My next round of flights are probably given away by the title of this blog post, so I figure I can just cut to the chase here. Once again, I used the advantage of Europe being so packed together and relatively close to spend a week of my winter break exploring some new cities: Prague and Dublin.
As some of you may remember from the first blogs and the blog post about Valencia, one of my missions this year has been to learn how to pack more minimally, [hopefully] packing just the essentials in order to cut down on the amount of luggage that I am carrying with me on any of these trips. I have found that once I got over the initial fear of not having enough clothes then really, packing less really cut down on the amount of time it takes for me to pack my bag and the stress of having to watch more than one bag when your going through airports and hostels. I would have to say that the only disclaimer would have to be that, sometimes, packing less means wearing the same clothes more than once without washing them because you may not have time or way to easily do the laundry when you are just passing through a place and have a limited time. But usually you can get two wears out of most clothes and maybe more out of pants as longs as you aren’t getting them that dirty.
Now, even though I made sure to cut down on my packing so as to make that part of the trip easier, there are some aspects of traveling that are less than easy to avoid… one of those are the 6:50am flights out of Madrid-Barajas airport by Ryanair. They’re literally trying to kill us over here… there are so many of us living here that only use public transport (which doesn’t start until 6am) and so we have to spend the night in the airport to get to the airport before the flight is boarding. (I guess you could pay the taxi or Uber, but that is the same price as most flight tickets so…). So anyways, another night spent readings and attempting to sleep in the airport. Not the least sleep I’ve gotten in a night. Past the weird flight times and the hours sitting in the plane somehow getting more tired while not doing anything, the flights were uneventful (all 3 of them).
Everyone always asks me why I visit the cities that I have been visiting lately, and so I’ll just write this here as a record, but I do not really have a reason for visiting the places that I do. Mostly the places that I has visited so far have been places that other people have visited and places that I have always wanted to visit. I don’t have a list anywhere (I do have a list of “off the beaten path” places to visit), but I feel like I don’t need a reason to visit European capitals… this is what you’re supposed to do then you’re studying abroad in Europe.
Prague is a beautiful city. It’s got everything from towers to churches to bridges to castles to art to bars. AND they’re all within a nice walking distance from each other. That is probably one of the biggest perks about Prague; if you are able to walk, you can see the entire city in a day. They have a pretty cool Astronomical Clock that people gather around at all hours of the day to hear and watch it do it’s thing on the hour. Only thing I would say about that is don’t wait 30 minutes for it… it happens every hour. I was there for 3 days and I saw it happen 3 times, all three times I happened to be walking by when the hour changed. The city has some very cool bridges and lots of great street art depicting all of the towers and churches (they make the city just look very pointy from above, but it makes a good painting). And of course, make sure you get to the John Lennon Wall to see some art, and you can even add to the wall while you are there.
When planning this trip a couple months ago, I was just trying to find a cheap flight out of Prague to another city in Europe that I hadn’t seen, and BAM, Dublin popped up and I was like: Hey, I’m part Irish, sounds cool. Everyone else was like wow that’s a weird trajectory: Prague, Dublin, Madrid. Made a big triangle over Europe. Another reason why I suddenly found myself in the greenest city I have ever seen in January. (Even the passport stamp was huge and green.)
Dublin was a very cool place. It was interesting that there seems to be only one type of stone in Ireland, and that stone is grey, and they use it for all of the churches, buildings, statutes, and Trinity College. Makes for a very grey picture album, but did not have a negative effect as it seemed to be a part of the city itself and made sense because of how many places were construed of this grey stone. One of the parts that I liked the most about Dublin was the bus systems that they have and that the buses were mostly double-deckers, which you don’t see so often outside of the UK and Ireland. It was weird watching from the top of the bus as the drivers drove down the left side of the street. (When I went to cross the roads I had no clue where to look first.)
One thing that I have to say about Dublin is that it is expensive. If you have to pick between going to Prague and Dublin and you’re on a budget, Prague is the better choice (though don’t spend more just because it costs less, then you’ll be in the same situation as if it costed a lot). I was honestly pretty surprised about the price of beer in pubs in Dublin… all your life you hear these stereotypes about Irish people and beer, and then you go to Ireland, see a lot of Irishmen in the pubs, but then the beer costs 7€ a pint and you’ve then broke your budget after 3 beers. My theory, which I have no real way of testing, is that alcohol is so expensive in Ireland that the Irish stereotype comes from the Irish that leave the country and come across beer that is more reasonably priced and then they go crazy. But I really don’t know… maybe they drink less than we thought. Maybe the stereotype is just a stereotype… naw, that can’t be it.
Overall, the trip was pretty successful. Partied hard in Prague with low prices and crazy backpackers, and then chilled in Dublin with the high prices and good fried food (forgot to mention that but it was amazing). Didn’t understand much of what the Czech people said and I certainly did not understand a word that the Irish said, so in that regards I was happy to be back speaking Spanish again.
The spring semester starts on January 28th, and I just chose my classes on the 23rd of January, so that’s a thing. Let’s see how the absolutely last classes on the schedule and the last available spots go this semester. If I made it though the first week or two, I’ll make a blog about the class registration process and some flaws I have seen through my semester here in Spain. But, until then, I’m going out. See you next time.