Thursday, August 30, 2007

Bourne Movie #4: The Trip to Praha

We are safe and sound in Prague...barely.

Now I wish that were entirely a joke but it isn't. Here is the skinny of what happened today. We missed our bus in the morning so we ended up running, yes literally running for the train to Prague from Berlin. Picture us in flip flops, huge packs running through train station. Once safely on the train, we breathed a sigh of relief and relaxed for a couple of hours. As we arrived at our destination we had some confusion about the stop. See, in the past couple of cities there has been two stops in major cities. One is the main train station, and the other a little station. We wanted to get to the main one, so we didnt get off. I know this seems odd, but almost all trains stop at both. In any case, this train didnt, which we realized about two seconds too late.

So there we were on the train going past Prague and wondering how to get back. We end up having to buy a return ticket from the next tiny town. This turns into its own adventure as we get off thre train in Kolin. We go into the shop and start doing the conversion on the prices. And they are soooo cheap. You know those Eastern European stories you hear, where people become gluttons - well that was us. We start throwing choclate bars, ice cream, pop, chips, candy, and other random items on the counter. And the funniest part, Brenda is leading the show, saying "get it" because its so cheap. The lady ends ups laughing at us and giving a bag for ALL our stuff. So silly, so North American. But wonderful.

So now were are headed back to Prague. We get to the station and are gathering our stuff to get off. Standing in the doorway the train begins to shut for leaving. Brenda says "no way" and I say "go". Brenda starts to leap off the platform and the trains begins to move. She falls onto the platform with the door hanging open, backpack hanging off. She is laying on the ground and I am freaking out. I manage to pull the bag off the door where it is caught and wonder if Brenda is ok. I get off at the next stop, hoping to find a way back. I go to the board to find a return train with no luck. The information man says the only way to get there is the subway. So I go find it and I am standing there, trying to determine if I should go or stay, angonizing over what to do when Brenda comes running up behind me. We just stood there for a minute hugging because I was shocked she was actually there. Brenda is doing okay, but she thinks a bruise on her leg is forming. I can't believe she is alright and we were reunited so quickly.

You might all be judging us right now for our poor travel skills, but I am telling you, these things happen and we had the presnce of mind to figure it out. We defintely did thank God for our safety. And we decided no more train jumping:) Today, someone at our hostel, upon hearing the story called Brenda "Jason Bourne". Pretty true. Keep praying for us, we will need them for safety. But I promise we are good travellers...really:) Love and miss you all. I said it once, and I will say it again, send email, probably to my hotmail right now, or both, because Gmail is being weird.

And once again, I promise, Brenda is fine. Not just Brenda fine, but really fine. That and Prague is beautiful, we are looking forward to seeing it tommorow. All is well.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Icn bin ein Berliner....

If anyone knows what that title is a reference to, I will award you many points....
First, an update...
Brenda got her luggage. You probably all know this  by now, but it arrived. At literally, the 11th hour. We were to leave London at 4.00 am (yes, its true). And the luggage arrived at 11.30 pm. Can you believe that? I really didnt. It was honestly a miracle. Somehow, some way (probably Larry Baloun) it got there. So we were glad...particularly Budds who pretty much hugged her bag for 10 minutes.
Thal, Switzerland
So, our journey has advanced. Since my last post, we have travelled to Thal, Switzerland to witness a wedding reception of our dear friends Jon and Katie VanLaake. It was the most beautiful four days. I dont even know how to begin to describe them. We arrived in a small city with winding streets and charming walks, perched up against a hillside. Katie and Jons apartment is in the greatest building ever, complete with a garden gate, wood floors, a loft and wooden cases with locks that harken to Lion,the Witch and the Wardrobe. We attending their reception on Saturday, which took place on the lawn of a ´castle´, a beautiful building with towers from 1604 and small fountains out front. After the reception we went to the Van Laakes (Katies new family) and were served the Van Laakes own wine and fresh cheese by candlelight. Being part of this wedding wind down with the family was probably the best thing I could imagine. The Bruins and Van Laakes welcomed us in as if we were one of their own. Wilbur (Jons dad) took Brenda and I on a tour of their Vineyard and we reflected on the meaning behind 'I am the vine and you are the branches'. Perched on the hillside at his vineyard, listening to Wilbur talk about the love of wine and tending his grapes was probably the most wonderful moment I can imagine. Between the wine, the coffee and the chocolate, we were spoiled with amazing food.But it was also so much more, we got to be a part of "swiss life" as silly as that sounds. We experienced the organic life of a family, as they brought us into their home, their garden and their vineyard. They took us to places we could have never found on our own (Bodensee Lake!), and fed us meals, cakes, sweets, cheese, wine that is important to them. I am so grateful for these days. As I said to Brenda, I would have done this whole trip, JUST for those four days, truly magnificent.
Berlin, Germany
I guess it is pretty obvious that Berlin is in Germany, but hey, you never know. So now as I write this, I sit in Berlin. It is also an amazing city. Thanks to Lavonne and Monicas great tip, we caught the New Berlin free tour of the city. These tours are great. The guides work off of tips at the end, so the tour is ´free´´. They work so hard and condense so much history into 3 hours. If you go to that site, you might be able to see a picture of us, or so they said, I dont know. On the tour, we walked through the Brandeburg gate, passed the Rheistag (German Parliment) saw the Berlin wall, walked through the Holocaust memorial, saw where Hitler died and so much more. This city is chalked full of incredible history. Just think, two world wars and the Cold War with Soviet Occupation. This city is basically the centre of 20th century history. So I am loving it. If England was my literary paradise, this is the history one....everywhere I go, my history texts are coming to life. This is a pretty amazing city as it tries to move away from its past and strive for more, pretty interesting. Today we went to a concentration camp...this is far too tough to describe on a blog so ask me one day in person.
So, things are well. We are safe, and so is our stuff. One funny thing is, Brenda and I keep forgetting to eat and end up wandering around starving until we must stop to eat. Needless to say, it has resulted in some funny meals. Tommorow we leave for Prague. Its strange to think we have already covered 3 cities, but also crazy to think there are so many more ahead. Send me a line if you get the chance, just saying anything at all...its good to hear from you.
I am suddenly realizing this post lacks incredible let me say this, they are happening, but you might have to ask me about them in real life...some things just cant be blogged..hehe. Love and miss you all my friends. Write me!

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Locks, Laughter, Lost Luggage, Les Miserables= LONDON LOVE

Lost Baggage
Well here I am in my first European entry. Sitting in a London internet cafe because my dear compatriot needs to sort out her baggage. Yes, Brenda STILL does not have her bags. They never arrived with Air Transat, so she has been wearing the same clothes/borrowing things until today. We are hoping that it all gets processed very soon, because it is pretty hard to be a backpacker without a backpack. Brenda is taking it far better than I ever would - putting up with it and showing that characteristic resilience. We pushed her to give the airline a hell of a time though. In any case, if you think of us, pray for this, because we are leaving at 4 am from London tommorow, and not sure how she will get her baggage before then.
Now if you ever needed a good travel story, I got one, and on day one no less. So we are staying at this fine establishment called the EasyHotel. The rooms fit a bed, a plastic washroom and a tiny hallway. Its clean but oh so small and silly. Brenda had not yet arrived and I went to have a shower. I finish my shower, and turn to the lock when it FALLS OFF. So picture yourself in a tiny, locked, plastic airplane size bathroom UNABLE TO ESCAPE. I am standing there dripping wet, without a towel and freaking out. I try to play McGyver and whip out a bobby pin to no avail. Finally, quite a bit later I hear Brenda at the door to which I yell 'I AM LOCKED IN THE BATHROOM'. She thinks I am kidding, and laughs and then finally gets it. After getting a freakin hotel clerk to open the door (the room key was inside clearly), she comes in and starts laughing uncontrollably (picture Brenda, you know the one, barely breathing). I am yelling for rescue and she finds the piece of the lock on the other side. Eventually I get out, but I am having claustrophobic nightmares. Hows THAT for your first hour in London?
Low Classes and Les Miserables
Okay, not the best title, but I had to fit into the alliteration. We have saw Le Miserables with Lavonne and her mom, and we were shocked with awe. That Jean Valjean could sing, it was so moving. Then today, went to SHAKESPEARES GLOBE. I pretty much died. It POURED rain, and of course to be authentic I bought a groundling ticket, standing in the open air auditorium. Pretty silly, but we found a covering, after Brenda got soaked int he line (no bag=no jacket..ugh). We saw Merchant of Venice, and I was in love.
The truth is, I am desperatly in love with this city. The rain has continued the entire time we have been here unabated. But my love stays strong. I just cant get enough of London. It brings me such joy. In the evening, we have enjoyed pints in the local pub meeting wonderful Brits. In the day, we explore, find sites of literature, history, culture, theatre...I love Britain. I forgot how much it feels like my home. Its great to be back. I dont really want to leave in the morning.
Yet...I am still thinking of all of you. I would absolutely love to get an email or a comment if you get a second. It means a lot when you are in a foreign land:) Something about travelling that is so invorgrating and so lonely all at the same time..Send me a line...I miss you all...

Monday, August 13, 2007

T - 6 days.

I am trying desperately to think of something clever to say. It really has been far too long. I promise I have been doing wonderful things, well sort of. I have been mostly working and doing homework. But I have sneaked in a few weddings, showers, stagettes and other general wedding mayham.
To be honest, this is mostly a test blog. I am sending this from my email to "try it out" for my Europe trip. Yes, my Europe trip. I defenitely leave in 5 days (August 19th). This is both exciting and frightening all at the same time. Today I submitted a paper for my summer class. To finally be done that is a huge relief. Now I am trying to get everything together for Sunday (while working everyday). So it should be...interesting. But how can I be complaining right? I am going to Europe!
In an effort to revive this silly post, which mentions almost nothing and involves no great pictures, I tell you this - I WILL be posting Europe stories here. Now don't expect pictures - because I think the chances of me getting those up in Europe are low. But do expect silly tales of adventure. I was going to start a travel blog, but I just don't have we'll stick with what we know. Come back soon for Europe adventures...