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Oxford Packing Guide March 20, 2014

Posted by lauramargaretb in Travel Log.
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Hello, Techies!

 

We’re coming up on the one-year anniversary of my travels with the Oxford Study Abroad Program, so I thought I’d post a packing list to help this year’s Oxford group. This is largely based on the program’s official list, with my own recommendations added. (Sorry, guys – my comments are definitely more helpful for the girls.)

Main Suitcase

You’ll check this bag on the plane and put it in the undercarriage of the bus during the travel portion. Maximum weight is 50 lbs. for the plane and maximum size is 5200 cubic inches for the bus (assuming that hasn’t changed since last year.) I used a 28” hard-side suitcase that you could pack on both sides. Definitely recommend getting a suitcase with 4 wheels and a lock.

  • 3 pairs of casual pants

  • 1 pairs of nice pants

  • 3-4 pairs of shorts

  • 1-2 skirts

  • 6-8 tops (have a variety: tank tops, sweaters, etc. – scarves to mix and match)

  • 2-3 dresses (1 should be formal for nice dinners, others just casual)

  • 1 cardigan to cover your shoulders in churches

  • 1 sweatshirt/fleece

  • 6-8 t-shirts, long and short sleeve

  • 3-4 running shorts/leggings (pajama pants)

  • 5 pairs of socks

  • 5 pairs of shoes (shower shoes, outdoor sandals, nice sandals/flats, rain shoes, tennis shoes – wear one pair on the plane; don’t bring heels)

  • 2 weeks’ worth of undergarments (I would wash half of these as soon as we arrived in each city so they’d be dry when it was time to pack.)

  • 2 belts (even if you don’t normally wear them – your pants will stretch from hand-washing)

  • 1 rain jacket

  • Toiletries bag

    • Shampoo/conditioner

    • Soap

    • Sunscreen

    • Razor

    • Make-up

    • Toothpaste

    • Hairbrush (don’t bring straighteners, hair dryers, etc. – the voltage won’t work)
  • Umbrella

  • Extra batteries

  • Sewing Kit

  • First-aid kit / personal medicine (keep one of everything in a smaller bag with you)

  • Washcloth

  • 1 plastic grocery bag (in case you’re clothes aren’t dry on travel day)
  • Money belt

  • Small combination/key lock (for hostels)

  • Small flashlight

  • 1 Travel Spacebag (Do not open until you get to Oxford. It will be awesome to have perfectly clean clothes when you get there and are exhausted.)

    • 1 of the pairs of jeans

    • 1 of the shirts

    • 1 of the t-shirts

    • 1 of the pairs of running shorts

    • 1 of the pairs of socks

    • 2 of the pairs of underwear

  • **Keep some money, your student visa letter, and a copy of your passport here.

Small-Medium Duffle Bag

This is a great resource for stashing snack food, souvenirs, laundry, etc. in the overhead compartment of the bus. For the one-night stopover that breaks up your longest bus trip and your visit to Venice, pack this small bag and leaved your main suitcase locked in the undercarriage. This bag is also great for weekend trips during the in-residence portion. Pack this in you main suitcase during flights, or, if you have a lot of souvenirs, you can pay extra to check it as well.

Book Bag

This is a great ride-along bag for the plane and the bus, plus when you get to the in-residence portion, you can just use it as a book bag. It also works great as your stand along bag for long weekend trips.

  • Travel toothpaste

  • Toothbrush

  • Deodorant

  • Small wrist-watch with batteries

  • Textbooks (try to get e-books)

  • Converter

  • Chargers

  • Laptop (don’t bring a tablet instead of your laptop – you’ll have trouble getting Wi-Fi at Oxford)

  • Large plastic envelope for post cards, brochures, etc.

  • Notebook for class (I got the smaller size – 9.5×6 – that fit in my purse.)

  • Travel pillow (carry this with you – don’t get an inflatable one, more hassle than convenience)

  • Water bottle with D-ring

Cross-Body Purse

I used a large purse that had a regular handle and a cross body strap. It was big enough to include a pair of shoes and a light sweater. For quick trips where not much stuff is needed, just use your money belt (careful with the money belt if you’re wearing a dress.)

  • Camera (if you plan on using it – I just used my phone)

  • Sunglasses

  • Wallet (one with a keychain that you can latch onto a zipper)

  • Gum

  • Phone (use with Wi-Fi or in emergencies)

  • Smaller first aid kit with one of everything
  • Small hand sanitizer
  • Plastic envelope

    • Passport

    • Extra money

    • Secondary credit card

    • Emergency contact information

    • Any important medical information, translated into several languages

UNSW Exchange…here I come! January 2, 2014

Posted by karamstrasser in Travel Log.
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Hey everyone!!

So, in light of going on a new exchange, I figured it was time to kick back up the old blog to keep you all around the world in tune with what I’m up to. Starting mid-February, I will be heading down under for four and a half months of learning, changes, and adventure. Y’all…I’m freaking excited!!! I will be taking classes at the University of New South Wales (UNSW) in Kensington (just a bit outside of downtown Sydney) and living on the north side of campus in a six bedroom apartment along side other exchange students. I’m SO excited to be taking an exchange semester all on my own — it’s like a clean slate. Nothing will be tying me down aside from my school work and I can hardly imagine the heaps of exploring and adventuring I will do. Here’s spending hours on end outside (can you say beach?), making some incredible new friends, and having a new shot at figuring out who Kara is! Hope you can stick with me for the ride.

February 13th (spending Valentine’s day on a plane…my one true love) – July 2nd.

From now until my departure, I’ll be documenting my month in Atlanta. I’ll be heading back down south in a few days (sorry mom!) to spend a bit more time with my friends until I leave. My time will be spent working in my scholarship office, trying out this whole yoga thing (hey Bryce), running a TON (hey Olivia, Marnie, and Audrey), bumming off of my friends’ couches (hey everybody), living out of my car, and getting some quality time in with my little (hey Missy), and hopefully exploring some of Atlanta’s best restaurants.

GTL – The Complete Summer-y October 5, 2013

Posted by missypittard in Travel Log.
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This is video compilation of some of the highlights from this summer abroad at Georgia Tech Lorraine.  Enjoy!

 

The South…Of France (My Parent’s Weekend) October 5, 2013

Posted by missypittard in Travel Log.
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IMG_2444Half way through the semester, what better time to reunite with the parentals!

I flew down in this dinker of a plane, but hey, it got me there.

Basically a rollercoaster ride at 30,000 ft….nobody’s mad…except the french dude who was yacking next to me…

My Papa and family friend Murray Hutchison picked me up only to bring me back to the most beautiful vineyard getaway I have ever encountered.  It was simply spectacular.

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It’s amazing how much better wine tastes when you spend more than 4 euro on a bottle.

The next day my parents and I went down to Avignon(fun fact: the former residency of the Pope before Rome).

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Checked a couple off of the Bucket list this weekend!

Galloped a Camargue Horse down the beaches of Camargue(aptly named).

<3

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LAYED OUT ON THE BEACHED IN THE SOUTH OF FRANCE. wahhh so wonderful I can’t even describe.  Truly, one of my favorite weekends of the summer.  It was wonderful to have a piece of home with me for part of the ride.

PRAGUE: I’m on a Boat, and other Shenanigans October 5, 2013

Posted by missypittard in Travel Log.
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A Bridge with a View

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Sprinted to make our train to Prague, and made it by the skin of our teeth…if our teeth had skin.  We luckily arrived in a cooler climate in the B-E-A-U-TIFUL country of the Czech Republic.

Prague was spectacular. Light showers cooled us off from our scorcher in Budapest. The stormy skies made for an incredible backdrop.

Left Munich, but seems like the Bachelor craziness is all over Europa.  They should bring the show over to this continent.

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Yet another Bachelor Party
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Dark skies, happy days

Out to dinner that evening, I decided to be adventurous and order the local flavor, PIG KNUCKLE.  That thing was a fat hunk of meat.  Again, still kinda felt like a pimp with the currency exchange being in our favor.  Eastern Europe for the win.

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PIG KNUCKLE…yum?

So dinner done, what to do next….4496788-Great_nightclub_in_the_centre_of_the_city_Prague

PRAGUE BOAT PARTY!

We hopped on the boat for a few hours before docking at Prague’s one and only 5 story club, Karlovy Lázne.

We finished off our Czech adventure hiking up to the castle, eating yummy bread rolls, and taking classic pics in front of the John Lennon Wall.  Next Stop….. BERLIN!

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katie looking artsy in front of the wall

BERL-insanity October 5, 2013

Posted by missypittard in Travel Log.
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The Brandenburg Gate

The temperature dropped even lower as we made our way into Berlin.  Short for time, we opted for the free walking tour of the city’s major sites.  We saw everything from the Hotel where Michael Jackson held his kid out the window, to the Berlin Wall, and Hitler’s Bunker.

50 feet above Hitler's Bunker
50 feet above Hitler’s Bunker
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Berlin Wall
The hotel where Michael Jackson dangled his kid out the window
MJ’s incident
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The Voids – a tribute to those lost

We also managed to make it over to the Holocaust Memorial, as well as the Jewish museum, both of which were incredible sites to see in themselves.   The designer of the memorial wanted viewers to see it not knowing what it was, and for each person to have their own take away from it.  The Jewish museum is designed with voids to represent the number of lives lost throughout the Holocaust.

The history was incredible.  The city was beautiful, and massive.  We even had a little taste of home before heading back to Metz. :D Burgers and Blueberry Pancakes…how I missed you.

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Pretty Palace #467
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YES

Weekend 8: Prague & Cesky Krumlov, Czech Republic September 29, 2013

Posted by kmneuberger in Travel Log.
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I left for Prague with the Alpha Phis. We left Metz, after some delicious sushi, at 10:14. We has couchettes (actual beds) for 6 hours before a 5 hour bus ride to Prague. I slept very well in the couchette and slept for a while on our bus ride, alternating with reading. It was the first weekend I had brought a book with me! We arrived in Prague with little to no difficulties around 12:30pm. We took out money from the ATM, which seemed like a lot since the exchange rate of Czech koruna is 26 to 1 euro. It’s funny how, now that I have been in Europe for so long, I convert back into Euros instead of US dollars. Anyway, after we got out money we had really large bills so we got some lunch and coffee to break them. Next we had the correct coins so we could buy metro tickets. We took the metro a few stops and then walked a ways to our hostel building. On the way to our hostel we passed by two girls. I overheard one of them say, “Oh, they’re Alpha Phi”. I turned around and asked her if she was also an Alpha Phi. She said yes and we talked to them for a  while. I told them that we were going to a bar crawl that night and we would maybe see them later.

We checked in and payed for our hostel. The Alpha Xi’s (Madi, Charlotte, and Colleen) were going to arrive later that evening since they took trains Saturday morning. We did meet up with another friend, AJ, who hung out with us for the afternoon. After we showered and were ready for the afternoon we left the hostel to explore the Prague palace. We walked through the castle gardens and then climbed the church tower. We had a great view of Prague.
We were staying on the opposite side of the river as the “old square” and it was cool to be able to look out onto both halves of the city.

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We walked down the side of the castle and started looking for a place to have dinner. Along the way Katie P and I split a fried potato that was cut in a spiral, it was a yummy snack! We kept walking and stumbled upon a small “Czech” looking restaurant and sat down. Andree and I split what would be the equivalent of a “meat lovers” meal. We had a quarter of a duck, pork, and rabbit. It came with an amazing homemade gravy, potato dumplings, and steamed red & white cabbage. The meal was so delicious!

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After our very filling dinner we walked back to the hostel and meet up with the Alpha Xi’s. I has emailed someone from the Prague Clock Tower pub crawl who was supposed to meet us at 8pm. That didn’t give us much time to get ready. After we almost had everyone ready to go I ran down to find our pub crawl person. I didn’t see him and soon we were all downstairs waiting. We decided to just go to the clock tower since we knew how to get there. On the way out Colleen saw an advertisement for another famous pub crawl called The Prague International Pub Crawl. Colleen said other people had recommended  this pub crawl and more importantly it was going to end up at the 5 story club. Once our hostel clerk mentioned that we would get free tshirts and a discount we were sold. We got our wristband and started for the old square. When we arrived in the square someone came up to us who recognized our wristbands. He led us to a bar and we waited outside for the previous group to leave before we went in. We saw a few GTL kids on the way out and then we ran into the Alpha Phi’s that we had seen earlier that day! We all insisted on taking pictures together. After the pictures we said our goodbyes and started on the bar crawl. It was quite the experience. We visited 3 bars before ending up at the famous Prague 5 story club. I had a blast partying into the night.

prague bar crawl copy Alpha Phi's prague copy

The next morning it took a while to get everyone up and moving. We decided that part of the group would try and pick up our pub crawl tshirts and the other part of the group went to make reservations at the Mexican restaurant.  The group of us that went to get the tshirts dilly dallied a bit on the famous bridge and bought some awesome souvenirs.  We unfortunately failed on our mission to find the tshirts but we figured we would find them later that night. We returned to the hostel and got everyone together for going to the bone church. The bone church was a two hour round trip and we realized after arriving at the metro station we wouldn’t be back in time for dinner.  Instead of going to the bone church we walked along the bridge again and Colleen and I decided to get a fish pedicure! It was one of the craziest things I have done this summer.  It was such a weird feeling to have fish nibbling on your feet for 15 minutes!

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After our feet were feeling “refreshed” we met up with the rest of the group and decided to see a few more touristy spots before our long awaited Mexican dinner.  We visited the John Lennon wall and we all added a little something!

APhi Jonh Lennon's Wall copy

We then tried to visit the Jewish cemetery, but it was closed for the day.  Next we walked back through the square to pick up our pub crawl tshirts and then walked to the Prague Mexican restaurant, Cantina.  We had great guacamole and enchiladas!  After a very filling dinner we went back to the hostel.  I went to bed early because I had to be up at 5:30am for a 7:15am train.  The rest of the group was going back to Metz on Monday and spending our extra day off in Metz.  I decided to spend that extra day traveling and seeing a new city!

Another GTL student, Karsten, and I planned to visit Cesky Krumlov a city in the Czech Republic about 3 hours south of Prague.  We took at 7:15am train to Cesky and arrived around 11am.  We walked about a kilometer into the main part of the city to our hostel.  After checking into our hostel we got some brunch and then went to explore the Cesky Krumlov Castle!  Once we got inside the castle gates we saw something I was not expecting at all, a bear! A big brown bear! We took lots of pictures and then walked around the castle gardens.  After that we climbed up the castle tower to see a view of the whole city.  We had a great view from the top!

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After a walk down the river we took a much needed 2 hour nap.  Next we walked around the main square and found souvenirs.  On the way to dinner we saw a South African children’s choir group performing in the square.  I love coming across things that are unexpected in the places I visit.  Once the children were done signing we continued to dinner.  We ate at a restaurant called “Papa’s Living Restaurant”.  Karsten and I split two plates of ribs.  They were definitely some of the bet ribs I have ever had, and it was a nice little taste of America.

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After dinner we walked around the city a while longer we headed back to our hostel.  We had to be up and ready for 14 hours of trains back to Metz the next day.  It was a long ride back but it gave me time to work on my blog and do some homework.  We got back to Metz at 11pm and I was in bed by midnight.  The 4 day weekend wore me out.  I really enjoyed my time in the Czech Republic and am excited to compare it to our next Eastern European city, Budapest, Hungary!

The Travel Bug September 29, 2013

Posted by Christine Gebara in Travel Log.
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Midterms have hit. Studying and buckling down is never fun. But after my summer abroad, my mind does not wander to escaping the library for sleep. Instead, I day dream of traveling to new places and exploring the world. I have found that traveling has made me more curious, more patient, and more open to new experiences.

I have been pinching pennies with hopes of a new adventure. Finding the time and choosing a destination will be difficult, but I can’t wait to see where I will end up next. Studying abroad was definitely the best choice I have made in college yet. And now, as I talk to freshman, I cannot encourage them strongly enough to consider putting off an internship and exploring the world! GTL just introduced some more classes, and study abroad fair is this week. I can’t wait to stop by and look for other opportunities to travel!

What a Summer September 11, 2013

Posted by B.R. Smith in Travel Log.
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In my last post I ended with my time spent in Edinburgh. Edinburgh was great and allowed me to research some of my family’s Scottish history. The weekend after Edinburgh we decided to head across the Irish Sea to visit Dublin and hopefully see the Cliffs of Moher (more on this later).

                Getting to Ireland, however, proved to be a bit more involved than we originally hoped. The trip started with a seven hour train ride across England and into Wales. We crossed the border into the land of the Welsh and not one stop later did we have to get off because the rail line was down. And there we had it; what was supposed to be the tail-end of a smooth 7-hour train ride complete with air-conditioning and wireless access to the Interwebs turned into a hellish three hour bus ride akin to the bus ride we had up to Edinburgh. We arrived at the station on the edge of the Irish Sea at about 4 AM. Our ferry was situated to depart any minute and hurried aboard. Stepping onboard that ferry was like stepping into an air conditioned room after being in a sauna. It was incredible. Plush, reclinable seats, coffee machines, and the comfort of knowing we were almost there eased my aching joints caused from the bus.

                In three hours time we arrived in Dublin. Our schedule was packed so we immediately went exploring and sight-seeing. We visited many of the sights of Dublin, and ended our exploration with a trip to the Guinness Factory to obtain some knowledge. All the while, we were trying to figure out how we were going to make it to the Cliffs of Moher which, if one is familiar with Irish geography, is on the complete opposite side of the country facing the Atlantic Ocean. Some friends had told us they used a taxi cab driver that would drive us across to the cliffs and back for a flat rate. We decided to hop on that deal. After an early night and a nice Irish breakfast, we met the driver and headed across the country to the cliffs. Our driver, Andy, was a trip. Just a good ol’ Irishman. Andy kept us entertained all across the beautiful Irish countryside that was dotted with cows, stone fences, thatched roofs, and never-ending green fields.

                We arrived at the Cliffs of Moher and immediately our mouths dropped. The green Irish grass led us right up to the edge where cows were still grazing. We looked down and saw the sheer drop that protected Ireland from the waters of the Atlantic Ocean. Being the interested fan that I am, I was reminded of the scenes of Game of Thrones that were shot there. We spent a few hours there exploring the cliffs and ignoring sensible warning signs. On the way back home we stopped at one of Andy’s favorite traditional Irish restaurants. After sightseeing there’s nothing like some Irish stew to rejuvenate the body.

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                At the end of the weekend we arrived back at Worcester College in England. As I walked across the grounds to my living quarters, I was reminded how unique an experience I had this summer. I had the wonderful opportunity to tour around Europe, experiencing places I’ve always wanted to visit and falling in love with places I had never even heard. All the while I was with a legendary group of people. Not only did I get the opportunity to see Europe, I was also able to spend six weeks in Oxford, England at a college older than the United States. The culture I was a part of while in Oxford is something I don’t think I’ll experience again. When you eat your meals, study, waste time, go out, and travel with one hundred and fifty people every day for six weeks, you start to get really close with everyone. It was this that made me enjoy being at Worcester. I mean, where else can I get a Guinness after class with my Environmental Ethics teacher? Moments like that made me realize that I was a part of something unique in the Oxford Program. It was wonderful; an experience I’ll never forget. Thank you to everyone who spent their time reading this. Additionally, to the PS Program, thank you for allowing us wide-eyed young adults to expand our worlds. This summer has changed my world and I’m excited to bring my knowledge back to Georgia Tech.

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Until next time! 

Europe in the Rear-View September 9, 2013

Posted by kennethmarino in Travel Log.
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For my last post, I’d like to finish my discussion of Europe and highlight some of the places I haven’t mentioned by making my own best-of list.

Best Museum: Vatican Museums

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In my three months in Europe, I visited many museums. The instruments museum in Brussels, a Hapsburg museum in Salzburg and of course the Louvre, once the seat of power of the French Monarchy. But by far the best museum was the Vatican museums. Over the many centuries of its prominence on the world stage, the Roman Catholic Church collected works of art and antiquity. This grew into one of the largest collections anywhere. In 1973, Pope John IV opened the collection up to the world allowing for the world to see what was once only seen by the Pope and high church officials. The museums many parts have everything from Renaissance art to Roman antiquities. Where it beats out the Louvre is its great variety of exhibits. My personal favorite was the exhibit of the carriages and automobiles used by the Popes over the centuries.

Best Cathedral: La Sagrada Familia

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Besides museums, the thing that Europe is most known for is its cathedrals. There is Notre Dame in Paris, and Notre Dame in Brussels, and Notre Dame in Lyon (my personal favorite of the Notre Dames). Also the odd Castle-Cathedral in Prague with its Baroque stonework and Renaissance domes, and the small wooden churches of Interlaken. I was very temped to choose St Peter’s Basillica — truly a masterpiece of the Renaissance with its majestic columns and colored marble. But I had to give the distinction to the still uncompleted La Sacrada Familia in Barcelona. It was designed primarily by Antoni Gaudi in the late 19th century. Construction began in 1882 but was delayed by the Spanish Civil War. The interior and exterior are both magnificent. The outside contains detailed stonework depicting the major events in the life of Jesus including his birth and the Resurrection. The inside is made to look like a forest with the stem-like columns, the leaf-like roof, and the clever use of light that makes it look as though we are seeing the light poking in from the Heavens. The future plans will only make the outside more magnificent. The entry fee was steep, but as the funds go primarily to construction, I was more than happy to pay.

Best Food: Ristorante del Pallaro

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I am not one of those people who takes pictures of his food, so enjoy this random picture from Google. I might be biased on this one — I love Italian food. If I could eat anywhere at anytime, I would eat Italian. Ironically, my runner up is the pasta I had in Prague: basically a local take on Italian cuisine with a spicy beef sauce. What made this restaurant stand out, even to the other ones in Italy, was the quantity as well as quality of the food. It was several courses with lentils, tomatoes, and other starters as a first course, pasta dishes included rigatoni carbonara as a second course, veal as a third course and a custard and a sweet strawberry drink for dessert. It also included a cravat of excellent white wine. Don’t worry reader: I was 21 years old at the time.

Most Overrated Attraction: Mannequin Pis

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This one had some stiff competition. There is the Mona Lisa at the Louvre in Paris, the clock tower in Prague, and the Gazebo in Salzburg from the Sound of Music. None of these, however, are as pointless yet inexplicably popular as Mannequin Pis is Brussels. The statue is stuck in a seemingly random street corner in Brussels. It is quite small and unremarkable artistically. And yet, the street was absurdly crowded as dozens of people (the author included) tried to get a picture of this fountain. Maybe its popular just because everyone shows up to see what the big deal is. We may never know.

Most Beautiful Scenery: Interlaken Switzerland

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There are lots of beautiful places in Europe, but the Swiss alps in Interlaken were among the most beautiful sights I have ever seen. Rather than try to explain this one, I’m just going to post a bunch of the photos I took so you will understand why this one gets the prize.

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Enough said (or not said).

Best Overall City: Rome

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Finally, my favorite city. This one was hard to choose with all of the fantastic places I visited. I still had to give the slight edge to Rome. Rome has the awe inspiring ancient architectures and one of the best museum collections in the world. The cuisine is superb and the people are extremely friendly. Rome scored consistently well in every category I thought of for judging the best city. As both ancestrally Italian and Catholic, the city was also important to me personally. It is the center of the Catholic world and contains the remnants of one of the most powerful and influential empires in history. If I could just visit one city again it would have to be this one. Well, I did throw a coin in the Trevi fountain.

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With that, goodbye, and thank you for reading.

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