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October 31, 2008
Paris has been my favorite city I've visited in all of Europe. Although I struggled with french freshmen year, it really came in hand last week. I was able to communicate my thoughts to the locals, order food, ask for directions, etc. Everything about this city was cool. I felt like every building was at 300 years old; the architecture is just wonderful. All the buildings are really interesting to look at. On our first night there, we went to a really fancy restaurant. I ordered the roasted rabbit with rosemary honey... it was delicious! Oddly enough, roasted rabbit tastes somewhat like pot roast. After dinner, we to see the Eiffel Tower. It was close to midnight, and it was decorated with turquoise lights. It was beautiful. After we stared in amazement of it for about 30 minutes, we ordered crepes. I felt like it was a pretty french thing to do... eat a crepe underneath the Eiffel Tower.
The next day, we to the Louvre. It's huge! I always thought the museum was within the glass pyramid, but I was mistaken. The museum is actually apart of the french palace. It felt like the exhibits just kept going on and on. I saw the Mona Lisa, some Picasso, and lots of antiquity. I'm really glad we went. After the Louvre, we decided to go get some lunch. Of course, I had to get the onion soup, and it was amazing.
In the end, I hated I had to leave that city. It was awesome! CHECK OUT SOME PICS
October 28, 2008
Barcelona, Paris, and Amsterdam (Part 2)!!
So, here's a run down of my fall break.
Last Friday, Brad and I traveled for several hours, and we were exhausted by the time we got to Barcelona. We simply wanted to check into our hostel and grab some dinner. Finding the hostel was easy, but finding food proved to be more difficult. We found a small restaurant that seemed to have a ton of locals. Brad and I decide to try it. Once we walked in, we clearly stood out as Americans. The owner approached us and spoke to us in Spanish. Because neither Brad nor I speak Spanish, we tried to ask him if he spoke English. And now you see the problem. Two starving college students and one eager restaurant owner have a failure to communicate. He mimes the act of eating to us and we eagerly nod our heads. He shows us a table and immediately starts bringing out multiple courses of food. It was soooo good. There was fried fish, potatoes, and like a country fried ham. Although we couldn't tell the owner that his food was delicious, we just nodded, and he kept bringing more food. At the end of dinner, Brad and I were nervous that the bill would be like 100 Euro because we ate so much. It was only 20 euro. Awesome meal.
Saturday, it rained a lot. We went to the center of Barcelona and found this huge open-air market. There was candy, fruits, vegetables, fish, and different kinds of meats. I'm sure the fish had to be caught that morning... everything in the market seemed so fresh. After the market, we went to the Aquarium. It was kinda lame to be honest. One of our guide books said that we had the Barcelona Aquarium was the second largest in Europe. This was misleading, as the aquarium was tiny. Later that night, we went to a swank club called Elephant. It was fun, but we didn't get home until like 5 in the morning.
Finally, the last day we were there, we did lots of hiking. We saw multiple Gaudi buildings and climbed a mountain. At the top of this mountain was a castle. The castle is open to the public and we were able to walk around. After hours and hours of walking, we were famished. It seemed like we walked for an eternity just to find a restaurant. We finally decided to eat at a Hard Rock Cafe. I guess we just miss American food.
I'll write about Paris soon.
October 17, 2008
Barcelona...Paris...Amsterdam...Milan (Part 1)
Today, I start my fall break and a serious travel schedule. Over the next 10 days, I am going to be bouncing all over Europe, from country to country. My first flight leaves in a couple of hours. Thanks to Ryanair I was able to by a ticket to Barcelona for only 26 Euro! Can you believe it's so cheap to fly here? I'm extremely excited to get on the plane and get this excursion going... I'll be sure to take plenty of pictures!
October 12, 2008
The Vatican Museum
This weekend, I made my second trip to Rome to visit the Sistine Chapel. The chapel is in the Vatican museum, which has more masterpieces there than I ever could imagine. Honestly, its quite overwhelming to go to the museum. There whole museum is saturated in marble carvings… everything is extremely ornate. The Sistine Chapel sits at the very end of the museum, and the walk to the chapel is about a mile and half. So you can try to imagine how much is there, but it is better to simply see it.
Before this trip, I thought that the Catholic Church, especially the Vatican, frowned upon antique art. I thought they viewed classic Roman art as pagan, and it was totally unfit to be displayed in the church. However, after this trip to the Vatican Museum and Basilica, I observed there is no separation from religious art and antiquity. Religious artists, especially Michelangelo, were inspired by classic Roman sculptures. There were antique and religious statues positioned side by side one another. I remember seeing a statue of Athena standing right next to a saint. Even antique busts of the Caesars of Rome were displayed in the museum. I guess Roman history is an inherent part of the history of the Church. For the Church not to acknowledge and display antique Roman art is like ignoring an integral part of its own history.
The picture you see now is Michelangelo’s Moses. He isn’t in the Vatican Museum, but it is in a chapel across town.
This Friday, Brad and I begin our tour of Europe. Our first stop is Barcelona, then Paris, and finally Amsterdam. I am extremely excited for this trip, but I’m concerned because there is a transportation strike on Friday. Italians are notorious for going on strike on any given whim. The train strikes are the worst. I swear have been 3 train strikes in the last month. It hasn’t yet interfered with my travel plans… until now. So, I’m not sure if my airplane ticket to Barcelona is just gone down the drain or if my flight will somehow be rescheduled. Either way, this strike is putting a major delay in my travel plans.
Click here for more pics
October 07, 2008
Munich, Germany (A Series of Unfortunate Events)
This past weekend, Brad and I took a train all the way to Munich. It had to be about 15 hours one-way... it was a little painful. But before we got there, the day got off to a horrible start. On Friday, we got up at 4:45 so we could catch the bus at 5:30. Before we made it to the bus station, Brad decides to go the ATM and withdraw some money. He inserts his card into the machine, but the machine fails to return his card or give him any of the funds he requested! So we're standing outside the bank... two stupid Americans who dont speak Italian well enough to call the manufacturers of the ATM. At this moment, we only have 20 minutes to figure this out before our bus leaves. Brad dashes back to our apartment to get the 24-hour emergency number for Umbra students. Umbra University tells us not to worry... Italian banks usually dont shred ATM cards when they get stuck in the machines. WHAT?!
The thought that the bank might shred his card brought Brad almost to tears. He was told that they should hold on to the card until he was able to claim it. With that encouragement, we decided to dash to the bus station, and continue our journey on to Munich.
Well, I would like to say that our journey went smoothly, but we ran into a few more problems. We were supposed to transfer in Bologna to a new train. Well, this was problematic because it was almost an hour late! That eventually put us off almost 3 hours from our original schedule. Our host, Sue, the former German intern, was suppose to take us out to an authentic German meal. Instead she ended up waiting for us in the train station.
However, once we finally got to Munich and met with Sue, everything was smoothed over. She cooked dinner for us... which was quite delicious. We hung out for the entire weekend and saw just how beautiful Germany is. The landscape is gorgeous. I think the fields in Germany have the greenest grass I have ever seen. Everything about it was captivating.
The ride home was pretty uneventful. The only upsetting part was that the battery in my Ipod died. I'm not really sure how I survived that train ride.