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I’m back to reality after an amazing 8 days in Europe.  Good news is that it was an unforgettable trip and I survived being a tourist in two countries where I don’t speak the language.  Bad news is that now I’m paying for it — must have had too much fun!

Before my trip even began, I unfortunately had a flare up of a herniated disk in my spine.  My first thought was “Oh god, how will I survive an 11 hour flight?!” But luckily I was able to schedule an epidural procedure for two days before my flight.  It’s an epidural with Cortizone for the pain, so I was crossing my fingers that it would kick in a few days into my trip.  It didn’t help on the 11 hour flight to London or the 3 hour flight to Austria like I was hoping, but it’s working pretty well now (two weeks later)!

So after the slightly uncomfortable flights to beautiful Austria, I was greeted by my best friend Tais who made everything better! She helped me with my luggage and drove me home to her cute little apartment in the city.  After a relaxing glass of sparkling wine and a long hot shower, I was ready to take on this exciting European adventure…although still struggling from only a couple hours of sleep and losing 9 hours of my life.  But soon sleep would be minimal on this trip, so it wouldn’t matter anyway!

Vienna, Austria was absolutely beautiful — well, not the weather.  It was stormy, cold and rainy the entire time I was there, but it didn’t stop us from walking around the city for 2 days.  We brought our umbrellas, scarves and plenty of water and snacks just in case as we walked down the windy streets and through the beautiful parks.

From the stunning old cathedrals and castles to the more modern museums and buildings, Vienna was one of the most beautiful and clean cities I have seen in Europe. The second photo is the Vienna Secession Building that houses Gustav Klimt’s Beethoven Frieze painting inspired by one of Beethoven’s symphonies.

    

The rainy day forced us to run under cover in one of the museum cafes for lunch — and thank goodness that Tais speaks fluent German because we were able to order a special chicken salad sandwich without the bread for me.  I also tried a traditional Austrian drink — sparkling soda water with lemon juice.  And it was delicious!

I even made it through a thrilling Saturday night in Vienna — packed with bar hopping all over the city, shelling peanuts at a cute wine bar downtown, and dancing to American 90s music until 5am! Believe me, my body hurt the next day, but that’s why we took it easy on Sunday with a couple museums and a movie night.

The next few days we traveled through the Czech Republic to the ornate little city of Prague.  Now this city is one of the most beautifully preserved cities I have seen in Europe.  The Castle Quarter and Old Town of Prague were stunning!  And we had perfect weather.

  

Walking the cobble stone streets through the Castles, across the bridge over the Charles River and through the Old Town marketplace for a full day of site-seeing was exhausting.  We didn’t start feeling it until the afternoon when our legs were dying, so we decided to take a coffee break…and then a wine break…and another wine break…and then a pub crawl!

And of course I was prepared for explaining my food allergies in Czech since neither of us spoke the language.  We found this great website for travelers who struggle with Celiac and it has Celiac Restaurant Cards in over 50 languages! You just print it out and hand it to your waiter when you attempt to order the dish (we always asked for an English version of the menu just in case, but handing them the explanation of my allergies also helped with sauces and secret ingredients).  And of course the wein (wine) and melange (traditional Austrian espresso and foamed milk) is universal and Lauren-friendly!

  

Overall, the trip to Vienna and Prague was unforgettable.  I will never forget all of the beautiful architecture, the late nights staying up talking to my best friend in the world, and all of the delicious food, vino and coffee we consumed!

What I do want to forget is the soreness that hit me two days after my flight back to the states.  It was a torturous 11 hour flight back from London (not to mention that my body was finally rebelling with all of the alcohol it had taken in over my trip — yes people, I cheated on my diet in Europe).  And once I was home, without the excitement of being a tourist and numbness from all the walking, my body had a flare up.  I’m sure that it was party due to my body detoxing from all the new foods and drinks it was not used to in Europe.  Luckily the detox and flare up only lasted a couple of days — along with getting used to my time zone again.  Today, one week later, I am doing much better, and the Cortizone injection is finally kicking in.  But all of the pain and discomfort and adjusting will never make me take back my travels — because now I have all of the amazing memories of my European adventure.

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