As promised, the last leg of my journey.
Croatia was unbelievable. I spent my last hours there walking the fortress walls of Dubrovnik and snapping picture after picture that could easily be a postcard.
I left from the Dubrovnik airport to Stockholm solo. I watched my last European sunset in Sweden (which didn’t occur until around 10 PM). Finally, I arrived at the airport to find out that my flight from Sweden to Iceland had been delayed 2 hours. This was unfortunate because my layover there happened to be less than 2 hours. For some unknown reason, the plane in Iceland decided to wait for me and the other travelers coming from Sweden through Iceland to Newark. Although I was a little later than planned, I made it to NJ where my friends were waiting for me!
A few days spent at the Jersey Shore were filled with swimming, laying out, trips to the boardwalk and fires with the best s’mores ever (replace chocolate with Reese’s cups!).
I made it up to the lake just in time for my sister’s graduation party. Now I have spent the last few days getting into the summer lake routine: sleep-swim-boat-picnic-fire-sleep-repeat.
Admittedly, it’s nice to be home. At the end of my trip I was getting a little worn out from traveling all the time and living out of a small suitcase. I’m glad to be home and get back into my boring home routine.
So after exactly 5 months of being in Europe, I am finally home. Although I saw a lot (including 11 countries), I keep finding myself thinking about the things I didn’t get to see. Looks like I’ll have to plan another Europe trip in the near future!
I don’t have the time or energy for a complete post at the moment, but I promise to do one last comprehensive post when I get home.
My birthday turned out to be better than I ever could have imagined! We got cocktails in a fancy beach bar while seated in a tree house over the water, explored a deserted island, swam in water that was so turquoise it looked fake, and cruised around the water singing at the top of our lungs. I had such a great day that I will always remember.
Now, I am in Dubrovnik, Croatia. In the morning, I will fly to Stockholm, Sweden for a whirlwind 24 hour tour. After that, it’s back the States. Just to ease the transition, I’ll be landing in NJ and spending my first few days home at the beach with my friends. After all, I have had a pretty rough 5 months, and I could use a vacation.
I’ll be back to NY just in time for the 4th of July to reunite with my family, eat some American food, and enjoy the summer seeing all of the people from home who I have missed so much (i.e. you reading this blog).
See you soon!
After much deliberation (which island will we visit?) we have come up with a plan for tomorrow which happens to be my birthday.
We have rented a small motor boat for the entire day so that we can visit several islands and beaches. The selling point? The boat comes with a cooler for no extra charge!
It should be a very hot, happy, lovely birthday! :)
I hopped on a plane from Prague to Split, Croatia the other day. It was a bittersweet goodbye. Of course, I am sad to leave the place I called home for four months, but how can you be sad when you’re on your way to Croatia? I decided to go out my last night for a final Prague party, which may have been a mistake. The only reason I woke up early enough to catch my flight was because my landlord rang my doorbell to pick up my key. At least I made it!
The weather here is GORGEOUS and the beaches are even better. So far we have rented a car and driven to a national park, swam under water falls, visited a few beaches, walked through an ancient palace and hopped on a ferry to a new island. I’ll spend the next seven days island hopping so don’t expect any updates because wifi is hard to come by.
At the moment, we are staying in a luxurious apartment on the island of Hvar. We have air conditioning, a big kitchen, balcony over the ocean, and our own bedrooms. All this for $18.00 per person. This is all due to our negotiating skills at the port where many proprietors are waiting to try and convince you to stay at their place. It works out well for us.
Now I must go help cook our dinner which consists of fresh seafood and local beers!
#6 Write on the John Lennon Wall: The John Lennon Wall is a wall of grafitti just underneath the Charles Bridge that spontaneously appeared when John Lennon died. For people living in Prague during Communism, Lennon represented freedom and peace. Everyday the wall looks a little different because people are constantly adding quotes, murals, and inspirational words. I kept my post simple “peace prosim” partly because my marker was running out of ink, but also because the word “prosim” has become one of our favorite Czech words. At first we thought it just meant please. Then we started hearing it in restaurants and grocery stores all the time in different contexts. We have discovered that it can mean please, thank you, you’re welcome, my pleasure, what can I help you with…etc. Now, when we enter a store or restaurant we literally just say prosim to any question that is asked of us. And that’s Survival Czech 101.
#14 Order a meal speaking only Czech - preferably beer and goulash: “Rád bych guláš, pivo a Medovník prosím”…This was what I was planning on saying but when the waitress came over and asked us something in Czech, I panicked and it came out more like, “Um, can I please have the guláš, pivo and Medovnik prosím.” A little mix of English and Czech but, hey - at least I tried, right? The best Czech meal ever and it came to a grand total of 160 Kc = $9.50.
So, I survived my first night train experience. The ten hour trip from Prague to Krakow was luxury. Lucie and I had a cabin to ourselves (designed for six people), snacks to feed an army, a good book, and got a good night’s sleep. The way home was a different story. Six people stuffed in the little cabin, window open all night, freezing cold, no snacks, too dark to read, got no sleep.
In between train rides, we got to enjoy a few days in Poland. We explored the castle, and some churches (anyone else noticing a pattern here among Eastern European countries?).
We also had the opportunity to visit an old Salt Mine. There were cathedrals, lakes, statues and stairs, all made of salt! Pretty amazing stuff.
“I’d like a roundtrip bus ticket to Auschwitz, please.”
“We only sell one-way tickets.”
I’m not sure if this is purposefully in honor of the 1 million+ Jewish people who only got one-way tickets to the extermination camp, but it was a chilling way to start the day.
Visiting Auschwitz was not another check off my tourist to-do list; This was something I needed to see and feel for myself. There is no picture I could post, or words I could write to share the experience. This is something you need to do on your own.
The one who does not remember history is bound to live through it again.
#12: Visit National Museum on the first Thursday of the month. Okay, so it’s not Thursday - but the National Museum is free tonight for Prague’s Annual Museum Night. Over 60 museums throughout the city are open free of charge beginning at 7 PM. Unfortunately, I will only be taking advantage of one museum since I’m leaving at 9:00 PM on an overnight train to Krakow. I have never been on a night train but I imagine it to be something like the Hogwarts Express. I have a feeling I am about to be disappointed.