I thought “whopper” an appropriate title for this post since I’ve unintentionally neglected to fill you all in on my life after the adventuresome trek to Prague. It’s only been a little over 2 weeks since the Prague debacle and yet I don’t even know where to begin to tell the tales.
Prague treated us well, it rained on us some but we took shelter in any of the countless malls on seemingly every corner. We walked across Charles Bridge, saw the John Lennon Wall, wandered up what turned into a doozy of a staircase to massive castle grounds. Prague also offered us a strange modern art exhibit, an…interesting chocolate museum, and a wonderful 2 hour break from the barrage of foreign languages as we sat in a movie theater and watched Jurrasic World in English (judge if you wish, but we don’t regret how we spent our time in the least). Prague is a beautiful city, rich in culture and a blend of history with modern times. It definitely made it in the top 4 places we went first free travel (we only went 4 places…shhh). Our hotel in Prague was by far my favorite place to stay–it’s hard to top a 4 star hotel in the side of a football stadium across the street from a mall that only cost me €15 a night. I also have great things to say about Prague’s public transportation system, but I promised myself to try to stick to the highlights since I’ve got lots to cover!
Our travel to Munich was uneventful (thank goodness!). Unfortunately, I didn’t feel great the whole time we were there, so I did not get to see and enjoy Munich as much as I would’ve liked, but the things I did get to were fabulous. The Glockenspiel and Hofbräuhaus were both impressive. We went on a tour of Dachau, which was my favorite part of our time in Munich. It was sobering to see and hear stories of the camp, and I would absolutely recommend visiting a concentration camp if ever given the opportunity.
We were welcomed back to the villa the next day with a hug from Dr. McLarty! Those of us who made it back that night swapped stories and laughed and then turned in early because, wow, traveling is exhausting. The next day just so happened to be my birthday, and I was overwhelmed by the love I was shown. Not only did my HUF family shower me with love, but I was also able to talk to family and I received an embarrassing amount of cards in the mail from friends and family back home. No amount of words do justice to the gratitude and love I have for everyone who helped make that day (and honestly everyday) so special and wonderful!
Wasting no time, we were off again just a couple days later for Naples. Included in that trip was a visit to the Naples archaeological museum before walking the streets of Pompeii. We stayed in Sorrento that night, spent the next day gallivanting around the island of Capri–bought some custom made sandals, went inside the blue grotto, and most importantly drank a Capri Sun purchased in Munich at the end of free travel. We visited Campagna, a city in Italy that was home to Giovanni Palatucci who is known for risking his own life to save thousands of Jews during World War II. We walked through the the Catholic monastery turned internment camp turned museum and learned about some of Italy’s history in WWII. We visited another archaeological site in Paestum that was home to several Greek style temples and saw the diver’s tomb and other artifacts associated with the area. Then we had a free day in Paestum which I spent posted up on the beach with lots of sunscreen and a good book. (If you haven’t read Bob Goff’s Love Does, go buy a copy of it right now. You won’t regret it.) We ended our time in Paestum with a devotional on the beach while watching the prettiest sunset I’ve ever seen.
Returning to the villa from a trip one last time was bittersweet, and this past week has been full of tying up loose ends. There have been trips to Florence for souvenirs, lots of paper writing, lots of free travel planning, and lots of packing. Our final banquet was last night. Appropriately themed Christmas in July, everyone donned what red and green they could find. Cindy Lou Hou, Santa, snowmen, and lumps of coal all made appearances and we sat at a table akin to the feast in How the Grinch Stole Christmas. We listened to Christmas music, showed appreciation to the amazing staff here at HUF who make this program possible and operable. We watched a slideshow of the summer and remembered all the things we’d already forgotten. We swapped white elephant gifts and gave out superlatives. We even had a lip sync battle which Billy smashed with his theatrical version of TaySwift’s Love Story. All in all, a night to remember after the summer of a lifetime!
My suitcase (slightly heavier now than when I arrived in May) is now on its way to America and after finals tomorrow and 15 days of a whirlwind tour through 7 more countries, I will be too! I can’t wait to see what’s in store for the next 2 weeks, but I also cannot wait to be home soon!!! #HUFSummer2015 #ciaofornow