Travels

Theresienstadt Concentration Camp, Terezín, the Czech Republic

If you’re impressed by how quickly I wrote this post, don’t be.  After my post about Prague my sister called and said she read it, then asked, “How many months will I have to wait until the next one?”  So this isn’t timely blogging, it’s just a form of sibling vengeance.  Also I just got an email that school is cancelled tomorrow due to extreme cold, so I have one more day of winter break!!

That being said, as I mentioned in my post on Prague, Brona and I went to Terezin, a town with a concentration camp.  I forgot to mention it before, but the fact that a WWII concentration camp was nearby was also a reason why I chose to go to Prague.  I knew I wanted to see a concentration camp while I was in Europe, and I wasn’t picky about which one; when I was deciding where to go on my last trip, I created a Google map with pins on all the possible places I could go, including the concentration camps that are open for visitors.  I didn’t really want to go to Poland and I was pretty much all Germany-ed out, so when the possibility of going to Prague came up I jumped on it.

Side note: when I was planning my trip a lot of people were like, “You want to go to a concentration camp?  That’s…cheerful.”  Well, no, it’s not, dummkopf.  I’m not going for a pick-me-up; I’m going because it’s an important part of our history, one that shouldn’t be forgotten, and I wanted to experience it firsthand while I had the chance.  It was for the same reasons that I went to the Caen Memorial Museum, and the D-Day beaches, and the American cemetery, and Anne Frank’s house.  It was a very WWII-rich year for me.

Okay, so anyway.  Brona and I caught the 4:30 AM train back to Prague from Podebrady, then crashed for just a few hours at her apartment, managing to wake up, get ready, and make it to the bus depot before 10:30.  We walked around for a few minutes looking for the platform listed on our tickets, then began to panic when we couldn’t find it and the clock crept closer to 10:30.  Because it was a Sunday, there was no one working, and the guy at the newspaper stand there was none too keen on helping two English-speaking girls.  We even found two other people who were looking to go to Terezin, but they had no idea where the bus stop was either so they ended up going to the zoo instead.  I’m sure it was a more uplifting day, anyway.

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Prague, the Czech Republic: Running, Laughter, and Shenanigans

All right, it’s been awhile, so let’s recap a bit.  After I got done teaching in April, I had about two and a half weeks to travel around before heading back home.  I chose to go four places: Barcelona, Amsterdam, Prague, and Vienna.  There were two main reasons I chose to go to Prague: several people suggested it on my Facebook status asking for advice, and my friend Brona from the UK was living there!  She was actually my resident when I was an RA on the International Floor at ISU and invited me to come stay with her.  Umm, sold!

It was a weekend of shenanigans, to say the least.

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Amsterdam: City of Bikes

Oh hey everyone!

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You miss me?  I’ve definitely missed writing on the blog, but have been having lots of fun and keeping busy in my time not spent blogging.  I could list all the things I’ve been doing but I’ll just get right back into it.

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Spring in Barcelona

I finished teaching on April 12, then the next day I flew to Barcelona to spend a few days.  I wasn’t expecting to like Spain very much; I’m not really sure why, other than the fact that I speak NO Spanish/Catalan and not speaking the native language of a place generally bugs me.  However, I absolutely LOVED Barcelona.  The weather was beautiful, there was unique architecture that I really liked, there were lots of cool things to see, there seemed to be a lot of nature within the city, and I found a lot of lookout points over the city, which is one of my favorite things.  Also, sangria.

In addition, the people were very different from the French; they seemed more like Americans to me, but of course had their own uniqueness as well.  Most people I had to talk to spoke English fairly well, there were more overweight people (Murrica) and they seemed to dress more like Americans than the French, and they spoke loudly and seemed very friendly.  I think the combination of friendly people and beautiful weather gave the city a super strong vibe, which was rivaled only by Berlin in all the cities I visited.  It felt like it was summer there already!

Okay, enough talking, let’s get to some photos.  I’m going to try to cram the whole trip into one post… here goes!

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A short trip to Eze-sur-mer

A co-worker from my school and I had been talking all year about taking a trip to Eze, a small town not too far from Nice.  As time goes, it flew by, and before we knew it I only had a couple more weeks of school!  We planned to do it that week, but then rescheduled for the Thursday of my last week of school.  Nothing like leaving it to the last minute!  We didn’t have a ton of time, since I was having a good-bye dinner for all my friends at my apartment that evening (and it was scheduled to rain in mid-afternoon), but we left early afternoon and spent a good few hours seeing a few things in the town.

Eze is a really small medieval village on top of a mountain- it’s called a perched village since it’s up so high.  If you take the train you have to walk up the mountain to get there, but if you take the bus or drive you can go right up to the city.  Luckily, we drove, so no mountain climbing for me!

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Categories: Life in France, Travels | Tags: , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Life Lately + Lyon

Wow, it’s been longer than I had planned since I last posted.  Sorry!!  You’d think being unemployed and all I’d be posting up a storm, but sadly, that doesn’t seem to have been the case.  Here’s what I’ve been up to lately:

  • job applying (temp places for the summer and teaching jobs for the fall)
  • taking trips to Ankeny to first see my very pregnant sister, and then my new baby niece!!
  • cleaning my room and bathroom at home from top to bottom, and donating tons of stuff
  • sorting, organizing, and backing up the millions of photos I took this year
  • enjoying living 25 miles from my boyfriend instead of 5000
  • eating delicious meals at my grandparents’
  • catching up with friends that I haven’t seen for nearly eight months
  • playing my dad in backgammon, and mostly losing
  • trying to catch our five baby kittens that live under the front steps
  • feeding our four bucket calves (and chasing them when moving them to a different field…)
  • hanging out with my cousins that both live right up the road
  • eating delicious food like colby jack cheese, peanut butter, Kraft mac n cheese, my mom’s lemon chicken, my grandma’s spaghetti, Jamaican seasoned pork patties, Mexican food (particularly Chipotle and Diamond Dave’s), and homegrown asparagus

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Fortress at Mont Boron

That’s right, I went back to Mont Boron!  I hadn’t gone up the hill with beautiful views overlooking Nice since back in October.  I guess like with my two visits to Villefranche, it needed revisited before I left!  I considered putting the pictures from the day in with my Haut-de-Cagnes post, but I decided two short-and-sweet ones would be nice after my massive post about Toulouse 🙂

One warm and sunny day Sam (Notice a pattern?  He’s a good friend, haha) and I decided to go up to Mont Boron, since I had never seen the fortress up there.  Honestly  it’s not much to look at, but the views of the city below are AMAZING.  I miiight have amped up the color a little too much on some of these pictures, but they’re just so pretty!

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The fortress.

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I’m hoo-oome!

That’s right, I’m back in the good ol’ Quad City area!  My trip actually went pretty smoothly.  I’m sure I’ll post eventually with more details, but here are some highlights:

  • 22 hours of travel
  • 3 flights
  • 1 delayed flight (my last one home- but only by half an hour)
  • 36 degrees- the temperature it is outside right now
  • 1 experience of SPRINTING to my gate (in Zurich)
  • 9 hours on the flight to the US
  • 1 lucky happening- there was an airport shuttle bus from Gare de Lyon! No metro for me.
  • 3 loved ones seen so far
  • 75 euros + 25 dollars = cost to check my bags
  • 1 Chili’s meal eaten in Chicago- MMM American food!!
  • 1 bouquet of flowers received
  • 3 hugs from my mom within 5 minutes of being home

There’s a lot more I could share but I’m going to shower, get ready, then go up to my grandma’s house for lunch!  I bet all the euros in my wallet that she’s making spaghetti and garlic bread, my favorite grandma meal.  Although I’m definitely going to devour whatever delicious food she makes.  I’m a lucky girl 🙂

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Flower Exposition, Haut-de-Cagnes

The day after I got back from Toulouse, I had a day off of school!  We had Monday off for Easter, which was a nice surprise; I didn’t know when I scheduled my trip to Agen or I probably would’ve stayed another day.  Oh well!  My good friend Sam and I went to Haut-de-Cagnes, a small town in the mountains north of a town called Cagnes-sur-mer.  There’s a big castle there and the day we went, there was a flower exposition there, with lots of flowers and visitors and even some musicians playing!  It was fun to see the castle and all the beautiful flowers were just a plus.

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View from the top.

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Port-Sainte-Marie/Nérac/Agen/Toulouse

The last weekend of March, I took a trip to southwestern France to visit a friend of my high school French teacher.  The main reason was to observe her using TPRS in the classroom (mentioned briefly here) and to talk to her about it, but also to see a different part of France, and one that’s NOT a big city!  This country girl has been hurting for some wide-open spaces.

Port-Sainte-Marie, where the teacher lives, is marked in red.  It's really near Agen and between Toulouse and Bordeaux.

Port-Sainte-Marie, where the teacher lives, is marked in red. It’s really near Agen and between Toulouse and Bordeaux.

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Categories: Teaching, Travels | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

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