Weekend Getaway in Prague

Written By: Kim Paltz, Foster School student who studied abroad at the University of Mannheim in Germany

I believe one of my favorite weekend trips was Prague. I swear I’ve been waiting for this trip for at least a year. The city did not disappoint either. I fell in love with all the architecture in the Old Town and in the castle complex plus the hearty food was delicious as well.

We arrived Thursday afternoon and after dropping off our stuff at the hostel, we went to Old Time Square. We got to see all the sights at night then headed inside an art gallery because it was so cold. At the gallery, we saw an exhibit on Salvador Dali and I even got to see one of the pieces I studied in Spanish in person. Afterwards, we ran into some locals who recommended this traditional Czech restaurant. The hearty food was delicious especially after being in the cold. After dinner, we headed to a black light theater where they do a performance under black light which is apparently a thing in Prague. It was interesting to watch yet my friend and I were still confused at what the plot was afterwards.

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Astronomical Clock

The next day, we spent the morning on a walking tour around the Old Town. We learned so much about the history of Prague and the Czech Republic in general. We ended up seeing everything from the St. Charles Bridge to the art nouveau town hall to the Jewish quarter. Then after being in the pouring rain and cold all morning, my friend and I decided to head to a cafe for lunch to warm up. It took us awhile before we were willing to return outside and brace the cold again. After lunch, we headed to the Jewish museum since we wanted to be inside. The ticket included the cemetery, a few synagogues, and an exhibit that displayed artwork done by children imprisoned in Terezin. It was really heartbreaking to hear that most of them didn’t survive and then to see their drawings that displayed so much hope. Our last stop for the day was the national gallery where they had an exhibit focused on Asian art. They had a few pieces by Czech artists too that depicted similar themes. We even met this sweet, elderly lady who couldn’t stop talking about this one Czech artist and was glad to hear that we enjoyed the exhibit. Then for dinner, we went to another traditional Czech restaurant recommended by the hostel. It was delicious. I had beef goulash with some bacon dumplings and apple strudel for dessert. Then it was back to the hostel, to warm up for the night after being in the rain all day.

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Golden Lane

On Saturday, we headed out early to make it to the castle before all the crowds. The architecture was phenomenal. I especially loved seeing St. Vitus Cathedral and the cute, little houses on Golden Lane. Besides viewing the architecture, I learned a lot about the history of the castle and its different rulers. We pretty much spent half a day there and it was well worth the visit. After grabbing lunch, we headed over to the John Lennon Wall. It was nice to see they already had some dedications to Paris on the wall too. Then we went across town to Vyšehrad where we walked around the old castle complex and took in the views of Prague. Before it got dark (the sun sets around 4 here), we decided to see the astronomical clock show and grabbed a trdelník while we waited. The show was pretty short but I wasn’t going to visit Prague and not see it. Since it was starting to get dark, we headed over to another part of the national gallery near Letná and saw an exhibit on Czech modern art. I loved the earlier pieces from the late 1800s to early 1900s but then it got a little too abstract for my taste near the end. After the gallery, we went back near Old Town to have dinner at another restaurant recommended by the locals. I ended up having beer tartar with fried bread. In addition, it came with a clove of garlic which we assumed you sliced up and sprinkled on top of the meat and bread. Then we noticed the Czech guy next to us giving us some weird looks especially as I struggled to cut my garlic with a table knife. When he got the same thing, we realized you are supposed to rub the garlic on the bread. I ended up just burying my garlic in the beef tartar and continuing on with my meal, slightly embarrassed.

 

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Our last day in Prague, we saw a bit more of the industrial side of Prague. We started by seeing the Church of the Most Sacred Heart of Our Lord, a postmodern-style church and the Zizkov TV Tower, which had babies crawling up the side of it. It was definitely different than the typical European architecture. On our way back into town we walked through Riegorovy Sady where we had another viewpoint of Prague. Then, we headed up to Petrin Hill to visit the tower there. Of course, when we arrived, the streets weren’t clearly marked so we ended up taking a wrong turn which led us all the way to the other side of the park. Then we had to try to find our way back to the tower. It was quite the adventure and we got pretty frustrated every time we ran into a fence or wall. Of course once we reached the tower we found a path that led us straight back to the tram station in less than five minutes. We laughed it off and decided we had to kill some time anyways. Back in town, we had lunch at another cafe and grabbed some snacks before it was time to head back to Mannheim. I really wish I could’ve spent some more time in Prague. I loved the city and I think it is by far one of my favorite European cities.

 

 


Posted by goabroad - February 8th, 2016 - 0 comments - Permalink



My First Solo Trip: Milan

Written By: Kim Paltz, Foster School student who studied abroad at the University of Mannheim in Germany

Well I finally did it. I braved it out and went on a solo trip. It was definitely nerve-wracking at first because it can be difficult figuring out the system of a new town all by yourself. But I managed to find the shuttle and then the metro which took me to my hostel on the first night.

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Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II

The rest of the weekend I literally jammed pack as much sightseeing as I could possibly fit in two and a half days. My first day started out at Il Duomo which was crowded with tourists. But squeezing through I got to see all the beautiful stained glass and tracery inside the cathedral before heading over to the museum to see a few more church artifacts. At this point it was already lunch time so I grabbed a Milano panini (lettuce, tomato, mozzarella, and fried chicken) to go so that I could pack in a few more sights.

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Delicious Chocolate Gelato

Later in the afternoon, I met up with one of my friends from UW whose actually studying in Milan. She took me to this amazing gelato place where they put warm melted chocolate in the bottom of your cone, pack in some ice cream, and then top it off with meringue. It was so delicious that I was very tempted to return again before I left. My friend also showed me this spot in the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II where there’s this belief that if you spin around three times in this one spot it brings you good luck. So I got to look like a fool and spin around in the middle of the mall. But it must be bringing some luck because there is literally a sunken hole in the ground from all the people spinning there.

 

Next we went to the Navigli District which is this area located near the major canals of Milan. It was so beautiful just walking around and taking in the atmosphere but was even more phenomenal when I went at sunset the next day.

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Expo Light Show

Later that night I had the chance to go to the Milan Expo. I chose only to go at night because the tickets were only five euros compared to the 40 euro price for the day. But after entering the expo, I could see why people go for the day. There is literally a stand for almost every country and they aren’t just small stands. Each country seem to have an extravagant building where you could learn about the culture and food (it was an expo on food) of each country. Besides the number of exhibits, many of the countries would have lines where the waiting time was around 40 minutes, which I pretty much had to skip because I only had four hours. Through my time there though I managed to explore around 30 countries and tried a Polish sausage, an Estonian granita, and got a free sample of Lindt chocolate.

 

That pretty much wrapped up my first day. The next day was jammed pack full as well. I started by going to Castello Sforzesco which was once home to the wealthy lord of Milan, Francesco Sforza. I was so glad I got there early too because the lines really began to pick up around 10. It was definitely quite the experience. For only three euros, I got to see all the museums of the castle and one of Michelangelo’s pietas. Behind the castle, I spent more time in Parco Sempione which seems to have an endless amount of trails. So I grabbed a caprese foccacia and just walked around, enjoying the sunny day.

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Sunset in the Navigli District

For the afternoon, I spent a lot of time walking around. I thought while I’m here might as well see the city instead of the dark tunnels of the metro. I may have gotten lost a couple times but I definitely saw some beautiful streets tucked away from all the bustle of the crowds. My first stop on the way was Santa Maria Della Grazie which is home of Leonardo da Vinci’s Last Supper. When I got there I walked into the museum center and asked if I could get tickets. Apparently, they were sold out until next Sunday! At this point, I thought this was the only way to see the Last Supper so I walked off sulking only to end up stumbling upon this cloister where they had a gap in the wall peering in at the Last Supper. I was almost in disbelief that I found it. It’s definitely not as big as I expected. The remainder of the afternoon was spent hopping from church to church taking in all the architecture. I swear I was determined to see them all. I finished off back in the Navigli District where I saw the sun set over the canal.

 

My last day I spent the morning exploring different gardens. I especially enjoyed the Giardino Pubblici Indro Montanelli. I really wish I could’ve run there because of all the trails. After getting my fair share of gardens, I headed back to the Duomo for mass. There turned out to be a massive line and I ended up having to wait 10 minutes just to get in for mass. Then afterwards, I grabbed a delicious prosciutto pizza before heading back to the airport for my return to Germany.

I’ve heard many of times that Milan is very industrial and it’s almost a waste time to visit. But I think paired with the different festivities and the historical architecture of Southern Milan, I don’t think I could ever regret my second visit to Italy.

 


Posted by goabroad - February 8th, 2016 - 0 comments - Permalink



Differences

Written by Evan Daus, Foster School undergraduate student, studying at the University of Navarra in Pamplona, Spain.

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This past semester, I attended the University of Navarra in Pamplona, Spain. At UNAV, I studied in their Economics and Business department.

I loved my experience at UNAV, but there were some differences that I found very strange in the way that UNAV operated relative to UW.

The University of Navarra is a catholic school, and the presence of the church is plain to see. Nuns and priests are common on campus and have significant influence in the administration of the university. In the front of every classroom, there is a crucifix hanging on the wall, and religious art is frequently on display in the libraries of the university. The strict catholic nature of the university was most prevalent among students who lived on campus; the nuns and priests are in charge of the on-campus living and strictly enforce a curfew at 10 pm. Students in these residence halls are required to have a signed note from their parents if the wish to spend a night outside of the dorms.

The dress code at the University of Navarra was very surprising as well. Athletic gear was strictly forbidden inside any school building, excluding the gym. This rule was enforced and students wearing any type of shorts, tank tops, or similar attire were forced to leave.

Another notable difference was the emphasis that the University of Navarra puts of recreational sports and activities. At the University of Navarra, sports are extremely popular and virtually all of the students practice one or more sports. The nice weather during my semester also contributed to the frequency at which we practiced soccer, tennis and other sports.

My study abroad experience opened my eyes to a different campus lifestyle. I cannot say with certainty which style I prefer, but each has some aspects which I love.


Posted by goabroad - January 22nd, 2016 - 0 comments - Permalink



Exploring Europe

 

 

Written by Evan Daus, Foster School undergraduate student, studying at the University of Navarra in Pamplona, Spain.

 

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After the completion of my semester abroad, I decided to see more of Europe before returning to the United States, but my difficulty was deciding where to go! In Europe there are 51 different countries, each of which is unique and contains a variety of different cultures, and each of which I would love to visit.

In the end, I decided to book a series of the cheapest flights around Europe and just see what I find in each destination! That is how I ended up in Lithuania.

Lithuania is not a common tourist destination, but it should be. I arrived in Vilnius, the capital of Lithuania and stayed in a lovely hostel within walking distance to almost everything within the small city. Vilnius was lit up for Christmas and the streets were full of Christmas markets, selling wooden handicrafts, amber jewelry and mulled wine.

The Lithuanian people were extremely warm and friendly. They always seemed to smile and were quick to start conversations with me.

I also traveled outside of Vilnius to the region of Trakai, where I visited the misty lakes, parks and forests of the region. The most beautiful part of Trakai is its island castle, which is only accessible by walking over a pleasant series of bridges connecting the various islands on the lake.

Lithuania was an unexpected delight and I cannot recommend it highly enough. On my next trip to Europe, I wish to visit all of the Baltic countries, including Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia, which are all inexpensive and well-connected with buses and trains.


Posted by goabroad - January 21st, 2016 - 0 comments - Permalink



Your Plan Sucks and You Deserve to Know It

Written by Foster Undergraduate, Crowin Franklin

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“Why did you choose X city in X country?” If you’re about to embark on your study abroad adventure, you are surely going to be getting this question a lot from friends/family/etc. I believe that if you’re anywhere near normal, you will most likely have an exhaustive answer at the ready to shoot out proudly in response to this question. After studying abroad in Pamplona, Spain, I’m here to tell you that the “perfect plan” you’ve developed could possibly be the worst decision you’ll ever make.

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My plan before I left included my language goals, the types of friends I would make, the places I would visit, and even the sorts of pictures I would take. I was so bad that I spent much of the anxious few days before my departure imagining full length conversations between myself and the people I would be meeting, acting out word-for-word how our exchanges would play out.

About a month into my semester abroad, I realized I wasn’t on track. I started worrying that my study abroad experience wouldn’t be a “success.” I tried to sideline the thought as best as I could, but it was always hanging over me to some extent throughout the rest of my semester. Don’t get me wrong; I still had amazing experiences and formed lasting friendships, but something wasn’t quite clicking. It wasn’t until my last two weeks abroad after my semester ended that everything came together. I decided to travel alone through five countries, starting in Morocco, seeing as much as I could as quickly as I could. However, on my first stop in Marrakech, I met a young traveler who taught me this simple truth:

Enthusiasm is a skill, not a feeling. If you impart all of your excitement unto the world, you will only ever see your own stock increase.

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This lesson hit me like a train. I realized that my lack of fulfillment came because of my damn plan. If I wasn’t hitting my checklist on the nose, I was feeling like I failed in some way. I began making every aspect of my adventure the greatest thing ever in my head. From meals to sights, people, and more, everything began to take the shape of the energy I brought to it.

On paper, the last two weeks of my study abroad trip looked horrendous. From badly spraining my ankle in my first destination, to losing hundreds of euros on having to switch and cancel flights, to being stranded in the Airport, unsure if I would make it back for Christmas, the trip looked like a failure. However, the past two weeks have been the greatest of my life. I’ve never spent so much time smiling.

My friend, if you’re reading this, please believe me when I say your plan likely sucks. Only your own positive energy will bring you the satisfaction you’re looking for.


Posted by goabroad - January 21st, 2016 - 0 comments - Permalink



The End to the Escape

Written by Foster Undergraduate, Connie Hu

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As exchange was coming to an end, I just wanted to make the most of my time. I had two last trips planned: one to Paris and Barcelona, and the other to Prague and Budapest. My best friend from Portland flew to Europe to celebrate her 21st birthday with me. It was amazing being able to explore two beautiful cities with her. We made such fond memories admiring art in Paris and admiring the architecture in Barcelona. Barcelona was especially fun for us because we really enjoyed the culture. I was also able to show her Copenhagen!

 

Looking back, it is crazy to think about how I almost did not go to Prague and Budapest, but I am extremely glad I did! Prague was breathtaking, and so was Budapest. Both cities were the most affordable places I had traveled to. I was overjoyed to have had three course meals at 5 star restaurants for only $20! I was also so excited to have experienced the baths in Budapest; I bathed outside in 30 degree weather!

 

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All in all, my exchange: trips around Europe and living and studying in Copenhagen will always hold a special place in my heart. I had some of the best times of life and was able to experience things I never thought I would experience. My last month was spent finishing exams in Copenhagen, hanging out with the amazing friends I made there, and further exploring the city. I will never forget what an incredible impact studying abroad made on my life and I will continue sharing my stories about it for a long time to come.

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Posted by goabroad - January 21st, 2016 - 0 comments - Permalink



The Longest Week of My Life

Written by Lander Lee, Foster School undergraduate student, studying at the National University of Singapore.

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Landing in a foreign country. Moving into my new dorm room. Registering for my university. Registering for classes. Meeting new people. Making plans to travel to neighboring countries. Attending orientations. Exploring the country. And some sleep here and there.

Your first week abroad will definitely be one to remember. It’s jam packed with events, which can be overwhelming and satisfying at the same time. I have just finished my first week of school and have been in the country for almost 10 days now. Since I have only been in the country for a short amount of time, I figured I would share a lot of the experiences I’ve faced that I’ve had to adjust to here at the National University of Singapore (both the good and the bad).

 

Move In: Transportation in Singapore is extremely easy and pretty cheap relative to the US. At the time of this blog post (January 15, 2016), 1 U.S. Dollar is worth 1.4 Singaporean Dollars, which makes everything here even cheaper. Transportation is usually by the MRT (Mass Rapid Transit), the Singaporean train/subway system, or by taxi. A taxi ride from the airpot is about half an hour by taxi and will cost you less than $30 Singaporean dollars (rates fluctuate for time of day), but it will never be more than $40. You can also take the MRT from the airport to campus, but this will take about an hour. Before my flight, my dorm sent me directions on how to get my particular dorm from the airport by MRT and taxi, which helped. Although Singapore is a tiny country, taxi drivers may not how to get to your exact dorm, but they will know how to get to the NUS campus.

At NUS, you can either live in Residential Colleges in UTown, Prince George Park (PGP), or residence halls  as an exchange student. Dorms in Singapore are referred to as hostels. Most exchange students live in UTown, which consists of multiple dorms (Residence College 4, College of Alice and Peter Tan, Cinnamon College, and NUS Residences: North & South Tower). If you are familiar with the dorms at UW, UTown is the NUS version of West Campus and PGP & residence halls are the equivalent of a dorm in North campus. The UTown residences are newer than that of PGP & residence halls and are more likely to be equipped with air conditioning. If you want to meet mostly locals, residence halls are the place to be. A student living in the residence halls told me there were only 15 people living in the entire residence hall. In comparison, my hostel in Cinnamon College houses probably houses closer to 100 exchange students.

In the hostels, you will either be placed in a Single Room (Air conditioning or no air-conditioning), a 6 person suite with shared living space (Air conditioning

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or no air conditioning), or a 4 person suite with shared living space (Air conditioning or no air conditioning). I live in a 6 person suite with a shared living room and bathroom (2 showers & 2 toilets). In my suite, there are both exchange students and locals. All rooms will include ceiling plans, including those with air conditioning. If you want to use air conditioning, it costs about S$0.20/hr (20 Singaporean cents per hour). In January, the temperature is usually about 80-95 degrees Fahrenheit throughout the day. This is supposed to be the coldest time of the year, so I’ve been told. I’ve been told it only gets warmer, but hopefully not too much. If you have never been to an area in the tropics, be prepared for the heat and humidity!! After ten days, I’m definitely starting to get a lot more used to it compared to when I first arrived. The weather is aided by the campus infinite pool (located in UTown) for all students. NUS will send you lots of emails before arriving in knowing what you should bring for your dorm room. For example, bed sheets are not included, so you will either need to buy or bring single-size bed sheets. Singapore is a very developed country, so you can buy many of your necessities when you arrive.

There is an Ikea very close to campus, and there are local supermarkets where you can buy everything you’ll need for your dorm room. Although Singapore will have all your necessities, they most likely will not have the brands you’re used to seeing in the United States. For example, this is the laundry detergent I bought that I’ve never heard of before coming here. Therefore, if you have special necessities (toothpaste, deodorant, etc), you may want to consider bringing a couple with you to Singapore as they will most likely not have it here. Many Singaporeans hang their clothes to dry due to the weather and do not use the dryer machines for their clothes. Therefore, you will not find dryer sheets anywhere in Singapore (something I didn’t really think about before arriving).

Overall, I have immediately fallen in love with the country of Singapore. Singapore has so many different areas to explore for people that are interested both in the outdoors and the city life. The different mix of peoples in the country make up for an interesting culture (especially in terms of food). Although the country is small, it’s also a great hub for traveling across all of Southeast Asia, Oceania, and even Australia (if you want to make the 7 hour flight). You’re able to get around the country fairly easily by using only English. However, the people and culture is very similar to that of other Asian nations. More of why I have fallen in love with Singapore will come in future blogs. 


Posted by goabroad - January 15th, 2016 - 0 comments - Permalink



Experiencing Europe

Guest Post by Alexandra Martyanova, Foster School Undergraduate Student.

Travel – The easiest way to reach any of the three airports in Milan (Linate, Malpensa, Bergamo) is to take the metro or tram to Central Station and hop on a shuttle bus. It’s quite affordable (8-12 Euro depending on which airport) and probably offers the least amount of hassle. When initially arriving in Milan you will most likely fly into Linate or Malpensa; Malpensa is quite a ways out of town and even further from the Arco dorm residences. I highly recommend taking the shuttle from Malpensa instead of the train into town as it is cheaper, faster, and it’s much easier to load your luggage in a bus bay then on the train. The shuttle buses go to Central Station and you can catch a cab from there to Arco for about 20 Euro – between the travel and luggage, it beats attempting to navigate the public transportation system right out of the gate.

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I encourage everyone to take the train in Italy at least once (to Venice, or Rome, or Florence) for the experience. We don’t really have the same train infrastructure back in the states and it can be a great way to see the countryside. However, depending on the destination, it can frequently be cheaper to fly than to take the train if sticking to one of the myriad low-cost airlines in Europe.

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Money – It’s best to arrive in Europe with a little bit of the local currency in cash form because it will make your life a little bit easier if paying for shuttles, or cabs. While many airport currency exchange kiosks can be a rip-off, it may be worth the fees/exchange rates so you have some 30-40 Euros on hand to hit the ground running. Prior to leaving Seattle, check with your bank regarding international and transaction fees: BECU charges only a 1% fee for withdrawing abroad or using the card at point of sale. Some banks will charge you a percentage in addition to a foreign transaction fee ($2.50/transaction with US Bank). I was able to easily get by in most cities in Europe with a combination of some local currency, my BECU Mastercard bank card for larger purchases and a VISA credit card that had no foreign transaction fees whatsoever.


Posted by goabroad - January 12th, 2016 - 0 comments - Permalink



The City of Pamplona

Written by Evan Daus, Foster School undergraduate student, studying at the University of Navarra in Pamplona, Spain.

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The city of Pamplona, Spain, where I lived during my semester abroad, was incredible.

I did little research about Pamplona before I left for my exchange, because I wanted it to be a surprise. Everyone I met who had been there had told me that it was nice, but that it was a small town. My home town has about 20,000 people, so when I heard that Pamplona was small, I imagined that it would have about 10 or 15 thousand people.

Upon arriving in Pamplona, I was shocked to find that it was much larger than I had ever pictured. The city has a population of 200,000 people, and I felt that it had much to offer in terms of recreation, history and culture.

I fell in love with some of the city’s traditions, for example Juevinxto. Juevinxto (pronounced hue-veen-cho) takes place every Thursday night in the old town. The streets fill with thousands of local people who move from bar to bar drinking small glasses of beer and eating tapas at each location. The most interesting part of this tradition is that it is for all ages. Spaniards well into their 60s, 70s and early 80s meet their friends and family members each week for Juevinxto.

Pamplona is also the city that holds the Running of the Bulls each summer. Although I did not attend this festival, it gives Pamplona international notoriety.

When I left my apartment in Pamplona for the last time and headed to the train station, I realized how much I would truly miss my life there. It is nice to be home, but Pamplona will always have a special place in my heart.


Posted by goabroad - December 22nd, 2015 - 0 comments - Permalink



Naples, Italy: Amalfi Coast Adventure

By: Bryn Elizabeth Porter

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My favorite and most memorable experience in Italy could be considered the worst day of my entire trip. However, I look back on the experience fondly because it was an experience that ripped me out of my comfort zone.

My roommates and I planned a trip from Naples to the Amalfi Coast. We were to take the train from Naples to Sorrento, and from there take a bus to Amalfi. Then, the people from our Airbnb would pick us up from the bus station and take us to our accommodations. Our trip was well thought out and perfectly planned, or so we thought.

Everything is harder when you are in a foreign country. Getting to our train’s platform was an ordeal in and of itself, and once we got there, we learned that our plans were stunted from the very beginning because when we finally arrived, we learned that our train was cancelled. We were going to have to catch a later train and hope that we got to Sorrento in time to catch the last bus to Amalfi.

As we were waiting, the number of people who were also waiting started to rise. It was clear that not everyone who wanted to catch the next train would be able to, and we needed to be on that train! As anticipation for the next train’s arrival grew, people started crowding around the platform edge.

When the train arrived, and the doors opened, it was like I was a tiny fish in a tsunami wave. The train filled up in a flash, and people were standing nose to nose. I was about five feet from the door, but I wouldn’t have been able to get off if I wanted to. It was about 98 degrees and stagnant because the train was not yet moving. People were sweaty, panicky, and getting smooshed, and on top of it all, the train didn’t leave for approx. 20 minutes after it loaded! It was the craziest transportation experience I had ever had. Finally, the train left the station, ventilation improved, and people settled into the reality of being packed like a sardine in a sardine can.

Now, I had done my research about travelling by train in Italy. I knew that pickpocketing was a big problem, and I was prepared for a situation like this. I had my purse in front of me on my stomach with the opening facing toward me, and on top of that, I had my backpack. I thought for sure that I would be able to see if anybody tried to get into my things, so I wasn’t too worried about that.

Once people started getting off at stops along the way and seats opened up, I sat down and wanted to check my phone. I was shocked to discover that it was gone. Even with all of my preparation, I had been pickpocketed! Those guys are good. My phone was my lifeline over there. I felt like my safety net was gone, and I was so upset, but I was not going to let that ruin my trip. I would deal with it later.

At last, our train arrived at our stop, but unfortunately, we did miss the last bus. The second part of our plan was now also stunted. Luckily there were taxis waiting, but just like at the train station, there were more people in need of a taxi than taxis available. We rushed up to the biggest taxi available and the six of us piled in.

We were all exhausted at this point, and we were relieved to be safe in a car and on the last leg of our journey. We told the driver that we wanted to follow the meter (because locals had warned us that we would get ripped off otherwise), so the driver started the meter and headed towards our destination. Everything was fine for a short while, but it turns out that this is the part of our trip where we thought we were going to die.

The driving lanes are so narrow that two vehicles can barely make it past each other, the cliffs are extremely windy, it was dark, and to make matters worse, our driver was driving fast while talking on his cell phone! We had no idea how much farther our Airbnb was, and we were all terrified. We couldn’t just ask to get out because we were in the middle of nowhere! The meter was jumping like crazy, and to make matters worse, none of us understood why. It was getting pricey, and we didn’t know if we were going to be able to afford the fee in the end. We could barely communicate with the driver so we asked him to pull over so that we could have our Airbnb contacts speak with him. He got out of the taxi, and after much yelling with our contacts, he gave us a fixed price: 20 euros each. Forget the train experience, this was now the craziest transportation experience I have ever had.

When we arrived at our destination, our driver told us that the road was too narrow for him to drop us off in front of the building and that we would have to walk to find it. We were all so relieved to be out of the car and alive so that news was the least of our concerns. One of my classmates called our Airbnb contacts while we were walking down the road, and while they were on the phone, we passed a barking dog, which gave her our location. She said to wait there, and she would come and meet us. It was such a relief when she arrived. Our perfectly planned trip turned out to be anything but perfect. However, that is the greatest lesson about traveling abroad; you have to expect the unexpected and learn to roll with the punches. And, what you might think is the worst night of your life, could turn out to be one of your favorites. Amalfi turned out to be worth it all, and I wouldn’t have changed a thing.

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Posted by goabroad - December 15th, 2015 - 0 comments - Permalink