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Making the Most of Your Oktoberfest Weekend

Around the end of September, men start sporting brown suede capris and suspenders, the pretzel industry suddenly blooms, women unearth big bouncy dresses with aprons over top, and massive tents start popping up in Munich–at this point, there is no denying it, Oktoberfest season has begun. The 16 day event, which originated in 1810, is a longstanding part of German culture and attracts millions of people every year. People happily chant traditional songs and prost massive steins with strangers they have just met. While Oktoberfest is hands down one of the most fun and happiest events of the year, there are also a few guidelines that must be taken seriously in order to keep the good times rolling.

Steins

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Steins are large beer mugs that hold about one liter of beer and are made of thick glass. One liter is quite a lot of beer, and the beer served at Oktoberfest has a high alcohol content as well. It’s equal to about 4 strong beers in the real world. So enjoy the delicious beer, but make sure to pace yourself. Alternating water and beer will help you make it through the day. “Ein bretzel, ein beer” is a classic German rule of thumb the locals use–keep your intake of solid food and alcohol equal to keep your stamina up. Oktoberfest is a marathon, not a sprint!

Prosting

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While it is very common to clink your steins together and prost–the German word for cheersing–with your friends and other people you meet in the tents, you have to be careful not to smash the mugs so hard that they break. Just a gentle clink will do the trick, and will keep the ground and tables free of sharp, broken glass. While some people might make it a game to try to break steins, this only results in dangerous territory and bloody feet for the unfortunate people who end up treading on shards of glass. Don’t be that guy.

Stealing Steins

After you finish your stein, don’t try to stash the mug in your bag. This makes the people working the tents very angry and also gets you at least a 50€ fine. Just enjoy your time in the tents and buy a souvenir mug afterwards! The hard-working waitresses and security staff have enough to worry about without catching you trying to smuggle a stein away, so don’t run the risk of landing in hot water with an angry German, and leave your stein in the tent where it belongs.

Being Polite

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The people who keep Oktoberfest going are the women running around in dirndls serving the beer. These women are truly impressive, carrying over six steins most of the time! This requires practice and most likely a lot of time at the gym, since each stein weighs nearly three pounds! So let’s respect this talent and make sure to be polite to the waitresses. Leave them a nice tip, and they will make sure to keep you and your friends served all day.

Standing on Tables

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Singing and dancing are part of what makes Oktoberfest so fun–people who have just met bond over the classic German songs. So join in! Show off the singing skills gained from years of karaoke and maybe throw in a little two-step action, but stick to the benches when you do so. Standing on the tables is not allowed.

Fighting

Oktoberfest can get pretty rowdy at times; a lot of people consuming a lot of beer can unfortunately lead to violence. Keep up the Bavarian cheerfulness of the festival as it was intended and don’t ruin your time by getting involved in any fights. Keep up the “Gemütlichkeit” (German for “a situation that induces a cheerful mood”), and everyone around you will appreciate it.

If you do engage in fighting, you will not only be kicked out of the tent, you will also likely face criminal charges. Using a stein as a weapon in any way, including swinging it, hitting another person with it, or smashing it on someone’s head, will result in charges as severe as attempted murder. For any sort of crime at Oktoberfest you will be charged under very strict German law even as an American citizen. If you are confronted by someone, always take the high road and ask tent staff such as a waitress or security guard to remove the troublemaker so you can continue enjoying the festival.

Taxi

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Drinking a lot of beer, being around millions of people, and being in a foreign country make it easy to get lost and confused. Make sure to have a taxi number in your phone before you head to Oktoberfest so that you will have a way home. Oktoberfest is also a good time to follow the good old buddy system, to make sure everyone is safe and happy! Use common sense and keep track of your friends, don’t get in cars with strangers or even people you just met who may seem to be your new best friends, and make sure you get home safely with the same people you came with.

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Get excited for the best festival of the year! Get your very own dirndl or lederhosen and prepare yourself for singing, awesome rides, sausages, and massive pretzels! Just make sure to follow these rules, so you can enjoy every minute of the festival and get home safely!

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A is for Abroad

“Being abroad is a strange yet terrifying yet completely liberating and exhilarating experience,” says the girl who has been here all of five days. If we are being real here, I thought I would be gallivanting all over Europe, drinking wine, eating pizza, and practicing my Italian on beautiful willing locals/Armani models. School? What is school? I am just going to travel and tan and be a European for the next few weeks. Hold up, woah, press pause. That is all wrong, my friends. Well, not all of it, but being abroad requires a little hard work and it really reveals who you are when dropped in unfamiliar waters. This is what I have learned these past few days.

Know when it is time to buck up and do something and when it is time to go home. You are abroad, gosh darn it. You obviously did not pay X amount of money to sit in your apartment and watch movies all day. The world is waiting for you! You are here to explore, to practice the language, to meet people, to see things people dream of seeing, to take advantage of life! See it, enjoy it, live it, and take it all in. But if you are ill, injured, or physically exhausted, don’t stress! The Coliseum will be there tomorrow. So will the Eiffel Tower. Maybe even Big Ben. You will have other opportunities but know when the time is right to stay and see or go and rest.

Find a happy medium between comfy and fashion-forward for your clothes. It is no secret that Europeans are world renowned fashion know it alls. I have even seen Roman women treck ruins in Louboutin high heels. True story. But that doesn’t mean you have to. Dress to impress as the Europeans do, but please do not sacrifice your feet to the cobble stones. It really isn’t worth it. I invested in Birkenstocks today (which happen to be alla moda here in Italy) and wow did I not know what I was missing out on. Adjust your closet to your comfort and vise versa, but never sacrifice one for the other. There is always a happy medium.

If you are ill, take action immediately. European pharmacies, unlike American ones, open late and close early. So if you are ill, it really is hard to be proactive. Bring with you extra Advil, a thermometer, an over the counter cold and flu medicine, and an extra pack of band aids from home just in case your local pharmacy is closed. Call a doctor immediately. Often times they do house calls as well!

Explore outside of your host city. I am head over heels in love with Florence but I would be lying if I said I am not psyched to go to Croatia for Ultra Music Festival and to the Amalfi coast. Explore your city, but do not be afraid to get out there and see something new!

Know enough of the language to get directions and ask basic questions. I am currently learning Italian so I am not having many problems getting by here in Florence. But if I was in Paris, Munich, or Copenhagen I would be lost to bits. Knowing how to ask who, what, when, where, how, and why is never a problem. Yes, lots of Europeans speak English but they will be impressed with you- and appreciative- if you try to speak their language.

Keep a journal, a blog, a photo diary, ANYTHING to remember these moments. No, Instagram doesn’t count. Neither does Facebook. It doesn’t matter if writing isn’t your strong suit, you will want to look back at these days with a full and clear memory. It can be just a sentence or two! Write every day so you can always look back.

Make friends. Like, duh. Who doesn’t want to make new friends? Talk with people in your classes, in your program, friends of your roommates, locals even! Invite them out to the bar, invite a group over for dinner, go to gelato, go to a museum, go do anything! You are in a new place. New friends would be a bonus addition.

Focus on your classes. That is the whole reason you are here. Classes are so important I can’t even begin to stress it. You are not in Europe to eat gelato all day (ahh…wishes) and go out every night. Study and study hard so you can play hard. Nobody likes writing a paper or doing a project while your friends are traveling new places and having the time of their lives. Do not procrastinate, study in groups, get your school work done efficiently and yes, make sure it is correct!

A good work ethic in the classroom will make this all happen. Classes are classes and they are important and the reason you are here. But studying abroad is the one chance you have to be out every night with friends, travel the world, meet new people, and make some amazing memories. Do your school work, but make sure you get the full experience.

Originally posted on Memoir of a Cliché, reposted with permission from Ally Arrigo. 

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How to Survive Studying/Living Abroad Without Chipotle

This article is for the like-minded Chipotle fanatics. The once-or-twice-a-week-ers who are far too familiar with all the Chipotle Hacks.

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It’s for those who remember the celebratory “boorito” days, where dressing up in tinfoil on halloween results in a FREE meal.

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And for those who order using the Chipotle App while waiting in line, so you can skip to the front.

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And also for those who receive a Chipotle gift card for every holiday, birthday, graduation, etc.

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And for those who ALWAYS finish their bowl/burrito/quesadilla (because what else would you do with it).

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Oh, and it’s for those who talk about Chipotle more than they talk about their own family and which consequently results in a borderline embarrassing (but somewhat flattering) display of Chipotle related references posted on your news feed.

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If you can relate to any of the scenarios above, congrats, you’re addicted to Chipotle! GREAT NEWS RIGHT? Sure…if the nearest Chipotle is within a 30 mile radius of you. However, some of us less fortunate souls have relocated to…(insert suspenseful horror movie music here) a land of no Chipotle. THE HORROR.

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I know what you’re thinking, what is life without Chipotle exactly? I’ll tell you what it is, it’s dark and it’s scary and the sleepless nights spent counting burritos can become unbearable. Some days are easier than others. You are living abroad after all. You’re posting Instas of you sipping wine in Tuscany, eating panini in Positano, and munching on jumbo-size pretzels at Oktoberfest. But masked behind those happy emojis, you have this feeling that you’re missing something. Spoiler alert, it’s Chipotle.

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So you snap, you post and you smile, but WAIT, what the h-e-double-hockey-sticks is that on your newsfeed? It can’t be. Yep, it is. It definitely is. Chipotle. Who is the reckless soul that decided to apply #nofilter to their Chipotle #foodporn? Don’t they know you are thousands of miles away in a land of no Chipotle. Serious dagger to the chest, they might as well have tagged you and captioned the photo “AREN’T YOU JEALOUS (insert your name here) I’M EATING CHIPOTLE AND THERE IS NOTHING YOU CAN DO ABOUT IT.”

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After a few deep breaths and possibly a cold shower, it’s time to take action. No, I don’t mean “reporting user as inappropriate.” Although, it’s not the worst idea. I mean take serious, premeditated action. Let’s weigh our options here:

  1. Reach out to Chipotle Customer Service and petition them to open a Chipotle near you (slightly aggressive, potentially worth it). Follow in my footsteps and reach out to Chipotle.Take to social media and express your feelings.  (Facebook, Twitter, Youtube). What’s the worst that could happen? Seriously! I’m not trying to be that girl that wears recyclable “Save the Burritos” t-shirts and stands outside of Moes or Qdoba with a pitchfork, but I’m really hungry today. I apologize for that.
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    The odds are in our favor, people. Popular website Mashable recently interviewed Chipotle’s new media manager, Joe Stupp, to learn more about their social media strategies. You can read the full article here.
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    1 part seriousness, 1 part hunger, 2 parts delusion, and you’ve got this utterly sincere, semi-embarrassing email I sent to Chipotle:
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    “To the wonderful people of Chipotle: I just wanted to start this off by saying I am 100% in love and addicted to Chipotle. I am writing to you to beg and plead for you to open a Chipotle in Florence, Italy. I see great opportunity for you guys here. It’s a study abroad mecca. Having studied here and now moved here all the way from Virginia I know the demand is real. Having to fly all the way to Paris or London is not ideal, but trust me I’ll do it (I have done it). There is no comparable Mexican food here in Florence. You guys would be trail blazers. I can only wake up wanting Chipotle so many more times before I go crazy. Maybe you could just send a care package of your food here to Florence? I know that’s probably not possible but I just thought I’d throw that out there. Thanks for being great, Chipotle. But if you want to be better come check out the opportunity in Florence. Ciao!, Best, Ashleigh Farrar”
  2. Accept response, and begin exploring other options after being let down gently by Chipotle Customer Service.
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    Seriously though, talk about customer service. Love ya Nate.
  3. Browse Pinterest until you find believable “Copycat Chipotle Recipes”
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    Some may call it cheating, I call it survival mode. It’s all about recreating the MVI (most valuable ingredients, obvi) that are, for a lack of better terms, most valuable. It’s the rice, the meat (or fajita peppers, if you’re a veggie like me), that make all the difference in perfecting your copycat Chipotle meal. Use the recipes below to perfect the MVIs. The add-ons can just be store bought.

    Most Valuable Ingredients Recipes: Cilantro Lime Rice, Fajita Peppers & Onions, Chicken, Tomato Salsa, Corn Salsa, Guacamole.

    For those living or studying in Florence, here’s some tips on finding the trickier ingredients.

    Tortillas: You can find these at all major grocery stores like Conad or Meta.
    Black Beans: You can find these at the Meta, bottom shelf of bean section. Sometimes they have them, sometimes they don’t, so stock up!
    Avocados: These are tough! Your best best is the San Lorenzo Central Market (Open M-Sa until 2pm). Or, if you’re traveling on weekends, I’ve found that you can find better avocados elsewhere. When I go to Interlaken or Nice I always stock up (wow, I sounded pretty crazy just there huh?).
    Sour Cream: Sour cream is hard to find and can be kind of expensive. My trick is to buy Greek yogurt and add the juice of 1/2-1 lime and a dash of Tobasco (you can find this at Meta or Conad too). It’s just as tasty and a lot healthier.
    Cheese: There are plenty of cheese options in Florence; I usually opt for a white cheese that’s on sale and I make sure it can be shredded easily. Don’t have a cheese grater? You can buy one for a euro at “Tutto 99” (Italian version of a Dollar Store).

  4. Take a weekend trip to London or Paris (extremely aggressive, 100% worth it)
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    Chances are you already plan on hitting up at least one of these spots while traveling around Europe, so sweeten  the deal by making a pit stop at Chipotle (every.single.day). Heads up, the portion sizes are smaller, it’s more expensive, and some of the ingredients taste a little different, but it will still do the trick, promise.

    There are currently 3 Chipotle locations in London:
    101-103 Baker St, London, United Kingdom
    114-16 Charing Cross Road, London, United Kingdom
    334 Upper St, London, United Kingdom

    There is currently 1 Chipotle location in Paris:
    18-20 Boulevard Montmartre, 75009 Paris, France

    Fun fact: “The World’s Biggest Chipotle” is coming to Paris in April 2015. This will be Chipotle’s second location in Paris. There is also talk of Chipotle opening up shop in Germany in the coming years. Sadly, no report on locations in the works for Italian locations. Read more about Chipotle in Europe here. Important stuff people.

  5. One-up your friends back home by taking obnoxious photos of you eating Chipotle in impressive locations and post on all social media outlets.
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    Hey @FriendWhoTorturedMeWithChipotlePics Sorry, not sorry. #karma #studyabroad #travel #fit #blessed #jealousy
  6. Send said photos to Chipotle Customer Service. Persistence is key.
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    Always a pleasure, Nate.

 

 

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Vino 101: Parte Due

The ancient Greeks referred to Italy as Oenotria, which means “the land of wine.” If you’ve ever been to beautiful Italia, you know just how apt that name is. There are 350 official varieties of wine, nearly one million wine producers, and (according to local legend) more than 2,000 varieties of grapes in the boot-shaped country.

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In this second part of the Vino 101 series, we’ll be exploring some of the most famous wine regions of Italy. There is a total of 20 regions, and each area has its own special wines and methods of productions. Since it could take years to discover all of the nuances of the different regions, pour yourself a glass of wine and read up on some of the important facts of the top three regions instead. Cheers to experiential learning!

Veneto:

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Besides being known for its lovely capital city, Venice, Veneto is celebrated for its high production of superior quality wines. If you want to try some of the region’s best, get yourself a glass of Soave, a light and refreshing white wine. Or if you’re feeling a bit more celebratory, go for the bubbly flavors of Prosecco.

Tuscany:

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It doesn’t get much prettier (or tastier) than Tuscany. Amongst the region’s beautiful rolling hills, you can find countless vineyards filled with the famous Sangiovese grapes. If you’re a fan of red wine, Chianti Classico and Brunello di Montalcino will become your new favorites. Intrigued? Go on the Bus2alps Taste of Tuscany tour to explore the area and all of its delicious offerings.

Piedmont:

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At the base of the Alps, Piedmont borders France and Switzerland. The area produces more wine than any other Italian region, and it also holds the title of the region with the highest percentage of quality wines. Its most famous kinds are Nebbiolos, which are wines named for the fog (nebbia) that is ever-present in the valleys. If you’re feeling Piedmontese, try a Barolo or a Barbaresco.They taste very similar to red wines produced by Piedmont’s most influential neighbor: France.

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More Awesome Cell Phone Apps for Your Study Abroad Semester

By Endsley Eggert

Part deux of the best apps to use while studying abroad.

LANGUAGE

Google Translate: There are numerous translate apps out there but I happen to like Google Translate the best. You can listen to your translations spoken out loud, view dictionary results for single words or phrases, and even star your favorite translations to be used offline. Free on Android and iOS.

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iStone: iStone can come in handy when you’re stranded in the middle of a city and need directions. This translation app is designed for travelers without any great linguistic skills. It comes with 300 useful phrases that you can use offline. Free on iOS.

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Word Lens: Instantly translate printed words with your camera! Hold your phone up to street signs, menus, or anything else you need help translating and Word Lens will do it for you! You can use the app offline. It is free to download but you will have to purchase a language pack from the app. Language packs include English to Russian, Portuguese, German, Italian, French, or Spanish.

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EXPLORE

Wikitude: Use the camera on your smartphone to view your location and information will appear on the screen. The app will sync with your location and give you restaurant reviews from TripAdvisor and Yelp, photos and tweets from your friends’ social network accounts and details of attractions from Wikipedia. Free on Android, Blackberry, iOS and Windows Phone.

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Gogobot: Gogobot helps any type of traveler find the perfect itinerary. With suggestions for family friendly activities, stuff to do outdoors, shopping, eating, or sightseeing agenda, you are bound to have a great time! Save your activities and when you pull them up while traveling, you can search nearby places too. Free on Android and iOS.

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The Entertainer: The Entertainer app helps you travel cheap and travel well. Similar to Groupon, the Entertainer shares buy-one-get-one-free offers near your location. They have restaurants, hotels, and hairdressers among their list of merchants. Free on Android, Blackberry and iOS.

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TripAdvisor: Find millions of traveler reveiws, photos, and maps from TripAdvisor to help you plan the perfect trip. You can also download TripAdvsor Offline City Guides to explore your destinations offline. Both apps are free on Android and iOS.

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Bus2alps: Easily manage your trip bookings, organize your tickets, and book your next trip, from your phone! Make trip check-in simple with your ticket information on your phone, and never miss out on a tour by booking it via your phone. Quick and simple. Free on Android and iOS.

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City Maps 2Go Offline: Just like the name says, this app provides pre-downloaded city maps that don’t require wifi or roaming data. It provides offline GPS services and also pins locations of bars, restaurants and shops. The free version has a limited download. Free on Android and iOS. 

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Museums Mobile: Use your GPS location and this app to point you in the direction of museums in your area. This app has a database of thousands of the world’s biggest museums and includes all information on permanent and current collections so you can decide on which museums you want to spend your time and money on. Free on Windows Phone

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Google Goggles: Use this app to look up things you don’t really know how to articulate. Point your phone’s camera to the interesting building you’re standing next to and Google will pull up everything you need to know. Free on Android and iPhone.

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COMMUNICATE

While it’s important to be present in the moment and completely immerse yourself in your travel experiences, your loved ones at home would love to hear from you. All social media sites have cell phone apps so you can update everyone at once. I often use the Tumblr, GroupMe, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Tapsule apps for all my social media needs. I also use the FaceTime app on my iPhone to connect personally with everyone at home. Here are a couple of other apps that can help you stay connected.

Skype: The Skype app allows you to stay in touch with free messaging, voice, or video calls! Free on Android and iOS.

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Postagram: Postagram allows you to send post cards without the hassle of dealing with foreign post offices. Use any picture on your phone, enter a personal message, add the recipient’s address and press send! Your postcard will be mailed directly to their home! It’s processed in the States so you don’t have to pay for international postage either. The app is free to download and each postcard costs $0.99 to send. I use it all the time and I know my grandparents appreciate receiving the cards!

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WhatsApp Messenger: WhatsApp is a cross-platform messaging system so you can send text messages or any media that usually requires data (pictures, videos, sound clips, GPS tags, etc) over wifi. It’s perfect for keeping in touch with your friends back home. Free on Android and Windows Phone, $0.99 on iPhone.

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11 Reasons Budapest and Vienna are the Most Underrated European Destinations

By Devin Billbrough

  1. Thermal Baths: We all go on vacation to have a little me time. So why not sit back, relax and enjoy the world’s largest outdoor “hot tub”?  Enjoy these healing waters until your fingers turn all pruny or wait until the Széchenyi Thermal Baths turn into a rave at night.1920332_10152304586777502_1700682705_n
  2. Bar Scene: From the ruins pubs in Budapest to the Bermuda Triangle in Vienna, you have plenty of options to wet your whistle. Taste test everything from the traditional Hungarian pálinka to the variety of Bavarian beers or schnaps offered in Vienna.
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  3. Food: Any foodie knows the most important part of traveling is eating local cuisine, and Budapest and Vienna have incredible dishes to choose from. Enjoy everything from goulash and dumplings to schnitzel and noodles (thank you Julie Andrews) #yummmm
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  4. Fresh Markets: If meats don’t tickle your taste buds, treat your sweet tooth to some apple strudel and Sachertorte. Traveling and trying to stay healthy? The Great Market Hall in Budapest and Naschmarkt in Vienna have farmer’s markets every day that display their prize winning crops.
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  5. Public Transport: Lazy and don’t feel like walking anymore? Vienna, the dreamboat that it is, has an awesome public transportation network (deemed one of Europe’s best) with buses, trains, trams, and subways.  Budapest, while extremely pedestrian friendly with compact neighborhoods, has metro stops every 5 minutes from each other.
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  6. It’s cheap – Ball out like a young Marie Antoinette in Vienna or live like kings in Budapest. Both cities are extremely budget friendly. The Hungarian Forint’s (HUF, Hufflepuff, etc.) exchange rate is one of the best you’ll ever experience while in Europe. All you can eat buffet meals will cost you around €15, and you can get a beer of stein for around €3.
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  7. Hidden gems: Ever wonder what it’s like to crawl through caves beneath a city? Experience it for yourself in Budapest. It’s like a gold mine down there. Want to feel the wind in your hair? Vienna’s Prater amusement park is just another way to channel your inner child and escape the city feel.
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  8. Opera for penny pinchers: Like music? On a budget? Want to see some of the most beautiful opera houses in all of Europe? You’re in the land of Mozart and Beethoven, so why not?! You can get €1 tickets in Budapest and €4 tickets in Vienna. Even if you just go for 30 minutes, well worth it.
    Dancers dance at the traditional opera ball in Vienna
  9. Vienna Zoo: It’s not every day you’ll be able to visit the world’s oldest operating zoo! Located just behind the Schönbrunn Palace, you can see some of the most beautiful and elegant creatures ever created. Feed some giraffes, pet some pigs, and oogle at the beauty of penguins.
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  10. Christmas Markets: The Christmas markets in Austria are breathtaking. And you can get some souvenirs for mom and dad!
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  11. Green Space: Claustrophobic and feel like skyscrapers are closing in on you? Just think of big, wide, open spaces. Budapest and Vienna both have plenty of green space for you to enjoy. Silent meditation in a park not enough? Take a hike. Literally. Up to Buda Castle. The views you’ll get of the city are breathtaking.
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