Final Europe Weeks
Trip Start Aug 03, 2011
10Trip End Aug 03, 2011
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Apologies for the delay for my final weeks spent in Europe. It's hard to believe that I've been back in Canada for just over three weeks now. It's amazing how the time is just flying by. This is going to be a bit long, but hope you enjoy!!
I believe I left off during my time in Frankfurt. I'll begin from there and catch up to the present day.
It was a lot cooler in Germany than any weather I had experienced up to that point. I have been trying to get away without my "lost" jacket, but I had to spend some time looking for a new jacket in Frankfurt. Luckily, there is quite a nice shopping district. However, everything I was finding was way too expensive for my limited budget
Thanksgiving Monday brought me to Berlin, where I spent the next three nights. I booked a train from Frankfurt to Berlin, using the budgeted route, which meant using four different trains instead of one direct train. I didn't mind. However, I actually overslept the morning I was supposed to leave and I was worried that my pre-purchased ticket wouldn't be any good. However, I looked online and saw that the same route was leaving a couple of hours later as well as the one I was supposed to get. I figured I'd play dumb tourist, if I was questioned about the ticket. To my luck, I discovered that my ticket was good for anytime of the day. So, all was well and I made it to Berlin in good time.
I really enjoyed Berlin. What an interesting city. It's pretty much all new (relatively speaking) due to the destruction from the War. Still, there was lots to see
The second day I went directly to the Berlin Wall and checked out Checkpoint Charlie, which was the border between the East and Western Berlin during the cold war. There is a museum there about Checkpoint Charlie and right around the corner there is an outdoor museum that focuses on the Nazi Regime.. This exposed the build up to WWII and described all of the horrible things they did. For instance, there is a story about one little girl who was taken away from her parents because she had epilepsy. The authors of her story did not know the date of her murder. Horrible to read, but I'm glad I was ablt to read the detailed history of this horrible era.
From Berlin I travelled back to Prague, which was the introduction to my discovery of the bus system in Europe - cheap and quick
I booked this awesome hostel right in the centre of the city square. It was a wonderful location. My first full day was spent walking around the town square and doing an underground tour of the underground city, right below the town square. Apparently the town used to be at a lot lower level than it currently is at, but it was eventually built up. However, the old ground floors of the buildings are now used as cellers and they have a tour to show some of the history of what the rooms were once used for. I ended up eating lunch in a restaurant that recently discovered they have an underground room and expanded their restaurant to show this to the public.
It was a beautiful fall day, so I did some more walking. I walked to the other side of the river to the area that has the castle on it. I didn't go up to the castle, as I was planning to do that the following day, but I walked along the river and back across Charles Bridge. On my way, I saw an advertisement for a string quartet, which was at a small church nearby around 5pm. So, I dropped by to listen. What an amazing performance. There were two violins, a viola, and a cello. They just played the popular classical tunes. I finished the day going on a pub crawl (of course!) with people from all different hostels around the city. The crawl is organized by a group that have their own bar and they send people out to the hostels to pick the interested people up and walk them to the bar. You pay a small fee that includes your cover for the different bars, 2 hours of free drinks at the first bar and a t-shirt! I ended up being one of four people from my hostel
The funniest part of my trip to Prague was what happened in my hostel room the following morning. The room had four bunks in it and it was co-ed. There were three Germans, myself, three Aussies, and some other random dude. Well, this random dude woke everyone up by struggling to climb down from his top bunk and walking towards the door, but instead of going out the door, he decided to urinate in the garbage can by the door. It was loud and the longest pee ever!!!! Hahaha, we were all in shock that this was happening and I'm not sure if he understood english, but we were all saying "what are you doing?" over and over. The odd part is he only had to take (literally!!) three more steps and he would have been over the men's toilet!!! Disgusting! He proceeded to go back to his bunk, but I said, "put the bin outside!" repeatedly until he did it, haha. Oh my. It was funny.
Later that day, I went with two of the Aussies I met in my room (two girls who had randomly met each other) over to the other side of the river and walked up the hill to see the castle
Now it was time for some more sunshine - hot sunshine. I soaked this up in Alicante, Spain. I was there for five nights and three of them were spent with my brother's girlfriend, who I've known for pretty much my entire life, Sarah Douglas. She is also traveling around Europe and it was so nice to meet up with her for a few days. We basically spent all of the days on the beach, and spent part of a day climbing up the big mountain to see the old castle of that town. It was a steep hike! There were some signs along the way that showed a hill and then said 20%. We weren't sure if that meant the grade of the hill or the distance we had walked in relation to getting to the top
I flew from Alicante back to England where I spend a nice relaxing weekend with the Budge Family and headed out on the Tuesday (the first of many bus rides of the week) towards Bath. I. Love. Bath.!!! What a beautiful city. I did so much in my little time there too. I was there for two nights and did so much! My first full day was filled with seeing the Jane Austen Museum (and having high tea there too!), walking to the Circus, which is a street where the buildings are built in a circle, then walking to the Museum of Costume, which was below the building that houses the old meeting rooms (the big ball rooms), and then heading to the Royal Crescent, which is a row of arching town houses, about 30 in a row. I loved this city. The Museum of Costume was really enjoyable for me as I have a fascination of period clothing from about the 1600s to the early 1900s. They had so many authentic dresses to view and shoes galore! I picked up a great book here that details a lot of the outfits they have there.
I met up with one of the pipers from the Bedfordshire pipe band that evening who is currently going to school in Bath - Cameron Doherty. He was able to show me, and a girl I met at my hostel, a bit of the nightlife. That was a fun night. The following day I went and did an extensive tour of the Roman Baths and headed out on an overnight bus towards Scotland!
I have been planning for the entire trip to finish my travels off with a trip to Pitlochry, Scotland where I would observe the piping competition that features the top winners of the big solo piping contests of that season
Saturday was the competition, and as I was heading into the castle (yes, another castle) where it was being held (Blair Atholl Castle), it crossed my mind that a friend of mine, who works for the Piping Centre in Glasgow, who is from Antigonish, Andrea Boyd, may be in attendance. And she was! It was great to get to hang out with her after the event as we attended the dinner and dance/celeidh. That was a lot of fun and I met a lot of people from the piping world. I was surprised as well how many Canadians were in attendance too! That night we stayed in the beautiful Atholl Palace Hotel (not the castle). What a change from a hostel!
The following day brought me back to England on another overnight bus and I arrived back at the Budge Residence for the last time. Sharon made yet another delicious dinner and I was able to collect my other bags and say my final goodbyes before heading to London (on another bus) where I was staying by Heathrow for the night. I cannot express how grateful I was for having the Budge residence as my home away from home. It really really helped me be able to do what I could and not be bogged down with luggage if I wanted to buy a suvenier and not carry it around for the entire time. Plus, it was a great place to just go chill out for a few days.
My trip recap is this (with some areas repeated):
London, Stevenage, Musselburgh, North Berwick, Bridge of Allan, Glasgow, Edinburgh, Belfast, Blarney, Kilarney, Dingle, Penninsula, Ennis, Galway, Inis Mor, Connemara, Enniskillan, Derry (Londonderry), Northampton, Lancaster, Paris, Nice, Monte Carlo, Barcelona, Liverpool, Bristol, Stansted, Prague, Kutna Hora, Olomouc, Krakow, Zakopane, Donovalley, Budapest, Lake Balaton, Plitvice, Split, Bajnice, Zadar, Frankfurt, Berlin, Brno, Alicante, Bath, and Pitlochry
That's 44 cities/towns in 12 different countries. I met or met up with 15 different Canadians and met numerous amazing people along the way.
My next journey has brought me to Labrador City, via Quebec City. My boyfriend, Benedict (B.J.) Alexander is here working and he came to Dartmouth to visit as I returned home. He was able to go with me to my CMA Convocation, which was such a great night catching up with the people who I've spent the last three years going through the program with.
After a bit of time in Dartmouth, we spent a wonderful few days enjoying Quebec City and drove the rest of the way to Labrador City. My aunt and uncle Alberta and Dwight in Miramichi put us up along the way. The drive to Lab City was a little nerve racking as you drive on a road that is entirely snow covered and isn't entirely paved for about 600km. It tooks us about 8 hours to complete. The first hour and the last hour are the worst as the roads are very twisty. Good thing BJ has done this journey plenty of times and has a big truck.
So my next few weeks will be spent more north than I've ever been before and I'll head home for Christmas and back to Lab City (via plane this time!) for a bit of January prior to heading to Australia.
So, I'll leave my blogs until my next Southern Adventure begins. Thank you all very much for the love and support during my journey and for everyone who has taken an interest in my travels and who are reading these blogs. It means so much to me.