June 5-7: The Netherlands August 10, 2010Posted by Stefanie Olivier in Travel Log.
Tags: Amsterdam, Georgia Tech Lorraine, The Netherlands
add a comment
We visited Amsterdam in the Netherlands, one of the most imperative stops for any tourist in Europe, during our third weekend spent in Europe. Since we started travelling to the city on Saturday morning, we didn’t arrive there until the afternoon. The several train rides we had to take to get there, though, were saturated with interesting sights. In Luxembourg we saw countless castles and old-fashioned mansions, in Belgium, one really impressive train station (the Liege train station), and in the Netherlands, fields of modern power-generating windmills. Every train that we traveled in was different from the others as well. In one of them, the seats within a single compartment could be folded down to form one massive bed! (As a side note, I really recommend traveling via train in Europe. And getting the Eurail Pass to do it. It saves you big time!)
After we arrived in Amsterdam, we encountered another very impressive train station; however, its classical architecture looked very out of place within its unkempt surroundings, which included disorganized bicycle parking lots, smelly outside urinals, and flyers for a tattoo convention strewn everywhere. We took our time strolling through the Red Light District while at the same time searching for our Hostel Arosa. After we found our hostel and relaxed in our room a little bit while a Dutch orchestra played what sounded like Dutch melodies from five floors beneath our window (we seemed to be greeted by live folk music in every country we visited), we walked to Amsterdam’s China Town and had dinner there. For the rest of the night we strolled up and down the canals of the city, familiarizing ourselves with its sights, sounds, and smells.
The following day we familiarized ourselves even more with the sights available in Amsterdam, this time by visiting museums instead of aimlessly wandering along its canals. We took our time examining the masterpieces found in the Van Gogh Museum, read all the stories behind the devices displayed in the Torture Museum, and were moved by the exposition in the Anne Frank House. A couple of intermediate stops in Dutch shops made that an all-day experience, and after we walked through the Red Light District at night (a very unusual adventure!), we were ready for bed.
We rented bikes the next day and made extensive use of them to see the part of the city we weren’t able to see on foot. After we had breakfast within a windmill that was renovated to serve as a restaurant, we pedaled to Vondel Park and raced on its cemented pathways until we saw an incredibly big tree. Within seconds, the guys in our travel group climbed onto its branches, followed closely by the girls in the group. Surprisingly, no one ordered us out of the tree; only one passerby called us “apies” (which means monkeys) and told us how he used to climb in that very same tree during his childhood. Soon, our train’s departure time approached, and we had to hurry back to catch it.
Two Weeks in the Heart of Europe June 4, 2010Posted by eranmordel in Travel Log.
Tags: Amsterdam, belgian waffles, EU, gtl, Munich, Salzburg, soccer
add a comment
It is quite hard to believe that I’ve been in Europe for a little over two weeks! To think that I’m taking a semester of classes while traveling is a little mind-wrenching. I came here with no clue what to expect, and now I feel that even 11 weeks are not near enough to scale Europe — there is so much to see and do.
The real benefit of the program, beyond studying/living in a new environment and seeing Europe firsthand, is the people I meet and the depth of which I acquaint with them. Georgia Tech Lorraine provides the perfect balance of platforming an entire new mentality [of Europe] and keeping the comfort zone of Georgia Tech. I appreciate those I meet in restaurants, hostels, festivals, etc. and absolutely value my new/old friends with whom I travel.
That said, my classes thus far have been… well, they have been classes at Georgia Tech. It is nearly the same as in Atlanta, but my professors are much more reasonable about the timing of homework, tests, and class material — they take a personal interest in their students’ traveling schedules, which is quite refreshing and convenient. We work hard during the week and do not waste much time, take our homework on the [endless] train rides, and then have the weekend to relax and spend anywhere in Europe doing anything we’d like. Anywhere in Europe, anything we’d like. (more…)
Shock and Awe Campaign June 2, 2010Posted by Hunter Hammond in Travel Log.
Tags: Amsterdam, Berlin, Brussels, EU Study Abroad, gtl
add a comment
It has been a while since I have been able to write; however, I wanted to make an update on my trip to Berlin and on my recent adventures in Amsterdam and in Brussels. The last two weeks have been amazing, tiring and exhausting, but wonderful nonetheless! As I mentioned in my last post, I spent a few days in Berlin and in a small German town called Fussen. While in these places I made it a point to enjoy as much international flare as possible; however, I also made it a point to stay up to date on my task to discern the common opinion regarding the European Union and its relation to the country.
In Berlin, it is important to understand that the city was once two independent municipalities and that it has a very long and dark past. These characteristics have left a visible mark on the city, as well as on its inhabitants. I made it a point to talk to as many English speaking (there are many) residents as possible. These people ranged from tour guides, to shopkeepers, to business people, to even younger adults as well. For the purpose of this post, I want to focus on two main people; the first is David, our tour guide. David did an exceptional job at explaining the history of the city and at providing comedic relief when necessary. Two hours into our tour, I began to feel that I had a vague recollection of what he felt of the city. He loved it! He spoke with passion and fervor, his eyes lit up when he spoke about a particular area of the city or of the success that was finally met once the wall fell down; I knew that he would give me the response of a deeply nationalist individual. I expected that he would tell me the EU was a shadow government that hoped to establish a new world order at the expense of Germany; however, I was proven wrong. When asked about his general opinion of the EU, David responded by going off on a five minute monologue explaining how the EU was paramount to the success of Europe! He said that the EU was the way to unite Europe and to weather the economic storm to come. He was very adamant that he was not an economist, but that he felt that Germany was uniquely better because of the European Union.