Monday, 15 July 2013

Slovakia - Several Days, Berlin, Prague, Poprad (Slovakia)


Dear All,

I haven’t had time to write for the last couple of days so I’ll try to squeeze everything into this update.
All day on Friday we drove through Belgium, the Netherlands, and most of Germany, arriving in Berlin around 8:00pm. We joined the Berlin CU for dinner and then their CU meeting, which was a great encouragement and loads of fun. Afterwards, the girls headed to their house and Dan and I drove to ours.
I didn’t sleep very well, as my bedding was a series of couch cushions that kept sliding apart from each other during the night. They didn’t do wonders for my back, and I got up feeling that I’d been run over by a truck. I wasn’t sure if it was the bed or all the driving for the past two days. And yet, I’m thankful that we were alive and safe in Berlin after all the complicated driving and switching sides of the road, getting used to being on the right side of the car, and enduring the—at times conflicting—advice from my lovely passengers.
Lara, our team leader, joined us in Berlin and we went on a tour of the city till 3:00 in the afternoon. I saw the Brandenburg Gate, Frederick’s Palace, various exteriors of famous museums, a fish tank elevator, the Jewish memorial, the place Hitler died, and of course the remains of the East/West Berlin wall. It’s a very interesting place. I would like to go back.
The drive commenced to Prague after that, and we made decent time, though still in excess of our plans. The Czech Republic is beautiful, a bit like a poor Switzerland. After a long, complicated attempt to park in the vicinity of the hostel, we were gathered in one place at last and made our way to dinner. I have so many different currencies in my pocket right now; Koruna, Euro, Pound, with various denominations of each to the point that I have to pick through them to pay for anything.
I had the cheapest goulash I could find on the menu, which was not a bad price at all considering Germany and Belgium. Then all 10 of us trooped home and I snuck off to use the internet and Facetime for a few minutes as well as attempt to catch up on emails. Remind me never to do this with my summer again! It’s wonderful and exciting and complicated and frustrating and nail-bitingly difficult to juggle all at once. I love, hate and despair over it simultaneously.
We hit the road early, because we’re coming back to Prague in a week’s time and so wanted to get the long drive over with as soon as possible. For the most part, our journey through Slovakia included astounded ‘Ahhs!’ and ‘Oohs!’ over the spectacular scenery, the mountains and valleys, the castles perched precariously on the outermost edge of a cliff, the towns nestled in a gorge and the rivers that run through everything. Then we got pulled over by the police.
Turns out, you can’t drive without a road permit, so they fined us €100 (€50 each vehicle) and instructed us to buy the permits at our next opportunity. The girls found the officer quite fit. I can’t disagree.
The rest of the day passed uneventfully. Arguments happened, stony silences (like after the time one of the girls insulted all home schoolers), loud music to drown out disagreements, laughter, and then, at long last, the journey was over and we had arrived in Poprad, Slovakia.
We ate dinner, then played some get-to-know you games with the Slovakia team for a couple of hours, and ended it all with a cup of tea. I didn’t realise how much I missed my tea till they offered it to me. Even if it wasn’t Yorkshire, I survived.
I got into bed at a decent time, exhausted, and am now awake on Sunday morning before breakfast catching up on what I can with my computer but without internet.

I love and miss you all, 

Josiah

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