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Monthly Archives: May 2011

Day 31 (5/31/11) Rhein River and Fresh Apple Strudel

Since yesterday’s travel day was so big, we decided to make today a little less daunting. (Well, a LOT less). We were only on a train for about an hour or so today. We had no ending destination in mind, but we happened to get off in a cute little town called Bacharan, along the Rhein River. It’s adorable. Almost looks like (what I would imagine) a little ski resort town would look like. Lots of chalet-looking places. We checked into this super cute hotel, which, from the outside, looks like an old tavern right out of Harry Potter. There is no elevator, and we are the third floor up. (Great time to have heavy luggage. Haha). Our room is super homey and cozy. And it’s right above the train tracks. It’s LOUD. But cool. My mom especially loves trains, so she gets super excited when one comes buzzing on by.

After checking into the hotel, we went on a little boat cruise on the Rhein River. Very picturesque. This place almost reminds me of Cinque Terre, (my favorite place in Italy that we were in a few weeks ago). There are lots of little small towns that dot the river, with beautiful bluffs with rows of grapes (for riesling wine, and a type of red wine) in the background. And the CASTLES! There are so many here.

After a little afternoon siesta, we explored the town. We found a few little wooded paths that took us up to the top of a hill, overlooking Bacharan, the river, etc…Very pretty. On the way down, we bopped into a cute little church that was open, to have a look around.

Tonight, we ate dinner in the hotel. Fatima, the hotel owner, is so sweet. So we wanted to have dinner in her place. Mom and I split chicken and white asparagus (a regional specialty) with hollandaise sauce, and my dad had pork with mushroom sauce. And dessert….fresh, warm apple strudel with a scoop of vanilla ice cream with chocolate drizzle, and whipped cream on the side. MMMMmmm.

I walked around a bit after dinner. Now, just settling in for the night in our cute little hotel. Man, those trains are loud.

Overall, a very good day in small town Germany. Big cities can be fun and all, but we sure do appreciate the small towns more. So it’s very nice to be here. Goodnight world. 🙂

 
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Posted by on May 31, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

Day 30 (5/30/11) Spanish Food In Germany!

Today was our biggest travel day yet. We left Prague at about 9am and pushed on across Germany. (GEEZE, this country is huge!) We are now in a place called Mainz (not too far from Frankfurt). We took 4 different trains to get here. On our first train, from Prague to this little German town by the border of the Czech Republic, we sat next to these two British students, and talked with them for about an hour and a half. They were awesome. They had been on the road for a few weeks already, and will be for about another month or so. It’s so cool to talk to other travelers, and see where they’ve been, where they’re headed, if they have any tips about cities, etc…

After some games of Phase 10, and lots of napping and listening to my iPod….we made it to Mainz. Checked into a hotel, and then….went to get TAPAS at a Spanish restaurant right across the street. I felt like I was right back home in Granada again. And better yet….they had tinto de verano, my favorite Spanish drink. I was so happy! (Though nothing can beat Granada’s tapas, or tinto, for that matter).

I’m really psyched to be in Germany. I’ve always wanted to come here. You can definitely tell that this country is pretty well off. Everything seems to be pretty clean, the buildings are well kept, even the train stations are appealing to sit in. Tomorrow, we are going to take a little boat ride on the Rhine River, and find a cute little town to stay in and explore. Should be fun.

 
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Posted by on May 30, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

Day 29 (5/29/11) A Day In Prague

Today, we started our day with a nice little pedal boat ride on the Vltava River. It was a nice, peaceful way to see part of the city. After that, we had a nice big lunch at a restaurant overlooking the river. (Cheeseburgers. Yum!) Then, we just kind of walked around for a bit, without much of a plan in mind. Which was nice. Walked along the Charles Bridge again, so I could buy my cool pair of glass earrings that I wanted. There was this awesome little jazz band that was playing on the bridge. It consisted of 6 old guys playing the banjo, tuba, trumpets (2), a saxophone, and (my personal favorite) the washboard! SOOO cool. They were really good.

Meandered our way back to the hotel for a little siesta. Then went back out at about 8:30. Took a trolly up to this really awesome castle to take a look around (supposedly it’s the biggest castle in Europe.) It was super pretty. The architecture is phenomenal here.

Went and ate a typical Czech dinner at a pub. My dad ordered sausages that were made in beer, and my mom and I split sirloin steak with a cream sauce and bread dumplings. Now THERE’S a weight watchers meal….NOT! :)

Strolled around the Old Town for awhile afterwards. It was fun wearing my Barcelona soccer jersey again today. Lots of people saw my jersey and started cheering! SO cool!

 
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Posted by on May 30, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

Day 28 (5/28/11) Prague, and Barcelona Victory!

Today we ventured to Prague. Got there by about 2 o’clock, and checked into our hotel. Just by being in the train station, I could tell that this was going to be a pretty neat place. The Czech Republic looks quite a bit different from what we saw in Poland. Lots of the buildings we saw in Poland were still fairly run down and bleak (looking as though they had JUST come out of WWII). Here, it looks like they’ve really cleaned things up and improved over the years.

We checked into our hotel, and then went and ventured around. The buildings here are so beautiful. Such interesting architecture. Many of the buildings are painted in those pretty pastel colors. It looks so neat.

On our way to the Old Town, we walked through this giant pedestrian street where there were TONS of American franchises (McDonald’s, Subway, even TGI Friday’s). They were everywhere. Same with Starbucks. As great as those places are…..I wish we didn’t have to see them so much over here. Really takes away the European feel. ANYWAYS….in the Old Town, we saw the clock tower (which has a very mini and very anti-climactic “show” every hour on the hour. A trumpeter comes out to play for a few seconds at the top of the tower, and a little marionette looking statue rings a mini bell on the clock. Yet TONS of tourists pile in to see it.) Crazy. There was a lot of great Czech food at kiosks in the square. My parents got a big chunk of freshly roasted ham, and some potato dumplings with cabbage and ham. It tasted amazing. But…little did we know…that they were charging for food by weight. My parents thought the servers were being “oh-so-nice” by giving them an extra big chunk of meat….but the little meal (which is very filling, don’t get me wrong) actually turned out to be around $33 US dollars. Oh, the wonderful feeling of being SCAMMED! Live and learn, I guess..

After that meal, we walked along the Charles Bridge. Went to see the John Lennon wall. It’s a big wall with a lot of graffiti on it, and a painting of John Lennon with a candle by it. Pretty neat. On the way back, we ran into a bachelor party, where the “grooms to be” were dressed in those Borat-like swimsuits. I got my picture with them…and then had to sign their bodies with a permanent marker. Haha. Fun fun.

Got back to our hotel tonight by 8:45 to watch the Barcelona vs. Manchester United soccer game at the bar. Barcy WON! (Which means we won the Champions League. It’s the equivalent of the Superbowl, but in soccer.) SOO fun to watch. I had been walking around with my Barcelona shirt on all day, getting all prepped for the game. I’m so proud of my team! YAY BARCA

 
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Posted by on May 28, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

Day 27 (5/27/11) A Day to Remember: Auschwitz Visit

This morning, we got up (pretty early) to take the train to Auschwitz Concentration Camp. In our cab to the train station, a guy who was riding with us that the town we are currently staying in (Katowice) is where former Pope John Paul II is from. So that’s their claim to fame. After much confusion and language barrier troubles at the station, we finally got on our first train.

We had to get off in another town to catch ANOTHER train to the camp, but, as luck should have it, we missed our next train. The next train to Auschwitz wouldn’t be at the station for another 2 hours!! We happened to meet a fews Swedes who were headed to Auschwitz as well, and so we all decided to split a cab together. After much struggle with the language barrier trying to find a cab, I finally went into a hotel and asked a lady who spoke English where we could catch a cab. She called up 2 of them for us! We were so happy to not have to stand around for 2 hours.

Got to Auschwitz and got our tour tickets. The first thing that they do is show a 20 minute film with original black and white footage from the war. Pretty shocking stuff. Then, we started the tour of the first camp (the work camp.) It was so stunning to actually be setting foot into one of these hellish places. We saw everything. The torture chambers, the bunkhouses, the bathrooms (if you could even call them that) and, the most horrifying place, the gas chamber and the crematorium. Auschwitz also happened to have on display the human hair, glasses, combs, luggage, and shoes from the gas chamber victims. Our tour guide talked a lot about Carl Clauberg and Horst Schumann, a couple of notorious doctors who did infertility experiments on many of the women. She also talked about Josef Mengele, another doctor in the camp who was notorious for doing experiments on twins.

After visiting the first camp (mixture of Jews, Poles, Russians, Gypsys, and other ethnicities) we took a bus about 5 minutes to the death camp. (Pretty much only Jews were here. This is where Anne Frank and her family happened to be). It was mainly meant for just the extermination of Jews, and nothing else. 90% of the prisoners killed in Auschwitz were killed here. The gas chambers and crematoriums were destroyed before the Russians came in to liberate the camps. We saw the remains of those, plus more barracks, bathrooms, a boxcar replica, and a big giant memorial.

Overall, it was quite the touching experience. It’s one thing to watch a movie about the Holocaust, but it’s another thing to actually be there. I know I will never forget this.

 
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Posted by on May 27, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

Day 26 (5/26/11) Off To the Motherland!

Today, we said goodbye to Arden and Bratislava, and hopped a couple trains to Poland!! (My dad and I are Polish, so we are both pretty excited to be here). We are in some little town that I can’t even remember the name of. But I am excited to be here. Tonight, we had dinner at our hotel, (since our hotel is kind of out of town). Dinner rocked. I had cream of asparagus soup with peas, my mom had perogies (they look like potstickers from LeeAnn Chin’s or something. They have pork in them, and these ones had a little maple taste to them). They were great. My dad had goulash with potato pancakes. And for dessert, we had a chocolate crepe filled with peaches and vanilla ice cream, with whipped cream on the side. YUM! Played a few rounds of Phase 10. 🙂 Off to bed.

Tomorrow is going to be a very interesting (and I’m sure somewhat emotional) day. We are only about 30 km from Auschwitz, which was (once) the biggest concentration camp ever. We are going to go visit it tomorrow. Should be quite the day.

 
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Posted by on May 26, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

Day 25 (5/25/11) A Day In Bratislava

Today, we hung low in Bratislava. Meandered around the city for a bit. Today’s lunch was awesome! We went back to the same restaurant that we went to with Arden and Alexei a couple nights ago. I had these awesome roasted tomatoes with feta cheese inside of them, and some Hungarian style goulash! (A specialty here). It basically pieces of beef in a gravy with bread dumplings. SO good!!

Did some MORE wandering around the city after that. The river is beautiful. We saw some kayakers on it, so maybe we’ll do some kayaking tomorrow. We shall see.

Arden made us dinner tonight. Started with an “aperitif” of this nice sparkling rose wine. Then we had rice, chicken and asparagus. Very nice to sit around a table again with a great home cooked meal….where we could actually dish up the portions we wanted!! (Unlike in Spain. Haha).

Alexei went with me for a walk for a bit around town. Then, my mom and I went off to see “Pirates of the Caribbean 4!” The theatre was really nice. We even had assigned seats! (A good method, I think! We should adopt that in the states, especially for popular new releases!) The movie was in English, with Slovak subtitles. (I guess all movies are that way here). Nice evening!

 
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Posted by on May 25, 2011 in Uncategorized