Perusing Prague- What Have I Been Up To?

Hello friends! So sorry for the lack of blog posts since I have been away. These past two months have been super busy with starting school, an intensive course which included a paper and a final, four midterms, four different country trips, and the random homework in between!

I have finally slowed down a little (but only just a little) and have found a few minutes to FINALLY write a post about what I have been up to all this time. The first week I was here I did a lot of adventuring around town. I made friends my first day in town which is pretty inevitable when you live in residence with hundreds of other international students. I saw the major tourist attractions around town (except for the Prague Castle which I still have yet to see but am saving that for when my two friends come and visit in two weeks. One of which I went to high school with and the other I study with back in Newfoundland and he’s studying abroad in Wales) and got a feel for the city.

Wallenstein Garden, Prague Czech Republic

Me in Wallenstein Garden, Prague Czech Republic

September 24th I started my classes. The system is different here in Europe so instead of my usual 5 classes, 15 credit hours I’m taking 8 classes (plus one intensive class) worth a total of 31 ECTS (European credit transfer system). 6 ECTS=1 class=3 credit hours back home. The intensive class I took was during the second week of school and it was 3 days 9:00-4:30 and that was it. We had a “final” during the last class and had to submit a 5 page paper. The class was called Japanese Management Style and was actually really interesting! It was basically a huge discussion about cultural and gender differences and as a lot of us were exchange students who gave a lot of different input. But enough about the boring stuff which you probably don’t care about…

TRIPS. So far I have been to four different countries excluding the Czech Republic- Germany, Italy, Austria, and the Netherlands. I also had a day in Karlstejn in the Czech Republic where we had a full day of hiking.

In Germany I was in Munich and Dachau but unfortunately did not see any of Munich (which really does disappoint me because although I enjoyed my time I really would’ve liked to see the city). We spent our time at the last weekend of Oktoberfest.

My fine looking crew in the Hofbräuhaus at Oktoberfest 2012 in Munich

My fine looking crew in the Hofbräuhaus at Oktoberfest 2012 in Munich

We had all intentions of doing the free walking tour of Munich but with the rain and poor weather we decided  to check out the Dachau concentration camp. It was pretty epic and you were feeling emotions for something you can’t quite comprehend. I will soon have a post on Verge Magazine about my experience in this concentration camp. Stay tuned for that as well as a post about Vienna and the pros and cons of off season travel.

A memorial in the Dachau concentration camp, Dachau, Germany

A memorial in the Dachau concentration camp, Dachau, Germany

Amsterdam, Holland, The Netherlands

Amsterdam, Holland, The Netherlands

The weekend after I went with a few students here to Amsterdam in the Netherlands. Amsterdam was a really neat city, kind of a surreal place in the world since it’s so different than where I live (Canada). It was a lot of fun though and we met a group of Aussies who we spent the weekend with. We saw the infamous red light district, the Anne Frank house, went on the Heineken Experience tour, checked out the Van Gogh museum and did a lot of walking around and sightseeing.

Typical Amsterdam...

Typical Amsterdam…

Karlštejn Castle, Karlštejn, Czech Republic

Karlštejn Castle, Karlštejn, Czech Republic

After these two big weekends I decided to stay in Prague for two weeks and do some things locally. I did a lot of exploring to parts of Prague I had yet to see in the city and had a day of hiking in Karlštejn.

Baby statues by David Černý outside of the Kampa Museum in Prague, Czech Republic

Baby statues by David Černý outside of the Kampa Museum in Prague, Czech Republic

One of my favorite things I have seen in Prague so far are the metal baby statues at the Kampa Museum which were created by David Černý.

I had read about these statues before I came here and were on the list of top things to see in Prague. There are three of them located just outside the museum. They’re one of those not-so-touristy things all the tourists should see (in my opinion, anyway!)

After a bit of a break I had two big weekends again. The first one I found myself in Vienna, Austria. I will have a post published on Verge Magazine in the next few weeks about that trip so stay tuned! I discuss the pros and cons of off season travel. Vienna was really gorgeous and I loved the palaces and architecture. Also, the food was nothing to turn your nose up too, yum yum!

The weekend after that I finally made my way to Cinque Terre <3. You can see my blog post about that trip; it deserved its own post because it was just so gorgeous and awesome- a definite must see!

And this brings us to now. The past three weeks I wrote some midterms and travelled and needed another break. This weekend I decided to stay in Prague and I’m thankful I did because I developed a cold on Friday. I took it pretty easy this weekend doing a bit of school work and hanging out with my flatmate, Reem (our roommates are gone to Amsterdam this weekend so we had a quiet flat to ourselves). Last night we made a homemade facial, had some wine and chatted, it was a nice evening.

Next weekend is a trip to Budapest and that’s the last trip I currently have planned. I really want to head to Krakow and to Berlin but I’m not sure yet if I will travel in December or not. My first final will be December 12th and the following week I will write the rest. Between now and then I have those finals, a project, two papers, and four presentations- plus some scattered things for my web 2.0 class. Oivey.

Stay tuned for another update. I apologize again for my lack of updates, but at least now you’re aware of what all I have been up to the past two months!

Cinque Terre, Italy

Just last weekend I was finally able to view one of the most colorful places in the world; Cinque Terre, Italy. As a side note, I think it’s pretty rad that the place I currently live (not when I’m on exchange) also makes the list; St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada.

Another awesome thing to note is that Cinque Terre made the list of the Europe’s Top 10 Scenic Rail Journeys by Lonely Planet– I totally agree!

Me in Levanto, Cinque Terre, Italy the first night of our trip

Boats at night in Levanto, Cinque Terre, Italy

Boats at night in Levanto, Cinque Terre, Italy

Cinque Terre was absolutely breath taking, regardless of my journey taking place in the off season. I admired pictures of this region for quite some time and that was at the very top of my list to visit during my semester abroad. I am so thankful I was actually able to go, but that journey was honestly just a tease.

We flew to Milan the night of Thursday November 8th and stayed there for the evening. We only had enough time to sleep and head out to Lavento where we stayed the next day. It was a 3 hour train ride and was the first village just outside Cinque Terre.

Upon arrival we heard about the crazy labyrinth that lay within the forests. Unfortunately that didn’t fit into our itinerary but I will most DEFINITELY come back to this! Instead we just adventured around the town and walked the old railway tunnel that lead to Bonassola.

Me in front of Manarola, Cinque Terre, Italy

Me in front of Manarola, Cinque Terre, Italy

The next night we stayed in Monarolla and went from town to town inside Cinque Terre. We had all intentions of hiking the mountain trek trails but once we went to purchase our Cinque Terre pass we were informed they were closed for the season. This somewhat made out decisions easier as the weather for the day was supposed to be very rainy and we didn’t have all that much time in the area. Instead we just train hopped between the villages and explored among them. We ended up missing out on Corniglia due to limited daylight. At this point it was getting dark around 5pm and we just didn’t have the time.

We also found out once we arrived that the Via dell’Amore was closed due to a landslide in late February. There is currently an investigation being conducted as four people were injured in the slide. Overall it sounds as though there were a lot of disappointments but the place was so magical that I enjoyed every minute of it despite the closures  Because of this tease of a trip I have decided I will for sure make a trip back during the peak season and found out what I would like to see when I come back. I realized I didn’t know all that much about the area and will do a lot more research next time and plan a longer stay. This is definitely a region people should check out, especially if you’re a hiker and love the outdoors!