Hectic Half-Term!

#jongmasjourney has had an incredible week of busy travelling. With a Topdeck tour I knocked off a large number of EU bucketlist locations and had a blast with some incredible people!

Last Sunday (15/2) started with a 2AM bus from Cheltenham! Passing scores of drunkards coming out of the local nightclub and making friends with the blokes who I thought were going to kill me, the bus arrived perfectly on time and I was on my way to Prague!

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By 9AM that day I was in the picturesque city of Prague, and after checking into the Plus Prague Hostel (which I would recommend) I spent the day walking about and seeing the sights. That evening at 5PM I was to meet the other 50 tour members and have a night walking tour of the city centre. Unfortunately the tour bus was incredibly late so we just had dinner and I went to bed. It was during this evening that I became acquainted with the other tour newbies but more on them later!

Morning no. 2 included the missed tour from the night before and the day was absolutely incredible! The Czech weather was on point so it made for a beautiful day walking around and checking out gothic churches, powder towers, astronomical clocks, St. George’s Basilica and the Jewish Quarter. The Charles Bridge and the John Lennon Wall were my personal highlights. The changing of the guard was not really that special but heading into Golden Lane was a chance to fire a crossbow and was mad! In Wenceslas Square I found what I’ve been missing… a trombone! Due to an incredibly favourable exchange rate I was able to purchase a pBone, a plastic travel trom!

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The evening in Prague was an experience that a few of my fellow travellers cannot remember but one that I will never forget! We did pub crawl around the main town, experiencing vodka bars, an old WWII dugout filled with communist propaganda and a 6 storey nightclub with a rager to classic hits.

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Tuesday morning was a visit to the rebuilt city of Dresden. The city at the heart of Saxony was drowned in English bombs during WWII so it was an ethereal walk through a town of both modern and ancient architecture. It was here when I submitted myself to the mercy of Currywurst level 7, a sausage hotter than Miranda Kerr and Mila Kunis combined. I can’t remember the section between the Currywurst stand and sculling a McDonalds thickshake with tears running down my face but it is definitely a must do of Germany. Another point of interest to Dresden is the statue of Martin Luther (the reformator not the civil rights guy…). He stands outside the rebuilt protestant church near where he was in refuge after his excommunication from the Catholic Church. As someone who grew up in the Church but knows little about the growth of Christianity in Europe and the Protestant Movement it was an opportunity that I relished.

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A bus of burning mouths continued onto Berlin! It is a city which emphatically proves the reputation the Germans have for hard work and efficiency. Construction everywhere and piping above ground shows an effort not to waste time and energy but to get things done well, and to get things done right. A tour with a PHD Student around sites relevant to Hitler was an opportunity to get a fuller picture of the dynamics of WWII. A walk over what used to be Hitler’s bunker (now a grass carpark) and a visit to the remnants of the wall provided the chance to understand the connection between WWI, II and the Cold War rather than view them as three separate conflicts. It was humbling to walk through the Memorial to the murdered Jews and shocking to learn about the activities of the SS and Gestapo in the Topography of Terror. While the day put a dampener on the excitement of the trip, it is definitely on my must do list as it broadens perspective.

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Since the day was a bit solemn, 41 Aussies, 2 Canadians and a Kiwi were in the mood to go out. A pub crawl through Berlin was exactly what the doctor ordered! Those of you that know me would know that drinking and beer is not really my thing. I am stoked to announce that after nearly 3 months of being 18 I finally managed to finish a beer! For the first time a full Heinekin made its way down. I still have probably not reached over the legal driving limit- but I like it that way so that’s how it’ll stay! We finished up in a nightclub pumping to music that I’ve mostly never heard before but it was an extraordinary time!

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Thursday was filled by 9 hours of German countryside and sleeping off the night before on the way to Amsterdam! After being there last December for the Swim Cup I really just loved being back in the atmosphere of the beautiful city. It was perfect to see friends there again and another huge thank you to Remmelt and Karin for a stupendous home cooked meal!

Friday morning I noticed a number of fellow travellers were a bit dopey and with red eyes, but I’m sure they were just dehydrated and tired from the week… ‘The Gang’ as a small group of us were known by then went out to see all the tourist hotspots, after a bike tour past the Rijks Museum,  Anne Frank Huis, and about 45 minutes standing by a canal to fix a busted tire we hit up lunch next to the beautiful palace and made our way to the Heinekin Experience Brewery. We learnt that there is a technique to drinking beer and enjoyed a 4D cinema where we were the beer getting brewed! Lots of fun and a good way to get out of the rain (plus free wifi so I could snapchat the experience).

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4 countries in one day? No worries mate! Saturday morning we left Holland to travel down to Belgium, where chocolate and waffles were the way to go! Brugge was a step back in time with horse drawn carts, cobblestone streets, and people claiming to have a vial of Jesus’ blood… It was a bit rushed due to our packed schedule but a load of fun nonetheless! Next stop was France, not really sure if it counts as we only went to Calais for the ferry across the channel but I still got to pull out my Trombone for a few tunes by the bay. ‘The Gang’ jumped on the boat for the last few hours together before the white cliffs of Dover loomed ahead of us and the bus took us back to Kings Cross Station. I was mighty disappointed to not be able to find Platform 9 and 3/4, I suppose Hogwarts can wait another year for me…

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The trip was definitely the perfect circle, as I got off the bus in Cheltenham at exactly the same time this morning as I got on a week ago. It feels cliché (which it is) but it was a trip of a lifetime and I have had some incredible memories and made some awesome friends! A shout out to Topdeck and my tour leader Chris Johnston and his Driver Robbie for making the time safe and a blast! Full credit to ‘The Gang’ of Corey ‘Cordizzle’ Adam, Nerida ‘Mother Teresa’ Clare, Flick ‘The Glue’ Wyatt, Rhi ‘The Laugh’ Rowe and Troy ‘The Face’ Nankervis for all the GT’s from The Prague Lobby, to Starbucks with a view, and sticking by the all 21yo crew through the entire trip right to Kings Cross where we said our goodbyes.

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It’s only a few hours till the boys get here so I should go and do my washing and start to make beds and stuff… Back to work now! I’m excited for four weeks of crazy! Shout out to Mr Jon Harris for being a good bloke and letting me sleep in this morning! In my next post I will detail a bit more about my work life and give you the run down on DCPS!

Until more GT’s happen on #jongmasjourney, and as Grandma’s friend Laurie always says… (Sorry Laurie for spelling your name wrong in previous posts!)

“Love all around”

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