As my exchange semester came to an end, I said goodbye to my little study abroad life, and took on a new Europe journey with some family by my side. June 18th rolled around and I waited for the arrival of my cousin Brandon and my brother Nicolas to join me for a two-week Berlingieri adventure. On the 18th, my cousin Brandon had arrived and I picked him up at the airport to join my roommate Sofi and I for our final night together at the dorms. It was also his birthday, so a little celebration dinner was necessary. As we sat for dinner and became excited for my brother’s arrival the next day, we were informed with some news. My brother had told us that his flight to Toronto got cancelled because of a storm in Toronto. That sounded similar to a little episode that happened about five months ago on February 10th. I could not believe what happened since the same thing happened to me, and my parents had to make a drop and go drive to another airport yet again. Thus, Nicolas arrived later than expected, preventing him from meeting Sofi, but he made it for our flight to Copenhagen the following day. Sofi and I parted ways, and within an hour, my brother was in my presence yet again. It would have been interesting for the two of them to meet since they are the only two people I have ever lived with besides my parents. It would have been like colliding worlds where my Canadian life would meet my Austrian life. But Sofi and I decided, the loss of her not meeting my brother is more reason for her to come to Canada sooner than later. I even gave her a toonie to get her started on her savings for the trip.
Berlingieri Euro Trip had officially begun and after one night in Vienna, we were off to Copenhagen, Denmark early the next morning. Once our flight landed, I had to put my skills to the test on how we were going to arrive at the hostel. Thank goodness for Google Maps and the one phone amongst the three of us that had a working Internet connection. I decided we would take on the train system, and with a little bit of travel anxiety coming back to me with having to figure out a slightly new system, we made it. I had to ensure myself a couple times that everything always works out. After arriving at the hostel, a lovely lady that worked there that had grown up in Copenhagen provided us with tons of information on where the best places were to go in the city. She showed us on a paper map — yes a paper map, not a phone — and I ended up using the map during our whole stay. I know, super old fashion. Our first day, we wandered the worker city streets and felt the motion of Copenhagen. We also visited a park/cemetery where Hans Christian Anderson’s grave is. I learned while I was there that he
was the famous children’s book writer that wrote The Ugly Duckling and many more. The rest of the day was spent wandering around while the boys got over their jet leg, and we made our way through the Tivoli Gardens, walked through City Hall Square, and the rest of the downtown area. The following day brought us to the famous waterfront destination called Nyhavn, we visited some lovely churches, the Statue of the Little Mermaid, and we even found out why Denmark is such a happy country — the trampolines on the side of the road. We should get some of those in Canada. For dinner that night, we went to a local community church that has been renovated for recreational activities, where we ate a home cooked meal. It was delicious and an amazing experience to be involved in the community. Following this meal brought us bubble waffles, and a whole lot of chocolaty satisfaction. All in all, I loved Copenhagen, Denmark, from the friendly people to the food to the whole atmosphere. I am glad Denmark was on my list of potential study abroad countries.
Next on the list was Berlin, Germany where the famous “Berlins in Berlin” Instagram caption came out. We flew from Copenhagen because it was the most time and cost efficient option and this got us to our Airbnb in great timing. There was enough time to spend the rest of the day grabbing a bite to eat and wandering around to figure out the city. The first morning waking up in Berlin, I came across a slight heart attack moment where I realized I had left the journal I had been writing in for the past five months on the plane to Berlin. My heart instantly sank as I thought I was never going to get my journal back. The most valuable item I could take home from my study abroad semester including all my thoughts, feelings, and memories from the past five months was gone. But is wasn’t, as contact from us to the airport and my mom to the airport happened, we figured out exactly where to go to claim my journal. Sure enough, there it was sitting in a lost and found closet. Yes, I cried when I lost it, and when I got it back. This led us to the rest of the day where we visited the Berlin Wall Memorial, walked through the Museum Island of the city, and took in the beauty of the Cathedral. That night we went to a local restaurant with televisions all around showing the Germany versus Sweden FIFA soccer game. Germany ended up winning, which made watching the game in the capital city, that much cooler. The final day in Berlin brought us straight to the Berlin Victory Column where we went to the top and saw a new view of Berlin. Then we covered the Brandenburg Gate (Brandon is named after it), the Reichstag building, saw a lot of buildings that I didn’t know what they were, and walked along the East Side Gallery of the Berlin Wall. We didn’t even scratch the surface of this capital after our time spent, but I learned a lot and grasped the culture, while also absorbing the German language again.
Destination number three brought us on a bus to Prague, Czech Republic. The city was a dream, just like I was told it would be. The first night we had a typical Czech meal including a meat plate and these delicious pancakes for desert. Don’t forget about the cheap beer either. We wandered the city through the Old Town City Square to the river where you can see the
castle from afar. We took in the romantic night views of the city as the sun had set. The next day, we set out to sightsee as we covered more churches, hiked up to the overwhelmingly beautiful and detailed Prague Castle. We also went to the top of the clock tower in the Old Town City Square, where the views of the town made it look like you were looking down at a massive dollhouse. Prague was a place I would revisit one day, the city was smaller than the others, but it was so easy to appreciate every inch of the city.
Final stop, it was back to Austria for the final time. Once again, it was great to be back in Austria, with that homey feeling hitting me all over again. We spent one night in Wiener Neustadt where we all shared my single bed mattress and checked out of the residence the next morning, where I also cancelled the form that says I am a resident of the country. I also showed the boys Vienna during our two nights spent there covering a lot of the sights I have seen before. I also had the opportunity to experience a couple new events with them, one being an orchestra/opera/ballet all in one, and we also went through the Natural History Museum. I had been wanting to go to a show during my semester so I am happy I had the chance to go. The Museum was huge and so amazing, and I was quite impressed by my brother who knew everything about everything that was in there. Free tour guide? I took my final steps in Vienna with sadness of leaving, but satisfaction from what I had accomplished, and anxiousness to get back home. Vienna will always have a special place in my heart.
So, as I ended my Europe travels with family by my side, I added three more new countries to my list, added many more memories to my collection, and even more pictures to my camera roll. I now consider Brandon my other brother, and having the opportunity to travel Europe with Nicolas and Brandon is something that I will never forget, and something that we will always have to reminisce on. Now I couldn’t be more ready to go home. See you in a bit Canada!
P.S. When travelling with boys, pack Febreze. You could figure out why.