I shared a few photos from our hike through Cinque Terre, Italy here. The seaside, the views – it’s lovely. : )
We started out early in the day by grabbing some fruit at one of the small streetside markets….
Our hike wound along the coast of the Mediterranean through 5 towns, some vineyards, and natural cliffs. In the middle of one orchard, we came across an Italian man selling fresh lemonade to hikers….
For lunch, we stopped in the harbor of one of the towns with some grab-and-go pizza….
Throughout the hike, we overheard people talking in all different languages – Italian, English, German, French, and more. It was an interesting mélange of people from all different places – all come to enjoy the Italian coast….
Everyone we passed would say “excuse me” in a different language. Scusi, permesso, entschuldigung, pardon…
Cinque Terre is famous for its beautiful scenery and seaside hikes, but its mixture of different visitors makes for a really unique atmosphere, too. : )
I just got back in Prague earlier today after a business trip to Budapest, Hungary. I’m in love with Budapest itself, and the road trip getting there was great, too!
From Prague to Budapest is about a 5 hour drive – across the Czech Republic, through Slovakia, and into Hungary.
From the road along the way, we could see large clusters of old Soviet-constructed buildings around the outskirts of cities. These are outside Brno, Czech Republic….
The Soviets’ theory was to build uniform apartment buildings so everyone would be equal, but today it’s an odd feeling to pass so many identical buildings.
We stopped to refuel in Slovakia, in the midst of vast cornfields….
At one point, we could see Austria and it’s windmills in the distance….
Coming into Hungary, we passed through an old, mostly untended border checkpoint. Because of the open border policies of the Schengen Agreement, this disused border station is falling into disrepair.
The road trip across part of Central Europe was a great way to see some of the countryside here. : )
I spent some time meandering around and exploring my neighborhood, plus hanging out at a nearby outdoor cafe. I couldn’t really read the Czech menu there, so I ordered randomly off the coffee section and got this espresso + ice cream + whipped cream drink. It was pretty yummy : )
I’m newly obsessed with the kindle – I’ve been reading all kinds of adventure fiction based on reinventions of old mythologies (Rick Riordan, Michael Scott….)
So! I just got back to Prague in the Czech Republic where I’ll be interning this summer.
The road getting here was kind of rough – my original flight was delayed, delayed, delayed, and then finally canceled. I had to stay an extra night in Atlanta in a hotel near the airport, and ended up taking a different flight out the next day.
Finally made it here though! And I am super excited to learn more about the history of Prague as well as Czech culture, and I can’t wait to share it with you guys here.
The culture is interesting and different everywhere you look. Today, on my first day here, I came across some traditional Czech dancing. Here’s a quick video:
I can’t wait to see what this summer has in store. : )
I looove street music. Traveling around some of the big European cities, I’m always excited to see what sorts of music the street musicians play. Accordions in Italy, violins in Stockholm, and all the different kinds in Paris – they’re all so cool!
But some of my fave street music is from Copenhagen, Denmark….
Recycling in Germany can be precise. It took a while for me to get the hang of it, during which time I started collecting recyclables in my room….
The situation soon got desperate, and it was time to figure out German recycling. It’s especially important here in Freiburg, known for being one of the prominent ‘green’ European cities.
There’s lots of recycling bins outside the dorm. You’ve got your white glass, your brown glass, your green glass, and on the left is the bin for clothes/shoes/fabrics….
Then there’s another set of bins for your paper (Grüne Tonne, or “green bin”), plastics/metals (Gelber Sack, or “yellow bag”), and a catch-all for organic wastes and things that don’t fit in the other bins (Restmülltonne, or “waste bin”).
But the coolest thing about recycling in Germany: returning your bottles where you buy them. Turn your empty bottles back in to the cafes/markets/cafeteria where you bought them, and you’ll get your deposit back! (It’s been around .15-.25 euro cents everywhere I’ve gone).
I get a lot of bottles from the Penny-Markt near my dorm, and they have return machines to scan them….
…and you get a receipt in return to pay towards your next purchase!
The German recycling system is pretty complicated, but all the sorting and the deposit method for bottles really encourages the green initiative – Germany has one of the highest recycling rates in Europe and the world (Eurostat).
I’ve talked before about getting around Germany, where the train is definitely my go-to mode of transport. But sometimes I also get the chance to take buses on the autobahn, or German highway.
The interesting thing about the autobahn in the area where I live: no official, federal speed limit! Generally, the advice is to stay under 75 or 80 mph, but it’s a funny feeling never seeing a speed limit sign on the interstate.
Cool fact I learned: Germany has the third longest interstate in the world.
I love riding through the German countryside. And here in Baden-Württemberg, there are always mountains along the horizon in the distance. J’adore. : )
The other day, I blogged live from London. Now, I’m excited to be blogging from my hotel in Stockholm, Sweden!
Stockholm is our second stop as part of the North Trip… studying the politics, economics, and culture of England + Sweden + Estonia. It’s been fun and interesting so far, and I’ve learned a lot about some differences between these northern European Union countries.
One of the first things I noticed about Stockholm: technology! They have great technology and design everywhere. Our first morning, I headed for the metro with Abbey and Kelly to travel around the city, and we discovered this awesome, modern, interactive metro/city map….
This is the fanciest metro information I’ve seen in any city! It’s fabulous and a great example of the efficiency, design, and usability of most things I’ve seen in Stockholm.
So far, I’m loving it here! It’s sooo cold this far north, but I’m piling on the layers and having a blast! : )
It’s starting to look a lot like springtime around Freiburg. And with the warmer weather, restaurants and cafes are officially using all their outdoor tables. The streets are packed with people enjoying these sunny days. : )
PS – You can find the rest of the ‘Compare and Contrast’ series here.