#NotAVacation in Croatia

I spent a lovely month laying in the sun on the beaches of Cavtat, Croatia.

Croatia

Croatia

The joke was that everyone thought it looked like we were on vacation, but we were still working just as hard. We just happened to have a beautiful location to do so.

Croatia

Croatia

Croatia

Remote Year put us all in really great accommodations. Compared to the dorms we had in Ljubljana, this was a significant improvement. I was at a villa that looked out to the sea. There were 8 other Remotes that also had their own space in the two neighboring buildings. If you want a beautiful seaside vacation in Croatia, I would recommend the Villa Tiha.

Croatia

Croatia

Croatia

Since there were so many of us in the villa, we decided to have weekly “family dinners”. I absolutely loved this time with everyone and looked forward to this every week.

Croatia

Even when my friend, Jessica, from high school visited, we contributed to the dinner. The theme was a Taste of Home. Naturally being from Ohio, we made Buckeyes. It was a bit difficult to find some of the ingredients but we were determined to educate people on this delicious candy.

Croatia

Croatia

The work space was put together by the Remote Year staff in Hotel Croatia Cavtat.The hotel was beautiful but the work space felt a bit like college. After some network issues in the beginning, everything worked out quite well.

Croatia

Croatia

We were able to use the hotel’s beaches which were excellent. The beaches in Croatia aren’t the typical sandy beaches I was used to seeing in the US, but instead were rock beaches. Hotel Croatia had their beach set up excellently, and I went swimming almost every day.

Croatia

Croatia

Croatia

The walled city of Dubrovnik (or the Pearl of the Adriatic) is one of the major tourist destinations in Croatia and was only a 20 minute bus ride of 35 minute boat ride away from where we were.

Croatia

Croatia

Croatia

I only ended up in the city four times. It is definitely a great location to see, but outside of touring for a day or two there isn’t much else there. If you love history and/or are a Game of Thrones fan, you should visit!

Croatia

Croatia

Croatia

Only one cafe worth mentioning as most of them had rather generic coffee and a similar. There is nothing wrong with this, it’s just not a place to go if you want very unique coffee shops. I recommend hanging out for a bit in Dubrovnik at Art Cafe Bar. 

Croatia

One rainy day where we thought it would be a good idea to go to Dubrovnik and work from cafes. Unfortunately, this was not a good idea! Apparently everyone else also felt like since it was rainy, Dubrovnik was a better option than the beach. Here are a few pictures of the craziness and crowds. It took us almost 2 hours to go 20 minutes. It was insane!

Croatia

Croatia

There is a location near Cavtat and Dubrovnik called Kupari. This is also known as the Bay of Abandoned Hotels. This resort area was basically destroyed in the Croatian Independence War. I found an excellent article that explains this in more detail with lots of history and photos – The Bay of Abandoned Hotels. 

Croatia

My time in Croatia was overall fabulous. It was a relaxing environment to get work accomplished. I also really felt that I was connecting with the other participants in Remote Year.

Croatia

Croatia

Croatia

Croatia

Croatia

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Biking in Budapest

I was lucky enough to spend a fantastic extended weekend in Budapest! I traveled with a small group of people that are also participating in Remote Year. We rented a car and set out to experience Hungary!

Budapest

Facts: 

Population: 1,700,000

Language: Hungarian

Currency: Hungarian Forint (290.7 Hungarian Forint to 1 US Dollar)

Budapest

On our way out there, we stopped at two other locations in Hungary. Nagykanizsa was the first stop for lunch. It was a very quiet mid-sized city.

We then stopped at Lake Balaton. This is a major vacation destination and is the largest lake in Central Europe. It was beautiful and we made the plan to stop there on the return trip.

Again, Airbnb did not disappoint with a lovely apartment. This apartment was very spacious and all 5 of us fit comfortably. It was also centrally located and made touring around the city simple.

Budapest

The first thing on our to-do list in Budapest was to visit one of the thermal bath parties. It was certainly an interesting experience. Hundreds of people swimming together in warm pools was a bit gross. You just try not to think about it too much when you are there.

Budapest

Budapest

They gave each of us these wrist bands which gave us access to the event and allowed us to add money in order to purchase food or drinks. At the end of the evening the money not spent would be returned.

Budapest

I was so impressed with the many amazing cafes, restaurants and bars around Budapest. All of them were unique and creatively designed.

Budapest

Budapest

Budapest

Budapest

Budapest

Budapest

Budapest

Budapest

I had the chance to go into our brand new Eaton office in Budapest when I was there. This location was so impressive. They had this set up as a space similar to a co-working / start-up location. I loved the innovative vibe and diversity of seating arrangements. This office is growing and there were only 17 employees when I visited. They had hopes to get to over 100 by the next year.

Budapest

Budapest

We had a lovely biking tour guide of Budapest! If you are traveling there and would like to take the tour, let me know. I can send you his information. Biking in Budapest is great, the city has taken great pride in improving it’s bike -ability over the past years.

Here is a video that my friend Fabio put together of our biking tour: Weekend in Budapest Tour

Finally, here are some lovely pictures from around the city.

Budapest Opera

Budapest

Budapest

Budapest

Budapest

Budapest

Budapest

Overall, I absolutely loved Budapest. The biking, the cafes, the culture – it was all fantastic! I highly recommend a visit in the future.

Budapest

Budapest

Sorry for the delay!

It has been such a busy two months. I’m been moving around so frequently that I haven’t had much time at all to follow up on my blog. I’ll get back to writing updates on the cities and experiences soon. Until then, I thought that I’d share some of my travel statistics.

Flights taken: 13

Distance Traveled by Plane: 19,410 miles / 31,239 kilometers

Longest flight: Chicago direct to Dehli (7,471 miles / 12,023 kilometers)

Shortest flight: Chicago to Akron, Ohio (322 miles / 518 kilometers)

Cities visited: 15

Countries visited: 6

I have been keeping my Instagram up to date! Feel free to follow along as I travel the world: @cassandrautt. 

Sincerely,

Cassie

That one day in Verona

Finally, our last stop in Italy was Verona! My mom and I both found Verona to be absolutely charming.

Unfortunately, I planned the trip terribly! After I had finalized my train tickets and accommodations I found out that Verona holds the very famous Arena Opera festival in the arena. 30,000 people all watching opera together outside – amazing!! The unfortunate part was that they do not perform on Monday’s and that was when we planned to be there. Of course, I did try very hard to switch our plans around so that we could be there on any other day besides Monday – but it was too late. 😦 I  plan to return for the festival though someday! I won’t make that same mistake again. It was very interesting that they stored the major set pieces outside on the street. The picture below shows one of the sets.

Verona had a lovely shopping scene and we just happened to be in Italy during the customary sales. 🙂 Every January and July is the sale or “Saldi” season in Italy. Here is a site with a brief overview of the sales season – Life in Italy Sales. I was honestly surprised at how much shopping the city had.

Although we weren’t able to see any opera, we did attend an interactive version of Romeo and Juliet at Casa di Giulietta. I was skeptical of it at first, but I thoroughly enjoyed the performance! This is something that they recently started this summer, and I would recommend it if you are ever in Verona.

We were able to stay in yet another lovely Airbnb. The host was very kind, and there was great wifi for working!

There are several webcams around the city. We were able to send a link to my dad so that he could see us on the streets of Verona in real time.

Caffe E Parole was an awesome cafe in such a lovely neighborhood. It was right across from the Duomo di Verona.

We also had a fantastic last meal in the city at Osteria Le Vecete. The purple risotto dish below is called Risotto all’Amarone and is a a traditional dish in the region. It looks odd, but was absolutely amazing!

This was the last stop on our tour around Italy. I really cannot wait to visit again!

UPCOMING POSTS:
  • Ljubljana – City of Dragons
  • Roadtrip to Budapest
  • Living on the Beach in Croatia
  • Spontaneous trip around the Balkans

Prague Culture: Final Review

Prague has such a rich and long history and culture. I definitely recommend looking at this quick overview of the history of the Czech Republic to learn a little bit more.

Being a major city in Eastern Europe, there is a lot going on in Prague from art to music to theatre, etc. I was able to experience quite a bit while I was there for a month.

Art

The art throughout Prague varies greatly from medieval to contemporary art. I was able to make it to the DOX Centre for Contemporary Art and enjoyed it, however, I don’t feel that it provided the diversity and organization of the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis (or maybe I was just missing my neighboring museum).

Prague Culture Update

Prague Culture Update

Here are a few additional pictures of my favorite art from the city:

Prague Culture Update

Prague Culture Update

Prague Culture Update

Prague Culture Update

Music

There are concerts all of the time ranging from Electronic Dance Music to Jazz. I was surprised by the Jazz scene in Prague actually, I wasn’t expecting it to be so abundant throughout the city. We were able to attend the alt-J concert at Zlute lazne by the river. If you get the opportunity to go see a concert there, I definitely recommend it.

Prague Culture Update

Prague Culture Update

Opera

When I was there, I was lucky enough to get in contact with an awesome couple who work at Prague Opera. I took a couple of lessons with them and had such a fun time improving my technique and musicality. I was their first English speaking student which was an interesting challenge. I really enjoyed working with them and was very sad to leave after only two lessons.

Prague Culture Update

They were kind enough to set me up with a very nice studio to practice. I couldn’t have asked for a more perfect place to review their suggestions and continue to work through difficult pieces.

Prague Culture Update

I was also able to see one of my Prague voice teachers at the National Theatre in La traviata. I’m embarrassed to admit that I’d never seen the opera before, just bits and pieces in classes at BG. I loved the show, and certainly hope to be a part of it someday.

Prague Culture Update

Prague Culture Update

I can only hope that I make similar connections in future cities and countries!

Theatre

The Prague Quadrennial of Performance Design and Space (PQ) was all over the city in June. PQ is the “largest scenography event in the world”. The amount of interesting events was a little overwhelming and I wish that I was able to see more of the festival. I loved that this was going on in the city while I was there!

Prague Culture Update

Additionally, I was able to attend a show at the Black Light Theatre company. It was certainly entertaining, but felt a little touristy and maybe a bit overpriced at about $25. However, if you want a short, funny evening in the style of Charlie Chaplin you’ll enjoy it!

Prague Culture Update

Prague Culture Update

ARCHITECTURE

The architecture of Prague is beautiful. As I mentioned in a previous blog, the overwhelming amount of old world architecture had me more interested in the more contemporary and out of the ordinary options.

Prague Culture Update

Prague Culture Update

Prague Culture Update

Prague was fantastic and so far Ljubljana, Slovenia has far exceeded my expectations. Although, having never heard of Ljubljana before I was accepted into Remote Year, I can’t say that my expectations were particularly high. 🙂

One of the participants on the trip put together a really great video summing up our time in Prague. Check it out here: Remote Year Month 1 

PragueGroupFinal

Up Next:

– Planning a last minute tour of Italy

– First look at Ljubljana

Observations from an Outsider

The following are some observations I had about life in Prague. I didn’t want to forget these observations and thought that they would also be interesting to share.

1. Women wear tan tights/stockings with anything including under jeans, with open toed shoes, etc.

2. Dogs are often not on leashes. They just walk obediently next to their owners. Most of the time they don’t even recognize that you are walking by! They are also allowed into most coffee shops and restaurants.

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3. At almost all restaurants/cafes/coffee shops you are expected to find a seat and sit down, and they will come to you to take your order. Even when it seems like you might order at the counter. This doesn’t apply for fast food chains (KFC, Starbucks, etc).

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4. Cars are parked strategically up onto the sidewalk on narrow streets.

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5. You can recognize an American by how loud they are in public. Most of the locals speak much quieter even in larger groups. Americans are just loud.

6. Often when you want a park bench to sit down on, you will find an abundance of benches!

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7. Just about everyone speaks English.

8. People wear comfortable flat shoes all of the time. Even at bars and clubs it is very rare to see anyone in stilettos or heels. This would be completely impractical due to the walking on cobblestone streets.

9. Beer is acceptable to drink at just about any time of the day and drinking is a huge part of the culture.

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10. The food is not the healthiest. Traditional Czech food consists of meat and bread. I found myself craving fresh vegetables and fruit. It takes some investigating to find great and healthy local spots.

11. Smoking is very common and is acceptable in bars, clubs, and even some restaurants. Just be careful or you and your clothes will smell like smoke for the entire day.

12. The architecture is beautiful everywhere. I found myself being more attracted to the modern/contemporary buildings and restaurants because it was unique.

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Today is my last day in Prague and I absolutely adored the city. I’m certainly sad to leave, but excited to see what Ljubljana is all about. 🙂

Working Remotely from Prague

My biggest observation after working remotely in Prague for two and a half weeks is that I constantly feel like I’m always and never working at the same time. The following has been a typical day for me in Prague.

  • 7:00 AM – Work for two hours
  • 9:00 AM – Eat breakfast
  • 10:00 AM – Work for two hours
  • 12:00 PM – Eat lunch/sight-see/go to yoga
  • 3:00 PM – Work for four hours
  • 7:00 PM – Eat dinner / attend an event
  • 11:00 PM – Work for one hour

I end up doing just as much work as I would back in the Twin Cities but because I have the opportunity to leave my desk it feels like I’m not working as long. I really enjoy being able to break up working with other activities. It also helps that I’m in a different time zone and people aren’t waiting for my reply or looking to IM me about an issue. I have even found that I will do work on the weekends while I’m sitting in a coffee shop or café. I don’t see this as a problem; to me it’s not about ‘work/life balance’ but more about work/life integration. Some involved with Remote Year have had an even easier transition than I have, but there are some that still struggle and are required to continue working in EST. We all realize that when we get to South East Asia things will get a bit difficult.

In a discussion this morning over breakfast, we were discussing the challenges of working remotely on the other side of the world. We are likely to have a more difficult time just due to the fact that we are not able to be in person for key meetings and decisions. The cost to fly back for a meeting is just too high in most cases. I really can’t see many of us getting the opportunity to fly back and forth often. The relationships you make when interacting in person just are not as easily achieved over the phone and through email. This is certainly a big challenge and it will be interesting to see how we each handle it and what best practices and lessons learned will be gained.

Working in Prague

Since Eaton is a global company, we have many company locations where I will be throughout the year. I had the great opportunity of visiting our Eaton European Innovation Center (EEIC) during my time in Prague. This location just recently opened and houses engineering for all of the business groups at Eaton. For those who are unfamiliar with our corporate structure, we are split into 4 main categories electrical, hydraulics, vehicle, and aerospace. The EEIC provides an environment for all of the business groups to work together with the hopes of continuing to create innovative and collaborative ideas. Since the facility was new, it was very nice and modern, but I was most impressed with the people and work culture. The employees were young and enthusiastic and seemed very passionate about their work. It was certainly inspiring for me to meet those I was able to when I was there. Next month, I plan to visit one of our plants in Italy. This should be a very different experience as it is a much older manufacturing facility.

Working in Prague

Working in Prague

Working in Prague

As a group within Remote Year we are working from Locus Workspace. Locus has two different locations in the city and our group is split up between each. Both have a great environment for working and collaborating. I’m stationed at the Locus – Krakovska space but was able to quickly visit Slezka the other day. We are able to take advantage of the great wifi, amenities and events at each space. I really appreciated the Czech Culture session that occurred my first day in Prague!

Working in Prague

Working in Prague

Working in Prague

It’s also amazing how easy it is to stay connected with people over the internet. My family seemed to think that I was never going to talk to them or provide them updates but with all of the options now to use data/wifi I can be just as much connected to everyone as I was back home. The following are the tools I have been using to stay connected at work:

Working in Prague

Business Tools:

– Plantronics Headset – Since I’m in a co-working space and make many calls for work, this has been pretty key in the quality of my phone calls. It hasn’t been necessary but has certainly made everything easier for me.

– ATT Connect Web Conferencing Tools – This is an Eaton standard and is not anything new to this trip. Luckily, I can call my ATT Connect number over Skype for free since it is an (866) number. I can also use the VOIP option to utilize my headset and PC audio.

– Cisco Jabber – I currently have this installed on my computer to connect my PC with my phone in the US and allows me to call other individuals for work as needed. This is certainly the least used as I am mainly in meetings over ATT Connect, but has certainly been useful.
To sum it up: I enjoy this work style but wish that I was able to have at least the occasional in person contact with those I work with.

Up Next:

The Culture of Prague

First experiences in Prague

“What are you most excited for?” has been the most frequent question I received as I embarked on this yearlong adventure with Remote Year. To be honest, I am really excited to go to every location; they all have their interesting and unique characteristics. I have been the most excited to meet and travel with 75 other individuals that are innovative, adventurous, and courageous. We have all turned our lives upside down to go on a trip around the world. After my first few introductions with other participants, I realized how lucky I was to have the full support of my company, Eaton Corporation. Many others have found or are still looking for work as a freelancer or with various startups.

Even though some of the participants are still struggling to find a steady job, everyone is very positive. The “vibe” of everyone in the program is fantastic and so far we have meshed very well. With 75 people you can always count on at least a few others to be interested in similar activities.  I am really excited for all of us to grow into a family and leave the program with very strong global connections.

Just a few observations and comments about Prague:

  1. Things are quite a bit cheaper in Prague than they are in the US. Especially when you stay out of the touristy areas. It was a bit confusing at first and felt a bit like I was paying with monopoly money. You quickly understand the exchange rate and are able to roughly translate the cost of an item. Currently the exchange rate is:  1.00 USD = 24.0472 CZK
  2. Americans can be really loud and that is easily identified in the Czech Republic. It certainly hasn’t helped that we have often been going places in large groups.
  3. The cobblestone streets take some getting used to. Make sure you don’t wear shoes with very thin soles for the first few days. I wore a pair of Anthropologie and Steve Madden Oxfords the first two days; my feet are still suffering. They are cute shoes of course but I wasn’t used to walking in this environment for so long.

Accommodations

Many people have been asking about the housing situation for Remote Year.  No we are not staying in hostels. No we do not have to share rooms. We are not in college anymore and the team at Remote Year has been doing a good job making that distinction. Although, it does feel a bit like college orientation/ summer camp at times. It would probably be a bit strange if it did not feel this way.

I could not be happier with my hotel in Prague. I’m staying at the King Charles Boutique Residence. It has excellent reviews on travel booking sites. I have been thoroughly impressed.

  1. The rooms and bathrooms are really large. There is an abundance of space!
  2. Also, as this is a hotel, I get my room cleaned daily. I could definitely get used to this.
  3. We have free breakfast. Yes, I said FREE!
  4. The location is a bit out of the way, but that makes me like it even more. The tram station is right across the street, or I can walk to most places in between 10 – 20 minutes.

Food

Food in Prague is great. Traditional Czech food is very hearty! It is certainly not diet food. Here are a few of my favorite traditional meals.

– Goulash – A thick beef stew with dumplings
goulash

– Beef and Cream – Beef sirloin with dumplings and vegetable cream sauce

Coffee Shops

Many of you know that I LOVE finding new coffee shops! Here are a few I have enjoyed so far.

Kaldi Fresh Coffee Bar – Just opened in May and is right by my hotel.

Ouky Douky Coffee – Cool vibe!

Bistro Proti Proudu – Very interesting interior design!

EMA Espresso Bar – Great coffee! No wifi unfortunately…

La Boheme Cafe – Gorgeous coffee shop in Prague 3!

Group Activities

There have been many group activities planned since I’ve been here. Some have been planned by the Remote Year team and others just by a group of interested individuals. There really are too many experiences to talk about but the following have been highlights.

Hiking up Sněžka

It was fantastic hiking to the top of Sněžka which is at 1603 meters. Sněžka is the highest point in the Czech Republic and borders Poland. Trips like these always result in some great conversation and relationship building as well.

Women’s NighT

The group is made up of about a 50/50 split male and female. It is really inspiring to be surrounded by so many successful and intelligent women. We had a lovely evening tasting chocolate at Choco Cafe.

Garden Photo Shoot

There are so many amazingly beautiful places in Prague. We happened to come across a lovely garden and decided to have our own personal photo shoot. 🙂 This was taken in Vrtbovská zahrada.

Sincerely,

Cassie

Upcoming Posts:

– Working Remotely – Workspaces and Communication

– Prague Culture – Visual and Performing Art

Hello World! Goodbye Minneapolis!

I’m going to travel around the world for an entire year! This is something I had always planned I would do; of course I had assumed I wouldn’t have the opportunity until I retired. Somehow everything aligned and I was able to participate in Remote Year while continuing to work for Eaton Corporation . This opportunity really came at a perfect time for me. I have just completed a two year rotational program at Eaton called the IT Development Program. I will be visiting 11 countries in 12 months with about 75 other professionals.

Here is our itinerary:

Prague, Czech Republic – June 2015
Ljubljana, Slovenia – July 2015
Dubrovnik, Croatia – August 2015
Istanbul, Turkey – September 2015
Penang, Malaysia – October 2015
Ko Tao, Thailand – November 2015
Hanoi, Vietnam – December 2015
Kyoto, Japan – January 2016
Buenos Aires, Argentina – February 2016
Mendoza, Argentina – March 2016
Santiago, Chile – April 2016
Lima, Peru – May 2016

I’m planning to provide periodic updates of my experience, lessons learned, and observations about every 1 – 2 weeks.

To learn more about the trip check out the following articles about my trip with Remote Year!

Washington Post

CNN Money

Moving into Storage

  • My apartment lease and car lease were both complete mid-June so this worked out perfectly. I’m sure that this was more difficult for others who needed to find a subleaser, break a lease, or sell a car. I really loved the location of apartment and I was sad to leave.

Minneapolis

Minneapolis Sculpture Garden

Loved this car. Goodbye Beautiful!

  • Since I graduated from BGSU 2 years ago, I really don’t have a ton of furniture or ‘things’ to store. I decided to choose a 5×7 storage unit in Minneapolis. Due to the size, I donated my bed and couch. These were inexpensive and would have cost me more to store them. I’ll just buy new when I return.

Packing

– No, I did not take all of these shoes. I ended up taking 5 carefully selected pairs.

Moving into my storage unit.

Booking Travel Details

  • Visas – Since I’m going to a few locations that require a travel visa, I worked with remote year and the appropriate process to get this taken care of. We needed visas for Turkey and Vietnam. The process for Turkey was very simple as it can all be taken care of online. The Vietnamese visa process took a bit longer as I had to send my passport to the embassy in Washington DC. All included some sort of fee.
    • Flight to Prague – I spent a lot of time looking at many different flight options from Minneapolis/St. Paul (MSP) to Prague. There really were no cheap options. I decided to try to say a few hundred dollars by booking with multiple airlines to get there. This ended up with me sitting in the JFK airport for over 8 hours and confusing everyone at Norwegian airlines due to the multiple flights I had booked. Now, I’m in Prague still waiting for my luggage to arrive.
      • In the future, I will definitely pay more for the convenience of a simpler travel plan and I highly advise others to do the same!

Packing

      • I decided to go with the REVO Twist 25″ from Macy’s. It ended up being only $100 when I used a gift card and some other coupons. It held up very well throughout the trip. Hopefully when the airport returns my luggage, I will be able to confirm that it is still in great shape.
      • Packing wasn’t as difficult as I had initially assumed. I picked out the clothes that I really like to wear, the electronic equipment that I would need to work remotely, and the necessary toiletries. This initially ended up being 55 lbs, but I got rid of a few things and ended up with 46 lbs.

Ready for the world! #remoteyear #packing #newadventures #livingoutofasuitcase

A post shared by Cassandra (@cassandrautt) on

Saying Goodbye

    • It was difficult saying good bye to my friends, family and the community I had grown to love. With technology and all of the ways to stay connected, I can hopefully share what it’s like living and working abroad in all of the countries. I’m planning to return to Ohio for my sisters graduation from college and the holidays, but it might end up being a bit too pricey and difficult as I will be in Vietnam at the time.
    • I am very sad to leave the Twin Cities community as I was very involved. I’ll be missing the TEDxMinneapolis event on July 31st and a few performances.

Singing Abroad

  • Most who know me, know that I’m a singer and singing is a key and important part of my life. One of the major reasons I was considering not going on the trip was due to the fact that I had a few shows lined up in the Twin Cities and was starting to create a great network for myself there. For any performer who hasn’t been to the Twin Cities or is unfamiliar with their support for the arts, I highly suggest you check it out. I was so impressed with the community, amount of companies, and the high caliber performances.
  • I spent a lot of time discussing this with my current voice teacher and past mentors. Although, I may not be able to be in any theatre or opera performances this year, I do plan to schedule coaching session as I go. I already have my first scheduled in Prague! I’ll plan to write a post about continued training and performance on the road later.

Up Next

  • First look at Prague where I’m staying, where I’m working and what I’m doing.

**Leave your comments below and let me know if you would like to know more about any aspect of my trip! **