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"country roads take me home, to the place i belong."

This past weekend five of my friends and I headed off to Dublin, Ireland. To say I was excited was an understatement. Ireland was always the place I had wanted to visit but didn’t think I would get the chance to while I was abroad. Even sitting in the airport and listening to people with Irish accents made me even more anxious, not to mention they were the friendliest people I had met in months! After a two hour flight we landed at Dublin airport. We had planned on taking a bus to the hostel (the cheapest way) but a nice taxi driver came up and offered to take us to the hostel for only 4 euros each. He not only was highly entertaining with his cursing and stories of other passengers but he also pointed out a bunch of food places and bars he recommended. The four of us girls were staying in a seperate hostel than the two boys so we split up to drop off our stuff and then met back up for dinner at a restaurant named Quays (pronounced Keys). I ordered a cheeseburger and a guiness. Possibly the best meal ever- I am so hamburger deprived from Prague. After dinner we walked around an area called Temple Bar which is where a tonnn of restaurants and pubs are (basically the place to be). We decided to do our own pub crawl and found a lot with live music. Just being there I couldn’t help but repeating how happy I was. The pubs, live music, friendly people, food, and all around fact that I was in Ireland just didn’t seem really. After a really fun night we went back to the hostel to rest up for the next morning.

Friday morning greeted us with torrential downpours! Lucky us, we had decided to do the walking tour that day. Our Irish guide was a great sport though and kept us distracted from the cold with his jokes (and some singing). We stayed for a majority of it but then decided to slip out a little early for a quick lunch. After we had warmed up and gotten some food in our bellies we went over to the Tourist Office and booked a day trip to the Cliffs of Moher. Next we headed over to the Guiness Factory. Fun fact- the lease for the Guiness Factory is for 9,000 years. Guess people will be drinking “the black stuff” for quite awhile. We wandered around, took pictures, and even got to pour our own Guiness complete with a certificate certifying that we had done it (even though it took me two tries, whoops). After the factory we headed back to the hostel to shower and get dinner/watch the soccer aka football game between Ireland and Estonia. We went to a fun pub where I got fish and chips (a first) and then to another place to watch the game. The whole place was filled with Irish men everywhereee, drinking beer and watching the game on huge tvs. We had a great time.

Saturday morning we woke up early for our 7am bus to cliffs of Mohr. Our bus company, PaddyWagon, took us to a bunch of different sights including some castles and graveyards. It was awesome to see the smaller towns with cute houses and farm animals. Everything had such character, especially when we got to the coast. Everything was absolutely beautiful but nothing compared to the big event of the day, CLIFFS OF MOHR. I have never in my life seen anything as beautiful but also as terrifying. At first sight it takes your breath away (partly thanks to the height) and pictures can not do it justice. Our guide warned us to stay awake from the edge as people have slipped and fallen over or even blown by the wind. He also mentioned a man had jumped to his death just three days prior to our trip there- made me extra cautious. There are two ways to get to the edge of the cliffs, one with a wall and one without. Not to mention the one without the wall had signs about not entering and you had to hop over a few, short stone walls. Of course we decided we wanted to get right up to the edge. I took so many pictures just trying to capture every moment and had friends take a bunch of me getting as close to the edge as possible (sorry mom). We had an hour and a half there but I could have stayed the whole day just sitting and looking out into the ocean. That night we went out back at Temple bar and met up with a friend Siena, Ellen, and I knew from DU.

Sunday MJ and I had decided to stay in a hotel for fun and spent the day grabbing souveneirs, eating, watching american tv (yay for MTV!), taking my first bath since September. Needless to say I was in heaven. Siena and Ellen had a flight early so MJ and I met up with Beau and Paul for a night of Irish dancing. I had seen Scottish dancing before but these people just really took it to a new level, they were awesome. Such a bittersweet night because we knew the weekend was coming to a close.

The Monday morning flight basically sucked. I can’t even tell you how many times I asked MJ if we could just change our flight and stay the whole week. I was only half kidding… I absolutely did not want to leave. But now I know that it just means I have to go back and I already have big plans for my next big (and longer) adventure in Ireland.

Barcelona

This past weekend my friend Mj and I traveled to Espana! Barcelona to be exact. We left Friday afternoon and arrived two hours later. We traveled on Vueling airlines and had quite the rowdy group of spanish passengers. After a fun adventure of trying to figure out how to get to our hostel we checked in and immediately went out to explore and find dinner. Someone working at the hostel had recommended going down to Barcelona Street, close to the beach. There were tons of restuarants, all serving sangria and paella. We sat down on the outside patio of a restaurant that had a ton of people (always a good sign.) The sangria and paelle (which is a type of spanish rice dish with chicken, vegetables, or seafood) was absolutely amazing. The best part is that we could sit outside without being cold, quite different from Prague considering it is now only high of 50 degrees. After dinner we walked along the beach. Even at night it was gorgeous- and it made me miss home. I hadn’t seen a beach since the beginning of August, kind of unbelievable. We wanted to find a bar to sit down at but because everyone doesn’t go out until 2am everything was really quiet. So we decided to call it a night and rest up for our big say of sight-seeing Saturday!

Despite going to sleep around midnight, my 8am alarm Saturday morning was brutal. After a disgusting (but free) breakfast at the hostel we went to find the hop-on hop-off tour of the city. For $22 it took us everywhere we wanted to go, and gave us as much time there as possible. The first thing we saw was the Picasso museum and the gothic cathedral. And of course between all these stops I had to buy souveniers! Next stop was back to the beach to get some photos of it during the day and then off to Sagrada Familia. To say that it was impressive was an understatement!

We took a tons more pictures, enjoyed some Subway, and then decided to go to Las Ramblas. There were tons of stalls with things like meat, candy, nuts, and fruit. I had to buy something and got a strawberry mango smoothie and some nuts- they were both delicious!

After the market we went to Park Guell. It literally looked like a fairytale park, everything was completely gorgeous. It was probably my favorite part of the trip, definitely worth the long walk up there.

The day of sight-seeing was long but so worthwhile. Even though we only had a short period of time there I felt like we saw a lot-everything we had planned on seeing. And of course we worked up an appetite so we had to get some more sangria and tapas, a first for me! After a little nap we got ready to go out to a club that was organized by the hostel. MJ’s two friends, who I had met when they came to Prague, also happened to be staying at the same hostel so we met up with them and headed out. For three euros the hostel rented a bus for all of us to go to the club and got us to the front of the line. Then for MJ, her friends and their roommates, and I, they got us a table and free champagne! Definitely worth the three euro. Apparently the club had just opened the night before and is the same one as one in Ibiza. We danced and had a great time until 4am, quite early by Spanish standards, and then went back to the hotel to get 3 hours of sleep before our flight home!

Poland

After Auschwitz Siena, MJ, and I headed back to our hostel. After looking up places to stay at hostel world we had come across Greg and Tom’s Party hostel. Needless to say it lived up to it’s name. We had so much fun, all the people staying there were great. All from age 18-40. A ton of Australians and Tasmanians. Even the people who worked there were great. Friday night we paid $9 and got free dinner and unlimited alcohol. A huge group of us, mostly the Australian and Tasmanian guys, hung out in the common room while they brought us shot after shot. We all quickly became best friends laughing and taking pictures then they took our group to a club called Diva. When we first showed up it was a little empty but after about an hour a good group had showed up. All of us spent the rest of the night dancing and having a blast! Saturday we woke up walked around and did some sightseeing, including Schindler’s Factory (a German who saved hundreds of Jews during World War II by employing and later hiding them.) After a fun day of walking around we took a quick nap and decided to do another “pub crawl” with the group. This night there were even more of us and even more shots. They took us to a club called Coco but shortly after arrival MJ and I decided to head home in a cab. Before even getting in we asked if he took credit card, to which he said yes. But apparently he wasn’t so cooperative when he dropped us off at the hostel and demanded cash. We gave him the zlotys we had and some czech money but he was not happy. He actually ended up stopping a policeman after we all got in an arguement, luckily the policeman just laughed at him. Finally when we saw that the fight was going nowhere MJ and I decided to make a run for it into the hostel. We hid into our room until the girl at the front desk came in asking why a taxi driver was saying we hadn’t paid, in fact we had overpaid him… in Czech money. whoops. After that we got a good night sleep and woke up at 9am to checkout. Luckily they let us keep all our stuff at the hostel while we walked around and saw the Jewish quarters, some synagogues and the new Jewish cemetary. We were all pretty tired so we went back to the hostel to hang out on the couches until our train at 10pm. Such a good weekend with new friends, crazy memories, and tons of pictures!

Auschwitz

This weekend I went to Krakow, Poland with my friends Mj and Siena! We took the overnight train Thursday night to get there. MJ and I had our own private cabin. We could not stop laughing about how small it was. Basically for both of us to stand up one of us had to be in the closet. Such a fun experience. The train left Prague at 9pm and we arrived into Krakow at 7:30am, dropped our luggage off, and headed to Auschwitz. Quite the ordeal. We ended up getting a private car there because we couldn’t figure out the bus/tour situation which we were really stoked about until we realized how expensive it was and later after a brief arguement/discussion we were afraid he was going to drop us off in the middle of nowhere. But anyways when we got to Auschwitz it was pouring rain. First we went to Auschwitz (where the famous sign “work will set you free” is.) Such a crazy experience. They showed us the execution wall, all the leftover clothes/personal belongings that the Nazis had collected from the prisioners, etc. Then we went to Birkenau which is where they had a ton of the huts where prisioners were kept, the railroad tracks where the selection process took place when people came in and doctors decided whether they would die or live. They also showed us the crematoriums, which were in ruins because before the Soviets came into the camp the Nazis set them on fire. Birkenau was what I had pictured of Aushwitz, completely dreary (with the help of the rain) and all surrounded by watch-towers and a huge fence. It was amazing to hear all the information from the guide- for example about 75% of people who came into the camp were sent to the gas chambers almost immediately after arrival. Unbelievable to think about.

Oct 6

Prague Zoo

Wednesday my roomates Jill, Danielle, and I headed over to the Prague zoo. This was probably one of my favorite things we had done while we were here. The morning started off with an 8:30am wake-up, trip to Starbucks, and longggg tram ride to the middle of nowhere (aka Praha 7). After getting off the train we had a few adventures before even getting to the zoo. (Luckily zoo is the same in both English and Czech.) After paying a measly 150kcs to get in (about 8 dollars) we set off to see all the animals. It was one of the nicest zoos I have been too. There were fun trails everywhere to walk, a chairlift to take you around, and sooo many different times of animals. My favorites included the gorillas, giraffes, and sea otter (who I begged Danielle to let me take home.) It was definitely a must-see for anyone who travels to Prague which is interesting because we had really never heard of it before some other people in our program had gone. We ended up spending 4 hours walking throughout the park and didn’t even see everything.

Oct 6

Oktoberfest!

Last weekend my DG sisters here in Prague and I went to Oktoberfest to meet up with the rest of the chicas! Definitely one of the best weekends I have had here. Siena, Danielle, and I started off the weekend by waking up at 3:30am to get to the airport via bus. Needless to say we were exhausted but so pumped up from all the adrenaline of what lied ahead. After a short 40 minute flight we arrived in Munich, Danielle and I of course had to buy matching German hats, and booked it over to the NH hotel to meet all the rest of the girls. A 30 minute cab ride later, accompanied by a sing-a-long to “Shots”, we got to the hotel. It was the best thing ever to see all my friends, all of whom I hadn’t seen since January! It really made me realize how much I miss all of us being together at Denver. Of course after the screaming and hugging we threw down our stuff (literally) took some group shots and headed over to Oktoberfest. Everyone I had imagined about Oktoberfest is in actuality ten times bigger. Huge tents, rides, food, people in costumes, basically a dream come true. Luckily we got right into the HB tent and sat at a big table. Within five minutes we had steins in hand and were singing DG songs. the next few hours consisted of more singing, chugging, and lots of fun. People stand on the tables and chug their beers, if they do not finish they are booed but if they finish everyone in the tent erupts in cheers and applause. We made a ton of new friends, everyone there was so friendly and the whole tent was literally just one big happy family. After some long hours of drinking, catching up, and taking a million pictures we headed back to the hotel and nap then go to dinner (only to pass out again right after for the rest of the night). We decided to wake up early Saturday and got to the grounds at 9:45. Apparently that was not early enough. We had met a few girls at dinner the night before who told us that Schottenhummel was the best tent so we headed over there only to realize that there was a huge crowd. We split up into two groups in hopes of getting in faster and luckily one group got in and managed to get us in too! This day we sat outside and had just as many laughs and fun as the day before. Sunday the Prague girls and I headed home, exhausted but so happy. It was truly a once in a lifetime experience. 

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Sep 4
Sep 4
Sep 4

Czech it out

Sunday morning woooo! I have officially been in my apartment now for over a week. I love my roommates, Danielle (who is a friend from DU), Chelsea (from Pennsylvania, and Jillian (from Illinois). Our apartment is great. Not as close to the touristy places (Old town and Prague Castle, etc). But still an extremely close walk. We have had lots of fun exploring our neighborhood and have found some great restaurants. We also have a huge park with a tram that takes you up to the “Eiffel Tower” and a Tesco (kind of like a Wal-mart) only two tram stops away. When talking about Prague everyone made it seem like we would eat goolash everyday. In actuality I have only eaten it once since I’ve been here. There are so many different options for food like Italian, Mexican, and American. I have also been taking a two week intensive Czech class. Since this is the only language class we will take the whole semester I really appreciate being able to learn some basic words. To say the language is hard to learn it a HUGE understatement. Luckily we are learning atleast enough to squeeze by and a lot of people also speak English. Ever since we got into our apartment last Friday we have been going non-stop. Of course we are going out with all the kids in our program (who are awesome). We have found some really interesting bars and clubs, however I still am getting used to going out at 12am and coming in at 6am. Definitely not like at home. A few of our favorite hangouts include Harleys, Chateau, Bombay, and U Sudu. A lot of the places play American music which is amazzzzing. And also so funny because other tourists know all the words to the American songs but still cannot speak English. Yesterday we went on an excursion to an old silver mining town called Kutna Hora, a historical town outside of Prague. It was beautiful. We saw a beautiful church for Saint Barbara (patron saint for the minors), went down a silver mine (which I actually passed on) and a bone church (interesting but slightly creepy). Unfortunately I did not get to enjoy it as much as possible because of a cold. However, it was stil great to see! Last night we went to our first really American meal (at the Hard Rock Cafe). We all got cheeseburgers and immediately felt like we were home.

With the weather so beautiful we have been walking everywhere we can (which is a lot of places). The greatest thing about Prague is the architecture (especially the Charles Bridge and Prague Castle lit up at night! Tomorrow is back to Czech class with one more quiz and a final on Friday, then we start regular classes the following Monday! Time seems to be flying by!

Amsterdam

Our Amsterdam trip was 5 days, and there was definitely more to see even after we left. We did our usual bus/boat tour to get a feel of the city and walked the most we have this whole trip. We stayed in a nice hotel but it was about 15 minutes from the big city center. It was nice to walk everyday but I can definitely say after that last day I was sick of it. As we have learned, August is the traveling month for Europe. Amsterdam was absolutely packed. It is a bigger city than both Stockholm and Copenhagen and a lot more people wandering around. The first nice we got there we wandered to a center on a canal where there were a bunch of restuarants, probably the best part of the trip was getting to sit and watch peope on the canal. It is very popular to take a boat and have beverages and food and just go throughout the water having fun, sometimes playing music. The boats that they went on were so old! Normally in harbors at home people have really nice fast boats but people here apparently like old wooden ones. That center ended up being our go to place for food. There was an Irish pub we went to twice for dinner called Aran. They boasted that the house “wine” was Jager (which made me pretty happy) and the food was good too. Also, they had a drink called a Strongbow which is beer and a hard cider which was also a hit. Most of the days we walked around the city seeing all the sights and on last day we took a tour to the countryside. This was probably my favorite part of the trip. We took a bus to a small town and walked around and went to a clog store. Afterwards we took a boat across the biggest lake in Europe (which used to be part of the ocean but is now a freshwater lake) and then got a snack, yummyyy strawberry pie, and the to a cheese factory. And of course we went to see the Red Light District. At first I was apprehensive about going but of course going to Amsterdam you can’t not go to the Red Light District. We headed there during the evening and there were tons of people everywherreee. It is so funny to see little kids on streets with smoke shops and live sex shows. There definitely was a cast of characters there. Prostitutes stand in windows on the street and people come and pick out which one they want (basically like a doll in a store). Quite the experience!