I hadn’t traveled a lot before hopping aboard a flight to Albania. My list consisted of Mexico (Although, lets be real, I’m not sure an all inclusive resort counts) and nine states in America. But as I made my way through college, I started to get the so-called travel bug. One year after graduation, I took a leap of faith and moved to a country I had never heard of. Now, I find myself living within an hours flight of Italy, among other amazing places; and I am loving every minute of it. However, I do have a few things to learn. This was quite apparent on the morning we were heading to Prague.
We headed to the station with forty-five minutes to spare before our train was supposed to depart. I didn’t realize that we would have to wait in line for around forty minutes to buy our tickets. My friend, Andrea went outside to buy us some snacks for the ride. When I had finally gotten our tickets and snagged her from outside, it was 9:22. Our train was leaving at 9:25 from Platform 6. For some reason I thought that platform 6 was located outside so we started running towards the rear doors. We were running next to a train that was getting ready to leave. As this train closed the five open doors that we had run by, and proceeded to leave the station, I had a sinking feeling in my gut. We stopped near an attendant who had been watching us for the last few minutes and he confirmed our fears, we had indeed been running next to our train. I uttered a few swear words and then we both started laughing at how ridiculous that was. The attendant must have thought we were stupid, crazy or both, because he quickly walked away, leaving us standing there like idiots. Luckily, another train for Prague was leaving in two hours so we sat in KFC (Andrea’s choice and it had terrible coffee!) to waste time until we left.
With our little mishap at the Budapest train station behind us, we safely made it to Prague. From the train station we had to search a little longer than we would have liked for our hostel, but we found it! The hostel we stayed in was built in the 17th century and it was full of old world charm. And not to brag, but it had an amazing shower with heated floors!
The following day we had scheduled a tour that showed us the most popular tourist attractions of Prague.
Our first stop of the trip was visiting the Castle and St. Vitus Cathedral, which sits atop a hill overlooking most of the city.
After a few hours touring the buildings around the castle, we headed to a restaurant nearby to try some Czech cuisine.
After lunch we continued walking through the streets of Prague and visited a church, synagogue, museum and even had mulled wine on a boat.
Our tour ended in Old Town Square where we stopped to enjoy the Christmas Markets. They had an incredibly beautiful Christmas tree that stood against the highlighted medieval looking buildings. It was one of my favorite places in Prague, you couldn’t help but be affected by the Christmas spirit as you stood in the center!
The tour helped us decide what we would like to see more of over the next few days. There is a lot to do in Prague and we had a little difficulty narrowing it down. Ultimately, we set out each morning and let the wind blow us whichever way we felt like that day. As you will see, most of these things involved food.
Andrea and I have known each other since the first grade. We grew up in the same small town, played on the same basketball team and rode horse together. Now she is in vet school in Kansas and I am living in Albania. As people asked what we were doing in Prague, we explained that she is in school and I am in the Peace Corps. Vet school is no joke and I am proud to say my friend is one year away from becoming a doctor…but that didn’t phase anyone. It’s not every day that you run across an American that is living in Albania and serving in the Peace Corps, so naturally they had a lot of questions for me. Andrea had soon memorized my little speech about Albania and the Peace Corps. I may have had to buy her a margarita to make up for talking all the time.
One evening we had one of the most delicious meals I have had since leaving America: SUSHI!!
Another tour we had scheduled was a food tour that brought you to four different places in Prague. It is called the Taste of Prague and I would highly recommend it if you find yourself in the Czech Republic. They keep their tours to six people or under and they explain a lot of unknown history about the city. It also involved delicious food for the entire four hours so we were happy campers!
That evening was New Years Eve and we slowly made it back to our hostel so that we could change and get into a festive mood. We spent the evening at some of the most ridiculous bars in Prague, watched fireworks in Wenceslas and Old Town square and eventually made it back to our hostel.
Last year, Andrea and I dedicated New Years Day as an “I love America” day. We did all the things we love about America. Since we were once again together on this holiday, we thought we should keep the tradition going. We went out to eat at TGI Fridays, which really made me feel like I was in Fargo, ND again. We ate Subway, we walked around and just enjoyed being goofy together. It was so amazing to have my friend from home with me for this vacation. I couldn’t have asked for a better piece of America!
Our last day of vacation we took a daycation to Germany. Dresden is a city that is located only a few short hours from Prague. This time we had no trouble finding the right platform and eventually found open seats on the train. I like to think I am learning as I go!
When we arrived in Dresden we found ourselves to be a little bit lost, true to style of course. Eventually we found our way to the main parts of the city and spent the day exploring this little city of Germany!
We spent our last evening of vacation at a Sushi bar. By now, I am sure you aren’t surprised!
This holiday season, I traveled to five different countries and have realized I have a lot to be thankful for. It may have been hard to say goodbye to one of my best friends, but we now have amazing memories of this trip together. Needless to say, I learned a lot and added a few traveling bumps and bruises along the way. It was a wonderful way to bring in 2014 and I can’t wait to see what this new year holds!