Sunday, November 14, 2010

Coloc change + Toussaint!

It's been another month and, despite occasionally thinking of it, I haven't updated the old blog. Better late than never!!

About a month ago a major change occured in our little French colocation...we got a new roommate! I used to share a bedroom (yes, I'm 24 and I share a bedroom) with another assistant named Sarah, but she very suddenly decided to move from Strasbourg to a tiny remote village 2 hours away. Everything worked out perfectly because Ashley, another American assistant, moved in, as did her DOG. Lucy only weighs three pounds, so she's not really big enough to actually be called a dog, but she makes a delightful fourth roommate.
Now we have a very happy colocation!! I love my roommates and our apartment, and I can't imagine things being any better.
Roomies! Ashley, me, and Chrissy. This picture and the last stolen from Anne <3
 The other big event in the past month was our epic adventure through Eastern Europe over Toussaint. I went with 5 other assistants, which should have been a complete disaster. Fortunately it was awesome. We all got along great, and I love them more now than ever.
Our first stop was Munich for two hours on the way to Vienna. We watched the Glockenspiel and ate kebab. Also it snowed a little!? The highlight of our stop? Probably watching Jacy eat a raw green pepper for lunch.
people watching the Glockenspiel...way more interesting than the Glockenspiel itself! photo c/o Chrissy, who is an amazing photographer
We arrived in Vienna and went to our hostel, which was actually pretty nice. We ate spaghetti and some kind of Austrian pancakes and met a Swede. Vienna was a very pretty town, but not my favorite. I think it would be cool to go back with LOTS of money. Vienna highlights included:
-eating Sacher torte (cake) at Hotel Sacher. We had to check our coats...posh!
-watching tons of guys dressed up as Mozart trying to sell tickets to a concert.
-finding the ONLY grocery store open in Vienna on a Sunday, and shopping there along with every resident of the city.
-eating goulash and drinking beer at a restaurant where no one spoke any English at all.
-eating cheap, delicious falafel at a really cool market
Harris, me, Leah, and the original Sacher Torte! Beware of fakes.
 Obviously I really like eating. Luckily all of my travel buddies do too, so we spent a lot of time planning our meals, visiting markets and grocery stores, cooking, and eating during our trip. Midafternoon coffee and pastry breaks contributed significantly to the happiness and harmony of our vacation.
After a couple of days in Vienna we were ready to go, so we took a short bus ride to Bratislava because....WHY NOT?

In case you aren't familiar, Bratislava is the capital of Slovakia. We went in with pretty low expectations and ended up LOVING Bratislava. Highlights?
-beautiful people. Slovaks are seriously good-looking.
-CHEAP everything. Food, beer, hostel, etc was all really cheap and great.
-cute town! The centreville of Bratislava is surprisingly well-kept and charming.
Eating a mystery pastry in Bratislava...apparently I missed the instruction to look grossed out.
 After a night in Bratislava we took a 5-euro bus ride to Budapest. We had low expectations for the bus, too, but it was great...comfy assigned seats, free drinks, movies and Friends episodes, AND it arrived an hour early! Student Agency is the name of the company if you ever find yourself traveling in E. Europe...I highly recommend it! 
Budapest was a really cool city. It reminded me of Paris a bit in that the city is huge and bustling, but there is a beautiful building around every corner. The most memorable parts of this leg were:
-the labyrinth under Buda of the weirdest things EVER. I can't even describe it.
-Fisherman's Bastion, where there is a gorgeous view of Parliament and the entire city.
-eating this awesome cake called Somloi or something...basically they put a layer of chocolate in a cup, pile on some cake chunks, and cover the whole thing in whipped cream....yum!
-the bar with swings instead of barstools---best idea ever.
-hanging out at a park on a sunny day watching dogs.
-Turo Rudi, which is this weirdly delicious Hungarian candy bar that is basically chocolate-coated cottage cheese. Recommended to me in at the bus station by a Hungarian with jacked-up teeth and a skateboard.

After we spent our last forints on vending machine candy, we boarded our Eurolines bus (18E) from Budapest to Prague. It was the bus ride from hell. I sat next to a really rude guy who basically had all of his possessions in the seat with us. My roommate Chrissy sat next to a smelly white boy with dreadlocks. It sucked and I hardly slept at all, so arriving in Prague at 6 AM was a little rough. Oh well, it was worth it!
Prague was my second-favorite city we visited (after Bratislava, bien sur). It is absolutely beautiful...unfortunately, the rest of the world thinks so too and we were there with wayyyy too many tourists. Highlights included:
-Prague castle. We visited castles in every city, and Prague castle was by far the most interesting.
-getting up at sunrise to take pictures at Charles Bridge. It was really foggy, which was appropriately eerie for Halloween.
-our sketch hostel. All of the employees (except one) were really weird and creepy. Also my credit card number somehow made its way out into the world, so that was a small hassle. I guess it's all part of the experience.
-our one big night out, on Halloween. After several hours of searching for the right bar, we found it. The evening was epic.
-almost missing our train back to Kehl. Harris and I were waiting for the train with the bags while everyone else was getting coffee. The train arrived, the departure time got veryyyy near, and we started freaking out. Luckily everything turned out just fine and a minimal amount of coffee was spilled during the mad dash to the train.
Jenelle, Leah, me, Harris, and Prague. photos stolen from Jacy :)

Overall it was an incredible trip, but I was very happy to be back in France. I was walking through Strasbourg the day after we got back and I realized that, as much as I liked the cities we visited,  I like Strasbourg better! I feel so lucky to live here.

Since our trip, I've been working at my schools and hanging out with my friends...pretty normal! I wasn't expecting to go on so long about our trip, so I'll save the laborious details of my day-to-day life for the next post. Get excited :)