My Personal “March Madness”

To whoever is reading this and for those who keep up with my blog, I sincerely apologize for not writing in awhile!  Hopefully after you see these photos and read these stories, you’ll understand why blogging has been out of sight this month!

For starters, I went to Prague at the end of February/early March.  Prague was beautiful, cheap, and gave me a true taste of what central Europe has to offer!

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Myself, Bethany, and Johanna enjoying the castle tour and the gorgeous view!
The castle tour was freezing cold, but it was totally worth it! The next day, the three of us also went on a city walking tour, which was something I got more joy out of than I imagined!

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Prague was flawless; it was equally beautiful and dirt-cheap (something that I appreciate having been in Sweden for a little under three months now)! And of course, being the Beatles fan that I am, we couldn’t leave without seeing the John Lennon Wall!

The next adventure was Swedish and Norwegian Lapland!  I went with a group of fifty-something from my university in Kalmar, Sweden; it was great becoming closer with so many students I don’t usually see on a regular basis.

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Stockholm was our first stop, and I wish we would have had more time there.  The Gamma Stan, or “Old Town,” was so medieval and old-fashioned!  The town square was beautiful with all the colorful and rustic buildings; the photos from my low-quality digital camera don’t do it any justice!

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After Stockholm, we finally arrived in Lapland!  It was bitter cold, but worth every shiver and shake!  We stopped at a reindeer ranch and met a Sami couple.  Samis are the native people of Sweden, Norway, Finland, and Russia!  They live off of the reindeer and their lives, meals, and conversations revolve around these magnificent creatures.

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The Norway-Sweden border was such a neat experience; being in two countries (essentially) at once is something that I thought was pretty awesome!

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Although Lapland was full of traveling between hostels, long days of sledding, dog sledding, and snowmobiling, the travel bug didn’t become tired in me!  The next weekend, I visited one of my best friends in Germany!

She was a foreign exchange student at my high school during my junior year (five+ years ago) and we have remained close friends ever since!  I visited Hamburg, Germany in 2012 before I began college, but this time was different; I felt like I was coming back home in a way.

Saskia and I have remained so close, and I’m so blessed for that!  Whenever we get together, it’s as though we never missed a beat; we pick up right where we left off!

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The two of us went dancing two out of the three nights I was there; we had to go out on St. Patty’s Day!  Aside from the excellent nightlife that Hamburg has to offer, we were able to have a nice dinner by my favorite spot: the Alsterhaus!  The walk along the harbor the next day was lovely, too.

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My teddy bear, @pierre.the.bear, had to join us, too!
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I returned on a Sunday feeling refreshed and rejuvenated.  Then, the very next morning, I left on a school trip with a small group to Estonia, Russia, and Finland!  I expected Russia to steal my heart, and although I enjoyed all three countries, Estonia was by far my favorite.  The culture was rich, the food was delicious and gluten-free, and the nightlife may have even been better than Hamburg’s (dare I say it)!

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Tallinn, the capital of Estonia, was so peaceful and medieval at the same time.  The town was almost an eerie kind of quiet, but the kind that all of us needed in between the hectic ferry rides and hostel-hopping!

I honestly didn’t want to ever leave Estonia, but I was excited to see St. Petersburg, Russia!  I just wish my time in each country didn’t feel so rushed.  Despite the trip being so fast-paced, Tallinn stole my heart.

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In less than 24 hours, I saw a Russian folk show, went on a limo tour of the sites at night, walked around in the Hermitage, and stayed in the sketchiest hostel I will ever stay at!  Russia brought just what I thought it would: adventure!

The last stop was Helsinki, Finland.  Two students are on exchange from Finland and downplayed Helsinki so much; I was amazed to find out that Helsinki had quite a bit to offer!  All of us (especially the Americans) LOVED Finland’s capital.

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Helsinki had the most unique churches (made of wood and rocks) that I have ever set foot in!  Also, surprisingly, it had one of the best Mexican restaurants I have ever experienced!

So now do you see why the title is “March Madness?” šŸ˜‰

For more photos, visit my photo site: https://catherine-yankley.squarespace.com

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