Castine, Maine

Castine, Maine

One of the best things about my job is the way it lets me see new places in New England with not just ease, but encouragement. Earlier this summer, I journeyed the Maine mid-coast for some story research and blogging opportunities, and was lucky enough to spend the night in lovely, historic Castine, Maine.

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Eastern European Adventure | Krakow

At this rate, I won’t be done recapping this trip for another few months, but if you’re still reading, that means you’ll likely bear with me. The holidays, binge-watching BBC series on Netflix, and my job (which includes a lot of blogging) might have prevented me from getting these out before the year ended, but get them out I shall!

Let’s move on to my favorite city of the bunch – beautiful Krakow, Poland. I feel a little bad saying I preferred it over Prague, which I also loved, but there was just something about Krakow’s compact quaintness and the Polish people who charmed me to the core, starting with its beautiful main market square.

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The train platform at Birkeneau.

Eastern European Adventure | Auschwitz-Birkenau

Leaving the Czech Republic behind, we crossed into southern Poland and made our way towards Auschwitz-Birkenau, the largest and perhaps best known of the Nazi concentration and death camps. From its beginnings in 1940 as a detention center for political prisoners, the camp grew from one site to many, where it’s estimated that at least 1.1 million prisoners died — around 90 percent of them Jewish. Today, the Polish government operates the Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial and Museum at the site.

As you’d imagine, visiting Auschwitz is a powerful, emotional, and thought-provoking experience that feels almost uncomfortable to describe from my 2014 lapsed-Catholic American perch, so I’m not going to try. Instead, I’m just going to share what I saw and learned.

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Kutná Hora Bone Church

Eastern European Adventure | Kutna Hora Bone Church and Olomouc

On my final morning in Prague I met up with the tour group that I’d be with for the remainder of my trip. We were a large group (maybe 35) composed mostly of Australians and New Zealanders, and while I was hoping to find some nice people to chat with on the bus and at our group dinners, I ended up meeting some truly lovely people who I want to keep in touch with thanks to the magic of the internet — just a terrific group! What luck!

Our first stop after leaving Prague was Sedlec Ossuary, a small Roman Catholic chapel located beneath the Cemetery Church of All Saints in Sedlec, a suburb of Kutna Hora. It might have looked unassuming from the outside…

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prague charles bridge night

Eastern European Adventure | Prague

Sometime last spring I decided to stop whining about wanting to go on a “big trip” and booked something. From the moment I chose the beauty and history of Eastern Europe to the moment my flight was booked took about 12 hours. I knew I would have a few days alone in Prague, and then meet up with a tour group that would head east into Krakow, Poland and then down into Budapest, Hungary with plenty of stops along the way, but beyond that, planning was minimal. I bought a few books, because that’s part of the fun, but despite thorough readings and one active Pinterest board I just couldn’t make anything stick in my head. I’d find myself wondering “Which city has the baths again? Which one came out of WWII mostly unscathed? Which one serves a lot of pork knuckle?” (FYI – the answer to that last question is basically “All of them”) but I couldn’t connect the fact with the city. Finally, I just gave up and dedicated myself to assembling a monochromatic wardrobe and researching which pocket point-and-shoot camera to buy. FYI this ended up being a Canon  Powershot S110 — ain’t no way I was going to lug a DSLR around for 2 weeks.

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mcsorley's bar

November | Brooklyn & NYC

It’s timely that I recently referenced my rampant college-era love for Morrissey and the Smiths because this past weekend I found myself staring at a Morrissey impersonator named “Ronnissey” at 1:00 AM, just a few hours after staring at an overhead water ballet and getting sprayed with a hose by a DJ wearing a powdered wig.

How did I get there? Let’s back it up.

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