Saturday, July 27, 2013
Happy Birthday Lisa! We started off our day at the farmer’s market one last time. Lisa got a burger for breakfast and was shocked she was eating it at 10 a.m. until she noticed I grabbed a steak. It was so delicious. They literally cooked it right in front of us, spiced it up, and served it so fresh. Lisa, Maddy, Katie B., and I are traveling together so we said goodbye to Jackie and Riley and packed up our last minute things. We headed to the bus stop for the airport with our heavy bags. The stop was all the way down the street, past our train stop. Or so we thought…we hiked all the way there, missed the first bus by a minute, got on the second one a little later and passed the stop closer to our dorm. We were mad but at least we got on with all of our luggage because by that stop there was no more room.
We arrived at the Prague airport with plenty of time and then our flight got delayed. There was a cute kid riding on top of all his luggage. Maddy and I were laughing so hard and then he got super shy and hid under his hat. Our delay was only half an hour so we arrived in London with time to spare. All four of us got on the plane and we took off smoothly. Until…we heard an announcement over the intercom, “this is the captain speaking and we have noticed a strange odor in the cabin. We need to turn around and touch down in Dublin so we can get it checked out.” You could hear the agony throughout the entire plane. We sat in the plane for another two hours before they told us we would be staying in Dublin for the night. There were firetrucks and police cars surrounding our tapped off plane. American Airlines told us we would probably get a flight out tomorrow.
They put us up in this very nice hotel. It was a country club and had an awesome bar downstairs. We were given food vouchers as well so that helped a lot. By 1 a.m. we still had no idea when we would be leaving so Maddy and I decided to grab a drink. I got a Guinness and she tried some Irish whiskey. It was really good. We also got some Irish cider. They fill all the drinks to the brim here so at least we have gotten our money’s worth. There were two weddings at the hotel so we got to talk to the brides for a little. When we were ordering our drinks, a woman came up to us and asked us if we were “in the queue.” I love the slang the Irish and English people use. I think it’s so funny! We hung out down here for a while and then asked the front desk at 4 a.m. what the deal with the flight was. They told us we were going to leave at 5:15 but actually plans fell through and they still don’t know. We had to call at 7 to check again.
Friday, July 26, 2013
I cannot believe we are going back to America tomorrow. We had the most incredible time and it’s so weird it’s coming to an end. We had our presentations and Lisa and I presented about all the food we had throughout the trip. Lisa and I thought it was fitting because we literally ordered the exact same dish at every restaurant. Our entire group had a last coffee together. We had to say goodbye to Malvina and Marketa and it was so sad! They were seriously the best teachers ever and we really learned a lot from them. We all separated after lunch and Lisa and I walked around town for our last time. We went to this cute restaurant called “Wigwam.” We got to eat outside in the garden. It was so beautiful and we experienced our last cheap lunch in Prague. We went back to the Lennon Wall and a little bit of our paintings were still there. After, we walked over the Charles Bridge one last time and picked up a few souvenirs. Lisa and I had to go home to pack so we made our way back to the dorm. Our our way we saw a little parade. The performers were playing this weird gong-like instrument that sounded like construction work.
We all packed up and decided to go downtown around 5. Katie, Lisa, Maddy, and I went by the national museum and then headed to the church by Riegrovy Sady Park. We waited here for a little and just hung in the park. Our Czech friends met up with us and we went to dinner around the corner at a Mexican place called “Zluta Pumpa.” It was delicious. It was Lisa’s birthday and our Czech friends were so cute to help her celebrate. Our friend Michal even gave her a rose! I’m really going to miss all our new friends. Our Czech friend Katie was the cutest thing because she came home early from camp just to say goodbye to us. She even brought me a homemade shirt from camp since I gave her a Ridge’s Stitches tank. I couldn’t believe it! It was the nicest thing ever. We all finished up dinner and went to the top of the park. There was an incredible lookout point where we could see all of Prague. It was a perfect way to end our trip with all the Czech kids. We saw these boys playing guitar so Katie S. and I conspired to get them to play “Happy Birthday” for Lisa. She had no idea it was coming and they had no idea how to play the song. We all still sang and clapped. At the end everyone was whistling for her and the whistling went on for another 2 or 3 minutes! We said goodbye to the people with the early flight and Lisa, Jackie, Maddy, Honza S., Honza M., Katie S., Michal, and I went to the Alibi bar. We danced and drank to celebrate Lisa’s 21st! We were so tired and knew we had a long day ahead of us so we went home somewhat early. We all had to say bye but hopefully we will see all of them soon!
I cannot believe our trip is coming to an end. It’s our second to last day and I just want to stay in Europe. I’ll have to come back ASAP! We had our lecture on architecture this morning. It was interesting to hear of the multiple styles used in the Czech Republic. We made plans to go to Terezin, the concentration camp nearby. Katie B., Maddy, Lisa, Jackie, Riley, Taylor, and I stopped at Bohemia Bagel for lunch. We were so excited to have this one more time but Maddy and I got a little ticked when we realized our drink was about the same price as our food. Taylor and Riley decided not to go so we got on the train to head to the bus. We made it to the Florence train station and the woman at the ticket counter told us we had two more stops ahead of us. We had already been rushing so it was nerve-racking to catch the 1:30 bus. We made it just in time and took the bus to Terezin. We started off with the museum. Definitely go through the small fortress first because we didn’t have much time to see it at the end. It was very interesting to see the camp. Depressing, but it was something people should take the time to see. We waited in line for the bus and Katie found two baby kittens to play with in the meantime.
We got back downtown and grabbed a bite to eat from a small stand in Wenceslas Square. We should have taken Czech Katie’s advice: It was not that great! We got home and made plans to go out to U SUDU. It was a really cool underground bar with tunnels. It seemed to go on forever. We hung out there for a while and then made our way to Duplex. It was a super trendy club but way too expensive so we left and went to Nebe one last time. We all danced and had an awesome time.
Wednesday, July 24, 2013
We got to class this morning and we were dead tired. We learned about Romania and how the people are treated unfairly in multiple countries throughout Europe. After class, we walked around and saw inside the Prague Castle. It was so beautiful inside and the stained glass was magnificent! Marketa led us on a little tour through Prague while we made our way to the Kafka museum. It was very interesting. We finished up at the museum and then went to lunch at this place called, “Pay the Weight.” It was a vegetarian Indian place in which you pick out how much you’d like to eat and then pay by weight. It was delicious. We went back home and took a nap. When we woke up, Jackie and Lisa wanted to head downtown to go to Zara. Katie B., Maddy, and I were still getting ready so we hung back and decided to meet them. When we got downtown, it was difficult to find Lisa and Jackie so us three ended up just going to dinner at Fish and Chips again. We luckily sat outside under an umbrella because it started to rain. It was peaceful and relaxing to sit in the rain as we ate our meal. It really started to pour on our walk home so we rushed to the train. On our walk back we ran into Jackie and Lisa. I recognized Jackie walking out of a small ice cream shop so we shouted to them and met up with them for the walk home. We passed by Wenceslas Square and there was a movie playing in the middle. They had a giant TV screen and people sat on the ground just watching the show. We made the train and got home right as a few others were going out for the night.
Tuesday, July 23, 2013
We had class this morning and then went to lunch at this place called, “Grand Cafe Orient.” We were going to go to the museum of cubism below but it was closed. The cafe followed the cubism theme and it was very adorable. I had salmon for lunch and a homemade lemonade. It was delicious. Our plans for after lunch were to go to the peacock park and clock tower. We asked Malvina and she suggested we go to the zoo. She said it is one of the best zoos around. We got there and went to this garden across the street. The garden had a magnificent orange and white building with groomed shrubs and fountains all over. We walked through it for a while and then decided to go to to the zoo. The zoo was so cool. Dogs were charged to go into the zoo but people over 70 were only charged one crown! There were birds, monkeys, elephants, peacocks and more! We even saw people playing with the turtles. We also saw a tiny cute baby gorilla with his mom and siblings. We spent the entire day here and then went to the Milk Bar. This was a place suggested to us for a good milkshake. The shakes were good but made with yogurt so it tasted more like yogurt than a shake. Maddy, Taylor, and Katie B. decided to go straight to “Yes Burger!” This is where we were planning to eat dinner.
Jackie, Lisa, Riley, and I finished up at the Milk Bar and left for Yes Burger! Jackie went home but the rest of us got there with ease. We could only find a place called “Tom’s Burgers.” It was actually the same place just renamed. We looked inside and couldn’t find the other girls. We decided just to eat and assumed they found somewhere else to eat instead. The waiter there was funny and kept making fun of the way we said “dêkuji,” which means thank you. We finished up and then went home to get ready for the night. Katie, Taylor, and Maddy weren’t even there when we got back. When they finally got home, they told us they went to Yes Burger too but a different one than the one we went to. We all thought it was a great place to eat.
We hung out at our dorm for a while and then Katie, Lisa, Maddy and I went downtown to Roxy’s. It was so fun. We met this older lady and her husband who were celebrating their 25th wedding anniversary in a club in Prague. They kept saying they were more fun than their kids and we just kept laughing. We were all sitting there and our London friends from the train just showed up. They recognized us and we hung out with them for the rest of the night. We got to meet some more people in their hostel from other countries so that was super fun. We all danced and had a good time.
Monday, July 22, 2013
We are now back in our beautiful dorm. At least now we have warm water again! We had class this morning and learned about the communist regime in Cuba. It was very interesting because the Czechs went through this as well. They are really trying to help out the people in Cuba. We went to the Jewish Quarter after class. We saw a few synagogues and the Jewish cemetery. Over 100,000 bodies were buried here because it was one of the only places where Jewish people could be buried. The tombstones were stacked one on top of the other and it was so crowded. It’s sad they were only able to be hurried here. We walked into a building that had all the names of the people killed in the Holocaust written on the wall. We went upstairs and children’s drawings were all over the walls. It was sad to see how the children expressed their experiences with the Holocaust. We left the building and went to lunch at this American-like place in the Jewish Quarter. It was weird because you could pay in US dollars or Czech crowns. We went back to the Jewish Quarter and went through 2 synagogues. The architecture was beautiful. Maddy, Jackie, and I left to go to to the small shops around the Jewish Quarter. We took a tram back by our school and went to the bookstore nearby. It was so big and cute inside.
We went home and then went to dinner at a place called Fish and Chips. It was a cute London themed place. There were photos of the Beatles and English movies playing on TV. The inside was covered in black and white tile all over the floors, counters, and walls. Half of the group went to a punk-rock concert recommended to us in class. Katie B., Maddy, Jackie, Lisa and I made plans to go to a bar called “Golden Tree” or “Zloty Strom.” We had some time to kill before we thought it would get fun so we walked down one of the bridges to get a nice view of Prague at night. We kept walking down the bridge and across the river to a floating dock to the left of the dock. All of a sudden Václav and Honza S. came out of nowhere. They said they thought there was a chance we would be sitting on the dock so they went to check there. We weren’t so they decided to walk on. It was so crazy because we were literally on our way to that exact spot. We sat there for a while just taking in the view. We asked the boys if they still thought it was beautiful or just used to it because they’ve lived here their whole life. Václav replied with, “yes but think about a long time girlfriend. At first you’re like wow, so beautiful and then after a while you’re just ehh.” We all laughed and then decided to make our way to Golden Tree. It wasn’t that crowded inside but it seemed to go on forever. The place was so big but cool inside. Mike, Katy, Paige, Riley, Taylor, and Anthony met up with us after the concert so it was fun to spend Mike’s last night all together. We all left and Maddy and I wanted to still stay out. Honza and Václav walked around with us for a while but we ended up not finding anywhere that would be fun. We decided to go home and we actually got home before the rest of the group.
Sunday, July 21, 2013
It was our last morning in Budapest for now. I’m so sad to be leaving but excited to go back to Prague. I really wish we had more time to see more of Budapest. I am definitely coming back! People are so nice here and the city is absolutely beautiful. The night life is so different than anything I’ve ever experienced and I love it. We all split up this morning so we could do any last minute things we wanted to do in Budapest. Lisa, Jackie, Riley, Taylor, Katie B., Maddy, and I went to this cute breakfast place called Muvesz. It was just what we needed. We then walked through this cute street that was lined with trees and little Christmas lights. It was so pretty. Maddy, Jackie, and I separated from the group and went towards the baths and Gellert Hill. Jackie ran in to check if her phone could possibly be at the baths since she lost it there yesterday. It sadly did not turn up. We then hiked up the hill. I think you can take a bus but we decided to go for it all. The view was totally worth the hot and sweaty hike! It only took us about 15 minutes. Gellert Hill is the most famous and most popular lookout in Budapest. You could literally see the entire city of Budapest and it was sunny and gorgeous. We ran into Mike, Katy J., Paige, Anthony, and Anthony’s friend we met last night, Ragen! It was so funny we saw them at the top of the hill. We also saw the Citadella. I loved this view so much and since I’m part Hungarian, it really hit home taking in the view of this beautiful city.
We climbed down and saw the church in the cave called Sziklatemplom Cave Church. It was so cool and fascinating. I couldn’t believe church was held in a cave. Grandpa, you definitely need to check this one out when you go in September! Mass is still held at this church today. We left and walked across the green bridge. We found this cute ice cream place called Lavender. Everything was painted lavender and it looked adorable. We were running late so we couldn’t get anything but it was still really cute. We got back to the hostel to pick up our bags and then headed to the train station. Our train was delayed an hour and we lost track of time a bit. I looked at our delay and realized we had 5 minutes to catch the train. As we were running toward the train, the doors began to shut. Someone held them and we all got on a random car but decided it was better to walk through the car instead of outside. The train didn’t end up leaving for another 10 minutes but we still were happy to be sitting down in our seats. There were so many sunflower fields scattered from country to country on our way back. We all relaxed in the train and then Maddy, Katie B., and I went to dinner in the dinning car. We met these boys from London named Sam and Josh. They are also going to Prague and wanted to go out with us tonight so we made plans to meet them downtown. We got home super late and the trains had already stopped running so we ended up taking a night off. Back to school tomorrow!
Saturday, July 20, 2013
We woke up and went to Oktogon Bistro for brunch. Even Anthony made it up after his 21st birthday last night! Oktogon Bistro wasn’t serving breakfast food anymore so we got lunch food instead and then headed to the Gellert baths. Budapest is known for its traditional Turkish baths left here when the Turks took over the city. The baths are built around hot springs and the center is usually a thermal pool. The detail on the tile work in these baths is remarkable. They are literally giant heated pools. Individuals are given a watch-like bracelet that allows for entry and locking the locker. There are five baths inside Gellert and two outside all at a different temperature. Some even have water spouts you can sit under that massage your shoulders. Others periodically turn into a wave pool. Some are actually cold pools, which is so nice on a hot day. They are so relaxing and the water is filled with magnesium, calcium, sulphate-chloride, hydrogen-carbonate, fluoride ions, and sodium. We hung out here pretty much all day and some people went home to get ready for a nice dinner. Maddy, Riley, Taylor, Katie B., Lisa and I stayed back for a little to catch a few extra rays. We went to Kiado Kocsma to celebrate Anthony’s birthday today and Paige’s birthday since we will be on the train for hers tomorrow. It was so good. I would recommend the Langos dish!
I could not control my excitement for the evening plans. We decided to go back to another bath and participate in the Sparty. It is a giant party at the Szechenyi Baths every Saturday night in the summer! It was literally a huge gathering of international people in a 200 meter hot tub. We were all dancing and swimming. Katie B., Maddy, and I met these boys from Amsterdam who convinced us that we needed to go there and visit. Anthony and Paige had the coolest 21st birthday just partying in a bath with people all over the world. We even found our Irish friend, Lauren and danced with her for a while. Maddy and I went to grab a drink so we decided this was the perfect opportunity to snap a few pictures of this extravagant event we were enjoying. We wished so bad we could get a picture of us but it was so wet everywhere. We thought this until we saw this random couple come up to us and begged us to take a photograph on my phone? What? He then proceeded to write down his name so I could tag him in the picture on Facebook. Hey, at least they took a picture of us then! So funny. We kept dancing all night and around 3 a.m., the lifeguards started getting everyone out of the pool. They kept whistling and shining flashlights on all the people who didn’t get out right away. This was the coldest and loudest bars closed I have ever experienced as we waited to get inside to our lockers. There was another boy there with a group of friends for their stag party. He was wearing a crown so we all kept thinking it was his birthday just like Paige. I even got him to give her a smooch on the cheek. She was so mad at me. We got a cab home and then stayed up just enjoying the night view of the city. Katie, Jackie, Taylor, Lisa and I couldn’t sleep so we sat our on the porch waiting for the sunrise. All of a sudden Mike ran outside and said, “hey, so some guy just came in and peed all over Katie’s bed so we have to do something about this.” We all just burst out in laughter and then realized we had to go in to help Mike out. The guy who did it was actually staying there and Katie was extremely happy she wasn’t sleeping already! What a rude awakening that would have been!! We figured it out and shared beds for the night and then Katie got some money back the next morning. The girl working at the hostel felt so bad but we knew it was nothing she could have controlled. We watched the sun come up and then headed to bed shortly after. We leave around 3 tomorrow so hopefully we will get some activities done in the morning.
So many bracelets and the cool bath watch
The random couple
Paige’s stag lover
Budapest at 4 a.m.
Budapest 5 a.m.
Friday, July 19, 2013
Budapest is beautiful! Mike and his new Australian friend, Matt, went on a walking tour so it was just Anthony and the girls. We decided today we would tour the city. We started off our day off by seeing the Paliment. We wanted to go in but did not have enough time today to do so. The architecture is just fascinating. There was a lot of construction around the building but we still got a great view. We crossed over The Chain-bridge to get to the Buda side for the rest of the day. We walked all the way up to Castle Hill. The Royal Palace, Matthias Church, and the National Gallery are the main sights on the hill. We first saw the church. The tiles on the church were so colorful and detailed. It looked like a fairytale with all the castle-like structures. We were walking over to climb up the castle and these restaurant performers waved us over. They kept trying to dance with Maddy and kissing her on the cheek. She got freaked out and ran over to us! After we saw the church, we headed over to the Royal Palace! There was a wedding being set up as we were walking around. It started to rain for a minute and hoped everything with the wedding would be fine. All of us girls could not believe someone was getting married with such an incredible view at such a beautiful monument.
Our next stop was Gellert Hill. We decided to conquer this hike tomorrow or the next day. We walked across the Green Bridge and stopped by the Central Market Hall. It was so overwhelming because it was filled with so many vendors. Some vendors were selling produce and meat, others were selling handbags and jewelry. There was such a huge range of items at the market. We walked around for a little while and then decided to go to dinner. We went to this place called Pesti Sorcsarnok right by the market. It was our first traditional Hungarian meal! At first I was going to get the goulash but Maddy changed my mind when she told me she was getting the tourist plate. The plate had a smaller goulash soup and a small paprika chicken and potato gnocchi dish. It also came with a crepe with sugary filling as a desert. By the time it got served to us, Maddy and I could only take one bite each. It was very rich but good!
We all walked back and stopped at a cute jewelry store on our way back. It was their grand opening so they offered us drinks and snacks! Everyone else decided to walk home while we were shopping. Jackie, Lisa, and I walked back together and decided to stop and see some more places on the way. Jackie got a little tired so she left and Lisa and I went to the Grand Synagogue. It was so pretty! We saw the memorial for the victims of the Shoah in the back. We then walked through the Jewish Quarter. It was filled with cute restaurants and tons of ruin pubs! We walked into this really cute ruin pub called Szimpla. It was the bar we were planning to go to later tonight. It was about 7 or 8, so people were sitting down for a drink already. We wanted to stop by earlier so we could see the pub before it got too crowded. We left and made our way to St. Stephen Basilica. We saw this man with a Blackhawk on his shirt and we said, “Go Blackhawks!” He had no idea what we were talking about and told us the Blackhawks was a University of North Dakota team. Good try buddy. We kept walking and thought we got to the church but it was a different one. It was still beautiful but we walked on down Andrassy Avenue. This street filled with high end fashion is the Budapest version of Champs d’Elysees. We saw these older couples on a biking bar. There was a table surrounded by 6 or 8 bike peddlers and extra seats for those who did not want to peddle. There was a keg and all! It looked so fun and I definitely want to try it back home! We got to St. Stephen Basilica and it was enormous and beautiful. I need to come back to Budapest because there already is so much more I want to see. Lisa and I made our way back to the hostel to get ready for the night.
Our night was so much fun! We made friends with this Irish girl in our hostel. She said they were planning to go to Szimpla and then another ruin pub called Instant. Szimpla is Budapest’s first ruin pub opened in 2002. Instant is two old buildings combined into a club. We started at Szimpla and it was so cool. Anthony turned 21 at midnight so we all sang happy birthday to him. Some people from the bar joined in. We met some people dressed as Where’s Waldo who were there from Wales for stag. I still think it’s so fun they do this as a bachelor party. We finished the night at Instant and then made it home. Tomorrow we are planning to go to these natural baths.
Thursday, July 18, 2013
We left for Hungary today!! I am so excited. We did some last minute packing this morning and then went to class. We watched a documentary about citizen Havel who was a play-write and then became the president. It discussed the Velvet Revolution. We had a short lecture and then Malvina let us go early so we could eat lunch and make it to our train. Katy J., Lisa, Maddy, Paige, Riley, Katie B., Taylor, and I went to Cafe Lourve. It was probably one of the best meals I had this trip. Maddy and I split a caprese salad but it was so different because it had avocado purée on top. It came out with small cubes of mozzarella topped with tomatoes and avocado purée on top. Pesto was decorated on the plate in front of this delicious salad. Maddy and I had salmon and potato gnocchi. There was some more pesto on this dish as well. I want this food again just typing about it! I was in heaven. We were supposed to get the chocolate cake there but we forgot. Lisa, Katie, and Riley tried it and said it was delicious. There was this call board on the wall with two phones. When Lisa and I picked up the phone, we did not expect to hear another voice on the other end. We finished up lunch and headed to the train. On our walk there, we somehow got separated and Lisa, Katie, Maddy, and I got stuck behind. We figured out how to get there and luckily saw the group when we walked in! I looked up and saw a man in blue overalls and a red shirt. I kept saying “Mario” over and over and then Katie said, “and Luigi.” There was another man with him in green overalls and a white shirt! They were working on the escalator but we wondered if they dressed like that on purpose. Then, out of nowhere Michal arrived. He is our Czech friend and we never thought we would be seeing him at the station. Our train was delayed a bit but Michal entertained us until we got on and made our way to Budapest!
We had assigned seats on the train but when we walked on, about 15 preteens were sitting in our spots! We didn’t really know what to do at first because we thought they could have also had our same seats. They luckily didn’t but we had to ask them to move. They then were sitting in each others laps and the middle of the walkway screaming and yelling. Some of them were sitting on each others laps while Anthony was smashed to the window! Taylor asked them to please be a little quiet but 5 minutes later they got a little wild again. Taylor couldn’t handle it anymore so she got up and asked the ticket lady to please ask them to quiet down. The woman told us they were getting off at the next stop so that was really lucky for us! We ate dinner on the train and it wasn’t that great but what do you expect? We arrived in Budapest at 11 p.m. and rushed to exchange our money and hop in a cab. The cab driver was very nice and taught us some Hungarian words.
We got to our hostel, Interflat, checked in and got ready to go out for the night. Our hostel is cool because there are a bunch of other kids our age living there as well. We are staying on the Pest side of Budapest. Pest is the flat city east of the Danube River. It is a commercial core of Budapest. Buda is the hilly city west of the Danube River. The Romans founded Budapest in 89 AD and the Magyars replaced the Romans around 900. Turmoil went on throughout the country during World War I and World War II. Hungary was under very strict communist rule until 1956 when the Hungarians rose up against communism. The revolution ended when the Soviets sent in tanks because they felt Hungary slipping out of control.
We went to a ruin pub called Morison’s. Ruin pubs are these old buildings turned into pubs and clubs here! Most of them are only open during the summer. We met old guy who was wearing a shirt like Ridge’s Stitches! I told him I make shirts just like that. They thought I was some American celebrity and asked for my business cards. They kept taking pictures of me and then I told them Maddy and Jackie were my models. We were all laughing so hard and by the end of the night the men were literally asking for signatures on the business cards. The club was so cool though. There were different clubs on each floor and there were 3 floors! There was karaoke in the basement, an outdoor patio and a dance club on the main floor, and a game room on the top floor. A few of us were walking around trying to find the rest of the group and walked down to see everyone singing karaoke. We stayed there for a while and walked home. Our hostel is so close to the bars so it’s been really nice not having to take a train or a cab!