#FriFotos: Brick

State Castle of Český Krumlov

What constitutes a fairytale city?  Some would say Český Krumlov, a town about two hours away from Prague, only reachable by bus or car, is worthy of the title.  One is indeed enchanted upon setting foot in Krumlov, set within a series of oxbows snaked by the Vltava river.  Everything here is painted – those bricks aren’t real.  Bedecked with sgraffito, a sort of fresco-esque artistic technique that scratches away at plaster and paint, Český Krumlov is an odd bridge between imagination and reality.

 

Awesome Trip Alert: Rome, Florence & Venice 9-Night Trip w/Air, $1119

Me cruising around the canals on one of Venice’s famous gondola rides.

Italy is the home of my peoples, and this feeling resonates as soon as I touch down in the Boot of Europe, via airplane, coach, train or vapiatto.  I can’t wait to get back and explore this beautiful country again!

What You Get: R/T airfare from NYC (arriving in Rome and departing from Venice), regional hotels provide 4 nights in Rome, 3 nights in Florence, and 2 nights in Venice, rail tickets between all three cities (second class, what a great way to experience the European train system!), daily breakfast, air taxes and fuel surcharges.

Why this trip is awesome: You get to see a self-guided version of Italy’s gems, with ample amounts of time to do so.  And for THIS price?!  Airfare to Italy alone can be upwards of almost $798.   With a nice, wide window to travel you can be choosy about when your Italian adventure begins.

Dates: November-March (select dates at $1119, but all dates are discounted).  Not so happy about wintertime travel?  It’s a good thing!  The cities will be less crowded and the temperatures are still fairly warm.  I traveled in the dead of January and many days I didn’t even need a coat.

Additional info: Additional city taxes of approximately $17-$25 (€13-€19) per person are paid directly to the hotel at check-in.

Book by: October 3, 2012.  Click here to book.  (Prices will appear as $1299 per person on the rate calendar. Enter the Travelzoo exclusive promotion code TZIT10 for the $1199 price)

Information courtesy of TravelZoo and Go-Today Tours.

 

Contest Alert! TwelveWays Convertible Dress!

Travel Fashion Girl Alex clued me in on this AWESOME giveaway that I can’t help but share.

Ever traveled and wished you only had to pack one piece of clothing instead of twelve?  Fast-forward to the fashion company, TwelveWays, who specialize in versatile clothing with the travelista in mind.  One article of clothing can be manipulated into twelve different looks, leaving space in your suitcase and freeing your mind of “What am I going to wear today?” thoughts.

TwelveWays is giving away TWO convertible dresses, one for bloggers and another for their awesome readers!  It’s literally a win-win situation.  Here’s how to enter:

  1. Refer a Blog: How did you hear about this company/contest?  Put KatkaTravels in the field (or whatever you heard about the contest).  If I win, YOU win too!
  2. “Like” the TwelveWays page on Facebook (I have a FB page too, check it out!)
  3. Follow @_TwelveWays on Twitter (and while you’re at it, follow @TravlFashnGirl and @KatkaTravels too!)
  4. Tweet how excited you are about this contest (don’t forget to include a link!)

Officially enter at the Travel Fashion Girl website. and read about Alex’s review of the TwelveWays convertible dress.

Good luck!  I hope we BOTH win!

Travel Ammo: Pillowcase

Throughout my travels, I have found an ordinary pillowcase to be a wonderfully multi-purpose item.  Think about packing a pillowcase on your next trip.  This lightweight and compact object is more useful than you think!

Laundry bag: I always find it amazing how people can manage to do their laundry while traveling.  How often do we think to pack a laundry bag with us though?  Luckily a pillowcase can help.  It’s big enough to fit a load of dirty duds but packs nicely into the bottom of your luggage.

Hotel/hostel pillow cover: We can’t always pack our own pillows, and we don’t always know who the last person to sleep in our “bed” was. When all else fails, the familiar feel of a clean pillowcase may be all you need to feel comfortable and rested.

Tote bag:  I’ve used a pillowcase as an makeshift bag before, and it actually works nicely.  Cut one slit on either side, about two-three inches down from the open part of a pillowcase to make “handles” for your bag.  This is particularly useful for shopping at local markets or picking up souvenirs along the way.

Cut handles at the top of your pillowcase to make a shopping bag “in a pinch

Sit-upon: Women are lucky enough to have pashminas to fulfill this purpose, but what about something for dudes?  Luckily, pillowcases are gender neutral.  I love outdoor movies or picnics in the park, but I don’t always like to sit directly on the ground.  A pillowcase is less bulky than a blanket and small enough to stow away in your day pack.

Dirty shoe holder: Shower caps are good for this too, but what if you’ve got more than one pair of dirty shoes?  There are only so many shower caps hotels are willing to dole out.  Throw them all in a pillowcase and you’re good to go!

Pillow!: Why not?  This particularly comes in handy when you wear 17 layers of winter clothing onto a flight to save suitcase space.  On a recent trip to Iceland, I wore my coat onto the plane but then stuffed it into my pillowcase to make something more substantial than the little baby pillows airlines offer.  My Icelandic hostel also only offered one pillow per guest, but folding some sweaters into my pillowcase provided some extra support.

Do you have any more creative uses for an ordinary pillowcase, especially while traveling?  Leave a comment below so others can benefit from your pillowcase genius!

Travel Narrative Monday: Manahatta

Travel Narrative Monday: Manahatta

Photo courtesy of gaspi *yg

New York City is an unattainable goal. It keeps me at arms length. I have traversed through its guts a hundred times over, I have crawled in and out of its rigid grid ribs – but nevertheless, it becomes a glimmer in my eye and a wave goodbye to this fair city.

Always in New York but never a “New Yorker.”

I know it better than some who have lived their whole lives in those glass-and-brick buildings. It’s a snap and a tease and once more I am back on that long island.

I will never know what it’s like to spend half of my paycheck on a closet-sized room in a shared apartment with exposed brick in the living room and a bathtub in the kitchen. I will never know what it’s like to lay in a park on “city grass” and stare up at a smoggy sky. I will never know what it’s like to love a man from the Lower East Side, or work in a corporate cubicle on Madison Avenue. I am missing out on boho wine cellars, Ethiopian eateries, community gardens, hand-stitched boutiques, music collectives and using the subway’s erratic scheduling conflicts as an excuse for being late to work.

Every other city in the world offers me respite. Even the city of sound New Delhi, or the crowded intersections of Tokyo, somehow relax and revive me. But Manhattan never lets me rest. Manhattan is an oasis of opportunity that disappears the moment I find my way. Manhattan keeps me coming back for more.