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Luxembourg, Belgium, and Germany! May 29, 2013

Posted by Parker Buntin in Travel Log.
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*Disclaimer: There are errors when I try to upload pictures into my posts. I’m working on fixing this. In the meantime, all my pictures are on facebook. Feel free to look through my albums or message me if you want access!*

Bonjour!

I am currently sitting in the GTL student lounge, helping plan multiple trips to Berlin, Switzerland, Pamplona, and other cities. Planning these weekend trips should be considered at least another 4 hour course. They take so much time to plan, searching for different scenarios and planning down everything to the last detail. As tedious as I’m making this sound, it’s so exciting! It certainly pays off too. Let me recount my last two weekends (first two weekends of independent travel).

The first weekend (Friday May 17th through Monday 20th) was a three-day weekend, and my friends and I certainly took advantage of this by visiting three separate cities. First was Luxembourg, Luxembourg. Only an hour away from Metz, Luxembourg was a good start to our trip. My group of 11 friends and I headed to our hostel in the historic section of the city. It may seem odd, but it was so much fun to walk through the city in good company, taking in everything. It took us around an hour and a half to walk to our hostel that should have been about 45 minutes away, all because we stopped every couple minutes to take pictures and laugh our heads off.

In any event, we made it to our hostel, dropped off our stuff, and then went to a pizza place for several hours. The food was wonderful, but we didn’t realize they charged for what we thought was “tap water.” We ended up spending ~35 euros on water. Other than that little snafu, it was a great night!

The next day, we all woke up and toured through the cave fortress that is embedded into the cliffs of Luxembourg’s historic district. It was pretty neat, and the beautiful weather that day added to our enjoyment. We all took lots of pictures of a very beautiful Luxembourg, then headed out to Brussels, Belgium in the afternoon.

Brussels was seemed more industrial than Luxembourg. That was my perception when I got off the train, but that paradigm shifted when we made our way to the hostel. Our hostel in Brussels was in an alleyway connected to the Grand Place Square in the heart of Brussels. The square was filled with tourists and the streets were filled with people. We soon realized that there was a Gay Pride Parade occurring in Brussels that evening. The city got more alive as the night wore on. I think the craziest thing that happened that night was my group running into friends from my dorm at GT randomly in the Grand Place Square. They’re participating in a different study abroad program—I cannot recall which—but we literally bumped into each other and were dumbfounded at what a small world. We found a little restaurant and hung out before they had to take a train back to where they were staying. It was really neat seeing how international GT students really are.

After a fun night in Brussels with good friends and midnight Belgium waffles (so delicious!), my group and I did some more touristy stuff in Brussels before heading to Brugge. Apparently one of the city’s famous attractions is a statue of a peeing boy called Manneken Pis. One of the popular stories that explains the statue is that a naked boy saved the city when a fire broke out by urinating on the fire. Interestingly, the statue has been stolen several times, which reminds me of a certain letter T in Atlanta. My friends and I had chocolate filled waffles for breakfast, which I strongly recommend! : )

Brugge is more tourism-focused than Luxembourg or Brussels. It’s a cute, small little town in northern Belgium surrounded by and interlaced with little rivers. The architecture was still stunning, and the chocolate stores around every corner were a nice addition! My friends and I basically walked around the city all day until we had to leave. Some of our mishap and adventures included talking to people dressed up as wizards and devils, buying lots of chocolate, and relaxing in a park. I almost slipped when trying to get a frisbee that rolled into one of the rivers. Whoops! The weather, once again, was beautiful, which was wonderful.

It turns out we missed the last train from Luxembourg to Metz, so we stayed at the train station over night until the first train in the morning. My mistake, but it led to some impromptu planning and lots of bonding between our group that night. We got back to GTL the next day and I slept most of Monday away.

The next week flew by in the blink of an eye. Lots of studying and movie nights happened and before I knew it, I was leaving for Cochem, Germany to start my castle tour with my friends. We took regional trains through beautiful countryside alongside the Mosel River, which was very flooded due to all the rain from the previous week. We could see the Cochem castle immediately after leaving the train station. It was a sight to behold! The castle overlooked the little city that stretched out along the river in a gorgeous valley. Cochem didn’t really have a night life, which was okay because my friends and I scouted out a delicious little schnitzel place in “downtown.” After a couple hours there, my friends and I returned with full bellies to our quaint, little hotel on the river (it was super nice for the price we got!).

The next day, we left our hotel after an amazing breakfast, only to get distracted with a life-sized chessboard. After a quick game of chess and a vain attempt to reenact wizard’s chess from Harry Potter, we were on our way to Burg Eltz, a popular castle near Müden, Germany. We were all prepared for the 4km hike we had to traverse to get to the castle, but we didn’t quite realize that that hike included going up and over a mountain. Nonetheless, we were blessed with great weather and wonderful views. The top of the mountain looked like something out of The Sound of Music to me. When the castle came into view towards the end of the hike, it was breathtaking. We made our way inside the castle despite taking pictures every two steps, and found that the castle actually seemed like a mini-village inside. This is because Burg Eltz is actually a castle shared by three branches of the Eltz family, each with their own section of the castle. We took a guided tour in English (thankfully) through the castle and got to see all the cool furnishings and rooms that were actually used for hundreds of years. The tour ticket also included admission to the armory and treasury displays in the basement of the castle, which was super neat!

The rest of that day consisted of travel. We decided not to see Cochem castle, which was wise because we made it to our hostel in Kassel, Germany later that night at 11:00PM. Kassel was a bit of a bummer because it rained hard all night and all day. We still trekked through the elements to the Wilhelmshöhe Park to see the Löwenburg Castle. It was cool, but we decided not to take a tour because they were only in German and the next one was a few hours later. We got our fill of pictures and made our way back to the train station to head back to GTL.

Four countries total in two weekends (including France)! Wow, it was a lot, but it was a blast. I can’t wait for Madrid and Barcelona next weekend! More adventures to come! :-)

Guten Tag Europe! May 15, 2013

Posted by Parker Buntin in Travel Log.
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Guten Tag Europe!

We have arrived! After a long journey with little sleep, the whole GTL crew has landed at various airports and convened in Metz, France. It is my third day in Europe, and my, it’s certainly been a whirlwind so far! Image

After arriving in Frankfurt around 6am on Mother’s Day, Matt Waples and I walked off our plane to a dreary and rainy Europe. That’s okay though, because after going through customs and collecting our luggage, we found our way to a hotel right next to the airport (we arrived a day earlier than most people, so we decided to split a hotel room for that extra night before the shuttle would leave the following day). Once we were checked in, we each took a nice 6-hour nap. Thanks jetlag!

What to do with an extra day in Europe? Explore! That’s exactly what Matt and I proceeded to do. We woke up, made our way down to the S-Bahn (a German subway system) and grabbed a train into the heart of the Frankfurt. Image

That building looks cool—Okay, let’s go see it! This brief dialogue appropriately began Matt and my somewhat haphazard exploration through Frankfurt. We wandered around and took in all the culture that Frankfurt had to offer, which, as it turns out, is more than the industrial stereotype that most travel websites give it credit for. The sleek, modern look of Frankfurt is attributed to the massive rebuilding that occurred after Frankfurt was bombed mostly to the ground in World War II. That being said, there are some old cathedrals and buildings that give off a cool mix of old and new styles.

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“Hallo! Ich spreche ein bisschen deutsch.” Matt and I got to use some of the German we had learned in our respective middle and high schools. Even after not taking German for over a year, I was surprised by how much came back. I can’t wait to use more German on future trips! Matt and I ate dinner at a little German restaurant right next to the Main River, which runs through Frankfurt. The cuisine was interesting, but quite good!

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After catching a train back to the hotel from a long day of exploration, Matt and I grabbed some rest before heading off to Metz with the rest of the shuttle the following day. The flight with most people on the shuttle was delayed that next day, but we were all accounted for in the end. The shuttle left for Metz, France that afternoon (Monday, May 13, 2013). Unfortunately, I don’t remember much of the bus ride, because I slept through most of it. When I did wake up, however, I awoke to beautiful German, then French, landscapes out the window. Rolling hills and lush, green grass made me excited to travel on future weekends throughout Europe.

Yesterday (Tuesday, May 15th) was a full day of orientation and exploration both on the GTL campus and in downtown Metz. The orientation was fairly straightforward: lots of rules, advice, and common sense information. It was helpful though, and I appreciated all the orientation info sessions. In the afternoon, some busses took everybody at GTL to downtown Metz. Metz is awesome! It’s a beautiful city with plenty of rich culture and history. Everybody was treated to a short bus tour through Metz, which was informational and a good overview of the city. I’m definitely going to check out Metz some more during my time here!

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I’m so glad and fortunate to be in Europe! Au revoir!

Random Fireworks August 15, 2011

Posted by Brian Wier in Travel Log.
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On my last weekend of travel, I decided to go to Munich, Germany.  I felt visiting Germany was an absolute necessity, as I had lived just an hour from the border for three months yet had never taken the time to visit, so off to Munich I went.

There’s really not a lot too see in Munich.  There aren’t many interesting sites to see or very many things to do.  Luckily, I was perfectly content to have a carefree of weekend of walking around the city and relaxing after several months of tiresome weekend travels.  In Munich went to Marienplatz and the Englischer Garden, where we stopped at the beer garden at the Pagoda.

After a traditional German meal that night, we went to the Olympic Park where we had heard there was going to be a fireworks display.  We never entered the park because it required expensive tickets, so we sat on a hill outside and watched a fantastic fireworks display, having no idea what it was for (I later found out it was an annual midsummer festival that was that day).

The next day, we went to the Deutsches Museum, which can only be described as science and engineering porn.  We spent a good four hours in the museum but could have easily spent the entire day if we had had the time.  Looking back, I can say my trip to Munich had everything I was looking for that final weekend trip: a few sites, a place to relax, and fireworks!

Das Münchentrip July 2, 2011

Posted by Joseph Mattingly in Travel Log.
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After Venice, Munich was a welcome relief.  A very modern city (mainly on account of the handsome bombing job the Allied Forces did in World War II), Munich was easy to navigate, had a distinctly Bavarian air about it, and gave me numerous opportunities to practice my fake German (mainly consisting of compounding long strings of words and adding “das” or “die” or “der” to the front).  Bavaria is home to many cultural commodities of our global community, including the Bavarian Motor Works (BMW, though I think I saw more Volkswagens), large pretzels (yum!), cuckoo clocks, and the delectable Haribo gummy bears.  As a nice house warming gift, the hotel gave every resident a nice little packet of Haribo gummy bears on their pillows, that is, everybody except the residents of my room.  To say I was angry is a bit of an understatement, so I’m still pretty bitter about that.  But, alas, Munich.

In what was probably an effort to validate all existing stereotypes about Munich, our art and music lectures were held in a beer hall.  Like a Starbucks in the United States, beer halls and gardens (and whatever other assemblage they come in) can be found in densities of at least one every 200 meters.  I think this gave a few of the students too many bad ideas.  After our first set of lectures, we ventured across town in the rain (now accepted as a will-happen on any occasion) to the Glyptothek, a museum housing Greek and Roman antiquities, or, more simply, an old sculptures museum.  There were some very interesting sculptures and mosaics there including statues from the pediment of a Greek temple and a gallery of marble heads awkwardly staring at the museum guest as he or she entered that particular hall.  We had the rest of the day off, so I walked to the main city square where the city hall has a colossal cuckoo clock tower fondly known as the Glockenspiel.  After standing in the rain to watch the clock come alive on the hour (for a whole ten minutes, too!), I wandered into the souvenir shops where my hopes of acquisitioning a much more modestly-sized cuckoo clock was shot out of the sky with the great multitude of consecutive digits on the price tag (100€, 500€, 1000€, 1500€, etc.).  Similarly my hopes to acquisition a Germany men’s national football (real football, not that American game) team (a.k.a. the best in the world) jersey were brought down by the price tags.  Fortunately, a bag of five giant pretzels only cost 1.19€.

The next day, our art adventures leaped forward a couple millennia to the Alte Pinakothek, a museum filled with lots of non-ancient (post-1400), non-modern artworks (pre-1900).  At this point, it is difficult to say anything exciting about an art museum since I’ve already recounted several of these adventures, so I will refrain from any unnecessary commentary.  Later that day, we were given the opportunity to visit the site of the Dachau concentration camp, one of the most infamous Nazi camps in World War II for what happened there.  This was made especially surreal by the fact that earlier in the day I had walked past the building that was the founding place of the Nationalist Socialist German Workers Party (the Nazi Party).  We saw the facilities were the Nazis’ prisoners lived and often died.  I can remember feeling and overwhelming sadness and anger that something so horrible could ever be allowed to happen, especially in an otherwise civilized nation.  Even so, Dachau as it exists today serves as a fitting tribute to a regrettable period in our human history, to the lives that were lost because of that, and the humanity we retain despite the strife.

^Click up there to enlarge!

For the two days we spent in Munich, I feel that we experienced a lot of Germany.  Still, there was more I wanted to do.  Sources tell me that a certain Deutsches Museum in Munich has a large collection of material pertaining to the great Wernher von Braun.  (For those of you who aren’t aware, von Braun = my hero.)  I guess Munich will just have to be one of those places I go back to at some point in my life.  I’m already several cities behind my own schedule, so you’ll probably hear about Prague tomorrow.  Until then, adieu!

From Berlin to Bruges to Paris… July 18, 2010

Posted by Megan Sweeney in Travel Log.
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I know it’s been a while but the last part of traveling and my first few weeks at Oxford have flown by! Since I last wrote we finished up the travel portion, stopping in Berlin, Bruges, and Paris. Right after our welcome dinner in Berlin, our bus driver (definitely the best, and funniest, of all the groups!) took us on a driving tour. We saw the Berlin wall, a monument to those who were killed in the Holocaust, and Charlie’s Checkpoint. Of course we visited several museums…but my favorite part of Berlin was getting to see the Berlin Philharmonic. Aside from having nosebleed seats, the concert was fantastic.

Bruges was a nice change compared to Berlin and Paris because it was so much smaller. We couldwalk everywhere, and it was a lot easier to explore on our own. Not to mention, Belgium chocolate is delicious; we ended up buying some everyday  we were there! We also took a day trip to Brussels, and since our bus driver was from  Belgium he took us on a short walking tour of the main sites. My personal favorite was the Manneken Pis. It is a statue of a little boy peeing, and the legend goes there  was an explosive that had been lit and the little boy saved the city by urinating on it. (more…)

The swing of things… June 28, 2010

Posted by J.T. Foust in Travel Log.
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So it turns out that classes here at GTL really aren’t such a light time commitment as one would be led to believe. None the less, I’m finally feeling acclimated to just being/living in Europe. It sure did take long enough, but now the lack of ability to communicate, the confusion that generally accompanied even the simplest of daily task, and the uncertainty of what to expect while traveling have finally run their course. I’m feeling much more comfortable with traveling and functioning in places where I don’t know how to even say please and thank you. France (and specifically Metz) is much better than that. But, I don’t think that I will ever be quite used to the fact that practically every hotel room in France and Italy has a bidet. (more…)

Europe According to Siobahn June 15, 2010

Posted by mgallagher8 in Travel Log.
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It’s amazing to think nearly three weeks have gone by since I was standing in my living room cramming that last pair of jeans into my already overstuffed suitcase. Within a week of landing in Frankfurt, I was able to settle into my new home in Metz, France (a very cozy dorm room, complete with a mini kitchen!), take a guided tour of the historical city center, AND embark on our first weekend trip to visit Munich, Germany, all the while attending classes. And I thought I was busy during the school year…

After our first day of class at GTL we were treated to a tour of downtown Metz. In all of the excitement of planning our first few weekends around Europe we had already forgotten to consider the beauty of the city we were already living in. On the walking tour we learned about the history of the city, its architecture, and the people who have lived there.  Metz can only be described as a very “French” town, both based on its architecture, its people and its culture. Despite our great effort to fit in, they can peg us as Americans from a mile away. Nevertheless, the locals have been extremely willing to help us in figuring out the transportation system, how to order in restaurants, and most importantly how to plan our weekend trips. (more…)

The Voices of Children May 24, 2010

Posted by Hunter Hammond in Travel Log.
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Hallo! (That’s german)

So, it’s time for an update and believe me, I have a ton to share with everyone about my time here in France and about a weekend I spent in Germany; however, before that, I want to tell you a little bit more about myself. I realized in my last blog that I became so excited about why I was here, that I forgot to let you know who I am.

As I said before, I am a rising sophomore at the Georgia Institute of Technology. I am very involved at Georgia Tech and I take great pride in my school and those who attend it. My freshmen year, I became a member of the Delta Chi Fraternity, where I have met some truly amazing and impressive men, I was a member of the freshman government association, “FreShGA,” I was involved with many philanthropic causes including the FERST Foundation for the Improvement of Childhood Literacy and the Ronald McDonald House Charities, and I was a member of the Student Lobby Board for the Student Government Association. Moving on into my sophomore year, I find that I am now beginning to fine tune my passions. I was recently elected to serve as President of the Sophomore Class, where I will serve alongside three other wonderful representatives and dozens of other members of the student government association, I was appointed to the Sophomore Leadership Council, as well the Homecoming Executive Board. Currently, I am a management major with a specific focus on the growth and spread of the biomedical industry. I am still discovering what all I am passionate for and I am continually surprised by my evolving interests. This blog looks at one passion of mine that has been becoming an ever larger focus in my life. I am fascinated with politics and with how our world interacts. As such, I want to find out what the rest of the world (the average citizen) truly thinks about the world and its current situations. With that very long descriptive about me out of the way, now let’s look at some things that I have encountered so far in my time in Europe.

(more…)

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