Tuesday, September 22, 2009

A REALLY Long Update from Cologne

Sorry I haven’t written in a few days. It feels like I haven’t had a lot to say so it’s been hard to find the motivation to write something down. I was walking around today and realized that I needed to update you all and so I found a nice little place to sit next to a statue that overlooks the Rhine and gives me a view of the Dom. It’s beautiful and so weird to me that I am here in Germany just sitting around writing this update like it’s no big deal and THIS is in front of me. It’s incredible.

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the kindness of people. I stayed for three nights in a small little town (I’m actually still not quite sure which town I was in since there were many small towns clustered together that I jumped between) with some friends of my cousin Cassie. They were such gracious hosts and treated me like family. Not only did they provide me with a place to stay but they helped me do some laundry, shared their food with me, and took me to a light festival in a neighboring town. After I left their company I traveled to Heidelberg for one night where I met two girls at the hostel I was staying at. We joined forces and hung out all of Sunday evening and most of Monday. It was so fun to meet some English speakers that I got a long with and could go out and enjoy myself with.

I don’t like to rely on the kindness of strangers – I like to be in control and have a plan – but I am realizing that it isn’t a terrible thing. My couch surfing experiences have been great so far. I have a host in Cologne for two nights, starting tonight, and I’m sure it will go well too. I’m almost four weeks (it’ll be official tomorrow) into my trip and I haven’t really had a bad experience yet – just a few strange ones. People are so kind and generous and willing to help and I am so appreciative!

I mailed my first package back home today. I bought a few gifts and they were too heavy to carry around, so off to the post office I went. I’ll just say that it’s expensive to mail things home. I had anticipated that it would be, but was still surprised when the total came to 36 Euros (about $50). Yikes! It’s almost as much as I paid for everything that I mailed home. I’m saying a prayer that nothing gets broken or the package doesn’t get lost, that’d sure be a waste of money and a lot of mementos lost.

My spending spree continued today since I had to find a new towel and buy some silverware. I left my special fast drying towel at my hostel in Munich. Fortunately between now and then I’ve been able to either borrow a towel from the people I was staying with or use my little hand/face towel. At the tourist office they pointed me in the direction of a store called Globetrotters – which I discovered is basically the German REI. I found my towel, which cost twice as much as the one I bought at REI, and found some camping silverware (a fork, knife, spoon, and bottle opener) and left before I got lost in the magnitude of the store. So, now I can dry off after my showers and I can buy foods which require a utensil to eat them. It’s a good day – just an expensive one.

As I mentioned before, I am not going to be able to go to Russia next month. Unfortunately I was unable to find anywhere that would give me a visa without having to keep my passport for an extended period of time – not something I’m comfortable doing. So, instead I am changing up my plan just a little bit. The only things that I have scheduled that my dates are not flexible for are Paris, since Eddie is flying in to see me, and my flight home from Dublin, I kind of need to be there for that. I now have 7 extra nights to play with between now and November 27 when I need to be in Paris. I’ve already added a night to my stay in the German countryside and today I decided to add an extra day to my stay in Dresden.

My German rail pass is good for 10 days. I really only need 9, apparently I miscalculated when I did my planning, so I am going to add a night to my stay in Dresden and do a day trip to Leipzig in addition to my day trip to Gohrisch. Then from Dresden I’ll head to Prague and move on to country number three, the Czech Republic. I am still left with 5 days to play with because of Russia not working out, and I think I will add a few days in Switzerland in. I have heard a bit about it and had originally planned to go but did not have enough time. I am excited to be able to fit it in now, but sad that Russia is not working out as planned.

So here is the schedule for the next week or so – unless things change again:

Today: Cologne

Tomorrow: Trier (day trip from Cologne)

Thursday: Train to Dresden

Friday: Gohrisch (day trip from Dresden)

Saturday: Leipzig (day trip from Dresden)

Sunday: Dresden

Monday: Train to Prague

Tuesday/Wednesday: Prague

Thursday: Train to Cesky Krumlov

Friday: Train to Brno

As I mentioned, tomorrow is day 30 of my trip, which means I’m one quarter of the way done. That’s so weird to me. In many ways the time has gone by quickly, but in many other ways it feels as though I have been here much longer. I have less than a week left in Germany. I remember leaving Denmark and thinking that Germany was going to be exhausting and probably feel like forever since I was moving around so much. Yes, I am tired – especially from moving from one place to the next all the time – but I think that moving around so much has helped the time move faster. I’m not in any place long enough to get bored.

My timing so far has been pretty good and I’ve been able to accomplish just about everything I set out to do, and even more sometimes. My museum visits have slowed down a bit and I’m focusing more on sights. You can really only see so many statues and paintings before they all start to blur together. The sights and the churches are good to visit because those are much more unique to each city and not something you can get the same experience seeing from a picture – although I would say that is true for some pieces of artwork.

The other big marker for today is that it is Eddie’s and my 3 month anniversary today – well three months since we made it “official.” Yes, we’re basically in middle school and picked an official date instead of using the date of our first date, which was two weeks earlier. It’s strange to know that a third of our relationship so far has been long distance, and by the time I get home it’ll be two thirds of our relationship that have been long distance. The good thing is that we’ve been able to talk just about every day and so it doesn’t really feel like we’re that far apart, although we are quite aware that that it is there. Once he starts working again it’s going to make things tougher to connect with the time difference, but I’m sure we’ll make it work.

Well, I think that’s all of the updates for now. I am definitely surviving and am enjoying myself for the most part. I’ve been teased about my “R and R” update because travel is supposed to be R and R, isn’t it? Well, I guess I have to say that no, it is not. Travel is hard work – especially when you’re not on vacation, but are on a trip. Then consider the length of my trip and understand that the planning is ongoing – it won’t really stop until I get on my plane and head home. My feet are sore from walking; I have calluses, blisters, bruises, and some weird rash/infection from my money belt. I haven’t slept well the majority of the nights I’ve been here because of loud hostel situations. My food consumption is delicious but rather boring unless I’m staying with someone or am deciding to treat myself. My back aches, and my feet smell – no matter how much I wash them. Oh, and one of my socks just got a hole so I need to buy a new pair. Since I am traveling alone, I am constantly checking my belongings and cannot let my guard down for a second, plus I have no one to run ideas or thoughts past, so sometimes I guess wrong on a translation and end up walking in a circle. I know it sounds like I’m complaining – trust me, I am NOT by any means. The pros outweigh the cons considerably, but yes, some rest is needed every once in awhile for my body and my mind. Doing absolutely nothing is a luxury and it’s one that I thoroughly enjoy.

Well, I guess I should head off to my next sight – the pigeons are beginning to get a little close for comfort. Facebook pictures will be up soon. I’m going to have to start album number four soon. I guess it’s a good thing there isn’t a limit to how many albums you can have on facebook!

1 comment:

eddie said...

Although I know about everything I read on here, I still love reading these. Keep up the great work babe!

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