Journals from National University of Ireland
2010-04-28 Easter break!!!
Daybreak in Venice
It has been a while since I last posted an entry so let me tell you about my April. My dad flew out here from Oregon at the end of March and just left for home this morning (April 28th). We spent three weeks of that time backpacking through Belgium, the Netherlands, Denmark, Germany, the Czech Republic, Switzerland, Austria, Italy, and France. We rode around on the trains, making the trip up as we went with no schedule or reservations whatsoever and had a great time! Since we wanted to see as much of Europe as we could, we only spent a few hours or a day in a city and then moved on to the next. There were a lot of things we had to deal with: a lack of English speakers in many of the countries, being unfamiliar with the cities we were visiting, hand-washing laundry in leaky hostel sinks, trying to find inexpensive accommodations in a resort town in Switzerland at 11:00 at night during what felt like an Arctic blast, French restaurants not opening for dinner until 6:30 when we were starving at 4:30, being questioned by German police as to why my last name is spelled incorrectly on my passport, a French train strike, and an Icelandic volcano, to name a few.
Honestly, though, the difficulties and challenges actually made the trip far more fun and interesting than it would have been without a single hitch. I found that my (very) limited Spanish skills came in handy in Italy, while everywhere else we could usually get our point across with a lot of gesturing and smiling and the occasional Merci. We had Belgian waffles in Belgium and croissants in France, rode gondolas in Venice, and took a train over a pass in the Swiss Alps. We toured Prague, slept in 6-bunk sleeper coaches on overnight trains, set a personal record riding eight trains in one day, and had moules et frites (mussels and fries) for dinner when we stayed with my cousin and her French husband at their apartment in Toulouse, France. Of course, that only gives a small taste of the three weeks we spent traveling around.
Our original flight back to Ireland was canceled due to volcanic ash so we ended up staying longer than we had planned in France, but we finally caught a plane to Dublin four days later. My dad and I were not the only two trying to make it back to Galway either. Katie was stuck elsewhere in France with her mom and my roommate, Beth, and ended up having to take a ferry to Ireland.
Now that I am back its time to study for my remaining finals and write a couple essays. I missed two of my finals because of the flight cancellation, so I will be making those up. Also, three of my roommates are leaving this weekend. Things will probably be pretty quiet around here until I finish my finals and can go explore more of Ireland.
Fun facts o the day:
1. If you find yourself in Berlin with a bratwurst, dont bother asking for sauerkraut. Apparently, they only do that in Bavaria.
2. The Swiss train system, world-renowned for its timeliness and dependability, actually still operates trains with toilets that dump directly onto the tracks. There is a sign in each water closet saying Use of WC prohibited in stations.