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Summer Rankings August 8, 2011

Posted by Dustin Hsu in Travel Log.
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I am continually amazed at how fast time goes by. In the moment, time moves at a snail’s pace. In retrospect, it was flying by all along. Such was my summer in Europe. Train rides dragged on forever and classes always seemed more than an hour, but now that Georgia Tech Lorraine has come to an end, I can only wish that time wasn’t so fleeting. Fleeting or not, it has been a summer well spent.

I have been asked quite often which city I enjoyed the most. Each has its own unique qualities and personality. So instead of generally ranking each city, I will compare them in separate categories. Enjoy!

Best Food

  1. Munich
  2. Bruges
  3. Rome
  4. Barcelona
  5. Florence
  6. Berlin
  7. Paris
  8. Amsterdam
  9. Salzburg
  10. Interlaken
  11. Stuttgart

Meal from Augustiner

Waffles in Bruges

 

It was a tough choice between Munich and Bruges, but Munich’s reputation for beer put it on top. If you are ever in Munich, you must eat at Hofbrauhaus or Augustiner. Pork, sausage, potatoes, dumplings…so delicious! Bruges is well known for their waffles and fries, but they also have an increasing number of restaurants that prepare wonderful three-course meals. While I was there, I had mussels and rabbit. It might not sound tasty, but it definitely was. Rome rounds out the top three with its thin crust pizzas, creamy gelato, and fluffy bread.

Best Sites

  1. Rome
  2. Paris
  3. Berlin
  4. Florence
  5. Munich
  6. Barcelona
  7. Salzburg
  8. Amsterdam
  9. Bruges
  10. Stuttgart
  11. Interlaken

Coliseum at night

This one shouldn’t be too surprising. With countless sites dating back to the Roman Empire, Rome easily wins this one. Rome wasn’t built in a day, and it’d be impossible to see all of Rome in a day as well. From the Coliseum to St. Peter’s Basilica, Rome is nothing short of amazing. Paris comes in at second. The Eiffel Tower, Arc de Triomphe, Louvre, and Notre Dame highlight any tourist’s visit to Paris. Berlin surprised me with its wealth of sites and historical buildings. If you are a World War II or Cold War history nut, Berlin is a must.

Best Scenery

  1. Interlaken
  2. Florence
  3. Rome
  4. Barcelona
  5. Berlin
  6. Munich
  7. Bruges
  8. Paris
  9. Salzburg
  10. Stuttgart
  11. Amsterdam

Interlaken

Interlaken wins this one in a landslide. So much is the margin of defeat that the other cities don’t even belong in the conversation. Surrounded by two crystal blue lakes and snow-capped mountains, Interlaken is simply beautiful.

Best Climate

  1. Barcelona
  2. Rome
  3. Florence
  4. Interlaken
  5. Berlin
  6. Munich
  7. Paris
  8. Bruges
  9. Stuttgart
  10. Salzburg
  11. Amsterdam

Barcelona wins this one with its abundant sunshine and ocean breeze. Rome comes in at a close second. It hardly ever rains and shorts are a norm. Florence’s hotter temperatures puts it at third.

Bastille Day in Paris…Relaxing in Barcelona July 18, 2011

Posted by Dustin Hsu in Travel Log.
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The past week in recap:

July 11-12

Classes and an ISYE 3039 test.

July 13

Watched the US beat France in the Women’s World Cup in a downtown sports bar in Metz, France. Did we celebrate like obnoxious Americans? Of course.

Watching the game

July 14

Spent Bastille Day in Paris. Lesson learned: the French know how to celebrate their National Day. The morning kicked off with an unbelievable military parade down the Champs-Elysees complete with plane and helicopter flyovers, tank battalions, and marching infantry. We spent the afternoon at a daylong concert on the lawn in front of the Eiffel Tower. Unfortunately, we had to catch our train to Barcelona that night so we were unable to watch the fireworks show.

Helicopter flyover

Concert in front of Eiffel Tower

July 15

Arrived in Barcelona around noon. After checking into our hostel we headed to the beach and spent the day napping and relaxing. For dinner we went to a local restaurant and ate tapas. Tapas are basically small snack dishes famous in Spain…order a bunch of them and you have an incredibly delicious meal. After dinner we went to Bar Dow Jones, a bar where the price of drinks fluctuate based on what other people are buying. Ordering drinks turned into a well-timed business decision.

Tapas..mmm

July 16

We scaled an overlook on the outskirts of Barcelona and were able to see the city’s beautiful landscape. Then we went to Sagrada Familia, the most famous cathedral in Barcelona. The modern architecture of the cathedral made it the most unique cathedral I have seen this summer. Outside the cathedral we enjoyed another famous Spanish meal: the paella. After taking a siesta (like all good Spaniards do), walking through La Rambla, and eating more tapas for dinner, we thrust ourselves headfirst into Barcelona’s world-renowned nightlife. There were more people on the beachfront at four in the morning than there were during the day. Crazy!

Overlook of Barcelona

Inside of Sagrada Familia

July 17

The whole day was spent on trains getting back to Metz. We got back to Metz around nine that night, just in time to watch the US suffer a loss at the hands of the Japanese. In any case, it was a great game!

From celebrating the US win over France in a French bar to watching fighter jets fly through the skies of Paris to drinking Sangria on the shores of Barcelona, this past week was the best of the summer.

When in Rome… June 28, 2011

Posted by Dustin Hsu in Travel Log.
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Italy has officially taken home the “Best Country Dustin Has Visited This Summer” award. My travel group and I just spent five days there, and it was simply amazing. The food was delicious, the weather was beautiful, and the sites were magnificent.

After class last Thursday, we hopped on a night train and woke up in Rome. We were greeted with sunshine and blue skies, quite the departure from cold and rainy Metz. After dropping our stuff off at the hostel we headed to the Vatican, where we saw the Sistine Chapel and climbed to the top of St. Peter’s Basilica. The view of Rome from the top of the dome was gorgeous. We then headed to the Spanish Steps and the Trevi Fountain. After eating some delicious pizza we enjoyed our evening by the Trevi Fountain eating gelato and people watching.

Top of St. Peter's Basilica

 

Trevi Fountain

 

The next day was spent almost entirely in the Roman forum and Coliseum. It was mind boggling to see so much history and culture from the Roman Empire. The Coliseum was even bigger than I had thought, making the architecture all that more impressive. We ate dinner that night at a restaurant popular with the locals. It was nice to get out of the touristy area and munch on authentic Italian food.

Coliseum

 

At five o’clock the next morning we hopped on a train to Florence. Upon arrival, we immediately went to the Academia Gallery to see Michelangelo’s masterpiece, the statue David. After a two-hour wait, we finally got into the museum…it was totally worth it. The size of the statue and the incredible detail Michelangelo put into David was quite remarkable. The other major attraction we saw was the Florence Cathedral, home to the largest brick dome ever constructed. The rest of our time consisted of shopping in street markets, relaxing in city squares, watching street performers, eating gelato, and walking around the city.

Florence

 

Another aspect of the trip that made it so fun was hanging out with tourists from other parts of the world. We ate dinner with Swedes, had drinks with Australians, waited in line with people from Florida, and struck up conversations with countless Americans. I even ran into a family from South Carolina that knew one of my good friends.

Although I’m a little sad the weekend is over, classes shouldn’t be too bad this week. Besides a Statics test on Friday I only have one homework assignment due this week. This coming weekend I’ll be heading back to Munich!

1 month already?! June 8, 2011

Posted by Dustin Hsu in Travel Log.
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It’s hard to believe I’ve already been in Europe for almost a month. I’ve experienced so much already and am a little sad that the time is going by so fast. Since my last post, I’ve traveled to Interlaken, Salzburg, Stuttgart, Paris, Versailles, and Normandy.

View of Interlaken

Interlaken was one of the most picturesque places I’ve been to. My friends and I went canyoning and hiked about 3,000 feet to a breathtaking overlook. In Salzburg, we were able to walk around the birthplace and residence of Mozart.  We also visited a monastery and a fortress, both dating back to the 12th century.

We went to Stuttgart for the sole purpose of going to the Mercedes Benz Museum. I was really impressed with how the museum was set up. In addition to showcasing hundreds of Mercedes Benz cars from different eras, the museum explained how different periods throughout history impacted Mercedes and the development of their cars.

This past weekend we spent four days in Paris and took two separate day trips: one to Versailles and one to Normandy. We hit the main tourist attractions in Paris, the Eiffel Tower, Louvre, Arc de Triomphe, and Notre Dame. The Palace of Versailles was simply remarkable. The size of the palace was mind-blowing and the interior was extravagant beyond comparison. My favorite part of the trip was going to Normandy and getting to see Omaha Beach and the American Cemetery and Memorial. It was definitely a somber environment, but a clear reminder of the sacrifice paid by so many troops during WWII.

American Cemetery

Eiffel Tower

On deck for this weekend is Munich. Besides seeing the city, I’m planning on checking out Neuschwanstein Castle, the inspiration behind the Disneyland castle, and Dachau, the first Nazi concentration camp in Germany. With three tests, a handful of homework assignments, and a lab write-up keeping me busy this week, I cannot wait for the weekend!

Désolé! May 19, 2011

Posted by Dustin Hsu in Travel Log.
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What does désolé mean you might ask? Désolé is simply how you say “sorry” in French. I’ve only been in France for four whole days, but I’ve already used the word more than enough. Let’s start from the beginning of my stay in France.

I flew into Frankfurt, Germany the morning of May 16th. From there, I rode a bus filled with fellow GTLers to the wonderful campus of Georgia Tech Lorraine. After checking into my dorm, I quickly began to unpack and arrange my room. Before leaving home, I had been advised to pack a power strip so that I could plug in my electronics without having to buy an exorbitant amount of adapters. So naturally, I plugged my power strip into one of the sockets of my room, eager to hook up all my electronics. Unfortunately, my power strip knocked out power to the entire floor of my dorm. Désolé!

A few days later, my friends and I decided to venture into downtown Metz. Thinking it was close enough to walk, we began trekking towards the scenic downtown river area…about a half hour later, we realized we were going the wrong way. With some innovative location sensing devices (read map), we navigated our way to downtown Metz just as the sun was setting. Hungry for some food, we sat down for our first French dining experience. As the waitress took our drink orders, I spotted a delicious looking item on the menu. Much to my chagrin, the waitress looked at me and said, “No that is impossible!” Thinking she was joking, I gave her a shy laugh and a confused look, to which she promptly replied, “You are not child! That is for child.” Désolé!

After our meal (which was delicious by the way), we made our way to the river and took some pictures of two beautiful churches. The lights of the city made everything look spectacular!

By the river in downtown Metz.

Last night, some of the French students who are staying in the dorms with us hosted a BBQ dinner for us. The food was very good, and everyone had a great time getting to know each other. Their English was impeccable, and much to our delight, they were all engineers at one of the local universities. We quickly found a similarity between their school and Georgia Tech: the ratio…to which I quickly said désolé!

Tomorrow I will be traveling to Interlaken, Switzerland and will be canyoning on Saturday. I’m excited for my first weekend of travel and will be sure to let you all know how it went in my next post!

Until then…au revoir!

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