Friday, July 23, 2010

This is it.

Eleven countries, eleven weeks. Thousands of miles, millions of hours navigating the transport systems of infinite places. Winding up lost time and time again. Confusion. Misunderstanding. Sheer chaos. Winging it.

And this is what I call the best three months of my life. I wouldn't trade this insane, incredible experience for the world. Yes, I am excited to go back to the States. Seeing friends and family will be wonderful. Free water and air-conditioning are nearly unimaginable luxuries, as are other things such as screens on windows to keep the bugs out, having a plumbing system that works, and actually being able to understand the world around you. But in spite of the cultural differences, I have felt surprisingly at home here in Europe. Is it the same? Absolutely not. You don't study abroad, you don't travel, in order to experience more of the same. You go to see what is different. And that's what I tried to do. I wanted to immerse myself in a lifestyle that was entirely different to me. That's part of why I chose Prague- it was so far removed from everything I was accustomed too. Westernized enough to be fairly "normal," it's still a far cry from America. So much is different here. Yet I forgot about the inconveniences and the struggles simply because it was part of the adventure. If you didn't already realize, I'm a big fan of adventure. Of exploring, seeing the world and embracing the unknown. That's just my style. Cobblestones a formidable enemy of walking in heels? Make like a Czech girl, and figure it out (yes, I can now waltz around the cobbled streets of Prague in heels. Mission accomplished!). I've always been fairly independent- the type to be happy by myself, or happy with others too. And to be honest, it's the "others" who really made this summer as incredible as it was. My roommates, other friends from my program, and the people I met along the way- they are the ones who made this experience as incredible as it was.

There are so many reasons I love Europe. The cobbled streets, the culture, the history, the diversity, the struggles, the strength (the gelato!)... I have such a respect for this continent and everything it has experienced. I truly do adore being here. There is a part of me that will always consider Prague "home." One of many, but a home of mine nonetheless. In just a few hours, I'll be on my way back to the States. There's a sense of finality weighing on my shoulders right now. Honestly, I haven't accepted the reality that this is done, that I'm going back to where I came from. It hasn't sunk in. Time is a funny thing. The last few weeks before I left school dragged on forever, but then this summer was gone in an instant. Yet something that seems so rapid has had such vast effects. This trip has changed me in so many ways. It's hard to describe. It's an intangible sort of thing. What did Europe do to me? I'm not quite sure.

But I know I will come back for more. There's so much left to see and do. Isn't there always?
The Lennon Wall here in Prague- very cool place of rebellion from the Communist era.
Just enjoying life aboard the Gustav... and yes, those are my dirty, filthy, nasty, smell, holey, gross, worn, beloved Converse tied to my bag.
Ashley and I along the banks of the Vltava River after our farewell cruise (We actually look fairly close in height for once! Please note that in reality, she has a good seven inches on me).

What is there left to say? Just this: na shledanou, Prague & ahoj, America!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Tea & Crepes & Modern Art

Yesterday afternoon I spent several hours wandering around the Museum of Central European Modern Art with a friend from school. It was quite incredible- I really enjoyed exploring all of the exhibits there. They had several galleries full of Kupka's works, as well as other Czech, Polish, Slovak, etc. artists. I was thoroughly fascinated. Afterwards, we grabbed tea and crepes at a local bistro that is more or less the cutest place on the face of the Earth. An excellent day all-around.Made out of rope

The only reason that my converse look so clean is because I bumped the contrast up while editing this picture... they are not nearly that white. You can, however, still see the growing hole on the left one... sigh. This is on the roof of the museum, looking down into the stairwell below.
Nadia and I on the work seen below

Oh, Prague, how I adore you.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Šel jsem do zoo!

That's right- I went to the zoo. Because of various unfortunate circumstances, I was unable to make it to the zoos in London, Berlin, Ljubljana, Wien, Amsterdam... or anywhere else that I have been. But, much to my great joy, I have now made it to the zoo right here in Prague. Obviously, I was really excited, because 1) I love zoos and 2) this is one of the best zoos in the world. Plus the prospect of learning animal names in Czech was super awesome.
So we pretty much picked the hottest day this week to go to the zoo... and the hottest time of day (two pm!). Prague is in the midst of a major heatwave at the moment. Today? 33 degrees Celsius, which is in the nineties. Apparently, heat like this happens in July sometimes... for a day. Then things cool off, and all is well again. Not so for the past week! It has been positively boiling. There's not a fan to be had in the city, and since it is so rarely this warm, air-conditioning is more or less a figment of my imagination. I've come to find that the coolest places are outdoors in the shade, but even that is ridiculously hot. Weather reports say that this should break soon, and by Sunday, we'll be back in the lower seventies again. Keep your fingers crossed! That sounds perfect.
The zoo itself was a ton of fun... I really enjoyed it. Although take that statement with a grain of salt, because I seem to enjoy virtually everything I do these days, and I always adore zoos. It was a really beautiful zoo, and the exhibits were rather nice. A lot of the animals were indoors because of the weather, and those parts weren't quite as nice, but I was still impressed. The animals seemed happy enough with their situation! And the ice cream was delicious, and not unreasonably priced like it seems to be in American zoos, so that was a very pleasant surprise! Despite the insane heat, it was a really wonderful way to spend the day.

That night, I headed up to one of my favorite haunts, Vysehrad, with two sandwiches, two liters of juice, and a strong desire to watch the sunset over Prague. After wandering around in the golden sunlight, I settled myself onto one of the walls along the cliff and enjoyed the view. It was a spectacular sunset if I do say so myself... but I'll let you be the judge of that.

Today was a fairly quiet day. Most of my friends are out of town in Moravia this weekend. Originally, I had wanted to spend this weekend in Poland. I really wanted to visit Auschwitz- a fitting ending to my tour of Europe, I thought, particularly because in the history of so many countries, all roads lead to Auschwitz. It's that place that you can't escape, that you are drawn to precisely because it is so repulsive. On top of that, Krakow is supposed to be a terrific town. I was excited about this prospective weekend! But alas, it just wasn't meant to be. The night train to Krakow is notoriously dangerous- particularly for a teenage girl traveling solo- and so I wasn't willing to go by myself. And since so many people already had plans for the weekend, I couldn't find somebody to go with. It's okay- Auschwitz is supposed to be packed during the summer, and on a Saturday? I can't imagine the crowds. Frankly, that's not the experience I wanted. My desire for real Polish pirogies will have to wait for another trip... one day!
So I am spending this weekend in Prague! That is not such a bad thing. I do love this city. Today, I took a walking tour- I know, I know- who takes a tour after being in the city for two months?! Me, that's who. It's absolutely not normal, but then again, neither am I. I really enjoyed the tour. Yes, I knew a lot of the history, and yes, I had seen a lot of the places. But I was able to see the Jewish Quarter, which is something that I really wanted to do! And you always pick up on new bits of history along the way. Besides, those tours are fantastic ways to meet people. It was a really enjoyable way to spend a significant part of my day. The tour guide offered me a part time job giving tours- if only I wasn't leaving in a week! I would love to do something like that. Maybe I will, sometime (right, because I need more things that I am interested in doing!). She is a med student in Ireland who comes to Prague in the summers to give tours. Um, awesome life. I ate dinner at a little cafe near Old Town that I particularly like- salmon and spinach pasta, tea, and orange cake. So good. It was really quite pleasant. Originally, I was planning on going up to the castle to see the city at night, but I decided to back. My knee was bothering me, had a headache, the rest of the usual business... Turned out to be a good decision, because not long after I got back, it started to rain! It was supposed to rain all day today, and I was quite pleased that it held off. Wonderfully enough, the rain has dropped the temperature a couple of degrees! I'll sleep well tonight! The sound of the rain on the city streets... ahh, it's something wonderful.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

J'aime la Belgique! incredible in every way.

Oh my, what a wonderful weekend. Brussels- or Bruxelles, as the case may be- is absolutely fantastic. Of course, it helps that I was exploring such a glorious city with someone so incredibly awesome. Maddie and I had a blast going mapless in Belgium! That's right- we did not acquire a map for the weekend's festivities. We simply explored, and used the metro lines to get back home (with great success, I might add). The Metro was a little confusing at first, because it's about a billion times bigger than Prague- and probably not bombproof either, but that's a different story- but in the end, we always figured out where we were going. It was such an adventure, as our lives always tend to be!
One of the first things that we noticed about the city was how multicultural it was. It is quite possibly one of the most diverse cities I have ever been in, and it wasn't particularly segregated either. People from all over the world blended together, forming far more of a melting pot than America! After Prague, where diversity more or less consists of Asian tourists, it was almost overwhelming. Very cool, in a lot of different ways. To see people of all races, religions, and nationalities together in one city... it was awesome.
Maddie's French skills were put to good use as we navigated to our hotel- plane, bus, train, metro- we used them all, and it did get a little complicated at times! Then, we arrived at our hotel to find that it was a tiny little door wedged between two cafes. Unnerved, we entered, and were buzzed in through a second door. The woman at "reception" which was really just a tiny office with a bed, desk and fridge in it, spoke only French, and informed us to come back in an hour and a half. Whoever heard of a four thirty pm check in?! That's rather late. We didn't mind so much though, because we hadn't eaten lunch yet anyway. So we left our luggage in the office and set off. Because of the hour, some places were closed for an afternoon break, while others were open but not serving food. It was a little confusing at first, but after about ten minutes, we found this adorable little cafe where we enjoyed quiche lorraine and salad. It was fantastic! Belgian food has received an emphatic thumbs up from me! Not that anywhere has had subpar food... but still. It was great. After we wrapped up our meal, we checked in and headed to Bruxelle Les Bains, a riverside music festival that was a ton of fun! We indulged in churros with nutella, and got these really awesome souvenir cups with our drinks! After spending awhile enjoying that area, we headed up the street and, after quite a bit of walking (and trying to convince a very enthusiastic Belgian chattering at me in French that we did not, in fact, want to eat at his cafe) ended up at St. Michael's Cathedral. It was gorgeous, and was set in the middle of a beautiful park that Maddie and I hung out in for quite awhile. Just lolling about on the grass was quite pleasant. Eventually, we decided to head back into town for dinner. After much exploration of the metro system and coming to the realization that some of the trains were mislabeled and thus were lying to us about their destination, we arrived back where we wanted to be. At about nine, we found our way our way to this adorable little cafe in the heart of the city. It was a Danish tavern, and we were able to sit outside and enjoy the beautiful weather. A milkshake, croque-monsieur, and delicious crepes rounded off a fabulous day. It wasn't until eleven thirty that we finished our leisurely meal. The pace was great- very laid-back and enjoyable. Not long after, we crashed. It had been a long day, and we were both exhausted!
The next morning, we decided that we wanted to start our day off right. Obviously, this involved eating waffles for breakfast. While we were waiting for the stand to open, we went by a candy store to purchase chocolate, cookies, and other such goodies. The Belgians love their sweets, so we got along grandly. Within a few minutes, the waffle stand was open, and we made a beeline for it Maddie selected orange ice cream and strawberries for her toppings, while I opted for strawberries and chocolate. It was positively heavenly. While indulging, we explored the Grand Place, which was chock full of stunning architecture, and ventured forth towards that legendary statue: the Manneken Pis, or the peeing boy. Honestly, Maddie and I were a bit perplexed with this phenomenon. It just seemed a bit... strange. A whole slew of people were posing for pictures in front of the fountain. We lingered in our puzzlement- and then realized that we weren't going to reach any real conclusions on the subject, so we carried on. Eventually, we meandered our way to the EU Parliament building. We also wandered through some second hand stores, explored the Parc de Bruxelles, found the American embassy, located the Belgian Parliament complex, found a sweet wooden sculpture that arched over the entire street, almost got hit by a bus, waltzed through a shopping mall and then.... then we headed to Mini-Europe. It was quite the trek on the Metro, but before long, we arrived, brimming with excitement. Yes, this was going to be incredible. All of Europe's highlight's- in miniature! It was great. We had a fantastic time exploring the sights on a smaller scale, and I was quite delighted to realize that I had been to many of these places! It was great. A rumbling in our stomach soon provided a friendly reminder that we wanted to eat, so we stopped at a Brazilian cafe just outside where we made a brilliant discovery: carbonated beach iced tea. Fantastic, in every way. I am addicted and want more. It will be one of several odd addictions that I'll bring back to the States, I suppose. But if you had some, you would understand. The omelet I had had was delicious as well (yum, champignons!). Afterwards, we decided to head back to the center of town and see where the afternoon took us. First, it took us to the outskirts of Brussels, because we inadvertently boarded the Metro in the wrong direction when we changed lines... oops. But it was really cool to see a different part of the city. Eventually, we ended up where we wanted to be. We purchased postcards, and procured the Holland jerseys that we wanted for World Cup final the next day- I know, I know, I should have bought one when I was in Amsterdam a few weeks ago but alas, it slipped my mind. We discovered this little cafe, where we stopped for some cold drinks and a bit of a/c, and nearly got caught in the middle of a whipped cream war! It was quite amusing. After some further wandering, we found a grocery store, where we procured some more sparkling iced tea... and I bought a mango. I haven't had a mango in months! Not because they aren't sold in Prague, they are (although they are a little pricey), I just haven't had one. And they looked so delicious. So we meandered our way over towards this cathedral and park, and sat on the steps with our drinks... and my mango. We got some interesting looks, but the mango was glorious and the company was even better, so I don't particularly care. After some more exploring, we decided we wanted to eat dinner, and latched onto the idea of grabbing gyros in the Greek Aisle (an excellent little pun on Maddie's part if I do say so myself)- basically a street full of Greek and other Mediterranean food. First we decided to drop our bags off at the hotel, and I wanted to wash my hands anyway- mangoes get sticky! We headed back out and settled in at a little cafe, indulging in these delicious feta gyros that were fantastic. Towards the end of our meal it started to rain- oh no! We were actually quite glad that it had held off so long, except now we were left without umbrellas. After quickly paying, we soon located another cafe that we spotted earlier. Actually, it wasn't the cafe that we noticed so much as the desserts! So we holed up inside with warm, gooey chocolate cake and tea and waited out the storm. Once the cake was done, it was still pouring.... so we had tea too. It was lovely. After about two hours, the storm passed and we headed back to our hotel. We had a grand time watching people from our window, and eventually fell asleep. It was going to be an early morning!
The perfect way to pass a thunderstorm...

Brussels Park

The Grand Place
On the cobblestone street in front of Parliament
Waiting for the Metro- not quite lost, but not quite found either.
Yeah, we're big oil- and we're proud.

The next day, we headed to the train station early and made our way back to the airport. It's amazing how quickly you make friends when you're wearing a jersey! It made security a breeze- good thing the agents were all pulling for the Netherlands! While waiting in the airport, we ate quiches for brunch, and afterwards I indulged in another waffle. Delicious. Also free, because the vending machine wasn't operating properly- what a pleasant surprise! The flight was nice and easy, and before long, we found ourselves back at home in Prague- yay! Maddie and I made plans to meet up that night for dinner at Bohemia Bagel, an expats' haven that is one of the few places in the country that you can find a bagel. After dinner, we grabbed some ice cream and headed to the game. People were singing to us in Dutch, and enthusiastically voicing their support for Holland. The atmosphere of the World Cup in Europe is incredible... It's really a phenomenal experience. People were mistaking us as Dutch all night- which is a really huge compliment, because Dutch girls are gorgeous, in a very effortless way. One such conversation:
Brecht: //smiles at us, speaking in Dutch//
Maddie and I: "Uhh... do you speak English?"
Brecht: "What?! You are not Dutch?!?!" //looks quite shocked
Maddie: "No... we're not"// laughing
Brecht: "Ohh..."// He pauses, looking confused. // "But you are pulling for Holland, yes?"
Me: "Yes, of course we are!" //Nah, we're just wearing these jerseys because we thought they looked cool. I mean... they do look cool, but that's not relevant.
A few moments later, after thinking about our lack of Dutch citizenship apparently, he taps me on the shoulder.
Brecht: "So you are English, then?"
Me: "No, we're not... We're American. We live here, but we're from the States."// amused
Brecht: "You- what?! You're American?!"
He was more surprised that we were American that he was that we weren't Dutch, much to my amusement. Not a bad situation to be in. I don't mind the least bit when people don't realize that I am American! Not long after, we befriended a group of Dutch guys (conversation sparked after Maddie and I began to laugh hysterically at the way Czech people dressed like Texans- it was for this band's pre-match concert, and it was ridiculously entertaining), and that made for a very entertaining evening... until Holland lost. We were so sad, and so was everyone else. Well, except for the Spain fans. But quite frankly, the Dutch were very gracious losers (much more so than the Spanish would have been, given the fact that they were bandying around a replica championship trophy before the match even began!). After the game ended, it was quite late, so I headed back to my apartment.
Hup Holland Hup!

Monday morning, I watched The Pianist in my Political Film and Novel of Europe class, and it was a great movie about a Jewish pianist, Szpilman, who survives the Nazi occupation of Poland. Afterwards, I went grocery shopping, and did some of my reading for one of my other classes in a park- where I found the Dutch boys from the evening before! It was a very pleasant surprise, and we ended up hanging out for a bit that afternoon. It was their last night in Prague, and then they were off to Budapest. It was kind of cool to be able to advise them on the city's best sights! This week, I also watched Downfall, another war movie, in that class. It centers on the last ten days of Hitler's regime. A very moving film, I found that it had a very interesting perspective. I've been learning quite a lot in Czech class as well- lots of new verbs to memorize- oh dear! In my Gender class this week, we went to a local cafe for tea with a former student of my professors' who is now quite involved with a fundraising organization for women's rights groups in the Czech Republic and Slovakia, as well as a magazine that seeks to promote various women's rights issues. She was a fascinating woman, and I really enjoyed meeting with her. Afterwards, we finished our class by exploring more of Vysehrad, the castle complex near school. We wandered through the cemetery and saw sculptures of all sorts of legendary figures. This morning I headed to the Museum of Communism with my Film and Novel class. It was a good museum, quite fascinating. But the best- and worst- part of it was this little room off to the side where they showed a film that was a composition of all sorts of footage from the Communist era. It was devastating to watch. To see people being treated so brutally, when they simply wanted to protest peacefully.... the screamings, the beatings. Being able to see that, and see it happening in places I recognize- the place I live! It was beyond moving.
Later on, I met up for lunch with Maddie. Lunch was actually pie and iced tea. And it was wonderful. We followed that with some vintage shopping, exploration of Prague, and milkshakes from Ben & Jerry's. Then I had a Czech test- ack! Conjugating verbs! But it's alright, I did well- I hope! Tomorrow we're going to the zoo for class, and I can't wait! It should be fantastic. I have just nine days left here in Prague- and that makes me so indescribably sad. I plan on making the most of every one of those days, of course, but I just don't want to go! I'm sitting in the window of my apartment across the street from the Karlin theater, and I'm so content. Sure it'll be nice to have air-conditioning and screens on my windows and other such things, and seeing friends and family will be wonderful.

But I know I'm going to miss this.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

This time that's left is flying by...

Wow, I'm fast approaching the end to another week... Where is the time going? In two weeks, I'll be done with exams and heading back to the States- home. Or is it? I suppose I don't really know. It doesn't particularly matter, either. But I'll be heading back to family and friends, and I certainly am excited about that!
This week felt particularly short largely because I simply had two days of class, thanks to the fantastic Czech national holidays that allowed me to travel over the long weekend. It's not always a Monday-Tuesday holiday- it's designated as the fifth and sixth of July. This year, however, it worked out perfectly for travel!
Croatia was incredible. I think, out of all the places I have been, it has been the one with the most distinct culture. Almost immediately, I could feel that the atmosphere was different. Not that other places aren't different- I don't mean that at all. I just think that it was in Croatia that I was finally far enough away that the differences compounded into something a little more tangible. One thing that I noticed straight away? There were very few cobblestone streets. The main area of the town was paved with these square white tiles instead. It was a little strange to get used to! The architecture in Rijeka was beautiful. And it was old, just like countless other European cities. But it also felt more neglected. The buildings had a worn look, to the point where other buildings- those seen as the "gems" of the city I suppose, such as the Opera house, or St. Vitus' Cathedral- look out of place because they were so well cared for. It was the kind of culture where people would talk to each other across the street from the windows of their flats, or simply stand there and watch the world. Laundry was strung across narrow streets, and the bakeries on every corner gave the streets a wonderful smell. Cafes were everywhere. No matter the time of day, they were always filled with people- mostly locals, since Rijeka isn't exactly a big tourist city (it's more of a place to pass through than a place to stop at, for most people)- content to enjoy some casual conversation with friends or to watch people on the streets. It's not about the food or the drinks; it's about the people you're with and the atmosphere. It's a very comforting way to pass the time, and very relaxing too. Also, I greatly appreciated that everyone spoke beautiful English! English is by and large the second language of Europe, which is interesting to me. It is the de facto means of communication in an international crowd- and when it saves me having to muddle through Spanish, German, Czech (and heaven help the person trying to understand an attempt on my part to speak French!) or some other language I barely know, I quite appreciate it! Communication, even with a true language barrier where neither of the parties involved can say anything in the other language, is not so difficult if both people are patient and try (tell that to some of the ticket agents at train stations!). It's like a game of charades sometimes. On the whole, I've found that there's no reason to be afraid to try to communicate with someone. You'd be surprised how feasible it is. That being said, I still want to learn more languages. I don't want to be comfortable with English and sub-par Spanish and mere broken bits of other languages. I want to actually be able to carry on a conversation! So that will be another life goal of mine. Something to work towards.
After leaving Croatia, I spent a lovely afternoon and evening enjoying Ljubljana. I turned in fairly early, but I spent quite awhile enjoying the beautiful river, and the glorious weather. It's a wonderful little city. They call it Europe on a human scale. I thought it sounded strange, until I saw it for myself. It truly is that same ornate European style... just on a much smaller scale. It gives the city a quaint, almost cozy feel. I rather liked it. And early the next morning- after sneaking into the hostel's kitchen early so I could grab breakfast- I hopped over to a local bakery to grab food for the train, and then left for Prague. It was so good to finally make it back home to my apartment!
This week hasn't been too crazy. I've spent what felt like a lot of time in class, but that's really not so bad. I enjoy my classes quite a lot! This session, I'm taking Political Film and Novel of Europe, Czech Language II, and Gender and Post-socialist Transformation. They are all fascinating, and very different. I feel like through the combination of all of them, I have really gained a feel for Czech culture. I really do love it here. This place is wonderful.
I was able to share my love for Prague with a friend of mine, Claire, who came to visit Prague! As you may recall, we met a few weeks ago in Amsterdam. She's been traveling around Europe since then, and I was delighted to be able to meet up with her here! She's staying at our apartment for a few nights while she's here. We ate dinner at a cafe together the other night, and then went to watch the game in Old Town Square. Poor Deutschland. I was quite sad about Germany's loss (as were the hundreds of Germans in the square with us- but all of the Spain fans were ecstatic). It has been wonderful to hang out with her- my favorite part about traveling is the people you meet! I have met some incredible people on this journey.
I look forward to continuing that trend when I head to Brussels, Belgium this weekend! It should be a fantastic adventure- obviously, since I'm going with Maddie! We're going to have a great time, as we always seem to. Something will probably go dreadfully wrong (oh- it already did! we discovered that our bus tickets were entirely wrong and would have brought us back into Prague Saturday morning instead of Monday, because the bus doesn't run on Sunday nights! So we are flying instead- which will probably be far more pleasant anyway). I am ecstatic about the waffles and chocolate and mini-europe and the peeing statue and the festival and the flea market and parliament and parks and all the wonderfulness that constitutes Brussels. It should be glorious!
Yes. This weekend will be fantastic.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

How to amuse yourself for hours on end.

Amusingly enough, I came to Slovenia at sunrise... and I left Slovenia at sunrise.
It was so indescribably wonderful.
It was a quiet ride from Ljubljana to Villach (Austria)
Austria makes me so happy.
I tried and tried to get pictures of the Alps that appropriately conveyed just how incredible they are... but no luck.

Twelve hours on a train was quite the adventure. If you ever find yourself in such a situation, here are some ideas for things you can do:
  • Watch the sunrise
  • Listen to music
  • Touch your toes. Calisthenics are very important!
  • Attempt to photograph the landscape
  • Abandon photography and just watch the landscape
  • Go through really really really really really reallyyyy long tunnels
  • Make faces in the mirrors of the car
  • Sort out minor crises via cell phone with the help of the ticket woman. Insist you are not traveling with your husband... or anyone else, for that matter.
  • Read a six hundred page novel
  • Befriend Austrian teenagers and discuss, in a broken mixture of English and German, whether the tourists in the aisle way are American or British (they were, for the record, American, and the Austrians were quite impressed with my astute observations- or maybe just my valiant attempt to speak German)
  • Observe the beautiful lake outside the window- Faaker See Lake, if my geography is right. Absolutely stunning. Bright blue, nestled in the Alps... sigh.
  • Change trains. Bonus points for making the transfer in under two minutes, preferably out of necessity rather than mere insanity.
  • Eat a delicious snack (fresh baked sweet roll from a Slovenian deli... terrific)
  • Befriend a small child. I had the luck of finding the cutest seven year old on the face of the planet, and we watched a Disney movie in German together. And she shared her cookies.
  • Play Robot Unicorn Attack
  • Solve expert level sudoku puzzles.
  • Play solitaire
  • Make up stories about the random people standing on the platforms
  • Play Uno
  • Marvel at the random castles that seem to pop up all over the place
  • Play Boggle
  • Think about how desperately you are still procrastinating on that four page paper you have to write
  • Check the time
  • Check the train schedule
  • Check the time again
  • Check the train schedule again
  • Spend a moment appreciating the Austrians for both air-conditioning their trains AND coherently announcing each stop. Alas, not everybody is so considerate.
  • Eat lunch
  • Giggle with the aforementioned small child
  • Drink juice
  • Change trains- again, rapidly. Because life is more fun when you're under pressure... right?
  • Give up and write the paper (this, regrettably, took less than an hour)
  • Watch the rain
  • Read another novel
  • Chant "home, home, home, home, home" over and over again in the hopes that it will soon grace the horizon
  • Befriend the Jack Russel who wants to eat your food
  • Yawn. Repeatedly. But don't sleep! You might miss something!
  • Joyfully note Prague emerging in the distance!
Ahh, it is good to be back home in Prague. My own apartment, and my own bed! I have to say though, I am very proud of all my independent traveling! I had a blast... and in just a few days, I'm off to Brussels with Maddie!