Here are some cool facts I found while browsing the internet. I actually went to the Trevi fountain and wondered why they didn’t collect all the money that lay at the bottom of the fountain. Now I know it’s being put to good use :-)!
Picture this. I’m in Amsterdam and really hungry. I don’t know where I want to eat, but I decide that it must be a nice-looking restaurant. So I found Mario’s. It’s a nice little place with a great view of Centraal Station. I sat down, enjoyed the wonderful scenery, and waited to be served. When the nice waitress came to me I learnt that “closed” in Dutch is “eindigen” and that “open” is, well “open”! When I asked her what was the most Dutch thing I could have, I also learnt that the restaurant I was so comfortably sitting in was in fact Italian, and only served Italian food. I was stuck with a pizza. Well, stuck is a bit insulting, seeing as it was absolutely delicious! I hardly drink alcohol, but decided that in the name of cultural exploration, I would have a sample of Heineken. If my solid food was going to be Italian, I could at least sample the most Dutch of beers while I was Holland!
Cheers to Amsterdam!
- Amsterdam (studyabroad.joshuascriven.com)
Parts of this sprawling medieval castle compound, the largest Europe, can be spotted at almost any point in the old city.
According to the Guinness Book of World Records, the Prague Castle is the largest coherent castle complex in the world, with an area of almost 70,000 m². 
Although collectively referred to as “the castle,” the many buildings that make up this mega-fortified mini-town include at least four churches, four palaces, over five gardens, and is home to shops, government offices, and museums. Today, the castle is the seat of the President of the Czech Republic and represents as the historical and political centre of Prague and the Czech state.
One of the churches: Basilica dedicated to St. George
- Main Architectural Style: Romanesque / Baroque (facade)
- Extras: Benedictine Convent
- Abbess possessed the right to crown the Queen consort of Bohemia
- Royal/Sacred tombs:
- Prince Vratislav
- Boleslav II
- St. Ludmila
The Cathedral of St. Vitus, St. Wenceslaus and St. Adalbert
- Main architectural style: Gothic
- Roman Catholic Cathedral, Seat of Archbishop of Prague
- Biggest Church in Czech Republic
- The church is owned by the Czech government
- St. Wenceslas:
- One of a small group of royals to have been canonised by the Catholic Church
- He is one of the patron saints of the Czech state
- He is the “good King Wenceslas” mentioned in the 1853 Christmas carol by John Neale
- He died a Duke of Bohemia, but was raised to the dignity of a king after his death by Holy Roman Emperor Otto I
I didn’t have enough crowns (Czech money) left to purchase a trip up the bell tower and they wouldn’t take credit cards or Euro. Everywhere else took Euro (with a slight fee), but those volunteer girl guards weren’t budging for poor littles tourists like myself. 😦
Video I made of walk through much of castle complex:
On the way to Berlin, the night had crept thickly over the landscape and I could barely see anything outside. The city lights were a welcome guest to my bored eyes, and I was excited to be at the end of what felt like my longest leg so far.
The second I stepped off the train, I was reminded that Germany was the powerhouse of the EU. Berlin Hauptbahnhof is simply amazing! With 5 levels, 54 escalators, 6 panoramic elevators, a 1,800 m² solar roof, the station forms fitting testament to Germany’s industrial or economic might. Trains whizz above and below you with their tracks floating on almost invisible structural supports. It all looked like something from a set of a futuristic space hub. The stations that I had seen before either centred around an outdoor or indoor design. This station took both to a whole other level and them combined them!
Putting my bags away
Not only was this station the most brilliant I’d seen thus far, but it’s surroundings were no less impressive. I knew my nightly accommodations were close by, but couldn’t have imagined that it was effectively attached to the station! The Meininger Hotel Berlin Hauptbahnhof was exemplary in every way and was my favourite accommodation thus far. It was a pity I only stayed for a single night though. The company’s website poses the question, “so what exactly is the difference between a hostel and a hotel?” and showed me that there can be as little difference as the company chooses to emphasize. I will give details during my hostel/accommodation post series. But I will say that I paid the price of an upscale hostel and received the service given at a regular hotel, in addition to proximity to the centre of things as much as many a 4-star property.
- See Berlin from a different angle (wordpressreport.wordpress.com)
- Headed to Berlin! (studyabroad.joshuascriven.com)
Don’t forget to buy extra batteries! I bought replacement batteries for my Sony dxc hx5 from an Amazon vendor. Unlike many replacement items not bought from the OEM manufacturer, this battery provided an extra feature that the original battery did not. It allowed me to see how much time was remaining for battery use instead of only the battery power meter that’s usually there. Having backup power came in handy when I had to rush out of the house one day and had forgotten to recharge the battery that was in the camera. Because I was only going to be out for a short, while I knew I probably wouldn’t need both batteries, but I knew I would need at lease one full one. So I was able to plug the used one in and take the full one with me.
If you will be traveling on the train or tour buses or boats, then you should definitely invest in a high shutter speed camera. You don’t need an extra fancy, extra expensive one. I suggest the one that I have. It’s like it was built for people on the go. You can take 10 photos all in less than a second with the “burst” mode, or quickly capture a moving subject (or a still subject when you’re moving). What it does is takes many shoots extremely quickly and combines them into one perfect photo almost every time! I don’t recall how much I paid for it (got it last fall for a school project), but I know that I wouldn’t have spent more money that was needed or more than it was worth.