My Journey Thus Far
by Andrew Uden
This is the stories and experiences from my year abroad.
A Merry Christmas Journey
It’s been a month now since I left and I have put in a ridiculous amount of miles, pages read, people met, experiences gained and all the rest of that jazz. But more seriously I have had the trip of a lifetime and I have spent a lot of time reflecting back on my time overseas so far and thinking ahead to the adventures that are awaiting, all while on a mini-adventure through Europe. It started with a night in the Edinburgh Airport waiting for my morning flight to Geneva, Switzerland, my advice is never be afraid to sleep on a floor or bench or anywhere, its cheap and you learn to be comfortable just about anywhere. All in all I made it to Geneva and spent the day walking around this beautiful Swiss town in weather that was leaving big wet flakes on everything, but it only added to the beauty of the town and gave me feeling that I had set off on my greatest trip yet.
Later that same day I grabbed a train to Bern where I quickly found my hostel and went back out on the town. There was so much activity and liveliness for it being just a few days before Christmas, with street vendors out and the Christmas markets going in full swing there was so much to see and do. I walked about for ages in and out of the covered and uncovered street markets and past all the medieval clock towers that have popped up all over this old city. I had the opportunity to go through the legendary Munster Cathedral the next day and see the beautiful carvings and paintings. I even got a few minutes of quiet prayer in before a children’s choir opened up into some beautiful old hymns. I now understand that music is beyond language as I didn’t know the words, but I knew what they were singing and whom they were singing to.
From Bern I caught a train to Interlaken where I just strolled around the parks and streets admiring the magnificent Swiss Alps on either side of the town. As it grew colder and I had nowhere to stay I headed farther into Switzerland and ended at Lucerne, at the foot of Mount Pilatus. This was my favorite stop in my journey thus far and it may be one of my favorite little towns in the world. Lucerne is a tourist town on the edge of lake Lucerne and surrounded by Alps, to say it is scenic is an understatement. On top of that there are a ton of old wood framed Swiss houses, medieval clock towers, and defensive walls surrounding the old town. It’s truly an amazing place and you can walk through miles of pedestrian areas that are full of nice shops and restaurants. Also, there are two old wood bridges spanning the river that make it really a unique town with a special place in the world and in my memory.
But I could go on with story after story, but I have to move on to my trip through the Alps down to the Italian border town of Lugano. Where they speak Italian, that’s right I had gone from French to German to Italian in four days and the only language I speak is English. Lets just say it was interesting, but I met some good people along the way who encouraged me and gave me some good laughs as I hope I did for them. In Lugano it was only nice about 15 minutes of my time there. Right after my train made it to Lugano a storm blew in off the Alps and blanketed Lugano in six to eight inches of snow. The palm trees were bowed with snow it was so heavy, and it was quiet funny to see my tropical resort hotel/hostel with snow all around, it was just so out of place, but that’s Switzerland I guess. Not wanting to get snowed in as another storm was on its way I grabbed a train early the next morning and went back north to Basel, connected to Frankfurt, and finally connected to Marburg where I met the Pfluegers.
Marburg would be my home for the next four days and the Pluegers were such a nice family they made me feel right at home in their lovely house. This family of six had been missionaries in Israel so for Christmas dinner we had a traditional Shepard’s meal of Middle Eastern cuisine. I really loved how much they shared everything with myself, other friends of theirs, and with each other. To me this is how the worldwide Christian community is supposed to look, when one can go across the world and find a family and be part of it, welcomed in and taken care of. I felt like I was just another part of their family and I hope they felt that way about me, they were such a blessing and I thank them for all they gave to me and all they did to make my Christmas a great one. They even took me to see Twilight New Moon in German the day before Christmas and I must admit, its not such a bad movie with out the words, it made me pay more attention to the emotion and body language of the characters.
On Christmas day we had dinner with Margit’s mother and just had a nice relaxing day together and I went out with Benito and some friends for another movie in German and a beer to cap off my time in Germany. I must admit the Germans do beer better than anyone else, sorry Ireland. On the 26th of December I grabbed a train to Berlin and then caught another one to Prague the capital of the Czech Republic. Throughout this trip I have said many times that this city or that city is the most beautiful, but ignore all of that because Prague takes the cake as the most beautiful city I have ever seen. It’s filled with statues, castles, medieval buildings, and even more modern buildings as a remnant of communism. It has virtually never been destroyed, but has just continued to be built up with different artistic styles over its 700 plus year history. To my surprise my tour guide was even Scottish, imagine that, and he gave a great tour in his fine Scottish brogue.
From Prague I flew back to London to meet my parents at our hotel in London and I would then spend the next twelve days traveling with my parents around the UK. Then I would go to Northern Ireland to see some friends, but that will have to wait for another blog as this one is extremely long already. All I can say is that life is definitely a journey all we can do is make it a good one and have as much adventure as we can along the way. Start small and build up, if this is where I am starting only the Lord knows where I will end up.
Take Care and God Bless