Grüezi Alles 🙂
I’m back in Graz! If you read my last post, then you know that I recently embarked on one of my biggest adventure yet! Osternferien is almost over, (2 more days before class resumes!) which means I’m back from my Abenteuer (Adventure)!
Those who know me well know that I am an extreme planner. I’m a type A person, and I can’t help it (sometimes I’d like to). I love mapping out my travel plans, booking things ahead, knowing all the departure and arrival times, and most importantly, how much money I’m going to have to spend (I don’t want to get stuck trying to get home!). I can assure you that my travel plans went 100% according to plan. Just kidding. They didn’t. Perhaps it was more like 60% according to plan, and that’s being generous. So now, I’ll tell you all the crazy, good, bad, and exciting things that happened while I was exploring.
I left Graz by train with Caleb and Katie and we headed to the capital of Switzerland. It was a night train, and we had the small cabin area, so I slept through most of the train ride (+10 points for being able to fall asleep anywhere). When we woke up a man came to check our train passes. This is where the bad happened. When I planned the trip, I assumed it would take one travel day to get to Bern out of my six travel days I purchased with my Eurail pass. The man had us fill out our second travel day since we were technically still on the train the next day. I became really distressed, (Remember the itinerary I made myself?). It was roughly 7:00am and I learned that the trip I planned wasn’t manageable anymore. I had to go back to the drawing board, which meant cutting some cities out, buying a bus ticket, and booking extra nights in two different hostels. In the end, just like many things do, it all worked out. In the end, Caleb and I traveled to four countries, three of which I had never been to before. Here is a list of all the destinations:
Bern, Switzerland -> Thun, Switzerland -> Brussels, Belgium -> Cologne, Germany -> Berlin, Germany -> Amsterdam, The Netherlands -> Nürnberg, Germany.
Our first stop was Bern in Switzerland. Katie’s friends took us to Thun, a city 20 minutes away from the capital by train, for a nice day by the lake. Switzerland was glorious, the mountains were so tall, that without sunglasses I thought they were clouds. Swiss-German was also very interesting to hear. “Grüezi” is a Swiss-German greeting, and every time I heard it I thought they were saying “Grüß Gott” to me, but in a weird way. Also, I thought it was interesting when people say “Merci Bitte” to say thank you. I spoke to people in German, but had a hard time understanding them. For instance, when I went to go rent a bike the man had to switch into a different dialect so that we could talk to one another clearly. The view lived up to my expectations, and I plan to go to Switzerland again, probably not soon since things are so expensive there, but maybe when I’m older and more established-ish. Then again, who knows, maybe I’ll be back in a year or two.
Second Stop: Brussels, Belgium. Brussels was interesting, every time I heard Dutch I thought I was hearing German, so it felt like I was listening to a speaker that was breaking up when I didn’t understand a word. Also, my knowledge of French was tested when I got to Brussels. Even though it’s a Dutch speaking area, you still hear a lot of French. Brussels was my favorite stop on the trip because that is where the international political science nerd in me flourished (&freaked out). I toured the European Union Headquarters for three hours. I got to sit in the large conference room where they have their meetings and debates, and I got to see the many different translation boxes (maybe 20?). I also went to the Parlamentarium for more information about the EU, and European history. This was my favorite activity on the entire trip. It was great because doing this is probably something every international studies major at Tech would be thrilled to do.
Third & Fourth Stop: Cologne, Germany & Berlin, Germany. In my German class at Tech we read books where the main characters lived in Cologne, so it was great getting to go to the places they talked about in the books. The Cologne Cathedral was ENORMOUS. The inside was also very beautiful, and for a while I just sat in the pews thought about the power of the church in Europe and the role it’s played in Europe’s history. On this trip, I went to Berlin for the second time in my life. The last time I was there was in 2015 with Frau Haulmark & Frau Chandler, and other German-language students. The trip in 2015 was a very cohesive, and we saw a lot of Berlin, but going there for a second time was great. I still learned new things on tours, but also got to be reminded of the history of the city.
Fifth Stop: Amsterdam, The Netherlands. Amsterdam was exactly as I pictured it. A very liberal and lively place. In Amsterdam, I learned new things about what makes Amsterdam popular. Contrary to popular belief marijuana isn’t legal there, it’s only tolerated. The Dutch have a very interesting legal system that they operate on that makes what happens there possible. Unfortunately, I didn’t get to go to the Anne Frank House. The line was longer than a black Friday shopping line, and apparently, you must order tickets ahead of time to get in. One thing I also loved about Netherlands was the cheese. So much cheese! You could go into stores and try cheese for free, so I did that probably way more than I should have.
Last Stop: Nürnberg, Germany. Going to Nürnberg wasn’t on the original plan. Originally, we were supposed to go to Paris, France for our last stop. However, traveling consecutively for days, living out of a suitcase, sleeping on buses, trains, and in hostels took its toll on Caleb and me. We still wanted to use our last Eurail travel days, but we wanted to head home a little earlier (I also had a project due in 2 days). I’ve been to Paris before so I thought it would be nice to go somewhere Germany or Austria for a couple of hours and then head home. Caleb and I brainstormed places we could go. We thought, “well we’ve never been to Bavaria”, and that is the story of how we ended up in Nürnberg. Going there was exciting, and it was nice not having a plan. We only spent a short 4 hours there, but we walked the city and had dinner and then headed home to Graz.
This trip was amazing, and even with the ups and downs I don’t think I could have spent my Osternferien any better. I learned a lot about myself, about the different places, about traveling, and it reminded me to always be flexible. I can plan, and make word documents with details all day long, but in the end life happens, and you go with the flow.
P.S. I’ll post pictures in a separate post since this one was really long!