Friday, August 22, 2008

89 Days in Eastern Europe

Sunday will be my 89th day in Eastern Europe. Americans are allowed to travel in the EU with their passports (without a visa) for a maximum of 90 days. As you can see, I’m cutting it pretty close.

On one hand, I’m happy to go home, but, on the other hand, I’m also sad to leave Eastern Europe.

Some things I’m looking forward to in the US:

  • Seeing friends and family, of course!! (Well, I’ll see at least some of you!)
  • Oh, Geronimo, how I miss you too! (I hope my cat remembers who I am.)
  • Food & drink in Berkeley: Peet's coffee, Cheeseboard pizza, a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables (that include more than just cucumbers & tomatos!), Alvin’s dinner parties, Peet's coffee (oops, did I mention that already?)
  • Elevators and washing machines that do not frighten me

But I’ll definitely miss some things here in the Czech Republic and Eastern Europe:

  • Languages!! It is, after all, fun to practice the languages you are studying in situ.
  • Being able to travel just a couple of hours by train or bus to a different country that speaks a different language and has different customs, food, etc.
  • Beer. It is cheap & tasty. It is also easy to find drinking buddies.
  • Some food here is pretty good, though usually gluttonously so. The pierogies in Poland are delicious. So is the fried cheese here in the Czech Republic. On the other hand it will be nice to avoid the temptation of these culinary devils.
  • The fact that it is SO easy to meet new people when traveling & studying in the summer. Hostels and summer language school are great places to meet interesting people and make new friends.

I was in Kraków again last weekend. That was, sadly, my last weekend excursion of the summer. Going back gave me a better feel for the city. Now I really understand its appeal as the artsy and intellectual counterpart to the bustling and busy business center of Warsaw.

The only downer of the weekend was when I witnessed some callous tourist intentionally kick a pigeon in the Kraków town square. I know that pigeons can be annoying, but is annoying behavior deserving of abuse? I may have been particularly sensitive that evening, having spent the entire day touring a Nazi death camp, that is, Auschwitz-Birkenau. Many people don't realize how close Auschwitz is to Kraków - one and a half hours by train. I guess that seeing cruelty to any living being was just too much for me to handle after that trip.

As a side note, you may have noticed that I decided to rename my blog. This may seem odd to you, since my travels end in less than two days, but I can't help it. I only came up with this name a couple of days ago. In any case, it's likely that "Abstrakkt" will travel again!

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