We left on May 19th, the day after we got back from Budapest, to start our last group trip. Our first place we were visiting was called Litomyšl. We arrived there, ate lunch, and then we went to the castle. It was a very beautiful Renaissance castle that even had an old theatre in it. We then had a presentation from some of the people from their university about re-purposing some of the old buildings in the town so they could be used for something useful while not destroying their historic value. We also went to a couple of museums and had a chance to walk around some gardens near the castle. We had about an hour before we were going to eat supper, so I went exploring with a few other people, and it was a lot of fun. We even found a family of beavers! We ate supper at a microbrewery, and we even had a chance to tour it and hear about how they make their beer. We ended the night with going to the Church of the Finding of the Holy Cross. It was very beautiful, and we were even able to go to the roof so we could look out over the town. However, it was pretty dark, so we did not see much.
We left Litomyšl in the morning to head to Kutná Hora. On the way there, we stopped at the Ležáky Memorial. It was a memorial to a town that was completely destroyed by the Nazis during WWII because of the suspension of the town being involved in an assassination of a Nazi leader. We eventually arrived in Kutná Hora and went to the Sedlec Ossuary under the Church of All Saints. When the cemetery was moved from outside the church, most of the bones were used to decorate the lower level of this church. It was sort of creepy, but also really neat. We went for lunch and then headed to St. Barbara's Cathedral. After the cathedral, we went to the old silver mine in the town. We did a tour in the mine, and although it was sort of claustrophobic, it was a lot of fun. We had the rest of the day free, and I spent it hanging out with the group and exploring the town some more.
We left Kutná Hora that morning and started on our way to Český Krumlov. We stopped on the way there at the Budweiser Budvar brewery and did a tour there. After that, we finally got to Český Krumlov that afternoon, so a few of us went garnet shopping. The Czech Republic is known for their garnets, so I figured since my time there was limited, I should go looking for one. I did eventually find a ring I liked, so that was pretty exciting. I ended up walking around the city some with Miranda, and we eventually ended up back at the hostel and hung out with the rest of the group for one of our last nights together.
The next morning, a few of us went for waffles for breakfast, and then our group headed to the castle to tour it. There was a theatre in the castle that was similar to the one in Litomyšl, but bigger. Then we toured the castle itself, and it was rather impressive. We went for lunch after that, and then all met again to go rafting. It was not the nicest weather outside, but we were all determined to go because it sounded like so much fun. It ended up being about a 3 or 4 hour trip down the river, and it could not have been more wonderful. I really wish we could have gone rafting some other time on our trip. We had a little bit of time to get ready, and then we went to dinner one last time as a group. After dinner, we all went to the kitchen in our hostel and did an award ceremony. Everyone was nominated for three categories, and then we all voted on the one we thought they should get. I was nominated for closet party girl, master braid-er, and most genuine, and I got master braid-er. We were able to get our Czech professors to tell us a few stories from years prior, and then we went to one last pub with them before calling it a night.
We left Saturday morning to return to Olomouc. Not everyone came back, because some people decided to go straight to Prague and leave from there. We got back by 2;30, and I spent the rest of the afternoon trying to pack everything up so I could be ready to go the next day. I ate dinner with my flatmates because some of them were leaving to return home as well, and it was really nice. Then I met some of the UNK students at a restaurant for a little while, before heading to another pub to spend a little bit of time with one of our Czech friends, Monika. We stayed for quite a while, but it was eventually time to go home and sleep, so we said our goodbyes and left.
We left early Sunday morning to get checked out of our dorms and catch our train to Prague. Our train was a little late, but we still managed to get to the bus stop on time for our bus to Berlin. We made it to Berlin by 4:30, but then we got a little lost trying to find our hostel. We eventually made it there though, and then we decided to go into town and explore. We went to the Alexanderplatz square and explored there for a while before going to bed.
The first thing we did today was to find part of the Berlin Wall. They have sections of it up all over the city, so there was no way we would not have been able to miss it. Then we went and saw the Brandenburg Gate, the Reichstag, and the Holocaust Memorial. We had heard the night before that there was a large international festival going on, so we decided we should try and find it. We wandered around for about an hour before finally figuring where it was. We had no idea it was such a large festival, but it was neat to walk around it and see everything. We ate some food at the festival, and then returned to the hostel to book a couple of things for Dublin and Amsterdam. We had heard there were statues of Snowden, Manning, and Assange in Berlin, so we decided to try and find them. We headed back to Alexanderplatz because they were supposed to be there, but unfortunately they had been moved to a museum. So we just wandered around the square instead and then finished packing.
We checked out of the hostel Tuesday morning, and stored our luggage there, since we still had almost a full day in Berlin left. We decided to go to Museum Island, which is a place in Berlin with a lot of museums. We assumed the museums were free, so when we found out they were not, we just walked around the area for a while before leaving to go do something else. Berlin's mascot is a bear, and we had heard that there were bears in a park in Berlin, so we went to go find those. It took a while, but we eventually made it to the park. It was really depressing seeing this one bear jut walking around his enclosement though, so we left and went for lunch. We ran back to the hostel for a quick break and to plan out what next to do that day. We decided to go to the Topography of Terrors, which is a memorial dedicated to WWII mainly and is located on the site of the old Gestapo headquarters. It was really interesting, and after that we went to the outskirts of Berlin to find Spreepark. Spreepark is an amusement park that closed down in 2002 but is still standing because no one has decided on what to do with it yet. It was kind of creepy and definitely looked like something out of a horror movie. I loved seeing it though, and I wish that we could have gone in the actual park instead of just seeing it from the outside. After that, we grabbed our luggage, ate some supper, and made our way to the airport to fly to Dublin. We arrived in Dublin late that night and finally got to our hostel by 12:30.
We slept in some the next morning, and then we met one of the people from UNK, Jon, who had been studying with us in the Czech Republic for breakfast so we could spend the day with him. We started out the day by going to Trinity College. It was a very beautiful campus with so many old buildings. Then we went to the Archaeology Museum, which had many historical artifacts in it from many places around Ireland. The part of the museum that I loved the most were the partially preserved bodies from hundreds of years ago they had found in the bogs. After the museum, we went to the Science Gallery, which was back on campus. They have many different exhibits they do there were they use art to represent different scientific ideas. The exhibit they had going on at the time was about how homes might change in the future because of advancing technology. They even had a place where you could swab your belly button to see what bacteria would grow, so Jon volunteered to do that. We ate a late lunch, and then made our way across town to the Guinness Storehouse. We did the tour of it which was very interesting, and then we drank our pint of Guinness in the gravity bar, which is their bar on the top level of the factory with glass windows all the way around for a 360 degree view of Dublin. Afterwards, we ate supper and did some souvenir shopping, got milkshakes, and then called it a night.
We said goodbye to Jon the next morning because he was leaving Dublin, and then we started on our way to Dublin Castle. On our way, we saw the Christ Church Cathedral, which is a very old medieval church. We finally made it to the castle, but I was not overly impressed. We went to the library exhibit they had at the castle for a little while, before going for coffee. After coffee, we went back to the Science Gallery to see Jon's bacteria, and then it was time for lunch. We went to St. Stephen's Green because it is one of the famous parks in Dublin, but it was raining off and on so we did not stay very long. We then did some souvenir shopping, before heading back to the hostel for a quick break. After a while, we decided to check out Phoenix Park. We sat outside at the park for a while, but it was really windy and cold so we did not stay long. We ate supper at our hostel that night, and then waited for another one of our UNK friends, Marissa, to get into Dublin. We met her later that night at the Brazen Head, which is the oldest pub in Ireland. After the pub though, we called it a night and went to bed.
We flew out of Dublin early on Friday to go to Brussels for the day. Our flight was delayed about 30 minutes, and by the time we made it to our hostel, it was around noon. We hurriedly got checked in and found some food, and then we made our way into the town center. We wandered into the St. Nicholas Church on the way to the square, and when we finally arrived to the square, we were definitely amazed. All of the buildings in the square were very decorated, and most even had gold on them. After the square, we found the Manneken Pis statue and then made our way to the Cathedral of St. Michael and St. Gudula. We found a park on the way there with some really interesting reclining chairs, kind of like what you would see on a beach. However, it was a little too cold to sit there for long, so we eventually went into the cathedral. After the cathedral, we had to go try some Belgium waffles, and we were not disappointed because they were delicious! We also bought some chocolate to take back home, and then we returned to the hostel to repack and get ready to go for the next day. We had been told Belgium has really good fries as well, so we went back out in the rain to try and find some. We eventually were successful, but I cannot say the fries were any better than any fries I had had before.
We left fairly early to go to the bus stop so we could go to Amsterdam. We got to Amsterdam alright, but the real problem that occurred was with our suitcases. Miranda's and my suitcase had both stopped rolling, so the wheels had filed down and the bottom of our suitcases had started to rip open. We finally made it to the hostel, and after checking in, we went for lunch. After lunch, we met up a couple other friends from UNK, Jordan and Billy, and we walked around Amsterdam with them all afternoon. We went and checked out the Anne Frank house, but decided that we would go to it the next day. We ended up going back to their hostel and spent some time there before going for supper. We returned to our hostel for a quick nap, and then attempted to go on a pub crawl that was supposed to go to quite a few dancing places. It was a lot of fun, but we were so tired we didn't stay for the whole thing and just went to bed instead.
The next morning, we made our way to the I Am Amsterdam letters. We took quite a few pictures with the letters, and then we happened to find a convenience store. We bought some duct tape for our suitcases and some lunch. We sat at the park and ate some food, even though it was sprinkling. We left the park and met up with Jordan and Billy again and walked around some more. We cut the walking around short though, because it started raining harder. Miranda, Jessica, and I went back to our hostel so we could completely repack and get ready for our flight back home the next day. We did eventually go back out so we could get ice cream and go souvenir shopping, and then we made our way to the Anne Frank House. We waited outside in the rain for about 1.5 hours so we could get in, but it was definitely worth it. After the museum, we said goodbye to our friends and then went back to the hostel to go to bed.
We left the next day really early so we could fly back to London, and then to Minneapolis, and then to Omaha. I finally got back home on Monday at a little after 10. It is a little strange being back home, but I'm also glad to return to normal life and see everyone that I haven't seen for the past 3 months. I absolutely loved studying abroad though, and I would do it again in a heartbeat!