After spending a few days in the sun of Venice and Lido de Jesolo, it was time to move northward, back through the Alps. We stopped and stayed for the night in Bellamonte, Italy, where we did a short hike in the Dolomites... If you remember my blog post from a few weeks ago, in which I proclaimed my love for mountains, you'll understand why I have so many pictures from this hike... So be warned!
|Unfortunately the rest of me got cut off in this picture... I was actually making the typical mountaineering pose: hands on the backpack straps, one foot on a rock, and a look of complete awesomeness in the face.|
|The perfect Alpine shack.|
Although we only walked up a service road during our "hike", and didn't actually go "off the beaten path", the journey was still tiring... Especially after a week and a half of sitting sedentary on a bus!
The next day we continued on our way and crossed into one of the last countries on the tour: Austria.
Ever since spending a few weeks in Salzburg a few years ago, I have wanted to return to Austria. And although we only had a few hours to spend in Innsbruck, it was nice to visit again. In high school I took German for nearly four years, so it was also nice to be able to understand signs and menus again after being in France, Italy, and the like, where I understood nothing!
Since we had only a few hours in Innsbruck, we only had time to have lunch (where I once again had pizza), get ice cream, and relax in a nice park. It was time well spent with friends, though!
Finally, we said goodbye to Austria and made the final push north towards our last country: Germany.
In Germany we stopped for an early dinner in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, which is a town apparently known for its skiing. We ate schnitzel at a traditional Bavarian restaurant and watched traditional Bavarian dancing before moving northward once again to Nuremberg, where we stayed the night.
In the morning we went to the Documentation Center of the Nazi Party Rally Grounds, located in the well-known Congress Hall. The experience was especially chilling after watching Schindler's List on the bus the previous afternoon. Nonetheless it was an interesting museum, on par with the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam.
|The fancy Bavarian restaurant we ate at in Garmisch-Partenkirchen.|
After that, we headed to Berlin, our final stop. That night we had a special ceremony in which we passed the gifts our Oldies (exchange students from the previous year) had given us in Lapland on to the Newbies (exchange students who are half way through their year). It was an emotional time, as it was the night before most of us had to say goodbye to each other for good. All in all it was a nice night, and we (the current Oldies) ended by singing to the Newbies, and passing on the tradition.
The next day we had a bus tour of Berlin, stopping at major tourist points like the Brandenburger Gate and remnants of the Berlin Wall. We also had some time, albeit too little, to explore parts of Berlin before heading to the airport, and back to Finland (and subsequently, Estonia, for some of us...).
|The Brandenburger Gate.|
|The Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe.|
|And finally, the Berlin Wall.|
As we arrived in the Helsinki airport that night, the amazing EUROTOUR of 2012 ended, and the goodbyes began.
In conclusion, it was an unbelievable trip filled with great experiences, made even better by the people who took part in it (especially our bus driver, Juhani). I had an amazing and unforgettable time... There could be no better way to end an exchange year! Thanks for reading!
Oh yeah, almost forgot... Many people have traditions that they try to accomplish in every country on EUROTOUR. Some people eat an ice cream in every country, others get pictures taken of themselves jumping in front of monuments. My original intention was to have a hot chocolate in every country and then rate them at the end, but I completely forgot about it... So instead, I just bought a souvenir patch from each place (minus Sweden).
|Patches from eight out of nine countries on Eurotour (plus two from St. Petersburg).|
In other news, I officially have a week left in Estonia.