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ABCs of GTL (U to Z) August 5, 2011

Posted by Layla Marshall in Travel Log.
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U:  Underground—an important means of transportation in cities.  Although I like to walk as much as possible so I can see more of a city during the short time I’m there, riding the metro/subway/tube is a necessity in the larger cities.  My group definitely got plenty of experience doing so in Paris, Rome, Brussels, and London.

V:  Versailles—near Paris, France.  The Palace of Versailles was the first stop on my trip to Paris at the beginning of the summer.  My group toured the inside of the castle, where we saw the elegant rooms with their beautifully painted walls and ceilings, and then moved out to the gardens to take a short nap by the rowboat pond.  Versailles was beautiful, and I especially enjoyed the greenery and sculptures in the huge garden area.

W:  Westminster Abbey—London, England.  While in London, I visited Westminster Abbey, a beautiful church with lots of history.  Our audio guide talked us through the abbey, and we visited the graves of famous authors and poets in Poets’ Corner (where there was a memorial to Shakespeare, who is buried elsewhere) and the grave and memorial of Charles Darwin.  The oldest door in England was part of our tour, and a room had been set aside for pictures and displays of the recent royal wedding.

A rare moment of confusion while navigating with camera maps in Basel, Switzerland

X:  “X marks the spot”—navigation in tourist towns of Europe.  Basel, Switzerland gets the award as the most-easily-navigated-without-possessing-an-actual-portable-map city in Europe.  We explored it on a Sunday when the tourist office was closed and no maps were to be found, but helpful signs magically appeared on each street corner as we found our way from place to place.  Navigating unfamiliar cities to find interesting things to do got easier and easier as the summer went on, probably because we learned the best places to go to find information.  For example, buying the Roma Pass in Rome was an excellent decision, since it came with unlimited subway use and a convenient, pocket-sized map of the historic area of the city.  When all else fails, find a bus stop or go back to the train station and take a picture of the huge map on display there—it might take a while to scroll around it on your camera later, but it’s always good to know where you are!

Y:  Yeomen Warders—guardians of the Tower of London.  Our trip to England included a visit to the Tower of London, where we took a tour from one of the Tower’s guardians.  Due to the rain, the tour was modified and became more of an information session in the chapel, but we still got to see the crown jewels, the White Tower, and the ravens on our own before and after.  The Yeomen Warders live at the Tower and maintain it as a national monument, and this includes giving tours and posing for pictures with lots of tourists and visitors.

Z:  ZZZZZZZZZZ—what I’ll be doing to catch up on rest on my flight back to the States today.  It’s been a busy, exciting, and slightly tiring summer, and I’m so thankful to have been able to participate in the GTL summer program during my time at Tech.  It was the perfect balance of class days and travel days (of course, longer weekends are always nice, but learning while in school is important, too), and I feel like I managed to do everything I wanted to and more while here.  Now it’s time to get caught up on sleep before the fall semester starts!

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