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Published: January 24th 2008
On the Bus
Heading out on our Prague Party Special
Wow, so its been a while yet again. I am currently writing this blog from the French Alps, looking out our window at the ski lift and village. What a deal this week has been, but I will come to that in another blog :-) I have found an apartment in Karlsruhe. I am very excited about it, a great location, wonderful flatmate. It even has a MICROWAVE and a DISHWASHER! Can you believe it!? I almost fell over I was so surprised! I will be moving in next week before I start my internship on the 4th. Very much looking forward to discovering a new area of Germany and being closer to some friends and family.
So...back to where I left off in my last blog. I arrived back in Hamburg on the afternoon of the 28th, anxious to get from the airport to the train station to meet Rachel Ross!! I was so excited to see her, as it had been a long time, almost a year, and she had just flown halfway across the world to see me! :-) We decided to take a cab back to my place as we both had way too much luggage
to lug up and down the subway, merely to save a few Euros. We arrived back at my place, both completely exhausted. We spent the evening catching up with each other, ordering a pizza because we were too tired to go to the store, and then finally passing out for a long nights rest.
On the 29th, we woke up rather late, and took our time getting ready. It was time to hit the shops, as it was quite cold and Rachel needed a good coat. We found her a fabulous european coat at Zara and also did some other sale shopping around Hamburg. We spent the evening packing for our bus trip to Prague with Rainbow Tours. Somehow we managed to both pack in the same small bag, which was very conservative and fabulous of us. Then it was off to the Bus station near the Hauptbahnhof. We picked up some snacks and beer for the road.
BUS TRIP: We signed up for the Silvester Prague Party Special (yes thats what they called it in German) with Rainbow Tours. This was the 2 day extended trip over New Years Eve (Silvester - in German) with overnight bus
trips and one night hotel included.
So. We cracked open a beer before boarding the bus at about 9:15. And so we were off on our european adventure. I became somewhat of a translator over the next couple of days as we were on a German Tour and not many people spoke English on the bus, well at least at first until they got the nerve up to talk to us. It was a LONG night on the bus to say the least. We probably stopped every hour or so, either for a 'smoking break' or to pick up new people in Berlin and Dresden. All in All we were on the bus for about 11 hours and probably slept for a total of 2. (We had a talkative, loud bunch in the back of the bus who finally quit at about 5 am)
We were a bit dazed and confused when we arrived in Prague at 8 am and were told we couldn't check in to our hotel until about 3 pm. Rachel and I decided however to make the most of it and headed out to explore the city. I had been to Prague about 4-1/2
Wohoo for Caffine
yrs ago when I was studying in Weimar and well, it was a decent experience, but I was looking for something better to replace some memories. I remembered a little bit of the town and how to get from the National Museum down the street to the Old Town. Prague is such a beautiful city in that it is still intact from so many years of history. It wasn't bombed so really it reminds me of what most European cities would look like if war hadn't completely overrun them. My two favorite buildings in Prague are the Castle up on the hill above the city and the Clock Tower in the Old City center. We decided to check out the Clock Tower and some of the area around it. We climbed up into the top of the clock tower as I had done many years ago, where you could get a beautiful panoramic view of the city. Rachel and I were in awe and spent much of our time taking pictures of the surrounding area. I looked down upon a rooftop restaurant where I had eaten dinner with friends 4 years ago.
After the clock tower we wandered around
and found a nice place to have breakfast. We were very hungry and exhausted, so it was nice to sit down for a bit. Rachel enjoyed a Jumbo Latte that was the biggest that I had ever seen. We were feeling much more refreshed after breakfast but still very tired from lack of sleep (not to mention Rachel was very jet lagged). We went to meet our bus at the designated time to head to our respective "Hotels". As the bus traveled further and further away from the central city, one guy in the back of the bus yelled in German, "Are we still in Prague?"> It definitely got a few chuckles, but all of us were wondering how far away from the city we could really get. We finally stopped at our 3 Star hotel out in the boonies, and those of us who had "upgraded" to this hotel with double rooms got off the bus. The rest of the group apparently traveled to the other side of the city to the hostel with bunk beds that was the original option. We were very happy that we upgraded, but quickly learned that the hotel rating system in the Czech
Republic must differ greatly from that in other European countries. The hotel was clean and fine for what we used it for, but definitely reminded me of my old dorm room in Weimar. 2 rooms sharing a bathroom and shower, basic furnitire in the room, 2 beds, a dresser, and a chair. No TV or Phone, internet hook up, or free shower gels. This was bare minimum. Im pretty sure they also forgot the mattresses too, seemed to be just the box springs. BUT we didn't seem to care. After a shower and change of clothes we were both passed out for a few hours.
We had signed up to do a "nightlife tour" of Prague at like 7:30 downtown, so we awoke at 6:00 from our fabulous naps. The girls that were staying in the other room were very nice and we all headed downtown together through the interesting public transportation system of Prague. We arrived barely on time for the tour, which was all in German, but seemed to be a very nice overview of the bar areas around the Old City. After the tour we stopped at one place for dinner and drinks. Rachel and I
This is the largest astronomical clock in Europe. It does all kinds of things.
were amazed at how cheap everything was and enjoyed ourselves till about midnight when we decided we better head back and catch the last train to our hotel which was really far away. We promptly fell asleep on our boxed springsish matresses.
The next morning, which happened to be both Rachel's BIRTHDAY and New Years Eve, we took the time to sleep in a bit and somewhat enjoyed our very interesting Czech breakfast. Not sure how they combine such things together like soup, bread, and hard boiled eggs. Anyways, after accidentaly checking out late, we sat downstairs and waited for a long time for the bus to arrive. While hanging out in the lobby we met two French girls that live in Germany, Severine and Heloise. (please excuse the fact that i have no french accents on my keyboard) After packing up the bus and being dropped off downtown, the four of us ventured off to the castle on the hill. We climbed all the way up to the entrance and were happy to see that it wasn't incredibly crowded. There was a beautiful view back down on to the old city and such. We spent some time walking
Caught this in motion, pretty cool eh
around, but quickly realized that you needed to buy a ticket and wait in each line in order to get into the cathedral and basillica. We decided against such things and headed back down the hill towards the Charles Bridge, the most famous bridge in Prague. There are really cool stone statues lining the sides of the bridge that come from different figures and saints in Prague's history. There is one in particular where you are supposed to rub the bottom of it for good luck. It was quite a battle to try and get your had in for a quick touch. Guess a lot of people needed some good luck.
After checking out the bridge, we decided it was time to eat some lunch and located a chinese place near the bridge. The four of us enjoyed some fabulous conversation and pretty good food with of course some beer to celebrate it being New Years Eve and Rachel's 25th birthday! We headed back to the old city and decided it was time to start bar hopping since it was such a special day and we had already done plenty of sightseeing. We spent the rest of the evening
bar hopping and enjoying Czech Beer until we finally found a restaurant in the area that would take us (all of them were booked up for New Years Eve) We had a local Czech meal with some great conversation and good times with our new friends. Rachel and I then headed out right before midnight to make sure we made it over to the river to watch fireworks. I dont think that Europe has any laws on fireworks, who can buy them, and where they can set them off. The display was absolutely fantastic and we made sure to watch out for the random rockets that were being set off all around us. After the midnight celebrations we headed over to the Rainbow Tours Silvester Party. The party was completely Ghetto, and we grabbed a bottle of champagne to enjoy the festivities. At 3:30 am, we were all directed to head to the busses which were leaving. The coat retrieval system was not exactly well thought out and we ended up in a crowd of like 200 people trying to push to the coat check. I was relieved to get our coats finally and then settle in on the bus.
The bus back was long and hard after a night of drinking, and we were very happy to be back in Hamburg around noon. Unfortunately all the grocery stores were closed because of the holiday, so we trudged our way through the fireworks packaging in the street back to my apartment. It was a quiet night, ordering in food because there was nothing left in my apartment. We watched a movie and then fell asleep promptly as we were again down one night of sleep. The next day, we woke up and headed out to the Harbor to see a different part of Hamburg. It soon started to sleet freezing rain, so we headed back into town. I took Rachel to my favorite cafe, Cafe Paris and we had a wonderful brunch, parisian style. (actually i think we got like french toast and scrambled eggs, but hey whatever). There was a little bit more shopping to be had and then back to my apartment to get Rachel packed up. For the last evening we headed to the Hoffbrau Haus in Hamburg so that Rachel could enjoy an authentic Bavarian meal before her flight back to the US of A.
Rachel left at 3 am for the train to Frankfurt and I was very sad to see her go! We had an absolutely fabulous time together and on our adventures around Europe.
More to come from Mid Year Seminar in Dresden and now the Ski Trip to France. I am moving next week, so hopefully i'll have some time to post some more before I get too far behind. Looking foward to Karnival in Cologne with some Couch Surfing friends and people from my program.
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