Prague, Dresden, and MunichFreiburg, Spring 2013

I’ve done a lot of traveling in the past two weeks! To keep it simple I’ve separated it all out…

Prague:
I didn’t really know anything about Prague before I started out on the first part of my IES journey. I’d heard that it was a beautiful old Eastern European city and had a lot of charm. I wasn’t wrong really, but here are things I did learn:
1. Never, ever cross the street without a crossing signal. You WILL get run over. The drivers are worse than New York drivers because not only will they kill you, but they will scream at you in Czech while they do it.
2. The Czech language is something else. Most of the words are all consonants or they have a ‘y’ at the end. How do they province that? I found a good example on Wikipedia: a tongue twister that means “stick your finger through your throat” is “Strč prst skrz krk.” See? No vowels.
3. Winter is still coming. (I’ve been reading too much Game of Thrones lately.) But really. It was so cold. Soooo cold. I wrapped my scarf around the top half of my body every day and didn’t even care that I must’ve looked ridiculous. Everyone’s been saying in the news that this is the worst winter Europe has had in forty years or something and I believe that. If Prague really is a magical old Eastern European city, than I guess I was just too cold to see it.
4. So many tourists. I vaguely knew that Prague was one of the most visited cities in Europe, but that fact didn’t stick because I wasn’t prepared for the ridiculous amount of tourists we had to deal with. To be fair, I was a tourist too, but I like to think of myself as a little above the others. I’m not big into taking pictures of everything and I generally shy away from the big touristy sites. I’m also not a loud politically opinionated man so I don’t stand out very much.
5. In spite of all the tourists, as soon as you went onto a street without a centuries old monument, things got real sketchy real fast. Me and a few others were trying to find this restaurant and we naturally consulted Google how to get there. Too bad Google doesn’t have a sketchiness factor on streets because even though we were just a few hundred yards away from the main square, I saw three dubious looking strip clubs and a drug deal (well, I don’t know what I saw really, I tried to keep my head down and stay out of everyone’s way). If any of y’all plan to go to Prague, stay to the main streets as much as possible if you don’t want to wake up with one less kidney and “I <3 Praha” tattooed on your chest.
6. This all being said, it was a lovely three days. I got to hike up to one of the big hills above the city and get some great panoramic views as well as eating tons of delicious Czech food (potatoes and beer, nothing else) in small restaurants found by chance. Overall, it was a positive experience.

Dresden:
I’m sorry to the people who rebuilt Dresden after the bombs and everything, but really, you could have had a plan! This city is just old and new lumped together with no street that runs where it should and the buildings are oddly spaced with sometimes football fields in between each them in the middle of the Altstadt. It was confusing to try to get around which I really didn’t do that much of because it was (still) so darn cold! I swear I consulted the weather channel before packing and I packed my warmest clothes but Jesus H. Christ was it cold! I don’t know… Maybe if it hadn’t been freezing rain/snowing constantly I would have liked it better.
One of the redeeming parts was the Dresden Castle Museum. It was really a few museums in one so it was pretty big. My favorite part was the Turkish section. Again, too much Game of Thrones, but it reminded my of Daenerys Targaryen and the Dothraki (the Dothraki were probably based a little on Turks). You could sit under these huge tents that they used and look at all their swords and armor for men and horses. It was a good change from pretty little necklaces and porcelain spoons. The rooms were dark and intense and you could really imagine yourself among a Turkish battle with European soldiers. Props to the curator or designer of that part of the museum.

Munich:
After we got back from the IES Prague/Dresden trip, I headed out on my own to Munich. I had a friend there thanks to a brief homestay on a People to People trip a few years ago and I stayed with her for a night and then at a hostel for three more. My time with my friend Simone was really lovely and a really good break from my previous touristy adventures. We shopped, went to the movies, and partied with her friends. I have some great stories from a German house party but that would take all day to talk about. It suffices to say that everyone was really nice and we spoke both English and German and I learned that for the most part, teenage parties are the same around the world. The movie that we saw, Rubinrot, was very good even if I couldn’t pronounce the name. The German ‘R’ is a difficult sound to make, especially twice in one word! I understood most of what happened and I was hooked so I got the English version of the book and read it in about a day. I had almost forgotten how much I like reading with everything that I’ve been doing lately.
After I said goodbye to Simone, I did lots of touristy stuff (and some more shopping). I went to three different museums, my favorite being the Neue Pinkaothek. It had art from the 1700′s to the 1800′s and I liked it mostly because I could recognize a good number of the paintings. I will leave you with one of my favorite things I saw while in Munich, a slightly photoshopped picture of a painting from the Alte Pinkaothek…

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