I often find that when I get busy I forget to document my time; for that, I feel much regret. I use the word regret because I wish I could remember all of the wonderful moments that have happened in the last few weeks. It would be wonderful to have each moment written down, defined, able to serve as a guide to remember what happened to me. And yet, isn’t this the beauty of life? Moments pass by, beautiful ones and miserable ones alike, and without us realizing it they shape us into completely different people.
In the past week I have done so much and yet feel like I have done so little. There are myriad things I still would love to do in Paris, which is precisely why my previous idea to return to Paris next summer is now a plan, un projet, something that simply needs to happen. I need it. I need more time. I need time without homework or other Americans around. I need to take in more of this city because, to tell the truth, I am nowhere near finished with Paris. I don’t think I ever could be. More importantly, Paris isn’t finished with me. I have felt such an immense growth in the past two weeks.
Last Monday after my art history exam, I got a little tipsy with a much-needed glass of red wine at Le Smoke with some classmates before getting on the metro. I leaned against the wall of the creaking old train, letting the wine continue to calm my mind and loosen my muscles. I take a glance to my left and my eyes alight on a young man, maybe a year or so older than me, in a nice suit with what looks like a briefcase resting at his feet. I took little notice of him until my second glance over a few minutes later. He had taken out a small notebook and was in the process of sketching my profile. My eyes hidden behind my too-long bangs, I observed him as he observed me. He went on to sketch other anonyms on this Ligne 6, direction Nation: the Asian guy with a scarf and spiky hair, the old man with thick glasses, the tired woman obviously heading home from a long day of something. He returns to the sketch of me and, taking what he believed to be stealthy glances, he finished out the shading of my jacket and more thoroughly defined my hair.
I saw him pack up his things just before Bel-Air, unfortunately not my stop. When the doors open he, before jumping off onto the platform, takes one more look back at me. His eyes widened in surprise to find that I was watching him and gave me a gentle smile. He smiled awkwardly in return, got off, and paused, then turned around to smile at me again as the doors closed and the train pulled me away from him, never to see one another again. I’m not entirely sure why this experience affected me so, but it was wonderful to see a stranger’s impression of me. He had no idea who I was, what my name is, what my voice sounds like, or even that we do not share the same nationality. He doesn’t know my favorite color or that I had wine in my veins. And yet he knew the gentle curve of my nose, the point of my cheekbone, and the fall of my hair across my face. These simple human things are sometimes so much more intimate than conversation. I felt vulnerable, and it made me relish in the solidarity I find in basic human existence.
The other night I walked along the abandoned Boulevard Richard-Lenoir because I missed the last metro home. It was a two-kilometer walk at 1:30 in the morning from Bastille to home, which was admittedly probably a very stupid thing to do. I was surprised at how comfortable I was, however, with these Parisian streets and the half hour walk in the weak, yellow streetlight brought me such peace of mind. I have changed. These three months in Paris have changed me. The people I’ve met, the things I have done, the time I spent doing everything and nothing and anything. I don’t know quite how to put it in words but I am older somehow, wiser in a lot of ways, no longer quite as afraid of the future and more than ready to tackle it head first with a quiet, internal battle cry.
I smoked a Lucky Strike in front of the Moulin Rouge last night and felt Chris with me, felt him watching me as I partied with my friends in Pigalle with a bottle of champagne to top off our already indulgent night. And in that moment, I felt…like me. I feel more defined, like the edges of me are quite so fuzzy with youth and the unknown.
Some things I know: I love to be alone. Good friends are hard to find and important to keep. Honesty will always bring the best, even if it hurts. It is important to forgive when people admit that they were wrong, but just as important to never forget. Always, always be the bigger person. Fuck what anyone else thinks. I like a good drink at the end of the day, and the occasional cigarette is unhealthy, I know, but damn can it feel good. Always walk when it’s nice out, it’s good for the body and the soul. When you want to be friends with someone, don’t like petty things like age or past experiences stop you. Don’t give up what you want to simply spend time with others. Explore. Get lost. Forget the map and find your way home. Trust in others. Listen carefully. Be open to learning. Express appreciation. Love deeply. Eat the damn pain au chocolat your host mom bought just for you on your last morning in Paris, even though you gained three pounds from last night’s binge-like dinner and drinking. Keep in touch with people who have more to teach you. Don’t be afraid to make permanent commitments to yourself…that’s what my tattoos are for. Never say no when you want to say yes and never say yes when you want to say no. Decide what you want, be who you are, follow through with what you feel.
And the last, and for me the most important at the moment: always come back to Paris. Always.
This past weekend was great. I really should post about it. I’m just SO tired.
This week has been long. I got my art history paper done, and yesterday was mostly fun (got a cherry blossom macaroon from Ladurée, which was quite possibly the most delicious I’ve eaten lately). John also came home early and we just decided to have a chill night watching dumb TV shows. We had a bread-laden dinner and I went to bed early-ish. I haven’t been sleeping well at all. I’m gonna try to maybe exhaust myself today then get a good night’s sleep.
This has been an interesting week. I feel like a lot has happened, but at the same time, I feel so tired and like I’ve needed to recuperate still from vacation. My body is sore, my mind feels slow…and there is SO much to do. Oy vey.
Sunday night I got back to a calm, nice welcome from the fam…then I crashed, hard. I’m just happy I made it back in one piece! I’m proud of myself for my solo international flight and RER trip. I survived!
Monday I had off school, so I slept in and spent a quiet morning at home before getting to spend some time with Kat before she left on her trip to Lyon. We went to the exhibit “Danser sa vie” at the Centre Pompidou, which was…odd, but interesting. It was a lot about the development of modern dance during the 20th century, so I felt like I could enjoy the history even if some of the elements were a little strange. We then met up with John for lunch near the Embassy, and the two finally told me all about their adventures in Barcelona. Afterward, I went to the Louvre with Caitlin for a bit to work on the questionnaire for Léglise Costa. With some work under my belt, I met back up with Kat and we picked up John from work before taking a long walk and getting raspberry mojitos near home, where we had galettes for dinner. Yum!
Tuesday was weird, going back to school. I don’t know, I just…didn’t enjoy it. History and Literature were both fine, it just felt…strange, I guess, to be back. After school, I went to this café Kat always told me about to read, and it was really cool. It’s near the Seine and has all different kinds of coffees, and had a really fun, relaxed vibe! Then Chelsea and I attempted to go to a Zumba class, but it ended up being Danse au sol, which is some new thing this young woman invented. It was a cool class and definitely still a good workout! I then slowly wandered home and realized how happy I was to realize that I can easily walk home. I have become so comfortable with my area that even if I get a little lost, I still manage to find my way without freaking out. I bet I’m one of the few who can really say that. Dinner was just me and John, and he made a nice Asian chicken dish. We drank some wine and had a really nice time talking. I love getting to spend time with him, because it’s just different hanging out with someone from Dartmouth away from the Dartmouth and college life.
Yesterday, Wednesday, was a slow going, slightly rough day. I actually didn’t go on the excursion with Léglise Costa. Bad girl - my one time skipping class! I didn’t sleep well and was so incredibly sore in the morning that I just decided to sleep a bit more and go to Reid Hall to work instead. I had already been to Invalides and seen the tomb and whatnot, so I didn’t really miss anything. I managed to get some work done in the morning and catch up on life, since the wifi at home had been going in and out a lot. It’s still not perfect, but at least now it works a little more solidly. Anyway, so I did work then saw everyone when it was time for Sitbon’s class, which…honestly, felt a little slow and unnecessary, but maybe I was just tired. After school, Caitlin and I went to the Louvre and finished the research for the questionnaire, which I cleaned up later that night. Feels good to have that done! After, we went to a tiny little salon in Little India to get our eyebrows threaded. It felt so weird since I had never done it before, but I’m glad we went on that little adventure because it was an experience finding the place first of all, and now my eyebrows look and feel great! I then went home and we had leftover curry from a while back for dinner. It was so spicy and delicious…I love leftovers. I then watched The Kids Are Alright with Juliette and Lucienne and went to sleep.
Today was okay, I guess. I woke up and got to school a little early to do some reading. Classes were fine, but I’m starting to get a little anxious about finishing all my work. Time is really drawing to a close and I wish I didn’t have to spend so much of it with my nose buried in my papers and books instead of enjoying Paris. At least after school today Caitlin and I found a café to work in instead of being cooped up at home! We spent a few hours there. After, I took a nice walk home and got groceries for dinner tonight. It was just me and John again, and we made a delectable peanut chicken thing and stir fried vegetables. It was SO good and we had such a nice time talking about life. He just left and, since Juliette and Raphael still aren’t back from the thing they went to, I’ve put myself to bed. Well, then I realized I hadn’t blogged all week. So…now, sleep. I hope. Though Raphael will probably be in a bad mood when he gets here! No little kid should be up this late, and he’s been a pill lately. But that’s just how it is with kids, I guess!
Brno was wonderful and I feel like it healed my soul.
I got in on Thursday and took the tram to Grohova, where I met Zuzka at an exercise place to take a yoga class. It was hard; it was the first time I had really worked out since breaking my foot, and it hurt. In fact, my body is still actually a little sore from it, especially my arms. After yoga, I went back to Zuzka and Petr’s where I had a light dinner and crashed, hard. We had a really lovely evening talking though, and it was nice to just be in a home with familiar faces and unwind a bit.
We got up early on Friday to go to the hospital, because we were able to work out me seeing Petr’s brother-in-law to check out my foot. I got an x-ray and it’s all healed! Yay! The residual pain is just the foot getting back to normal, I suppose, and he thinks there’s nothing to worry about. Actually the pain has seemed a little better since, so I think some of it was a little psychological. Afterward, Zuzka and I went to the grocery store Albert near home, and I got to explore the aisle’s and see all of the Czech goodies I always loved! I bought a poppyseed roll in my mom’s honor and went home, toasted it, and smothered it in butter like we always did. Zuzka and I then made some fruity poppyseed mixture stuff, which sounds odd but was really delicious. We had a nice late morning and afternoon together just relaxing.
Around 2, I left to go into town! It was fun running for the tram, like I always did before. Iva and I met for coffee, but the French café we always go to was closed! Such a shame; I was so looking forward to speaking French after being away from the language for a week! I’m actually a little nervous and going back to Paris! Oh well. We went instead to this place with great hot chocolate, called Death by Chocolate. All my years in Brno I thought it was just a chocolate shop, but they also have a café in the back apparently! Always new discoveries to be made. We then walked around the town for a while until Iva had to go home. I then wandered around the town center for a bit longer until I met Silvie at 6 for dinner!
We went to a fantastic Italian restaurant and had such a wonderful evening, albeit ending with me a little drunker than I expected to be. We ate dinner for close to four hours, starting with bruschetta, then me moving on to a salad and focaccia bread and Silvie to pizza. We shared some white wine after polishing off some campari aperitifs. We decided to say no to dessert and instead went to a cute café and had more wine. We had lovely conversation and talked about everything. I love this girl so much and I know we will always be friends, even though we only manage to see each other every so often when I’m in Europe. I slept over at her house and in the morning she drove me to town.
Saturday was wonderful as well. I went to Yves Rocher in the morning and then spent the day in town, just wandering around. I bought fruit and Zelny Trh, bought a skirt at H&M, found a book I’d been looking for, and just wandered in and out of stores I have always loved in the center. I stopped for lunch at Arca di Adria, which has the best pizza in the whole world. Even after seven years, the same guy still makes the pizza and the same waiter is still there. The pizza tastes exactly the same and biting into it I am 13 years old again. I only wish I could have shared it with my mom; it almost made me cry to not be there with her. In the afternoon, I returned back home and after taking a short pause, I went for a walk around the lake near the house. It was a longer walk than I remembered and it wore me out a bit!
I got home just in time for Mr. and Mrs. Janecka to arrive. It was so wonderful seeing them and talking to them. Zuzka and Petr helped me tell them about my life both at Dartmouth and in Paris, and they were so glad to have the chance to learn about it all. They’re both doing and looking so well and I was so, so, so happy to see them. I don’t even know what more to write about it because my emotions are inexpressible with words. After they left, Zuzka’s parents, our former neighbors, Petr and Vera came over for dinner. We ate salad, bread, and had cheeses and spreads; very Czech, very simple, very nice. We drank wine and talked about so much. I love that I can talk with these people and that I am an adult among them after all these years. They are my Czech family and I truly love them so. After dinner, Zuzka and Petr wanted to watch Intouchables, which Petr found online! I was so excited to watch it with English subtitles to see maybe what jokes I missed when I saw it in French. However, we all three fell asleep and so we decided to turn it off and go to bed. I appreciated the good night’s sleep.
I had a nice morning with Zuzka and Petr today, then got picked up by SIlvie and her father to go to their house one more time, since I hadn’t seen Zdena, the mother! It was a fast but great visit with lots of goodies and talking, and then they took me to the bus station. My bus ride to Vienna was peaceful - I watched a weird but cute movie called Flipped and then some episodes of The Big Bang Theory. Then I got to the airport, got everything sorted, got to the gate, and her I am! We’re leaving soon…can’t believe I have been away from Paris for one whole week.
Jayne left this morning bright and early to make the Airport Express bus to Ruzyne Airport. She’s due to to fly from Prague to Poland then Poland to Rome. I hope she makes it there in one piece. I told her to call me if things went wrong, and I haven’t heard anything yet so I’m assuming we’re in the clear! Once she has internet she’s going to let me know she made it there all in one piece. I had a wonderful time traveling with Jaynie. She’s a good travel partner and we did a good job seeing Berlin together. I’m happy, too, that she was so willing to let me show her Prague and what I know about the Czech Republic.
I had a nice morning in Prague. I changed my bus ticket to two hours later so I could have some time walking around the city alone. I started out on Vaclavske Namesti looking for a bookstore, which unfortunately did not have Arnost Lustig’s Lovely Green Eyes in English. I then wandered over to the art nouveau Municipal House, where I have always wanted to go for coffee. I went in to its majestic kavarna, ordered a pricey black coffee, and spent maybe an hour reading my new book for Tarnowski, La testament française. One chapter down! After that, I wandered through the streets, bought berries at Havelska Market, and found an English copy of that book! It’s one of my favorite Czech books and I want to be able to give it to someone who also loves the Holocaust and such. I took one last longing look at the Tyn Church, Astronomical Clock, and Starometske Namesti, which is so “Prague” to me since we always stayed in a tiny hotel right next to the church. I then walked back up Vaclavske Namesti, bought my necessary Prague street sausage with bread and mustard, then hopped on the tram back to the apartment where I packed up and got ready to head back to town.
I got to Florenc, where I met Klara to give her the apartment keys. Sweet girl that she is, she gave me a present: a traditional Czech decorative egg that her grandmother made. It’s a simple egg covered in purple embroidery - she didn’t even know purple was my favorite color. I am so happy to have made a new friend, and she wants to get better at English so we’re going to email and keep in touch!
So now I am on the bus to Brno, anxiously awaiting my arrival back home. I’m going to get in around 4:30 and I’m meeting Zuzka at a gym for a yoga class at 5:15! Then she’ll take me back to her and Petr’s house. I think tonight I will enjoy catching up with them then maybe walk around Kninicky a bit, but nothing big. I need to upload pictures and call the Janeckas and get my life together! I only have two full days in Brno and while it’s really not enough, it’s better than nothing and I cannot even begin to express the joy I feel at this very moment.
I am currently on the Student Agency bus headed to Brno, and I am so happy because there is free wifi! So, I’m finally getting the opportunity to blog.
Yesterday Jayne and I had a fantastic day in Prague. I daresay I showed her a good time! We slept in until around 8 and got out of the apartment at 9ish. We took the tram and then the metro; I bought my bus ticket to Brno at Florenc station and we went to Hlavni Nadrazi so Jayne could figure out how to get on the Airport Express bus from there for her flight to Rome today. After, we took the metro again over to the Prague Jewish quarter to tour all of the old synagogues. I had only done this once before five years ago, so I was so happy to do it again. The synagogues are all beautiful and Czech Jewish history is certainly interesting, since they were few to begin with and essentially wiped out during the Holocaust. We spent probably two hours going through the quarter. I caved and bought a super tourist-y shirt in a souvenir shop on one of the small streets. It’s a plain black t-shirt with the Czech lion on it that says “Czech Mate.” I thought it was hysterical. Dumb use of money? Perhaps.
After the Jewish quarter, we made our way to Charles’ Bridge! Along the way there we stopped at a cute Absinthe shop. We had been itching to give the potent brew a try, but were obviously not going to be stupid enough to purchase a shot or something super strong for in the middle of the day. Instead, we got a small Absinthe slushie to share! We were sipping on it walking through Karlova street, and I couldn’t believe we were doing so as I felt the liquor warm my body. We enjoyed our walk across the bridge, certainly! I also made sure Jayne tried a trdlinek, a sugar and cinnamon coated sweet roll, which I could usually only get around Christmastime in Brno. We meandered across the bridge tipsily and enjoyed the beautiful view. The bridge was luckily not packed with tourists, one of the perks of being in Prague in February! The absinthe kept us going as we made the hike up to Prague Castle, which we toured as well. I love this castle, even though I’ve seen it a thousand times, and was happy to show it to Jayne. Luckily for me, reconstruction on a certain part of the cathedral that had always been there was finally done, so I got to see a part of the cathedral I had never seen before! Golden Lane was also open again this year after renovation, so that was new to me, too.
After the castle, we had been on the go for several hours and needed to take a break. We stumbled upon a tiny kavarna called “Kavarna Cas”, or the Time Café. It was dirt cheap with a wonderful waitress and full of Czechs, so we really lucked out! I mean it, being willing to walk for a few minutes off the beaten path will bring wonderful surprises. After my coffee and Jayne’s diet coke and bramborak (potato pancake), we felt rejuvenated and set off again! We first went to the Lennon Wall before crossing back over the bridge. The wall is a big chunk of wall covered in graffiti that started when John Lennon was shot. Every day the police painted over it, and every morning new artwork appeared. It became a beacon of hope for the Czechs wanting freedom from communism. It is always changing and to this day remains a symbol of hope for love and freedom. We crossed back over the bridge and wandered through the Havelska market, looking at the fresh produce, Czech toys, and other products.
Then we went back toward Starometske Namesti, and hit two museums I have always wanted to go to: The Chocolate Museum and the Sex Machines museum! The Chocolate Museum was cool because even though it’s not very Czech, there was a history on the making of chocolate worldwide and also a brief history of Czech chocolate makers and products. We got to see how pralines are made (and each get to taste one, YUM), and we also got a free hot chocolate with our ticket out in the store. Jayne and I stayed a while watching two Czech men make rock candy! It was so cool seeing them color the candy, mix it together to make a design (a strawberry) then finally thin it and cut it into small pieces. After the chocolate, we went to the Sex Machines museum. I swear, I have walked past this museum every time I have come to Prague for the last seven years, and I finally went in! It was both hilarious and a little mindboggling. Some of the contraptions were beyond my comprehension, but it was so fascinating in the weirdest kind of way!
By then it was 6pm and, immensely satisfied with our day, we went back to the apartment. Klara, Radim’s student friend who is staying in the apartment this week too, joined us for dinner and took us to a superb restaurant. It was cheap, GOOD Czech food and the place makes its own beer!!! It was a fantastic meal and I now swear I will eat here every single time I come to Prague. It’s called Basta and there’s no English menu and no hope for anyone there speaking English, either. Glad we had Klara! I had the house dark beer, which was probably the best beer I have ever enjoyed. With it, I had roast duck with potato dumplings and sauerkraut. It was until I had devoured my entire meal that I realized I had only eaten an apple that morning and nibbled barely during the day. Jayne got trout with potatoes and then fruit dumplings for dessert, which she let me help with (I love sweet Czech dumplings!). Klara had, for some reason, already eaten before we went, so she just pounded down a few beers. All in all, dinner took a few hours and it was full of interesting, wonderful conversation. I was happy to introduce Jayne to Czech person, because their character is so unique. And, Klara is great! I have a new, smart, wonderful Czech friend. Jayne told her she likes trying the local drinks wherever she goes, and Klara took us back to the apartment and shared some homemade slivovice (that her friend made) with us along with some cookies her grandmother made with plum jam and tvaroh (Czech sweet cheese). It was the perfect way to end the day! Jayne also tried Becherovka at my insistence, which she liked as well. We went to bed slightly tipsy, full, and immensely satisfied with our Prague experience.
Well, almost, kind of.
Jaynie and I dragged ourselves out of bed to catch our 8:45am train from Berlin to Prague, which would last just short of five hours. I was a wreck in the morning. I really don’t function well on little sleep, and I was SO tired from the night before! We got on the train and into our cabin, thinking we were sharing it with a nice, Spanish family. For whatever reason – I think there wasn’t enough room for their slightly ridiculous amount of luggage – they left, leaving the cabin to the two of us! YAY! I promptly snuggled down and passed out as the train pulled out of the station and into snowy German countryside.
I slept most of the train ride, which I kind of regret, even though I’ve been on trains a lot of the time. However, I was more awake as we drifted through the Czech countryside, and my heart filled with joy when it recognized the Czech architecture and landscape. Tears filled my eyes and suddenly life didn’t seem so bleak or grim. This country, in so many ways, really is home. It’s where I grew up into the woman I am today.
We arrived in Prague around 1:30, and found our way to Radim’s apartment in the southeastern part of Prague. It’s nice to have an apartment to stay in, without having to pay anything, even if it’s a little out of the way! A very nice Czech girl, Klara, is here for the week, too, while her apartment is being worked on, and she let us in and gave us a very good recommendation for dinner, and we’re going to go there tomorrow!
We left the apartment around 3pm and had a very successful but laid back not-even-half day in Prague! We began at the top of Vaclavske Namesti and walked down the length of the street. I took Jaynie into my mom’s and my favorite souvenir shop, which has gorgeous Czech painted eggs. We then went to the Museum of Communism, which I love, and followed up with the Mucha Museum. I was so happy to take Jaynie to these two places, because they are my two favorite tiny museums in Prague that I love to go to every time I’m here. We then walked around Old Town Square, but it was getting dark and started snowing a little! This evening, though we saw a lot, was quiet. We had a nice dinner at an okay restaurant– I made sure Jaynie got some smazeny syr s hranolkem (fried cheese with fries) and a piece of Medovnik, washed down with Pilsner Urquell. I personally opted for garlic soup with grilled vegetables, which really hit the spot. I got to help out with the medovnik too, which made me very happy. We were tired, very tired, afterward, so we went back to the apartment to take a short nap before hitting a club or something. Much to my delight, the alarm rang and we both decided not to go and to get a good night’s sleep instead, which did us some wonderful good for our FANTASTIC full day in Prague!
What a day! Jaynie and I did so much on our full day in Berlin and still didn’t even get to quite all we wanted to do. We woke up and enjoyed a nice breakfast at the hotel, then hopped on the S-Bahn over to the East side of Berlin to check out the East Side Galley. A bunch of modern artists painted over a giant remaining section of the Berlin wall, and it is absolutely stunning. All of it is such beautiful, colorful, inspiring work. After, we walked across the river and got to see a bit of seedy East Berlin before popping on the U-Bahn to get to the south end of Friedrichstrasse. We walked up the street and went to the Checkpoint Charlie museum, which was SO cool albeit being very seemingly disorganized. There was a lot of interesting information and anecdotes, which I loved because I am so intrigued by communistic life after having lived in the Czech Republic.
Checkpoint Charlie was followed by a visit to – and I’m not kidding – the Currywurst Museum. Currywurst is a type of sausage dish for which Berlin is known, apparently. It’s a fried sausage with a spicy, ketchupy sauce. Simple, but popular. AND THERE IS A WHOLE MUSEUM DEDICATED TO IT. It was ridiculous but so much fun, and something one would only find in Berlin. Even Jaynie, a vegetarian, had a blast. We played games, watched a movie, listened to a song, and learned a lot about…currywurst, I suppose. We got free samples with our tickets, too, and Jaynie even got vegetarian currywurst! After that, we took the U-Bahn to Alexanderplatz where we looked at the TV tower, the Berliner Dom, and a bunch of other cool buildings. We walked down the main street from there toward Parisen Platz, which kind of made me think of the Champs-Elysées. We found a Haagen Daaz and LO AND BEHOLD, I found my long-lost love: Banoffee Haagen Daaz!!!!! I had to indulge and I was a very happy girl.
Then, we headed to our reservation at the Reichstag dome! We got to go in the dome for free and get a great audio guide that walked us through our 360 view of the city. A lot of our questions got answered and it was really wonderful – I’m so happy Jayne thought to make the reservation. After, we started walking back toward Museum Island. Cold and dragging a bit, we hopped into a café called “Splendid” and met some very nice people while recharging our batteries. A cool guy gave us a great recommendation for dinner, but more on that later! Coffee in my belly, we made the rest of the journey to Museum Island and decided to go to the Pergamon Museum, which houses some really wonderful antiquity like things, like the reconstructed Ishtar Gate of Babylon. It was incredible and unlike any other museum I’d been to before. I really wanted to go to the Neues Museum as well, but it was already closed by the time we got out of Pergamon. Oh well – I guess another trip to Berlin is in my future!
After that, we walked passed the shiny new synagogue to get to the S-Bahn station to head back to our hotel, where we rested a bit. Then, we went to dinner, and DAMN was it a dinner for the books. The food at “Max und Moritz” is heavenly and so authentically German. Jaynie and I munched on thick, warm, dark bread with sour cream as we awaited our meals. Jaynie got potato soup to start that looked thick and warming. For dinner, I had a bowl of goulash soup with a side beetroot salad. The soup was spicy and hot, and the beets were such a sweet, cool contrast. I have never eaten beets with such pleasure before in my life! Jaynie had a weird potato/mushroom/cheese omelet/pasta like thing. We really don’t know what it was but it was yummy – I got to try a bite! Jaynie’s fruit compote dessert came, and I got to help with that a bit too. I think our two waiters – one really German looking woman and a cute young guy probably named Hanz or something like that – thought we were hilarious in how much we enjoyed our meal. We stayed for three hours! Conversation and debate were wonderful…I love dinners like that.
After, we hit up a bar called Cake on the same street, where we had a few drinks and met some people! A random, old-ish, stoned-out-of-his-mind German guy was there with his odd American friend, who kept telling me I should go someplace better. Okay? Then we met a group of three Australians who were a lot of fun. One of them, Jordan, came with us to the next bar we went to, called Franken, which is a punk bar just farther down the road. East Berlin really does have a different personality than West! We had a great time talking with Jordan, who seemed to have such an interesting story. Around 2:30 we hailed a taxi home – I was wayyy to exhausted to contemplate taking the S-Bahn. We crashed hard upon getting back to our room. I hardly remember closing my eyes, but I really think that means we had a great day.
By the way, I think Berlin should be spelled Berline, because that is how I spell it EVERY damn time without fail.
Berlin Day One!
I survived! I barely slept Sunday night for fear of our taxi not showing up, forgetting something, missing our flight, and failing, failing, failing. I know, stupid, but I couldn’t help it. I woke up at 4am (meaning actually got out of bed, had been up for a while), then proceeded to FREAK OUT until 5am when, indeed, our taxi showed up. We made it to Orly, got to our gate, and got decent seats on the EasyJet flight. I crashed hard on the plane and woke up in a daze to “Flight attendants, prepare for landing!” Jayne and I then bought Berline 48 hour passes and hopped on the train to take us to Hauptbanhof, the central train station. Our hotel is quite literally a one minute walk, if that, from the front door. Getting on our train to Prague on Tuesday will be a cinch!
We left our luggage at the hotel, and then headed out into the cold, gray day. We walked past the Reichstag and then stumbled upon the Brandenborg Tor and Parisen Platz, which was lively and beautiful. We then found the Museum/Memorial for the Murdered Jews of Europe, which was both profoundly beautiful and moving. I love Jewish history, which I got to explore more of even later! After this first museum, we walked to Potsdam Platz, passing the homosexual memorial in the park, then stopped for lunch. The café was mediocre but our waitress was sweet! I ordered French onion soup thinking it’d be what it normally is, but got a creamy, meaty, mushroom soup instead…okay, I suppose! Jayne ordered some nachos and a Berliner Kindle Rot, which is a strawberry flavored beer with little alcohol. There’s also a green one, Grun, that tastes like green apples! She let me try hers, and it was very sweet and good.
After lunch, we kept walking! We wandered down Friedrichstrasse and found the American sector and Checkpoint Charlie, which we will see today after checking out wall remains. We kept walking down the street and found what we were looking for – the Jewish Museum. We spent several hours in there. Not only was the information great, but there was some wonderful architecture. Look it up: it’s fascinating. I could have spent forever in the Holocaust Tower, just breathing and listening to the echo of silence.
After that museum, we were wiped out so we took the U-bahn and S-bahn home to central station, moved our stuff up to our room, and took a nap. After that, we went to a great restaurant for dinner that the lady at the concierge desk recommended: Deponie. It was reasonably priced and had authentic German food! I ordered a sausage with potatoes and sauerkraut (which I figured out tasted so good because it was COOKED WITH LOADS OF BACON), and a beer. Jayne got apfelstrudel for dessert…I told her she had to have it at least once in Germany…and lucky me, she let me have a bite! After dinner, which went on forever due to wonderful conversation, we hit Orienburgerstrasse to find a bar. Being Sunday, Berlin night life left much to be desired, but we were tired from our day anyway so we just hopped into a cozy looking bar and each got one of the green apple beers. We also saw a bunch of skimpily dressed prostitutes on our hunt for a bar! Gotta love Berlin. After the beer, we went home and crashed, hard. We did a lot yesterday, with only more to do today! I have a good breakfast in me and plenty of coffee, so here’s hoping I survive!
My last day in Paris for the week was both stressful and fun. I didn’t do much other than get ready, but I also did some wandering around to try to loosen up the anxiety. I slept in until around 10:30, then dragged myself off the couch to finish making my travel itinerary and get packed. Around 1:30 I took the metro over to Reid Hall to check my mail again (still nothing new – guess I’ll just check next week!). I got off at an earlier stop than usual, then found my way to school, poking my head in stores along the way!
After my failed mail check, I walked to the Raspail metro stop and took the Line 6 over to Nation, all the way in the southeast of Paris. The metro ride was long, but I got to read a lot of L’armée des ombres, which is our book for history class. A man got on the metro with a guitar singing Que Sera Sera and it was soothing - something I needed to hear, really. Place de la Nation is at the end of Boulevard Voltaire, so I decided to get off there and walk home. It took forever, but it was fun to explore the entirety of my street – all three kilometers of it!I stumbled upon a flea market right near my apartment, too, and had fun looking through that. I bought a really old copy of collected Corneille works for three euro, and when flipping through the pages, an ancient metro ticket fell out! It was stamped and said Metropolitain on it in art deco-y kind of lettering and said “Second Class” and everything. I love surprises like that…they’re worth so much more than three euro.
I finally got home and got back to getting ready, which was stressful but eventually everything got done. I got to talk with my mom for a long time, and then Jaynie came over at 8ish to sleep over. We crashed on the couch and watched Chocolat to say goodbye to France for a week!
We got up super early this morning to get ready before our taxi to Orly showed up at 5am. I’m exhausted – I barely slept for worry. BUT, we’re here, we’re at the gate, and we’re Berlin bound!
Two days in Berlin, two days in Prague, then the rest of the week back HOME in Brno! Should be lovely. I hope I can update a lot!