Monday, December 5, 2011

European Musings

Hello to all!

I have to say, before tonight, I was feeling a major bought of Sweden-homesickness/home-homesickness.  I was ready to have the ultimatum that if I did not return to one of them ASAP, I would not be a happy lady.  I saw that it was snowing in Sweden and wanted nothing more than to get myself back to Sweden to play in the snow :) However, just about the same time, we stumbled upon the most wonderful of places...a German Christmas market.  It turns out that this said Christmas market, not far from the Brandenburg Gate, so happened to be hosting a Christmas concert by none other than the wonderful Michael Buble!  What a wonderful 5 Euro surprise.  That lifted my spirits pronto.  Not to mention, I got some Christmas shopping done too.  It was quite the successful evening...all to the lovely sound of Michael Buble's voice <3 But, before I brag too much about Berlin (trust me, it will be to the tone of my Oslo borderline obsession...yeah, Berlin is that good), I will provide some European musings via my experiences in Paris and Roma!

Again though, before I begin, I must express my extreme sadness of my departure from Sweden.  It was a horrible, horrible feeling.  I had absolutely no desire to get on that plane.  To put it simply, I was a wreck on the bus from Tenhult to Jönköping--and may I say, I'm fairly certain people generally are not that upset when leaving the tiny town of Tenhult.  And again, when I got on the plane in Gothenburg, I was a sad, sad lady.  It was torture taking off.  I would never ever trade my 4 months abroad--it was probably the best decision I could have made.  I'm so thankful that I met such wonderful people abroad and am sad that this experience had to come to a close.  I'm already trying to figure out how I can get back to Europe--and all you sly Tenhulters who have discovered my blog--beware, I'm coming back to stay with you :) Seriously.

Okay enough of the sad subject of leaving, now onto the happy subject of traveling! I'm really lucky to get this chance too! As many of you know, my first stop was Paris, then Rome, and now I'm settling into the lovely (but COLD compared to Rome) city of Berlin!   So as for Paris, I liked it, but I wasn't "sold".  There were parts of it that were positively exquisite--take the Eiffel Tower, for example, that was AMAZING, breathtaking really.  The Paris Catacombs were also very cool.  But, I think, I'm just resistant to the whole huge, busy city feel.  I'm used to Jönköping, Westminster, and State College...I don't think ANYBODY would characterize ANY of them as big cities! I would really love to come back to Europe and do some of the smaller town areas to really get a feel for the life here.  Paris and Rome were both filled with big city stuff...beggars on the streets, people constantly hounding you to buy stuff, expensive merchandise, and everybody always rushing.  It was exhilarating, but could also be a bit stressful.  Thus far, Berlin hasn't had that feel, which I am thankful for :) The only vibe I have gotten from Berlin is a Christmas one, and I LOVE it! Its about time there was a Christmas feeling somewhere. I know that I will be bombarded with it once I return to the states, but its nice to start it now too!

So, before I ramble on, per usual, I figured I should make a quick list of my "European musings"...all my new found European friends, feel free to critique my observations :) These are largely from Paris/Rome:
1. European women have some great boots.  And there are some excellent stores for boots in Europe. I'm  jealous.
2. There are LOTS of stairs in the Old least for us cheap folk (elevators can be expensive).  The Catacombs in Paris, the Eiffel Tower, the Vatican, the subway systems...all with a million stairs.  Even the catacombs had a defibrillator at the top of the stairs---go figure.
3. There is a serious lack of blonde haired people in southern Europe.
4. The European places I've visited all have positively delicious food.  I haven't disliked a meal in my travels yet! For Paris, it as the crepes, pastries, baguettes, panini pizzas, nutella.  In Rome, it was red wine, gelati, nutella, pizza, pasta, cannolis...all wonderful!
5. I was constantly suspicious of people on the streets trying to scam me or pickpocket me (only in Paris and Rome).  Maybe Rick Steves (the guidebook) made me paranoid.
6.  Winter is a great time to travel.  Nothing feels as crowded as in the height of tourist season. Except for the constant need for a coat, it's perfect!
7. I know why Europeans are so skinny...there is SO much walking in Europe.  That may have been due to our inadequate navigating, but still...YIKES...I've walked miles and miles and miles over the past week.
8. I'm finally a nutella convert.  That stuff is delicious (and works well as a chocolate substitute in s'mores too, who knew?!).  My PSU roommate, Sharon, would be so proud!
9.  Downside of European Union stamps in my passport (BOOOO). And, they discriminate against us non-Europeans...all the museums and places would be SO much cheaper if we were EU students. Not fair!
10. I don't know how I would travel if I didn't know English or the native language of the country--I think it would be VERY difficult.
11. I like to play 'guess the American' sometimes.  Not surprisingly, its quite easy.  I like to think that I blend at least a little more--but let's be honest, I'm sure I do not!
12. I am turning into my mother (not that that is a bad thing, mom :).  I have the constant desire to connect with/talk to other Americans---or specifically, a kid wearing a Ravens hat that I spotted on the subway or the kid wearing the PSU shirt at my Berlin hostel.  The difference is, I didn't act on this desire (mom would have), except in the case of the PSU reppin' kid...ya can't pass that up!

I have SO much more to write about, but do not have the time to detail more Roma and Berlin excitement.  I'll cut the rambling off here.  If I can't head back to Sweden, I guess the next best thing is heading stateside ;) It will be nice to get back to PSU, to watch Sam graduate, to legally hit up the US bars (cheaper than Sweden!), watch American football, and White Christmas with my sister etc. etc.  But I will always look back on this European trip with nothing but smiles :) More to come later..and probably pictures!

Peace out from the wonderful city of Berlin,

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