Milan, Italy: Day 2

Did you know that in Italy, Andrea is actually an incredibly common name? Did you also know that when an Italian is named Andrea they are usually male? Me neither! Joke’s still on me though because apparently the name derives from the Greek word anēr which literally means “manly”. Good on you Italians, you got me.

Names aside, Ali and I got up decently early because we wanted to ensure we were the first in line to see the Duomo, the huge cathedral I mentioned in my last post. When we had casually strolled through the square the day before, the line was 4 people thick and snaked it’s way along the side of the church. We decided to sacrifice time in bed to save the time in line.

Side note: If you’ve ever traveled in Europe, chances are you’ve stayed in a hostel. You know that you may or may not get breakfast, may or may not end up with loud roommates, and may or may not find toilet paper in the bathroom. Fortunately, nearly all of my hostel experiences have been positive. The Koala Hostel being one of them. The front desk agents spoke varying degrees of English, but were always helpful, and the breakfast was pretty decent with plenty of little toasts and different kinds of cereal.

Fast forward the 30 minute walk and Ali and I were in the square. Just as we predicted, many tourists in Italy do not like to get up early and we breezed our way past the ticket gate and into this breathtakingly beautiful structure. This cathedral may or may not hold my record for most impressive building with it’s crazy high ceilings and copious amounts of stained glass. Ali and I paid the extra bit to walk ourselves to the top as well as get a glimpse at the archeological digs beneath the church.

 

Underneath the church the church is in the process of excavating the church that was on the grounds before it. This apparently used to be the baptism pool.

The hike to the top wasn’t too intense for experienced travelers like us, but wow was it cool. The intricacies of this church only continue as you weave your way through these detailed columns to get a view of Milan.

Yeah, we’re pretty cute.

I rocked this cracker jack shirt the whole day and didn’t even care that it clearly makes me out to be an American.

After we had seen all there was at the church we made our way back to the park we had been relaxing in the day before. Ali and I both loved all that was going on, from slack liners to football players to couples showing a little too much PDA to dogs everywhere (and I mean everywhere) there was enough people watching and enough sunshine to keep us happy for the next couple hours. Of course I had to get some gelato too.We had a plane to catch that night, so we headed back to grab our things. Over the 2 days I think we logged over 25 walking miles. 1/2 of one of those was a running mile because we realized our bus to the airport was farther than we thought. This semester has brought plenty of  “Oh Crap” moments, mostly having to do with nearly missed transportation. Low and behold, we did make it and we slept our way to the airport. Next stop, The Netherlands. Until next time, enjoy this street sign. Got to love Italy. God bless yall 🙂img_3205

Barcelona, Spain

SPRANG BREAK! Or as they call it here in Denmark: Easter Holiday. That time of the year when you get to ignore the looming finals and kick back for a week. Or if you’re like me you decide to run away with a bunch of other Americans to Spain.

Let me preface the rest of this post with a little bit about what’s currently going on (seeing as these pictures were taken 3 weeks ago). Basically this entire university is in crunch time for finals. At DTU nearly 100% of your grade is based off one final or paper or project. So like a good student I’m following along and have basically spent the last two weeks in lock down mode. This is a formal apology for the lack of blog posts now and to come (at least until finals are over). I’m going to supplement the usual blog posts content with a buttload of pictures and some quick facts, so hopefully that suffices 😀 God bless yall in advance!

  • Stayed on a boat
  • Didn’t shower for 3 days
  • Saw the gothic quarters and ate lunch at a place where they microwaved our food in front of us.
  • Walked around and headed to the beach. Ate dinner at a restaurant in the mall near our accomedations.
  • Turns out Tapas really aren’t all that great and I definitely thought they were little tacos.
  • Next morning we dropped the Alex and Patrick off at the soccer stadium and then headed to the beach. Ross got sun burnt.
  • Went and saw La Sagrada Familia, definitely my favorite cathedral so far. We even got to stay for some of the mass in Catalan (the local language)
  • I learned that I am terrible at bargaining. I just can’t be cut throat when it comes to saving a few dollars.
  • Less touristy parts of Barcelona (and most of Spain) shut down for a period of the day after lunch for an afternoon siesta.

Patrick and I got Paella, a traditional Spanish dish of rice and fish. I went for the chicken, but we decided afterward we really should’ve shared.

Utrecht, Netherlands

The final leg of one of the most jam packed weekends of this semester. Ali and I arrived at the airport at 10pm and had to find our way to Utrecht, a suburb of Amsterdam. We knew have had to get to Utrecht central station, so we bought the first central station ticket we saw. That was a mistake. We soon realized we had tickets to the wrong city center. We looked for the help desk and were dismayed to see an uncomfortably long line with limited time to catch this train.

We made it to the front ASAP and the lady was gracious enough to grant us the proper tickets while refunding us from our mis-purchased ones. With a bit of hustlin and bustlin we boarded the train and rode our way out. From there we grabbed a bus and then started what we hoped would be a quick 15 minute walk. Unfortunately, the address we had took us to the middle of the woods and it wasn’t until we heard distant yelling that we were able to discern where the tournament was at.

Let me explain this tournament in the first place. For those of you that have been keeping up, you know I’ve been pretty heavily involved in the DTU frisbee team this semester and for those of you that haven’t been keeping up, well…now you know. The reason Ali and I even made this whole dramatic trek in the first place was to play in Frozen Cherries, a mixed tournament with 20 some odd teams participating host in Utrecht, Netherlands. Most of the teams were from the area and brought tents to sleep in, but the Danes (that’s us) didn’t have the space to haul gear across the continent. Instead we were offered the locker rooms as a place to lay our weary heads. Ali and I were the first to get there as everyone else drove 8 hours to arrive by car (including the folks who were lending us sleeping bags). Ali and I decided we were going to take what we had and try to sleep until the rest of the crew arrived because we were dead tired. If you don’t recognize me below, I’m the second bundle.Even though the team didn’t end up arriving until 2 am, we had first game the next morning so we were all up and at ’em stretching and getting ready to play some great Ultimate. We played four games that day, winning the first, losing the second, winning the third and losing the last. In between games we spent time eating, talking and hydrating for the next game. The weather was pretty good to us, with only a few moments of brief rain. Clouds actually make it easier to see (no sun glare) so I think we got lucky.The tournament was themed little kid, so the coordinators went all out with the decorations and activities. They gave each team a goodie bag with bubbles and glitter tattoos and had speakers that played Rugrats, Spongebob, and Pink Panther at the beginning and the end of every game. Once we had finished playing for the day and eaten dinner they also threw a huge party. If you were lucky you got to go into the “special” room and hang out in a pit of stuffed animals.The food at this tournament was also pretty excellent. They always had a huge spread for breakfast with bread, jam, cheese, lunch meat, cereal and plenty of fruit to go around. Later after dinner for dessert they cut up a bunch of pound cake and had whipped cream and sprinkles and these little mini cookies that I LOVED. I literally ate so many of these dang cookies. They tasted like gingerbread (which is my favorite) and were just so eatable. The Dutch also have this very common toast topping called Ulokken. Basically they’re chocolate sprinkles, but the intention is that you butter your morning toast and then put these little guys all over. It’s a bit messy to create, but really fun to eat.After we had gotten our fill for dinner the team spent some time hanging out. Ali was turning 21 and we heard the Danish birthday song. The birthday person picks three instruments and these instruments come into play (hah, get it?) in between each round of the singing. The whole thing is very loud and drawn out and really just fun. The little kid spirit continued on as you can see in the image below.  The sunset also happened to be beautiful that night #blessed #nevergrowup.The next day looked much like the first, but we played three games instead of four. We also were moving a lot slower due to the soreness from the day before. It was a lot sunnier and we ended up taking home all three wins. That put us in ninth place overall. We had lost an important game the day before which put us in the loser’s bracket and we placed the highest we could. Even so, the team had a kickbutt time and left with smiles on our faces. Mary and I even got to show the Danes the Soljaboi! All in all another weekend I am glad to got to live out.Now watch YOUUU! Until next time, God Bless yall.

London: Day 2

The final leg of my English Journey. I started the morning off at the hostel. I had made the executive call to go for the cheapest bed, which meant I slept in an 18 person hostel room, a new record. 

After some toast for breakfast I checked out and headed to the British National Museum. I had been using this bike system where you pay 2 pounds and then you get 24 hours of free rental as long as you bike is only checked out for

I was one of the first to arrive at the museum so I zipped through the security line and went straight in. Admission was FREE (score for the college student). I immediately got to checking out the treasure. The museum was basically filled with a ton of stuff that the Brits have stolen/uncovered/discovered from around the world and have put on display.

There was enough stuff to keep my busy for the whole day, but there were other parts of London left to see, so I continued on after about an hour and a half and walked my way over to the Dominion theater where Hillsong has their weekly church service.

THE original Rosetta Stone. This thing has been monumental in translation of hieroglyphics because the top two languages on it are ancient Egyptian script while the bottom is Ancient Greek. Basically your olden day google translate. Unfortunately they didn’t have a Danish version available for me to take home.The worship music was just what I needed, and the message was also good. Apparently the English Mother’s Day is in March because they had a dance performance dedicated to mom’s and gave all the women in the audience a bar of chocolate. I hadn’t realized this before I called my mom to wish her a happy Mothers day. She set the record straight.One of my Industrial Engineering friends Jesse is studying abroad in London for the semester and we had made plans to meet up for lunch at a place called Dishoom. I put the address into my phone and biked my way 20 minutes North only to realize there were actually a bunch of these restaurants and I was in fact at the wrong one. There was a bit of a scramble and brainstorm to decide on a new location because I had a train on the other side of the city in a few hours.We ended up finding a little food stand near the Borough Market (the market is unfortunately closed on Sundays). It was nice to catch up and discuss upcoming classes and travel plans. We of course had to make a pitstop for Gelato which is all the rage in Europe. 

It was about time for me to head home to the airport, so we made our way to the train station. Everything was normal until I got to the airport. For some reason, this particular airport (Stansted) doesn’t post the gate until 45 minutes before take off and until that point you basically just chill in this giant waiting area. It added a touch of stress, but before I knew it I was back in good ‘ol Denmark.

All in all, my time in the UK was much too short. I already have plans to travel back and see more. God bless all you beautiful people. And thanks for reading 🙂

Milan, Italy: Day 1

First things first, HAPPY EASTER! Today is a day of celebration and smiles and lots of pastel colored things. Typically I would be spending the day with family eating good food and going to church together. Seeing as I am currently over 4,00o miles away from them, I can guarantee you that won’t be happening. Fortunately I do have a few friends in town to spend the day with and I plan to go to a later service tonight with them. In the meantime I’m taking a big sigh of contentment as I have just returned from a 9 day Spanish Excursion. Fortunately I had the foresight to write some stuff down about my travels two weeks before and plan to catch y’all up as the next week or two unfold. Enjoy the pictures and as always feel free to reach out or leave comments or whatever your heart desires. He is Risen, He is Risen Indeed!

 

Milan has been absolutely stupendous. Our first day ended up being a bright and sunny 70 degrees. I haven’t felt sun that warm in a couple months so you bet your bottom dollar I jumped right into a pair of shorts. Ali and I were literally two of a total of maybe 10 people we saw out of hundreds, but we didn’t give a dang. We weren’t going to waste the sun on long sleeves and pants.

The day started out early with a 9 o’clock flight so we met at the train stop pretty early. Ryanair is normally pretty good, but we ran about 40 minutes past schedule. No matter, we still made it into the city after another hour bus ride and made our way to the hostel.

I had never heard of gnocchi (an Italian style pasta that Ali describes as “little clouds”), and Ali insisted I try some. We so happened to pass Art Factory Cafe on our way and saw they was serving some. We stopped right then and there. Even though it was a discount restaurant (only €5 for a plate of pasta), it was delicious.

Ali and I checked in and headed out to see the rest of the city. Turns out our hostel (The Koala Hostel 🐨) is farther from all the touristy things than we had originally thought and  after check in it took us about 30 minutes of walking before we reached the outskirts of the city center.
From that point on it was basically us just walking around and casually coming across things we had talked about seeing. Apparently Milan is I got all that big because we hit literally every landmark we had bookmarked.Lots of times we would pass by these unsuspecting alley ways to peer into these extravagant courtyards. It felt like finding a hidden oasis in the midst of a bustling noisy city.What bikes are to Copenhagen, mopeds are to Milan. You see these things EVERYWHERE and all kinds of people riding them. From old couples to women in dresses and high heels to guys in bro tanks and shorts. There is never a shortage of these bad boys. Side note: since freshman year it’s been my dream to get one of these bad boys for myself to ride around the UW Campus, and I think next year it might actually work out :).

The ever impressive Duomo is the center of the Milan square. It kind of takes your breath away to see with it’s intricately sculpted columns. I learned from Wikipedia that it is dedicated to St Mary of the Nativity and took nearly six centuries to complete. Who knew?Also in the square was a giant mob of 15 year old girls and their parents. We kept hearing them chant “SABI! SABI!” and finally stopped to ask a couple of them what all the hullabaloo was about. They let us know that Sabi was a participant on Italy’s next top model as well as an avid video gamer. She had recently released a book and all these girls had gathered in hopes of a glimpse of this small time celebrity. Ali and I were amused as we made our next stop to get some gelato.So in total Ali and I walked about 13 miles for the day. You could say we were freaking starved by the time we decided to eat dinner. We momentarily considered going to see the movie Get Out but realized it would probably be in Italian. We also just really wanted to eat. What we ended up getting was just about the best dang pizza I have ever tasted.In short, my Milan visit is off to a great start! 

London: Day 1

Still weird to think that all these cities have always felt so distant and then one weekend, BAM! It’s like suddenly they’re not so foreign anymore. This whole weekend, one observation I had was how weird it was to be back in a primarily english speaking country. I could read all the billboards and menus and everything… like what? That’s definitely something I will not be able to take for granted when I get back to the States.

Anywho, so Will and I took the early (like 5:15 AM early) two hour bus into London. That meant we had the whole morning to see London on our own without an overwhelming number of tourists. We started at Buckingham palace. We were hoping to see the changing of the guard, but alas, Saturday was not one of the scheduled days.

While strolling down the mall we saw a group of very nicely dressed people standing around a food tent. When we went over to see what the deal was, they told us they were in the middle of filming a movie. I mean, how cool is that? They also told us Mary Poppins was filming nearby. I came to find over my time there that basically London feels a lot like a European New York. You see a LOT of street performers and people from all around the world speaking all kinds of languages. Very hustle and bustle.

One of the street performers trying to get the crowd amped up.

A particularly cool chalk art. These people spend hours making work knowing it’s soon be be washed away and cleaned up.

Some of the sights we saw pictured below: Buckingham palace, St. Jame’s park, the outside of the Cavalry museum (wasn’t open yet), Trafalgar square, The National Portrait GalleryBig Ben, the London Eye, Westminster. (Shoutout to Rachel Hughes for all the amazing suggestions!)

Personal favorite piece of art at the National Gallery titled The Ugly Duchess.

The memorial to the victims that died in the terrorist attack on the bridge just a few days earlier.

One surprising thing was seeing a massive mob of people dressed in a lot of blue and yellow. Will and I had unknowingly stumbled into an anti BREXIT rally. There were thousands of people crammed into this squad to protest the U.K. Leaving the European Union. That, along with the wake terrorist attack had London humming with energy.

I accomplished a personal goal of mine when I got to try genuine fish and chips and I actually really loved them! For those of you that don’t know, I’m really not a huge fish person, like at all. But this fish, deep fried and with tarter sauce was so dang good. Will said we had to get salt and vinegar like we’re the real deal. 

London has its own China town. We didn’t spend a lot of time here, but it was really cool to walk through. We spent some time chilling at my hostel before we had bubble tea. Will and I parted ways around 4 as I was headed north to the Camden Market and he was headed south to catch his bus home. Camden market reminds me of Uptown in Minneapolis. Very cool hippie vibes with more street markets. I didn’t get the chance to go into the market because I got in line for the Maine, a band I happen to be pretty fond of. I met a couple British girls in line and we ended up sticking together for the rest of the concert. It was an amazing way to end an amazing day.Thankfully, the joinery didn’t stop there. One more day to enjoy the land of Great Britain-soon to be posted about 🇬🇧. Goodnight you beautiful people.

Bristol

Another 24 hours. Another city. I tell ya, I think I’m getting good at this traveling stuff. My flight left at 7:50 the next morning, so it was an early morning bus back to the airport. I met a nice couple from Seattle who helped me figure out where I needed to go.

 

I rode the most adorable little plane over to Bristol. It even had the colver on the tail. Another bus ride and I had made it into the city. There I met up with Will Sanford, a fellow Badger who also happened to be studying abroad in Bristol. He basically acted as my tour guide throughout the entire rest of the day.

Will lives right on the river in a dorm very similar to some of the ones we have at DTU. We went with some of his friends to get 5 pound burgers. Do not be alarmed, when I say pound I mean the currency, not the weight.

Then we took a real long walk all the way to the top of the city to see the suspension bridge. Bristol is pretty proud of this bridge and has a whole museum dedicated to the history of it. It is actually quite impressive though. We also got to check out some caves a bit under the city, and those were cool too.

img_2661Then it was time for a gelato break. Will continued to show me around this lovely little town. I saw a lot of his school buildings and of course everything was gorgeous and old.

We spent some time chasing down the infamous Banksy murals. For those of you unfamiliar, Banksy is a graffiti artist whose work is often political and controversial, and also very cool. Will and I were pretty wiped after so much walking and so we headed back to his place where he made me his own special stir fry which includes kale and cranberries amongst other things.img_2688

One funny thing I noticed in all the cities I visited is that nearly every crosswalk is labeled like this:They must’ve had enough close calls or even deaths with tourists that they made it mandatory to have this labeled on every intersection. Not going to lie, I may have felt turned around once or twice because of the whole direction thing. You also noticed this when passing people on the sidewalk. They would make a move to go to my right and it just felt wrong.

Overall, Bristol exceeded expectations and is officially classifiable as a dope British town. 10/10 would recommend. Until next time, God bless ya Yanks 😉 (And my non American friends) 

 

Ireland

One day. Basically 24 hours to see the country I have been working up my entire life to see. Ireland has kind of felt like that fairy tale land that I didn’t know if I would ever get to visit, but have always desperately wanted to explore.

The trip started great from the boarding gate at the airport. There were passengers next to me talking in GENUINE IRISH ACCENTS! It was amazing. I arrived pretty late at night and it was a bit rainy, but I was able to navigate my way to the hostel with no major problems.

I appreciate when hostel mirrors compliment me.

Once at the hostel I quickly realized I’d be sharing a bedroom with one other person: a frenchman named Bruno. Up to this point I’d been staying in female dorms, but this particular hostel only had mixed ones, so I thought why not? Bruno was already asleep when I arrived, so after a quick crepe in the hostel kitchen, I headed off to bed as well.

The next morning I had quite the surprise. When Bruno woke up he threw his covers off the bed I could not tell if he was wearing any other clothes. Suddenly my backpack became the most interesting thing I’d ever seen as I averted my eyes what could’ve been a naked man. Lesson learned. Always go for the girl dorms.

The next 10 or so hours were spent soaking in every second of the beautiful city of Dublin I possibly could. Even though it was a bit chilly, the sun was absolutely radiant. I guess that means I haven’t experienced true Ireland yet, but hey I’m not complaining.

Breakfast of champs: including black pudding!

I did the free walking tour (of course) and found out that although Ireland is technically bilingual, only 11% of Irish people actually speak the Gaelic mother-tongue. Following the tour, 6 or so of my fellow tourists decided to get lunch at this place called the Keltic Bar. I had some good old Bangers and Mash, Irish style. The conversation over lunch was quite lovely and led 4 of us to decide to go through the Guinness brewery.

Bangers and Mash baby!

They call it “The Black Stuff” because this beer is the color of oil. Even though I still don’t find the taste of beer appealing, this was some of the better stuff. The storehouse was also really cool. Especially the horse buggies they had out front ❤

The night finished off with one of the girls Jennifer and I grabbing dinner at Bar Rua, another cool place. This time it was Shepard’s Pie, another classic Irish dish. Almost all the bars in Dublin have live music so it wasn’t too long before we heard the acoustic guitar come on. Jennifer is going into the peace corps for the next two years and it was such a blessing to get to share some of life’s ups and downs with her.

That led me to the end of my Irish journey. Overall the coolest moment was asking the bartender what I looked like and his response being Irish. Stay tuned for the next stop on my UK/Ireland adventure- the great city of Bristol! Until next time, God Bless y’all.

A Week Well Spent

Another week down you guys. It’s crazy to think that I’ve already been here for two months…like seriously, where does the time go?

The week started with bible study at my place. Having these girls over to talk about life and faith is always one of my favorite parts of the week. Homemade spaghetti and meatballs made by yours truly (with plenty of help) were on the menu. Surprisingly enough, I think my cooking skills have improved since being here. I’m feeling more and more confident-you’ll see the quiche I made later on 🙂

Wednesday there was a fire alarm. I don’t think this one was planned because the firemen actually showed up. I never found out what actually happened, but no one really seemed to be too concerned. IMG_2317Wednesday night we made dinner with the girls team. Line is a particularly good good and whipped us up some ginger spicy chicken stir fry. It was outrageously good. Then for “dessert” we made ginger tea. We my have put a bit too much ginger in there because it burned  a bit going down…IMG_2324Here’s the quiche I was talking about. I made it Thursday morning. Dang I might as well just call this blog a food blog because it seems like that’s all I’ve been talking about hahaha. IMG_2326Friday afternoon me and the rest of the team packed up and headed off to Jutland (the most west land mass of Denmark) for Frisbee nationals! Emilie drove me and 5 others in her “sedan”. I say that in quotes because this thing was tiny. Like clown car fold yourself in two tiny. My legs got numb about halfway through the drive, but hey we made it. It only took about 2 hours for us to cross basically the entirety of Denmark. That in itself is a feat.IMG_2342 (1)

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Crossing the bridge to Odense, the middle land mass of this lovely little country.

The rest of the night was spent at Philip (one of the coaches) childhood homes. His mom cooked us this giant dinner of venison and potatoes and chicken and rice and salad. Yum. (There I go again with the food). The night was filled with laughter and conversation and a couple hours spend playing the humming game where you try to get your friends to guess the song you’re humming. Anders was probably the most entertaining with his voice cracks and how into it he got.  IMG_2356IMG_2360

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Later we watched a documentary about a Portland team called Rhino. I kept trying to convince my team that WE were Rhino and that we needed to start cheering that before our games. No one else got on board 😦


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Okay, I just had to include a picture of these crows. Apparently Philip’s family had shot them because crows are considered pests. But THEN they kept them to use them as bait and will hunt foxes with them. I think everyone of the team was a bit confused. Almost looks like someone designed it.

Frisbee time! I don’t have a ton of pictures of the team playing (though I have tons of video that I will post later). I am really proud of myself and my team. Compared to how we played in the first tournament out team had some real good cuts and we were able to compete well with the other teams. IMG_2381After each game, the Danes have the tradition of making a spirit circle, where the two teams get in a big circle with their arms around each other and give some compliments as to how the game went. Then we all high five one another afterward and say “Tak for kampen”, meaning “Thanks for the game”.IMG_2390Sorry for the picture being upside down, but I had to share this cake. Apparently the team gets one every year, but this year it was special. We were’t really sure why it said “Congratulations”, but were told we would find out later. What we found out is that one of the team members wives was pregnant and going to have a baby in September.

 

These people cakes are actually very common in Denmark. Birthdays and holidays and that kind of thing tend to include these flat sheets of goodness. No butter cream frosting here, just lots of butter and cinnamon sugar. There is this funny tradition they have that when you cut it, you first cut the throat of the cake and everyone has to scream. Don’t ask me why, it just happens.Following all the games, we showered and repacked up to head to a nearby school. Basically the tournament rents out this thing to host all the teams under one rood. They fed us delicious dinner AND breakfast to refuel. I had never experienced anything like it, but I think it was really cool.IMG_2413IMG_2395

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There was also a mini awards ceremony to recognize the best new talent, best coach, etc. It was all in Danish so I had to have a friend translate to me.

Then we had another full day of playing games and by the time it was over, everyone was pretty pooped.IMG_2416IMG_2418IMG_2420

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I snagged this picture while Louise, Martin and I were keeping score for another game. She looks mad, but she isn’t really!


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I love my team mates ❤

All in all, it was a week very well spent, and now I’m looking ahead to more travels and good times with these people! Until next time, God bless ya 🙂

 

Latvia Day 3

My last day in the Baltics…for now. It was a pretty relaxed morning. Kristine made us these lovely pancakes where the main ingredient is cheese. I didn’t even know that was possible!

Because it was Saturday, the kids had school off, so Kristine found us a couple attractions we could do with them. The first was the Riga Radio and TV tower. It turns out it’s the largest tower in the EU and also kinda looks like it belongs in a Star Wars movie.We rode the elevator in one of the legs up to the the observation deck. It was a bit cloudy, but the view was still wonderful. Next up was the Latvian National Museum. You’re supposed to pay 2 euros if you’re not a Latvian citizen, but I just stood by Kristine and made sure to keep my mouth shut. They let me in without me having to show an ID. The library was opened in 2014 and is a pretty big deal to the locals.

They even had an American Culture Center! Lots of TIME magazine and pictures of the military inside.

 

 

This cool map of Latvia for those of you unfamiliar. Riga is the orange concentration of dots in the middle.

 

I gave the librarian a chuckle after the kids had both gone up for coloring pages and I sheepishly came after and asked for one too.

After the library it was clear the kids were too tired to continue, so Kristine dropped me off in downtown Riga. As a follow up to the poetry museum I found a statue of Janis Rainis in a square downtown. We learned at the museum that they still have an annual poetry festival in the same square. After that I spent the rest of the day walking around the beautiful little city.

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The Freedom Monument is dedicated to all the Latvian soldiers who died in the Latvian war of independence.

 

 

For lunch I decided to spice things up and try this trendy Japanese restaurant called Tokyo to Go. Eating while traveling by yourself is really weird. You kind of don’t have a lot to do, so you end up looking around and in my case listening to Podcasts.

I stopped by a little Latvian bakery at the suggestion of a woman and tried out some different things. I may have overdone it a bit though, because the plate full of goodies left me with a sore stomach. You could still argue it was worth it though.One of the places I wanted to make sure I saw was the Riga Central Market, the largest market complex in Europe. I had heard bad things about the likelihood of something getting stolen so I made sure I took extra time to pack everything in. Ironically enough, by the time I got there things were starting to shut down. I ended up buying some bananas off a woman and strolling through the warehouses. I unknowingly walked into the fish one and it took everything I had not to start gagging.The rest of my night consisted of a lot of travel. And by a lot, I mean a lot. My bus back to Kaunas left at 6 pm. 5 hours later I arrived in the city only to discover that the next bus back to the airport didn’t leave until 4 am. My flight was taking off at 6:15 AM so I didn’t want to cut it close. Instead I went back to the hostel I originally stayed at and woke up the poor front desk worker so she could call me a taxi. I then taxied back to the airport where I stayed and tried to catch some zz’s on the airport benches. That lasted until 4:30 AM when the whole check in process started. Plane took off and I finally touched down as the sun was rising.  Quite the weekend. Here are some of my takeaways from my travels:

 

 

  • I’m incredibly thankful that numbers are internationally recognized. That you will see a 5 and it will be a 5 wherever you go (for the most part). Even with the different currency it makes menus and grocery store prices comprehensible.
  • Like I mentioned, eating by yourself is weird, but you get used to feeling awkward.
  • Traveling alone as an extrovert  and a verbal processor presents a challenge. You can still have endless conversation with strangers, but you don’t really get to process bigger thoughts.
  • Having friends to stay with (old or new) can really benefit your experience. They know what’s good in town and you can trust you’re getting to see some of the best sights.
  • Traveling alone is scary and cool and embarrassing all at once. It’s freeing when you have no one else’s agenda to be concerned with, but also reminds you how thankful you are for the people you do have.

Anywho, that’s all for now. Until next time, God bless all you lovely folks. ❤