Bratislava

I am doing my usual blogging thing now, where I am the only one in my near vicinity with my computer out. Right now, that vicinity is the food court in a mall in Bratislava.
I also just continued with my apparent quest to bring the practice of food pics to Europe. I’ve undergone a fair amount of teasing by both Germans and Austrians the past few days for that. Nevertheless, I am satisfied with my documentation of the Bryndzové halusky and pirohy combination plate that I just certainly ate way too quickly. Despite how full I am, the bubble tea across the way is taunting me a bit, but I think I will save myself for some Slovakian sweets later on…
I’m going to stand up soon to hopefully avoid any debilitating food coma, but side note: I spent the train ride here (from Vienna) speaking to a man from Bulgaria who had never met anyone from the US before. I am so curious how I might have (or not at all) influenced his perceptions about the US—it felt like a big role to take on (says a narcissistic, traveling 20 year-old).
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Well, that was a very solid day and five pounds gained in Slovakia. Now on the train to Budapest, my last stop before going back to New York on Friday. About to read up on what to eat there….
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Ljubljana Main Station

I am super behind on blogging, which my parents reminded me of during a birthday video chat for my father. I was reminded again of that right now, as I am experiencing my first frustrating train stuff in days. Apparently, there is nothing quite like a delayed train to motivate me to blog.
Quick recap:
I wrote half of a post on the way from Munich to Rovereto. Since then, I’ve traveled from Rovereto to Riva del Garda to Lago di Ledro (back to Rovereto) to Verona and then Trieste (all Italy), and finally, a new country and Ljubljana.
Now it’s almost midnight, and I’m sitting on platform 8 of the Ljubljana Main Station waiting for a train that is delayed by 23 minutes. We planned to have a 16 minute connection in Villach, Austria at around 1 a.m. to arrive in Vienna tomorrow by 8. Thanks to the handy Eurail Train Planner app, I’ve now discovered that there is in fact a different option that would be fine: Take this train a few stops further (in the wrong direction)—to Salzburg rather than Villach, and then take a train that would still arrive in Vienna before 8.
I would like to continue with my train frustrations talking about how this all would be fine if it weren’t for the fact that reservations are compulsory are some parts of these journeys, but I can’t tell when they are compulsory for all passengers and when just for Eurail/Interail pass holders and during what sections of the journey they require a reservation and whether we’ll get kicked off or be fined or be fine if we don’t have a reservation or if I should just spend the whole ride hiding in the bathroom and why couldn’t the women at the train station in Italy able to make us a reservation on an Italian train even though she tried her very best to do so even though at this point that doesn’t matter because we very likely won’t make that train connection anyway?
But, all that stuff doesn’t seem like very fun to read, so, some  tidbits about the trip because I don’t think I can do real sentences right now:
Rovereto:
  • Small town, but apparently there is a castel every ~200 m in Italy
  • I think the benches in front of a fountain are the same ones as those on the Highline in NYC
  • Free hostel breakfast with fruit???
Riva del Garda:
  • Where the Italian surfers go, I think
  • It was 100% not our fault that we missed our bus—the women working at the tourist information point told us the completely wrong stop! (Thanks to second women who corrected this, and then we got a private ride in a van meant to take “trekkers and bikers” up to Lago di Ledro; we had no bikes)
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Lago di Ledro:
  • Italian Lake Tahoe maybe but no motorized boats
  • A nice 10 km around despite some smushed peaches
  • Left my headphones on a beach 😔
  • Bus rides aren’t that bad
Verona:
  • Airbnb host made sure Marvin and I both knew that woman are the most important part of a family; just by looking at me, he could tell I am a “good woman”
  • Of course pouring rain after a long determination of whether to get exhausted pizza but pizza was good
  • Trying to explain NU sorority life to Germans is hard
  • And then some leftover pizza to accompany Airbnb-provided packaged croissants and biscuits (among other things) for breakfast
  • Roofs are pretty
  • Casa di Giuletta = casa di tourists
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Trieste:
  • Did everybody hate us when we went for a run through the city center at 11 p.m. on a Friday night or were they just super jealous of our athletic capabilities??
  • Bigger city than I thought but still clearly some classic, Italian culture (in addition to Austria-Hungarian, Slovenian, etc.)
  • Don’t get tricked into sitting down when you get espresso because you have to pay 50 cents for that
  • Great seafood tartines in a restaurant filled with booked and cool lamps and maybe we accidentally transported to Brooklyn
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Villa Opicina:
  • I made a visit to the out-of-place coop supermarket nestled into a quaint border town to buy olives and wine ~juice boxes
  • I also think I wandered down an out of bounds hall in the tiny train station and saw some cool controls
Ljubljana:
  • Literally have no idea what I thought Slovenia was like, but not this (maybe the small villages and cows I saw on the train ride here?)
  • So European and center is all pedestrianized and Green Capital of the World 2016, and I dig it all
  • Got a city bikeshare account for the week (only here one day) for 1 euro—a year’s subscription would’ve cost 3 euros  (@NYCCitibike, watcha doin???)
  • Spent about 3 hours in the morning looking for an appropriate restaurant, and finally settled on some yummy, gooey, greasy, Slovenian pastries (and later, tried some exotic meat and seafood for dinner)
  • And great cake (tbh, so happy to be far beyond the pathetic German cake game)
  • Shout out to our Airbnb host who let us have the room for a whole extra day

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Update:

Not possible to buy train reservations on trains. Slept for three hours on the floor of the train station in Villach, Austria.

Munich & Rovereto

I just survived a night train (or perhaps more impressive, three trains in the night) to arrive at the Munich Hauptbahnhof, wandered about a mile to a market where I thought vendors might be a bit alive maybe at 7 a.m., said hi to a few truck drivers delivering the goods, then used my Yelp expertise to find a cafe shop open before 8. I am now sipping the best latte machiatto of my life as I sit outside this clearly diehard coffee person cafe. Also, the second (German!) person this morning who walked by just said “morgen” to me with a smile, so I must be doing something right?…
But yeah—after yesterday’s train mishegas that caused me to lose half a day in Berlin, I was honestly quite surprised that last night’s trip went so seamlessly—and that I even got like six hours of sleep!!
Hahaha, and now it is a bit later, but I totally stopped writing once I found out that a Wifi hotspot works here.
**Correction: the people were saying hi to the owner of the coffee shop, not me :(.
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My 7 hours in Munich ended up quite nicely. Mediocre Bavarian food but good beer, and honestly I think a lot of the city seen after 9 miles of walking (thanks, iPhone ‘Health’ app)—even if an amount of it was in circles waiting for my travel companion’s train to arrive.
Now, I have entered the world of un-airconditioned trains—Italy. I suppose the hot train (and hostel) thing should be worth it, although we do have at least 3 hours of buses and another hour or so on previously-mentioned hot train  planned for tomorrow.

Szczecin & Pasewalk

08:05
Well, I just really messed up my plan of eating in breakfast in Poland—100% just to say that I took a train to Poland for breakfast, for sure. After last-minute running to the correct Berlin train station to catch a train to Szczecin Poland, I didn’t think I could make the 1 h 43 min train ride without some sustenance. I’ve been trying to eat a bit healthier to phase myself back into real life soon, but when the train grocery store was still closed, I went to a bakery next door to buy myself a fried fish sandwich. Because protein.
So yes, I am on my way to Szczecin right now. This is a day trip I wavered back and forth over for a very long time. Most of the internet says it’s not worth it, apart from a few diehard wanderlusters—potentially like me. And certainly, three days in Berlin is not enough to see everything. But neither is four. Plus, I am also trying to make the most out of my unlimited train pass, and I recently rerouted my trip from mostly Eastern Europe to mostly Italy.
So, the guy in the hostel bunk below me’s incredible snoring this morning at 5 a.m. did indeed push me over the edge… and over the border (hahaha it’s still too early please help me).
Despite the less luxurious amenities given that this is a regional train, I believe I will try to sleep. I must practice sleeping on trains given that I am taking a night train to Munich tonight. Will tell y’all how Poland was on the train ride home. And in the meantime, I will annoy the people cramped in the seat next to me by getting up for the third time to put my computer away and grab my headphones….
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13:01
Well, that was 100% worth it. Szczecin is one of the most liberal cities in Loland, and with its location it has lots of German influence. So, I didn’t expect how much crossing the border would feel like entering a different world.

Both that brief  introduction to Eastern Europe or the pierogies by themselves could’ve made that half-day trip worth it.
My beautiful, substantial pierogies lunch, by the way, cost about $1.25.
In fact, I occupied myself for the majority of my 3 hours in Szczecin figuring out how to spend the equivalent of $20 I took out of the ATM. After two grocery store trips (first one for fun, second one literally to spend my money on real food provisions I’ll eat this week), lunch, and multiple bakeries later, I failed. In retrospect, I should have like bought some clothes or something at the mall I visited for a tid bit. Just trying not to acquire so many things at this point in my life…. (Like, the grocery store apples will be gone in a day or so.)
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13:45
So DAMMIT, because just as I was finishing up describing my perfect morning, I screwed up. I got off my train to change two minutes early, and ended up Pasewalk Ost instead of Pasewalk. The next train to Berlin is now in two hours. So much for my morning in Poland and then afternoon visiting more of the Berlin Biennial and visiting a Turkish market before embarking on my train to Munich. I suppose I should just be thankful for the internet and the fact that I will still make it on my train to Munich no problem (just without seeing any more of Berlin…) and that this cake that I so don’t want right now (still quite stuffed from my food adventures in Szczecin) was only a euro, and that this cafe is providing me with cover from the rain and an outlet to charge my electronic devices.
Well, I suppose that it serves me right that just as I rub it in everybody’s faces that I made the 100% best choice with my daytrip, something gets messed up… And, in the grand scheme of things, I suppose this two hours of my life in Pasewalk can be rectified later….
What I should really do now as I sit in this charmingly maritime-themed cafe in middle-of-nowhere Germany without any wifi is work on the Powerpoint that I need to finish for Annegret. But also I have so many hours on a train tonight. And I’m tired….
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Bad cake, by the way.

Berlin

So, it’s really difficult to find time to blog when you go to a flea market Sunday morning then spend the rest of the day in a club (apparently Berlin is too much fun) and then sleep forever and then go on a 4-hour walking tour and then walk about 6 more miles and try to do check numerous Berlin to-do’s off your checklist in one night because you want to spend part of the day in Poland tomorrow….

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Tschüss, Hamburg

The first time I spoke to my flatmate Jonas, I was sitting at a table on the ground floor of Norris trying to get people to take a survey on an iPad (for my NU Dining Sustainable Internship). But Jonas happened to be free, and I wanted to make sure I wasn’t planning on going to live with any serial killers, so I put in my headphones.
That was a good choice.
I feel inclined to say that the last eight weeks flew by, but in all honesty, they didn’t. Those four hours after lunch at my desk on the fifth floor of HCU dragged on like no one’s business, and then some nights I even watched TV. I also… learned to chill a bit this summer. I started off counting the weeks, and then I stopped.
This morning, I finished packing a bit early, and then I sat on the floor of my (sad, empty) room listening to music with Jonas. Listening to music. If you know me, you get that that means something significant.
It’s so difficult not to get sappy and caught up in clichés, but the time I spent in Hamburg was so great—and I think it was also so great for me.
Sorry to point fingers (not really), but the Northwestern lifestyle and ideology and exclusive extracurricular activities and 150-person lecture classes and sororities and auditions and the inevitable walk from South to North campus on Sheridan Road has take a pretty severe toll on me over the past two years. To be clear, I am doing 100% fine, and I’ve grown so much from dealing with everything at NU (@clichés); yet, the ability to hit reverse for a bit this summer was quite… needed. And good.
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Over the past two months, I thouroughly enjoyed every lunch break and each new type beer and aimless wandering and hopping on trains and not going to the gym and forming relationships and all of the desserts and listening to music (!) and sitting and chilling in the grossest kitchen I will hopefully ever set foot in, and, well… not being super stressed or antsy simply due to my everyday life.
Granted, it’s been a long day, I’m lacking some sleep, and I’ve indeed had some beer as I now sit in this incredibly cool and hip urban garden/co-op/cafe in Berlin. So, I think I will leave the rest of my emotions to my journal at this point.
But in the meantime, some excerpts of thanks to those in Germany and not (and in alphabetical order because don’t worry—I’m still super obsessive):
To Annegret – Thank you for asking me to make diagrams that I will literally cherish for the rest of my life. Also, I promise I really will finish the Log Frame Approach PPT and send it to you soon.
To Austin – For still being awake most days when I got to work.
To Ed – Jonas and Lion really enjoyed grabbing that beer with you.
To Grace – Thank you for your genius mathematical equation. And I can’t wait to talk more soon.
To Haberly – That was a pretty great bush. And “soccer game.”
To Jonas – Thanks so so so much. You’ve now inspired me not only to be more zen, but to be more rocking, too.
To Jordan – I really, truly enjoyed hearing you talk about debate. And then also I had fun in Amsterdam. And then in Hamburg. But you should really stay longer at the fischmarkt next time.
To Lion – Thanks for that first Facebook message and your smile amidst the chaos (kitchen).
To Liza – I suppose more than the shoes and the money to ship the box back and the train ticket, I am incredibly grateful for the constant support.
To Marvin – For having the idea to buy chocolate. And yeah okay yeah okay, I’ll see you soon.
To Marvin’s “thesispartner” – Don’t worry—I’ll make him work on it on the train.
To Michelle – I really cannot imagine the 9 to 5 grind without you by my side. And sending best wishes in regards to the bed bugs—if you did bring them back to Hamburg (I think not), I’d just take it as a compliment that the bugs don’t want to leave your genuine, caring, passionate self.
To Molly – Thanks for some good advice.
To Sarah – I will steal a bike back for you someday.
To Sarah W. – We totally brought the highlights of our NU friendship to Germany and even added five museums (in one day). And for some reason, I was so comforted by the fact that I was with you when we felt like prostitutes.
To Shannon – Thank you for literally how did you deal with me as I shoved so much chocolate into my face in Brussels.
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Mittwoch (8!!)

Today I read a book called European and International Experiences of Strategic Environmental Assessment for 7 more-or-less straight hours. And it was really interesting. And what I learned/what it recapped for me made me feel confident that I have been understanding and processing and making diagrams out of the words I’ve read on the computer screen for the past 8 weeks correctly.

But really, perhaps the greatest indicator of my progress and productivity today is that I only spent around 30 minutes of those more-or-less 7 hours today staring at Google Maps and getting frustrated by Airbnb (planning the upcoming weeks’ travels…).

But then I ruined it all by having flammkuchen for the very first time tonight. I have definitely made some huge mistakes (tofu and salad for dinner) over the past 8 weeks….

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(Sadler, B., & Dusík, J., 2016)

Montag (8!)

Well, it’s my last week in Hamburg, and I only want to cry a lot when I think about that. So obviously, to distract myself from the missing-this-place crying, I am sitting on the floor of my room (glass cleaned up 100%, don’t worry) crying at Orange is the New Black.

But also let’s just take a minute to note that I’m still only on the 8th episode of the new season, which just totals up my television-watching time in Germany to a little under 8 hours. In a little under 8 weeks. Proof I enjoyed it here, I suppose. Or that I just work a lot?…

And P.S. to everybody who keeps telling me to watch and listen to things (@Liza @Austin), that’s really probably not going to happen any time soon.

P.P.S. Also did some things yesterday include bike across a bunch of bridges and flea market and drink coffee on top of an old bunker, but I also had stayed up until the Fischmarkt Sunday morning, so I chose to sleep instead of blog in the evening time….

 

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Schwerin/Lüneburg

I’ve been getting a bit nervous about traveling alone for the week and a half after my internship ends: Will I be lonely? What will I do each day besides eat and museum? And what will I do each day besides eat once I spend too much money on museums? Will I begin talking to myself?
After my day-trip today to Schwerin and Lüneburg, I can confidently assure you that the answer to that last question is yes. However, in addition to me noticing myself talking to myself today, at numerous points I also found my mouth gaping open as I laughed of joy to myself as I looked at some… cool shit. I have have confidence in what my future travels bring….
Examples of the cool shit below:
In Schwerin –
A bouncy castle in front of a real castle
A bride in the pouring rain with a rainbow umbrella underneath an arch in the schlossgarten, which I viewed from a window above
Pre-made salads for 69 cents at Edeka
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In Lüneburg –
A tiny, dark tunnel with a creepy creepy figurine mining (?) salt in the salt museum
A viewpoint where you can see how one section of the town has subsided ~5 feet due to the salt mining
A child sitting in front of a picture-perfect ice cream sundae
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When I didn’t smile and laugh to myself today:
When there was an option to take either an ICE or regional train from Lüneburg back to Hamburg at 17:58. I got on the ICE train because it would arrive 4 minutes sooner. But after sitting on the ICE train for 10 minutes, we were told that it was not going farther. I sat on the ground for a bit waiting for the next (slower) train to Hamburg (and wrote that in present tense at that point but soon got up because of what you’re about to read), before learning that train would be delayed 25 minutes. So, I looked up other trains to Hamburg and ran across the station (with a herd of fellow travelers, of course) to catch a train that was also meant to leave at 18:32 but would be even slower. Then, after sitting on that train for 10 minutes, another lucky train conductor got the fortune of telling me and my herd that there were technical problems on that train too, and it also wouldn’t be going any farther. BUT THE TRAIN I AM CURRENTLY ON (the one that was delayed 25 minutes) JUST STARTED MOVING SO YAY.
I suppose I didn’t suffer too horribly, except the secret birthday person I might have bought some present chocolates for today may suffer a bit, too…. (I only stress-ate a few of the chocolates before I decided that my hunger was legitimate enough to some good ‘ole protein and preservatives and sulfites in the form of an ‘XXL wurstsnack’)
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P.S. I’m really sleep deprived.
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Hot Yoga (2)

I’m writing this as I dry off from bikram yoga because I didn’t have an extra towel to bring with me to shower after the class. Nonetheless, the class was good again today–until about 75 minutes of the way through when I saw a horrible gash on the arm of the yogi next to me. Then reverted back to my just-trying-not-to-barf hot yoga experience. But also, I bought a 20 euro introductory 10-day special, now I’ve gone twice, and I believe 10 euros is a totally reasonable price for a class. So, this will also probably be the last post with the word “bikram” anywhere in it.
Today Annegret was conducting an interview in Berlin, so I worked from home this morning. Which was totally fine–until I broke a glass on the ground (my workspace). I then lost the next hour or so of worth stressing out about whether there were pieces left on the floor.
Things did start to go uphil then when I gave up and met Jordan for lunch at Isemarkt, apparently the largest open air farmers market in Europe? I definitely call bullshit on that, but it was still a cool market with a cool set up: The market is a > 1 km strip underneath the train. I got some solid herring, cherry pie, and reineclauden.
As I biked back home, it began to pour, so I did a quick Yelp of coffee shops with free wifi nearby, and the closest thing that popped up was actually a cafe at the University of Hamburg. I never found the cafe, but I hung out next to their mensa at a standing desk (woohoo) to do another few hours of work.
I guess I will leave here now despite my not-yet-dry state to possibly catch the end of the lesbian pride parade tonight. Tchüss!