Tuesday, May 5, 2015

A Belated Update

As per usual, a lot has happened since I last posted.
Tour de Samso
I suppose I should begin with my weekend to Samso. To start I should explain why it's so special. Samso is one of Denmark's many islands and it lies right in between Zealand (the island containing Copenhagen) and Jutland (the only part of Denmark connected to the continent). What's so cool about this island over all the other 75 billion islands that Denmark has is that it's carbon negative. That's right, it's about to get super nerdy environmentalist up in here. So, I'm sure you're dying to know what a carbon negative island is. Well, it doesn't matter if you care or not because it's my blog and I get to tell you whatever I want.
A carbon negative place is a place that produces enough clean energy to fulfill its own needs and then, this is where it gets super fun, it ships out the extra and sells it to the grid. And since the wind turbine shares are owned by the residents, they get the profit. That's right, they're frickin getting paid to own a windmill. That's, like, one the coolest things you could possibly own.
On top of a turbine
Anyway, I went on this weekend trip as an additional program with DIS and it just so happened that four other people from my house (shocker that residents of the Green House would go on a sustainability trip). The first day, we biked around the island, saw a small district heating plant run with straw (Samso’s economy is largely based in agriculture), saw an old-timey windmill and climbed up a new-timey windmill, also known as a turbine, and generally just looked super put together after an entire day of biking.
The day after we went to the largest labyrinth in the world (It’s Guinness official!) and then we went to the tiniest little town in the world and had a fantastic lunch at a brewery, obviously we got ourselves a pint too.
Then we headed to the ferry and back to KBH.  
Fast forward a week (or two, I can’t remember now) and we find me boarding a bus on Friday evening to the Czech Republic.  Now, you may say, “a BUS to Czech from Copenhagen? Wow, I didn't realize they were that close.  I should probably look at a map…” Well, stop right there.  No need to look at a map, because I’m here to inform you that COPENHAGEN AND THE CZECH REPUBLIC ARE NOT CLOSE. Not at all.  Which is why the bus ride consisted of a two hour ride to southern Denmark, a two hour ferry, and then ANOTHER EIGHT HOURS on a bus driving through Germany.  I don’t know if you know this, but that mean I spent 12 hours traveling. 10 of these hours were confined to a very cramped bus seat, attempting to sleep through the night and blocking out the tunes of Frozen to get some shut eye (I was very unsuccessful).  At one point the bus driver took a break, and I spent 45 minutes staring at a German parking lot at 4 in the morning.

Anyway, moving on.     
So we got to the area of the Czech Republic, Cesky raj (in English it means Bohemian Paradise), at 9 or so in the morning (this is Saturday, now).   We had ourselves a breakfast and instead of letting us sleep, like kind and caring people would do, we were subjected to ice breakers and archery (ok, i know I shouldn't complain, I did archery in the mountains of Czech but I was tired! Very few things trump sleep for me).  This is where we met our tour guides: Tom, Suzanna, Honza and Honza.  No, that is not a mistype. Yes, we had two tour guides named Honza (actually, it was a total of 5 Honza tour guides by the end of it. I don’t have an explanation for you).
Our Castle from afar
Anyway, the first day was pretty low-key compared to the others.  We would take day trips from our castle, yeah you heard that right. A frickin castle. It had a name too: Hruba Skala, because you gotta have a cool name for a castle. Google it, tell your friends.  The second day was a little more intense with rock climbing in the morning followed by a lunch in town (which was a side salad for me, since vegetarian isn’t a well understood concept) and then caving in the afternoon.  That night, they also set up this silly little treasure hunt with a ghost story and stuff and the winners got chocolate and wine.  Alas, we did not win :(.  The last day in Cesy raj we were on the castle grounds and the Honzas and Tom had set up rappelling and a zip line for the morning activity and a “trek” for the afternoon.  It was a hike, but since the name of the trip was “Czech Trek” I think they felt it was required to have a trekking expedition.  In between the two activities, my new friends and I made a trek of our own, something I have just now decided to call the Chocolate Trek (get it?).  We took a walk into town and bought but loads of chocolate at the convenience store right after stopping to freak out over some baby sheeps (I'm aware the plural is 'sheep'. It just sounds cuter this way).
The last day we woke up early, had one last meal at the hotel/castle and spent a day exploring Prague.  Which was such an awesome city and I was totally unprepared for warmth and spent the entire day sweating in an all black outfit with my sweater and fur lined hiking boots.  I’m sure I looked very cute.
Regardless, Prague was beautiful (and ridiculously cheap) and I’m really excited to go back when mom and dad get here.

The bus ride back was much more comfortable, since more than half the travel group had left to go on other travels after Prague.  Everyone got an entire row to themselves and provisions of chocolate and wine, an ideal mix for sound sleeping.  When we got back in the morning I walked straight home and promptly collapsed in my bed and didn't emerge for a day and a half.