Thursday, April 24, 2014

Tay Took Europe

10 countries. 5 currencies. So many different languages. My head is still spinning and I may possibly need another nap before I write any more words. 
It feels like I've been gone from Dundee for years, but at the same time the 23 days passed in the blink of an eye. Before I fully comprehended what was happening I was on a plane in Denmark heading to London and tomorrow I'll be on a bus to Dundee. The greater European adventure of my semester abroad is almost over. It seemed like it took ages to get here, seeing as I've been planning since November. But it finally came to fruition on a chilly night in early April when Laura, Kylie, and I ventured into the unknown. 
It's hard to believe it's really me who went to all of those places and had so many amazing experiences. It feels as if I've woken up from an exotic dream where I watched someone else do everything I've always wanted to do.
But no. It was me. I walked the dusty streets of Auschwitz and saw the mounds of abandoned prisoner belongings. 
I wandered an open market in Prague, munching on strawberries and picking out delicate earrings.
In a fit of heatstroke, I purchased world's shortest pair of shorts in a Vienna H&M and I promptly wore them the entire next day in Salzburg, much to the dismay of my already lengthy leg hair...
I meandered through the canals of Venice in my Kevin Durant Thunder tshirt, stopping to sit on the edge and watch the gondolas go by.
I encroached on the hospitality of Taylor and her roommates in Arezzo and shared a bed with/stole the covers from Laura. I climbed what seemed like thousands of steps to the top of the Duomo in Firenze. 
I marveled at the architecture of the Coliseum and the Roman Forum, eating pizza, gelato, and spaghetti the entire way. 
I drank wine out of the bottle with Kylie and Laura and lounged on the Spanish Steps with my hundredth scoop of gelato. 
I locked Kylie and I in our hostel room when Naples turned out to be way creepier than we anticipated.
I lay on the grass in a ruined Pompeii, recovering from the aforesaid creepy Naples and trying to figure out which mountain was Vesuvius. 
I huddled on a bench in the freezing Milan train station, cursing the strikes and praying for morning so the bathroom would open.
I decided to stay an extra night in Switzerland because it was just that beautiful and we needed a win (bed) just that badly. 
I dined on a baguette and macaron underneath the sparkling Eiffel Tower on our first evening in Paris.
I vowed to walk into every single chocolate store we saw in Bruges. And stuck to it.
I learned a lot in Amsterdam and Kylie earned her medic badge.
I sat next to the Old Bridge in Heidelberg and spent the afternoon reading.
I met the largest swans I've ever seen on the banks of a river in Copenhagen. 
I overcame hanger (hungry to the point of anger), little sleep, and unfamiliar paper maps. 
I survived (thrived?) without consistent wifi.
I met strangers who became friends, like the group of students on the Vienna metro and three guys on the train from Salzburg to Venice, and I met strangers who earned the name, Like the guy with knife in the Austrian train station and the guy who touched Kylie's face in Milan. 
I diligently filled in my Eurail pass as 
I sat on train after train, alternately watching the countryside slide by and slipping into serenaded sleep. I think I know every song on my iPod by heart now, if I didn't before.
I pushed myself and was rewarded with the experience of a lifetime. And I've got photos and memories to treasure forever. 
I kept track of everything possible on our trip, taking notes and journaling the entire way. Tracy warned me I might forget otherwise. I fear I already have begun. 
I plan to post about every stop in our race around Europe, with this being the introduction to our first destination, Poland. 
The adventure began much like any other...I stressed about packing, worried about the summer temperatures and my decidedly Scottish weather wardrobe. I double checked that I would have enough medicine to last all three weeks and packed two injections, just in case. With just a few minutes left before I was to meet Kylie and Laura downstairs, Nat watched me flutter around, alternating between having to pee and reapply deodorant due to nervousness and checking that I didn't forget anything. 
I entrusted my keys to her safekeeping, fearing that I would leave them somewhere and be SOL back in Dundee. 
We finally made it to the Edinburgh airport just before midnight and settled into waiting mode for our 6 AM flight. 
The night was long, but I bundled myself in Nat's grey blanket and wedged myself into a bench definitely made for sitters and not for sleepers. 
In the early morning, we boarded our flight, flew for two and a half hours, and landed in a country where all of the signs were no longer in English and the loudspeaker cracked with gibberish to my ears. 
Toto, we weren't in the UK anymore...
A Very Lucky Girl had arrived in Krakow, Poland. 

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