some, it's just great to be "inside" an app and able to share some of my fun travel experiences through GPSmyCity!

You can check out all of my linked posts here: Christy Swagerty.

Paris

Madrid

Munich

Berlin

Milan

Vienna

London

The Hague

GPSmyCity is not sponsoring this post, however, I will receive about half of the commission from these blog post in-app purchases. 
Thanks for reading and sharing!

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April 30, 2016

Pack & Plan: Paris & Discount!

It's been way too long.

322 days, to be exact.

Granted, I could have planned a trip to Paris earlier this year instead of all the other places I went to instead. But, to me, a weekend in Paris is frustrating. I wanted more time. So, I waited. I waited for the end of my volleyball season to open up my free time and go back to work as an English tutor for a few weeks at the beginning of May and beginning of June.

Now I'll have nearly four weeks of a working holiday with Paris at my doorstep. I've been talking about this trip since the fall, and I cannot wait to delight in all things Parisian once again!

Because of my return to Paris, I am offering a limited time discount through Gumroad on my eBook, Four Years in Paris

Use code "swags2paris" to get your own copy for just $0.99!

Normally, FYIP is priced at $2.99, and it hasn't been priced this low since pre-orders last August. The code is only good until I go back to Germany on June 7th: please spread it around and take advantage of this deal while it lasts!


Pack & Plan: Paris, France


15 days, 14 nights in May; 11 days, 10 nights in June
Transport: plane
Lodging: with friends
Trip type: work holiday


The Pack


Bag: rolling backpack (45cm x 40cm x 25cm)
Tops: 2 shirts, 2 tank tops, 1 long sleeve 
Bottoms: 1 pair of jeans, 1 skirt, 1 pair of shorts, 2 pairs of leggings
Other: 2 dresses, 3 volleyball practice outfits
Outerwear: 1 jacket, 1 sweatshirt, 1 pair of gloves, 1 scarf
Shoes: 1 pair of flip-flops, 1 pair of Nike walking shoes,
1 pair of Toms slip-ons, 1 pair of old volleyball shoes to throw away
Personal items for 5 days


The Plan


Tutor English
Speak French when out and about
Play volleyball with former teammates
Sit at the Eiffel Tower for hours
Eat a pain au chocolat everyday
Musée Maillol
Musée Marmottan Monet
Musée Galliera
Musée des Arts Décoratifs
Merci Cafe
Louis Vuitton building
Climb Notre Dame
Rue des Thermopyles
La Creperie in Melun with Monique
Amy & Clement CrossFit Wedding


For more on my Parisian experiences, 
use code "swags2paris" to check out Four Years in Paris!

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April 26, 2016

8 Treasures Hiding in Ljubljana

Ljubljana is a hidden treasure in and of itself. It seems like everything we found in this charming Slovenian capital city had been a secret at some point.

My Swiss teammate, Julia, and I ventured to Ljubljana last weekend.

Why?

Apparently, that's a popular question.

Our German friends, my American friends, her Swiss friends, and even the people we met in Slovenia asked us, "Ljubljana? Why?"

We were like, "Why not?!"


We knew we wanted to take a trip together after the season was over. I sent Julia a list of possible destinations that included Hallstatt and Innsbruck, Austria, then Lake Bled and Ljubljana, Slovenia.

Her response: "Ljubljana! I have been dreaming of going there for such a long time!"

For some magical reason, a thirty-year-old American and an eighteen-year-old Swiss had both been wanting to go to Ljubljana for the past few years.

Our destination decided, we combined our general ideas of what to do, I convinced her staying in a coed hostel was actually an amazing idea, and we even tied a few hours in Salzburg into the deal.

I haven't heard anyone say that Ljubljana is a bad idea. It's just an overlooked city in an overlooked country. I bet most of my fellow Americans may not even know that Slovenia and Slovakia are two different places, let alone be able to point them out on a map!

There are hundreds of treasures to be found in Ljubljana, and I am sure thousands more in the rest of Slovenia. These are the eight treasures that I found most rewarding, and they are more than enough reasons for me to return someday again to beautiful Ljubljana.

8 Treasures Hiding in Ljubljana


The Drive

While not technically IN Ljubljana, half the adventure is just getting there, right? I had no idea that I would have so much trouble sleeping on the trains and buses because the scenery was unbelievable!


Both of our routes (from Salzburg to Ljubljana, and from Ljubljana to Munich) were out of this world because we were driving through one of the more beautiful countries ever: Austria! Soaring snow-capped mountains, nestled wooden chalets, vibrant green valleys: the drive was straight from a fairy tale. It prepared me to have high expectations, and I was not disappointed!

Hot Chocolate

Yes, I am obsessed. I'll even drink it happily when it's just the cocoa powder in hot water. Ljubljana cafes offer the cheap cocoa in water drink, but they also offer a true hot chocolate, melted and steamed to perfection. Then they offer it to be flavored - and not with artificial syrup flavors, but with the actual ingredient (think real cinnamon and real shredded coconut). Oh, and do you want whipped cream?


Everywhere we went, it was delicious, but our favorite breakfast spot was at an adorable cafe around the corner from our hostel. I can't find the name of the cafe anywhere, but there is a Julius Meinl sign on the outside of it, and it's right by the Mexican food joint mentioned below.

Castle Hike

Maybe the only thing better than a castle is a castle on top of a mountain. The hike was more like a steep walk, and I was able to do it in a pair of slip-on shoes. The castle was wonderful, of course, and we spent a few hours drinking more hot chocolate and taking in the sunshine outside the cafe in the courtyard.


The coolest thing about going up to the castle, though, was the views. We could see the entire center, the river, and way beyond all the way to the mountains. We really felt like we were on top of the world!

Treasures of Slovenia

This obviously must make a treasure list. I only find a shop I really love ever so often (like in Milan) because I'm usually really turned off by overly touristy stores just looking to make a buck. This place is definitely looking to make a buck, don't get me wrong, but they do it by giving you access to a ton of free samples first!


Don't believe me? You could actually get buzzed in this store if you take advantage of all the free alcohol just asking to be tried! To me, this is good business: convince your customers they need your inventory by letting them try it for themselves. Julia and I both walked out of there with the blueberry liqueur and loads of chocolate.


The rest of the treasures are detailed in the second half of this post here

Funky Alleys

Open Kitchen

Mexican Food

Nightlife


The Travel Tuesday link-up is below!

*     *     *     *     *

This is my last week as a Travel Tuesday host! 
I will be spending May and June frolicking about Paris, Seville, and the south of Portugal! I will still be linking-up as much as wifi allows, and you can always follow along on my Instagram and Twitter accounts.

My nomination for new Travel Tuesday co-host is...


This week is also this month's themed post of "Hidden Treasures," zoned in on hidden treasures of a particular location or region. It would be really great for you to spotlight off-beaten path things to do where you live (or are from)!

The Travel Tuesday link-up is now live!

My favorite posts from last week were...
Nantes & its Fabulous Giant Elephant by Phoebe at Lou Messugo
The One Thing You Must Do in Singapore by Carrie Lippert


Join me and my co-hosts, KatrinaDiana, and Rachel below!





1. SHARE a post about travel! From road trips to trips abroad and from past travels to dream vacations. You can write about travel tips and tricks, favorite places to stay, or anything in between! Just make it about traveling somewhere!
2. GRAB the lovely button. If you run into trouble, just make sure to mention Bonnie in a link!
3. LINKUP goes live every Tuesday.

TIPS:
1. Please only one linked up post per blogger. Save other posts for future linkups!
2. The last Tuesday of every month is a themed prompt, if you want to join in.
3. Include a​ (vertical 735px x 1102px)​ pinnable image in your blog post; as at least one of the co-hosts will be going around pinning your posts!
4. HOP around and meet new travel loving bloggers! Check back to visit some of the newer travel posts!
5. Don't forget to use the #TravelTuesday hashtag on your social media platforms!



MummyTravels

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8 Treasures Hiding in Ljubljana (cont.)

Funky Alleys

Ljubljana is a very inviting and safe city. There is no such thing as a wrong turn here, where every alley leads to another square, fountain, adorable cafe, and new treasure to find. The most interesting alleyway was lined with sculptures of faces in the gutter along the path.


Maybe a little too modern in its depiction for me (some of the faces were very grotesque), but it was something about the idea that every person's face was just a variation of one face. It's gritty and confusing and really made me think about what makes a face beautiful or ugly. You can find this artsy alleyway on Ključavničarska Ulica right by the river.

Open Kitchen

Whatever you do, make sure you plan to be in Ljubljana on a Friday. Hopefully, it was also be warm weather, then you'll be blessed with the culinary delights of the Open Kitchen market. These aren't just food stands; these are booths with real chefs from real restaurants who really want to impress you with their food and drink. It feels more like a friendly cooking competition than a typical street market.


Every kind of person turned out to have their meal or snack in the square, and since it is open from 10:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m., you can actually eat here multiple times throughout the day! Julia opted for Indian food and I went for the Argentine steak. We shared a six Euro bottle of wine while listening to the jazzy music and the social buzz that good food tends to generate.

Mexican Food

I don't think I ever realized how much I really love Mexican food until I moved away from California. Truth: I could eat it everyday. Julia somehow learned to love Mexican food despite growing up nowhere near Mexico in Switzerland. This meant that we ate at Joe Peña's twice, enjoying the pineapple-infused enchiladas and incredibly good and cheap appetizer platter.


There are some other Mexican restaurants in Ljubljana, but Joe's was also close to our hostel and had better prices than the other places. I also feel like I need to know if Joe is really Mexican, because, if he is, does he pronounce his name with an English "j" as "Joe," or with a Spanish "j" as "Yo?"

Nightlife

Ljubljana even has it's own version of Berlin's RAW neighborhood, called the Metelkova, close to the train station. You'll find incredibly intricate graffiti, wildly disorganized wall mosaics, and hundreds of bicycles wrenched into gates and fences. If you go at night, you will also find the most interesting and strange people in Ljubljana. This was where Julia and I played the parts of non-English-speaking French people so well that a man cursed at us (edited version), "Learn English if you're going to travel in the world!"


You can wander around Ljubljana's nightlife scene as much as you want, but the best way to really enjoy it is in a group. Julia and I decided the best way for us to do this would be to join a pub crawl. The greatest thing about tours is that tour guides are the coolest people ever 99% of the time. The Pub Crawl Ljubljana was no exception to this. We ended up hanging with the tour guides, their Slovenian friends, and had a hilarious night out to remember!

(If you are familiar with the Stefon skits from Saturday Night Live, maybe you can appreciate how random and crazy the following description will be...I dare you to read it out loud in the Stefon voice without laughing.)

"The hottest club is Ljubljana is Klub Cirkus. They have everything: dancing clowns in unitards, zombies juggling bowling pins, and a witch in a neon hula hoop. But that's not all: get ready for napkins falling from the ceiling, confetti guns, and you'll even make balloon animals. And whatever you do, don't forget to leave the wheelchairs on the dance floor to go say howdy to the 75-year-old man wearing suspenders doing the solo quick-step outside the bathroom."

Every word of that is true.

*     *     *     *     *

I think it's reasonable to say that Ljubljana has something to offer everyone, in addition to being a beautiful, warm, and friendly city. Julia and I had a fabulous time together, running between French and English, making cat friends, and finding sushi and ice cream when we weren't eating Mexican food. I can't imagine my first time in Ljubljana with anyone else! Thank you, Julia!




Continue »

April 19, 2016

German Swag 101: Updates & Free Stuff!

It's been eight months now since we said au revoir to France and moved to Germany.

Do I miss France? Everyday.

Do I like living in Germany? Dang it. Yes.


This year has ended up being another crazy year of trips. I'm not trying to scavenge around for vacations; it just happens when I'm inspired by free time and very close and cheap destinations.

I've also been inspired over and over again by the travel blogging community. I've learned how to code a website this year, attempting to emulate my favorite design aspects of every blog I've had the privilege of reading.

That being said, I realized I was missing something very important.

I was missing a "freemium."

[Freemium: something free to give to your subscribers.]

When I published Four Year in Paris back in August, I chose to sell it for profit instead of just giving it away. I don't regret this decision; it was many years of work and it is priced at a fair value for an eBook.

But now I am so happy to announce that I do indeed have a new eBook to just give away. Totally for free.

I chose to write about how to move abroad. I know many of you are already living abroad, but we all know a friend or family member who wants to move overseas. Even if you're already abroad, you can check out the eBook because...it's free!

I love free stuff, and now you can download 8 Steps to Move Abroad Now by simply subscribing to my monthly update.


But that's not all.

When you get your copy of 8 Steps to Move Abroad Now, inside is a link to a bonus PDF on 10 Ways You Can Live Overseas.

Did I mention that when you've subscribed and received these free resources that you'll also get a free GPSmyCity app code?!

I wasn't kidding about the free stuff!!

GPSmyCity is a map app for Android and iOS devices. I only have 10 codes left to give away, at a $5 value each! You choose the city you want from this list, and you gain access to all of the walking tours in that city.


I've had a phenomenal experience with GPSmyCity so far in Salzburg, Vienna, and Ljubljana. Budapest will be next!

I think the coolest thing about us moving to Germany is how many new places really opened up to me. I have also realized that Paris is sort of close to London, Brussels, Amsterdam...and nothing else.

Munich, on the other hand, and where we are more specifically in Vilsbiburg, is so much closer to so many more places: all of Germany (obviously), Austria, Italy, Czech Republic, and Slovenia, to just name the countries I will have gone to this year.

You can read all of my German Swags 101 posts here.

Learning German has been a fun hobby, but I would really like to struggle with it more next year. By "struggle," I mean having no choice but to speak it in a job setting, asking my teammates to pretend they don't speak English, and really hacking it out with my German teacher, Irene, and language exchange buddy, Amirah.

Germany has blessed us with completely new opportunities and inspiration. My volleyball knowledge and skill set have increased exponentially in ways I didn't know possible as a 30-year-old athlete. We have a great apartment right between the town center and the gym. We both have made amazing lifelong friends already, and we think there's a really good chance we will be able to continue those relationships by staying here for a long time.


I know this Travel Tuesday post isn't maybe as "go here, do this, eat that" as my other posts, but an update on my life abroad is more about travel as a lifestyle than anywhere I could ever go on a vacation.

Thank you for reading, sharing, and commenting these past few months! It has been a pleasure getting to know all of you, and I hope we can continue to enjoy our passion for travel together!

*     *     *     *     *

Next week will be my last week as a Travel Tuesday host. I will be spending May and June frolicking about Paris, Seville, and the south of Portugal. It can be a good thing to not have the time to co-host a link-up; it means regular life is just too busy and the wifi is happily unreliable!

Next week I will be announcing my nomination for my replacement as a co-host and sharing my favorite moments from my recent adventure in Ljubljana! Next week is also this month's themed post of "Hidden Treasures," zoned in on hidden treasures of a particular location or region. It would be really great for you to spotlight off-beaten path things to do where you live (or are from)!

The Travel Tuesday link-up is now live!

My favorite posts from last week were...
Top 5 Things to do in Lisbon by Sara Sees
36 Hours in Chicago by Mishfish13

Join me and my cohosts, BonnieDiana, and Rachel below!





1. SHARE a post about travel! From road trips to trips abroad and from past travels to dream vacations. You can write about travel tips and tricks, favorite places to stay, or anything in between! Just make it about traveling somewhere!
2. GRAB the lovely button. If you run into trouble, just make sure to mention Bonnie in a link!
3. LINKUP goes live every Tuesday at 0800 GMT.

TIPS:
1. Please only one linked up post per blogger. Save other posts for future linkups!
2. The last Tuesday of every month is a themed prompt, if you want to join in.
3. Include a​ (vertical 735px x 1102px)​ pinnable image in your blog post; as at least one of the co-hosts will be going around pinning your posts!
4. HOP around and meet new travel loving bloggers! Check back to visit some of the newer travel posts!
5. Don't forget to use the #TravelTuesday hashtag on your social media platforms!


Continue »

April 17, 2016

Pack & Plan: Prague

Pack & Plan: Prague, Czech Republic


3 days, 2 nights in April
Transport: bus
Lodging: shared AirBnB
Trip type: with a friend


The Pack


Bag: small sports backpack (40cm x 30cm x 20cm)
Tops: 1 sweater, 1 tank top
Bottoms: 1 pair of leggings, 1 pair of jeans
Other: 1 dress
Outerwear: 1 jacket, 1 pair of gloves, 1 scarf
Shoes: 1 pair of boots, 1 pair of flip-flops
Personal items for 2 days


The Plan


Lucky me, this trip plan is on my best friend, Tanya!
But I'm sure it will include the castle, astronomical clock, and Charles Bridge.
The only other time I've been to Prague was the first whirlwind days of my European volleyball tryout in 2011. I'm looking forward to a less stressful version of a trip there this time around!



Have you been to Prague? Do you have any restaurant recommendations? Is there anything else we should add to the itinerary?


Continue »

April 12, 2016

First Scoop on Cake in Vienna

The whole Vienna cafe scene really made me curious. Would it really be better than Paris? How could cake actually be that amazing? Was the Sacher torte even good?

I'm super fortunate to have had a full five days in Vienna over Easter break this year - and will be able to return again with my visiting friend, Kia, come June. Instead of trying to do five cafes a day on an insane sugar rush, I decided to spread out my Viennese cafe experience over the two trips.


Did I mention I'm including the ice cream places? Desserts are inseparable and part of the whole experience in my book! 


Frauenhuber


This cafe was spotlighted as one of the most famous, and it was even discussed in my German class. It was absolutely beautiful, but the food and drink were boring and pricey.


Verdict: Skip.


Eissalon Schwedenplatz


If you're staying out this direction, it can be a nice ice cream place. I had a basic tasting chocolate milkshake here. But overall, not interesting, and, again, overpriced.


Verdict: Skip.


Braunerhof


This place is a gem. It's right smack in the middle of the bustling tourist area, but totally affordable with a delicious menu. I had breakfast here, but the cake selection looked like the typical Viennese fare. The only thing that snaps you back to tourist reality is the waiter hovering over your check waiting for his tip. Be quick, or they'll take more than you actually mean to tip!

Verdict: I'll return for sure.


Eis Tichy


It may be at the end of the metro line at Reumannplatz, but it's totally worth the trek...and I went twice! My coach and his girlfriend recommended Eis Tichy above all else from the time they lived in Vienna. The ice cream dumplings are one of the coolest ice cream creations and tastes I have ever experienced! 


Verdict: I'll return for sure.


Demel


Demel is the closest thing to Paris' Angelina I found in Vienna this round. It's elegant, it's beautiful, it smells delicious, and it's everyone's dream dining area. The most interesting thing here is you can watch the cake-makers in action through the glass-walls of the kitchen.


I chose to have the Sacher torte here, and I can definitively say that it is just a boring piece of bland chocolate cake. (I am a chocolate fanatic, and it is uninteresting. I may give it another go around at Hotel Sacher in June, but I'm not enamored by it at all.)


Verdict: I might go back.


Dommayer/Oberlaa

Oberlaa is the supplier and Cafe Dommayer is the vendor? Or at least that's how it appears. Which is great news because Oberlaa is actually a chain all over Vienna! But I love Dommayer because of its proximity to Schloss Schonbrunn, the lovely wait staff, and I had my own space for as long as I pleased. Oh, and did I mention it was absolutely the best cake: mango chocolate torte!


Verdict: My favorite cafe so far, I'll definitely be back!




Which cafes in Vienna do you love the most and why? Have you been to Eis Tichy?

*     *     *     *     *

The Travel Tuesday link-up is live!

My favorite post from last week was...
Stand Up Paddleboarding at Intercontinental Doha by Pinay Flying High

Join me and my cohosts, BonnieDiana, and Rachel below!





1. SHARE a post about travel! From road trips to trips abroad and from past travels to dream vacations. You can write about travel tips and tricks, favorite places to stay, or anything in between! Just make it about traveling somewhere!
2. GRAB the lovely button. If you run into trouble, just make sure to mention Bonnie in a link!
3. LINKUP goes live every Tuesday at 0800 GMT.

TIPS:
1. Please only one linked up post per blogger. Save other posts for future linkups!
2. The last Tuesday of every month is a themed prompt, if you want to join in.
3. Include a​ (vertical 735px x 1102px)​ pinnable image in your blog post; as at least one of the co-hosts will be going around pinning your posts!
4. HOP around and meet new travel loving bloggers! Check back to visit some of the newer travel posts!
5. Don't forget to use the #TravelTuesday hashtag on your social media platforms!

Continue »

April 9, 2016

Pack & Plan: Ljubljana


Pack & Plan: Ljubljana, Slovenia


4 days, 3 nights in April
Transport: bus
Lodging: hostel
Trip type: with a friend 


The Pack


Bag: large purse (40cm x 40cm x 20cm)
Tops: 3 tank tops
Bottoms: 1 skirt, 1 pair of leggings
Other: 1 dress
Outerwear: 1 cardigan, 1 scarf
Shoes: 1 pair of Toms, 1 pair of flip-flops
Personal items for 3 days


The Plan


Day 1

Travel day
Walking tour

Day 2

Ljubljana Castle
Hanging out along the Ljubljanica River

Day 3

Museums OR more walking around to favorite spots
Night out!

Day 4

Travel day

Have you been to Ljubljana? Do you have any restaurant recommendations? Is there anything else I should add to the itinerary?

Continue »