PRAHA!!!

PRAHA! (Part 1)

We thought we’d never make it there, but after a long and hectic travel day, we arrived after dark in Prague. Our Uncle Nick’s cousin Sue and her husband Tom were going to let us pay them a visit and then stay in their apartment for a few days while they took a trip to Germany. Sue gave us a warm welcome at the train station and walked us through Wenceslas Square to her family’s apartment just behind the National Museum of Prague. We dumped our packs and Sue treated us to a lovely dinner, complete with potato cakes and sekt, a sweet sparkling wine that’s only available for a few weeks in the fall.

Tom joined us for a beer at the restaurant after bringing their daughter Maia home from hockey practice, and we got acquainted with our 3rd currency here in Europe—Ceský Koruna (Czech crowns)! Sue taught us a few survival words in Czech and Tom showed us a very tricky Czech tongue-twister: “Strč prst skrz krk.” It means, “stick your finger through your neck.” A bit nonsensical, but grammatically possible nonetheless!

The next morning, we walked with Sue to pick up Maia from school, and Sue gave us a walking tour of Staré Mesto, the Old Town of Prague. She helped us get oriented to the geography of the city (which was really nice after being vaguely lost most of the time in Berlin), gave us a few insider tips, and pointed out some things we should go and have a look at.

The next day, the Barendregts left for Germany, and Sarah and I spent the day wandering around their lovely neighborhood, called Vinohrady. I picked up a pair of shoes at a thrift shop in the neighborhood…Czech women must have small feet, because I ended up having to buy a men’s pair! Sarah and I found an international bookstore and picked up some reading materials. There are also several lovely parks, lots of beautiful fall foliage, and a very strange TV tower (check out the photos, you’ll see!).

Stay tuned for Praha Part 2!

-K

Leipzig…

A Train Ride A Church

Leipzig turned out to be a very…interesting place. We got off the train and made our way to the hostel, there was something a little off about the neighborhood, a stark contrast from the quaint and charming neighborhood of Kreuzberg where we spent our time in Berlin. It definitely had a grittier vibe than Berlin, and we were imagining that’s what Berlin possibly would have been like before it became relatively cleaned up and touristy. It had more graffiti rather than street art that you would see throughout Berlin. There are also tons of punk people in Leipzig, lots of colored hair and face piercings and face tattoos.

After throwing our stuff in our lockers at the hostel we set off to try and find St. Thomas Church, where J. S. Bach served as canter for many years. Katie had studied the place in her music history classes and wanted to see it for herself. As we opened the church doors we heard the pipe organ, someone was rehearsing! It was amazing to hear Bach being played in the same church that he spent so many years.

After a quick dinner we headed to a bar called die naTo to see a show that Katie had found out about online. The band, called Fenster, was from Berlin and they wore all white and had light-up shoes. The only girl in the band was American which was really cool! It was so nice to be around people our age. We’ve been spending a lot of time with older people, and all most all the time with each other. Fenster played a kind of alt-pop style of music. They had a screen behind them with visuals the whole time as well. The vibe they created was really cool. Overall it was a nice chill show to go to!

We’ve been missing fall back home. It’s slowly feeling more and more like fall here, the trees here in Germany have started to turn. The street outside the hostel was lined with trees which have turned a nice dark gold. The foliage is nothing compared to home though. We are looking forward to experiencing October (my favorite month out of the year!) traveling through the Czech Republic, Austria and France!

Sorry for the lack of photos, there will definitely be more from our adventures in Prague! Stay tuned!

-S

**addendum**

After writing the above blog post the morning we were scheduled to catch our train out of Leipzig, all hell broke loose. We went to the platform to wait for our train, which did not arrive. The screen above the platform that had once had our train (ICE 2443- Dresden) on it now did not. At first we thought that maybe it was late or that they possibly had changed platforms. We found a platform screen with ICE 2443 but it didn’t say Dresden. Still confused we looked at the departures board but our train to Dresden was nowhere to be found. Suddenly an ICE train pulled into the second platform we thought might be where it could arrive. Not wanting to miss our train and wanting to get the heck out of Leipzig we ran for it, jumping on the train just in time. We accidentally got on in first class and were walking through the train to get to second class when I noticed that there was in fact a sign that read, Berlin-Hamburg. We got on the entirely wrong train! Definitely not wanting to go back to where we had come from we ran off the train as fast as we could.

At this point we were at a total loss for what was going on, our train seemed to have never arrived. We had a connecting train in Dresden to catch and people waiting to greet us in Prague later that day. Frustrated and stressed out we needed to find answers. Easier said than done, the line for the information desk was stretching longer by the minute and moving at a glacial pace. Katie posted up in line while I camped out with our bags. I saw two men directing people to their platforms and answering questions, wanting to know where the heck our train was I ventured over to them, but sadly they didn’t speak English. The younger of the two men was trying to convey what had happened in English to another curious and confused traveler, I heard something about a person who was “killed” or “died”. Something had happened either on the train or the tracks before our train got to Leipzig, meaning it had never even arrived.

An hour later, feeling like we were rather shit out of luck Katie finally got back from the info booth where conveniently no one really spoke English either. There was a lot of jabbering in German, she had no idea what he was saying but he handed her a paper with information on alternate trains. As she walked over to find me a train to Dresden arrived miraculously at the platform right in front of us, we weren’t a hundred percent sure it was the right one, but without hesitation we jumped right on. FINALLY, we were on our way to Prague.

Side note: currently writing this while sitting in a train that looks exactly like the inside of the Hogwarts Express. Could not be more excited to get to Prague!

Currywurst, Marathon, Flea Market- BERLIN!

Post-orchard life led us to the great and historical city of Berlin. We spent most of our week there just walking around the city, people-watching and looking at all the great street art. We were staying in Kreuzberg, which is a very multicultural part of the city. There were a lot of great restaurants near our flat, and since we figured that “traditional” German food is probably pretty similar to what we eat in Iowa, we took the chance to try some different cuisines—Sarah ate Thai and Indian food for the first time!

The one thing everyone said we had to try was currywurst. We came upon a little hole-in-the-wall place that just said “Currywurst” on the awning in faded letters, so we figured that would be authentic. We stepped up to order, and the owner asked us if we wanted it spicy. Obviously we said “yes, the spicier the better!” Clearly doubting us, he gave us a sample of some sauce from a bottle with a skull and crossbones on it.

It was spicy.

But we were game for it, so he drenched our currywurst in the sauce. When we started eating, we found that the spice really sneaks up you, so we had to stay calm and focus up. I couldn’t talk, and Sarah kept saying she was going to pass out. We weren’t sure we could finish it, but with the owner watching us, we didn’t want to wimp out. Even the French fries were spicy, so the only way to get a little relief was from the big glob of mayonnaise on top.

It looked iffy for a moment, but we did manage to finish our currywurst. We were sweating pretty badly afterwards, and decided we deserved a nap after that experience, so we went back to the flat and had a lazy afternoon.

On Sunday, we got up bright and early to head over to Mauer Park for the famous weekly flea market. On our walk to the subway station, we happened across the Berlin Marathon. We knew it was happening that weekend, because someone had asked us if we were there to run (we said “no, but we’re flattered that you think we look capable of running a marathon!”). We stood and watched the runners for a bit, and then we realized that the subway station we needed to go into was just across the street filled with runners…so close yet so far! There was no way we could cross the marathon, so we decided to walk alongside and see if there was another way to cross. We ended up following the path of the marathon for about a mile, and had lots of fun looking at all the spectators and runners. There was a swing band playing on one corner, lots of kids with balloons, funny signs encouraging the runners, and flags from many different countries. We must have looked like we knew where we were going, because one lady even stopped us to ask for directions.

We found finally found an overpass, so we were able to make our way to Mauer Park. The flea market was HUGE! We arrived pretty late because of the marathon, so by the time we got there it was packed. There were hundreds of stalls where people were selling clothing, records, jewelry, and antique home décor. My vintage spidey senses were tingling, and it made me miss my Etsy shop—it was definitely inspiring to see, and made me want to take my vintage wares to a flea market back home!

So that was Berlin! Be sure to check out the photos. Now off for a day trip to Leipzig, Germany, and then off to Prague!

-K

The Magical Møns Klint

Before we arrived in Copenhagen, Ida made an epic list of things to do/see in Denmark. Obviously we couldn’t do everything, but one thing that everyone was saying we just HAD to see was Møns Klint, a cliff of sorts. We put it towards the top of our list of things to do with Ida, but after a hectic week of site seeing, taking a whole day devoted to this cliff just wasn’t in the cards. Since the apple orchard was on the way (sort of) to this cliff from Copenhagen, we decided that one weekend during our WWOOFing stint Ida would pick us up and we’d head up to Møns Klint and check out this cliff situation.

The weekend came and Ida, Lasse, Katie, Kira and I made our way toward Møn, the island this mysterious cliff is on. I refused to Google this place because I wanted to be completely surprised, and was I in for a treat. We began with a picnic and then started down some stairs through the woods. As we got closer to the bottom, the trees opened up and we could see the top of the cliff, way way up there. Once we reached the bottom we were on a beach, a beach made up of flint rock, large rocks, it was like nothing I’ve ever seen. The face of the cliff itself is made of chalk, it was fascinating. The sky and the water were a vibrant blue next to the white face of the cliff.

As we walked along the rock bed, Lasse started finding fossils! Fossilized squid tentacles and fossilized fungi. It was so cool! After a lovely walk along the rock beach we reach the stairs to head up. It was a bit of a climb but the trees we were walking through were completely magical (there’s a real theme here with me, get me into some trees and I’ll be so content). The trail we were climbing up was along the side the edge of the cliff, and once we got to the top the view was breathtaking. We had the perfect weather and picked an off time to go (later in the day) so we had the trail all to ourselves.

All in all it was such a nice break from life at the orchard, the magical Møns Klint is with out a doubt one of the top five favorite things we did in Denmark!

Hope you enjoy the pictures below! I got a little picture happy, a majority of them were just of trees (classic Sarah move) but these were my favorite!

Stay tuned for a post on Berlin. Spoiler alert: we’re LOVING it! 🙂

 -S

A Day at the Market

When I found out that I was The Chosen One to go work a market with Anders, I was slightly skeptical at first.  It was to be an all-day affair, loading up the car at 7:30am and not returning home until after 6pm that night.  I love a good farmer’s market as much as the next guy, but it involved skipping my afternoon free time (and mushroom hunting) which I’ve become quite attached to.

The morning of the market, I got up just as the sun was rising to fix some breakfast and get ready.  Anders and I loaded up the car and trailer with fruit and apple juice.  I was so sleepy, and there was a dense fog hovering just above the ground that made me want to crawl right back into bed.  But when we arrived at the “market,” I found a full-blown festival!  More specifically, a farmer’s market/flea market/Renaissance-festival-but-with-vikings, all rolled into one.  It took place at Kongskilde Friluftsgard, a nature center about an hour north of Kysøko.  I took some time to wander away from the booth and explore the market, viking village, and nature areas nearby.  I even stumbled upon a beach!

Back at the booth, Anders was quite the salesman.  He was drawing a lot of customers in to taste samples of his famous apple juice.  I picked up a few words in Danish that ended up coming in handy when Anders needed to take a break.  I managed to sell about 4 kg of pears, 3 apples, and several bottles apple juice in his absence. There was a lot of pantomiming involved.  A few people laughed at my pronunciation of “æblemost” (apple juice).  From what I could gather, I was saying apple + something-that-wasn’t-juice.

It’s been great to find so many English speakers so far on this trip, but it was fun to have the chance to be out of my element for a change.  It turned out to be a good day, and I still got to hang out in the forest that evening!  Win-win!

-K

Orchard Life

After almost a month in Denmark, I’ve started to feel quite at home, definitely starting to get used to the fact that I’m not just going to be returning home soon. After such a busy pace in Copenhagen it was so nice to get out into the countryside and take some time to relax and regroup, along with experiencing a whole new side of Danish culture.

After a rocky start, our time at the orchard turned out to be a great learning experience. We worked for 4 hours every day, picking apples, pears, raspberries, or making juice. If you know me at all, you know that I am a bit of a picky eater. I can proudly say that as of right now, I’ve tried everything, even liver and pickled herring! (Definitely won’t be eating those again voluntarily.)

Speaking of food, one of my favorite things while staying at the orchard was cooking. We would go out and pick what we were going to be cooking with, dig up potatoes and artichokes, or get some fresh basil from the greenhouse. Everything we made was SO fresh and completely delicious, and pretty darn healthy.  Katie has become quite the chef and its so inspiring to try to come up with new dishes for us to try with all the great produce!

By far my favorite thing about staying at the orchard was the forest, which was just across their field. The trees towered high above and created a beautiful canopy. Late on sunny afternoons, the rays of sunlight coming through the trees would create a golden hue, as if it’s glowing. No photographs could even come close to doing it justice. We would often take an afternoon walk or run through the woods, Katie even found a plethora of mushrooms that we (once we decided they wouldn’t kill us) used in a couple meals.

We were surrounded by animals here at the orchard: kittens, hens & roosters, hedgehogs, sheep, SO MANY SPIDERS and SLUGS, hares, and pheasants! It was always very entertaining. And if the animals weren’t entertainment enough there were some interesting people too, two girls also from the States (Vikki and Ellen) who have spent the past year in Alaska, a girl from Belgium (Hilike) taking a gap year before starting university, a guy from northern Norway (Brage) above the arctic circle and last but not least a girl from Portugal (Katarina) who was an extra in a Game of Thrones episode filming in Morocco! Its been so fun to get to know them along with our hosts, Anders and Susanne!

Its hard to believe that our two and a half weeks are up, it has FLOWN by here. Next we venture to Germany and we are so stoked to see what Berlin has to offer.

Check out a handful of pictures from the orchard and the forest!

Until next time Denmark!

-S

København

After 9 days in Copenhagen I am worn out. Ida and her family have been absolutely amazing hosts to Katie and I. We’ve seen so many great things and eaten so much wonderful Danish food! Ida has packed almost everyday full of places to go and things to see! From boat tours to castle tours to climbing the spire of Our Savior’s church, I truly feel like we’ve experienced what Copenhagen has to offer, and I’ve been loving it! We’ve packed so much into such a short time that I would be writing a novel if I covered everything, so here are some of my highlights!

  • Our boat tour through Copenhagen was amazing… being able to travel through the canals alongside all of the sailboats and historic buildings was too cool, but what made it even more memorable was that it started down pouring during the tour! Luckily Ida had gotten us some ponchos, but we were still soaking wet. While our boat was docking, I SAW A CLEAR FISH!! It was completely clear and it was awesome!
  • Rosenborg Slot, my first official castle! It used to be a countryside house but now its right in the middle of Copenhagen, a little oasis in the city.
  • Danish hotdogs! I’m truly sorry Chicago, but Denmark wins this one! We hit up an organic hotdog stand one of our days in the city and it was, hands down, the best hotdog I’ve ever had.
  • We were headed to the Royal Opera for a tour at 10:30 and it’s on its own little island.  While walking there, we realized that the bridge that was on our map isn’t actually finished yet, so we had to go all the way back where we came from and run in the rain to make it to the opera.  We were 5 minutes late and they had already started the tour and locked up the doors!  Things start exactly on time in Denmark.  Thankfully we weren’t the only ones late–there was a group of 15 of us that had all arrived late, so thankfully they let us in! It’s a newer opera house, so it was so cool to see all the little details and the thought that went into making it such an amazing place!
  • Kronborg Slot, aka Hamlet’s castle, was nothing short of majestic. While following the arrows, we were lead into the basement and down some stairs, into a dungeon that was pitch black.  It was a Monday, so it was not busy at all in at the castle. We were completely alone in a dungeon, it was SO CREEPY! Katie wanted to explore on past that, but I wimped out, because if you know me you know that I do not do haunted houses or anything remotely similar, and this was the real deal. I ran out of there so fast!
  • One of the most beautiful places we went to was the graveyard where Hans Christian Andersen, the famous fairytale writer, is buried. It was more of a park with some graves, and it was such a beautiful sunny day.  There was this EPIC long path right through the center of it, completely lined with really tall trees, it was gorgeous! The graveyard is also in the middle of Copenhagen, so you enter from a busy street right into this quiet and calm park.
  • Christiania (sometimes called the Free Town) is basically this hippie town right in the middle of Copenhagen, it was SO interesting! Over 800 people live there and they follow their own rules. We went there for a picnic by the lake, had a nice relaxing lunch, and we tried Faxe Kondi which is this Danish pop. It’s SO good!  A Danish rapper wrote a whole song about how much he loves it, it’s quite hilarious!
  • By far the CRAZIEST thing we’ve done on the trip so far was climb up Our Savior’s Church.  You climb over 400 steps and 300 feet, the last 150 steps being outside on the spire.  It was SO high up! I’m not one to be scared of heights, but to be that high up climbing the stairs around the spire and not even being harnessed in had me shaking! But what resulted was a breathtaking view of Copenhagen!
  • Tivoli!! One of the world’s oldest amusement parks was magical. We ate a wonderful and delicious dinner and then watched a ballet performance. There are lights EVERYWHERE, and the whole place just has this feeling of stepping back in time. It was so magical with all the lights and old rides and carnival games. There were some newer rides though, one of them being the Vertigo, which looked terrifying.  Listening to people scream while on it was hilarious though…one girl was freeeeakking out, at one point she screamed “I’m gonna die up here!” It was quite funny, but she’s braver than me, just watching it made me feel sick. Also, we ate the most delicious churros which in Danish they call “warm Spanish tubes” 🙂

 

So there you have it! 9 ACTION PACKED days in Copenhagen–it’s been simply wonderful to be able to explore this city and spend time with Ida, Anna Mette, Peter, Lesse and Kira! Tomorrow we are off to our next destination: an apple orchard in the Danish countryside.  Can’t wait to start picking apples, making cider and exploring another part of Denmark!

 Be sure to check out our photos too!  You should be able to click on each photo to see a description. Thanks for reading!

 

 -S

 

 

We Made It!

Plane.jpg

Catching our connecting flight in Frankfurt.

After 20 hours in Airportland, we’re finally in Denmark!  First impressions:  it’s clean, it’s very flat, and there are lots of wind turbines.  We had a view of the coasts of Denmark and Sweden as we flew in, and there wasn’t a bump or a hill as far as the eye could see.

Our friend Ida picked us up at the airport and brought us to her parents’ house, where we’ll be staying this week.  We took a little nap in the yard and then had a lovely dinner with Ida, her parents Anne and Peter, and her boyfriend Lesse (and Kira the dog).

Now off to explore Copenhagen!

 

S&K