A Travel Guide to New York City

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“New York is a different country. Maybe it ought to have a separate government. Everybody thinks differently, acts differently –they just don’t know what  the rest of the United States is.”

– Henry Ford

I have often thought that New York is its own country, a sort of melting pot of the cultures from around the world. With this New York has so much to offer. There is so much to do, to see, and to eat, and although I am far from a New Yorker (I have only been here 2 years, the standard is generally 10 years depending on who you ask) here are a few of my favorite things the city has to offer.

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Museums  There are some really amazing museums in New York. Let’s face it though, it is hard to pick and sometimes the entry fees just don’t seem worth it. However, there are several museums here with a sort of “hidden trick.” Museums such as the Metropolitan Museum of Art advertise their prices with the words “suggested donation” in small print next to them. That means that the $38 advertised is only what they would like you to pay, not what you need to pay. It’s really up to you what you give and it is completely normal not to pay the whopping entry fee advertised. I have given as little as $2 on one occasion. Other museums like this are the American Museum of Natural History, the Museum of the City of New York, the Brooklyn Botanical Garden, and many more.

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Skyline Another thing the Big Apple is know for is the breathtaking skyline. The trademark Empire State Building is a must do for most visitors. I must say it is quite an amazing view and historical building, however something practical to remember is that if you are on the top of the Empire State Building, you won’t be able to see/take pictures of this iconic building. Another option for seeing the skyline is the Top Of The Rock at Rockefeller center. It is slightly cheaper and lines are generally a bit shorter and you can see the whole skyline, including the Empire State Building. If you are looking to see the view on a budget, another option is going over to New Jersey in the other side of the Hudson River from New York.

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Iconic Attractions One of my favorite things to do with people as I show them around this wonderful city is Wall Street, Ground Zero, and the Statue of Liberty. I usually take the subway down to Ground Zero and the New Freedom tower. It is quite an amazing sight to see. The entrance to the actual memorial is also a suggested donation, however the museum is still under construction, so it might not be worth your while. But a year ago I stumbled upon a little gem in that area that has become on of my favorite things in the city. Saint Paul’s Chapel at Trinity Church is a small church a few blocks away from the 9/11 site and was a sanctum for the first responders and has been turned into a fascinating and breathtaking memorial/museum. Right around there is also Wall Street and the famous bull. And to top it all of you can take the Staten Island Ferry to Staten Island and catch a glimpse of the Statue of Liberty. The ferry is free and departs every half hour so when you get to Staten Island I would suggest stepping outside the terminal to look at the view before the next ferry leaves for Manhattan.

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Central Park Central Park is definitely one the best things the Big Apple has to offer. Although it might not be ideal during the frigid and rainy winter months here, I would strongly urge you to visit it it you get a nice (or even just mild) weather day. Central Park is huge, so don’t expect to do it all in one day, and there is honestly no need to do it all. Just pick a part or two and go explore (I still to this day get lost in Central Park). Some of my favorite places are the Reservoir, the Great Lawn, and the Conservatory gardens.

A Few Helpful Tips If you have a smartphone I would highly highly recommended app Hopstop.  You can put in your current location or any starting location, then your destination and it will tell you walking or public transit directions or estimate how much a cab will cost and the amount time it will take you to get there. The bus and subway system is slightly confusing, but also just a lot for a visitor to take in during a short stay here. I still use this every time I leave my neighborhood and it has yet to fail.

Except for the very bottom and tops of the island, Manhattan is composed of street blocks and avenues. It is helpful to remember that the street blocks are ordered in chronologically going from South to North. So if you are at say 13th street and need to get to 86th you need to go uptown because the numbers go up. If you are at 112th and need to go to 64th you need to go downtown.

New Yorkers are known for being stereotypically rude. Yes, I do encounter some unpleasant people but for the most part New Yorkers are generally very willing to help you out. So if you get lost or can’t figure something out, don’t be afraid to ask. Just don’t stop someone who looks like they are trying to get to work/home quickly.

New York City is divided into 5 boroughs: Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, the Bronx, and Staten Island. Manhattan is where most of the tourist attractions are found but if you are feeling adventurous exploring the other boroughs can be fun! I hope you enjoy your visit in the wonderful city of New York!

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This travel guide was written by Ragan K.

Perfecting the Daytrip – Picking the Right Outfit

Planning the perfect daytrip is an art – you have to pick the right outfit, pick the right city, and bring the right things. So that’s what we’ll be exploring this week…today: the perfect [fall] outfit. 

I think when it comes to traveling there needs to be three factors considered:

1) cuteness – you’ll be taking lots of pictures!

2) practicality – you need to be able to hike up cobblestone streets and climb up towers and sit on long rides!

3) warmth – with chilly fall temperatures, make sure you’re bundled up!

And now for your staples:

boots – leggings – scarves – sweaters – long socks

layer, layer, layer!

I hope this gives you some inspiration!

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What are your favorite fall outfits?

A Travel Guide to Prague by Claire P.

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Oh, where do I even start? The city of Prague is so dear to my heart that I don’t even know how to capture it in a few paragraphs. I will say though, that this is a city you need to experience, explore, and wander in.

The streets in Prague are magical. I live on the other side of the country, so only visit there once or twice a year, but every time I do, those little winding alleys and cobblestone roads are all I need to see. Of course, the Charles’ Bridge, Vysehrad and the National Museum etc. are more famous, but the heart of the city lies in the more hidden places. If all you were to do in Prague was walk, that would be enough to fall in love with the city.

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When you go to Prague, look up. Yes, look up! Every building is detailed, unique, and holds a story. Prague is also known as the “City of a Hundred Spires”. When you hike up to the Prague Castle and look down at the city, you will see why! Literally, hundreds of spires peek out of the city skyline.

As for favorites… I’m just going to list them for you!

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Restaurant:

– U Prince – this hotel and restaurant is located near the Astronomical Clock on Old Times Square. The food tastes good, but I love the view the most. Ask to be seated upstairs, because the outdoor terrace overlooks the square and gives you the best view of a sunset over Prague! It can get chilly sometimes, but they provide blankets for you to use.

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Shopping:

– There is one street between Old Times Square and Tyn Church where you can find shops with classic Czech crystal, ceramic figurines and models of the city, handmade puppets, and more. At the end of this street (towards the church) is a great shopping centre too called Paladium. Paladium looks like a beautiful old building, but inside it looks like a fancy mall!

“Street” Food:

– I don’t know if they sell these all year-round, but I know in the winter, they have street vendors with something called “Trdelnik”. Trdelnik actually originally didn’t come from Czech, but it has become famous there. It is a sweet pastry that is rolled in cinnamon and sugar, wrapped around a stick, and grilled. So delicious!

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To see:

– The world-renown Prague Philharmonic orchestra is at your fingertips if you’re in the city. I personally have never been to a performance, but I would love to some day! I’m sure they are amazing! (to visit their site about tickets: http://www.praguephilharmonia.com/en/prices.html)

To sit and linger:

– There are lots of amazing places to sit and eat a picnic, but my favorite are the ones that overlook the Vltava river. Pick up some food at a grocery store (like Albert, or Billa), and find one of many lovely parks in Prague. I also love people-watching in these places. People walk their dogs, run with friends, nap under a tree, or sit on the grass.

Things you should know:

– “Dobry den” means “Good day”, and people say it every time they go into a store 

– Bring an umbrella. It often rains in Czech, and can get chilly. You might want to bring a scarf and a coat/jacket too.

– When you’re done eating at a restaurant, place your fork and knife together, side by side (not crossed over each other) on your plate so that the waiters know you are finished. If you don’t do this, the waiters will still come, but not as fast!

– Most people in Prague speak English and will help you if you need anything.

– Public transportation is great, and fairly easy to navigate.

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This travel guide was written by Claire P. Visit her blog here.

*all pictures from Trip Advisor*

A Guide to Frydlant nad Ostravici by Claire P.

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Dear travelers and dreamers, I’d like to tell you a little bit about two of my favorite cities in the world! The first, of course, is my hometown, Frydlant nad Ostravici, and the second is the wonderful Prague.

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Let’s start with Frydlant. I moved here when I was seven (on my 7th birthday, actually!), and though it’s a small town, there’s a lot to it. We moved here because the headquarters of Josiah Venture (the organization our family works with) is nestled in the beautiful Beskydy Mountains. Why else would you want to visit Frydlant besides Josiah Venture?

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Frydlant is located in a valley that sits right under the tallest mountain in the Beskydy. People come here mostly to hike Lysa hora and other surrounding peaks, to get away from the busyness of life. More adventurous people may enjoy the thrill of hang-gliding, a favorite sport around here. For the less daring, there’s also a tiny airport, where you can ride in a little airplane for a breathtaking view of the mountains.

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My favorite places to eat are Merlin and my house. Really, if you come to Frydlant, you can’t miss stopping by my house for a meal! Contact me if you’re ever here in the next 4 months, before I leave for college; I’m serious! If I’m not here to make you tea or coffee, there’s also a cute coffee shop in the centre, called Café de Mare. I would recommend their decadent crepes with nutella, and fresh fruit. Delicious.

Frydlant is perfect because it’s in the mountains, but the third largest city (Ostrava) in the Czech Republic is only 30 minutes away by car, and the second biggest two hours from here. In those cities, there are countless options for shopping, events and cultural experience. But those cities are also smoggy and crowded. Frydlant, on the other hand, stays quaint and quiet!

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Of course, the most beautiful things here are the breathtaking sunsets, the windy nights, the green grass, and the rolling mountains. God created everything so beautiful! I’m thankful to live in a place like this, and He creates something beautiful everywhere. Even your little town is special. You just need to look and keep your eyes open, and your head up!


Keep checking the blog for my travel guide about Prague! To come soon!

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Read Claire’s blog here.

A Guide to Florence, Italy

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Recently, I was thinking about collecting travel guides from other blogs and having a page with links to all of them. But then, it occurred to me that we should have our own! I mean, this blog is written by girls who live around the world for girls who live around the world so it only makes sense to write our own travel guides instead of just reading other peoples’ guides. So without further ado, I give you a travel guide to my city: Florence.

What You Should See

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The Duomo: the Duomo was one of my favorite parts of Florence. Whenever I was in the city, if I could see the Duomo peeking above the sea of tile roofs, then I knew I wasn’t lost. It’s so beautiful and historic and comforting. Not only should you take a peek inside the church, you should also climb to the top. It’s steep, but definitely not the highest monument you can climb in Italy! The view is gorgeous and the climb allows you to see the beautiful painted ceiling of the dome and you can also see the amazing dome inside of a dome architecture.

The Uffizi: this historic art museum houses some of the world’s most famous artwork. When our entire family visited, we went on Christmas Eve and it was practically empty, letting us linger and gaze at our favorite paintings.

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Piazza della Repubblica: this quaint city square is the perfect place to grab some gelato in the evening and sit and simply enjoy being in Florence.

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Piazza della Signoria: another beautiful city square, Piazza Signoria is next to the Uffizi and houses the ancient “Palazzo Vecchio,” the current town hall.

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Ponte Vecchio: this bridge was the only one Hitler did not destroy on his journey through Florence because he thought it was so beautiful. Not that his opinion really counts, but the bridge truly is beautiful. The bridge is full of old jewelry shops with little houses on top. Worth stopping by to take a few pictures and window shop.

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Piazza Michelangelo: a beautiful piazza overlooking Florence. It’s perfect to watch the sun set over the city and there is a church nearby to explore while you wait for the sun to go down.

San Lorenzo Market: an open air market near the Duomo with cheap, but nice, purses, jewelry, tee shirts, scarves, and anything else you could want to take home from Florence for yourself or a friend.

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Fiesole: Fiesole is a small village overlooking Florence. My family lived in this small town when we lived in Italy and we loved it. It has several great restaurants, Roman ruins, an old monastery, a gorgeous view of Florence, and a forest with trails that lead you to the site where Leonardo da Vinci launched one of his flying experiments as well as a WWII lookout.

Where to Eat

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Il Gatto e La Volpe: a quaint restaurant in downtown Florence with amazing, authentic Italian food. Via Ghibellina 151r Santa Croce, 50122

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ZaZas: this restaurant is popular with American tourists, but nonetheless yummy and authentic. For more on why you should eat here, read this blog post by a lady who gets it.

Grom: a gelateria near Florence. Really, you can’t go wrong with gelato, but there are a few places that are a few notches above the rest and this is one. Lots of great flavors.

Hard Rock Cafe: I can’t believe I’m including this, but if you’re really missing some homey food and want a fun (and loud) environment, the Hard Rock Cafe is always a good choice.

A Few Things to Know

You can never go wrong using a Rick Steves travel guide book.

People really do say “mamma mia”

Italians are generally very friendly and ready to help

The bus system is pretty great and fairly easy to navigate

I’m not a coffee-drinker so that why I didn’t include any favorite coffee places, but really any gelateria or cafe that is not near a famous monument will have good options for both

Why I love It

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Florence feel like a hidden gem, tucked in between the hills of Tuscany. It is beautiful and historic. Loud and friendly. Peaceful and delicious. My time there was not a vacation, like many people assume. It was hard, but it was worth it. I hope one day you’ll spend some time in la mia bella Firenze!

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write a travel guide for your own city and send it to notofthisworld.r2 [at] gmail [dot] com