Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Summer adventures, Praguiversary, and all the exciting things that lie ahead...

Wow, I cannot believe how much has happened this summer and how little I've written!  Guess there's no time like the present to get started.  I'll start with a big re-cap post, and I promise pictures from my adventures will be posted over the upcoming weeks.  I have no big adventures planned (aside from the amazing daily adventures of life in Prague) for the next couple months, so I should be able to get things updated!

I have been very lucky to have so many visitors this summer!  I've tour guided people through Prague five times this summer, and I have a couple more visitors coming in the upcoming weeks.  I'm almost a certified tour guide! Well, if nothing else, people get to see my favorite parts of Prague, and really, isn't that a little what it's about when you go visit someone.  You want to see the city through their eyes.

In addition to touring Prague, I also went to Italy, Germany (3 times), the USA, Poland, and Switzerland.  Poland and Switzerland were new countries for me, so that's always a fun adventure.  My trip home was already mentioned in a previous post.  I went home for my grandmother's funeral.  I'm still grateful for the opportunity to have been able to go home and celebrate her life with my wonderful family.

Italy was a great adventure of traveling with my sister for the first time ever - just the two of us.  Sure, we suffered (sorry mom and day, but you already know this) through several painful visits to really old relatives in Germany together when we were growing up.  And yes, we did actually tell our parents NEVER to bring us to Europe again because it's so boring.  And yes, I DO regret saying that all the time!  What can I say, I was 8 years old!  So, Heidi and I had a blast in Italy eating as much prosciutto and melone as humanly possible!  We enjoyed everything - the espresso, the pasta, the wine, the desserts, the people, the culture, the sights - truly everything!  We even rented a Smart car for our adventures through Tuscany.  Heidi drove us well through the tuscan country-side while I continually marveled at how poorly our GPS pronounced Italian words (Firenze was pronounced: Fy-renz).  One of the highlights of this trip was spending two nights at a villa in Tuscany.  The views were absolutely incredible.  More pictures to come soon!

The view from our villa apartment
Then in August, my best friend from college, Cate, came to visit and once again got our travel on.  I met her in Munich and then we went to Kunzelsau, where my aunt, uncle, and cousin and her husband live.  We spent two marvelous days there being pampered and eating amazing food cooked by my aunt.  We also got to see where my dad grew up.  After this visit, we headed south to Leutkirch to the Harle brewery.  I still love going there, as it's pretty darn cool to see your name on a beer bottle.  We got a great tour from Gottfried, my dad's second cousin, who runs the brewery.

Then our adventures really began with an overnight train from Munich to Krakow, Poland!  There'll be more stories and pictures on this later, but lets just say, it brought back funny college loft memories, except this time, our beds were moving at speeds of 80-100 miles an hour!  We had a couple wonderful days in Krakow seeing this beautiful city and also making a trip to Auschwitz.  That was an incredibly powerful and emotional experience, that I still struggle to express with words.

After Krakow, another night train to Prague and a couple wonderful days at "home."  Highlights in Prague were having Cate meet many of my friends here as well going to an opera at the State Opera House.  What a treat!  Following Prague, we did a quick trip to Switzerland, and spent two nights in Zurich with an afternoon trip to Lucerne.  Switzerland was gorgeous and I really enjoyed eating fondue, paddleboating on the lake in Zurich, and being around mountains again!  Then we were back to Munich for one more night, and we ended our adventures with a great night out to a beer garden Munich style, with about 3,500 other people!  We drank liter beers and ate great food, and it was our version of Oktoberfest!

Then it was back to Prague for me for some new teacher training.  See, I did work a bit this summer.  ;)  I even did a few summer camps in between all my other adventures.  After just one week back at work, my parents and aunt and uncle visited, so once again, we toured Prague!  We saw another opera and paddleboated again (two of my favorite Prague activities).  My parents and I also went to Germany again to get together with the Harle family for a massive family reunion.  It was a treat to see everyone for the first time in years!

And now, I'm back at work and enjoying seeing many old faces and many new ones too.  I've actually been home sick the last couple days, but am feeling much better now.  I guess the kids gave me a little "welcome back gift" of a cold, but it could be worse!

Thinking back about this summer and this past year, I still cannot believe that this is my life!  September 6 was my one year Praguiversary.  Now, I'm back as a more experienced teacher, I know my way around the city, and I am basically settled into my life here in Prague.  What a difference a year makes.  Last year sure was a trip.  I met amazing friends for life and saw places I never thought I'd get to see.  I can hardly wait to see what this year will hold...