...that it is possible to sleep quite soundly in a giant tent with 100 other people?
It is much more difficult, if not impossible (for me at least), to sleep on an overnight train when you are not in a sleeper car (even if they promised you it was just as good).
Also, when planning a meeting place in a foreign city, be specific.
And have a backup plan.
And a backup backup plan.
Just in case one of you is half asleep while deciding where to meet and hears 'Piazza del Popolo' when what the other actually said was 'Spanish Steps'. They are not close.
The things you learn when you travel.
I have been absent from the blogging world for nearly 3 months now. It has been a busy (and fantastic!) 3 months, but things have finally settled back down to normal.
To start the summer, at the end of June Katie came to visit me from Thailand! She stayed with me in Luzern and explored Switzerland for a week while I finished the school year and then we took off. In the span of two weeks we visited Edinburgh, Barcelona, Rome, Venice, and Munich. We ate amazing pasta, raved about the pizza, enjoyed biergartens, visited Tom Riddle's grave, experienced the Royal Highland Show, practiced our Spanish (hers being immensely better than mine), met new friends, imagined life as an 18th century royal, and just enjoyed our time together.
I was so happy to be able to spend this time with my best friend (I only got one day with her over Christmas!), and we saw so much. So rather than walk through day by day, I'll share with you excerpts from the list that we came up with on the train home from Munich of what we learned in our travels.
We are teachers, after all :)
- Scotland had really brutal punishments. If you were caught stealing, you would be dragged to the center of town and your ear would be nailed to the door of the Mercat Cross where people could come all day and abuse you. You could choose to escape by ripping your ear off, but you would forever be marking yourself as a thief. We heard other gruesome stories as well.
- Irn Bru is a soft drink that Ms. Kirsty Kelly of Edinburgh told me that I must try. It tastes just like Peru's Inca Kola, although bright orange instead of bright yellow. Both taste like bubblegum.
- According to our Scottish tour guide, William Wallace was not the real braveheart. He gave quite an impassioned speech about Robert the Bruce as the real savior of Scotland.
- Barcelona doesn't sleep. When we left the club in the wee hours of the morning it was still completely packed, going strong.
- Sangria tastes better in Spain. On the beach.
- You meet a lot of interesting people in hostels. Some are normal. Others are quite odd.
- The Via del Corso used to be where horse races took place every year during the Roman Carnival. Now it is the main shopping street.
- It's a small world. On the overnight train from Venice to Munich we shared a cabin with two Americans. One grew up in Alexandria, down the street from where both Katie and I taught for three years. He used to play on the playground of my old school. The other wasn't from Alexandria, but her college roommate was, and she happened to be the older sister of a former student of mine.
- Italian food is just so good.
- Italian wine is just so good.
- Food is at least 60% of the enjoyment of travel, probably more if you're in Italy.
- I love Italy.
- You should be required to shower before getting on crowded boat buses. Especially when it takes 30 minutes to reach the destination and you have nowhere to escape because you're on a boat and you're squished like sardines.
- When smelly people are not present, boat buses are fun.
- Venice has an island called Burano, past Murano (famous for its glass), where the buildings are painted ridiculously bright colors. They are known for their lace. And, of course, brightly colored buildings.
- History feels a lot more real when you visit where it actually happened. I don't care how many stories I have heard about the atrocities of concentration camps, to actually walk where they walked, see where they slept, hear how they lived, and see how they died is an incredibly sobering experience.
- According to random hostel friend, during the Olympics in Munich in the 70s, the officials decided that they did not want hippies in town. So they gave them some land a few kilometers outside of the city. The hippies took this land, and eventually they attracted more people, built a giant tent, put 100 beds in there...and a really fun, really cheap hostel was born. They have a campfire every night, a ping-pong table outside, allow all ages, and cook yummy food in their cafeteria. It's like being at summer camp.
- Biergartens are a fantastic idea and a lot of fun! Germans really like their pretzels, sausages, and beer.
Thus ended our adventures, at least this time around. We headed back to Zurich and went our separate ways, exhausted but having had a great time. Of course, Katie and I probably could have sat on the floor and stared at the wall for 3 weeks, and it still would have been a blast.
Next up, spring in Thailand!
Kelly is an American teacher living in Switzerland and enjoying everything the country has to offer.