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Last lap of Paris July 26, 2011

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This past weekend was the conclusion of the Le Tour de France in Paris and it was a fitting way to end my summer adventures. We traveled to Paris on Saturday mid-morning and then went to the Orsay museum which held the works of Van Gough, Monet and some incredible Auberry photography. Afterwards we lounged in a café and had a nice relaxing lunch. This last trip was much more about relaxation and taking in the people of Paris than rushing from one tourist trap to the next. It was a great way to reflect on our summer abroad while enjoying great French cuisine. In the afternoon we walked over to the Champs Elysees (the main thoroughfare ofParisand the street the cyclists come down to scope out the area for a prime viewing location. The rest of my group got decked out in Le tour memorabilia and then we start our hunt for an elusive Italia soccer jersey.  Nike and Adidas didn’t have what we wanted but then Puma scored the winner at the last second.  During the hunt for the soccer jersey, Andy and I went to mass at Notre Dame Cathedral. Then it was time for dinner at a nice French restaurant followed by a McFlurry run and then it was time for some much needed sleep. The next morning we woke up at 5 am to get toChamps Elyseesby 6:30 am. The key was staking out our spots so we could get front row near the Arc de Triumphe (the place where they turnaround as riders do 8 laps down theChamps Elysees).  The turnaround location was quite popular due to the best picture moments as the riders slow down to go through the turn. After standing for nearly 10 hours, having watched a parade of sponsor cars it was almost time.  The view and the fact that we were only about 6 feet away from the cyclists as they went by was not only breathtaking but very much worth the 10 hour wait. Mariel is a big time cyclist and she still can’t believe how close she was or that she got to see the Tour de France. It is so special to get an opportunity to share and support a friend in something that they are very passionate about. Also as a big time sports fanatic, I got to witness one of the biggest events in sports and got to witness a part of  Tour history as Cadel Evans (oldest man on the tour) took the win. Record-breaking on his part is an added bonus. This was such a nice way to wind down the summer and it was fitting in that my travels kicked-off with Paris which is where I ended them.  Now my travels come to a close as finals loom near on the horizon as well as making the journey back to the US.  Thank you for following me on a summer of a lifetime and I hope you have been able to relive my experiences to your liking.  Live it, love it, breathe it every day — Life! Until we meet again, so long everybody and I wish you all the very best =)

Tour de France

Andy and I are wating in anticipation for the riders to come through. As you can see the place is a bit crowded :)

Riders

Here they come! They are literally 6 feet away from us and moving at almost 62 km/hr. Pretty fast in my opinion...

Lamborghini Aventador

My new sweet ride perks of the study abroad. haha Randomly ran across this Lamborghini Aventador in a garage under the Champs. Why is it parked? Drivers wanted!

English literally! July 26, 2011

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My last big 4-day weekend was July 14th -17th and I made the bank-breaking but well worth it trek to the United Kingdom, specifically London. Many new experiences awaited me on this journey to the only other country that speaks English but with a slight accent. First of which was the Eurostar “chunnel” also know as the train that goes through an underground tunnel to cross the English Channel. It only took about 30 minutes to cross the English Channel and then we were in England. The next adventure was Harry Potter 7 Part II in London, in IMAX 3D on one of the largest screens in Europe. Those who know me know how I reference Harry Potter all the time and I am a big fanatic of Harry Potter. So I was extra excited to see the final installment. Of course the movies don’t do the books justice or the series for that matter but seeing it was still a fun experience. My group and I saw the movie at 12:20 am Thursday night/ Friday morning on July 14th, the night it was set to be released. Many locals dressed up as characters from the movies for the occasion and all the movie-watchers clapped/cheered at all the right moments. So it was a one of a kind exciting experience. After getting about 4 hours of sleep we all woke up early on Friday morning to get toStonehenge. We all saw the legendary rocks and then made our way toHyde Park from which we made our way to the British museum. This was then followed by dinner of fish and chips (English classic). Then on Saturday we went to theTower of London, the royal stables,BuckinghamPalace, ran into some GT Oxford students, Big Ben, saw the London Eye and visited all the major bridges (MillenniumBridge,TowerBridge andLondonBridge). We also visited Westminster Abbey and that took my breath away! So many famous poets and authors have been laid to rest or commemorated there. The building was astonishing everything was so beautiful inside. Sunday I traveled with a few people to Camden Market. Camden Market is one of the largest markets in the world and it’s very famous. It has something for everyone and it was neat to get the multi-cultural side toLondon. There were large amounts of quirky things that could only be found in such a market which made the whole scene that much more fascinating.  After a good cheap lunch it was time to make the journey home to Metz. With some great organizing and even better planning we were able to accomplish so much. There was too much to see and not enough time. So credit goes to Layla, Ashley and Steffan for a job well done. London past in a blue but that’s why there are pictures as reminders. My Eurotrip 2011 is slowly coming to a close as such I look back on all the trips. I have learned so much about not onlyEurope but how to travel that I can safely say my friends and I have become veteran travelers. How else were we able to see so much in London? That wouldn’t have been possible at the beginning of the summer! Another European city checked off a long list that is fractionally finished. Hope you all have enjoyed my adventures as much as I have and stay tuned for more from Eurotrip 2011.

Harry Potter 7

Just outside the BFI Imax Theater in Southbank, London. The excitement is literlally killing me. HARRY POTTER!! :)

 

Rocks

Our daytrip to legendary Stonehenge! Never seen the real thing so this was awesome.

 

London at night

Out on a bridge, London was beautiful at night. Pardon my Swiss affiliation.

Homage paid to Mont Blanc July 4, 2011

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So this past weekend Andy, Mariel and I got a little ambitious. We decided to scale Mont Blanc, the highest mountain in Western Europe and the Alps in a two-day weekend. Our first challenge: getting there. We had to ride 9 hours worth of trains during which we figured out the Swiss train system is very much superior to that of the French train system. Our second challenge: hiking with all of our stuff (upwards of 40 pounds each). The hostel check time didn’t exactly coincide with our plans so it was up the mountain with our backpacks filled to max capacity plus some more as we had to buy dinner to eat on the trail. The third and final challenge: ascending about 2000 meters of elevation to get pretty close to the glacier. All challenges were met and conquered that day including getting back down the trail to our hostel before nightfall. The views were breathtaking and all the strenuous climbing worth every minute of it. We finished off the day with a hot shower and some good sleep. The next morning we explored the town of Chamonix from where you can access Mont Blanc. Mariel and I agreed we would love to just take jobs in the mountains and enjoy nature everyday. Plans are in the works to be back in the winter =). The scenery and the hikes rival that of Interlaken, Switzerland. I am going to be fair here and call it a draw between Interlaken and Chamonix. Both just gorgeous places for those who love the mountains and who just want to get away from it all! Not for the faint of heart but certainly worth the trip anyway. Stay tuned for more to come from Eurotrip 2011!

Chamonix

The quaint little town of Chamonix set against the backdrop of the stunning French Alps!

Hello Glacier

Having finally reached the point where I could stretch my arms out and touch the glacier! Yay =)

Glacier

The three best friends that anyone could have! Fitting end to a difficult but rewarding hike up.

München, Deutschland June 23, 2011

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I spent this past weekend in Munich, Germany. It was my first overnighter on a couchette and I have found that I can’t sleep on couchettes to say the least. After getting maybe 2 hours of sleep we pulled into cold and rainy Munich. My travel buddy Andy, was able to arrange a free hostel courtesy of his uncle. So we dropped our stuff, got breakfast at a small bakery and headed to BMW Welt (Welt German for World). First stop BMW museum, then it was back to BMW welt for an executive tour. BMW world took my breath away. It was a great experience to take in what BMW is all about and the type of warm reception you can pay for to receive if you choose to pick up your BMW at BMW world in Munich.  After a whole day of cars we walked around Olympic park and then went to find a place to eat in the Marienplatz (the main square). It ended up being a pricy but just what we needed Hard Rock Café affair. Totally German right?! The next day we went on Mike’s Bike tours. It was a great combo of history of the city of Munich and some great weather for riding. A visit to the English Gardens for some German sausage did lunch justice. Then we visited Allianz Arena (first match of 2006 World Cup in Munich was played there).  Afterwards we met up with another group: Mariel, Layla, Allie, and Anthony for a nice traditional German dinner back in Marienplatz. The next morning was more memorable than BMW world. We visited Dachau concentration camp and toured the whole place. There is a lot of history and information there but due to us leaving early that afternoon we had to make it a quick walkthrough. Still the memory and the magnitude of what people went through still linger in back of my mind. It’s an eerie reminder of what happens when one person gets too much power. The phrase that comes to mind is “With great power comes great responsibility” Thus comes to a close my adventures in Germany. The Interlaken trip is still the one to beat. Munich made a commendable effort to nab the top spot. Stay tuned for more fellas!

Large Engine statue

This is BMW World people! Where cars are worshipped and they make engines of that caliber as seen above.

City Square

This is up a tower just behind the main thoroughfare that is called MarienPlatz.

Rubbing lion

In Munich a very common sight are lion statues. Rubbing the lion means good luck. I rubbed one and have yet to reap its benefits :)

Ahhhhhh the Swiss Alps June 10, 2011

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This past weekend (June 2nd -5th) I spent my time in Interlaken,Switzerland. Interlaken,Switzerland is a quaint little town set in the backdrop of the gorgeous Swiss Alps. There were opportunities for lots of pricey outdoor activities such as canyoning, para-gliding and even canyon-swinging. But the hiking was so incredible that one would not feel having lost out on not doing any of the outdoor activities. I managed to do 3 really good hikes with a group of ten people and I enjoyed every minute of it. Coming back toMetz was a sad day in that I simply did not want to leave. The hostel that we spent the nights had a warm and cosy atmosphere from which you could get great rest before beginning the next day’s adventures. I am eagerly looking forward to going back and being able to do another hike up in the Swiss Alps. This trip has been so far the most expensive but it was worth every Frank cent. The Swiss Alps are the outdoor lovers’ dream we were very lucky in that on the days we hiked it was nice and sunny. The day we left it rained but it was fitting and we were thankful the rain held off till then. Currently this trip stands as my most favorite trip this summer and the bar has been set high for the rest of the trips. The question is whether the degree of awesomeness has already peaked or is something better still to come? Stay tuned to find out! So long from France everybody or as they say in French au revoir.

Interlaken Ost

We just got off the train and on our way to the hostel. Downtown Interlaken folks.

Atop the ridgeline

Standing along trail in Schinge Platte. 2000 meters elevation.

Lauterbrunnen known as the valley of 72 waterfalls. You can catch a glimpse of one just behind the tree.

Paris done nearly right! May 31, 2011

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After scaling to the top of the Eiffel tower

This past weekend was my first real adventure in Europe outside of the homey little area called Metz. First stop on the tour was at Roland Garros, where the coveted French Open takes place. Unfortunately due to the high volumes of people wanting to watch some incredible tennis, I was unable to partake in this particular event in Paris. But then it was on toVersailleswhere the beautiful gardens in the palace and the palace itself just took my breath away. Two days were spent inParisseeing all the touristy sights including the Mona Lisa at the Louvre, the Arc and of course the Eiffel Tower. Napoleon’s Tomb and seeing the crypt which held the graves of Alexander Dumas (the author of The Count of Monte Cristo and Victor Hugo (the author of Les Miserables ) capped off the first great adventure. Along the way I learned the power of the ISIC student id card in saving money, had my first crepe, went to mass at the Notre Dame Cathedral and essentially did the city of Paris justice. Now that I have spent three days learning the ins and outs of the city I want to go back. The metro station there and I have become really good friends over the three days, so it is only fitting to go back. The key to any trip is to come back wiped. Otherwise you didn’t use what little time you had to see as much of the city as possible. Paris is only the first of many trips to come but it was a great starting point in terms of understanding logistics and how the group functions. The challenge is to make the next trip better than the first. So long everybody! Tune in for more from Eurotrip 2011.

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