I have no idea where the last few weeks went to. I was flipping through my planner on Tuesday when I realized that December is next week already. I triple checked the planner, as if Moleskin had made a mistake and accidently left out a whole week of November. But alas, December is creeping up on me, which means my time in Prague in drawing to an end. I remember in the summertime how anxious I was to come to Europe. It was never out of my mind. It even caused me to make mistakes at my job because I would be in these huge day dreams, imagining I was walking by Charles Bridge, or laughing with friends that I didn’t have yet at a bar. When August 29 was getting closer and closer, it became more and more real. Before I knew it, I was at the airport in Prague with dozens of strangers surrounding me, making me feel extremely overwhelmed. I realized recently that I became comfortable with Prague much later than most of the others, but I’m thankful that I’ve finally found ease here. Last week, I visited Berlin, Dresden, Salzburg, and Paris within a one week period. It was the most exhilarating week of my life, and by the end of it, I was shocked that I was still able to stand up. Let’s start with Salzburg.
When asked why I wanted to visit Salzburg, I would replied, “Obviously because of the Sound of Music Tour!” Quite honestly, other than one of my favorite movies of all time and Mozart, I didn’t know anything about Salzburg, Austria. What I discovered is that Salzburg is so much more than that. Going on the Sound of Music tour was one of my goals for the semester, so when my friend Colleen told me that she and her friend Aurelia were going to be taking a train there, I knew that I couldn’t say no. We met up with Colleen’s friend Jennie, who is studying in Vienna. The four of us had a fantastic weekend, thanks to amazing weather, the beautiful landscapes, and the great people we met. In our hostel, we met Francie. Francie is an Australian who now spends her time traveling and running a hostel of her own in Olomouc, Czech Republic. Small world! She became our mentor that weekend, and I found her to be one of the most interesting people I have ever met. Hearing how established and happy she is, and all the traveling that she has gotten to do really inspired me. Also, it seems like Australia keeps popping up in my life! (I’ll be traveling around Australia in June 2011). In one of the pamphlets I read about Salzburg while I was there, it stated “It is as if the word ‘charming’ was created just for Salzburg!” I couldn’t agree more. It was extremely breathtaking, and the epitome of my perfect city. Seriously I want to move there someday, into one of those little towns nestled into the mountains and lakes. It was so surreal getting to accomplish one of my main goals, and it still seems so unreal to me that I actually went to Salzburg. I’m so happy I got to meet Jennie and Francie, and hope to see them, and all of the other fabulous individuals I’ve met over this semester, again someday.
Paris is my least favorite city that I have visited so far. When I told this to people, I got “OH MY GOD! WHY?!” Let me explain. I loved Paris, so much. It was gorgeous, I really took to the French people, and I appreciate their way of life. However, it is being sold out. What I mean is that all of the men who are running around the Eiffel Tower shoving key chains in your faces, or women who have you read sad postcards by children who have cancer and want your money (these children don’t exist, it’s a scam), or guys who put bracelets on your arm “for free”, only to then badger you for money afterwards, are ruining the city. It is SUCH an amazing city that it makes me furious that all of these people have to taint it for me. It’s all about making money I guess, and although I’ve seen this in every city I’ve visited, it was most prominent and aggressive in Paris. Aggressive to the point I got slammed into a tree by a man who was angry at me because I wouldn’t give him money for a fake ring that he “found on the ground.” I didn’t get to experience Paris the way that I wanted, and I am so eager to go back someday and do everything I wanted to do. Paris isn’t a city you can accomplish in a weekend, believe me. I spent a full day in Versailles which, like going to Salzburg for The Sound of Music Tour, was a dream of mine that I wanted to accomplish. I’ve always been fascinated with Marie Antoinette, so walking in her footsteps on that day was just, incrrrrrrreedddible. I can’t even explain it, or explain how GORGEOUS Versailles is. It was my favorite part of that trip by far, and I could probably go into a 89 page blog about it. However, since it takes me a month to get the opportunity to write a 3 page blog, obviously that won’t be happening. Long story short, Paris is amazing if you spend more than three days there and are willing to look past all of the unfortunate individuals who are trying to sell it out. Just my opinion ya’ll.
Germany was the last country that I visited that week, and by the time I got on the bus to head to Berlin, I was severely questioning whether or not I would be able to survive three more days of traveling. It turned out to be one of the best weekends of the semester yet. Berlin is one of my favorite cities that I have visited so far. I didn’t know much about Berlin, and discovered upon getting there that it is an extremely modern city that is twice the size of NYC and jammed packed with art. Art is EVERYWHERE. People live, eat, sleep, bath, in art. Art art art. And I loved every second of it. The history of Berlin is incredible, and we got to see things from where Hitler’s old office used to be, to the remaining parts of the Berlin Wall. Having the opportunity to visit the wall was, such the experience. Berlin decided to take advantage of the wall, and dozens of artists each took sections of the wall to display fascinating paintings. My friends and I walked alongside it for almost an hour enjoying all the artwork and taking everything in. It was just one of the numerous great times I had in Berlin last weekend. Wow, it really was just….amazing. Oh! We were also in the middle of a terrorist threat. We visited the German Parliament building (you MUST visit it if you ever go to Berlin) which, four hours beforehand, received warning that terrorists threatened to take hostages there. We ended up going anyways (for some reason?), and the whole time I felt so paranoid that something was going to happen. Luckily, nothing did. There is this vibe that Berlin has. It has sass, spunk, and warmness. I absolutely recommend it. On the way back to Prague, we stopped in Dresden for a few hours (where I ate at an Australian restaurant. See?! Australia again), and Germany impressed me yet again. Although it may be a small city, it is packed with gorgeous architecture, so much to do, and sosososo much more. If you ever visit Germany, make sure you visit both Dresden and Berlin. You won’t regret it.
I feel like I cheated my week of traveling by wrapping everything up in one huge paragraph each. I could write for days and days on everything I saw and did, but it’s nearly impossible. Also, there are some experiences I just like to keep to myself. It helps me to cherish everything just a little bit more. This weekend I will be heading off to Vienna, Austria. I almost sold my ticket in order to go somewhere else or stay in Prague, but I keep hearing what an amazing city it is, and rumor has it that Vienna is home to the best Christmas markets in Europe! So pumped. Also, I booked plane tickets today for London, and I will be traveling there next weekend and meeting up with a few people from Susquehanna! I can’t imagine meeting up with my friends from school in Europe, who have been sharing similar experiences to me. I know we have all grown so much, and have had our own unique journeys. I’m looking forward to hearing everyone’s stories, and what their feelings are about going back to America soon. My last full weekend of the semester will be spent in Prague, even though I was planning on visiting Amsterdam, or somewhere in Italy. The truth is that I have been feeling a disconnect from Prague lately, and I want to soak in as much as I can before I leave. Spending my final weekend not in Prague just doesn’t seem right to me. I want to leave feeling like I’ve made my own mark on Prague, and have gotten a full experience. I’ve already been reminiscing lately on the semester, but I really need to stop that. There are still a few weeks left, right?!
Classes are going well, although I find some of my class requirements absolutely ridiculous, considering it’s a study abroad program in Europe. Classes that have a final paper, final presentation, AND final test all due in a few weeks? Really? It just seems like too much to me. Also, even though I’m aware Thanksgiving is an American holiday, I wish we would be given off school tomorrow. I’m planning on visiting some friend’s apartments and having dinner with them, and also skyping with my entire family from back home, who will be eating at my house in order to see me. I can’t wait to see my aunts, uncles, cousins, grandparents, parents, siblings, etc. all together! Volunteering at the hospital is still something I’m very grateful for, and I am in denial that I will only be spending three more times there before I leave. The children have been, incredible, and they are teaching me so much too. With all of the responsibilities I have in Prague and all the traveling I’ve been doing, I haven’t been spending much time with my Czech family, and that’s something I wish I could change. They have done, and still do, so much for me, and I don’t think they realize how much I appreciate everything. Hopefully I will have the chance to spend more time with them before I go back to the states.
I dyed my hair dark brown last week. It was a thought that has been lingering in my head for months, and on an impulse, I went to the mall and bought hair dye. Before I knew it, my hair was brown. I surprised myself that day. I’m picking up on certain parts of myself that are different now. Boldness that wasn’t there before, and some more confidence maybe? Its more than that though, and maybe not that at all. It’s also something that is very difficult to explain. haha What I do know is that I am now a brunette, and I’m happy with it. I’m happy.