It’s been a while since my last post, but we’ve been so busy traveling and seeing as much as we can, that there hasn’t been a spare second to find an Internet cafe until now. I’ve already been on here for a while and it is costing me 1czk per minute, so I hope that isn’t too much. Here in the Czech Republic, I feel like I’m spending Monopoly money. It is the weirdest thing. Our room here is costing me 350 czk a night, which sounds nuts. I exchanged a 50 euro note for over 1400 czk…I felt richer than I ever have. Of course, none of this money is mine as my bank has decided to deny me access to my own money and I’ve been bumming off Kelly for a few days now. We’ve been keeping track of tabs in little notebooks, and she said today that she feels like a bookie when it comes to me. I need to get my bank sorted out soon, or she may send some big Czech thugs to break my legs in the middle of the night.
We really enjoyed the rest of the time that we spent in Amsterdam. When we got on the train to go to Berlin, I think we were all thinking that there was no way it could compare. When we got to Germany, it was definitely very different to the loose, carefree atmosphere in the Netherlands. Berlin itself is like any other big city, in my opinion, except for the fact that it is completely caught up with its own past. I guess it would be rather hard not to be, considering the very turbulent history that has happened there, but I was a bit surprised how sobering it could be just to walk down the street and pass by several holocaust memorials, Berlin wall victim monuments, etc. We found this one really cool place that is like a cement valley filled with huge monolithic slabs all in it, and we thought it would be ideal for a game of hide and seek. We had no idea what it was because there were no signs anywhere (not that we could have read them anyways if there had been any). Just before we left, I finally asked some woman what it was for, and she explained that it was a memorial garden for holocaust victims, and that there were rules for acceptable behavior while visiting. Oops. Well, had there been signs we would have acted accordingly.
We saw a lot of places around Berlin in one day. We saw Checkpoint Charlie, a site where American guards watched over the former Western half of the city and Russian guards patrolled the Eastern half. We also saw a huge chunk of the Wall that was still standing. It was really incredible to go into the museum at Checkpoint Charlie and read about the incredible ways that people tried to escape from the East. That day was very interesting and educational for us, but a bit of a downer at the end of the day.
So, to raise our spirits and to get out of the city, we decided to take a day trip to a nearby lake that supposedly has the biggest inland beach in all of Europe. Well, it had a beach, but it wasn’t big at all. The lake was about a 20 minute walk from the train station in sweltering heat, and when we got there it wasn’t much bigger than a little lake. What really was shocking though was the vast amount of skin lying around in the grass alongside the beach. There were naked Germans everywhere. Men, women, children…all naked. Very, very naked. After we had found a place in the trees to hide and change into our bathing suits, we tried to find a place for the 4 of us to sit down, which was hard when we were trying not to look at anyone. I felt like I was very overdressed for that party in my bikini. We had seen a few people sunning themselves in the park in the buff the day before, but I really didn’t expect for there to be so much nakedness. The water was really nice and cold though, and once people were in the lake it wasn’t so bad.
Today we had an early morning and caught the train to Prague in the Czech Republic. We’ve only been here a few hours, but it is already so different than the west of Europe. Straight away we’ve seen a man with a broken nose falling out of a bar fight. Nice one. Tomorrow we’ll go see the city, but tonight we’re just taking it easy I think. I had a bit of sad family news today, and I’m not much up for doing anything right at the moment.
Oh, and if you are a Suntrust employee and you are reading this…SORT OUT MY BANK ACCOUNT.
Tags: Amsterdam, Berlin, Czech Republic, Germany, Netherlands, Prague, Travel