The final stretch

I have a few weeks left before I come home and so much stress in between. With a 10 page paper due next week and multiple other papers due within the next few weeks… I will definitely be pulling my hair out, but I’m still grateful for this experience. 

The last two weeks I traveled to Geneva, Switzerland, Chamonix, and Berlin. What a weekend and tired is an understatement. I really love traveling, believe me, but I am running out of steam. I have gone all over Europe since August and this past month I’ve been on a plane every week- don’t worry I’m not complaining! I’m just ready for the holiday and to simply sit and relax.

Geneva was simply perfect. Fine cuisine and picturesque scenery ( my pictures don’t compare to actually being there). The city can be a little expensive, so finding a hotel that wasn’t over $100+ a night was nearly impossible. We settled for a hostel that was $120 which is a lot for a hostel, but we were there Thursday to Sunday so not too bad. I usually despise hostels, but this hostel was the cleanest hostel I had ever been to. The beds were actually comfortable and the sheets were clean(they actually ironed them!!) I pay attention to detail folks. There was a cozy lounge that showed movies at 8 every night, so my friend and I definitely took advantage of that since no one else did. If you’re ever in Geneva check out Geneva city hostel! It is right next to the train/bus station and very convenient. No this was not sponsored haha I just really had a great experience at the hostel.

 Before I arrived in Geneva I was already researching the best places to get cheese fondue because you have to get fondue while in Switzerland! I found this place called Café du Soleil which is known for their fondue. Usually you have to make reservations because it’s always crowded, but luckily we got there around 6- before prime dinner time hours. The waiter asked if we could be done eating by 8 because they were booked for the night. In Europe, eating is more about social interaction, but I am all about the food so that wasn’t a problem. It was well worth the money($23) because it was by far the best fondue I had ever had. The next morning we explored the town and went to Lac Léman (Lake Geneva). Since we went to Geneva off season, there weren’t any boats open to take us around the lake, but it was still nice to see. We walked through the park area where there was a wooden gazebo surrounded by beautiful tall trees that were losing their leaves. Red, orange, and yellow leaves surrounded us and it could not have been more beautiful.

The next day we made our way to Chamonix. I was fortunate to have someone recommend me this great place, so I decided to go there. We took a bus from Geneva to Chamonix which took around an hour or so to get there. The lift to Mount Blanc was shut down due to off season, but it was still nice to explore the town. Snow covered caps and fog surrounded the mountains when we arrived due to snow, but as the day progressed, the fog cleared and so the mountains were more visible. What a sight. The french alps are practically indescribable.There is nothing that can sum up what I felt in that moment to see something so marvellous. I mostly kept thinking how blessed I am to be here. We ate lunch at a nice restaurant right next to the Alps and had a great view- especially when the weather cleared up. We spent around 5 hours walking around Chamonix checking out chocolate shops and local stores. It was nice to go inside of cafes and just relax since it was very cold. Although it was pricey to get to Chamonix, it was well worth visiting. 

Berlin has been on my bucket list as long as I could remember. From everything I had learned in grade school, Berlin definitely has a track record, and probably not the best one. I find it important to learn about history good and bad, so I was excited to see all of the things I had read about in person. The weather was fairly cold, but typical fall weather. The first day we went to Reichstag, Brandenburg gate, holocaust memorial, the Parliament, and all around Tiergarten park. Berlin is such a beautiful city. There’s the old mixed with the new which really emanates Berlin’s history- modernity meshed with history. We walked through Tiergarten and made our way toward the Holocaust memorial. Although it was really neat to see it in person and go through such an intricate maze, my heart was heavy. I didn’t want to smile while taking photos because it simply was not a happy place, it is a memorial. Yes, it looks cool, but once I remembered why the memorial is there in the first place, the ambience is nearly dismal.

 Near sunset, we walked Siegessaule also known as the Victory Column. It was originally built by Hitler to exemplify the superiority of Nazism, which I found disheartening, but a lot of things in Berlin can be disheartening due to its history. Luckily times have changed. Inside we climbed around 17 stories just to get to the top of the building, and it was worth it. I was able to see a nice panorama of Berlin. Tiergarten park surrounds the victory column, and bustling Berlin was directly behind the park. Tiergarten park is basically Central park, it’s massive and absolutely stunning during fall. 

The next day we walked around the city and went to the East Side Gallery which is a gallery that consists of 100+ paintings by artist from all over the world. The wall basically a timeline that documents change in Berlin and the hopes of a better future. Which in previous years, the wall was used to divide and oppress humanity.  For me, it was a nice reminder of how far humanity has come. Although this was not long ago, it is progress in the right direction. Later, we went to KaDaWe which is the second largest mall in Europe. It is a department store with practically any brand you could possibly imagine. Yes it is expensive, but there are a lot of nice things there that we don’t have in the States. I bought myself some sunglasses since someone stole mine while I was traveling during previous trips. Once we left the mall, we stumbled upon the Christmas market which was immaculate. Lights hanging in every direction, cute wooden cottage like concessions, and the smell of hot wine and bratwurst in every direction, I was definitely in Berlin. My friend drank the hot wine, but I didn’t care for it too much- same as in Prague. I resorted to eating a bratwurst, which was delicious! We walked around the market for an hour or so but since it was colder at night, we didn’t stay as long. Overall, I am so glad that I went to Berlin, especially during a festive time. There is so much to do and so much to learn. Even 4 days was not enough, but I did get to see a lot while there. 

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