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All that Metz has to offer August 7, 2011

Posted by kylebogdal in Travel Log.
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Near the end of the summer semester my Eurail pass expired. This left me confined to Metz, France for the last couple weeks before finals. Even though many of the places that people traveled to throughout the summer are famous and intriguing places to go, Metz is definitely the most underrated of all the locations. The city itself is not huge, but it has a ton of history behind its architecture and buildings and has been both French and German territory in the past hundred years. The city is also incredibly old (at least in American standards) because the romans occupied the same land during their reign.

I personally visited the Centre Pompidou-Metz museum and the Saint Stephen’s cathedral after finals and was able to spend significant time in both places. These two attractions alone are worth staying in the city one weekend of the summer (in my opinion). The cathedral is known for its stained glass, of which is the most in any cathedral in the whole world.

The Centre Pompidou possesses a wide collection of modern art that has been made in the most traditional to the most bizarre ways, but all in the same is fascinating. Even though one of the three galleries was closed when I went, I spent at least a couple of hours inside examining the art. Also the construction of the Pompidou itself is worth the visit if you aren’t a major fan of art.

During the summer semester the city has a music festival and a light show that are wonderful to be a part of. Metz is so diverse that one minute you can walk under a roman arch and then the next minute be walking next to an art construction of a few years ago, followed by a building of German construction. Looking back at my semester, with all of the amazing things I saw in other countries, I am glad I took the time to explore my own surroundings.

Brussels and Amsterdam July 5, 2011

Posted by kylebogdal in Travel Log.
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For the two day weekend following our trip to Italy, we decided to visit Brussels and Amsterdam. We only had one night in Brussels and we spent a good hour and a half trying to navigate the city to find our hotel.

After walking around and seeing some of the city, we headed toward the famous Delirium Taphouse where there are 2000 different beers on tap. The place had every beer’s name decoratively placed all over the walls of the bar in large bottle cap-like ornaments so that you could hardly see the bar’s wall. The bar also had 3 different floors serving alcohol from different sections of the world for each floor. The basement, the ground floor, and the upstairs all had beers from different regions of the world.

We got on a train the following morning for Amsterdam and arrived before lunch.  After we ate, we headed towards the Van Gogh Museum. It was interesting to see all of the works of Van Gogh throughout his artistic career as certain events he encountered effected his painting. Originally, he painted dark and bleak portraits of the lower class. He later transitioned to bright, colorful portrayals of nature and was affected by other artists of the time with the popularity of pointillism painting. Unfortunately, the qualities of his great works of art were visibly deteriorating as his illness advanced through the years. The exhibit of Van Gogh’s most famous painting, “The Bedroom,” showed the history of the painting and illustrated the significant steps that have been taken to preserve the original paint and keep the colors from aging.

That night we also walked through the red light district. The following morning, we went to see the Anne Frank house and I noticed how some of the buildings in the city are tilted and leaning on the ones next to each other or out into the street. I read that this is happening because the city is held up by wooden piles that have sunken into the ground at different rates. Another interesting fact I learned is that the city of Amsterdam has more bicycles than it does people.

Traveling Italy June 30, 2011

Posted by kylebogdal in Travel Log.
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For our five day weekend, we decided to go on a trip to Italy. Our first stop was Rome and it was an interesting journey getting there because our overnight train left from Munich and headed for Rome. We had made reservations for a sleeper car and the compartments in these sleeper cars are very narrow and not much room can be spared for anything more than a bag and yourself. The “beds” are stacked three high on each side of the compartment and there is a small ladder to get up to each level.

It was, however, very convenient once you were settled into your spot to have a place to lie down for the night. It was also very convenient to be able to go to sleep in Germany and wake up in Italy. Once in Rome, we headed for the important and famous sites. We saw many of the highlights of the city including the Pantheon, the Trevi Fountain, and the Coliseum in the same day and explored the Vatican museum and Vatican city the rest of the second day. The third night of our journey was spent on a couple trains while traveling to the beaches of Cinque Terre. The train out of Rome was extremely crowded and we had to kick several people out of our seats who didn’t have reservations. Once we got to the beaches, it was before dawn and we were all so tired that we napped until the sun rose. We spent the rest of the day relaxing at the beach and headed back into town for dinner. Once we finished our dinner, we boarded the train to take us towards our next destination: Florence. We went to make our transfer to the train to Florence and an announcement said that that train had been cancelled! The other train headed for Florence was also cancelled along with many other lines to other cities! We found out after talking to some of the natives that there was a train strike that was supposed to end earlier that day but didn’t end when they said it would. We were stuck in the town of Pisa and didn’t know how to get to our destination. We eventually found information about a bus that was leaving from the train station and heading toward Florence. We still had several hours to kill before that bus came and decided to go visit the famous leaning tower.

While waiting at the train station for the bus we learned that everyone else in the area was trying to get to Florence had also bought tickets to the bus and that the machine selling the tickets had not limited the number of tickets that it sold. This resulted in way too many people for a coach bus that had nowhere near enough room. The bus driver eventually opened the doors and because I was relatively close to the door, I was picked up off my feet from the force of the people behind me all clamoring to get onto the bus and pushed on. If another bus had not arrived immediately after I got on, I believe that there may have been a riot in the streets. This was the last mishap in our travels through Italy and we eventually got to the hostel in Florence where we originally intended to go.  

Interlaken June 20, 2011

Posted by kylebogdal in Travel Log.
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One of my favorite places to date to visit was where we went this past weekend: Interlaken, Switzerland. This town is home to many different kinds of outdoor adventures and the beautiful scenery of the Swiss Alps. Although it was raining the first night and day, we decided to participate in some of the normal outdoor activities and a couple of the gut-wrenching and exhilarating activities that are available there. Among the wealth of heart-throbbing things such as sky-diving, bungee jumping, hang-gliding, and parasailing we chose to do two activities: canyon jumping and canyoning.

The first morning our scheduled canyoning trip was cancelled due to the rain of the previous night and the continued rain through the morning. We decided to try the afternoon trip and signed ourselves up for it. This didn’t stop us from experiencing the surrounding area during the morning hours. We decided to hike a nearby trail to see if we could get a better perspective of the city. Because of the rain, we were unable to see very far through the valleys, but what we could see from the top of the trail was amazing. Mountains on all sides rose up around the town and quickly disappear into the misty fog of the cloud cover.

After some pictures at the summit of the smaller hill’s trail we went to explore the town. Every few hundred yards there was a fountain spurting fresh drinking water. After exploring the quaint part of town in the vicinity of our hostel, we headed back to change and see if the afternoon canyoning trip was going to head out. This was also cancelled, but we had already paid for the trip. They allowed us to go talk to the people who ran the trips and they told us that we could go the following morning or suggested that we do something else for that day. We decided to do the canyon jump instead. This is how it looked:

 

The next morning we did the canyoning that we had signed up for the previous day and enjoyed a morning of jumping into pools of frigid water and sliding down rock faces while landing into the water below as we made our way down the river’s canyon.

These few adventures made for a great weekend for those who enjoy outdoor and extreme activities, but there was also a yodeling festival taking place this same weekend we were there and people in traditional costumes could regularly be seen traversing the streets of the town with long alpine horns. What an experience to see such a bizarre event!

 

Greece May 30, 2011

Posted by kylebogdal in Travel Log.
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With only having travelled to Paris the weekend before, the trip to Greece this weekend seemed to be very daunting from its onset. There were more connections and differing forms of transportation just getting to the airport than there had been getting to and from Paris. But once we got through the trains, buses, and plane and made it to our destination in Athens, we knew that the journey had been well worth the trip.

RYAN AIR plane

I personally have had to marvel at the ancient Greek ruins through the television set my whole life. Seeing the ruins in person was an amazing experience. You are able to capture the details of the sites that otherwise cannot be seen through a camera lens; the feeling of being in the same locations as the people who helped to shape democracy and the modernized world in which we live today is incredible. Places like the acropolis and the agoras of both the Greeks and romans feel like a time machine that transplants you back to the time period of mythology itself.

The Parthenon

One of the best views I found in the city was in one of the least populated areas. From the acropolis, I had seen a hill with a monument on the top. Even though my friends were not interested in exploring the hill, I took it upon myself to go see what was at the top. Much to my surprise, there was an excellent panoramic view of the whole city in addition to the interesting monument I spotted from the acropolis. This little-frequented hill also had an amazing view of the acropolis and was definitely worth the 10 minute hike.

The best parts of traveling are the new experiences that you encounter. In Volos, the city in which our flights flew to and from, we spent the night before leaving with some of the locals and were able to talk about the differences in American culture and Greek culture over some excellent seafood. Trying authentic Greek food and haggling with some of the street vendors were also some of the experiences we had this past weekend that we will never forget. To think this is only the beginning of my European travels is very exciting.

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