Gabrielle's Life and Writings

Gabrielle Lawson, writer of Fanfiction. I will use this space to keep a journal about my writing, the progress I'm making, stories I'm working on, writer's blocks I'm having, our adoption process and progress and just life in general.

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Location: Missouri, United States

I'm multifaceted and highly educated. I have a BA in History and an MA in Museum Studies. But I couldn't make a living in a museum, so my hobby--computers--became my living. I'm now a charter member Microsoft Certified Desktop Support Technician. I aspire to be a professional writer and/or poet. I am a Christian and have been living by His grace for the last four years or so, despite the MegaStress and now the GigaStress. He keeps me going, and displays His glory still, in my life.

Thursday, October 23, 2003

All over Europe and back


What a trip! It wasn't all good but I made the most of it. This will likely be my longest entry yet!

Day 1, Oct. 3rd, Chicago

My plane to Chicago left two hours late. So I missed my plane to london and, consequently, to Dusseldorf. I was told there was a flight to Frankfurt I could take. But when I ran to that gate in Chicago, the flight was full. The best I could do then was take a flight the next evening to Amsterdam.

So, being stuck in Chicago for the better part of 24 hours, I called my friend Dwim and we went to the Museum of Science and Industry to see the U505, a German U-boat captured during World war II.

Day 3, Oct. 5, Amsterdam and Muenster

So I left Chicago the evening of Oct. 4th and arrived the next morning in Amsterdam. Unfortunately, my luggage didn't arrive with me. And my Clie had somehow gotten turned on and so the battery was nearly dead. And my charger was gone as well. I'm pretty sure I lost it in Chicago. Fortunately I remembered that I had a battery-charger that uses AA batteries. My Clie had all my friends' names and addresses in it. I would have been sunk without it.

I was quite distraught, however. No luggage. I was on day 3 for the same clothes I'd worn on Friday. My German friends drove out to pick me up, and brought me a few things donated by his sister. I slept through most of the drive to Muenster.

We went out in the evening to a neat restaurant. It was medieval in theme. We got a huge platter of meats and vegetables and shared it among five of us.

Day 4, Oct. 6th, Muenster

It rained this day, but I got a tour of Muenster anyway. The building where the Treaty of Westphalia (ending the Thirty Years War) was signed was closed, as was the StadtMuseum. I did, however, visit several beautiful churches and learn some of Muenster's past. I also went shopping. I needed some new clothes. My friends were great and very helpful in trying to track down my lost luggage.

Day 5, Oct. 7th, Weimar and Buchenwald

My main interest in history is the Holocaust, so I wanted to use this opportunity to visit Buchenwald as it was the nearest to my present course of travel. Unfortunately, though, I got on the wrong train and ended up heading toward Osnabruck. I did get turned around in Hasbergen and so eventually did end up in Weimar. From there it was just a short bus ride to Buchenwald.

I only had an hour to see the former concentration camp, so I walked quickly, using my Clie to record pictures of plaques and such to read later. The camp was quite large. The cells in the police building were very small. It was probably the most effecting part of the tour for me. I may change my mind once all my pictures are developed.

I ended the evening by getting back on the train and heading toward Teplice in the Czech Republic, my Czech hometown. No, I'm not Czech, but I did live there for a year. It's near and dear to my heart. I arrived at 10 in the evening and my former roommate, Marenka, did not get my last e-mail telling her I'd be arriving that evening. And, since I didn't yet have any Czech money, I decided to walk. Amazing, I found my way, even after eight years!

Day 6, Oct. 8, Teplice

I stayed in Teplice and did some more shopping. I needed some nice slacks for a concert I was going to go to with Marenka and another friend, Irena, who had come up from Prague. I got some money changed and found a few things. Then I got the e-mail from my German friend, Christian, which said my luggage had been found! It would be at the airport in Prague when I arrived there.

I tried to get tickets to the showing of the Lord of the Rings trilogy, but I was going to be at that concert when they went onsale in my area. I tried to get my friend, Marty, and my brother-in-law to get the tickets for me, but they were unsuccessful. But the time I got on the next morning, the tickets were sold out.

The concert was nice, but I was very tired and fell asleep during the first half. I did, however, write during the second half. If I'm not too tired, classical music is rocket-fuel for my brain.

Day 7, Oct. 9th, Duchcov

I went for a visit to my old school. I had taught English eight years before at the Gymnazium in Duchcov and it was great to see how the school had changed. It was being restored when I worked there and now it was all finished. It is beautiful. I spoke with one of Maria Prokesova's classes. They were shy but eventually opened up a bit.

I also went to the Royal Dux store and found a beautiful clock for my new house. Royal Dux is the best Czech porcelain and the Czechs are known for their porcelain. If you ever go to the Czech Republic and plan to buy any, don't buy it in Prague. Take a two hour trip out to Duchcov and buy it where it is made. It's a lot cheaper out there.

Day 8, Oct. 10th, Prague

Finally, my favorite city in the world! I arrived in Prague in the afternoon and met my friend, Eva. First, we went to the airport and collected my bag. It was so nice to have everything again. Of course, now I'd have to manage to fit the new clothes in as well as whatever souvenirs I bought.

We met Eva's friend, Marketa, in Old Town and proceeded to the square. Staromestke Namesti! We got there just in time to see the Orloj count the hour. It's a famous attraction. Every hour, as the bells chime, the apostles peak out of two windows above the clock. It draws huge crowds.

And I got to see Prague at night! Prague is a magical city, beautiful in any season, but at night....! It's even more beautiful.

Day 9, Oct. 11th, Prague

More Prague! Actually more Old Town Prague. That's my favorite part! We started at the National Museum at the top of Vaclav Square (Wenceslas in English, but I hate that translation) and walked down to Old Town and across Charles Bridge to Mala Strana and up to the Castle, around the Castle, to Loretta and Novy Svet, and back to Charles Bridge before we called it a night!

This is the place where I spent the most money on souvenirs. I just love Prague and couldn't help myself.

Day 10, Oct. 12th, Mlada Boleslav, Kokorin

I left in the morning for Mlada Boleslav by bus. One burning question just would not leave my head: Why "mlada" when Boleslav is a masculine name? (The 'a' ending on mlada denotes it as feminine.) I got no full answer. But there is also a Stara Boleslav on the map with the same problem.

Mlada Boleslav was much smaller than Prague but quite quaint, and the countryside was beautiful. My friend, Lilly, and her boygriend, Jari, took me aways out to Kokorin, a castle on a high hill. Actually, it should belong to Jari. It was his great grandfather's. The communists took it away, and I think now there is a court battle going on to get it back from the state. It was beautiful, and very high up. And we even climbed the tower, which is even farther up.

Day 11, Oct. 13th, Olomouc

In the morning I left for Olomouc to meet my penpal, Barbora. We had the plan of mailing my books back to the States as I'd accumulated quite a few and was worried about the weight limit on luggage. However, the post office wanted 1,000 crowns to mail it and that's high. About $34. Taking them on the plane to London would be cheaper even if I had to pay for the extra weight.

Barbora took me on a tour of the town, including several gorgeous old churches. In one, we managed to hear a rehearsal of the pipe organ. I recorded it with my Clie. We ended up the evening watching DS9 episodes at Barbora's home. I was off to my next stop just after midnight.

Day 12, Oct. 14th, Czestochowa, Oswiecim

I had to travel overnight if I wanted a chance to see Oswiecim. The name "Auschwitz" might be more memorable to you. I'd been there once before, but got only a short tour in Auschwitz II-Birkenau. I wanted to see the whole thing. I left Olomouc at 12:40 am and arrived just after 6, having only been woken up about five times to show my ticket or my passport to the border guards.

Agata, a friend that I'd known only from e-mail, met me at the train station early in the morning. She took me back to her flat and we had breakfast and talked a bit. I left at 8:30 for Oswiecim while she want on to her classes.

I think I took nearly 200 pictures at Auschwitz, and a few videos as well. It's a very effecting museum. I think we need a new vocabulary to describe it. I can't say I had fun, or had a good time, at Auschwitz. Those words don't fit. But it was good that I got to go. It was good that I saw what I saw. And I felt it so much more this time, after having written about it in Oswiecim.

Day 13, Oct. 15th, a train and Prague again

It took the better part of a day to get back to Prague. About 9 hours in fact. I left just after noon and arrived in the evening. I read a book about the Cathedral of Svaty Vit and slept a lot.

And I got to see Prague at night one last time!

Day 14, Oct. 16th, London

An interesting thing happened in the airport. I was in one line to check in and thought maybe I was in the wrong line, as the other was going faster. But I stayed put, and eventually it was my turn. The guy at the desk asked me if I'd ever taught English in Duchcov! It turned out it was one of my students! I didn't have to pay any extra for my bag either!

I got into London that morning. But knowing my friend, Jane (who had also taught in the Czech Republic eight years ago), wasn't going to be off work until 5:30, I didn't rush to meet her. I sent her an e-mail at noonish that I'd meet her at Liverpool Street station. I arrived at said station at 3 or so. I was still there at 8. My friend didn't get her e-mail. Getting distraught again, I called the only other person I knew in London, Matt, who is one of my test readers and also a Henneth_Annun lurker. He came to my rescue but then Jane did show up. She apparently hadn't gotten my e-mail and so the miscommunication began. She took me back to her house in a cab and the rest of the evening was fine.

Day 15, Oct. 17th, London

More London! I didn't have enough money for my planned trip to York so I just stayed in London. Jane helped me make it fun. She found some info on London Walks. I'd been to London twice before, so I wanted to do something different and this was great. For 5 pounds, I got a two hour tour with an entertaining guide. We did the Jack the Ripper walk that evening. I also went to the Imperial War Museum in the morning. I'd recommend that to anyone. They have two interactive experiences that are worth far more than the price of admission (free). The Trench Experience and the Blitz Experience. They also have two floors dedicated to the Holocaust.

Day 16, Oct. 18th, London

This was Ainaechoiriel's day. She got dressed up and went to the Lord of the Rings exhibit in London, so I'll let her tell all about it.

Truth be told, she also went on the London Walk that evening as she didn't have time to go back to the house and change back into me. Thankfully, Jane brought my tennis shoes so at least my feet would be more comfortable. We did the Classical Crimes and Murders Walk.

Day 17, Oct 19th, London

Another full day! I went on the Ancient London Walk in the morning then joined the long line for the London Dungeon in the afternoon. It wasn't nearly as scary as I'd thought it would be, but it was scarier than Madame Tousaud's. I had about an hour's rest for my weary feet and then it was time to meet Matt for the Haunted London Walk.

Day 18, Oct. 20th, London, Chicago, and home

I left London at 10:35 and arrived in Chicago at 2:15ish. I was finally able to use my cell phone again, and use it I did. I found out my car was still not finished (remember the dent I'd gotten?). Dynamic Auto Body and Detailing were supposed to have fixed it and gotten it to my sister to borrow. They lied to her and her husband, didn't call either back when the said they would, and had taken far longer than they said they would. I was told the manager would be in in an hour and a half.

I got back to my hometown at 4:15 and called again only to be told the manager was still not in and that my car was being polished. I said I'd be by before they closed.

I got there at 5:55. They were supposed to be open until 6. They weren't.

Vacation Recovery Day

I took the day off to recover from my vacation, but what I ended up doing was fighting for my car. I went back the shop the next morning and they still said it was being polished. I yelled a lot. To cut the story short, we finally came to an agreement of a substantial discount over the estimate. I finally got my car at 5pm. So much for my vacation recovery day.

And so ends my vacation. Coming to work seems almost restful after the last two days. I had a great vacation but came home to a lot of stress. I'll be recovering for awhile I think.


But at least I did write a little. About five pages during that concert.

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