Let's start with the basics:
Who: Travelers were myself and my older sister, Quinn.
What: A Viking river cruise! Quinn wanted a vacation where she didn't have to pack and unpack constantly and I agreed. I wanted to see Prague. It was a little bit costlier than we were originally planned on spending so we had to cut down on some froyo trips to make it happen (or save like maniacs, you know, whichever) but we made it happen!
Where: Down the river Elbe. Our itinerary was: Berlin, Potsdam, Magdeburg, Wittenberg, Torgau, Meissen, Saxon Switzerland (actually in Germany), Dresden, Litomerice, Melnik, Prague. Quinn and I decided to stay an extra few days in Prague so we could do the city right. This was the best decision ever. Also, our itinerary did not actually turn out to be like this, keep that in mind.
When: June 5th through 17th!
Why: Sister adventure! Quinn turned 30 last year, I turn 30 this year, she's never been to Europe and I was itching to go back. And who really needs a reason for Europe?
Friday the 5th we fly out of O'Hare in Chicago to Amsterdam. In the most wonderful stroke of good luck, Quinn and I have a 3 person row to ourselves. This clears up all the anxiety I had about midnight bathroom runs over sleeping neighbors! (Also had no jet lag problems, so the two things I worried about were nonissues. Typical, thank the Lord.)The flight was on KLM, my first with them and it was a super pleasant experience. Quinn slept a good chunk of the trip, I didn't sleep for more than an hour. This is the problem with me and overnight flights.
We had a couple hour layover in Amsterdam at their tidy, bright, under construction airport and then boarded our plane to Berlin. Getting on this flight we noticed that there were boxes on our seats. Open them up and they contain a Heineken branded psuedo soccer jersey and a hat, courtesy of the airline in celebration of the Championship League game (Juventus v Barcelona). That's when we realized this soccer game might be a bigger deal than we thought.
After arriving at our hotel (after a slight mishap, my fault), dropping off our bags, and meeting Radim, the Program Director for our cruise (he really was our fearless leader in the mishaps that were coming in our near future), we set out to see some stuff. We hit the town hard seeing the sites and crashed about 10; excited to see the ship the next day! (There was one point during the day where we were a little bit lost and really wanted to get back to the hotel because it was at least 90 degrees and we were exhausted. It took forever to catch a cab because everyone was going INTO the downtown area and we were trying to get out. We figured out later we were only about a 10 minute walk from the hotel. Daaaaaaarn it).
(All pictures were either taken by Quinn or I, so don't use them without running it by me first. Danke!)
|Me at Bebelplatz, where the Nazis burned books. I'm smiling because we found this place on our own; not because of the Nazis burning books. And because I like that dress, a "day before the trip, panic shop" purchase at H&M|
|There was all kinds of soccer shenanigans around the Brandenburg Gate, which kind of made it feel less majestic and special, but it made for a memorable stroll. (Lots of happy, singing drunks!)|
|Selfies with the Reichstag and our "quiet vox". Which was basically an ear piece that meant we could always hear what the guide was saying even when we wandered off, or ran ahead, or lagged behind to take pictures.|
|I could fill a whole post with just pictures of the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe. Unsettling and simple and poignant.|
|The Potsdam half marathon was going on and so I was waiting to cross the street during a time that would not hinder the runners. Some of the old people panicked I would get lost. I was literally 5 yards away.|
|Quinn loves taking pictures of doors. This is her signature shot!|
|We traveled for small sections on these very nice motorcoaches. Quinn and I sat in the back row everytime, for many reasons. The main one so we could goof around and snore and no would see.|
|Quinn had a major craving for ice tea, so we found her some and emailed the parents to tell them we were alive using the free wifi. We did try really hard to eat local after this, just needed a tea pick me up!|
|Little bunny friend in the Dutch Quarter!|