Dear Vienna, 

It’s sad to think my trip abroad had almost come to an end. Tonight I just got back to me hotel room after another amazing day. Yet, tomorrow around this time I will be back home hallway around the world.

Yesterday I had the amazing opportunity to visit the beautiful city of Vienna. It’s one of those places people fantasize about…. And for good reason. Its a city you could visit for weeks and still have new things to discover. Around every corner there is a new monument or museum.  I saw the home of Mozart and sigmund frued. I saw the birthplace of Mozart’s many classic works.

Around the central part of the city lies a main park. In the center is a giant romanticized statue of Mozart. Blow it lies a giant treble clef made up entirely of bright yellow flowers. Beside Mozart, the gardens are full of other famous statues and monuments. On the outskirts of the gardens lie rosebushes dedicated for citizens of the city who have gone missing, or so tried to explain our tour guide. I have never actually been to Europe in the spring or summer, so to see flowers blooming and trees flowering was a treat.

On one side of the park, there is a giant atrium with  a butterfly pavilion and cafe. On all the others lie a castle, government buildings, and the state opera. Now, these buildings aren’t your typical offices…… Every single building in the entire city looks as of it has been built to impress. The peaks and spires stand tall as if competing for great new nights. The outsides are very ornate with statues of majestic women, horses, and frescos. There are great copper  domes on many of the buildings which have turned a bright turquoise color because of their age.

All down the streets from the opera shops like Gucci, Prada, and Coach sell attire for those with exoberant amounts of money.

Because we only had decided to take a day trip to the city, we had a short time to explore the city. Perhaps the only thing I regret about my entire trip was not having more time on Vienna.

As I watched the sunset in the midst of these beauftil gardens, part of me knew I will sometime return to this city. The feeling grows as the rain clears and the wispy clouds giveaway to feathered shades of rose pink and violet. The colors appear vivid next to the bright turquoise domes of the city. I know this sounds crazy but it’s true. The bittersweet feeling of leaving behind unexplored territory gives me something to look forward to…

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An education in international relations 

As I sit here writing this, an episode of the Simpsons in Czech plays in the background. It’s slightly amusing even though I don’t understand the language the plot line is pretty simple to follow. Emotions and tone of voice is identical and gestures say all you need to know. Yet, this phenomenon proves ture for more then just tevevision shows. 

I walk into a nightclub last night called the “Harley”  accomplished by my cousin and a friend. We sit at a table near a bar and it takes a little less then five minuets before we are already being offered drinks by a groups of guys.  People from all over the world come to Prague to dance, mingle, drink, and enjoy the nightlife.  Three pretty girls was more then the guys were able to handle evidently because before we knew it we were being invited to bottle service tables, offered shots of Tennessee Honey, and pulled from around the waist into a twirl on the dance floor. We were especially careful about the drinks because of the growin popularity in date rape drugs. It made me feel much better about the situation to know I had a friend and and my cousin (who is pretty much my big sister) keeping an eye out for me. 

When eyes meet, winks are exchanged, and a hand is offered in a gesture towards the dance floor, the signals are clear. Would an offer for a dance actually hurt anyone? Probably not. By the end of the night I had met a cute guy from Transylvania, four flirtatious Dutchmen, several Germans, loud and slightly older gentlemen from Scotland, some pushy hipster with a man bun (I never got his nationality), and a very sweet local from the  Czech Republic. 

It’s an interesting game…. Meeting people in a bar with hundreds of nationalities. At first you aren’t even sure if you speak the same language. Ironically, this is the only time I have actually used my high school Spanish. But after you concour the language barrier, the conversation turns into the game of “guess where I’m from.” It’s very much like the American teenage boy version of “twenty questions.”  Strangely enough, no one ever guesses I’m form the United States. Everyone always guesses Russia, the Ukraine, or once in a while France or Italy.  

The guy from Transylvania was more intriguing then anything else and slightly creepy. He had gotten there about an hour after we did. The whole time I could feel his eyes constantly on our group. At first I thought his attention was on my cousin, until she pointed out it was really on me. He barely did anything else except stare in my direction and smile sweetly. His move was actually quite brilliant, because I eventually got curious and made my way over to say hi. He was obviously taken aback but we managed to exchange a few worlds he explained that he had not come over sooner but, ” he was too shy and I was  so I pretty.” I almost snorted at the cliche, but was able to resist and only smile in response.” 

Now, I should probably explain the bottle service reference. As we were on the dance floor, a guy approached us and started whispering in my cousins ear. He then lead her by a hand to a nearby private table, one by one he returned and did the same with both my friend and I. I know this sounds like a major judgement lapse on my part, but technically we really only talked…. Until he hailed the waitress and she soon returned with a bottle of vodka and cans of red bull. The three if us shot each other a glance and took on amused smirks.  

I would be lying if I didn’t admit I was given some very strange compliments last  night.  While I was dancing, the same guy who wanted us to come party with him leaned over and whispered in my ear “You have a beauftil from. I’ve ne’er seen anything like it. Your legs are so long. I’ve fallen in love.”  At this point, I could no longer contain my laughter. European men have this type of well spoken and smooth nature to them. It’s like a type of classy elegance which is reserved for such occasions. But, this was simply over the top. 

The variety of mucus was amusing because one moment they were plaing hardcore metal  and the next alternative artists like Train. 

By the end if the night, I was thoughtly enjoying myself. If anything, the atmosphere was fun to observe and the flirtatious comments bounced around the room.  

I was taken aback when the hippy guy with a man bun randomly put his hand around my waste and pulled me onto the dance floor. It did not take long too notice he was entirely too drunk and too much of an ass to even deal with. We were dancing with our palms together when all of a sudden he pulled my hands down and placed them directly on his own ass cheeks. The look on my face was probably priceless.  He was clearly a European, probably Bulgarian from the look of him. But he was so proud to show off his own body he wasn’t too interested in touching home. Thank goodness, or he would likely be sitting in en emergency room now, praying he might one day be able to walk again. I would have made sure of that. 

It was then when I noticed the guy I would soon find out was a local from Prague. He seemed to be very perceptive to others’ emotions and caught on quickly that I must have been feeling awkward in my current situation.  As soon as I was able to ditch the show off, the cute Czech quickly cut in for his turn.  He was probably about 6′ 4″ and very blonde with a slender build. It is innocent fun like that which I actually enjoy. He simply seemed to have no other motives then to get to know me and enjoy an evening out.  We danced for a while, content to enjoy each other’s company without any other strings attached. By the end of the night he finally asked I if I wished to go get dinner with him in an evening or two… Unfortunately, I had to politely refuse. In his cute little accent his sadly said “Then is suppose we will never see each other again. Goodbye!” It was one of those lingering statements, one that echos in your mind. 

By that time it was about 3:30 am and we decided it was time to head back so we could get about three hours of sleep before our busy day that morning.  Crazy as it might sound, this wasn’t even half the stories which I could share from the night. My first nightclub experience was legendary to say the least. I realize that I’ll be getting a hard time from my cousin for years to come after this! 

Peace and love in Prague 

Today has been yet another inspirational day. I’ve realized something about travel. When you originally explore a city, you may feel tired, thirsty, and miserable. Yet after you sit down for a good meal and a rest your subconscious somehow sorts all the new things you have been experiencing and turns them into a condensed version of adventreous exploration. Yousomehow  forget how tired you felt hiking up a hill but remember the amazing view at the top for example.  After the day ends and you reflect upon your expericnes, you finally begin to realize the depth and importantce of them. This was certainly the case for me today. 

We left our hotel later then would have been ideal this morning. But we decided to hike over to new town Prague by the Charles bridge (a historic bridge lines with famous statues and epic views). There, we explored artists selling water colors on the street and finally found our way into a local Starbucks. I know what you’re thinking…. Why go to a European city just to drink Starbucks? Normally we would not have, but it was really cold outside and the location happened to be very convinent. 

Anyway after our coffee break we decided to venture onto a tiny side street as we followed directions to something called the “Lennon wall.” This wall is a famous street art project inspired by the Beatles to stand for peace and hope after the Vietnam war. All along the wall people have added messages of their own in spray paint. They usually represent a wish for change of current human rights violations. Today in blue paint was a message that read “happiness is a warm gun.” I will let you intepret that how you may. 

 My local friend and guide Hanka was telling me that only a few weeks before someone had completely white washed the wall, leaving it blank and desolate. People were so mad that a group of locals used an old picture reference to completely restore the wall to its original condition. 

Down the street from the wall was one of those famous love lock bridges. After reading about them for many years and seeing pictures of them in Europe it was amazing to stumble across one in person. For coupes visiting Europe together, it’s tradition to find a bridge and put a combination or key lock on it,  symbolic of an eternity together. Locks entirely took up the railings over the bridge and looked like thick vines of a metal plant. 

When we finally got back to the hotel, ready to meet colleagues of my fathers, I inwas very suppressed by who I  saw. My cousin flew across the world to surprise me on my my eighteenth birthday. I knew my aunt and uncle were also supposed to join us, but her presence was also a very pleasant surprise. 

One to remember 

For all my friends back in the United States, there is about a seven hour difference beteern Prague and  Denver. So while I was experiencing the Czech version of jägermire, most people were off working day jobs and sleeping the Saturday away. Not to sound mean or anything…

Anyway, although today was a good day, the evening turned out to be even better. I mentioned in an earier post that Prague had a decent nightlife. That turned out to be an understatement. As we went to go visit the historic national museum building, we were disappointed to hear it was closed for the next four years because of construction. As we went to walk away, we happened to see a lady on the side of the box office. She was advertising tickets to a symphony. We were already interested at seeing an opera or musical performance so decided what she had to say. Turns out, she offered tickets to a symphony right here inside the national museum.

We were pretty skeptical when we heard that the cost was the equivalent to about twenty American dollars each, but decided to commit and buy tickets anyway.

As the six o’clock curtain call neared, we were sure there had been some sort of a mistake. A lady let us into the theatre and we went to go take seats. We walked into the building to find chairs on the stairs of the entrance to the museum. The walls were engraved with beautiful gold platelet faces and designs and red carpets adorned the large steps of four identical stair cases. Large golden lanterns lit the the main room and left dark shadows in dark corridors  of the remainder of the building.

My dad and I joked about how the museum was possibly haunted. The air was cool and the building was not heated.

When time for the concert to began finally came, a total of six musicians walked on stage. Three violins, a cellist, a bass player, and a pianist waked onto a platform which was set up with music stands. What I had believed to be a full orchestra happened only to be a chamber orchestra. For such a small group, their sound resonated beautifully. There only about ten people in the entire audience. For the small price of about twenty dollars, we were granted access of a private performance of Vilvaldi and Mozart’s most famous music in one of the most famous buildings of the Czech Republic.  For a reference, this building probably sees thousands of tourists a day in the summer and is reserved as a national landmark. Let’s just say I felt pretty special for a private performance in the middle of it all.

Afterword, perhaps a little drunk (no foreshadow or pun intended) on adrenaline. So we decided to take a sneak peak down the dark corridors of the abandoned museum. To be entirely honest, the wasn’t much to see. All the exhibits had been taken down, only dusty display cases were left as the moon shined though the large windows. At that moment, I almost believed it was haunted.

Now I should probably explain the jägermire reference. At dinner, since my 18th birthday is tomorrow, my dad suggested I be adventurous so the waiter decided to bring me a shot of the local  liquor. The tase would best be described as a cinnamon type mint, with a strong aftertaste of spice.  I usually don’t like minty drinks, but I must admit it had a really refreshing flavor. Despite being refreshing though, it was also very very strong.  After two glasses of wine plus that shot, I feel pretty loopy.

After being only my first whole day in Prague, I can’t wait to experience other crazy things in this unique city for the next nine days.

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A whole new world 

After nearly my first whole day in Prague I can say one thing for certain. This is a city, unlike other old European cities, that is still growing and developing its own sence of peonality.

Ever since the fall of the communist party here, Prague has been establishing a new culture. Since the city was not bombed during would war 2 all the historical buildings and gothic architecture stand tall and intact. From the cobblestone streets, up past the carefully detailed siding, bright redrooves, and up to the starkly contrasting bright blue sky, the city screams of its pride.  On the outside of town hundreds of ugly and cold apartment buildings can be seen falling into disrepair and rubble. They show proof of the communist party’s failed attempt at mass housing before independence was won for the Czech people.

Despite ancient buildings and historical streets, the city is beaming of youth.  At night the streets grow crowded and noisy as people flock to clubs, bars, restaurants, and concerts. Young adults from across Europe flock to the city on weekends to party and take part in cheap food and good alcohol. Beer is very popular here and the city is renoued for its various brews. They also have a selection of delicious wine (both sweet white and oaky red)… My favorites.

They are also unusually relaxed about rules and regulations. At dinner last night I ordered wine, since I am not yet eighteen they didn’t seem to care about age and therefor failed to ask me for identification. Although this is pretty standard around Europe, it still seems odd in contrast to the laws of the United States.

Cars park wherever they wish in the streets. Last night smart cars were scattered on sidewalks and larger cars jut out every which way on the street.  People also tend to be very aggressive  and fast drivers in this city. If you don’t look both ways before crossing a street, you have a very high chance at being hit head on at fourth miles per hour or more. Last night I was almost side swiped by a man on a little motorcycle.

Yet another variation which supposed me was the amount of smoke in the city. Unlike the United States, smoking is not only allowed …but encouraged in many public restaurants and bars. In the markets and major squares people use smokers to cook ham, cinnamon  rolls, and other classic street food. Instead of fried food, Prague seemed to have smoked food.

If you ever happen to visit the city, I highly recommend the local street food. I has some honey baked ham today for lunch and it was simply delicious. Tomorrow I hope to try other street food such as their famous potato crisps.

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My hatred of heathrow but love of London 

Heathrow….. For suched a famously awful airport, I never really understood the complaints and frustration associated with it until now. 

I sit here after a sleepless nine hour flight only to learn that because of miscommunication and a workers strike that they overbooked our flight and I now have a five hour layover and two hour flight until we get to reach our final destination of Prague, Czech Republic. Even before we left Denver I knew something was up, even if I did not want to consciously accept it. Usually at check in they print you tickets for all layovers and connections. For some reason the only handed us one and stated that we could pick our other ticket here in heathrow. They pretty much just passed the problem onto someone else and hoped we wouldn’t notice. 

I suppose in retrospect that this isn’t the fault of the London airport…. But it still greatly annoyes me.  It’s lucky they have free wifi or I would not be writing this post.

Despite this minor set back, my flight to London was decent. My family and I chose to fly British airways and I do not regret the decision for three major reasons. One, is that the accents of the flight attendants were simply adorable. Two, tea was never in short supply. The flight attendants waltzed down the isle every hour proclaiming “tea? Would anybody like tea?” in their most perky and happy accents.  And three, British tabloid newspapers are very entertaining. From a design standpoint the size of their headlines are rediculously oversized. But the actual content is simply rediculous and entertains. It rivals that of British television.  It was completely fluff journalism except for  two stories.

Yet possibly one of the scariest situations I have been in yet, and which every traveler has to face, is the possibility of solo seat assignments.  My mom and I discussed worst possible scenarios of who to be stuck next to for nine hours. She said a crying baby would be bad, but I countered that a creepy man with body oder would be worse. As I got on the plane I was relieved to see that I was placed next to a nice lady from east London who was returning from a skiing trip with friends. My mom jokingly told her of my fear and some random British  guy in the next row added “yeah, lucky you didn’t end up next to me.” I honestly wasn’t sure what to say to that…

Its been a very long time since I’ve last been in London. It’s a very modern and fast paced city. To be entirely honest I miss it. If I had another I’d be very tempted to go do some sight seeing. As we descended during our flight the cool and refreshing feeling of spooky London mist brought back memories of my trip here with extended family.  

no such thing as coincidences

I don’t believe in coincidences. Given that fact, this weekend has been very confusing for me. Recently I have asked for a tiny sign from the universe to assist me with my college search. Usually my empty requests to the universe remain unanswered, but not this weekend.

I know this sounds trivial and silly, but choosing the right school has been a real struggle for me.  Nearly everyone I know has found their dream school and are fully committed.  Then there is me…. Unfortunately, I have found two dream schools. Both schools are complete opposites and both offer very enticing opportunities.

Let’s back up to Friday night. I don’t claim to be the most organized person, especially when it comes to my wardrobe. But I still know what cloths I own. I was getting ready for a chill night with friends and was looking for a comfortable shirt to put on. While rummaging through my drawer I pulled out an oversize  long sleeve CU Boulder tee-shirt. I still have no idea where this came from. I had never seen this shirt before in my life. Still, it happened to be exactly what I needed. It also happened to be my size.  This is literally the most comfortable shirt  I have ever owned. After confronting my parents, they both denied placing it in my drawer. No one else has been in my house within my knowledge. It is pretty obvious that the Admissions office at CU did not sneak into my house and leave random clothing as a bribe, but I am still curious how it got there.I thought I had found my sign from the universe….until breakfast Sunday.

My parents and I went to meet some family friends at a quaint little restaurant near downtown Denver. Jokingly in the parking lot, my dad pointed out a licence plate from my other dream school, Regis University. I thought nothing of it until walking into the restaurant and being seated directly at the table next to none other but Regis’s President Father Fitzgibbons. He proceeded to recognize me immediately as an admitted/ prospective student.

We began to talk and he and his colleagues asked me about how I felt about submitting my acceptance to the school.  When I finally admitted that I hadn’t decided yet, they were quick to offer answers to any questions or concerns I may have had about the school or community. I stood there awkwardly and had to explain that I didn’t have any specific questions to ask. They were so friendly and made me feel a little guilty for not yet accepting their generous invitation to become a part of the Regis University student body.

To be entirely honest I am not sure what is keeping me from making a final decision and it’s driving me crazy.

the start of a travel blog on Prague

As spring break nears, so does my anticipation for my trip abroad. Like I have stated in past posts, travel is an important aspect to my life. Nothing can quite match the exhilaration of it. Still, the week before a big trip I find that my mind is racing and I am starting to freak out about all the things I have to accomplish before my plane takes off.

Passport: Check

Travel scarf: Check

Foreign Currency: Check

Still, making sure I have everything packed is one of my least concerns. Final plans and reservations for not only plane tickets, but hotel reservations, train tickets, and schedule timing sit in the back of my mind.

I have recently made a contact/ friend in the Czech Republic.I have gotten to know her because of my father who has previous connections with the IPA, an international organization for retired law enforcement officers for various nations all over the world. The group provides a local representative to greet fellow members of the organization and their families traveling abroad.  Over the last week I have been coordinating with her about plans and possibilities about my trip.

Since I will be celebrating my 18th birthday in Prague, which is the legal drinking age, she invited me to go clubbing with her and her friends. Despite being in a foreign country, this is an experience which will be somewhat new to me.  I’ve had alcohol before, but it  still seems weird that I will finally be of age to partake in an open and public setting with friends. In fact, after the fall of the communist regime, clubbing in the Czech Republic has evidently been growing more and more popular and the nightlife in the city has exploded. It seems unreal that I will be there to experience it with my own eyes in less then a week.

According to my guide Hanka, Drum and Bass is a very popular type of music for local clubs. Since this genre isn’t very popular in America, I haven’t had much experience with it. But it pretty much just sounds like European Dub-Step. Shout out to YouTube for a quick education in the subject.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hTFnisU752g

To thank her she actually asked me to bring her makeup…of all things! I did not realize this, but cosmetics about double the price in large European cities. For some reason they are a lot cheaper in the US. My guess it is might be because of currency change rates and transportation costs.

I have always dreamed  about becoming a travel blogger. Now, this is going to become a reality( at least for two weeks)  I promise to update you with my progress and share my encounters with the unknown.

adventures in the red light district

There are several words and phases to describe what I am feeling. It is something which is experienced around the world and has been since the beginning of humanity. For a few months now it has been creeping up in the back of my mind. It is something which slowly overtakes your consciousnesses and becomes your sole ambition in life. Although some may call it a disease, I prefer to consider it a blessing.

I have officially caught the travel bug. Ever since my early years of childhood when I first went to Mexico with my family, the feeling of discovery and exhilaration when exploring foreign places has become a central part of my personality. Barely a few months go by between trips before I start to become grumpy and unsettled. I could go on for years about my experiences across Europe and various parts of South America. But, I will save most of the details  for later posts.

One thing I will mention though is a thought which occurred to me while reading the Novel “The Goldfinch.” A few years back, my cousins and I found ourselves in a very precarious situation. After spending New Years Eve in Paris, we attempted to book a flight back to the US. Unfortunately all the seats were sold out and our chances were slim for about another week. We decided to take a train to Frankfurt, Germany.  Little did we know that Frankfurt happens to be one of the most dangerous cities in Europe. I’m not kidding when I say this city makes ghetto parts of New York look like Disneyland.

As we walked down the street, I recall hearing gunshots and seeing drug deals take place. In the windows red hearts glowed in the chilly late night air. (I later learned that the red hearts symbolized certified brothel) Turns out that prostitution is legal in parts of Germany…. We were literally in the heart of the red light district with no hotel reservations an no plan. To make things worse, I had developed a fever and had started to throw up. If it was not for the heart doctor from California we met on the train, I don’t now where we would have ended up. He caught us as we were lost and wandering down the street and offered to help us. He happened to have family in the city and was able to get us a safe place to sleep for the night.

I know it sounds funny, but I wouldn’t change a thing about my experience in Germany if given the chance. Because of a few full flights, I was able gain a new perspective on travel.  Because of a few full flights, I was able to experience a whole new country.

In “The Goldfinch” the main character describes the complexity of European train stations and the policies of international travel. He describes the customs and requirements of passports, even on a train.This part of the book would likely have been nothing more then a passing transition if I had not been able to relate to it.  After an international trip, there are so many more things you can relate to and so many more stories you have to tell. It broadens your perspective and raises many questions about the unknown. Although travel can be uncomfortable (as proven above) the overall experience is totally worth it. Even thinking about it makes me giddy to consider my next big adventure. Can we all take a second to consider the beauty of wanderlust?