Portlandia

I got to visit my friend Stephanie in Portland, Oregon last weekend!!! Stephanie and I studied abroad together in Salzburg over two years ago. She was able to make a quick trip to Atlanta on her way to visit family, but this was really the first time we've seen each other since then! It was so much fun - I loved Portland!

My flight got intoPortland on Thursday night later than expected, but still with enough time to rest up for a full day of seeing the city on Friday while Stephanie was at work. (Side note: 6 hour flights are such a pain!!! What do you do to pass the time?)


Bratislava in 24 Hours

One of my major goals when I studied abroad (2.5 years ago... what!!) was to hit as many “off the beaten path” countries as I could. I figured that I could always convince myself to go back to Austria, Germany, France, and Italy, but that the lesser-known countries would be a little harder to go back to. Slovakia was definitely one of those countries, but let me tell y’all… Slovakia is awesome.

Slovakia is relatively new (it became a country again after the fall of the Iron Curtain), but it has so much to offer. It’s also a member of the European Union, so it’s not hard to travel to. Bratislava, the capital of Slovakia, is also just a short train ride from Vienna, which makes it an ideal day trip!

24 Hours in Colorado Springs

I had a crazy week of traveling last week! I went to Colorado on Tuesday night, stayed for work in the morning on Wednesday, flew back to Atlanta Wednesday evening, and then back out to Colorado Friday afternoon and back home again on Sunday! It was definitely exhausting, but also amazing! I just love being surrounded by the mountains and able to breathe in the crisp, dry mountain air. (Anyone who lives in a place with a ton of humidity can attest!)

My mom and I flew out to Colorado Springs this weekend and spent all day Saturday touring around. (P.S.: Taking a trip with just my mom was on my 101 in 1001… I can cross that off the list now!) There’s a lot to see in the Springs, but you can do just about all of it in one (very tiring) day.

We started out by going to the Olympic Training Center. Colorado Springs is “Olympic City USA,” and I’m a total nerd when it comes to the Olympics so there was no way I was going out there and not touring the training center! It was amazing. At the start of the tour, they show a short video montage about the history of the modern Olympic games focusing on Team USA and I started crying almost immediately because of how much I loved it. (I wish I were kidding, but there were real tears shed.)


After the training center, we drove up to the United States Air Force Academy to see their famous chapel. It was so beautiful and certainly did not disappoint! That being said, next summer it’s closing down for a 4-5 year renovation, so if you’re dying to see it, be sure to get out there sooner rather than later!

 

For lunch, we really wanted to go to Old Colorado City (the old mining city) but missed it on the map by a block. But it ended up working out because we got to go to Manitou Springs instead! Manitou is also a mining city at the base of Pikes Peak (the mountain that inspired “America the Beautiful” …casual.) In Manitou there is a ton to do, like taking the train (or starting the hike) up to the summit of Pikes Peak, visiting museums about the miners that used to live there, and they have beer and wine festivals some weekends throughout the year. We decided not to go up Pikes Peak because it was kind of rainy and cloudy and weren’t sure the view would be worth it, but if it’s sunny we definitely would have! (The drive can last anywhere from 2 to 3 hours, depending on traffic, weather, time of year, and how many stops you make for pictures!)

We ended up eating lunch at the Manitou Brewing Company. It was AMAZING. We got two “shareable plates,” (nachos and pulled pork and homemade beer queso and their specialty fries with truffle oil, parmesan shavings, and chipotle sauce) and both of them were huge and so good.  We were both absolutely stuffed but couldn’t stop eating! Luckily, Manitou Springs is a great place to walk up and down the streets, so we did that and enjoyed looking at all of the local stores and jewelry makers.


After lunch, we went to the main attraction of Colorado Springs: Garden of the Gods.  Garden of the Gods is a national landmark park that will always be free (!!!) to the public. However, you can book horseback riding tours through the park and I think that would be a really neat way of seeing the formations. We weren’t prepared to go hiking, so we stuck to the road through the park with just a couple of exceptions, one being balanced rock. Definitely one of the most popular stops, there were TONS of people, but with a little bit of patience and good timing, I was able to take some great pictures on the rock. And the ledge I was standing on was a lot higher than it looked! If I’m ever back in COS I would definitely wear better clothes and follow the hiking paths around and up some of the formations.


By this point, we were pretty tired so we drove to the downtown area and got a drink on the rooftop bar of Phantom Canyon. Then we walked around a little bit (still full from our amazing lunch!) and explored the Springs before getting dinner closer to our hotel on the east side of town.


Colorado Springs is definitely an interesting little place! You can literally see people from all walks of life just walking down the streets. It’s also the second biggest city in Colorado, but I don’t think you’d be able to tell if you didn’t already know. There’s an interesting mix of old and new, run down and just now being built. It’s also only an hour and a half away from downtown Denver, and a little over two hours away from the skiing at Breckenridge, Vail, etc. It would make a perfect day trip if you’re ever in Colorado!

Have you ever been to Colorado Springs?