Published: December 10th 2007November 8th 2007
It was bizarre to check into a hotel early this evening after a long afternoon on the bus from Cesky Krumlov. Bizarre to have a whole room and bathroom all to myself. Bizarre to have left the backpacking world behind, and be preparing for a sort-of early flight tomorrow morning. Bizarre to be back in the city where I started (Praha: The Unbearable Lightness of Being
), because I am so different from the me that began this adventure. This trip has changed me in ways I cannot yet describe.
When I started planning this trip, it was going to be for two weeks in the Czech and Slovak Republics. Then I decided to add another week, and see some of Hungary. And Vienna was close enough to include in my plans too. Then three weeks before I was due to leave, things worked out so that I could add ten more days to the trip--so I added Berlin and Poland. There's never enough time for travelling--I saw just enough of the places I visited to want to go back again.
Prague was beautiful and crazy, but between jet-lag and late nights at the hostel, I picked up a bug which followed me for the
rest of the trip. I didn't have the energy to enjoy Berlin as much as I would have liked, but I was fascinated by the city with a divided past.
My favourite country was Poland--I loved Warsaw for how it is trying to step out from its rather bleak past (Warszawa -- Living Shadows and Scars of the Past
). The hostel I stayed at in Krakow was my favourite, which is probably why I ended up there for over a week. From Krakow you can see two extremes of tourism-- the salt mines (It needs a little salt...
) and Auschwitz-Birkenau (Cold Wind, Silent Tears, and a Heavy Heart
Eastern Slovakia proved to be too much for me, so I hurried on to Budapest, where I was sicker than I wanted to admit to anyone, but still trying to see as much as I could. After the dreary weather, and the shadows of communism, Vienna was a breathe of fresh air, and an introduction to a wonderful country I hope to visit again. The real fresh air came at my final destination, Cesky Krumlov (A River Runs Through It
). It ended up being my only stay outside of a city, and it was a perfect way to spend the last few days of this trip.
Of course I don't want to
go back to Calgary tomorrow--why would I when travelling is so much simpler and more interesting. But I'd run out of money eventually, and before that happened, there would be unfinished things to deal with in Calgary anyway. So tomorrow morning I'll check out of this hotel, leave Europe behind, and see what adventures await me in Canada.
I've received some nice comments on my blogs and photos, which I really appreciate. I even appreciate the not so nice comments, because they've made me give second thought to my words.
It's been five weeks. Five fantastic weeks.
22 hours on planes
21 hours on trains
11 hours on buses
10 hours at Heathrow
(I've already counted getting home tomorrow)
30 nights in hostels
2 nights in hotels
14 passport stamps
5 school-girl crushes
1 stalker (who although harmless, was really annoying in a Napoleon Dynamite kind of way)
Many new friends
And a new me.
There are more photos below