Czech-ing out the rest of Europe

March 4, 2018

One of my favourite things about my semester in Paris so far has been the time I’ve spent away from the city. One of my biggest reasons for choosing to study abroad in Europe was for the opportunity to travel. Since European countries tend to be fairly small (and because of the Eurozone), travel through Europe is incredibly easy and relatively cheap. In the past three weeks, I’ve been in five countries. Last Friday, my friends back in New Haven were excited because they were going to the movies. I was going to Sweden.

Since study abroad is just an excuse to humble brag about your fabulous cosmopolitan life, I’m going to brag about what I’ve been doing lately.

Trip 1: Prague, Czech Republic

Some APA friends and I started flipping through our Google Calendars and came to a horrifying realisation: we’d been in Paris for over a month and hadn’t voyaged anywhere. Panicked about the passage of time, we immediately scoured the internet for the cheapest plane tickets that weekend. For just over 150 euros, we could get to Prague. Three days later, we touched down in the Czech Republic.

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The view of Prague Castle over the river looks like the title sequence of a Disney movie.

For practical purposes, I would not recommend buying plane tickets three days ahead of time. They’re almost always cheaper if you buy them in advance, and the lack of foresight makes it much harder to plan your trips. But for the purposes of this weekend, we had a great time.

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Trdelniks from Good Food Bakery. They were ~trdel-icious.~

Trip 2: Stockholm, Sweden

The next weekend, I went to Stockholm with one of my roommates from Yale who’s studying abroad in Amsterdam this semester. As you might expect from Sweden in the middle of the winter, it was extremely cold. But fresh cinnamon buns every morning made braving the snow worth it. And at the photography museum, the girl at the desk who looked at my student ID got excited and told me she was also named Clara. I too became excited, and said I never met other Claras. And then she revealed that the other girl at the desk was also named Clara! A very exciting series of events.

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Trying to stay warm in front of the bank where Stockholm Syndrome originated.

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One of the coolest hidden gems of Stockholm are the Tunnelbana (subway) stops. Each one was designed by a different artist to bring some art to people’s commutes.

Trip 2.5: Warsaw, Poland

On my way back from Stockholm, I had an eight-hour layover in Warsaw. I decided to leave the airport and go into the city for lunch. Warsaw was even colder than Stockholm, so I ducked into a cathedral to warm up and realized they were having mass since it was Sunday. I was still very cold so I sat in on the mass and ended up having a lovely morning there.

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After mass I decided to sample some Pierogis, which I’d only ever tried from food trucks in Chicago. My pierogis were delicious, but definitely not photogenic. I also ordered a drink called “warming elixir,” which I think was slices of orange and lemon, ginger, and cloves in hot water. I felt warmed. Finally, I stopped for a mug of hot chocolate on my way back to the airport bus. I am not exaggerating at all when I say it was probably the best hot chocolate of my entire life. If you’re ever in Warsaw, I cannot recommend highly enough the bittersweet hot chocolate at Cafe E. Wedel.

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Trip 3: Birmingham, England

Most of my extended family lives in Europe or Mexico, which is sad most of the time since we don’t get to see them very often. But it’s great for me this semester, because most of my family members are only a short plane ride away! This weekend I went to visit my aunt and cousins in Birmingham, England, a city a few hours north of London. When I left on Thursday, there was a massive snowstorm covering Great Britain and my flight was over two hours delayed, meaning that I had a lot of quality time in the Charles de Gaulle departures terminal. When we finally got airborne, we circled above Birmingham for half an hour before they made the announcement that if we couldn’t land within the next fifteen minutes, we would have to reroute and make an emergency landing in Manchester. Luckily that didn’t happen, and I spent a lovely weekend enjoying the Birmingham snow with my two little cousins.

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Cooking a breakfast feast with Helena and Paola. Perks of hanging out with 7th graders:  matching dinosaur pajamas!

We went sledding and built snowmen in the morning, and baked cookies and worked on my British accent in the afternoon. Overall, a jolly good time.

Coming to you cozy back in Paris,

Clara

 

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