In my last post I teased about the awesome spring break I had planned, and I can now confirm that it lived up to the hype! My friends and I visited the capitals of six different countries all in the span of nine days. It was a pretty exhausting week of travel, but being able to learn so much and experience vastly different cultures in a rapid-fire sense was well worth the lack of sleep!
We began our trip flying from Venice to Berlin, Germany, a city particularly rich with history from the World War II. Berlin was divided between a communist east side controlled by the Soviet Union, and an allied west side split up between France, Britain and the United States. The hostel we stayed at was right across the street from the east side gallery of the Berlin Wall, which of course was the dividing line preventing the people from East Germany from fleeing to the free west side. The east side gallery is the longest preserved part of the wall where artists from all over the world came to paint murals symbolizing the newfound freedom. With all of its history, Berlin was definitely one of the most interesting destinations of my trip.
From Berlin we flew to Bratislava for an intentional four-hour layover. Bratislava is the capital of Slovakia, a country with impressive hockey feats considering its small size. It just so happened that when walking around the city I happened to stumble past a sports bar that was showing a particular hockey game, my Dallas Stars vs. the New York Rangers. I could not believe my eyes when I saw the victory green at the American Airlines Center. Considering how much I’ve been missing my stars, this was definitely my fondest memory of the short time I spent in Bratislava.
From Bratislava we took a bus to Budapest, the capital of Hungary. The city is split into the districts of Buda and Pest, connected over the Danube River by the Chain Bridge. We stayed on the Pest side where the beautiful Hungarian Parliament Building is found. On the Buda side is castle hill where the Buda Castle stands today. Elevated above the river and rest of the city, the Buda Castle offered amazing views that were well worth the hike.
Our next bus took us to Vienna, Austria. Vienna has an artistic and intellectual legacy shaped by famous residents such as Mozart, Beethoven and psychologist Sigmund Freud. We were able to visit the cemetery where Mozart is buried and visit his grave. Vienna was also home to the Habsburg family, one of the most influential royal families in all of Europe from the 15th to 18th centuries. They had two palaces, summer and winter, which we were able to visit.
Our last bus ride landed us in the capital of the Czech Republic, Prague. Prague has a very medieval history and an amazing castle to show for it. The Prague Castle is a massive complex that houses the current President of the Czech Republic. The castle has many different churches, palaces and halls alike. My personal favorite was the old armory that had since been turned into a museum displaying the old weaponry used over the span of several decades.
Coming up this week is our second extended travel weekend. We have Thursday, Friday and the following Monday off of school. My friends and I are going to Barcelona for the entire break. We figured an extended amount of time in such a great city wouldn’t be a bad change of pace from our normal country-hopping ways. Looking forward to the nice weather and a relaxing several days before heading back to campus and preparing for final exams the week after next. Time is flying by here but it’s been an incredible journey, I’m excited to make the most out of the last few weeks and cherish all the new friends I have made.