After Amsterdam, I arrived in Frankfurt and spent my first day in Germany in a post-party coma. Which was good, because my dad soon arrived to play with me in Europe, and I had to take on the responsibility of arranging tickets, tours, and overall, be on my A-game to show my dad around. Pops has never been to Europe before, and all but jumped at the chance to come visit with me. Remember how I mentioned that I’m terrible at reading maps and getting to where I need to be? Unfortunately, my dad is no better. His sense of direction is on par with that of a blinded infant. With its limbs bound. So putting two directionless people together should naturally lead to disaster, but thankfully, we didn’t encounter too much trouble.
Not too much happened in Germany, since my Dad was still getting over jet lag, and I was still recovering from Amsterdam. We went to Cologne, which is only about an hour from Frankfurt, and climbed to the top of the Dom.
From Frankfurt, we moved onto Prague. Side not: slavic languages, while similar in root, are not that similar in pronunciation, and my feeble attempts to speak Czech were returned with puzzled looks and were immediately shot down to the ground. Prague was overblown with tourists, especially Russian tourists, which made maneuvering around the windy, convoluted city a little frustrating. The development of certain post-Communist (or should I say, socialist) countries always amazes me. The Czech Republic, among with other countries such as the Baltic states, are doing pretty well for themselves. They’re clean, their economy is not in the gutter, and they’ve integrated pretty well into Europe. Prague is also very tourist-friendly, which is something you can’t really say about Russia. I don’t speak a word of Czech (except for “hello,” “yes,” “no,” and “I don’t understand”), and I didn’t really need to in order to get around. I can’t wrap my mind around the fact that there are tourists who go to Russia not knowing the language — English just really isn’t as prevalent. Notable sight: the Bone Chapel in Kutna Hora. It is what it sounds like — a chapel with tons of decorations inside made from the human skeleton.
Leaving Prague behind, my dad and I went onto Vienna, where we thoroughly gorged ourselves on their pastries. Apple strudle, sacher torte, whatever they had, we ate, and with gusto. Got our fill of art, since Vienna is bursting at the seams with various art museums. It was Gustav Klimt’s 150th birthday, so he was everywhere. In order to not feel too guilty about eating multiple cakes a day, we biked around the Danube and got a little outside of Vienna.
Bratislava is only one hour away from Vienna, so out of curiosity, we took a day trip there. Bratislava felt like Prague’s not so attractive cousin who couldn’t speak English. Still very quaint and historical, but just didn’t have Prague’s charm. English was less spoken here, so again, I tried my hand at Slovak. Like I said before, knowing one slavic language doesn’t mean that you can communicate easily in all of them. One particularly embarrassing moment was at a museum, when my dad had to show his passport to get a senior discount. He had, however, hidden his passport in a pouch that was tucked into his pants. The interaction went down as such:
Me: (in Russian) “His passport is in his pants, but he’s 67.”
Grandmothers: “Slovak slovak slovak proof slovak.”
Me: “But he has to take his pants off to get his passport. He’s 67! Look at him!”
Grandmothers: “slovak slovak slovak.”
Me: (turning to my dad) You have to get out your passport
As my dad begins to take off his pants, the grandmothers, absolutely horrified, said, “NO NO, GOOD GOOD OKAY.” And he got his senior discount.
We took an overnight train from Vienna to Italy, and after having roughed it on some really groedy Russian trains (and I mean, really disgusting), this train was a treat. Free wine! Free breakfast! Toilets that actually FLUSH! The first world is so nice sometimes. Despite the torturous heat, Rome was one of my favorite cities by far. Its history is so fascinating, and the food was to die for. Out of all the sights, the Colosseum was by far the most memorable.
My travels and living abroad have officially come to an end for now, and I’m state-side for at least two years (with a few breaks in between). Which means that, inevitably, this blog has come to an end for the time being. Thank you to everyone who read this — I am grateful for your readership. Until next time.