Travel

The Best Day Trip from Prague: Cesky Krumlov

The one place on this trip that I had absolutely zero expectations about was Cesky Krumlov. To be honest, I didn't even know what country it was in. At best, I figured it would be a pleasant surprise like my day trip to Girona on my Barcelona trip, and at worst, I figured it was only a quick stop on our way to the next big city on our trip. 

I won't bury the lead here - Cesky Krumlov was by far the most magical stop of our trip. Magical meaning it gave me ~feels~ like I got in Stockholm - like this was a place I would be content to stay forever. It wasn't just the quaint cobblestone streets or the beautiful castle or the winding Vltava River that seemed to be giving the city a hug - it was also a feeling of perfect contentedness - of slowing down and not feeling like there were 23842 "must see" things and specific "must eat" dishes. All we had to do for 24 hours was appreciate this incredible little town in the Czech Republic - and appreciate it I did! I wandered its streets when all the day trippers had left, napped in a sun-filled log cabin and hiked to the top of a grassy hill overlooking the picturesque city. 

But let's start at the beginning! 

Cesky Krumlov

We had two cabs waiting for us when we got off the train and they took us to the Krumlov House - a hostel situated super close to the center of the city. After stepping through the elaborate wooden dragon door we were greeted by an American who checked us in and let us know that we would have the hostel to ourselves for the night. Once we got up to our second floor suite, I think it sunk in just how unique this hostel was. Dad had been raving about how much he loved this hostel - and that he was so glad we were getting to go there. And it was immediately clear why he had been so excited. Everything was handmade from wood and it had the most incredible light streaming in. It was so tranquil. 

Krumlov House Hostel

We didn't have too much time at that moment to get comfortable though, because we all headed to the grocery store up the street to buy some snacks for a picnic in a park next to the river. Sitting on a shady bench looking up at the castle I was incredibly zen.

Cesky Krumlov

David had set up a tour for us with one of the locals who he promised we would absolutely love. As we walked to the center of town to meet her, David told us stories about different townspeople, stores, restaurants, etc. I loved the small town feel of Cesky and the fact that David was passing people he recognized on the streets. He popped into a restaurant whose owner he knew so we could use the bathroom before the tour started and knew the artist who had made some of the metal-work outside of a bar. 

It felt a little bit like we were walking through the "Little Town" scene in "Beauty in the Beast."

Our tour guide was so lovely - she was such an upbeat, happy person and Allison and I loved chatting with her as she showed us around town and promised us that later in the day, things would clear out and we would have the place to ourselves. A lot of day trips come through but leave around 3 or 4. 

Everywhere we turned there was cool artwork or beautiful views. There were so many little things that she pointed out to us , like these little paint tube fingers that I loved for some reason. 

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As we wound through the cobblestone streets, down to the river and up to the castle, we marveled at her ability to conduct the tour wearing wedges. 

The views from the top of the castle were stunning and we could have stayed there taking pictures all day. The one thing I didn't love was that there's a bear in the moat of the castle and while there used to be more than one, now he's all alone down there and it made me really sad. 

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When the tour was finished, Allison and I wandered around a little longer through the streets before heading back to our beautiful hostel. At this point in the trip, everyone other than me was feeling under the weather, and there couldn't have been a more peaceful place to take a nap. 

I wasn’t quite ready for go inside though, so I chatted with the woman working at our hostel and asked her what her suggestion was for a short run/hike. She knew exactly where to send me- I went for a nice little loop and when I finished that, I started the hike up to the church. It was a good incline that got my heart rate going (as did the dog that started running at me at one point). I felt totally alone, which was nice after constantly being with people for days on end. At the top, I found a relatively flat area of grass and did a deck of cards workout before heading back to the hostel.

Run in Cesky Krumlov

I made myself some tea, an orange, and granola and just sat in the kitchen soaking in the incredible sunlight coming through the windows and making all of the wood work look golden. The woman working at the hostel started chatting with me and it turns out she was from California and had been visiting the Czech Republic when she stumbled upon the hostel in Cesky Krumlov - while she was staying, one of the employees had quit. She was offered the job and took it - and had been there ever since! Talking to her didn’t make it seem so crazy…

Krumlov House

I went back up to the room eventually and dozed for a little bit before it was time to get ready and go with the group to dinner at a place Dad promised we would love - for a full “Bohemian feast” at Krčma U dwau Maryí . We stopped for many photo opportunities along the way - it was my favorite time of night, SUNSET TIME.

Cesky Krumlov Sunset

We were thrilled when they seated us at an outside table along the river. We ordered the chicken version of the feast which comes out for the whole table - it had chicken, smoked meat, millet, potato dumplings, potato cake, potato and vegetables. I didn’t really know what I was eating, but it was good! It was very traditional food from the days of feudalism.

Also traditional to the Czech culture is mead - so I figured sitting outside along the river on a crisp April evening would be a good time to give the warm, alcoholic drink a try. Sadly - I was not a fan of the mead. It was soo strong. It reminded me of back in the day when I hated the taste of every alcoholic drink that I tried because it burned my throat.

At least now I know to never order mead again!

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We were definitely full after dinner, so it was nice to walk around and look at the castle and town all lit up. We seemed to be the only ones left in town!

Cesky Krumlov Castle

I woke up earlyyy the next morning so that I could get a picture from a wonderful viewpoint as the sun rose and it was a nice, quiet moment but also sad, because Cesky looked so so beautiful and I didn’t want to leave!

Cesky Krumlov Sunset

But alas, “Vienna Waits for You…..”

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5 Nashville Restaurants Outstanding for Vegetarians

My job once again provided me the opportunity to visit a U.S. city that's a top vacation destination - Nashville, Tennessee. 

Though I didn't have time to do all the touristy things - one thing I did make time for was seeking out some healthy eats. 

It's so exciting to me every time I realize that New York City isn't the only place where it's easy to find fresh, farm-to-table restaurants or establishments that focus on vegetarian and vegan fare. 

I can definitely say with confidence that the South isn't all about fried chicken and ribs. I present you with 5 Healthy Nashville Restaurants Great for Vegetarians.

Avo 

My first night in Nashville I sucked up my post-flight sleepiness and got in a quick 10-minute cab ride to Avo - discreetly located in a large storage container next to a Crossfit gym within Nashville's One C1TY mindful living development. There's a beach volleyball court just outside the doors.

Avo is the cutest little place – bright a clean inside with plants on the walls, fun light fixtures, and adorable succulents on the tables that are perfect for Instagramming with your beautiful meal avo is completely plant-based and every menu item is gluten free. Not only that, Avo uses no oven, gas, fryer or range stoves. Everything you eat at Avo is made with a blender, dehydrator, food processor and a good old knife.

 Their menu is packed with options - from a build your own salad section to "lasagna," "falafel" and raw Pad Thai. 

We split the raw taco appetizer - lettuce wraps filled with mushrooms and other fresh veggies.

I ordered the Pumpkin Curry Noodles as my entree. It was made with spiralized zucchini and kelp noodles and topped with a delicious, fresh pumpkin curry sauce and cashews. The sauce wasn't too much pumpkin or too much curry - it was light and delicious and refreshing if you're a fan of those flavors! I also loved the coconut shavings and cashews on top. 

I also ordered organic kombucha - loved it!  

For dessert, I got a slice of their dairy-free banana cheesecake. It still blows my mind that you can make "cheese" out of cashews and crust out of dates and walnuts. So good - and full of nutrient-dense ingredients. 

The portions were huge and filling despite the fact that it was a completely plant-based dinner. 

AVO 

Locale 3 C1TY Ave. Nashville, TN 37209
(615) 329-2377
Monday - Saturday 11 a.m. - 10 p.m. 
Sunday 10 a.m. - 4 p.m. 
www.eatavo.com

The Wild Cow Cafe

Another day, I was browsing through delivery food options trying to find something healthy when I came across The Wild Cow Cafe, a vegetarian cafe that also serves vegan and gluten-free options. 

There are a ton of different choices - salads, tacos, grain bowls and sandwiches. What I loved was how easy they made it to customize your meal. 

I ended up choosing the Veggie Quinoa Bowl - it came with roasted veggies (squash, sweet potatoes, cauliflower, etc.) served over quinoa and topped with garlic aioli. To customize, my friend and I added sauteed garlicky kale, grilled tofu and portabella mushroom. We got the garlic aioli on the side and balsamic vinaigrette as well. 

They were delivered still piping hot, with all our additions and dressings on the side. Everything was delicious and the serving size was huge. The only thing I was a little iffy on was the garlicky kale. The taste was a little overpowering, and it turned the consistency of the whole meal crunchy from all of the crushed garlic. 

Later in the week, we ordered from Wild Cow again and they must have been really busy because the delivery wasn't as seamless - my friend's salad came with cheese even though she ordered it without, and my dressing didn't come on the side like I requested. 

That being said - everything still tasted good. I ordered the Pistachio & Pear salad - spinach and lettuce in a Goddess Tahini dressing that was heavenly. I have yet to master making my own tahini-based dressings and was beginning to doubt whether or not I liked it - but I loved the one from Wild Cow. 

The salad was topped with quinoa, roasted beets, pears, pistachios and grilled tofu. I think I liked this even better than my Veggie Quinoa Bowl! Again, the serving size was HUGE and I couldn't finish it despite my best efforts. 

The Wild Cow Cafe 

1896 Eastland Avenue
Nashville, TN 37206
(615) 262-2717
Closed on Tuesdays
Sunday-Thursday (excluding Tuesday) 11:00 a.m. - 9:00 p.m. 
Friday & Saturday: 11:00 a.m. - 10:00 p.m. pm
www.thewildcow.com

Daily Juice Cafe

Our last morning in Nashville we walked a few blocks from the hotel for a delicious ACAI BOWL. 

The Daily Juice makes smoothies, juices and bowls and though there was a long wait, the staff were super accommodating to our requests and let us more or less customize our own bowls.

I ordered the Aloha Bowl - blended berry, mango, banana, coconut milk and pineapple without the usually included coconut oil. The toppings included banana, granola, raw local honey and goji berries but I subbed the goji for hemp hearts. 

Whenever I eat an acai bowl, I'm shocked at  how filling it is! I was a very happy camper. 

The Daily Juice 

700 Old Hickory Blvd. Suite 203 
Brentwood, TN 37027 
(615) 678-8364
Tuesday - Thursday: and Monday - 7:00 a.m. - 7:00 p.m. 
Friday: 7:00 a.m - 5:00 p.m. 
Saturday: 8:00 a.m .- 5:00 p.m. 
Sunday: 9:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. 
Daily Juice Menu

Rolf & Daughters

Though this meal wasn't exactly on the same "healthy" level as the previously mentioned spots - I needed to include it in my round-up of Nashville because it was some of the best pasta I've had in ages. There are plenty of veggie friendly options (though we sampled our fair share of meat!) 

Rolf & Daughters is in Nashville's "German Town" and had a number of delicious-sounding appetizers. We sampled the broccoli (kale, currant, caper, anchovy and breadcrumbs) which was a very unique combination of flavors. We also had the sweet potato, testa, cashew and arugula - which I ordered without knowing what testa was. When the dish arrived, I thought it might be the wrong thing. But nope, it was thinly sliced sweet potato topped testa - head cheese. 

No, head cheese isn't cheese. It's actually meat made from pigs' heads. Uh. Glad I only found this out AFTER eat it. I cannot lie though - it tasted pretty good! I didn't LOVE it. But I didn't eat and it think, "ew gross what is this gelatinous pig head that they put on top of my sweet potato?!" 

As an entree, we went with the house specialty - handmade garganelii verde (similar to penne) with a heritage pork ragout and sarvecchio (a type of parmesan). The ragu was incredibley tender, and the fact that it was made of pork made it an instant hit with my taste buds. 

I couldn't stop raving about it the rest of the week! Not to mention the restaurant was incredibly cute and trendy inside - despite my lack of photos. Here, have a picture of downtown Nashville at night instead!

Rolf & Daughters 

700 Taylor Street
(615) 866-9897
Monday - Sunday: 5:30 a.m. - 10:00 a.m. 
http://www.rolfanddaughters.com/ 

Kayne Prime Steakhouse

I am not a big steakhouse person. Don't get me wrong - I love a good piece of filet mignon, and loooove baked potatoes, but going to a steakhouse is almost never my first choice. 

Yet I found myself at one in Nashville that may have changed my mind - Kayne Prime Steakhouse features a daily "Green Plate Special" that is constantly offering diners new vegetarian dishes with creativity and care. 

On the night I visited, the Green Plate Special featured a basket or potatoes and quinoa along with a spaghetti squash dish.

Both were delicious, but the real star of my meal was the salad that I started with - the farrow salad topped with apples, butternut squash, pistachio, arugula and a sorghum vinaigrette. 

Recently I've been obsessed with arugula, and whatever dressing was used on this salad was DELISH. Apparently, sorghum is a southern thing - and I was feelin' it (it's a sweetener!) 

I liked it so much that my first night back, I whipped up my own version! Except I switched the grain to green ration to make it a little more salad-y. 

I'd also like to give a shout out to Kayne Prime's popovers - which came out warm and tasted amazing with butter. I recently discovered that I have the necessary pan for popover baking -that might have to happen one of these days! 

Kayne Prime Steakhouse

103 McGavock Street
Nashville, TN 37203
(615) 259-0050
Sunday - Thursday: 5:00 p.m. - 10:00 p.m. 
Friday - Saturday: 5:00 p.m. - 11:00 p.m. 
http://www.mstreetnashville.com/kayne-prime/

Thanks for the chow, Nashville!