As the first nontrivial entry of this blog, it is probably best if I describe the short 18-day period in Europe between 25 May till 11 June, a few weeks after my final examination in my four-year undergraduate studies ended.
This trip was undertaken due to a competition I took part in, PLANCKS 2017 — naturally, a physics competition — held in Graz, Austria on 27-28 May. I did not have much savings, thus the fact that the school paid for the two-way tickets allowed me to save more than half the typical costs to travel in Europe. With that, I decided to travel after competition ended. The route I decided to take was eventually: Graz – Vienna – Salzburg/Hallstatt – Český Krumlov – Prague – Kraków – Warsaw. The choice was largely driven by cost-saving possibility.
By now I have large trouble describing everything in words, so I will try to make it brief while not skipping any city. Let’s see if one paragraph per country (Austria/Czechia/Poland) works.
The competition did not turn out as well as I wanted, but I did enjoy the little after-competition conversations with other teams. It seems that unsurprisingly perhaps, despite different nationalities we are all “united” by common interests. The city itself – Graz – was somehow not the usual tourist spots, but it is still pretty nice. I like the ambience. Vienna and Salzburg are more or less the city of music with their beautiful buildings and concerts, and one can probably get more details elsewhere online since my pictures nor my experiences are nowhere thorough. I did enjoy the one-day trip to a nearby town beside a lake and surrounded by mountain, Hallstatt. In total this lasted till 3 June. We stuck together as a group until the last day where we all went separate ways. I chose to go to Prague, with a one-day stop at Český Krumlov.
Český Krumlov was a lot prettier and likable than I ever thought. I chose it just to break the trip to Prague into two pieces, and it was a nice reward. Considering it is only about the size of 5 km x 5 km, I am glad I chose this place instead of heading straight to Prague. In contrast, while Prague is definitely worth going, its size and tourist-flooded state made me sometimes feel that the trip was not so great after all. Still, the free walking tour around Prague made it more enjoyable so definitely no complain. Well, to learn that Prague means “doorstep” is nice too.
Pretty, cheap food, tons of school kids in summer holidays. This is the one-liner explanation of my Poland trip. Learning the atrocities of World War II in Kraków made this trip much more worth it, though it made me shiver a little. I spent almost four days here, more or less slowly, but it is fine. In Warsaw, it felt more comfortable somehow partly because it is a large city. The old town part of it is still pretty lovely like Kraków, and surprised to find familiar names in several monuments and museums: Copernicus, Curie, Chopin.
This ultra-brief summary pretty much ended the trip. It won’t be until few more years before I will get a chance to be there again, I think.
At the time of writing, I have been back around four days. I spent my days lazing around, sleeping a lot, settling for study permit among other things. I will probably try to read some new physics/mathematics in the coming days though I am not sure how much I can/will do; I will travel around Singapore for various purposes – visiting friends, looking around, going for corners I have never been, etc. Considering that I still need to fly to California for a short study trip, this means that I don’t really have much time left in Singapore. That thought saddens me somewhat.
Yes, I will probably remind myself of this over and over again — that this time I will have to leave without knowing when I will ever be back. Unlike 11 years ago, I left knowing I would not be back to where I came from. This time, I wished I would eventually go one full circle and be back here for a good reason. This is the reason for my current lamentation. This is the reason that despite the offer letter for my graduate studies, I cannot help but feel somewhat sad about it.