Three weeks of traveling is a lot to compile into one blog post. So I may not do a very good job of it. We took hundreds and hundreds of pictures, spent hundreds and hundreds of dollars, sat many many hours on different modes of conveyances, walked nearly 85 miles around and through 6 different cities seeing countless cathedrals, church buildings, shops, markets, and castles, ate various kinds of delicious food and grabbed sleep when and where we could.
We rode on buses, trains, subways, airplanes, taxis, personal cars, walked, ran, rode bikes….
Two other students and I had begun talking about different plans we had for the 3 week break between semesters, and although it didn’t begin that way, we ended up planning a trip up to Germany together, where we eventually split up to spend the last two weeks with other people and in other places.
We ended up taking different buses from the Bible school here in Erseke, which is in southern Albania, up through Tirana (capitol of Albania) and Shkoder (northern Albania) to Podgorica (capitol of Montenegro), Budva (on the coast of Montenegro), then up to Sarajevo (capitol of Bosnia & Herzegovina), Zagreb (capitol of Croatia), and Ljubljana (capitol of Slovenia), before passing through Austria and into Germany.
Ok here’s the deal:
Time passes quickly.
I am at school.
There is schoolwork and studying to do at school.
As much as I would like to share all the pictures and stories of the trip via the blog, I do not have the time to complete all that. So I am just going to share a few pictures and highlights of the trip and as time goes on (as it always will) and if and when I feel so inclined (which I may or may not) I will do more posts and stories and pictures, if I’m not too busy having more adventures.
In Podgorica, the capitol of Montenegro, we traveled by taxi out of the city up into the mountains, where we visited the Ostrog Monastery. It was cold and snowy but we enjoyed seeing it.
Just south of Podgorica a few miles, we also enjoyed visiting a small waterfall, also incidentally named Niagara Falls. Just so y’all know, I am probably (honestly) one of the few people in the world that has not only been to the Niagara Falls in New York, but also the Niagara Falls in Oregon AND the Niagara Falls in Montenegro.
I don’t know, maybe I’m the only one. *thinks about applying to the Guinness Book of World Records*
The next day we traveled to Budva, an ancient town on the coast of Montenegro. There was an old part of the city, complete with a wall around it, old houses with narrow alleys and little restaurants and souvenir shops tucked in odd places.
That night we took a bus up to Sarajevo, and spent the day exploring the city, including the main thing I wanted to see there; the bridge where the assassination that touched off World War I occurred in 1914. This was a rather sobering thing, but I enjoyed being able to be there.
After a full day of exploration, we took another bus through the night up to Zagreb…and after leaving our luggage at the hostel there, (this hostel was awesome because it had this machine that just poured out hot chocolate whenever you pressed the button) we rented bikes and explored Zagreb via bike. One of the neat things we found there was a house of illusions, all sorts of things to trick your eyes and imaginations…this was a lot of fun.
Also I greatly enjoyed ice skating for the first time at an outdoor skating rink there in Zagreb.
After a much needed night’s rest, we left early the next morning and rode up to Ljubljana…a very quaint cute city, and rather small for a capitol city.
We walked around it for a while, and also explored a castle up on a hill in the middle of the city. The lights that the people had decorated the city with for Christmas were quite spectacular here and it was fun to see them.
The next day we took a train to the Skocjan Caves a couple hours away from Ljubljana, and though we were not allowed to take any pictures in the cave, I can assure you it was definitely the most impressive cave system I have yet been in. It kind of reminded me of the part of the book The Silver Chair by C. S. Lewis where he describes the under world that Eustace and Jill and Puddleglum find themselves in.
It was simply enormous; with a river flowing through it, high soaring ceilings, giant stalactites and a well lit pathway.
From there we headed up to Germany, Stuttgart in particular, where I stayed for several days over Christmas before making my way north and ending up in Hamburg.
One of the things I really enjoyed seeing in Hamburg was the world’s largest model railroad, which takes up about two stories of an old building down near the water in Hamburg.
From Hamburg I flew down to Zurich, and then took a train to Interlaken, where I stayed at another Torchbearers Center there for a few days and went skiing for the first time ever. This was quite the experience, let me tell you.
There were skis, ski poles, and one random Jed flying all over the place multiple times that day but all in all it was a good experience. 🙂
I headed back to Munich and spent about a day there before beginning the journey back to Albania for the second semester of Bible school. This necessitated a layover in Budapest, Hungary, which gained the 9th country you read about in the title of this here blog post. Naturally I wasn’t going to sit around for several hours if I didn’t have to, so I took a bus from the airport into the city of Budapest and enjoyed the architecture of that city, which was really quite spectacular.
Finally I ended up back in Tirana and spent the last night in a hostel there before taking the furgon back to school the next day. It was quite the trip; there were many times we could clearly see God’s hand mercifully watching over and guiding and providing for us, when He really didn’t have to. The stories of that would take a whole blog post in and of itself.
Also all the little things that make a great trip memorable with friends are too numerous to mention…suffice it to say that traveling with people is much more enjoyable than traveling by myself. 🙂 I’m thankful for the opportunity to take the trip and who knows what trips I’ll take after 2nd semester is over! 😉
Til next time….