With an Extra Side of Europe Part 1 (Week 11)

This week I start my spring break traveling to 8 different countries in Northern Europe. I waited for this trip for so long and now that it is finally here, it feels unreal. Well, I hope you all enjoy reading part one of my two-part journey!

Berlin, Germany

Our first destination on our global semester’s tour across Northern Europe was Berlin, Germany. As soon as we all arrived in Berlin we went on a city tour by bus/walking. Our tour guide was very nice and she managed to show and explain the entire city of Berlin in about 4 hours. When I first arrived in Berlin, I was so shocked at how the city looked( As I mentioned previously, I did not do any research on any of the places I was going to visit and based each place solely on what I saw in the media). Berlin was very modern, the architecture of all the buildings looked futuristic and the town was just beautiful. After our tour was over, we arrived at hotel Ibis to settle in and then we went on the hunt for authentic German food. When I tell you that it literally took us an hour to find authentic food, I am not kidding. Every restaurant served every other countries food but German food. During our search for food, we went to three different convenience stores and asked a few locals until we stumbled across a hole in wall German restaurant. This restaurant only served one German dish called Currywurst, but it was still delicious and with a beer it was even better.

The next day Joey and I decided to wake up bright and earlier to explore the city of Berlin on our own. We did not want to pay for public transportation; I did not feel like walking, so we decided to rent bicycles for the day! I did not ride a bicycle in three years so I was a little nervous, but after five minutes I got the hang of it againJ. The first place we stopped at was a little village market that sold an assortment of items like clothes, souvenirs, food, and art. We even saw a man draw 3D art on the ground which I thought was pretty awesome.

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Then we biked to Museum Island which is literally a complex of five museums located on a small island in the Spree. Since it takes a day in itself to go to all five museums, we choose the Egyptian museum. This museum was filled with real tombs, sculptures, hieroglyphics and lots of history. They even had an area honoring Nefertiti; The royal wife of Akhenaten (We were not allowed to take pictures of this part). I really enjoyed this museum and I really wish I had more time to explore the four other museums.

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(Joey and I)SAM_2362

(Ancient Egyptian Artifact)

We then trekked through the hundreds of people surrounding Museum Island and headed to the TV tower. We bought our tickets earlier in the day and had to wait 3 hours until we could go to the top. What’s really cool about this place is that when you get on the elevator to get to the top, it almost feels like you are traveling through time, especially when you look up through the glass ceiling. Once you reach the top, you can see the entire city of Berlin from a 360-degree view. You can also eat at the TV tower’s restaurant located 1 floor higher and there is a bar if you want a drink.

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(The view from the top of the TV Tower)

After taking in that awesome view of the tower, we biked to the Brandenburg Gate. The Brandenburg Gate was one of the dividing points between East and West Berlin and has been the focus of many key moments in German history. This area is filled with street performers, tourists, and cobblestone…lots of cobblestone.

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(Joey and I)

Once you passed through the gate, you see a long straight road and a huge park that leads you directly to the tower. Joey and I took this opportunity to cruise on our bikes and just absorb the sites, the smells, the awesome people, and the fact that we are actually biking around Berlin! Climbing to the top of the victory tower gave us another great 360 degree of Berlin but this time you could see the city as well as the suburban area….oh and lots of trees!

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(View from the top of Victory Tower)

As the end of the day was approaching, we realized that we were all the way across town, feeling half dead but that did not stop us from riding at full speed across town to get back to our hotel. We zoomed through the streets and even seen a live giraffe on the way…well, a life-sized Lego giraffe. We ended our night eating at this cool burger joint that’s under the train and I have to say I enjoyed the simplicity and grungy feeling it gave me when we ate there. I absolutely love Berlin and it is now one of my favorite cities in Europe.

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(My pet Giraffe)

Berlin was also one of my favorite cities because it brought me closer to my good friend joey. Although we knew each other for about 3 months, we did not really know each other on a personal level. We took a long stroll through the streets of Berlin and just shared interesting stories about our lives. We have a lot more in common than I would have ever thought and I am glad we got to have that bro moment. You are the best dude! Also, shout out to your newly found shade throwing skills ahaha

Dresden, Germany

On our way to Prague, we made a brief excursion to Dresden for a few hours to explore. Dresden was bombed during World War II causing the whole town to have to be rebuilt. The majority of Dresden is fairly new making it a very picturesque place.

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Dresden

The guys and I also ate at an Australian restaurant called Ayers rock and ordered a large plate of ostrich, crocodile, and kangaroo….Yes, I ate all three of those animals and now there added to my exotic animal tastings list!

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Prague, Czech Republic

When I arrived in Prague, I wasted no time in wanting to explore this city. I put my bags in my room, went to trip advisor, mapped out some places of interest and asked the front desk for recommendations on what to do first. We ended up exchanging money at the first exchange place (Study abroad tips #1 ALWAYS CHECK MULTIPLE EXCHANGE PLACES FOR THE BEST RATE!) we saw and headed straight for Old Town Square. The square was filled with lots of little shops, restaurants and a huge crowd of people. Of course as a tourist, my friends and I just jumped to the front of the crowd to see what was going on and then we looked up and seen the Astronomical Clock! We discovered that each hour, the clock chimes and a series of puppets come out to entertain the public (Now that explains the huge crowds). We then had a mini photo shoot in front of the clock and a few Czech kids grouped photobombed us…

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(Prague Astronomical Clock)

We spotted a giant metronome across the river and ended up walking towards it (The location of the giant metronome had a great view of Prague!).

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(Giant Metronome)

Walked across the most important point of interest in Prague; The Charles Bridge!

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(Charles Bridge)

And then we ended our first night in Prague eating at the Hard Rock Café were we tried the Prague local burger.

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(Prague Burger)

The next day we had a group tour all around Prague and she introduced us to the Prague subways. The escalators leading down to the subway was one of the craziest, strangest and funniest experiences I had with foreign transportation. It literally felt like gravity shifted when I went down and it is very steep.

We explored a few gardens…

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Went inside the St. Vitus Cathedral…

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(St. Vitus Cathedral)

And saw the Prague Castle (Well at least from the outside).

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We also got a taste of local fast food…

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(Miguel, Sarah and I)

At the end of the tour we explored the town for the rest of the day, bought some souvenirs and enjoyed some live music at an Irish Pub! (Shout out to the performer for singing Iris by The Goo Goo dolls and classic Journey).

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(Joey, Myself, Maria, Ashlee, Sarah and Katie)

So far Prague was one of my favorite cities and I enjoyed the fact that everything was within walking distance (Public Transportation adds up after a while).  I would definitely return here in the future!

Bratislava, Slovakia

I would have never imagined going to a country for 6 hours, but I did when I went to Slovakia. We spent the afternoon on a group/walking tour around Bratislava; the capital city of Slovakia. We drove through the Bratislava “Beverly Hills” and seen all the beautiful embassy’s right next to each other, each competing in architecture.

We also went to the Bratislava castle and got an awesome view of the city.

Then we went on a walking tour around the Bratislava old town where you can see many quirky statues like my good ole friend Cumil.

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(Chilling with Cumil)

Oh and this cool guy giving joey his top hat!

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(Joey)

What’s cool about Bratislava is that it is the only national capital that borders two independent countries, Austria, and Hungary. So you can easily drive to either in under a few hours!

Vienna, Austria

Vienna is the capital city of Austria with the largest population of about 2.3 million people. Vienna has a huge city vibe with a historical twist giving you the best of both worlds. When we first arrived in Vienna, we jumped straight into a 3hr tour. We visited the Hundertwasser Haus created by Friedensreich Hundertwasser.

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(Hundertwasser haus)

The artist made this area like this so all the grey and to make it livelier and a friendlier place for the public and the apartment owners.

We checked out the Hofburg palace aka my future home.

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Saw the coolest mini bear dog!… and awed at the cutest baby all at the same time .

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Then I discovered there is a cathedral named St. Stephan’s Cathedral! (Yes my family owned this cathedral for century’s lol and an entire square is named Stephansplatz (This means Stephan Square in German).
Yes I had to buy the street sign from the souvenir shop

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(Stephan Square!)

Then we went to Mozart’s adult home!

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Our day finished at the Schönbrunn Palace which was an unforgettable sight. This palace had so many acres of land, a hedge maze, a zoo, restaurants and an unlimited amount of places to sit to take it all in. I really enjoyed the Schönbrunn Palace and I would love to come back to Vienna again in the future. This place is defiantly on my list of places to move to when I get older.

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Salzburg, Austria

Huge mountains, green grass, and fresh air are all the ways I can describe this small town. Salzburg is the perfect little getaway from the city that still provides a lot of things to do. We also had no tours for this city so we planned out our own adventure in this town. The first thing we did was visit the birthplace of Wolfgang Mozart (His home is now a museum). Everywhere in Salzburg you will see tributes honoring the world’s greatest musician. Mozart’s home covers his childhood all the way until his death and by the time you leave his home, you will have a thorough understanding of his life works.

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(Mozart’s Birthplace)

We watched a life-sized game of chess in the square.

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We enjoyed the view of the town from the top of the Fortress Hohensalzburg

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Explored the catacombs…

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Then we took a tram to the top of Untersburg Mountain and the view was awesome. In one direction, you can see the beautiful town of Salzburg and then you turn around and see the Swiss Alps! My friends and I had a snowball fight, I fell a few times, the snow got in places snow should not be in and I lost every ounce of energy I had when we finally reached the top. Literally, I was dragging myself to get to the top and I was sweating bullets, but it was totally worth it!

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By the end of the day, the bros and I took one last walk through Salzburg and discovered a very odd park behind Mozart University. You already know our inner kid came out and played on everything!

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My spring break is halfway over and so far it has been the best spring break I had in my entire life! My life is really great right now.

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