Saturday, October 17, 2015

another summer in europe...

my summer days exploring the rich histories of europe have once again come to an end...i've struggled to write a true conclusion of my trip because i know it signifies a return to the everyday grind of life back home.  but conclude i must, for it resets the countdown of anticipation for the next adventure to be had! so...

welcome reader, to the end of another summer in europe...

over the course of 29 days,  i logged:

6 countries   15 cities   548, 219 steps  and  252 miles

at about that halfway mark, two weeks in, i began to map out what a life in europe might look like...finally conquering spanish as a second language?  adjusting to mandatory 6 week vacations? embracing a culture that favors the experiences of life?  there's so much i love about europe, and my final days spread over germany, denmark and sweden helped me reflect on why...

i was heartbroken to leave prague, i did not spend nearly enough time exploring the richness of arguably one of europe's most beautiful cities.  it defines everything i see when i close my eyes and picture what a european city is.  two days just wasn't enough to take it all in...but thats just how it goes sometimes...

12 hours in berlin, germany

      rappers delight for ze germans entertainment  :)

                                                                                german salsa dancing lessons.  
                                                                     set along the spree river that cuts through berlin

i boarded a train headed for berlin, germany, my first time entering europe's economic powerhouse.  and although i had only spent two days in prague (not including a full day on the train from vienna, so really three days) i had actually stolen those days from time i had planned to spend in berlin.  so what to do with only 12 scheduled hours in the german capital?  karaoke of-course  :)  my host nadine picked me up at the train station, and we went straight to karaoke, with my full travel bag sitting in the backseat of the car!

5 days in hamburg, germany

i hosted randi & antonia 2 years ago in la  :)

i was worn out, exhausted of travel by the time i'd reached hamburg and my two incredible friends randi & antonia.  i was so tired, but so happy to be seeing these two again, now in their home city.  here is a look back at when we all met during their visit to los angeles!  and now it was my turn to explore their town...

randi was head deep in polishing off her master's thesis so
antonia chauffeured me around by bike that day  :) 

2 days in copenhagen, denmark

bottom left:  on the way from hamburg to copenhagen,
they put the train on a BOAT!  it was insane

i was a week away from returning home, and no matter where i went, or what i did, in seven days i had to be at the airport in stockholm, sweden to board my flight back to the u.s.  during my final hours in hamburg, i was still debating between a quick stop in amsterdam ( you know, just because it's amsterdam) or a more relaxing stay in copenhagen.  stockholm is quite a bit north from the rest of europe, about 12 hours by train/boat (literally train-boat combination, still can't believe that one...they really put a train inside of a boat).  and while amsterdam sounded great, it was out of the way and would have made for a 16 hour trek back to stockholm  :/    copenhangen was on the way to stockholm and made for the reasonable choice...and when i'm tired, i default to reasonable.

up until this time, i was blessed with friends and hosts who opened their homes to me.  they shared meals, walks, laughs, drinks and meaningful conversations and i am deeply grateful to them!   copenhagen was the first time in 24 days of travel that i would be staying in formal accommodation, 'urban house' hostel in the city center.  during a free walking tour my first day, i befriended 2 londoners and we explored more of the city after the tour!  including copenhagens famous free-town, christiana.  it's a counter-culture community thats 'seperated' itself from the reaches of goverment, definitely worth visiting if you make your way to copenhagen  :)

3 days in stockholm, sweden

my 2nd full day, i walked nearly 20 miles around stockholm!

a friend from home, growing up in washington, alexis, had made a move over to stockholm, and i knew i couldn't miss an opportunity to be so close and not catch up!  i arrived in stockholm on sept. 4th, my flight leaving on monday the 7th.  i spent the next 2 days exploring the different islands of this beautiful city, and one in-particular 'djurg√•rden'.  i stumbled upon the coolest little snail, who offered a solid 45 minutes of entertainment.  alexis had given me a few pointers of where to go, the royal palace, city hall, boat tours, vasamuseet (old war ships, so awesome!).  one of my favorites was 'fotografiska' a contemporary photography museum.  excellent exhibits, large prints with dedicated space and amazing views of the city...

catching up with old friends on the other side of the world!  on monday morning,
hours before my long trek home, we met for breakfast and discussed the last 6 or
so years of our lives since we'd last met  :)

as i wrap up these last few moments of joy and reflection on this years summer tour, i think about what impacted me the most over these 4 incredible weeks...and it always comes back to the people i've encountered and the friendships that have been built with them.

anouk and the keller family for an unforgettable week in switzerland, katy for lunch in lausanne, beat for the best of zurich, jeanny and inga for such great company in vienna, jana for sharing your love of prague, nadine for berlin condensed, randi & much love to you :)  and alexis for a warm breakfast on such a cold nordic day!

thank you to everyone that helped ensure this adventure was so memorable...with no plans for whats next, and really no timetable, my future adventures look brighter than ever  :)  

thanks for reading!

- j

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