Miscellaneous Mini Adventures

Dancing My Way Through Prague

Prague: Day 1

 

We left Vienna after breakfast and set off on our course to the Czech Republic. Our first destination before reaching Prague would be the Sedlec Ossuary in Kutna Hora. This was a church famous for the artistic display of the skeletons between 40,000 and 70,000 dead people, most of whom died in the Black Plague. Fun, right?

 

But before we could get some skeleton fun, we had to survive the traffic. And it turns out that the first day of travel after the long Easter weekend was kind of a rough day to get around the European highways. So what was meant to be a quick jaunt from Vienna to Kutna Hora turned out to be a long jaunt almost all the way to Prague and then back around. My pit-stop idea instead turned into a roundabout detour featuring a bone church. Eh I hope the kids found it worth the extra bus time.

 

One thing we did get out of our long bus day was a stop at a good old-fashioned European rest stop. These rest stops of course featured nice-ish restaurant quality food, plenty of space to stretch out, a lack of gross gas station smells, and, for a first, this one featured some goats outside that you could feed and pet. Not a bad way to spend some time off the bus on our way to the bone church.

 

After getting some food, we reboarded the bus and continued our scenic drive through the Czech countryside. DJ Lily treated us to some Sound of Music tracks because she found them fitting. I agreed. We had a little sing-along on our way to Kutna Hora. After about another hour of driving, we reached our destination.

 

We got a little turned around once we were in the village, but eventually we made our way to the Sedlec Ossuary. This place had been a popular burial location due to the fact that an old priest in the 1100s traveled to Israel, brought back some dirt from Jesus’s supposed burial site in Jerusalem, and sprinkled it over the burial site. And of course, all the devout Christians wanted to be buried close to the Jerusalem dirt. The burial grounds got pretty crowded after the Black Plague, for obvious reasons, and so the bodies of the dead were moved into the basement of the church, and, after a few more centuries, a woodworker arranged the bones into artistic shapes, including wall art, garlands, chandeliers, and a pretty impressive coat of arms. Because when you see a pile of bones, of course you want to turn it into art. It’s definitely creepy, but I think the kids got a kick out of it.

 

After perusing the church, we took a stroll along the cobblestone streets of Kutna Hora. It’s such a weird area. You’ve got an ancient bone church, some souvenir shops, some coffee shops, and also, randomly, a Lego store.

 

Guess where our kids were.

 

But anyways, Jen, Becky and I found a cozy spot in one of the cafes and each procured a coffee. We all agreed that they were the best coffees we’d had so far. Good job, Kutna Hora.

 

After we gathered the children, we boarded the bus yet again, only to hit more traffic. I was getting a little antsy realizing that our free time in Prague was being eaten up. But the kids were busy listening to music and sleeping, so they were pretty unfazed.

 

Eventually we made our way into the city of Prague and we were dropped off in Wenceslas Square, one of the more central areas downtown. This was the part of town that felt more like an urban city and less like a storybook village, so right away I felt the need to escort my group of adults far away. My first instinct was to go to the Alphonse Mucha Museum.

 

Mucha (pronounced Moo-kha, not Moo-CHA, as I’d mispronounced it my whole life until being corrected) is one of my favorite artists. He was most prominent in the “Art Nouveau” style at the turn of the 20th century. He began with French advertisements that mixed realistically represented figures (oftentimes women) with whimsical symbols. They come out looking like goddesses or muses or queens from another dimension. I know, it’s incredibly difficult to believe I resonate with such art, and yet, here we are.

 

We only had a bit of time to spend in the museum because of our dinner reservation, and also it was closing. But it was amazing to see his works up close. My absolute favorite work of his wasn’t hanging in the museum, but my second favorite was. It’s called “Princess Hyacinth,” and was originally drafted as an advertisement for the play of the same name. She looks like a badass snow queen ready to kick ass and take names with a smile on her face, and I love her. Jenn said she looks like me just with blue eyes. I’m taking that compliment with me for the rest of my life. Pictures weren’t allowed inside but here it is, with credit to Google.

Princess Hyacinth

We reported to the gift shop and I spent an embarrassing amount of money there. I just bought a condo and it still needs a bit more furnishing (or so I keep saying, to justify many a purchase). After Prague, I’ve started my own little Mucha gallery collection in said condo. My favorite works of his WERE available for purchase in poster form. “Plume” is my favorite, it features a woman holding a feather with her hair all piled atop her head while she has a wry smile on her face. I kind of see her as a writing muse, with a feather pen, hence why she’s an obvious favorite of mine—after all, you’re reading this, aren’t you? There’s also a partner of “Plume” called “Primavera” which is a mirrored image of another woman holding a bouquet of flowers, and she’s supposedly a representation of springtime. I bought that one just because it goes pretty next to “Plume.”

Plume and Primavera

And then I bought a couple of antique-looking tin advertisements too because they were pretty and they’ll look nice in my kitchen.

 

And a couple magnets.

 

Okay I went a little nuts. But I have no regrets. I love the guy’s art, okay?

 

We arrived back at our meeting location before dinner to see that our kids had gone shopping. Some girls found some lovely earrings, some boys found some shirts, and a more eclectic group of boys bought a guitar. Yep. A full-sized musical instrument. They make me so tired. But at least they knew how to play guitar. If we had spent the rest of the trip hearing off-tune nonsensical plinking in the back of the bus I would have thrown it out the window.

 

We went to dinner for the night in a hotel near the square. The food wasn’t bad, but the room was so brightly lit with fluorescents that I got a bit of a headache. I will say that the coolest thing about the restaurant’s aesthetic was the fact that there was a dial on the wall in the bathroom that let you turn the music volume up and down. Why? Still unclear. But you know that my 16-year-old students and I played with that thing while we were waiting in line for the facilities.

 

We also got strudel for like the 4th dessert in a row. I mean, luckily I like strudel but my kids were about to mutiny.

 

On the walk back to the bus I got about halfway down the road before realizing I’d left my precious bag of Mucha treasures in the restaurant. For the record, as I sat down, I looked over to Jenn and said “remind me to pick this up, I WILL leave it here.” I know myself too well. I started jogging back to the restaurant but as I reached the back of our group, Becky and Jake informed me that Vera had grabbed my bag. She was going to see how long it would take me to realize I’d left it. Turns out that number was about three minutes. I mean, not bad, but shouldn’t have left it there in the first place.

 

We checked into our hotel, which looked like a good old fashioned “Soviet Block” building, or a cement rectangle with windows. While the lobby, restaurant, and hallways all looked like relics of the 1960s, the rooms were comfy and recently renovated. After I got my kids all situated with their room keys, they were all off to bed, and I did the same. Well, after taking advantage of the fact that my hotel room had a bathtub. I needed that.

 

 

 

Prague: Day 2

 So this was kind of our crazy busy day in Prague. I’m looking over my notes and wondering how I’m going to find the energy to write all of this down. But eh, I’m on my flight home and I have nothing better to do for the next five hours, so I’ll power through.

 

We had breakfast in our weird 1960s style restaurant that appeared to be a setup for a Mad Men episode—wood paneling, clean lines, etc. The food wasn’t bad but we noticed that the coffee here wasn’t nearly as strong as what we’d had previously, so we spent our morning as over-liquefied zombies.

 

We started off the events of the day with a tour of Prague Castle and Cathedral. I’d been to the courtyards and Cathedral before, so those weren’t new to me. They’re big, they’re pretty, they’re a reflection of the wealth and power of the old Bohemian Kingdoms. You get it. We also got to see the first changing of the guard, which was pretty cool. The sharply dressed soldiers marched out and took their places in the little enclaves, at attention, ready to defend the crown jewels and fancy architecture.

 

From there, we carried on into the cathedral. I’d been inside before but only briefly. Now I had a chance to actually enjoy the gorgeous architecture and the beautiful artwork. I gotta say, once you see one Romanesque church, you’ve kind of seen them all. But I’m a sucker for gothic architecture. Also, my man Alphonse Mucha painted one of the stained glass windows. So yeah, I liked it.

 

From the cathedral we made our way into the castle. Now, I’d never been in the castle before, so I didn’t know what to expect really. It turns out that the inside of the castle is very much a storybook gothic castle featuring carved stone archways, vaulted ceilings, and general grandeur. The ballroom alone was used for both parties and indoor jousting. That sounds like a really bad idea put into place, but they apparently did it anyway. I wouldn’t have wanted to be that janitor…

 

We also passed a window famous for three different defenestrations. What’s defenestration? Why, it’s the act of throwing someone out a window. Three times this happened, from the same window. Mostly for religious and political reasons it seemed. I didn’t catch the whole story, but I do recall that most of the men survived their falls, either due to the water moat, or later the manure moat. Yep. Our local guide made a “He fell into deep shit” joke and our kids just about lost it.

 

From the castle we continued onto the Golden Lane, where the soldiers used to live. Before we got to the lane though I was on a desperate mission to find an ATM. I had not yet acquired the funds to tip our local guide, nor had I gotten any Czech Koruna. I mean, this was my fault. I went to my art museum instead of getting cash yesterday when we had free time. But still. I was a little panicky. Fun fact, there were no ATMs in the medieval castle or surrounding courtyard. So I had to take out some no-interest loans from some of my colleagues. I’m glad I have friends who are more prepared than me.

 

With funds in tow I was able to continue our walking tour with my mind at ease. We walked down the Golden Lane and got to see the pretty little colorful houses up close. They’re all shops and museums now, but they once used to be homes. I would have done well in one of them. Look how perfectly I fit!

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After walking down the lane, our next stop was the Charles Bridge. But once we left behind the castle district, so began the portion of the day called “time to chase our local guide.” This woman walked like she was on a time-sensitive mission. And when you’ve got 36 people trying to stay together through the crowded, tourist-ridden streets of Prague, it is not hard to lose people! We crossed the bridge, but I was less focused on the cool sights, the little shops, the musicians, the gorgeous views of the buildings along the river. I was thinking “Ok, there’s Josh, there’s Dan, there’s Sammy, where’s Diana? Is she behind me…?” We miraculously made it to the city center without losing anyone but it was stressful.

 

We were happy to reach the end of our walking tour by the time we reached Old Town Square. We knew from the start that it was going to be nice to only be in charge of small groups for a portion of the afternoon, and also get some food. So, after standing in the Square to watch the obligatory Astrological Clock show (which is really underwhelming, but you gotta do it anyway), we carried on to search for lunch.

 

Conveniently there was a giant “Easter Market” in the center of Old Town Square which made munchy-hunting super easy. The whole place was packed with artisan stands and food carts. We settled on some sausages and kabobs for a “main course,” and, after spotting them from an embarrassingly far distance, I set my eyes on some chips on a stick! I got one stick for the whole group to pick at. They were kind of sweet, somewhere between a sweet potato and a regular potato, and also fried somewhere between a chip and a French fry. Either way the novelty was enough to sell me on them. You’ll notice that to the side of this picture you can see my I’m-way-too-excited-to-eat-this smile.

 

After lunch we decided to walk around a bit. We went back to the Charles Bridge to peruse the little shops. We wandered and found a small garden away from the bustle of the city—which was CRAWLING with tourists. We bought some earrings and other souvenirs for family. And finally, after two years of me not being able to shut up about them. I was finally able to reunite with my one true love: Trdelniks: essentially a donut ice cream cone.

 

Look at that beauty.

 

The ice cream, not me. I’m a sweaty mess.

 

It hit the spot. And conveniently our next destination was a nearby chocolate museum, which is exactly what I wanted after eating my body wait in bread, dairy, and sugar.

 

But who am I kidding? You know I ate that chocolate too.

 

The museum was, in a word, bizarre. It started us off with a timeline about the early use of chocolate in ancient civilization, then the discovery of cocoa in Latin America and the trade and creation of chocolate. We turn a corner and there are these weird….futuristic robot puppets? No explanation, they’re just there. Then we turned a corner and we were in a soda fountain in the 1950s…and another corner and we were surrounded by propaganda posters and Soviet chocolate ads… And another corner and there was a wax sculpture of a Mayan trying to kill a conquistador.

 

And that’s about when we stopped taking the museum very seriously.

 

We had a group of girls in front of us who were taking photos with every wax figurine, posing ironically to fit each theme. There were more Mayans, some traders, some chefs. There was also another very important figure: “French Woman in Dress.” Literally that was what was written on the placard next to this gem of a woman. I mean, whatever. Fake Marie Antionette and I had a lovely chat over hot cocoa? I assume?

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Well after some more navigation through the labyrinth that was this weird museum, we made it to the end where a chocolatier demonstrated how to make a type of bonbon. While the kids watched, the rest of the chaperones and I opted to sit quietly on a nearby bench to rest our feet. This worked out well, because once it became time for everyone to try the freshly-made bonbons, we still got to eat them. They were, of course, amazingly tasty.

 

We were pretty exhausted by this point in the day, but we were given another two hours of free time. We were quite close to the Mucha museum, so we decided to go back so we could help Trevor pick out a nice souvenir scarf for his wife, and also I just liked being there. So back we went, straight to the gift shop.

 

After we procured a couple more purchases, we decided the best way to spend the rest of our free afternoon was by taking a rest. So we decided to search for a café and have a coffee. We stumbled upon an office park garden surrounded by trees and pretty flowers. We sat at a nice little bistro table and each ordered a coffee or tea. It was the first time all day where we’d had some peace and quiet. I love Prague, but I love it more when you can get away from the crowds. It was certainly a nice change of pace, and the coffee was divine. As was Trevor’s tea, of which he let me have a sip. It smelled really good and I kept mentioning it, so he caved and let me try it.

 

We met back up with our kids for our walk to dinner. Led by Vera, we were able to get a short inside look at the Jewish Quarter of the city and see some old, pretty synagogues. We reached the restaurant, which was a nice little place. They gave us meat with bread dumplings and potatoes with dinner. It was all really good. Dessert was ice cream with raspberry sauce, which was a nice change of pace after having strudel every night.

 

Adults and kids alike were pretty exhausted after a very full day out in the sun. So after dinner we piled back onto the bus, made our way back to the Hotel Krystal and called it a night. Only one day stood between us and our long journey home. And despite our crew’s waning energy, we were prepared to go out with a bang.

 

 

 

Prague: Day 3

 

After our uneventful breakfast, we climbed aboard the bus for one last day of fun. Well, some fun and some respectful visits to significant sites. After all, we would be spending the afternoon at Therezinstadt Concentration Camp, so that was going to be less “fun.” But there was still plenty fun to be had on the rest of the docket.

 

We started the day at the KGB Museum. None of us really knew what to expect from this museum. We were a little intrigued when we pulled up to an interesting façade right next to a literal “Kwik-E-Mart” straight out of the Simpsons, complete with a cartoon of Apu in the window. We had to split into two groups because we were too big a group to fit inside all at once—as the museum was tiny inside. I was in the first group, along with my assigned students, Jenn and her students, and Farrah. As soon as we all piled in, the show began.

Prague 9

Our guide started talking rapidly about Russian History with the thickest Russian accent I have ever heard in my life. It was difficult to keep track of when he was speaking English and when he was saying Russian names of things. But he was so loud and excited and animated that we were all captivated anyway, whether or not we could understand every word.

 

The majority of his spiel was all about Soviet era weaponry and assassination tactics, all of which he had on display for demonstration. With the skill of an Oscar winning performer—or at least what he thought was Oscar worthy—the man was able to act out not only the act of killing someone with his weapons, but also the victim’s death. Between guns, katanas, bayonets, the “glove gun,” “cigarette box gun,” a variety of knives, and a weapon that was essentially skinny barbed wire designed to sever spines, he performed it all. It was his show and we were merely witnesses. He also served as his own stage director, making sure we were all in place to witness the show, see everything he was doing, and be out of harm’s way while he was doing it.

 

I mean, a couple of times the man was waving sharp knives around, and I kind of wished the kids and I were behind glass…but we weren’t so I just had to grit my teeth and pray.

 

Of course once he showed us all this, it was time to pass out the unloaded guns, hats, and AN ACTUAL THROWING KNIFE to all the kids to hold in pictures. My teacher alarm went berserk and I was like “AHHHH BE CAREFUL!” Thankfully no children were harmed in the KGB museum. I also got my own photo op with a giant soviet gun and hat. As someone who doesn’t really like guns, I felt like a fish out of water. Actually more than that. I felt like a fish that was handed a giant Russian gun. But if nothing else, it made for a funny picture.

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The discomfort in my eyes is hidden by my giant sunglasses.

When it was time for the second group to go into the museum, Jenn and I went off in search of coffee. We found a café at the bottom of the hill. On the way down we passed the US Embassy. You heard me. The United States Embassy in the Czech Republic is on the same street as the crazy Russian guy’s Act-It-Out KGB museum, and the Kwik-E-Mart. But it was also on the same street as a really good cafe. The cappuccino I had probably took the cake for the absolute best I had all trip. If you’ve been following along, it seems that the coffee got better as we traveled—not counting the weak Czech hotel coffee. Afterwards we continued to explore the surrounding neighborhood. All weird museums and convenience stores aside, it was actually quite pretty.

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After grabbing some snacks for the bus, we were on the road again and en route to Terezin, the site of a medieval fort turned prison and concentration camp during World War II. It was about an hour outside the city of Prague, near the border of Germany. We pulled up to the parking lot and were immediately surprised by the fact that the first thing we saw were some snack shacks and some bright red umbrellas. It was definitely an odd setting for some war atrocities, but we reminded ourselves that the local community needs to make money somehow. I just kind of wish they had a way to set it up in a more subtle, subdued way rather than with bright red tents and hot dogs for sale.

 

We gathered the group and met our guide at the entrance. Our leader was an adorable little old man named Charles. We learned that he had retired quite a few years back but still came in two days a week to give tours of the camp. He was wearing a white polo shirt emblazoned with a blue Star of David. We didn’t hear much into his history or ancestry but it was assumed it was a site close to home for him. Charles was also very concerned about his English sentence structure and pronunciation. He reminded us that it’s a difficult language with many tenses, and that he was trying his best. But honestly, he was probably one of the best English speakers we’d encountered on our tour. Good job, Charles, you’re doing great!

He walked us through the prison camp, which started off as a place for political enemies, communists, anyone who went against the Third Reich. Of course later the camp did serve as a detention camp for Jews who oftentimes went to Therezinstadt on their way to death camps, such as Auschwitz and Bergen-Belsen.

 

In the meantime, Therezinstadt not only served as a camp but as a propaganda camp to trick humanitarian organizations, such as the Red Cross, into thinking that concentration camp conditions were comfortable and humane. There was a film shot at the camp depicting a soccer game, where the healthiest men were showcased running about, having a happy game of sport while an enthusiastic crowd cheered on. The same film showed gardening, concerts, happy children playing and coloring. It also showed residents given giant pieces of bread slathered with butter—during war time. When everything was rationed. And not even non-prison-camp-detainees had access to butter. That should have been a tip-off.

 

What I found most interesting is that during the Red Cross visit, an entire barrack was emptied out and sinks were installed to make it appear that people had access to sanitation (meanwhile they actually only had one sink per 100-person barrack, into which water was dumped daily from a bucket, not a running tap). It baffles me how they were willing to install actual running plumbing to trick the humanitarian organizations into thinking there was some smidge of humanity kept alive in these barracks. But then when they left they took them away and left the prisoners back to their bucket water. The evil that exists in these places… I can’t even fathom it.

Prague 11

After seeing the barracks we got to see some of the tunnels that were built inside the fortress. Like I said, the camp was repurposed from a medieval fort, so its original purpose was to protect the military stationed there. There were also a series of tunnels and river locks designed to shield the military from a Russian invasion. We were able to go through the tunnels. Well, a portion of them. It’s a labyrinth that extends for 20 kilometers, and the portion we walked was only 500 meters. And thankfully, because it was cold, dark, and short in there. I walked straight through with no problem, but some of our boys had to tilt their necks to get through without scraping their foreheads. Also on the way out we saw a creepy silhouette on a back wall that looked like a ghost, so we darted out of there.

The last place we saw was the execution block: a hill in front of which people were killed by firing squad. Next to that hill were the gallows: just one noose for the purpose of executing Jews. Charles reminded us that there was a Nazi saying which translated to, “For the Jew, it’s not wise to waste a bullet,” so at Therezinstadt, they were executed by hanging and not by firing squad. Although, that end was reserved for those who were being punished. Most Jews in Therezinstadt were either sent to death camps, died of malnutrition or disease, or were some of the lucky few who survived until liberation.

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On our way out we were able to watch a clip from the Propaganda film I mentioned earlier. I actually had seen this film in its entirety in college, but the version shown at the camp showed sections of the film next to drawings created by artists who had stayed at the camp, depicting the actual sorrow of the people who stayed there. They were really vivid—dark, gangly figures with crooked features and mournful eyes. A few times the camera would zoom in and the lines would appear jumbled, almost like a disorganized spider web.

 

As you can imagine, bringing our high schoolers through the camp was quiet exhausting. The kids had kind of reached their emotional limits for the day. The plan was to continue the tour at the Terezin Ghetto, about a ten minute walk from the camp. But by the time we got there, and to the accompanying museum, we kind of decided to cut the afternoon short and let the kids have a seat in the park until it was time to get back on the bus. I think this was a good idea. They were chatting, and playing card games, and taking some pictures. They’d seen the history, they’d asked questions, they’d understood the levity of the events of the Holocaust. It was our last day in Europe. They could have a deeper Holocaust discussion on another day.

After Vera joined up with us, we were able to walk back to the bus for our transfer back into Prague. We hit a little bit of traffic on the ride back, but we had enough time for one more jaunt through the city streets. Jenn and I found a quiet path off of one of the main streets with a scenic, birds eye view of the Old Town below. It was lush, green. The birds were singing, dogs were running around. I would have stayed there longer if I could, but alas, we had one last activity on our itinerary.

The event was called “Czech Folklore Evening,” when advertised to us. We weren’t sure what that entailed. We figured some music, some dancing, probably some fun outfits. When we got to the establishment, we saw a cute little hall tucked behind a brightly colored building. Inside was a cozy dining hall with long tables and string lights. Decorative fruits and vegetables hung from the ceiling to give the room a vibe that screamed “cozy storybook cottage.” The focal point of the room was a small dance floor, upon which some musicians were tuning their instruments while some waiters and waitresses were laying bread and water pitchers on the tables. We could tell right away we were in for a treat.

We settled in, and soon after we were treated to a soft drink of choice and some soup. It was served in a cute little polka dot pot that I think we all took a picture of. It was too cute not to. As we started to eat, the show began, the musicians began to play, a singer joined the group, as well as some dancers in traditional Czech outfits. Everything was bright and colorful and lively. Just what we needed to bring our day back around to fun and positivity.

 

We continued to eat and were soon delivered our main course: a giant pot of meat and potatoes and coleslaw and other savory treats—all of which was amazingly delicious. Of course it was at this point when the performers asked for audience participation. I had really wanted to go up and dance, because I love dancing and also those Czech guys were pretty cute. But I was just given food, so I missed my opportunity.

 

Or so I thought.

 

A bit later, they were doing a broom dance. It was kind of like musical chairs. In this game, there was always one more girl than there were boys. Whenever the broom was dropped, you had to switch your partner. The last boy leftover had to dance with the broom. Well, they asked for audience members again. A dancer in a pretty dress came over to our table and tried to get someone to dance with her. I couldn’t go with one of the girls, but it was Kyle’s birthday. So after some loud cheering and peer pressure, we got him to go with her and be her partner. He lasted one round before he wound up with the broom.

 

Next a male dancer came over looking for someone to dance with. I got the same amount of points and applause, so with a big smile on my face I went with him. Of course in the corner of my eye I see about 36 phones coming out of pockets for snapchat and instagram, but I didn’t care. I was off to dance with the Czechs! It was so much fun. I danced with five or six guys in the course of the game, some of them other tourists—for instance, one very enthusiastic old Israeli man who was the life of the party. He was quite a ham. But I was more excited about the professional dancers who worked at the establishment. They were all very smiley and nice and liked to spin me around. This was the highlight of my trip. I’m smiling stupidly big in all the pictures.

We stayed at the folklore for a bit longer. Kyle was served a special cupcake with a candle in it for his birthday, everyone else was served, you guessed it, strudel. I’ll be honest, this one wasn’t great. Austrian strudel has ruined me. But after dessert, and after the excitement wore down, it was time to board the bus and head back to our hotel.

Prague 17

We didn’t have Andre as our driver tonight, as it was his night off. The guy who replaced him for the evening was a chain smoker who took us too fast around sharp corners, so it was easy to say that we missed Andre. But it was so late, and we were so tired, we didn’t care so long as we made it back to the hotel in once piece.

 

 

The Long Journey Home

 

After a much needed sleep-in, we hauled our suitcases down the stairs of the hotel and back onto the bus. After a quick transfer to the airport, we said our goodbyes to Vera and to Andre, took one last group photo, and we were on our way back to the states. Our first flight was delayed about a half an hour, leading us to a quick turn-around for our layover. But luckily we made it through the Munich airport without stress or fear of losing anyone.

 

We boarded our flight to Boston and, after undergoing some stressful turbulence on our descent into Boston, we were able to make our way home with limited drama. One poor kid lost his luggage, but this was far better than having half the trip lose theirs like last year. After some sing-alongs on the bus ride home, and a speedy pickup in the rain, we left the high school and made our way back to the comfort of our own homes.

 

As this trip draws to a close, I have many thanks to give. Thanks to my fellow chaperones for their flexibility, their photography skills (I did steal some of their photos—especially Trevor!) their willingness to help me organize the chaos that is a trip designed for my rambunctious high schoolers. Thanks to those high schoolers who made the best of the trip despite traffic, weird food, questions with no answers, and any other unpleasantness we encountered. Thanks to Vera and Andre, who made the trip logistically possible. And anybody who has put up with me in the past month or so while my hair has been on fire trying to get this trip ironed out.

 

It was quite an adventure to be a solo group leader for this tour. I’m only a 4th year teacher, still in the early years of my career, and adulthood for that matter. And while I was ready to co-lead, I’m kind of happy I was able to do it on my own. It adds another level to my sense of accomplishment.

 

Until my next adventure, thanks for reading, and auf weidersehen.

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