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Posts Tagged ‘SANDEMANs New 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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