I have been avoiding updating this blog because I didn’t even know how I could possibly describe my weekend in Krakow. I’ve decided to do a short version because over all it was a very depressing and somber weekend.
8am Friday. Leave the kojel for a 10 hour bus ride to Krakow with half my program plus Z, Jana, and Barbora. We were reminded numerous times to make sure we had our passports—the presidents funeral was going to be taking place in Krakow that Sunday and no one really knew how much security there was going to be at Czech Republic and Poland boarder. An hour into the trip one of the guys in my program fainted on the bus. Right next to where Jenny and I were sitting. I thought Jana was going to have a heart attack. So not even an hour outside of Prague we had to make our first stop. Needless to say it was a very long 10 hours to Krakow.
When we got there Z took us all on a walking tour to the center of town. Krakow is very similar to Prague. The alleys leading to Old Town Square in Krakow look almost the same as the ones in Prague. That night for dinner Jenny, Sarah, Sara, Alex and I went to try Ukraine pierogies. Delicious. After dinner we had some of the best gelato ever and headed back to the hotel. Because Poland was in mourning we were told that it would be very even more disrespectful than usual to go out and be loud Americans. The whole mood of the city seemed very somber and most places were closed. There were memorials for the president every where. It was beautiful despite being very sad. (To the right, thats the castle where the President was buried)
The next day we had 2 more walking tours with Z, saw a moment of silence take place (everyone literally stopped and stood silently for a minute in the streets of Karkow at noon), Alex took a picture with the Krakow Subway dragon, we ate more gelato, went to a crazy water park, and ate Georgian food (I liked the pierogies better, but it was still good).
Sunday morning we were up bright and early for our trip to Auschwitz I and II and back to Prague. It was a beautiful sunny and warm day but as soon as I walked into Auschwitz I had chills. Z was supposed to give us our tour but due to some confusion they forced us to hire a guide. No one was very happy and that poor tour guide got a lot of glares. We wanted Z. My whole program was silent from the moment the tour started until we were all back on the bus; that never happens… we are a loud bunch. Just shows how awful Auschwitz really is. The tour guide took us around and told us all about the horrifying things that went on in Auschwitz. Awful, I can’t even describe it. Seeing the rooms full of people’s suitcases with their names on them, the hallways of pictures, the rooms full of eye glasses, children’s shoes, and human hair was one of the worst things that I have ever seen. The wall were people were shot is still there. So are the gas chambers. Standing inside the gas chamber was terrible. I felt like I couldn’t breathe. Auschwitz II was not much better. There are less buildings and things left behind there because the Nazis tried to destroy the evidence of what they did. More people were killed at II then I. As we were walking down the same path that prisoners would walk to the gas chambers, Z told us, “You are lucky, you get to walk back.” I haven’t been able to get that out of my head. I am so lucky.
Fast forward to Wednesday night. Alex Horn’s 21st birthday. Let me tell you a little bit about Alex. He and I struggled through Czech class together at the beginning of the program. He is probably the only one worse at Czech then I am. During class he would sitting there drinking his pivo and playing tetris on his vodaphone. And our professor loved him despite the fact she told him it was a good idea that he did not continue with Czech for the whole semester. He always keeps me laughing, whether it is making fun of my green hair or getting pooped on by a bird on the way back from the Globe or cracking open a pivo at 730 am before the 10 hour bus ride to Krakow. He is constantly saving me from all the creepers in Prague that seem to follow me wherever I go. Alex is a great guy and despite recent events that have cause Team Alex vs.Team Celia to be formed, he is still one of my best friends and I am lucky to know him.
Unfortunately due to the Iceland volcano, Kacy and Walt were stuck in Istanbul, and the Toms were all stuck in Barcelona. But the rest of AIFS went out in full force to celebrate Alex. After cramming about 25 people into Alex’s room to pregame we all set off for the metro. AIFS take over. We literally had an entire metro car to ourselves, minus 3 Czech people who Alex went to make friends with and one of them stole his beer. We got to the 5 story club and took over the basement. Typical AIFS night out. We got home at around 430 and I managed to wake up for my presentation at 10 am the next morning.
Friday morning Jenny and I left for Nice, France. I woke up at 430 am, ironically the time I had gone to bed on Thursday morning, to get to the airport for our 8 am flight. We thought the airports were going to be crazy because of all the stranded people from the volcano, but they were dead. We flew to Brussels, switched planes, and made in to Nice around 130. It was rainy but still so warm out. We set out to find our hostel and went off to walk along the Promenade des Anglais The palm trees and gorgeous water made Nice look so exotic and beautiful. Lucky for us the next day was warm and sunny. We ate a French breakfast (coffee, croissants, orange juice, and bread) and headed off to explore. We sat on the beach for a while just talking and enjoying the view. Sitting on the rocky beach and smelling the salt water left me longing to be in Scituate. Strange how being in the south of France made me miss Scituate more than I have in months. Then we climbed up a mountain to see all of Nice. Beautiful.
Later that day we had a mini crisis when we realized Jenny booked the wrong flight home. We were supposed to fly out of Nice at 640 am to get back in time for Jenny to go to her history class on Monday afternoon. Instead she was on a 515pm flight home. WOOF. We were planning to sleep in the airport Sunday night because we would have to be there so early Monday morning that it wasn’t worth paying for a hostel for another night or paying 40 euro for a cab to the airport. After realizing it would be over 100 dollars for Jenny to change her flight she decided to stay the extra day. So we spent all day Sunday on the beach (well I spent part of it sitting in a beautiful park writing in my journal because I was so sunburned that I couldn’t stand to sit in the sun any longer). We went back to our hostel to shower and hang out for a while before grabbing dinner and heading to the airport for the night. At first, I thought this was the worst idea Jenny had ever had, but it turned out not to be too bad. We watched the Time Travelers wife on Jenny’s computer and then pushed 2 benches together and fell asleep until around 430 am. We checked in and went through security and I left on my 640 flight leaving poor Jenny in the airport all aloneL. I flew on the smallest plane EVER to Munich where I switched to an even SMALLER plane that brought me back to Prague. Thought I was going to die. I hate small planes.
I have less than a month left in Prague and still so much to do! Final papers and tests are sneaking up on me and now that it’s finally warm outside I want nothing to do with them. This weekend will be my last really weekend in Prague. I’m going to Berlin the next weekend with 8 other people for Becca’s 21st birthday. Then I’m going on a daytrip to Dresden, Germany with AIFS and my last week here Annie is coming to visit! Before I know it May 22nd will be here and I will be flying Prague to London, London to DC. On one hand I am longing to be home in my own house with my family and back in Worcester surrounded by my best friends for Orientation, but on the other hand, leaving here seems impossible. Not only am I leaving a city that I have fallen in love with but I am leaving some of my best friends. Trips to the west coast for fall break have already been planned as while as an east coast reunion in the spring.
Best part of today : Its Ben and Jerry’s free cone day in Prague!! Getting out of Globalization early and running to Wenceslas Square to with Jenny to get a cone was a perfect end to a good day in Prague.
Sorry this ended up being way longer than I thought it would be!