Well it’s noon & I’ve already been awake for over 7 hours. One of the many perks of traveling the cheapest routes possible. As I type this, I still have 4 and a half hours until my bus to Aarhus leaves from Copenhagen & I’ve already been waiting for 4 hours. But, I woke up in Prague this morning so I really have nothing to complain about! I’ve spent the last week traveling around Berlin, Germany & Prague, Czech Republic: two very different countries that I was dying to visit. Let’s start with Berlin.
After visiting Auschwitz just days before going to Germany, I knew this was going to be a very interesting trip. I had just seen what the Nazis had done to millions of Jews and now I was going to their headquarters to see where it all began. The most satisfying thing was the fact that we were able to see Hitler’s bunker where he committed suicide because he knew he was going to get captured towards the end of World War II. Just days before, I had seen a place where he caused so much pain and suffering for so many innocent people, and then to be able to see where he was finally in a sense defeated…that was one of the most incredible things.
By the way: in every city I’ve visited, I’ve always done a free walking tour. These tours are completely free and at the end you just tip your guide based off of how well you think they did or how much you enjoyed the tour. I’ve learned so much on these tours & highly recommend them to anyone traveling around Europe. Without these tours, I would literally just be looking at cool buildings & being like “oh ok that looks nice, no idea what it is but I’ll take a picture of it”. But with these tours, the guides give you an in depth history of what happened at the major buildings and sites of the city. They’re awesome. I especially recommend a guided tour in Berlin. We waited until the last day to take the tour which in hindsight I feel was a mistake. Up until the tour I was enjoying the city, but I felt as if the city was too large and modern. I wasn’t getting that German feel that I was really looking for. We visited the East Side Gallery, where artists have created beautiful portraits on pierces of the Berlin Wall. This was so cool because people were able to turn the wall, which was something so horrible, into something completely beautiful.
When we finally decided to be smart and take the tour around the city, I was amazed at how much history was right under my nose. I learned that the Berlin Wall was actually not a straight wall, but actually a circle that closed off West Berlin. This was weird though, because West Berlin was the free half of the city. West Berlin was the only free section of all of Eastern Europe. There was a wall to keep Easterners out, but the West Berlin citizens were allowed to leave freely. The wall was literally put up over night, and if you had someone you knew on the other side of the wall, it would be another 28 years until you saw them again. Isn’t that insane. WOW I am ranting but I found all of this so interesting. Also, the reason Berlin is so modern is because the entire city was destroyed in WWII. There was almost nothing left. The buildings and churches that look old are made to look that way to remind people what the city used to look like. And still to this day, Berlin is still rebuilding from the damage it suffered from the war. (fun fact: I got to see the hotel where Michel Jackson was seen hanging his baby out the window. Just when you think you have seen it all….)
After 3 days in Berlin, we took a reaaaally early bus to Prague! This bus was LAVISH. It only cost 15 euros and we were waited on hand and foot. We were given coffee, hot chocolate, tea, literally anything we wanted. There were movie screens on the back of all the seats (which were leather btw) & there was wifi hallelujah. Back to Prague, though. (another fun fact sort or relating to my rant above: the reason Prague was so well preserved during World War II was because Hitler loved the city so much. He was planning on vacationing there after the war so he didn’t want any damage to be done there. Interesting right. And also kind of twisted. What a terrible guy).
In Prague we did another walking tour where we learned all about the history of the Czechs and the Slovaks, how the country of Czechoslovakia came to be, and how the counties because two separate republics. We toured old town and saw the Astronomical clock move (sort of underwhelming but something you have to see).
We saw the Jewish quarter and the Jewish cemetery. Back in the 15th century, every Jewish person in Prague had to be buried in this cemetery which was not very big. At certain points, the graves in this cemetery are 12 graves deep. Some people say that this gave inspiration for the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe located in Berlin, which we were able to see just the day before. In this memorial, there are many rectangular stones that are different heights across an uneven ground. Again, the timing of my trips and seeing these sights has been incredible.
Later in the day we crossed the famous Charles bridge which gives beautiful views of Prague from either sides of the river. Across Charles bridge lies Prague Castle. You can see it from miles away and it is breathtaking. On the same side of the river is the John Lennon Peace Wall. Here, people are free to spray paint messages of whatever they want. There are paintings of John Lennon himself, his lyrics, and inspirational quotes. We spent almost an hour reading everything on the wall. Easily one of the coolest things I’ve ever seen.
One of the nights we were there we went to the Prague Ice Bar!!!! I’ve always wanted to go to one of those so I was stoked. They decked us out in parkas and gloves and we were ready. We got inside the actual ice room and literally everything was made of ice. The walls, countertops, the tables, the glasses, everything. They only let you stay inside for 20 minutes but after the first 10 I thought I was going to die of hypothermia. I lasted the full 20 though and after needed about two liters of hot chocolate. Oh wow I just said liters & not gallons. I am so metric system….
Now I know it doesn’t seem like I am actually enrolled in school but I promise I am and I do attend class! I have two presentations this week so it’s time to get back to real life. Exams are starting at the end of May so as shocking as this sounds, I will be spending this next month in the library buried in text books.
That is until I see a cheap flight that catches my eye…….