Monday, August 15, 2011

Wednesday/Thursday: Dresden and Drinking

We went to Dresden, Germany, on Wednesday. It is a beautiful town and we walked through the streets on a tour of the river and a bunch of cool-looking old buildings. I would have liked to spend more time there but again, all we got was a quick glimpse and a couple hours free time to eat, look for souvenirs, and then book it back to the bus. We ate in a little café. Nastya (our new friend) and I shared a huge piece of pork with vegetables and potato and Oksana had a delicious sausage, also with vegetables. We saw the longest painting in Germany. We seriously had to run to find our bus. We even missed a turn and were lost for a few minutes until we figured out where to go. It was nerve-racking. I always have this fear that I'm going to be lost and stranded in one of these foreign countries. It feels like it's almost happened several times.

That evening before heading back to the hotel, we went to a musical fountain show. It's similar to the Vegas fountains that are choreographed to music but on a much grander scale with colors and ballet dancers telling a story we couldn't quite understand. It was pretty spectacular.

Today was drinking day. In the morning, we went to Karlovy Vary, another city in the Czech Republic and visited the Becherovka Liquor factory. We wandered through a short museum that showed the history of this famous liqueur and then got to sample it while watching a historical film in Russian. We tasted the original recipe, which tastes like pumpkin and spice and reminded me of Christmas. It’s 38 percent alcohol. I wasn’t buzzed at all after this experience. The lemon flavor was delightful, but I like sweet, fruity drinks. We also tried the cordial liqueur, which was strong and too sweet.

We also walked through the streets of the town on a tour. Later we had three hours of free time. Oksana, a new friend Nastya, and I went to a swimming pool to enjoy the weather. We couldn’t figure out the locker system at first but eventually got it. Maybe Oksana now understands how we always felt in Ukraine at first! Just not understanding everything while people look disapprovingly at us. The water was great and the pool was really long. I did a bunch of laps. Then we hurried off to eat and make it back to the bus in our three-hour time limit. No matter how much time they give us, it’s never enough and we’re always running, panicked, to make it to the bus on time. I had goulash (meat in a sauce with pieces of bread boiled in milk) and Oksana and Nastya shared a fish dish and duck dish.

We headed back towards Prague. On the way, stopped at the Krusovice beer factory. We took a tour of the large campus and then got to sample the beers. Luckily, I’d come down from my liqueur high and was ready for it. We each got a tall glass of a dark beer and a light beer. The agency who organized our whole trip also gave us each Krusovice mugs as gifts, which was pretty cool.

Back at the hotel, we walked up to a supermarket and bought snacks for the road. We also bought chips and more beer to toast our last night in Prague with Nastya. We watched a movie on my computer, “Source Code.”

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