A Hidden Gem

Sofia is the only place I was ripped off during my travels. I thought I had done enough research but still ended up way over paying for my cab from the airport to my hotel. Considering the gentleman driving my cab spoke little to no English and I spoke no Bulgarian and he was much larger than me and had me in his car I paid him because I would rather be safe than sorry. Regardless, Sofia was beautiful.


Opera House!

Sofia had not been on my original lists of must sees, it had only been a cheap plane out of Tel Aviv. However, I am so glad I went. Central/Eastern Europe has a different feel than any of the other places I had been. And my little Religious Studies student heart was all a flutter seeing all of the neat Orthodox churches.

It was also nice to be alone for a bit. Israel had been great and it was super cool to meet my friend in person for the first time, but it was also nice to have some time to myself before I headed back to England where I would be meeting up with yet more friends that I had never met in person. Also, I had decided to treat myself with my hotel room and it was so great and still only a little more expensive than some of my earlier nights.

Sofia was super low key for me. I went on a walking tour the first day of which I saw highlights such as parliament, the hot mineral springs, and the changing of the guard! We also got to see the Tolerance Square where there is an Orthodox Church, Catholic Cathedral, Islamic Mosque, and Jewish Synagogue all within a few minutes of each other. a true lesson in getting along.

My final day in Sofia I actually went on Europe’s first free food tour. And I even made a friend! A fellow traveller with whom I also went to dinner. It was a lot of fun!

Dinner was chaos. We found this random place outside the centre of the city billed as a ‘traditional restaurant’. It was massive. And deserted. Despite our misgivings though it was so much fun and the food was A-MAZE-ING. And we got a performance of singing and dancing as well!

Long story, short. Sofia was great and I highly recommend it to anyone looking to travel somewhere a little bit different, but still somewhat familiar.




They tie these to the trees in the spring!

The Telephone Booth that Survived TWO Terrorist Attacks!

Next stop on my itinerary was Israel. Unlike most of the places I visited on my grand adventure I was not limiting myself to a particular city but instead trying to see as much as possible. This was aided by a friend I already had in Israel (who was the reason that it was added to the plan in the first place) and his family who were happy to schlep me around and show me their world.

Israel was a nice break from Europe. I love Europe, but so much time traveling Europe had me getting a bit jaded about the architecture and history around me so taking a short break was a nice change of pace.

My friend lives in a small town at what he once referred to as ‘the end of the world’ and which was rather accurate. It was a nice retreat from the regular hustle and bustle of the trip. I arrived late at night and as soon as we got back to his place I basically passed out into sleep – we had an early morning ahead of us because we were heading to Jerusalem first thing!

13631469_10157147546850125_4622131714667243975_nJerusalem was amazing. I don’t know how else to describe it. Knowing that I’m a politics nerd, the first thing we did was take a tour of the Knesset. It was us and a bunch of America teenagers who were there presumably for some sort of Birthright type trip. Our guide was great and we had audio guides as well which I always appreciate. My friend also had a story or two for me about his time being involved with the Israeli youth council where he got to have actual meetings at the Knesset which I thought was pretty cool.


Tapestries Reflecting Jewish History/Themes by Marc Chagall.

Just up the road from the Knesset was the Supreme Court of Israel and so naturally we took a detour over there. We even got to watch a bit of ongoing court proceedings. Obviously I could not understand a word of what was going on, but it was still super interesting to see. Also, one wing of the court was dedicated to a small museum of Israeli law and history which I thought was an interesting touch.

After that we headed to the market where I was super overwhelmed, but tried a lot of things that I to this day have no idea what they were. I do remember the halva though. Yummy, yummy halva. After that we went to the main attraction of the day – the Old City.

Old Jerusalem is split into 4 quarters – the Jewish Quarter, the Muslim Quarter, the Christian Quarter, and the Armenian Quarter. We entered through the Jewish Quarter for a few reasons – the most obvious one being that that was the entrance my friend was most well acquainted with.


Our first stop was the Western Wall (aka: Wailing Wall) where there were (of course) separate entrances for men and women. We split and agreed to meet up in ten minutes of so. Despite not being Jewish I did leave a note and spent a few moments in quiet contemplation trying not to seem like a watching weirdo. There was also a bar mitzvah going on nearby so I stopped to watch the festivities for a few minutes as well.


The Dome of the Rock

Next we waited in line to head up the Temple Mount. My friend was almost not allowed to go because Jewish people are not supposed to go up as it is against Jewish law. He got a talking to by the guards, but they eventually relented because he was with me. I’m definitely glad we got around that one because it was one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been.

Non-Muslims are not allowed in the Dome of the Rock which was unfortunate, but not entirely surprising. It was amazing just to get to see it and it was not an opportunity I ever expected to have so I count myself fortunate to have had the experience.

We wandered around the Old City some more and eventually decided to check out the Via Dolorosa. The Via Dolorosa is believed to be the path that Jesus walked to his own crucifixion. All of the stops are numbered and there are maps you can get that show you the way and give a little explanation about what was supposed to have occurred at each of the stops. It took us a lot longer than I am proud of to find our way through it.

After that we wandered around a bit more – including showing me Hell (which is an actual place in Jerusalem apparently) before heading back for the night. Another, strange thing that was pointed out to me in Jerusalem was a telephone booth that has survived two terrorist attacks. Strange what passes for a landmark sometimes.

Jerusalem was the big one, but my friend’s family made sure I saw a lot of other things too. One day we went to Masada – an ancient fortress that was subject to a siege in the first Jewish-Roman War and is now a UNESCO World Heritage Centre.

Another day we went to the Dead Sea of course. I didn’t own a swimsuit so I had to go in in a dress – the dress no longer fits, but I do not regret it in the least. Naturally I got salt water in my eyes because that is how my life works, but it was still worth it. My friend couldn’t go in with me, but his sister was kind enough to float away with me.

We also went to Ein Gedi National Park. We hiked the shortest trail, but it was still beautiful and amazing.


Ein Gedi

It was so much greener than anythingI expected to find in Israel – most of which had lived up to my imagination of desert. The final big stop which we did on my last day in Israel was to go to Jaffa and Tel Aviv. We spent the morning in Jaffa which is right beside Tel Aviv and used to be the main port city in Israel. We did one of those free walking tours and it was a really neat experience.



In the afternoon we met up with my friend’s sister for lunch at a place that my friend found fit to tell me had been the site of a terrorist attack a month previous. I was a bit jumpy over lunch to absolutely no surprise. What can I say – Canadians are very isolated from that sort of thing whereas it’s much more part of the public consciousness in Israel.

We also went to Independence Hall which is where Independence was declared in 1948. It was neat to see. Obviously very rah rah rah as any site like that is bound to be, but interesting nonetheless.


Independence Hall

We also went to the memorial site for Yitzak Rabin who was assassinated in 1995. Rabin was a Nobel Peace Prize winner who was well known as an advocate for peace between Israel and Palestine.

All in all, my trip to Israel was amazing. There is still a lot to see obviously, but I feel like I managed to cram a lot into a very short time. One of my friends asked me if I went to any of the more controversial places (i.e.: places in the Gaza Strip or West Bank) and the answer is no. It’s not that I would never want to see those places because I do, but the time just was not right. Plus, the friend I was with obviously would not have been allowed over there so it just didn’t seem wise.

The chaos was not over yet though. They almost did not let me leave! For some reason they could not find anyone in the airport who spoke decent English when I was supposed to be leaving, but thankfully they found someone who could speak some English. Enough to ask me whether I would just let my friend speak for me anyway. I didn’t care. I just wanted to move onward. Israel was great, but I was ready to head back to Europe. They did eventually let me go and I raced for my plane arriving with approximately 10 minutes until boarding. That was terrifying, but soon I was back in the sky heading to Sofia, Bulgaria. More about that next time!

  • Kali

Viva Italia!

Rome was a nice departure from being with the group. There are real perks to group travel – people to talk to and you don’t have to figure out everything by yourself. There are also drawbacks in that too much time with people can breed annoyance. Plus, most of us need some alone time now and again.


The Colosseum!

In Rome I stayed in an AirBnB that ended up just being a normal BnB. I also happened to be the only one staying there. Which in hindsight was kind of odd, but at the time it was just nice to be blessedly alone. My flight from Vienna was on time, but I got a wee bit lost in the Rome metro system. I ended up taking the Leonardo Express from that airport. It was a little more expensive than it would have been to try and find my way just using regular transit, but the convenience was worth it to me. I arrived at the BnB around 8pm and after a bit of interesting conversation trying to communicate with my host’s limited English and my non-existent Italian found myself safely ensconced in a nice little room. A nice little room that was air conditioned which was my favourite thing in the summer heat of Rome.

I went for a short walk to try and find some food, but mostly that night was a write off. I figured out what I wanted to do the next day and uploaded pictures to Facebook for my family and friends. It was nice to just relax.

The next day my plan was to try and see as much of Rome proper as I could manage. The place where13620315_10157142450325125_4786196210328915803_n I was staying was about a 20 minute walk to the Colosseum so naturally that was my first stop. Before I made it there though I happened to come across a random park where there was a band playing pop culture music (i.e.: I heard the Star Wars theme and followed that until I found them). So that was kind of neat!

I managed to make it to the Colosseum where I ended up waiting in line for way too long in the heat. I probably should have expected it, but there was not much I could do about it by that point. I am proud that I managed to get through it without buying any of the super overpriced frozen water bottles that people were wandering around selling to people in the line though. I will admit to having been very tempted though. I hadn’t realized that my ticket to the Colosseum would also get me into the Roman Forum, but it did so I obviously had to take full advantage of that.


The View from the Hill

I spent a lot more time in the Roman Forum that I had intended to… this was partially because it was pretty big, but also because I had some trouble figuring out how to get out. By the time I found my way out I was super hungry. Even though I’m usually bad at eating while on trips I couldn’t exactly skip eating in Rome of all places! Real Italian food. And, boy was I happy to get out of the sun for a bit. Plus, the lasagna I had for lunch was absolutely delicious.

After lunch I wandered towards the Trevi Fountain. Other than when I went to and from the airport I walked everywhere in Rome. Part of me regretted that because my feet were killing me by the end, but Rome wasn’t huge and I probably saw a lot more than I would have otherwise. On my way to see the Trevi Fountain I ended up veering off to see the Pantheon. On the way there I got awkwardly flirted with. Some random guy stopped me in the street to tell me my eyes were beautiful and ask me to have coffee with him. First of all I was wearing sunglasses so he couldn’t even see my eyes, but regardless I obviously did not have coffee with him.

There must have been something in the air in Italy though because one of my eyes was 13658998_10157142450795125_6853691658861986719_nbasically weeping the entire time I was there. It was awkward, but what can you do. I’m glad it was only Rome where it was a problem at least.

I never thought I would get bored of looking at fancy old architecture, but there was so much of it in Rome that I eventually started taking it for granted. Which seems hard to believe now, but at the time it was just the way I started to feel.

Another cool thing about Rome was that there were just churches basically everywhere. Fortunately for me I thought to bring a scarf with me everywhere to cover my shoulders so I actually was able to visit all the churches. I definitely saw more than a few people be barred from churches due to not meeting dress code and I’m glad to say I was not among them.

My second full day in Rome I had to take a visit to The Vatican. First of all how can you be in Rome and not visit The Vatican and second of all that’s the kind of thing I’m a huge nerd about. I had to pick up a long skirt to head over there since my skirts were mostly knee length, but it was fine because I needed one for when I would be in Jerusalem regardless.


Welcome to The Vatican!

I did end up spending most of the day at The Vatican. The lunch I had was pretty good, but it’s hard to know whether it was actually good or whether I was just starving. I think I’m just going to let my some of my Vatican pictures speak for themselves.

The next day I had to check out of my BnB at 10:30am and my flight left the airport in Rome just before 3pm. I basically just spent a while at the airport. I was pretty nervous because my next stop was Tel Aviv via Istanbul. Obviously I lived to tell the tale, but that tale will have to wait until next time.

  • Kali

Ahhhh. The Circus Maximus…

Let them Eat Cake in Vienna

After how hectic the last little while had been we were glad as a group to have a little more downtime in Vienna. Vienna was my last stop with the rest of the group and I ended up leaving the day before they did, but even with that it was still a more relaxed pace. Our first full day in Vienna we slept in a bit and then decided to head out to see the Schönbrunn Palace. We had been warned that it was big and would take us a while, but I think we were all surprised by just how long it did take us – it was the only thing we were able to do that day and we even ended up rushing through parts of the gardens.


Schönbrunn Palace from the back

We were there around the time of the Bastille Day terrorist attack in Nice so the conversation had its downsides but the palace itself was wonderful. Pictures definitely do not do it justice. We got the ‘Classic Pass’ which let us into the palace itself as well as the privy garden, orangery, maze, and gloriette. We ended up rushing the privy garden and the orangery unfortunately. Not only were were starting to run low on time, but the weather also started to turn for the worse later in the day.

The next day we ended up staying in bed even later. I’ll admit that it drove me a wee bit crazy because I was ready to go and do things much earlier than the others. I thought about just going off on my own, but it was my last day with everyone and I wanted to enjoy it as such. We did end up leaving my roommate behind and he met up with us later though because he said he was not feeling well.

We did not have a huge list of to dos that day. We wanted to go to St. Stephen’s Cathedral, find one of the girls a gift for herself, and we had been instructed to go to the favourite cake shop of our friend who had left us in Munich.

We did manage to do it all and so much more.


We spent a lot of time just wandering and enjoying the architecture and such. We did manage to get a bit off track and lost once or twice too. Whoops.


Around lunchtime we ended up wandering around like idiots trying to find a bathroom for one of our group to use and seemed to have ended up in some sort of Disney character photo shoot. We did not want to seem too weird so we weren’t able to get too close, but we snapped a couple pictures just for the sheer oddity of the situation.


In this picture we can see… Aladdin, Belle, Tiana, & Esmerelda.

It was random, but also pretty awesome. We all came together once more to meet up at our friend’s favourite cake shop. We were surprised (though knowing our friend we shouldn’t have been) to discover that the place was a bit fancier than we were expecting. Surprise!

13716132_10157117585640125_1899395044625390618_nThe cake was delicious though. We got a little bit lost as we had to wait in line ups and did not exactly know what we were doing, but it was worth a laugh. We ended up waiting for our final friend for a while though which was kind of awkward because the place was packed and it was a bit obvious they would have liked us to move a bit faster. Oh well.

As much as I enjoyed travelling with my friends though I was looking forward to getting some alone time as well. We spent the rest of our evening in Vienna trying to find something for one of our friends (she ended up getting a beautiful scarf) and then one of the guys decided he just had to have a stein and he found one he loved (we even convinced him to get the big one).

The next morning I woke up and we checked out of our hotel. My roommate was going onto Croatia with the others but they still had another day in Vienna so he was going to crash in their place (which no one could know about). I said a cheerful goodbye and left the world of U-Bahns and S-Bahns behind once I made it to the Vienna airport. The next stop was Rome. I was super excited even though it did mean getting on yet another plane. More on Rome next time!

  • Kali

Singin’ in Salzburg

From Prague we went onto Vienna, but although we spent our first evening in Vienna, our first full day we actually left the city for a day trip to Salzburg. Salzburg was added to the itinerary essentially because of a group appreciation for The Sound of Music. There are specific Sound of Music tours, but we didn’t do one of those. We just did a general tour.

I hadn’t seen The Sound of Music in years (although I have recently watched it now on an airplane ride), but I remembered enough to appreciate the decision to take the trip. Unfortunately the tour itself did not live up.


Welcome to Salzburg.

First off, it was pouring rain the whole day. That, of course, could not be helped, but it did make the day quite dreary. More importantly though, our tour guide was awful. And not like she made terrible jokes awful (she did, but that’s to be expected), but more she did not seem to know what she was talking about and she barely actually showed us anything before setting us loose in Salzburg on our own for most of it. It seemed like a real waste of money.

13782176_10157113237855125_9099592559762694509_nAnd, unfortunately for me, this was probably the most awkward day of the trip personally. The couple went off on their own and then the other two clearly wanted to be left alone. I stuck with them for a little bit, but then left when they decided to go to Mozart’s Birthplace. They were the real classical music fans and frankly I had started to get the picture that they wanted me to go away. So I went away.

Fortunately for me I don’t really mind my own company. I was able to wander the streets by myself poking into stores, but mostly into churches. There were a lot of churches in Salzburg considering it did not seem to be a particularly large place.

One particular church, the Franziskanerkirche, was very peaceful. It seemed less open to random tourists than the others – quieter and more solemn – that I spent a fair amount of time in. It was calming and peaceful. I’m not (and never have been) religious, but I still have a fondness for the atmosphere cultivated in such places.

13668963_10157113237870125_5431240718315523179_nThere was not really a whole lot to do in Salzburg, but it was a nice little place. I suspect it would have been a better experience if the weather had been nicer and I don’t really feel any pull to return to Salzburg, but it was a pretty little place.

Honestly, I think we probably should have just done one of the Sound of Music tours. It might have been better run. I’m not really sure why we didn’t do one of those actually – I wasn’t part of the planning process after all.But considering the inspiration for going it would have seemed to have been the logical thing to do. Oh well. What is done is done at this point after all. And on the plus side, I mostly went because the others did. I do like The Sound of Music, but it had been so long since I had seen it that I wasn’t tied to the nostalgia the way a lot of people might have been. I definitely did find myself humming (and sometimes even singing aloud) the songs from the movie. They are particularly memorable ones after all.


Doe, a deer, a female deer…

While Salzburg may not have been exactly what we were all expecting/hoping for, I think the time apart served most of us well. The tension was notably lessened after that day. I don’t know if everyone was feeling it, but I definitely was.

More about our adventures in Austria next time.

  • Kali

Prague is Made of Hills

The bus to Prague was supposed to leave ridiculously early in the morning. We even had to do special early check out because our hotel did not have 24 hour front desk service. Fortunately for us the hotels were only like a 5 minute walk to the bus station so it definitely could have been a lot worse.

Ultimately it did not matter how early we arrived though because our bus ended up running over an hour late. This pretty much stressed out the girls, but the boys did not seem terribly worried. Mostly they were too preoccupied with playing Pokemon to pay much attention. I had my 3DS charged to play Pokemon as well, but I was too worried with when the bus would show up (if it would show up) to go play while we waited. And we had no way of knowing what was going on.

Fortunately for us the bus did eventually show up and we were on our way to Prague. Prague had not really been on my list and originally I had considered separating at that point, but our friend who had left first had seemed almost personally offended that that would mean I would not be going to Vienna – he loves Vienna. I ended up joining them. Now I’m glad I did because Prague was downright beautiful.


The View from the Castle in Prague.

In Prague all 5 of us were staying in the same hotel. Our rooms were only a floor away from each other. When we arrived the chaos did not quite end immediately. Our phones were telling us there was no way to walk to our hotel and we were getting a bit turned around. It did not help that we were already a bit short tempered because of the chaos from the morning. Thankfully, we did eventually figure out a way, but unfortunately for me our hotel was basically up a bunch of hills. I had no idea Prague was so hilly and it was hot and we were all rather irritable. It was definitely a relief to get to the hotel.

The couple decided to spend the rest of the day as a date day while the other 3 of us poked around a bit. Our big destination in mind was the Castle. Which was, unsurprisingly, on top of a giant hill. Oh well.

When we got up there we hurried our way through a self guided tour of the Castle. At one spot where you could look out over the city there was a tv crew filming some sort of segment. The tour was pretty cool. The others were particularly impressed by a room with a bunch of old music stuff – including original music written by Beethoven. I thought to was neat too, but not to the same level as the other two. I had had no idea they were such music buffs.


St. Vitus Cathedral

When we made it out of the castle we discovered we were near a bunch of other cool tourist spots. I was particularly impressed by the churches – the Basilica of St. George and St. Vitus Cathedral. Sadly they were all very expensive and we did not have much time considering how much later we had arrived in the city than we had expected to. Still, at least we got some good pictures. After, we headed down and decided to walk back towards the city centre. We stopped on the way to grab some souvenirs and we each grabbed a fruit smoothie too. The day was hot making the smoothies just that much more refreshing. We did not rush ourselves and enjoyed meandering slowly back. We also stopped to get some kind of sun burn soother. Hilariously, the one buying it almost accidentally bought sun tan lotion. Luckily one of our friends speaks Ukrainian which is sort of (ish) close to Czech and she was able to stop him in time.

The next day we split up in the morning. I joined the couple for a free walking tour of Prague while the other two went and did their own thing (more on that later). Our walking tour was fabulous. Our guide was actually Czech-Canadian and had grown up in Toronto before moving to Prague after high school. What a small world, right?


Our tour started in the Old Town Square near the astrological clock. Word is that there is a big show that happens at the clock, but according to our guide it’s easy to miss because it’s just the really small animated figures that are involved. We didn’t see it, but I’m not overly disappointed. The clock was cool to see, but it was still a clock.

Along the way we learned some neat little facts and phrases. Not that I remember any of the phrases anymore, but it was sweet of her to give us the short lessons. I do remember that apparently the people of the Czech Republic don’t like Sweden because apparently the Swedish government has a bunch of stuff they took from the Czech Republic in their museums and won’t give it back. The rivalry is apparently a friendly one, but it does mean that the one person from Sweden in our group ended up being the butt of a joke or two.


The Kafka Statue!

The tour was actually pretty cool – we saw a lot of the main city. A few places I doubled back to later in the day for a better look, but I would definitely recommend the free walking tours to anyone wanting to get a sense of the layout and history of Prague.

Not only did we get a language lesson and a few funny stories along the way we also were walked through the Jewish quarter, stopped at the Kafka cafe for a snack, and saw the Prague opera house among other things.

I had to laugh because at the end of the tour our guide left us by “Voldemort”. Obviously it was not actually Voldemort, but that was what she called the statue near the opera house. I had to take a picture and after putting it on Facebook it is only too obvious how amazing and dorky my friends truly are.

I uploaded it with a Welcome to Night Vale reference (do not approach the hooded figures) and the comment thread referenced both a dementor and ring wraith. I really do love my friends.


Voldemort, hooded figure, dementor, or ring wraith…

After the tour I went off by myself and just walked around. Took a walk over the Charles Bridge, had gelato at Angelato, wandered back through the Jewish Quarter, and up to Wenceslas Square. Really I just tried to hit all the interesting spots on the Prague map app I had downloaded before meeting up with the others for dinner. We had decided to meet at the mall mostly because it was big and hard to miss.


The Charles Bridge.

We had wanted to go to Lokál for dinner, but it was far too busy. It was pretty disappointing since we had heard such good things about it from our tour guide. Hilariously (or perhaps sadly) we actually ended up eating at the mall. We did have goulash so at least it was Czech food – and it was actually pretty good – but it’s perhaps a little lame.

We also got to hear what had happened to the other two who had done their own thing that day. Turned out that they had actually spent most of the day in the mall after being mugged by a guy with a snake. He cornered them, put the snake on, and demanded they give him their money. Boy had they had an adventure in Prague.


I stumbled upon this beautiful synagogue completely by accident!

As much as we had all enjoyed Prague we were very much looking forward to moving on to Vienna. Vienna was also somewhere that we would be staying for a decent amount of time which meant that our adventuring could (in theory) be a little more relaxed. This wasn’t completely true though because we had planned a day trip to Salzburg. But that’s a whole other story.

  • Kali

Walking the Wall in Nuremberg

We arrived in Nuremberg in the early evening and all 5 of us were impressed from the very start. We were split up once again – 2 of us in one hotel and 3 in the other. But our attempts to stay close to one another paid off – we were only a 2-3 minute walk away from each other.

The hotel we were staying in was nice, but small. Unfortunately for me things had already become tense between myself and the person I was sharing with. We are very different people and had not really known each other when we had joined the others. Our first night in Nuremberg we all went and had dinner. Fortunately both of our hotels were essentially in the centre of town so we had a lot of options open to us.

After dinner all of us went out for a short walk before retiring to our separate hotels. My roommate informed us he would not be joining us the next day though we would all meet up for dinner. I felt bad, but was kind of relieved that it would just be the 4 of us.

When we met up in the morning we soon discovered the downsides to small town Germany on a Sunday. Everything seemed to be closed. We did manage to find a coffee shop to have what we had started calling ‘European Breakfast’ (aka coffee/tea and a baked good) before heading off to our first stop of the day (and the reason Nuremberg had even made the list) – the Nuremberg Palace of Justice. On the way there though we discovered the Strasse der Menschenrechte (The Way of Human Rights).

We only noticed it because the stark white entrance stood out among the rest of the town. Naturally, our curiosity led us to check it out and we were taken by surprise by the pillar lined area with each of the pillars engraved with one of the articles from the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Each one was in a different language so the only one we could actually read was number 7 (All are equal before the law and are entitled without any discrimination to equal protection of the law). It was a really neat thing to stumble upon considering 2 of the 4 of us had spent the first half of our summer learning about international public law including the UDHR (one of the others had been doing international business law and the other was a significant other who had not been doing our program).

We did eventually make it to the Nuremberg Palace of Justice, home to the memorial to the Nuremberg Trials. This was an amazing visit. We all had our English audio guides and it was an amazing experience to be able to sit in the same courtroom (though most of it was blocked off – understandably) where high ranking Nazis such as Herman Goering and Rudolph Hess were tried. The majority of the place had been turned into a museum which was interesting though obviously there was a lot of review. In many ways it felt like a very natural extension of ours studies. Especially when I saw a sign proclaiming ‘From Nuremberg to Den Haag’ since now I had visited both.


The Courtroom!

After leaving the memorial we were getting pretty hungry. Based on our experience from that morning we had easily decided that we would eat something at the first place we saw that was open. The other big place that we had on our agenda to see was Nuremberg Castle and we figured we could get there easily enough by just following the city wall. And so that is how we found ourselves walking along the wall.


Follow the Wall!

We seemed to be walking along the wall for a lot longer than we had expected. It was not necessarily a bad thing – it made for a beautiful walk and because there were only 4 of us it meant no one was left out. At various points during our wall walk all of us said how much we liked Nuremberg. It was, quite honestly, the surprise gem. It had been added solely because of its place in the tribunals, but it was probably my favourite place that we went in Germany. I would have expected it to be Berlin because I love big cities, but it was Nuremberg that really stole my heart.

One of the best parts was when we came across a playground along the wall. And all of us took a few minutes out to play. One of us climbed this rope structure and then all of us played on the giant tire swing. We even tried to take a picture of the girls on this rope balancing thing. We barely managed to keep it together, but it was a lot of fun.


The best way I can describe Nuremberg is that it felt like we had stepped into a world of fairy tales. When we finally did reach the castle we got a little lost, but eventually we found the entrance and we managed to see most of the gardens as well. I think I speak for all of us when I say that we were disappointed that we were spending such a short time in Nuremberg.

When we met up with our fifth member he told us he had had a good day as well. He had not made it to the Trial memorial, but had seen the castle and wandered along part of the wall.


I had to take this picture… they just looked so sassy!

Dinner was a simple affair and then I tried to make myself scarce from my room so that my roommate could Skype with his girlfriend. It seemed like giving them their privacy was the right thing to do. Besides, it gave me the chance to walk around Nuremberg some more. We were leaving pretty early the next morning so I wanted to take a last chance to see things.

13668974_10157108986665125_7257954035957029839_nThe final soccer game was going on that night as well. The other 3 had returned to their hotel to watch the big game. I myself was kind of relieved to not have to watch it and pretend to care. I would have, but I didn’t have to. A lot of people were watching it outdoors so I still caught snippets of it here and there. Enough to know who won at least. I’m not sure who we were supposed to be rooting for in the end since our team (Germany) was already out, but no one seemed devastated by the ending the next day so I’m assuming the French win was fine with our group as a whole.

I was sad to leave Nuremberg the next morning. Even though I was excited to visit the next city on our list (Prague) I kind of wished we had more time to spend in Nuremberg. While it had not been on my initial list of ‘must sees’ in Europe I was very glad we had taken the detour.

The next morning we were up and checked out early and we all met at the bus station. The bus from Nuremberg to Prague was scheduled to get us into Prague at around 9:30am. Unfortunately that was not the way it played out since the bus was over an hour late getting into Nuremberg. Needless to say we were more than a little stressed. But more about that in the next instalment.

  • Kali

One of the most beautiful views we came across during our wall walk.