Welcome to Amy and the Great World! I'm Amy, the girl behind the blog. I have taught English and traveled as much as possible for the past few years, and I'm currently teaching first grade in Budapest, Hungary. At Amy and the Great World, I strive to provide travel tips, photos that will inspire wanderlust, and a snapshot into my life as an expat.
It’s insane writing that title and knowing that I am a mom. And it’s even crazier that my baby is SIX months old (as of last Saturday!).
Also, side note–this post originally had the title “one month of motherhood” then switched to “two months of motherhood”…at around the four-month mark I decided six months would be my goal. So that’s where I’m at!
I’ve always struggled with expectations–and not just being too high. With parenting, my expectations were…dead low, actually. I really was not sure I ever wanted to be a parent, and for much of my pregnancy I was angry that I even was pregnant. I wanted to stay in Budapest. I wanted to stay in our lovely little flat. I didn’t want to put my job or career on hold. I didn’t want to feel obligated to live closer to family, and I didn’t really enjoy much about pregnancy. Even in childbirth, my midwife kept saying “Just get through this! Then you get to be a MOM!” and although I don’t think I really responded because let’s face it, words are hard in labor, I just kept thinking “I DON’T WANT TO BE A MOM! THIS IS NOT WORTH THE PAIN!” Even my husband, who knows me well, told her to tell me that I would get to stop being pregnant instead. That worked better!!
Now that my daughter is here…I absolutely LOVE being her mother. I am forever grateful that somehow this sweet, fun, adorable, spunky, smart, gorgeous little soul is ours. I was so worried about everything that would be gone from my life after she was here, but I don’t actually feel that way at all. They say your heart has room enough to keep adding space, and I found this to be completely true. My daughter has taken nothing from my life, only added to it. Maybe I’m not still living in Europe, chasing my travel dreams, but I’m more at peace knowing that I still want those things, and now I get to bring my little girl with me.
first plane ride at four months!
She amazes me every day. Her eyelashes are so long! Her dimples are the cutest thing. Her laugh makes me laugh without fail. Her smile lights up her whole face–and lights up the room. Her brain is constantly working! She spends so much time minutely examining everything, figuring out how things work, just like her daddy. Her hairline is hilarious with a persistent bald patch. She is such a happy baby and already an indispensable member of our little crew.
Although six months in, I still love motherhood every day, it’s not all rainbows. And not just the daily frustrations, like the lack of sleep and the ten billion diapers, but my own physical and mental health has suffered since welcoming my little A.
I wasn’t sure I wanted to address this on the blog, and I wasn’t sure I was ready to do it quite yet–but I’m diving in. Two days after my daughter was born, after a traumatic birth, postpartum anxiety hit me like a ton of bricks. I’d been well-educated on postpartum depression, and had several friends reach out to me during pregnancy, sharing their own experiences. But the fear and anxiety were like nothing I had ever known. I credit these friends and my education, however, for helping me see the signs right away, and telling my doctor. I credit the myriad of other people who shared their stories–everyone from my lactation consultation, my amazing doctor, various nurses, friends and friends’ moms, for helping me feel not so alone. My doctor immediately put me in touch with a postpartum group at the hospital, validated all of my feelings, and recommended medication. The next two weeks were some of the worst of my life. Here I was with a precious new baby, and all I felt was anxiety and shame and sadness. I still feel a pit in my stomach that I wasn’t able to just soak up those first days with her–I will never get those back
Luckily, the medication began to help after a few weeks, my hormones leveled out, I was able to sleep a bit (thanks to pumping/my husband, a true co-parent), and I began to recover from my host of health issues leftover from my delivery. I found the joy in parenting and in my daughter, and now I love her so much I hate to even be away from her to shower. Seeing her grow and smile and live is so amazing, and I am trying my best to soak up every moment (although I don’t always succeed).
The main reason I’m sharing this is so other new moms out there aren’t afraid to reach out. You should not have to suffer. You will be a better, happier mother when you get help. So if you’re struggling–reach out! Send me an email or DM me on Instagram, tell your doctor/baby’s doctor/midwife/husband/boyfriend/best friend/mother. I know that every person who shared their story with me gave me the strength to seek out the help I really, really needed.
For my 30th birthday last August (and for our “babymoon”), my husband and I spent a few days in Charleston and on the nearby Isle of Palms. We chose Charleston mostly because of cheap flights, and because we’d heard the food was good, but truthfully I went into this trip already disappointed (which sounds like the brattiest thing ever). I was six months pregnant and we had just moved back from Europe, and I was kind of hating the United States at this point.
Yes, yes, I know this is the epitome of first world problems, don’t worry! But mostly I’m telling you this because I wasn’t that excited for Charleston and oh my gosh, did I love it. Even in the August heat and humidity (although I think a different type of year might be a little better, ha).
Charleston is completely charming, full of great history, close to beautiful beaches, and full of the BEST. FOOD. I was looking forward to the food and it was so much better than I expected. I would seriously consider moving there, just for the food!
I’m no foodie, but these, in my humble opinion, are some of the best places to eat in Charleston:
Husk. (the bar). We tried to get a reservation into the famous Husk and sadly could not–but we got an insider tip to just go next door to the bar area, which has open seating and a smaller menu. Amazing!
Okay, okay, enough about the food!! We did do more than eat there, I promise–but not much.
We started out with a few days at on the Isle of Palms, not too far from Charleston (we used Uber to get around). The resort is huge and has a lot to do–but mostly we just hung out on the beach, slept, had breakfast in bed, and listened to their live music. Also I got a massage…I mean, that’s essential for your 30th, right?
After a few days of straight relaxing, we went to Charleston for the rest of our stay. We spent a few nights at the great little Elliott House Inn–really cute and great breakfast, and a good location!–and then moved to a bigger hotel closer to the airport for our last night.
The majority of the time, we wandered the streets, with a lot of breaks because OMG THE HEAT (have I mentioned that going to Charleston in August, while pregnant, was probably not my best idea…?), and soaked in the history. There is so much!
Also if I win the lottery I am buying a house in Charleston. Who’s with me??
My visit Charleston marked my first foray into the American South…and it was quite an introduction! Honestly I’m not sure how the rest of it will measure up…maybe I should have saved Charleston for last ;).
There are some places that just steal your breath. Some places are just special. Some places you can imagine yourself going back to, again and again.
The Isle of Skye in the Highlands of Scotland is one of those places, for me.
It’s not really a place where you’d find a list of “ten things to do on the Isle of Skye.” (Although I’m sure you can, if you look hard enough). When people ask what we did there, my favorite moments weren’t the “things.” When you add it up, it doesn’t actually sound like we did that much.
We drove and drove. We stopped at a few waterfalls. We found the ruins of an old castle. We visited a fancy castle museum.We stopped in a few pubs for various meals. We walked around cute little Portree, the capital city (aka town) of Skye. We stopped for many, many, many vistas and photo shoots. We tried to pet some sheep and some Highland cows. We got lost. We took an accidental hike (because research is for the faint of heart, and because that can be what happens when you use Instagram for location suggestions).
The hike to the Fairy Pools, when I thought I was “so pregnant.”
We loved every minute.
We only took a few day trips to Skye from this little cabin we found in Plockton via Airbnb. Although I loved that little town and cabin, if we go back, we would definitely stay on the island itself–but book ahead because there are not many options!
the pubs on Skye! I mean, the fire, the food, the beer…perfect.
One thing I loved about Skye is that it kind of feels like the end of the earth–it’s not very easily accessed from any major cities–but the landscape feels otherworldly too. You can forget that people actually live there, and that sheep and cow haven’t taken it over for themselves, a la Animal Farm.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again–the views will take your breath away. The green will almost hurt your eyes. The sun rarely comes out, but when it does, you will be dazzled by the colors that seem too intense to be true.
The Isle of Skye is one of those places that really is that beautiful, no editing required.
What are the places you can’t get out of your head? Read this post for another place I can’t forget :).
Europe has been inspiring the great thinkers of the world for hundreds of years. You could argue that you can’t not be inspired in Europe. Still, some places are better depending on what type of inspiration you’re searching for! Read on for a guide detailing the best places to be inspired…in Europe!
If you want to be inspired to become a chocolatier…
Visit Bruges, Belgium. Belgium has some of the best chocolate in the world, and Bruges has so many delicious and creative little chocolate shops!
If you want to be inspired to be a great architect…
Visit Prague. Prague was one of the few cities in Europe to fully escape bombing in World War II. I’m not sure this is true, but I was told that the reason Prague was kept so intact is because Hitler himself loved it and wanted to preserve it.
If you want to be inspired to write about mermaids…
Visit Copenhagen, Denmark. Hans Christian Andersen, writer of “The Little Mermaid” and other stories, hailed from this lovely city–you can even visit several of his former homes, and the Little Mermaid statue itself.
If you want to be inspired to become the next Marco Polo…
Visit his rumored birthplace of Korcula, Croatia.
If you want to be inspired to make a movie about World War II…
Visit Krakow, Poland. Right outside of Krakow is also Auschwitz, a concentration camp made into a museum. It is by no means a fun visit but I believe it is necessary when you are in the area.
If you want to be inspired to write dark fairy tales…
Visit Peles Castle in Transylvania, Romania. Everyone knows Dracula came from Romania, and this castle would be the ideal setting for your own story about vampires.
If you want to be inspired to bust out a chorus of “Let It Go”…
Visit the fjords of Norway. This is where Elsa and Anna danced and sang and almost froze to death, after all.
If you want to be inspired to become the next Disney princess…
Visit Neuschwanstein Castle in Germany. Said to be the inspiration of Walt Disney’s Cinderella castle, this castle will take your breath away with its setting alone.
If you want to be inspired by the fact that the HILLS ARE ALIVE…
Visit Hallstatt, Austria…or Mittenwald, Germany…or Salzburg, Austria. I couldn’t pick just one!
If you want to be inspired to open your own teashop…
If you want to be inspired to become a classical musician…
Visit Vienna, Austria. Mozart played here, and they still have so much fabulous music–like an amazing boys’ choir you can hear in this very building on certain Sundays throughout the year
If you want to be inspired to act in a period film…
Visit Budapest, Hungary. Budapest, thanks to its price and the gorgeous, historical streets, is a prime spot for filmmakers. Walking near (or sometimes through) a film set was a common occurrence while I lived there.
If you want to be inspired to write poetry…
Visit the Bridge of Sighs in Venice, Italy. Lord Byron was famously inspired by this bridge: “I stood in Venice, on the Bridge of Sighs, a palace and a prison on each hand.”
If you want to be inspired to paint like the masters…
Visit the Musée d’Orsay in Paris. While the Louvre is amazing of course, I loved the Musée d’Orsay–in an old train station!–more, partly because of the atmosphere and the increased accessibility of the art.
If you want to be inspired to read the classics…
Visit the ruins of Athens, Greece. My favorite part about visiting Athens and Greece are the ruins mixed in with modern life.
If you want to be inspired to write about a hunchback…
Visit the towers of Notre-Dame in Paris. You’ll be searching for Quasimodo the entire time!
If you want to be inspired to become a famous photographer…
Visit the Wild Atlantic Way, Ireland. You can’t help but take a photo around every bend in this part of the world.
If you want to be inspired to go back to school for philosophy…
Visit Oxford in England.
If you want to be inspired to start a revolution…
Visit the remnants of the Berlin Wall in Germany. The East Side Gallery is probably the best spot to see the pieces, although you can find sections in other areas of the city too.
If you want to be inspired to be the next great mountain climber…
Visit the High Tatras in Slovakia.
If you want to be inspired to start a farm…
Visit Bavaria in Austria and Germany. The farms here are ridiculously picturesque.
If you want to be inspired to go completely green…
Visit Slovenia. Slovenia has been nominated as one of the greenest countries (environmentally) in the world–and it’s completely gorgeous, too.
If you want to be inspired to open a hip wine bar…
Visit Belgrade, Serbia. While Belgrade is definitely still on the grungy side, the endless, creative cafés and bars would inspire anyone to find their own niche.
If you want to get inspired to invent your own world…
Visit the Elephant Café in Edinburgh, Scotland. The rumor is that J.K. Rowling couldn’t afford to heat her place at the time, so she came to this café to write the first Harry Potter book. It’s a great café with a beautiful view either way! I especially love the bathrooms–when I went, they were covered in graffiti dedicated to J.K. and her books!
Where do you find the most inspiration around you? What would you add to this Europe list?
This was a year full of travel, despite the fact that I essentially stopped said traveling this autumn as I neared my due date. Also, since I got pregnant in early February, most of this year was spent, well, pregnant. Still, I managed to have some amazing times on the road anyway (although, this year pales in comparison to the travels of 2016, and 2015!)
Read on for some of my best travels from 2017.
Our first trip of the year was one of my favorites, because it was a return trip to Scandinavia–and our first stop in Sweden! Highlights of this trip were Gamla Stan (the old town), an epic dinner at Djuret, amazing burgers at Barrels and Burgers, and the Vasa Museum.
In February, I found out my friend had decided to take a last-minute trip from New York to England, and I couldn’t miss the chance to meet her in Europe! She was going to be in Brighton, on the sea, when I was available to go, and I went for it. I’d never really considered a visit to Brighton before, but it’s beautiful and we had so much fun!
We went to Belgrade (via a night train) with our friends from Budapest (now they live in Spain–follow along with Ash and her adventures on her blog!). Belgrade is an up-and-coming spot in Europe for good reason. We had a great time exploring the Orthodox churches, wandering the streets, and eating things like cheese pie.
For my spring break, E and I took advantage of very cheap tickets to Macedonia. We spent most of our time in the gorgeous Lake Ohrid, and although I found out I was pregnant right before we went–and so was suffering from morning sickness all day–it was still such an interesting country to visit.
My sister came to visit (!!!) and after showing off Budapest, we traveled to London for a long weekend. Although cramming London into two days is not something I would necessarily recommend, I absolutely loved showing her the sites!
My brother and my parents came to Budapest in June and after a few days of exploring, we headed off on a road trip through Slovakia to Poland! We all immediately fell in love with Poland. It’s inexpensive, with delicious food, the cream of the crop when it comes to Airbnb, fun tours, serious history and lovely architecture.
Who can resist taking advantage of the awesome layover program with IcelandAir?? Not us. Although we’ve only seen Iceland during layovers so far–and trust me, it deserves more time!–each trip has been awesome.
Thanks to my pregnancy/health issues, we ended up back in America sooner than I’d hoped–i.e., before my 30th birthday. BUT, since we had some airline vouchers that were about to expire, we grabbed a nearly-free flight to Charleston, South Carolina. The heat was a bit much, but the food, the beach and charm more than made up for it. Seriously, you guys…THE FOOD.
It’s that time of year again! A new year, aka the time where I bombard you with memories from the past year. Since I’ve had my baby, the blog has kind of petered out (HOW do people keep up such intense blogging schedules with a newborn?!), but hopefully that will change in the new year.
And it wouldn’t feel like a new year with my annual collages full of my favorite moments!
28-32: Spring break in Macedonia // 33-35: My sister visits Budapest!!! // 36: Vienna with my little sis
37-39: London with my sister!! // 40-45: Saying farewell to Budapest and some of our favorite friends
46: My brother came to visit!! // 47: And then my parents did too! First stop, Vienna // 48: My brother’s birthday in Budapest // 49: Food tour in Krakow // 50: Warsaw // 51-52: Gnome-hunting and coffee in Wroclaw // 53: Exploring Krakow // 54: One last trip selfie!
55-63: E’s 30th birthday in Scotland! Highlights include Isle of Mull, Isle of Skye, Eileen Donan, Plockton, Applecross, and everything we ate.
64-72: Two great layovers: Amsterdam and Iceland!
73- 79: Catching up with family (and dogs) all over the United States // 80-81: Baking for the Bake Off Bake Along!
82-90: My 30th birthday in charming Charleston–and the Isle of Palms!
109: Adelie Laine, born on November 26 // 110-112: The first week of her life was spent in the hospital (for me), not ideal but we still had some good bonding time // 113-117: Finally bringing her home and getting into a groove!
118: Adelie’s first holiday season! // 119: Meeting her aunt and grandma // 120: Walking in the snow // 121-123: Her first Christmas // 124: Meeting her cousin // 125: Four generations // 126: New Year’s Eve baptism.
What a year! Hope your 2018 is off to a wonderful start.
On November 26, one day after her due date, my little daughter came into this world at 11:28 p.m. after 24 hours of labor, 3 1/2 hours of pushing, and one emergency c-section.
Before she even officially entered the world, our little Adelie was surprising us and proving that you can’t plan much when it comes to parenthood. Her birth, and the first few days of her life, did not go at all as I had hoped. On the other hand, though, she surprised us in so many good ways. She has these amazing dimples that come out when she cries (and although she’s not quite there yet, they will come out when she smiles, too!). Seriously. Cry dimples! Who even knew that was a thing? They are ridiculously adorable.
After a rough start, now that Adelie is a month old and I’ve had a chance to (mostly) recover, I absolutely love being her mother–way, way more than I ever thought I would!–and we have settled into more of a groove. You guys, parenthood is fun. Sure, I’m more tired than before, and sometimes this little human is a baffling puzzle that is screaming for no reason I can figure out, but truly, it is a joy. She is a joy!
So, welcome to the world, Adelie Laine! We are so happy you’re here.
Here in the United States, it’s usually accepted in most circles (except in the retail world) to wait for everything Christmas until after Thanksgiving, at the end of November.
Christmas in Europe, however, doesn’t have this rule. In addition, in case you haven’t heard, Christmas in Europe is completely magical. The only thing missing tends to be snow, depending on where you are (my hometown in Montana definitely wins on the snow front!). But, Europe has Christmas markets so…maybe it still wins ;).
I’ve been lucky enough to spend several Christmases in Europe, and very spoiled to visit quite a few markets over those years. Here are a few of my favorites!
I had to give a shout out to my former home, of course! There are markets all over the city, some catered more to tourists, and some catered more to locals.
Cologne, and Germany in general, might be the king of Christmas markets. There are no less than seven markets scattered throughout the city, each with a different theme. My favorite was the gnome-themed market, but the one by the famous Cologne Cathedral is a must-see, too!
I couldn’t make this list without including Prague, of course! Prague is even more fairy tale-esque at Christmas, if you can imagine. There are a few Christmas markets scattered across the city, but my favorite is the one in Old Town Square, because you just can’t beat that ambiance!
We met our friends last year in Frankfurt and I didn’t have very high hopes for some reason–but the Christmas market we went to there, in the old square, was delightful!
Nuremberg might be one of Germany’s most famous, and while it isn’t my favorite, the city is pretty much taken over by Christmas and it’s so fun to visit!
Brussels also has quite a few markets scattered over the city, but really the best part is the light show in the Grand-Place, if you ask me! And watching with a waffle in hand…even better.
This week was also the final week of the Bake Along Bake Off with Amanda! I used this chance to….make more bread. Surprise! I didn’t have a really good bread bake this year, although this week was okay, and the signature challenge for the final week was three different types of rolls.
I’m going to play the pregnancy card (again) and let you know that I only made one type of roll. I mean, I’m nine months pregnant here!
The rolls I did make, though, using this recipe, Braided Brioche Rolls, were amazing!
And absolutely, totally informal, as Mary Berry would say.
I think it was cold in our house because they didn’t rise very much–until they exploded in the oven that is!
One (out of six…) of the rolls turned out fairly neatly, and became the star of the show. Still, the rest were equally delicious!
The best thing about the baking challenge is getting back in the kitchen–baking is so relaxing and creative. Also, it’s been my major form of nesting–our freezer is stuffed with baked goods for after baby ;).
Here’s to more baking the rest of this year, and next year!
The closer I get to my due date (3 weeks!), the harder it’s been for me to blog. I was sure that I would be super productive during this supposed “nesting” phase, and I figured that would include blogging. So far, I’m definitely not that productive–my version of “nesting” mostly includes a lot of baking and laundry and buying too many baby clothes.
Here’s more of life lately!
// An old friend and her sister threw me a wonderful baby shower! Since we’ve been living all over the place, and are living in Montana temporarily, I did not expect a baby shower at all. It was so amazing–and our little babe got totally spoiled.
We all decorated onesies and people got quite creative…
and I put on normal clothes and took off my glasses for the occasion (although I couldn’t mask the fact that I’m puffing like a marshmallow, am about the size of the moon, and always look tired nowadays).
// I’ve been hanging out with my parents’ dogs, as usual! Their little faces always cheer me up.
// I celebrated Halloween–my first in the United States for a long time!–by wearing a shirt with a pumpkin, passing out candy to cute littles, and carving a pumpkin!
// The day after Halloween, winter officially arrived with about a foot of snow! Since we didn’t get much snow these past few years in Europe, E and I are loving this weather. Although it does make driving more interesting.
// We’ve been slowly getting ready for the baby. I feel like we’ll never truly be ready, which is stressful, but part of that is because we have no idea what we’re doing. And, can you ever really be ready for such a huge life change?
Although I am thoroughly sick of being pregnant, I’m also pretty nervous about the next part. E and I are trying to soak up all the just-the-two-of-us time we can! Can any other pregnant ladies or moms out there relate to the sadness I feel saying goodbye to this just-the-two-of-us life?? Not to say I’m totally unhappy–the baby is on track and looking good still, and that makes me over the moon!
I made these Caramel Apple Cream Puffs (it was Halloween when I made them, so they needed to be somewhat on theme and appropriately autumnal!), and they were very delicious.
However, as it was my first foray into choux buns, I was mostly proud of the buns themselves! You just never know how these things will turn out in high altitude.
But they puffed so beautifully.
The recipe calls for this caramel sauce, and at first I was hesitant. They already were plenty sweet with just the apples and the cream filling, and I was worried the caramel sauce would make them sickly.
However, it was Halloween, and in the United States, that means sugar and decadence so eventually I ended up covering them in the caramel. It didn’t make them sickly–just more delicious, as salted caramel sauce is wont to do–but it did make them a bit harder to eat.
But that didn’t stop us from eating them up!
What’s life look like for you lately? Did you celebrate Halloween where you are?