My spring break this year was filled with 4 different countries in 10 days. It was filled with adventure, new cultures, and ended with complete exhaustion (in the best way possible). I went to Budapest in Hungary, Krakow in Poland, Prague in Czech Republic, and Berlin in Germany. I did and saw so much in these last ten days that if I tried to write it all down here you would be reading this blog for days. So instead I will just summarize the main things I did in each city or the activities I most enjoyed.
-Spent an evening in the Széchenyi thermal baths.
-Finished a 1984 themed escape room with 11 minutes left (Budapest is known for escape rooms. An escape room is where you are in one room and you have 60 minutes to figure out how to escape with the clues given to you.)
-Went caving in the Elisabeth lookout. Caved 160 feet underground. I am not one who is claustrophobic, but there were some crazy small places I had to get through that by the end of the 3 hours of caving I was very happy to be outside and to be fully standing up! This was probably one of my favorite activities we did during the course of the trip because it was something I never thought of doing, but I am so glad I had the opportunity to do it.
We drove through Slovakia and past the 2nd highest mountain range in Europe on our way to our second stop in Poland.
-Took a day trip to Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camps. This was an emotional day as we walked through bunks and gas chambers. It is one thing to read about this part of history, but it is a completely different experience to be in the concentration camps and see the personal artifacts of the victims.
-Had a traditional Polish dinner which included beet soup with boiled eggs. Not my favorite soup I’ve tasted, but also not the worst.
-Saw the Jewish Bohemian Quarter.
-Because it was the week before Easter, there were little markets in each main square throughout Europe so I was able to see local shops set up with Easter treats and souvenirs.
A bus ride that was suppose to be 6 hours long turned into a 9 hour bus ride that dropped us off at our hostel at 3am once we were in our next destination in the Czech Republic.
-I had a 6 foot 8 inch tall tour guide for this city so practically Hagrid was showing me around the Czech Republic.
-Climbed the main clocktower in the city center for a panoramic view of the whole city.
-Tagged the Lennon Wall by saying ‘Choose Joy’. The wall was named after John Lennon.
-Saw the Prague Castle and the changing of the guards ceremony.
-I loved all the cities on this trip, but if I had to choose just one that was my favorite I think it would be Prague. I loved the feel of the city and all the buildings were just so beautiful.
We took a five hour bus ride to reach Berlin, our fourth and final stop.
-Saw the Berlin Wall. It was strange to see such an iconic monument next to streets and old buildings.
-Saw where Hitler’s bunker was and where his ashes lay.
-Saw Checkpoint Charlie.
-Climbed to the top of Germany’s Parliament Building for a view of the city.
-Had dinner at a brewery where people were in costumes and there was live music to dance to.
-For Easter I went to the Mauer Park Flea Market and the Soviet War Memorial before going to the airport to fly back to Ireland.
Ten days for four countries was a crazy idea, but I made new friends, tried new foods, experienced new cultures, and had my worldview expand even more. I got to see parts of Europe that I wasn’t planning on visiting, but am so glad that I did.
I took my first exam this week for my Irish Folklore class. In Ireland finals are set up where you write 2-3 essays in two hours and that counts anywhere from 50-100% of your grade. No pressure! I have a week break where I should be studying before the rest of my 4 finals, but instead I am going to Paris and Athens for a week. I am still living the dream, but now I have to actually do school work:) As my time here is slowly coming to an end I can’t even believe how fast time has gone. I feel like I have been gone for a few weeks, not months! I had a meeting this week about reverse culture shock, which makes me realize just how soon it will be before I am back home. I know I am so blessed to have traveled so many places and to have met the most amazing people, but as sad as I am for this experience to end, I do miss my mom’s cooking so home is starting to sound pretty nice! I know it is going to feel just like days until I am home again so I am going to soak up every last minute of my time abroad before I need to go back to reality.