Posts Tagged ‘Europe’

It has been almost two months since I posted. I have been back in America for the last month and let me say that I procrastinated posting a new entry to the EXTEME. Yes, the study abroad program in Dublin has been officially over for me for quite some time (month and a half now). However, I need to at least put some closure on the whole experience. I would hate to be left hanging if one blog or another was not finished. I mean, who ever did read my blog would say, ” common Jude! Do not leave me hangin’ girl”.

And so, I left you all hangin’.

So, I digress and let me tell you, my trip to the Netherlands, Germany, Czech Republic, and Poland was an experience of a life time. My roommate and I were waiting on the sidelines, during the end of April, to see if the Icelandic volcano would bless us the good fortune of ending the chaos (the plumes of smoke that canceled thousands of flights). Europe was being showered with ash and I was stuck waiting “patiently”. In the end, I was able to go and had a great time!

In Amsterdam, Berlin, and Prague I could not have been more thankful for a free walking tour company. This company is known as SANDEMANs New Europe. Throughout major cities in Europe (also in Dublin), this tour company gives free walking tours daily. In each of the three cities, the English-speaking tour guides (two from the Unites States and one from England) gave entertaining and historical information through the few hours I walked with them. To sum it up, if I did not go on these tours, I would have missed out on much of the city.

My favorite city was Prague, Czech Republic. Not only was the art and architecture purely amazing, the night life was over the top! I signed myself up for my first ever pub crawl. Clock Tower Pub Crawl gave me the night life experience I was missing on this trip. We went to four different pubs/ clubs throughout the night and met English-speaking people from all over the world!

Now, my heritage goes back to Polish roots (also German, French Canadian, and Native American), so traveling through Poland was beyond comparable to other feelings I had for other countries. Traveling on the train to Krakow gave me this weird, however wonderful sense of being home, even though it was my Great Grandparents who had been in Poland last. Most of the houses I passed were run down small houses, but for some reason the place had a huge charm to it.

I was finally in Poland.

I was going for my family (my dad and aunt had this utmost desire for me to go) and I did it for myself.  What a beautiful country to have gone through so much with powerful overbearing countries residing next to her.

I also took a train exploration to Oświęcim (the town of Auschwitz satellite camps) and walked to the Auschwitz-I (the Stammlager or main camp) from the train station (20-30 min walk). Some visitors were crying at the site and I was deeply moved.

There were many things that I saw in the museum that trying rung me to the core (the room of shoes, clumps of hair, clothing, suitcases, all life possessions in general). The tiny baby clothes. I cannot begin to understand how they felt. The fear? Death? Loss of family? Torture? . . . .

Those feelings only brush the surface of it all. To only be there for a few hours does not even grasp it. Not even close.

The Auschwitz II-Birkenau (Vernichtungslager or extermination camp) was down the road from Auschwitz-I, however I did not have enough time to walk in. I was able to look from the outer walls and obviously looked just as morbid as Auschwitz I.

Overall, the trip to the four countries was a huge eye opener. I learned more about where my family came from and was able to get a historical on-site experience.

It was a glorious adventure!

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hey who ever is actually is still reading this! Greetings from Prague, Czech Republic! Holy cow this place is AMAZING! I was going to talk about the Dropkick Murpheys concert that I went to last week but never got to posting. It was a super sweet concert in Dublin! Anyways, I just jumped on the computer to say hello! I know I haven’t posted in a week or so, however you will be getting a BIG post after this week. I am doing a “blitzkreig” (use the term loosely) through a few countries over the next several days. Two days ago I was in Amsterdam; yesterday, in Berlin; today and tomorrow in Prague; and the following two days in Krakow which I will visit one of the Auschwitz concentration camps. This week definitely has a World War II feel to it. All of the cities have been affected by the war one way or another.

I’ll post next week. I wish I could stay in each city a few days longer than I planned, however, this is my free week “study week” (who studies during study week when you got the opportunity of a life time to travel? seriously), followed by finals week next week. Anyways, you see I am on a tight schedule.

Final statement: I AM COMING BACK TO THESE PLACES! Wow, words cannot describe the trip. Simply, too beautiful, too wonderful.

Peace Out!

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This weekend was pretty much a last minute decision. The only plan we had was to head to Cork first and then go from there. The girls and I took a bus from Dublin to Cork in what we thought was only going to be a three hour ride. Wrong. Five hours later that involved many stops in between to pick others up on the way to Cork, we arrived with no plans of what we were going to do. The plus side of the bus ride was seeing all the cute little towns on the way, which were pretty brief visits of sight seeing, via bus. Anyways after getting off the bus, the first thing on our minds was…FOOD. So after a satisfying trip to subway (which was plopped down perfectly right next to the station), we decided to head to Blarney where we could kiss the blarney stone. The ride was only five miles from Cork, so we thought that we should see that first and then come back to see the night life of Cork.

The town of Blarney was cute and the Blarney Castle was even more. After paying eight euro, we were able to explore the grounds where the Castle resides as well as climb up to the top of the Castle. Going through the castle was interesting enough. Most floors were pretty much gone so I could see from the cellar barn all the way up to the living room three floors up. On the very top of the Castle was our destination though because the Blarney stone was practically waiting for us. Kissing the Blarney Stone was said to give any kisser the “gift of gab”. The gift of gab was said to give the kisser “the skill at flattery” (thank you wikipedia).

I’m already flattering…

After puckering the stone up, the girls and I walked around the grounds a little bit (and playing on the kids playground) before heading back into Cork where we planned to stay the night instead of leaving. We were thinking of leaving Cork for Galway that evening but since we did not explore Cork city yet and since there were no night buses running, we rented a hostel room instead. I was surprised at how cool the city was. Since Cork won the most cultural city of the year, a few years back, they decided to remodel a few of the main streets. They were cool to walk through with the pretty brick layered streets and fancy shops. The next morning after getting a cup of mocha at this really sweet coffee shop, we walked to the English Market. With my Ireland guide book, I found out that the market had over 140 stalls of different foods. I only bought a fruit scone though (reminds me of a biscuit with berries added). Later on, we decided to talk the 3 hour bus (ended up being 5 hour bus ride again) to Galway. It was a beautiful ride through the country side again.

Once in Galway, we dropped our bags off at only of the girls friends flat who was also studying abroad (in Galway though). After that, we all walked around the city (which was super cute and small). The last place to see was the fast paced river, which led into the bay. There was a big patch of grass that young people alike were out chilling by which made us decide to skip the pubs and bring our drinks out to the river instead. We all say random music of the 90’s and resided under the star lit sky.

The night was a blast…especially seeing a flock of over 40 swans grouped together next to the river. Woo hoo!

To top off the weekend, we took a bus tour to the Cliffs of Moher. To get there, we took a few stops first. Dunguaire Castle was one them. A beautiful castle that resides over a body of water. Our tour guide stated that there are a portion of Guinness commercials filmed at Dunguaire Castle. I can see why Guinness would use this site. It’s BEAUTIFUL! It’s magical. But after taking our quick five minute bus break to take pictures, we had to keep moving. Next stop was Ireland’s “Burren”. The burren is a site of limestone rock that fully covers mountains and valleys in the area. The farms inside the burren provide the best nutrients for the animals and plants, provided by the nutrients of the limestone. The grass sure looked loads greener in those parts. Over 11,000 species of plants reside in the burren as well which equals to about 70 percent of Ireland’s plant species reside in this limestone covered area.

Leaving the Burren, we stopped for lunch before heading off to one of the most prettiest, most beautiful places I have ever seen.
The Cliffs of Moher. To top off our weekend, we were allowed an hour and a half stop at the cliffs. We were able to hike around for that period to different parts of the cliffs. However, there was a sign at one point that said, “Please Do Not Go Beyond This Point”. Beyond this point was private property. However, a friend of ours told us to skip pass the sign and follow the people who went past it.
So, we went beyond “this point”. Was it destiny to go beyond? I think so.

Going beyond the point proved to be the most worthwhile part of the trip. I was able to get so many more beautiful views on the other side of the sign. I could see two caves down below. One of which was used in the six movie of the Harry Potter series. The “Horcrux” Cave. However, the only part of the cave at the cliffs used was the outer part. I can see how it looks foreboding with 710 feet high cliffs.

With the 710 feet worth of nothing to stop someones fall other than the water below, we were at the very edge of the cliff the whole time walking by it. I checked on the internet later and it shows that at least one person falls from the cliffs every year, whether through the wind blowing someone down, you take the wrong step and fall (which apparently happened to a man trying to take a picture of a group of people and stepped backwords wrongly and fell), or commit suicide.

Let’s move past the morbidity shall we?

Anyways, we could not have gotten a better day for the cliffs. Light breeze, 65 degree weather, and sunny. There were even kiyakers below, paddling their way around the cliffs.

That was the end of a beautiful and perfect weekend. I want to kiyak around the cliffs some day. That would be amazing!

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