August 3, 2013
Travel Journal (Final Wrap-Up)
Well, the trip is over. I must say I feel bittersweet about being home, but that is always the way I feel after a trip abroad. After this last blog, I will return to writing regular blogs for redOrbit, but I thought I would spend one last blog highlighting each city briefly.
This is one of my favorite European cities. It has a beauty that is both sophisticated and real. With so much to do, see, and feel, I could stay here for a year and still not feel satisfied that I found all of Prague. It is just one if those places for me. Part of the allure is its history, but the other part is I just love this city. Part of its uniqueness amongst the cities we visited is that it was never bombed during World War II thus most of its buildings are intact in ways that the other cities can’t be. It is definitely worth a trip or two.
Krakow is a great place to go in Poland. It has much to offer for visitors and is highly affordable on all levels. It is by far the calmer of the major cities we visited. The hustle and bustle is still there but in a much slower, calmer way. I suspect the people of Krakow realize that life deserves to be appreciated. Though Prague and Budapest both experienced Nazi and Communist rule like Krakow, it seems the Polish people felt the weight of both tyrants more directly. There is an appreciation for peace and quiet in Krakow that I did not feel in the other major cities. Beyond that, Krakow is a nice place to stay, especially if visiting Auschwitz-Birkenau. The impact of such places needs a contrast like Krakow provides.
This is quite possibly my favorite place on the whole trip, but I must admit that it is much like any mountain town in Colorado. That is probably why I love it so much. It is peaceful and natural. Fewer Poles speak English there, so it feels a bit more authentic to its core. Plus, there is so much to do. I suspect that some summer in my life I will go to Zakopane to stay for a few months. It is that kind of place to me with that kind of connection for me.
As much as I love Prague, I also love Budapest and for many of the same reasons. It is historical and beautiful. It has hidden gems within it that would take more than a year to find, and the people are wonderful. Unlike Prague, though, few of its buildings are more than 150 years old due in part to World War II and also a major flood in the city 150 years or so ago. Budapest is incredibly affordable and full of much to do and experience and feel. If you have not been there, I highly recommend Budapest for all its glory and beauty. Trust me…it is worth it.
Of all the places we experienced on this trip, Vienna is my least favorite. Now, do not misunderstand; I like Vienna and am glad to go there and see it, but it just does not have the impact that the other places do. Part of that is because it is a more modern city. It was never under Communist rule, so it was able to continue to progress and adapt. I feel much like I am in an American city when I am there. It has much to offer to travelers and is important historically. And it is beautiful. The Austrians know how to do that.
But as Dorothy said at the end of “The Wizard of Oz,” there is no place like home especially after a trip abroad. I found journaling electronically to be very different from my regular handwritten journal, but no less fun and important. I hope you found something in this travel journal to inspire you in your own travels.
Image Credit: Amy Johansson / Shutterstock