I left Sweden forever (perhaps) on the 8th of June. It was so hard to say goodbye to my new friends from exchange and especially my flatmates, and through the final week we had lots of "last" get togethers. Eventually we had to leave, however, and the day came before we knew it. I had my project paper due that morning, lots of packing, and also lots of cleaning to do before I left so, with the help of the 22 hours of daylight, I stayed up all night and prepared. It was exhausting but at the same time I was so excited to start my trip that I didn't even care. I ran to school, finished and emailed my paper, dropped off stuff for next years students, returned my bike, checked into flights, and ran to the bus stop with my 4 bags of luggage before 10:30. My travel friend and I took the bus to Stockholm then and officially started our adventure. First thing when we arrived in Stockholm we went to Gamla Stan to find some souvenirs for our families and to see it one last time. At one point we were sitting in a nice little cafe and Tony realized that his wallet was missing. Of course we searched the area and then began to retrace our steps. The last shop we visited was quite a walk but we got there in just a few minutes and saw through the locked door that his wallet was on the counter. Of course we were so relieved that it wasn't stolen but our bus to the airport was leaving before the store opened again in the morning. 5 helpful and kind police officers later and we had the store's hired security company opening the door and retrieving the wallet. We couldn't be luckier, haha. At least we got the freak out session over with early on...? After that we dropped our large luggage off with a friend of one of our Swedish fadders. He was a godsend because storage lockers are so expensive and actually quite far from the Central Station. We had a nice conversation with him and his girlfriend and the set out into the city again, feeling much lighter. Our bus left at 3:40 so we thought it would be stupid to get a hostel. We stayed up all night instead and wandered around trying to find open places to hang out. There was a Kebab restaurant open till 5 and so we settled there until I started falling asleep on the bench and we decided to walk around a bit more. At 3:40 we caught the bus to Skavsta and started our trip with a flight to Berlin. Remember the past few days we were deprived of a proper sleep (or any sleep) so at this point I slept so deep that the bus ride seemed like 5 minutes and the flight was maybe 10.
My first thought about Berlin was.... WOW it's really effing hot here. haha The first day was 27 C and the second was 33 C ( 91 F). We went to our hostel using the extremely cheap and convenient U Bahn first. When we arrived we were told to come back for check in at a later time so we just left our bags and tried to make it to the meeting point in time for the Sandeman New Europe free walking tour. We were very late and so caught the metro to Sachsenhausen Concentration camp instead. I have always had an extreme interest in the history surrounding the Holocaust and I saw Anne Frank's House when I was in Amsterdam, but to stand in an actual concentration camp, where thousands of innocent people were murdered..... was completely horrifying in so many ways. We saw the barracks and the role call areas, as well as the killing trenches and the mass graves. There were also the huge furnaces. Can't say any more about it. We were there for over 3 hours and then we took the train back to our hostel. The trip back was a complete blur because we were both falling in and out of sleep. It's a wonder how we made it back. The next day we took the walking tour and saw some really interesting things like the Holocaust memorial, Museum Island, "Hitler's Car Park", and of course the Wall and the Brandenberg Gate. After that we had Schnitzel and a nice beer (so cheap!!!) with our tour group and then went to the East Side Gallery and back to Museum Island because the museums are free on Thursdays. Much or Berlin still seems to bear marks from the wars and the rise of the Wall, for example there are nicks and bruises all over the Brandenberg Gate and many landmarks are black from fire damage. The pedestrian lights in East Berlin are different from those in West Berlin... etc. Our last night we sat and talked outside with some people who were staying in our hostel and in the morning before our flight we quickly visited the Holocause Museum, Reichstag, and the Torture Chambers. I don't want to bore you with every detail... All in all, I thought it was an extremely up and coming city with an incredibly important history and will definitely want to visit it again!
Our next stop was London, and after an extremely stressful airport experience (we were almost late and the entrance into UK was lengthy) we made it to the place where we stayed in Southeast London with a CS host from South Africa..He has four flatmates, all from S.A., and lots of neighbors who are always over. We never thought it was possible to learn for much about South Africa while in London!! They are sooooo awesome and this experience has made we love CS! I think we'll definitely do it again.
OK, It's getting late and I have an early morning, so I'll write more tomorrow!!