Monday, March 21, 2011

Make-Up Entry #2: Spring Break

Ok now onto Make-up entry number 2, spring break. I am not sure why they even tried to call it Spring Break given it started in February (February 25) and ran through the beginning of March (March 6 – my 21st birthday!!!). The trip started out in Budapest with me, Thomas, Devron and Ari. Caitlin had a personal emergency and returned stateside but she joined us in Vienna and continued with us to Prague.

Travel to Budapest – interesting. Again, in our efforts to be thrifty, we took a bus for 14 hours instead of a train. It was not as bad as I thought it would be to be honest and we made it there alive.

The hostel in Budapest was actually pretty nice and the four of us had our own room. We did a lot of walking around both the Buda and Pest sides of the city which are really pretty. In addition we ate a lot of Gulash (yummy). One of the big things we did in Budapest was visit a very large and seriously gorgeous Synagogue near our hostel. I had never been in a Synagogue before so that made this even more interesting. There was also a memorial next door which we went to. So to start off this explanation, we walked past this synagogue every morning to go downtown and would look into this bizarrely and eerily beautiful garden which appeared to be a memorial garden to those who perished during the war in the ghetto since this was the Jewish section of the city. Once we entered the memorial, we read that this garden was on top of 25 mass graves of people who died in the ghetto. I almost there up right there and then because it was very unexpected. While it was upsetting, it was one of those things that (a) I should have not been as surprised by and (b) I think I needed to see to understand the situation a little better. Ok so on another related but happier topic, during our stay, we went to a hummus bar across the street which was amazing. Anyone who knows my love of hummus will understand. It was a giant plate of chickpeas, hummus, veggies and fresh bread. I was in heaven for this meal. Like everywhere else, we did a ridiculous amount of shopping.

Now onto Vienna. This was kind of our relax city and not spend as much money since it is absurdly expensive city. Our hostel was really cool and definitely catered towards to the young adult traveler. It had a nice setup and even a bar downstairs. We had a room for six people so once Caitlin arrived, there was only one random person in the room but she was kind of chill. We explored the area around Schoennbrunn Palace which has always been my favorite Palace in all of Europe. It is smaller and in my opinion prettier than most palaces plus it looks like a real house a opposed to a show piece. I guess as a child I also really liked the zoo in the backyard and the maze. After some walking of the grounds, we went up to the Gloriette for coffee and hot chocolate while looking around this truly gorgeous site. After that, we walked around downtown and went shopping. The next day we visited the ferris wheel and little mini amusement park thingy which was historical and whimsical. Other than that, we relaxed before leaving for Prague.

Last stop on Spring Break 2011 was Prague in the Czech Republic. Where to start, oh right, we got lost within 20 minutes of being there. After some heated arguments and many stops asking for directions, we found the hostel. It was supposedly highly rated online but alas, it was crap. After a day, Caitlins allergies were so bad and all of us so creeped out that her mom insisted we move to the Marriott. In the end, not a bad decision and again thank you. So other than that, we did a lot in Prague. The first day we (minus Ari who kinda did Prague on his own) went to the main square and walked around. Since it was the start of Karnival, there were little booths with ham on the square. You went up, said you wanted ham, they cut a slice, weighed it and you paid. I was scared at first but oh my gosh was it yummy!! We ended up doing that the second day too! We also walked around and tried to find Kafkas house which ended up being a kinda odd museum. We went into a Kafka bookshop and got some pretty cool stuff too. After all that, we walked over the Charles bridge and into s few smaller streets. For dinner we went to TGI Fridays since we wanted a taste of home and it was quick given Caitlin, Thomas and I were going to the ballet that night where we saw Swan Lake. It was my first time and it was gorgeous. The next day we walked over the bridge again and up to the castle which was gorgeous. We all went back and took a nap after that and met up with Ari because we were all exhausted. After dinner, the boys went out on a Pub Crawl while Caitlin and I had a girls night of light shopping, watching tv/movies, packing and the hotel bar. The next day we woke up and left to go back to the ‘Bourg.

So the trip home. This was another fine idea to save money and included a bus and three trains. One of the connections was only 19 minutes and had me terrified but we made it home on time and missed none of the connections. We arrived back in Strasbourg about 15 minutes before midnight on the 5th so by the time I got back to my house, I was 21! Nothing big though since being 21 here means nothing. I did celebrate with Caitlin and the guys in Vienna so it did not go completely unnoticed. Overall I would say it was a fun, culture filled break!

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