5 Countries. 11 Days. Challenge Accepted.
If I could describe Spring Break 2012 in one word: whirlwind. It was seriously a crazy week of planes, trains and automobiles. The first day, I was in three countries. Three countries in one day. What is this craziness? That’s what I was asking myself as I reached my hostel that night. However, despite the insanity, it was the most amazing trip of my life. I learned and saw so much; I’ll never forget it.
I started off my Friday morning with a plane ride to Brussels, Belgium. It wasn’t spectacular weather, but it was still cool to experience the city. I discovered that I essentially forgot most of my French in favor of Italian. When ordering a coffee, I thanked the guy with a “grazie” instead of “merci”. The amount of times that happened on the entire trip was slightly embarrassing, but I guess that means I’ve fully embraced the Italian life, right?
To be honest, Brussels would have been cooler if I’d actually stayed there longer, but my hostel for the night was in Amsterdam. Visiting Brussels was sort of a trip of convenience (meaning I got an extremely cheap flight there). It was still nice, nonetheless, but I was excited to get my butt up to Amsterdam. So, I hopped on a three hour train ride and made it up to the city in time to curl up in bed. Needless to say, it was an exhausting day.
At least I got a Belgian Waffle.
I didn’t care much what my hostel looked like. I was just happy for a bed and a place to put all of my crap. The next morning was better though. I sort of overslept and rushed to get down to the free tour, barely missing it. So, I was determined to walk around and explore when I ran into the tour! Or so I thought. It wasn’t until halfway through that I realized I had joined a school group. Oh well. I still learned things and nobody said anything to me. After some unauthorized learning, I snuck away from the tour and headed back to the flower mart. It is one of the largest floating markets in Europe, but the Netherlands’ famous tulips are actually an import from India (thanks tour guide). They sell some pretty nice things for pretty cheap, so I took advantage, of course.
Ze flower mart.
The afternoon found me visiting the Anne Frank House, which was really amazing. What the family went through was unimaginable. I couldn’t believe how little room they actually had and how quiet they had to be. The rest of my time was spent eating and exploring. Overall, Amsterdam was pretty great, but definitely not my favorite place of the trip.
That came next: Berlin. Hopped on a quick flight from Amsterdam to Berlin on Sunday morning and was in the city by the afternoon. Words cannot describe how much I loved Berlin. It was definitely a different city from what I’ve experienced in Europe so far. It was far more modern and didn’t have that old world feel. It was largely destroyed in WWII and was not rebuilt for various political reasons. Actually, it was destroyed even more after the war. All of the old Nazi buildings were destroyed in a process called de-nazification. This was done for obvious (and right) reasons, but removed a huge part of the already destroyed Berlin.
Look! I’m in two different countries at once!
To be honest, I could have a whole separate post about Berlin’s history (I might; who knows?). I’ll just say I sufficiently nerded out over everything there was there. The city is essentially a living museum. However, it’s also a rapidly changing city. Most parts of the city that is there today was rebuilt in the last 60 years. There are remnants from WWII and then the occupation of Berlin. It’s so interesting to see the two sides of the city. The Communist half is completely different to the Allied half. Even to this day, it’s still black and white. But they’re rebuilding and expanding. If I went back to the city in a few years, it would probably be a completely different city than what I experienced last week. I find it fascinating and would go back just to see everything.
Me and the Berliner Dom.
I’ll give you a quick rundown on what happened since this post is already getting pretty long and I’m only halfway through. Free tour (with a pretty cute guide, I might say), visit to Reichstag (the government building), burrito for lunch (yes, it’s that important), German history museum (loooove), Berliner Dom (this epic cathedral), trip to concentration camp (I know; uplifting), fabulous food (and beer) and new friends.
Just chilling by the Berlin Wall. No big deal.
I just had the greatest time in Berlin. The people I met were fabulous and that’s very nice when you’re travelling by yourself. It’s fun to see what other people are doing and to learn about them. I was the only American in my hostel room for all four nights, so it was really interesting to meet Germans and learn about them and how they see the world. I also met a wonderful lady from the States on my concentration camp tour. We spent the day together and she was so kind!
I was a bit sad to leave, but also excited to meet up with friends again. I hopped on a train to Prague early Thursday morning and met my friends Nora and Emily. It was so cool to get back to that “Old Europe” feel and Prague certainly delivered. Wandering around the city was the best. It was just awesome to take in the sights. The next day we visited Prague Castle and did some shopping. I could say a lot more about Prague as well, but I’m sure you’re getting just as sick of reading this epic post as I am writing it.
The cathedral inside Prague Castle.
Quickly: The last two days were spent in Vienna. I wish I’d had more time there/had gone there at the beginning of the trip. It was honestly one of the most beautiful cities and just a lot of fun. We saw a ballet (which I may or may not have fallen asleep during) and went to the Royal Viennese Palace. It was really great. We had gorgeous weather the first day and just spent time outside enjoying it. Vienna is really an amazing city. If I could speak German, I would actually considering going there to study. That would be unbelievable.
We love palaces!
As great as spring break was, I will say that it was extremely nice to get back to Rome. It was definitely like coming home and I was even excited when I could see Italian (a language that I can actually understand now (what?!?)). I did and saw so much in just a week that it’s almost unbelievable. Exhausting, but so so great. It will definitely be a break I’ll never forget. /endextremelylongpost.