A Week in Prague as an MBA Student

Shopping in Prague
Prague Old Town Square Astronomical Clock
Prague Street Market
Street Market in Prague
Prague Old Town Square Sunset
Sunset in Old Town Square PRague
Sunset in Old Town Square Prague
Old Town Square Sunset
Prague Sunset over old town square
Traditional Czech Food
Kozel Brewery Tour
Kozel Beer Brewery Tour
Prague Castle City Views
Bride at Prague Castle
Prague Castle
Chimney Cake Trdelnik
Sunset over Vltava River
Prague Castle at Sunset
Terezin Concentration Camp Memorial
Statue at Terezin
Jewish Quarter Pinkas Synagogue
Prague Jewish Quarter
Prague Jewish Quarter Cemetery
Jewish Quarter Prague Jewish Museum
Prague City Streets
View from Teresa U Prince Prague
Rooftop Cocktail at Teresa U Prince
Prague City Streets
Charles Bridge Prague
Locks at Vltava River Charles Bridge
Prague River View of the Castle
Charles Bridge Musicians
Lennon Wall Prague
John Lennon Wall Prague #lovespreadthatshit

I had the chance to spend a week in Prague as part of my MBA program. To be honest, I didn’t do much research on the area before going so I had limited expectations. I’m usually not fond of travelling with a group, but this allowed me to finish up my program early and visit a new place. Win.

Because I was traveling as part of a school sponsored trip we had the opportunity to do some things that as a normal tourist I wouldn’t necessarily have been able to do, but that also meant missing out on certain things. Each day we visited one or two businesses and had the opportunity to meet with the company leaders. One of the most interesting visits was to Manufaktura. This could be equated to a US version of Bath and Body Works or Body Shop, but on a smaller scale. It was great to see the products being made and all the research going in to new products. I ended up really liking the skin care products I bought. The other business visit I really enjoyed was the headquarters for McDonald’s in the Czech Republic. We met with the Vice President of Marketing who was very engaging and knowledgeable.

Our trip was so planned out that we didn’t have the opportunity to try out many local spots. The few times we did try the local cuisine I can honestly say I was not a fan. It was very heavy with lots of meats and thick sauces. I normally try to take in as much local food and culture as I can when I go somewhere new, but again traveling with a large group in my opinion makes that harder. We ate lots of Italian food, and found it to be quite good most of the places we stopped in. I have since learned that there is quite a large Vietnamese population in Prague. I wish I had done just a bit more research before the trip and maybe found a few Vietnamese restaurants to try. As a side note, dining out in Prague was quite interesting for us, as we were often in larger groups. Typically the wait staff will not split the bill unless you ask, end even then they still may not. I also found that the waiters want to leave you to enjoy your meal, this means they will not check back often. When you are ready to leave you will have to let them know in no uncertain terms you would like to pay and leave, otherwise they will not bring the check. It’s not bad service, just that the cultural expectation is much different.

The city itself overall seemed VERY touristy and was quite crowded. While it is absolutely beautiful there I don’t know that if I had the chance to go back I would stay for a full week. There honestly just didn’t seem like there was that much to see. Walking around the historic areas of the city was really enjoyable (side note it is v easy to get lost as they do not believe in city blocks) and for the most part allowed you to see all the highlights. I did use the metro a few times while I was there and found that it was really easy to use. Overall the city was clean and felt very safe as well. The party scene in Prague is HUGE. That phase of my life is over…. if it wasn’t I would probably have more to report on the late night scene, which I hear is tons of fun!

Here’s a few of the places I visited that I would recommend checking out if you’re ever in Prague:

  • Old Town Square – The hotel we stayed in was a short walk from the city center at Old Town Square. The famous astronomical clock can be found here. The square will fill up at the top of every hour as people gather round to see the clock. We witnessed some beautiful sunsets here as well. From here you can find your way into high end shopping, touristy shopping, and plenty of restaurants. We were cautioned by the locals to avoid restaurants in this area due to price gauging, but honestly didn’t find this to be the case.
  • Terezin – A concentration camp that is about a 45 minute drive outside the city. Known for being a “propaganda” camp of the Nazis, it was used to convince the Red Cross and others who were concerned for the safety of the Jews that the camps were actually providing a positive experience. It was truly horrifying to see it in real life, but at the same time having a better understanding of this history is so vital.
  • Jewish Quarter – This is a neighborhood in Prague where Jewish families were forced to settle. The Jewish Museum and several historic synagogues are located in the neighborhood. The walls of Pinkas Synagogue contain the hand written names of 80,000 Czech & Moravian Jews who did not survive the holocaust. There is a rich Jewish history here that is worth exploring.
  • Kozel Brewery Tour – Any trip to the Czech Republic is likely going to include lots of beer! The Czech people drink more beer per capita than anywhere in the world and are also known for their beer producers. You will find that the beer is very cheap, cheaper than water! Kozel is a well known Czech beer and they offer tours of the historic building where they have been in production for over a century. We ate at the onsite restaurant here as well and enjoyed the food.
  • Teresa U Prince – A rooftop restaurant and bar located directly across from the astronomical clock. The view of the city is stunning and the food and drinks were quite good as well. It is located on top of the Hotel U Prince but there are no obvious signs that it is there, ask the bellman when you enter the hotel lobby to show you to the correct elevator. I loved eating lunch and having cocktails solo on the rooftop!
  • John Lennon Wall – The Lennon Wall sits just over the Charles Bridge from the main part of town. It is about a city block area of street art that is constantly changing. Worth checking out even if you aren’t a Beatles fan as there really isn’t much to do with The Beatles.
  • Marina Ristorante – A restaurant that is on a (large) docked boat in the Vltava River near the city center. Eat here for the atmosphere and the views, although the food wasn’t bad. The view of the castle and the rest of the city was beautiful. We stumbled upon the restaurant and had no issues eating here with a large group without reservations.
  • Parlour Bar – Seriously cool cocktail bar near Wenceslas Square. It is off the main road and has no sign, and is definitely not a place you will find many other tourist. The vibe is cool and the made to order cocktails were delicious.
  • Letna Beer Garden – Full disclosure we walked all the way here and up a massive hill in the dark to get here and it was closed (the hours listed online were not correct). This seems to be a summer time/warm weather/daylight place. Regardless the view of the city is beautiful. There is a restaurant and tons of outdoor seating. I would hike back up the massive hill to actually enjoy this any summer day again.
  • Prague Castle – It is hard to imagine that the castle was built over 1000 years ago. We did a self guided tour and basically saw the highlights one evening before it closed. It is stunning and the history is unbelievable. I would do a guided tour if I had the opportunity to go back, as the castle is huge and just filled with so much history that I’m sure a guide would do a better job explaining.
  • Charles Bridge – Beautiful historic (pedestrian only) bridge over the Vltava River that was built in the 1300’s. From Old Town Square you can cross over the bridge on the way to the Castle if you’re walking. The bridge has many historic statues as well as views of the city. Warning…it gets VERY crowded and while Prague was generally safe places like this are known for pickpockets.
  • Chimney Cake – Also known as a Trdelnik. This is a hollow tube of dough that is covered in sugar. You have the option to fill it with ice cream and different toppings. Based on what we were told by the locals, it is not really a “tradtional” Czech food but instead something that was created for the tourist. Regardless you can’t go wrong with a sugary dough filled with ice cream and chocolate syrup. You will see tourist lined up all over town at spots selling theses.

Hiking to the Top of Diamond Head

diamond head state monument
hiking to the top of diamond head
hiking to the top of diamond head oahu hawaii
view from the lookout diamond head trail
diamond head hike lookout view
diamond head lookout view
diamond head hike tunnel
tunnel to the top of diamond head
stairs to the top of diamond head
view from the pillbox at the top of diamond head
pillbox on top of diamond head
top of diamond head
Honolulu skyline view from the top of diamond head
top of diamond head
gorgeous view from the top of the diamond head trail
Oahu Hawaii Diamond Head Hike
Hawaii Pineapple Stand
Dole Whip
Hawaii Dole Whip Treat

One of our favorite things we did on our trip to Oahu was to climb to the top of Diamond Head. There are plenty of beautiful hikes on the island, many that are lesser known and probably less crowded, but we decided to take the path more traveled…

Although I have been to Oahu before this was my first time doing this hike. Parking was an issue the day we went. We waited for quite awhile in traffic to head up the hill to the small parking lot and found that it was full. We drove back down the hill and parked at a nearby school. I had the brilliant idea to take an Uber back up the steep hill, instead of starting our hike a very steep mile sooner than we planned. This worked out great, and on the way back we were able to walk back to the car down the hill with no issues.

The hike is not terribly difficult, but towards the end there were quite a few stairs, and we ended up in a narrow tunnel which I was not prepared for and totally did not like.  We also took a turn that led us to a small pillbox that we had to crawl out of to see the view. After the hike we were told that we could have taken a turn to miss both the tunnel and the pillbox, so if like me, you’re not a fan of small spaces maybe do some research on that.

On the way down we saw Yasiel Puig full out running up the trail with his training team as we were coming down. If you’re all who is that? Same. But Sean was impressed.

Overall we really enjoyed the hike and the views from the top were definitely worth the stairs and the tight spaces. We finished off the hike with a Dole whip that was well earned.

#WanderlustWednesday

Napa Valley Oakville Grocery

Oakville, California

#CaliforniaDreamin #WineCountry #NapaValley

  • NASA is wishing everyone a very Happy Halloween with their latest image of the sun!
  • A few tips from the New York Times on what to pack to make your travel photos standout on Instagram. (also making it clear that Instagram has taken over the world, since this is now newsworthy)
  • Do you use a travel agent to book your travel? Having just used one for the first time I would agree with the pros and cons in this article.
  • Discount travel sites often use the “only one room left” tactic, but is it true?
  • Vacasa becomes the newest travel site to enter the home rental market, attempting to set itself apart from other options as a full service management  company.

#WanderlustWednesday

Fall in Zurich

Fall in Zurich

#Switzerland #CH #Limmat

  • The best selling travel book of all time is getting a makeover.
  • AirBnB released a list of their top travel destinations for 2020. Not throwing shade but – Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Really?!?
  • A town in Italy is now posting warnings not to follow Google Maps after multiple rescue missions of misguided tourists. Apparently we need signs to tell people not to drive their Porsche over a cliff?
  • My home state has a new travel ambassador. Meet Mo, the four legged #visitNC travel guide.
  • Not all that newsworthy or surprising but a new survey finds Millenials “will work for travel.”

Visiting Oahu, Hawaii in Winter

oahu views from the punchbowl
view of diamondhead from the punchbowl
honolulu skylive views

Honolulu views from the Punchbowl

good morning from marriott ko olina
waking up in Oahu

why yes we did wake up like this…..

morning coffee at marriott ko olina resort
north shore oahu beach days
monk seal napping on the north shore
beach chickens
Hawaiian chicken

new friends on the beach

matsumoto shave ice best shave ice on the island

voted best shave ice on Oahu

ka'ena point state park
ka'ena point state park
ka'ena point state park

Ka’ena Point State Park 

nothing beats a Hawaiian sunset
hawaiian sunset
hawaiian sunset
hawaiian sunset
hawaiian sunset
hawaiian sunset
very happy in hawaii

the sunsets in Hawaii are unreal

Nico's Pier 38 lunch views

lunch views from Nico’s Pier 38

North Shore Oahu Hawaii
Warning No Swimming North Shore Oahu Hawaii
North Shore Surfers Oahu Hawaii
North Shore Surfers Oahu
North Shore Oahu Hawaii
North Shore Beach Days
Surfboard Gate North Shore Oahu

I love the North Shore.

I have been fortunate enough to visit Hawaii several times. All of the trips have been during the coldest, dreariest months on the east coast and it is such a welcome relief from the grey days. You may have noticed by now, that I struggle to post in real time, and that’s OK. #WinterIsComing again this year, and this will still be relevant then. Plus – it’s never actually winter in Hawaii so go whenever you want. Now that’s settled, on with our trip.

We stayed at the Marriott Ko Olina Beach Resort, and we could not love this place more. It was the third time I have stayed here and the views, the room, the pool, everything is great. The rooms are all condos so you have room to spread out and can cook in the room if you want. We made breakfast in most days, and also used the grills a few nights for dinner. We were also perfectly happy with all of the food and drinks that we had at the resorts restaurants and bars.

Ko Olina is a resort area on the southwest end of the island of Oahu. There is also a Disney Resort here and a Four Seasons. Each of the resorts are self contained on their own private a bay, meaning that you don’t necessarily encounter the guests from any of the other resorts unless you want to. But, being that there are so many resorts in the area, restaurants and shops have popped up nearby, so you have more to choose from. The only  restaurant in Ko Olina that we tried on this trip was Monkey Pod, and it was fantastic. We loved the outdoor area and listening to the music. I particularly like the Ko Olina area because it is not busy. It is about a 30 minute drive from Waikiki Beach which is where people often think of when they visit Oahu. While Waikiki is beautiful as well, it can be quite crowded in the tourist areas.

For the most part, we just relaxed and toured around the island. We ate our weight in poke, we drank drinks with little umbrellas in them, we watched the sunset everyday. You know, the good stuff. I don’t have an earth shattering guide to the island but just a few fun things that we did and loved.

We spent two of the days on the beach at the North Shore. During the winter months the waves here are unbelievable and just watching the surfers all day while I relax in the sunshine is enough for me. We had shave iced one day and acai bowls one day, because whats a trip to Hawaii without those? We also pulled over on a random beach on the way to check out a monk seal that was sunning herself.

We hiked Diamond Head for the first time. The views from the top are beautiful, and well worth the hike up. More on this later.

We toured Pearl Harbor as well. I have been before and like the last time it was such a somber experience to think about what happened there. It was kind of a bummer not to be able to get out of the boat and go onto the memorial platform, as I had this opportunity on a previous trip, but still worth experiencing history first hand the way that you are able to here.

As for restaurants… We had a delicious lunch at Uncle Bobo’s after we randomly came across it driving around the island. We enjoyed an amazing dinner at Duke’s on Waikiki Beach. The Hula Pie at Duke’s is worth every. single. calorie. We loved the lunch we had at Nico’s Pier 38. They have a huge variety of things, and it was fun to sit outside and watch the ships be unloaded. We had a fun lunch at Lulu’s on Waikiki beach. The view and vibe here was the best  part. Finally, we discovered Paul John’s Lumpia which is a Filipino restaurant in a neighborhood in Kapolei. The food here was good and it was really nice to try something different, as this is not something we would usually find at home.

We spent last our last afternoon at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific. Before, you’re all like, who spends their afternoon in a cemetery… it is located in what is called Punchbowl Crater. It sits high above Honolulu, the views here are stunning, and their is of course a lot of history to take in as well. It was the perfect stop to spend some time taking in the views before heading to the airport.

I also have two cousins who live on Oahu. (How lucky are they?) One is a teacher and one is in the Marine’s stationed at Kaneohe Bay. It was really fun to get to see both of them on the trip.

As a completely random side note, if you’re going to Hawaii from the east coat of the US (like us) I prefer my connection to be in Dallas or Phoenix. I have found that although the travel time is essentially the same, when you connect on the west coast (usually LAX) the flight isn’t quite as long so you end up on a somewhat smaller plane that isn’t as comfortable. And it is still a long flight from LAX. We typically fly American so that could have something to do with it too. And for anyone still wondering if the tortuously long flight will be worth it. YES. It will.

Have you been to Hawaii before? What island was your favorite? What time of year did you go? What were some favorite things you did?

Hawaiian Sunset

#WanderlustWednesday

siesta key beach florida

Siesta Key, Florida

#SiestaKey #SummerDaze #SunnyFlorida

#WanderlustWednesday

Venice, Italy

#Venice #BoatCruise #ItalyDreaming

  • This week two South American countries have issued travel warnings against the US in the wake of the multiple mass shootings.
  • To check or carry-on that is the question? I personally don’t mind checking my bag.
  • U.S. News released their annual report of the best travel rewards programs.
  • Here are nine cities where you can take in the views from public transit. Hint – Venice makes the list.
  • There is a down side to the travel industry – the effect on the environment. Here are 50 travel companies that are doing their part to reduce their carbon footprint.

#WanderlustWednesday

Schaffausen Switzerland

Schaffhausen, Switzerland

Switzerland why are you always so dreamy?

#Swiss #CH #RhineRiver

#WanderlustWednesday

Locarno, Switzerland

#wanderlustwednesday #lakesideviews #swissitalian

  • Have you been to any of these perfect European lakeside getaways?
  • Ever tried this travel hack that airlines hate? I have but maybe wouldn’t recommend it after the impending Lufthansa lawsuit.
  • Spring break is here. Did you see that the Department of State issued this travel advisory for the Bahamas?
  • Anyone ready for a warm weather vacation? Check out the best beaches of 2019 #byewinter

Visiting Hilton Head Island in the Fall

Okay, gather round closely, because I’m going to say something controversial here. Are you ready for it?

We went to Hilton Head Island, and we didn’t love it.

It was fall, so it was off season, which may have affected our experience. But y’all I don’t know what all the hype is about.

We stayed at the Marriott SurfWatch property, which really couldn’t have been nicer. We had a really nice room with a view of the ocean. The rooms are actually more like condos, with a full kitchen and living room area. I think they would be great with a family. The resort had really nice pools and a beautiful beach area. Even in the fall we found that the water was still warm enough for the outdoor pool. There was a beach bar with good drinks and decent food. The resort is also conveniently located to grocery stores and other things on the island. I think our mistake was leaving the resort property. We like to go out adventuring and check out the local restaurants when we visit somewhere new, and this is where things went downhill.

We headed out to see the famous Hilton Head lighthouse. The lighthouse is in the Sea Pines Resort community. We didn’t realize we couldn’t just drive right up, the community is gated, and they charge an $8 dollar (cash only) fee for a day pass. They advertise this as a luxury gated golf resort, and while there were some gorgeous homes it was mostly condos that were built in the mid 80’s and nothing special.

We finally made our way to the lighthouse and found a bunch of kitschy t-shirt shops all selling the same thing in the area. For an additional $4.25 per person you can climb the 90 foot lighthouse and take in the view (and another t-shirt shop at the top). We opted not to do this, instead walking around and checking out the scene. We drove around the resort area and checked out several different shopping spots and restaurants hoping to find something less cheesy, but no such luck. We did make our way onto the beach here, and it is beautiful. The beach is wide with plenty of room for running and playing, so that’s a pro!

We ended up having lunch at Fishcamp on Broad Creek after leaving the Sea Pines area and doing some driving around the island. This was probably our best find of the trip. The atmosphere was great, we sat outside, the weather was perfect and the food was good.

Based on the recommendations of several people we made a dinner reservation at Il Carpaccio. I’m not going to go into to much detail about this place, because some people clearly love it, but we left. After they served our bottle of wine and salad. We paid for it and wasted a full bottle of wine. I have never ever left a restaurant after placing my order. EVER.

We found ourselves in the parking lot of the restaurant starving and with no plan for dinner. OKKO, a hibachi restaurant was close and seemed like a safe choice, so we went for it. The food was standard hibachi, good but nothing special. The family at the table with us were locals and they told us about the Purple Cow Bakery next door, so we picked up a slice of cake on the way back to the hotel. We figured we had earned it. It was really good cake, which we obviously ate for breakfast the next day.

After returning to the hotel, we discovered what was probably the best part of the trip. The island has what appears to be very strict lighting codes, so when you’re out at night it is super dark. When we ventured out onto the beach at night, we realized this made for the BEST stargazing. We sat out on the beach for a long time enjoying the fact that we could see so many stars.

The next day we ventured out looking for some other things going on on the island, and mostly found more t-shirt shops. We decided to abandon looking for the fun spots on the island and head back to our resort to just hangout. We rented bikes from the resort and rode down the beach and had a great time. We spent the afternoon at Sea Salts, the resorts beach bar, watching college football and eating. We had planned to venture out for dinner again, but after striking out so many times, we decided to order Carraba’s take-out, because it was right at the entrance to the resort, and at least there would be no surprises.

While the beaches at Hilton Head were beautiful this really just wasn’t our scene. We loved the resort, and had we gone in with a different mindset of just hanging at the resort and relaxing instead of trying to explore somewhere new, this may have been an entirely different experience.

Here’s the thing… I think if you planned to golf all day there may be a lot for you here. If you have a family and you plan to stay in and cook, there were plenty of nice resorts with big pools and beach access and you would never have to leave. Sometimes hanging at a nice resort and stargazing is just what you need, so it definitely isn’t all bad.

However, there really is not much in the restaurant scene, which is probably one of our top things about going on vacation. Hilton Head is VERY commercial with all the chain restaurants you can imagine and a huge outlet mall with ALL the stores. Obviously, this sounds perfect to many people, or it wouldn’t be such a popular spot. So to each their own I guess.

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Have you been to Hilton Head? What did you think? I’d love to know!