When we got off the bus from Munich at 5 in the morning, Prague didn’t seem like such a great place, especially after our hostel told us we couldn’t check-in until 2pm that day, forcing us to sleep on the couch’s in their lobby.
We got over that though, and I’ll venture to say that Prague is the prettiest city in Europe — and by Europe I mean the prettiest city of the trip. Overall, we were pretty lazy in Prague. Munich took its toll on us.
However, we did the basics, toured the castle and other landmarks. Went to take a free tour of the city, only to have the world’s worst tour guide who paused for laughter after jokes that made ears spout blood. Por ejemplo, “…and then the Czechs bounced.” Really? Really?!?!
One highlight was the bar crawl we did. Met some good people. Some interesting ones. Pretty standard.
The star of Prague though was the food — Grandma, if you could read this, you’d be so proud. We ate at two traditional restaurants, one a brewery where accordions played and the waiter told us that they only served “One Beer, One Size” (I don’t even think they had water.) and the other was of a Medieval theme, not sure why. Anyway, Czech food was the greatest thing that has ever caressed my lips.
Their traditional dish is Goulash with Dumplings (lovingly nicknamed “Dumps”). Goulash is this chopped beef in a heavy dark sauce. At first glance, it seems as though there is too much sauce. Clearly it must be a mistake, but in reality, this is where things get good. In that sauce, you dip the dumps. Now, dumps don’t look like much. In fact, they look awful little potato pancakes. However, if you’re not superficial, you’ll soon find out that dumps are like little ambassadors of delicious who arrive at the embassy of taste to wine and dine each delegate bud until he’s satiated with joy.
Not only are they tasty, but their superior density fills you up in no time. If I learn to cook only one thing in my life, I hope its these. Actually, Mom, put it on the calendar that we need to have a cooking lesson when I get home — preferably for both potato and bacon Dumplings.
And that was pretty much Prague. Nothing too crazy. The biggest surprise was that our flight to Amsterdam took off as scheduled. No bigs.
For those of you that don’t know, the Eyjafjallajokull volcano in Iceland erupted last week spewing ash in the air. Over 100,000 flights were cancelled and airlines are expected to lose over $2 billion. The EU economy as a whole is expected to lost over $200 billion as a whole as well.
What that meant to us: It meant that we could be stranded without a flight home. It meant that busses and trains were full, and if they weren’t, they’re prices were out of control. We knew some people that had been stranded for a week, and other who had to take a 40 hour long bus ride to get home to Madrid.
Don’t worry though, we had a happy ending. All but one of our flights took off, and the cancelled one was a blessing in disguise because we got to roll on the autobahn with Rosie.
For comic relief, we looked up “F*** Iceland” on Icerocket.com, which searches Twitter statuses, and an array of top notch Tweets appeared.
Although not on by plane as planned, we made it to Munich in one piece and immediately munched out on kebabs, then proceeded to walk to our hostal, which was sketchy to say the least.
Hopped up out the bed the next morning to go on a tour of Dachau, the first concentration camp where SS training for all the others occurred. We decided to splurge and take a guided tour, which was one of the best decisions we made all trip.
Our tour guide was phenomenal. She didn’t stutter or pause once. She was an encyclopedia, she was charismatic, she spoke with purpose. Three hours later, we knew everything there was to know about that camp, the horrors that occurred within it, what Germany has done to move forward, how there are still holocausts happenings around the world, and what we can do to help. Powerful stuff.
We then fishtailed in the other direction and headed to Springfest, the spring version of Octoberfest, where beer flows like water in liter-large single-servings and the world’s best pretzels are served hot, fresh, in a size as big as your head. This is what we like to call “The Happiest Place in the World”.
The first day. There aren’t many pictures. We were too busy getting accustomed to dancing on tables, learning German with our new friend Mario, and going to the bathroom. This started around four, and was cashed by 11.
The next morning we awoke. Dowdle with a black eye and a boot that had lost its sole, Kirsten looking like a hot mess, and Shane without a debit card. I was unharmed. We throw down some Subway, and head to meet the rest of the crew, who were sprawled in the lobby of their hostal alongside an array of stranded travelers.
Conversations begin. Six of them were study abroad students whose flights were cancelled due to the Icelandic Volcano Eruption, and had no idea how they were getting home. So, like any good study abroad students, we open our maps, find the most famous beer houses, and begin a pub crawl.
It was on this crawl where I enjoyed the best beer of my life. One a tall blonde that I don’t remember the name of, one the darkest I’d ever drink that went by the name of Dunkle, and various other anonymous brews that didn’t compare. The 13 of us became best friends, pillaging the city of their beer and pretzels, and then taking over a table in the front and center of Springfest. The pictures tell the story on this one. Mugs raised, voices on high, surrounded by Germans who threw their arms around us in Springfest camaraderie. Keep in mind, this is the happiest place on Earth.
Sadly, we had to leave our new friends around 11pm in order to catch our bus to Prague. It was a good run while it lasted. To my 6 new friends, I won’t forget you. And I applaud you for your high spirits and beast-mode tendencies.
Berlin was great — exceeded my expectation in all facets — but the next day it was time to hop our flight to Munich. So we hop a train to the airport.
Aside: We didn’t pay for public transportation once in Germany. They have no turnstyles, no nothing to stop you from boarding. All they is the fear factor. If you get caught not paying, you owe 40 Euro on the spot. Fail Germany. Fail.
Following a scare with a train patrolman who didn’t speak English and let us escape, we roll up to the airport counter only to learn that our flight was cancelled. Why you ask? BECAUSE OF THE ICELANDIC VOLCANO ERUPTION!!! More on that to come.
So what do we do? We check to see if their are any trains, only to find that there’s an hour-long wait just to get to the info desk. Fail. So car rental now is our only option. There’s only four cars left amongst all the car companies, all economy sized, all manuals. Now, we’re backed up against a wall here. This is our only option. Only problem is that only 2 of us knew how to drive stick, and hadn’t done so since high school. Should we risk it? Of course we should.
Ten minutes later, we’ve got the keys to two Ford Fiestas (we didn’t choose them), and the seven of us are hitting the road.
Three hours later, we’re pulled over on the side of the road for the 5th time looking at maps to try and find the highway merely to get us out of Berlin. We loved the city so much we just couldn’t bear to leave it. The difference about this stop was that some random trucker started helping us with the maps. And then volunteers to drive us all the way to our highway. Great Man. Sad part is we didn’t even get his name, so we merely call him TUK, as that was the company he was driving for.
Five hours of driving on the autobahn later, we’ve arrived in Munich. We’d been through a lot with Rosie the Ford Fiesta (my Fiesta was a fuschia shade of pink). She taught me how to drive a stick again. She broke 165kmph, over 100mph. And allowed us to see the German countryside, which was full of wind-energy turbines — literally hundereds. Turns out my class on the European Union wasn’t lying, Germany really does have great alternative energy initiatives.
The story begins on Thursday morning. Flight to Berlin leaves at 7am, so my butt is up at 4 hopping in a cab to the airport. Woof. A few hours later we’re wandering around the city. Now, I’d go into details on what we saw, however I don’t really know what most of it was. Sad? Definitely. I guess that’s why the world has history majors. However, we saw a bunch of stuff, most of which I subconsciencely remember seeing in Command & Conquer: Red Alert, and then headed to the Berlin Wall.
Now, when you think of the Berlin Wall, what come to mind? Destruction, ruins, communist symbolism. Well, that’s not what it is at all. In fact, the wall looks brand new, with no signs of wear and tear. It’s lined with beautiful graffiti painting for miles, how the artists were chosen I’m not sure, most of which symbolize hope, progress, and other themes of an uplifting nature — see pictures.
Looking at historical landmarks really makes you work up a hunger, so it was a good thing that there was a 24h Kebab and Currywurst stand right by the Metro station — and it wouldn’t be German if it didn’t have a fridge full of ice-cold and delicious half liter bottles of beer as compliments to the fine cuisine. Welcome to our German diet.
Lastly, we hit the town and discovered two things: 1) Berlin has got some great nightlife. 2) Berlin has got a thriving prostitution trade. Every corner, new girl, same white boots.