A Guide to Columbus OH

A Guide to Columbus OH

I’ve lived in Columbus for three years now and what I thought would just be a stop along the way during my college years has become a home. It’s small but it’s mighty. I have fallen in love with the revolutions and communities here under arches. There is a secret (not that secret) thriving cultural world happening and the city is one of the fastest growing regions in the county. Columbus is super underrated (I kinda want it to stay that way because cheap rent) butttttt if you find yourself in the city for a weekend or just moved here, these are a few of my favorite things!

Cafes

Cafe culture is an essential piece of any good hometown in my opinion. For work, study or eating muffins, check these:

  • The Roosevelt
    • Coffee + social justice = everything good. This social enterprise donates a portion of their profits to 501 c 3 nonprofits and is a great spot for weekday meetings.

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  • Fox in the Snow
    • My favorite for baked goods and coffee and sunshine on Saturday mornings. (no wifi though so don’t try to get work done)

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  • Stauf’s
    • My favorite working cafe, this spot usually has plenty of open tables, plants, wifi and outlets.
  • Pistacia Vera
    • A little french-esque cafe with macaroons and all the beautiful things.
  • Flowers and Bread
    • A little outside of the city center in Clintonville, a slower paced, beautiful cafe perfect with pastries and sunlit tables

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  • Dough Mama
    • Also located in Clintonville, the coffee and cakes are wonderful and there’s plenty of seating + cute merch

 

Places to go

For exploring on the weekends (or weekdays):

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  • Scioto Mile
    • in the summer this is one of my favorite places to go. it has a beautiful view of the Columbus skyline and an extensive bike trail. there’s lots of grassy areas for picnics and this area is conveniently located near COSI children’s science museum, the new Veteran’s memorial center and bicentennial park.

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  • Franklin Park Conservatory
    • Especially or when the weather in Columbus is not so wonderful, the conservatory is my haven for feeling outside without being outside. (also one of my fav spots during the holidays!)
  • The Main Library
    • This is a beautiful building full of books. My favorite. Worth a visit just for the architecture.
  • Grange Insurance Audubon Center
    • Nature in a city, this little oasis is right past the downtown area. There’s rock climbing, paths to walk and green, green, green.
  • The Short North
    • If you aren’t sure what you’re in the mood for you can probably figure it out in the short north. Restaurants, cafes, galleries, local shopping and ice cream available.

 

Food

The important stuff:

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  • Forno
    • My go-to for brunch or din with friends. I recommend the breakfast pizza or the pasta forno!

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  • Brassica
    • The mediterranean version of chipotle. Life changing.
  • Lindey’s
    • This is a fancier spot for brunch or dinner. Kinda pricey but worth it.
  • Hot Chicken Takeover
    • I don’t even know what I love more, the mission of this social enterprise or their chicken. Hot chicken takeover is committed to hiring men and women in need of supportive employment.
  • Condado
    • Tacos, margaritas and queso.
  • Bakersfield
    • My favorite queso in Columbus. You need it.
  • El Arepazo
    • Venezuelan food that makes you realize how much you love Venezuelan food.

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  • Jeni’s
    • Iconic ice cream that’s gone national. Columbus is the home of this splendid brand and it’s worth the long line and the price.

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  • Katalina’s
    • Okay this might sound strange but: pancake balls. It’s important. Try them. Their food is locally sourced and the best

 

Bars

These can range from chill dive to upscale happy hours– enjoy responsibly:

  • Seventh Sons
    • One of my favorite places for a chill happy hour. They bring in food trucks (on Thursdays its periogies) and host community events like the Columbus Flea. Lots of draft beers on tap and seating indoor and out!
  • Oddfellows
    • Trivia night on Tuesdays! + a hip, eclectic vibe.
  • Hoof-Hearted
    • During the summer, the outdoor pool is open for drinking and swimming! They also offer really good little apps and speciality cocktails.

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  • Juniper
    • This is the most picturesque venue in Columbus (imo). It’s a black and white new york vibey place with an incredible view of the columbus skyline. It’s only open to the public Monday-Thursday however– on the weekends it’s a rental space!
  • Local Bar
    • This is the divey-est place on my list. Very homegrown + free popcorn.
  • Tastings
    • Here you can sample hundreds of kinds of wine using a preloaded card + fancy wine tech. There is wine from all over the world and it’s a perfect chiller night out with friends or date thing.

 

Shopping

My other great love besides food:

  • Vamp Official
    • My friend Ellen Shirk opened this brick and mortar store about a year ago and is killin’ it! I want to buy every single thing it’s problematic.
  • On Paper
    • The happiest little stationary/trinket/card shop
  • Tigertree
    • Quirky shop full of perfect gifts that you would never, ever think about. One of my favorite places to just pop in and explore.
  • Little Hawk Shop

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  • Stump Plants
    • Plants, plants, plants! This adorable little shop offers every variety of house plant + creative ways to display them.
  • Valiente Goods

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  • The Book Loft
    • This infamous staple of the Columbus landscape is located in German Village (one of my fav neighborhoods). The Book Loft has over 34 rooms of books and my favorite place to spend a rainy afternoon very very lost.
  • Small Talk
  • Two Dollar Radio
    • My fav book store + coffee hangout spot. They publish their own books with beautiful covers and beautiful stories. You know every single book in there is wonderful because it’s hand curated by the owners.

 

Have a recommendation or would like to be featured? Email me at oliviamuguetteadkins@gmail.com!

 

Ultimate Prague Blog

I’ve lived here for four months. It’s not enough. Not enough time to do and see and eat everything that Prague has to offer, but I tried to get pretty close. I ate cake at every cafe I could… just for you! For this guide to my favorite city on earth. This is the culmination of the adventures of a girl who is probably avoiding her homework and exploring a side street instead. Enjoy.

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Food

Czech food can be… Czech. Not really for the vegetarian or the faint of heart, these people love hunks of meat, cheese and LOTS of potatoes. But in case you don’t, I included some other options as well!

  • The Black Madonna
    • Famous cubist building with amazing cubist cakes
  • Lokal
    • Traditional Czech food
  • Creme de la Creme
    • The best gelato in Prague
  • U Pinkasu
    • Traditional Czech food
    • Good to make reservations beforehand
  • Hany Bany
    • Super cheap and quick food
    • Cash only
  • Bageterie Boulevard
    • Fast food better than you’ve ever had in the US
  • Javarka and Co
    • Indonesian
    • Cash only
  • Pho U Letna
    • Vietnamese/Thai
    • Cash only
  • Chickn
    • American food for when you’re homesick!
    • Fried chicken, fries, mac and cheese

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Cafes

Cafe culture in Prague is my favorite. You can pretty much get coffee and cake almost any time of day with no judgement. My kind of people.

  • Mistral Cafe
    • Light lunch spot/cafe
      • Homemade iced mint tea
  • Mama Cafe
    • Study spot!
    • Interesting food options!
  • Cafe Plecnik
    • Favorite study/hangout spot
    • Iced coffee!
  • Grand Cafe Orient
    • Right above Black Madonna
    • Cash only
  • Cafe Louvre
    • Favorite cafe in Prague

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Things to Do

The best part? Most of these things are free! (or very inexpensive)

  • Tour of Town Hall in Old Town Square
  • Tour Prague Castle
    • Requires tickets
  • Kampa Gallery
    • Modern Czech art
  • Museum of Communism
    • learn more about the crazy history of the Czech Republic and central/eastern Europe
  • Drink a beer at Letna Beer Garden
    • Cheap beer, incredible views
  • Klementinum tour
    • Beautiful baroque library near Charles Bridge
  • Buy souvenirs at Pragtique
    • trendy little store with souvenirs by local designers
  • Explore JZP
    • Hip, trendy area in Prague 3
      • Get off at the green metro line metro stop “Jiriho of Pobrady”
  • Climb Petrin Tower
    • Can buy tickets on the spot (~$4 for students)
  • Get drinks at The Dancing House
    • Take elevator to top floor and buy a drink to sit outside and look over the city
  • Try the hot mulled wine
    • Especially if you’re here in the winter time!
  • See an opera at the Estates Theater
    • Mozart’s Don Giovanni premiered here in 1787

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Places to Go

These are the places you see on the Prague Instagram accounts and those drone travel videos on Facebook. They are not overrated.

  • Old Town Square
    • In the summer it’s filled with tourists but it’s still one of my favorite places because it showcases the eclectic architecture of Prague perfectly.
      • Go inside the Church of Tyn
  • Jewish Cemetery + Museum
    • Tickets required but such a cool experience
  • Wallenstein Palace and Gardens
    • Free!
    • Perfect to picnic + example of incredible Mannerist gardens
  • Charles Bridge
    • Best in the early morning or evening because it’s less crowded
    • Amazing view of Prague!
  • Wenceslas Square
    • Lots of shopping
    • Historical location of most political protests including the Velvet Revolution of 1989
  • Petrin Hill
    • Great views of the city and the location of the Petrin Tower (baby Eiffel tower about 1/6 of the size of the real one) 
  • Vysehrad
    • Super old church (Romanesque) on a hill with an amazing view
  • Prague Castle
    • The current Czech president still works here and there’s a fantastic Gothic cathedral in the center
  • Lennon Wall
    • Iconic, perfect for the classic Prague pic but also an incredible social message symbolizing the strife of the Czech people and that never ending search for peace on earth

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Night Life

Prague actually has a pretty wild nightlife scene. The beer is also way stronger (and better) here so enjoy responsibly!!!

  • Retro
    • Club
    • No cover for girls on Wednesdays!
  • Stalin Containall
    • An outdoor event on weekend nights during the summer by the Metronome where the infamous statue of Stalin used to stand before 1989
    • They sell beer from carts and it’s a true Euro grunge scene
  • Lucerna
    • Club atmosphere
    • Sometimes there are specific shows, check online first for tickets
      • 80s/90s night is my favorite! Usually on Fridays and sometimes Saturdays
      • Worth the 100 crown ticket
  • Bukowskis
    • Free sangria starting at 7 on Tuesdays until they run out
      • I don’t understand how it’s possible but it’s like… completely free, no strings attached. Go.
  • U Sudu
    • Underground cave-like bar
  • Dog Bar
    • Vzorkona is the real name but Americans just call it dog bar because… there are dogs there
    • Very chill and a much more Euro vibe
  • Zazemi
    • An actual Czech student bar
    • Live music most weekends!
  • Duplex
    • Very clubby club
    • 300 crown cover
  • Zizkovoska
    • Super cool grunge student bar where they have trivia once a month and jam sessions on Sunday nights (+ soup!)

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Day Trips

All of these places are between an hour to three hours away from Prague by train! If you have an extra day or two these are fascinating places in the CZ.

  • Plzen
    • About an hour away, this is where the famous Pilsner Urquell is brewed!
    • Take the factory tour, you get a glass of unpasteurized beer from the barrel at the end
  • Karlovy Vary
    • A tiny historical town with shops, restaurants and hiking!
  • Kutna Hora
    • Home of the infamous “bone church” this is a creepy yet amazing little cathedral tucked away in Moravia.
  • Karlstejn Castle
    • The second home of Charles the lV, a Gothic castle featuring a small chapel of religious relics on top.

 

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Other tips:

Czech peoples aren’t rude; they’re just reserved. Don’t expect strangers to return your smile or a cashier to act like he doesn’t despise you. And don’t take it offensively– it’s culture, not wrong or bad; just different.

Take the metro. Prague has one of the easiest public transit systems I’ve seen in Europe. It’s not expensive and is honestly an experience in itself. My favorite for people-watching.

You only need to tip up to 10% in the Czech Republic. Service industry employees make real livable wages here, not like in the US. If you feel like leaving a bigger tip than that you definitely can, but it’s not expected.

Dobry den. That means like “good day” in English and they will say that to you in every store or restaurant you walk into. It’s polite to say it back, even if it’s the only Czech you know!

Most restaurants you can go and choose a table on your own without waiting to be seated, unless there’s a sign that says otherwise. Just saving you from a few embarrassing moments when is everyone staring at you standing by the door and you don’t know why.

Go inside churches! One of my favorite things about Europe is most historic churches are open all day. These are beautiful examples of architecture and art, the perfect place to think/meditate + in the summer they are some of the only buildings that stay cool since they’re made of basically all stone.

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My ultimate advice for Prague? Take it in. Take in the fact that this was a land unvisited by tourists from over 50 years because it was hidden behind the Iron Curtain. Take in the fact that what you’re seeing now is as untouched by the western world as we will ever experience it again in our lifetime. Take in the fact that people live, eat, breathe and work here so respect that; this isn’t Disney World, this is their home. Take in the beer that made me change my mind about beer and the people that made me change my mind about people.

 

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To je Praha.

 

 

Berlin Weekend Guide

Berlin Weekend Guide

 

Berlin is a city that has been badly damaged by history but is more alive than ever. Far from the romance of Paris or Prague, the Berlin Wall paints a jagged scar through the city covered in the paint of a new generation. The bustling nightlife scene and pop punk culture makes the city a perfect weekend destination. Berlin embodies a modern and industrialized version of Europe full of Turkish food and techno for the taking.

Things to eat:

Currywurst

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This Cold War dish combines the traditional German cuisine with Turkish influence due to an influx in Turkish migrants. I had these twice in two days, it’s delicious + cheap!

Turkish Food

Again, Berlin is a perfect opportunity for Turkish food because of the high concentration of Turkish migrants. This was my first time trying it and I loved it, ya gotta experiment.

Giest Im Glas

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To me, brunch is the most important meal of the day so I was on the hunt for high quality brunch in Berlin. This little place was so unique and had a very young, hip crowd. Probably the best pancakes of my life and their food is inexplicably photogenic so check it out.

Cuoro Di Vetro

We stumbled upon this place late one night, call it serendipity. This local shop offers coffee, gelato, cake, wine; literally everything good in the world. Petition for more places like this in the US or I might never come home.

Things to see:

Checkpoint Charlie

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If you’re interested in history, this spot was the checkpoint between the US occupied West Berlin and the Soviet East Berlin. There’s a a museum and a great little gift shop and its especially impactful for an American to see the legacy we have created.

Gendermenmarkt

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One of the only truly historical areas of Berlin that was not destroyed during the bombing of World War ll, this square reminded me of the traditional beautiful Europe I’ve come to love. A perfect people-watching spot filled with happy old Euro men with their tiny dogs.

Berlin Cathedral

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One of the most easily recognizable buildings in Berlin, the Cathedral is a spectacular token of European architecture and genius. Closely located to the popular museums downtown, this monument is definitely worth a visit.

Memorial for Murdered Jews

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The Memorial for Murdered Jews of Berlin is a humbling experience. I recommend to actually think about what this giant work of public art means, rather than take selfies, walk on the stones or yell like a lot of tourists in this area. You can literally get lost in the giant stones representative of tombstones and feel the isolation the Jews of Berlin must have experienced times 1 million years ago.

Hackescher Markt

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This little market was a peak into the quaint and local culture of Berlin with fruits, flowers, hats and artisan crafts for sale. Right off the metro stop, the square is covered in stands offering souvenirs, juices and desserts.

Haus Schwarzenberg Street Art Alley

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This is an example of one of the many times that the internet is magic. We read about this little hidden gem on a blog about Berlin and it was well worth the search. This alley is covered in works of public art and a secluded break from the chaos of the main streets.

Brandenberg Gate

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Another iconic scene in Berlin, the Brandenberg Gate is again testament to the rich history of the city. Great photo ops but pretty crazy full of tourists most of the time.

Things to do:

Topography of Terror

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If you’re really into World War ll history (even if you’re not) this FREE museum is a must. I learned more information about the Third Reich and beginnings of the Nazi regime through this exhibit than any history class has ever taught me. It’s very reading intensive but incredibly educational and built upon the original headquarters of one of the most destructive regimes in modern history.

Walk the East Gallery

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The wall is obviously a symbol synonymous with Berlin, communism, the Cold War and the Iron Curtain. A barrier now covered in art is a testament to the rebirth of the city and in a world yelling about building walls, more relevant than ever before. This was probably my favorite part of Berlin. To see the physical barrier between freedom and repression was pretty wild and the art was fantastic + FREE.

Museum Island

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Nightlife

Berlin is internationally known for its nightlife and techno scene. The best way to venture into this world is by talking to a local. Most of the recommended clubs online are tourist traps and going to be very expensive or even dangerous. Our Airbnb owner gave us some recommendations such as Katerblau or Susswargestern. We also loved a local smaller bar called My House by the Sea that had a rotating dance floor on the lower floor. The vibe at most clubs is more casual than in the states and deep haus is everywhere. Berliners stay out LATE with most clubs opening at midnight and closing in the afternoon the next day so my advice is: nap.

 

Enjoy the city of street art and broken walls and eat some currywurst for me!

London Weekend Guide

London Weekend Guide

So I began my adventure abroad in the chaos of London, England. London is a safe little step into Europe without excessive culture shock and bonus: you can already speak the language. There are actually many more differences than I had expected, but in subtle quiet ways like a lack of free public bathrooms, no salt or pepper on restaurant tables, people voluntarily eating outside in 50 degree weather and the best part, drinking wine at 11 am.

You definitely can’t experience everything London has to offer in a singular weekend, it’s a world of its own. But if your international flight lands in Heathrow, here are a few things to keep you occupied in the land of fish and chips and queens.


Places To Go 

The Royal Burroughs of Chelsea and Kensington

This is actually where my hotel was located and a perfect little neighborhood to explore. It’s called a Royal Borough because it’s actually where Queen Victoria was born but now the property value here is greater than the entirety of Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland combined. It’s a perfect little fairytale land of pink houses, Mercedes and lots of pastries.

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Buckingham Palace

Always a classic tale, Buckingham Palace really connects you to the magic of the royal family. This gorgeous and historic structure is a symbol of architecture, the past few hundred years and Prince William’s house is not too far away, so.

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Things To Do

Take photos at a red telephone booth

These things are literally everywhere and no London trip is complete without it. Get brave, don’t be afraid of looking like a tourist and do it for the ‘gram. Still not sure if the pay phones inside actually work…

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Feed the birds at St. Paul’s Cathedral

Toppins’, toppins’. Mary Poppins was one of my favorite movies growing up so this was cathartic. St. Paul’s is a beaaauuutiful church with a gift shop, cafe and pigeons to spare.

 

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Afternoon Tea

Obviously Brits love their tea. I thought I loved tea but I never really got it until I drank tea at 3 in the afternoon and ate fancy cakes in a cafe style sunroom. Afternoon tea can be expensive (up to 200 American dollars!) at the big hotels but we stumbled upon this cute little hidden tearoom at the Fan Museum– yes a museum of fans. You get tea and cakes plus a beautiful environment for only 8 pounds!!! You’re welcome in advance.

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Food to Eat

Kensington Square Kitchen

This cute little place tucked away in Kensington Square had the most amazing caramelized banana french toast I’ve ever had in my life. They have lots of English style brunchy options that are maybe life changing.

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Pizza Express

I threw this in here for a quick and easy lunch option while you’re out exploring! There’s basically a Pizza Express on every corner and a decision made out of hanger and stress actually was a shockingly delicious find. This is also a chance to drink wine at 11 am so don’t miss it.

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Sketch

Sketch is a place you’ll often see on instagram or any trendy travle blog ever. But this place lives up to the hype. Incredible environment, wonderful French cuisine, fantastic cocktails. Dinner so good it is slightly making up for the face that European Netflix doesn’t have the American version of The Office.  And the bathrooms are weird little bean pods that play nature sounds (see photos below.) 10000/10. Pro tip: usually people have to book a reservation months in advance but we checked the day before and there was randomly an open one at 10:30 pm (the night before I had a 7 am flight and it was still worth it.)

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PS. Water isn’t free and they will try to give you fizzy water every single time. Say hello to a life without ice cubes. Good luck and enjoy your stay!!!