I met my parents in Berlin on October first. Mom and I were, of course, instantly crying happy tears. The hugs were big and long, as were the smiles. It was so comforting and relaxing to be in the easy and familiar company of loved ones.
We spent the first couple days sightseeing in Berlin, and then traveling to Hannover to visit our old exchange student Julian. I had visited both Berlin and Julian in January, and loved getting to see my parents experience the same thing. In Berlin we took a Segway tour, which was fun, informative, and a great way to see an overview of the city center. It also just made my Mom want a Segway to zip around on regularly, much to my Dad’s amused exasperation. The whole Germany leg of the trip was essentially a great break for me, mentally, emotionally, and photographically. I didn’t take any pictures on my camera.
Next we headed via train to the real heart of our trip: Prague. When I first visited this city ten years ago I was just enchanted by it, and couldn’t wait to experience it again with Mom and Dad. It did not disappoint. We got there on a clear sunny day at golden hour. It took us a little longer than it could have to walk to our hotel because Mom kept stopping to take pictures as we stared starry-eyed at the beautiful city. Our hotel was converted from an old convent and was situated down a little alley of a street. It had so much character and constantly made Mom and me remark at how cool it was that we got to stay there.
The following days were spent walking the city, taking tours, seeing the sights and eating so much good food. The floodgates opened again, and I took copious amounts of photos. Luckily Mom was right alongside me doing the exact same thing and Dad was a good sport for putting up with us. One morning Mom and I got up at dawn to go take pictures along the Charles Bridge and in Old Town, returning to join Dad for breakfast. All around, it was a wonderful time in Prague.
At the end of our stay in Prague we rented a car and drove to Slovakia. This leg of the trip was visiting locations that Mom’s family has immigrated from. We stayed in the town of Spišská Nová Ves, where our delightful and welcoming Airbnb host couldn’t speak any English, nor could anyone else we encountered. Google translate helped us immensely during this time. After failing to be seated at one restaurant the night we arrived, we thankfully found a pizza place that allowed us to order via pointing and miming after we translated the menu on our phones. We spent the whole next day in the car, Dad bravely driving us around to several towns in the area where our family came from. During this day the shutter broke on my camera, imposing a break from shooting. (Don’t worry, the camera is now fixed, but I did keep Mom’s camera to use for the rest of my trip.)
Continuing on, we took a fun pitstop in Vienna. The city totally captivated us. It is grand and beautiful and begged us to come back. I particularly loved the crosswalks that had same-sex and opposite-sex couples on them. I also realized that Vienna was home to one of my favorite artist and has his work in many collections, so I will be making a pilgrimage back there to see as many Klimpt painting as I can.
We crossed back into the Czech Republic to visit more villages were Mom’s ancestors used to live. We actually had supposed addresses to try to locate. However, there doesn’t seem to be any method to the street numbers. They jump around in no apparent order, and seem to be able to be changed depending on the occupant. It did make for some interesting Google translate interactions with mildly confused locals, though.
Finally we made our way back to Prague, where I would be spending the next 3 weeks, and where Mom and Dad would catch their train back to Berlin to fly home. It was a weird thing to wave goodbye to them as their train pulled away. But I would see them again in a months time, and I got to spend more time in this city that I love.
kaitlin k walsh
Adventurer armed with a camera.