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Reflections on the best summer August 15, 2011

Posted by Colleen Crouch in Travel Log.
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As I sit at home and look around at my family, it is difficult to imagine that I just spent two and a half months gallivanting across Europe, but it was not just the places that I went but the people that I met that really made this summer the best.  From first meeting fifty GA Tech student to meeting an Australian girl named Dimitry on my last adventure in Europe, and all the people in between, I have met some of the coolest and sweetest people in the world (or at least including Europe, the States, and Australia).

Atlanta Airport--the beginning of our journey

I  loved every minute of this trip even getting lost the last Saturday of the trip and spending two hours on a bus traveling across the very large city of London afraid that my parents and friends would think that I had been hurt in the (nonexistent) riots–yes, by the next week London felt safer than downtown Atlanta.  Visiting Windsor, Bath, and Stonehenge was a perfect way to end the trip, and on the bus I met Dimitry–she had just arrived in England.  It was great to talk to her about all my travels as it was ending the next day just as she was about to start her epic journey.  I was able to reflect on what this summer has meant to me.

Worcester College--my home for six weeks

I cannot ever imagine having a summer that will cause me to change this much.  I am now even more independent than before and am confident that I can be thrown into any situation.  I have a better view on the world and the people in it, and I definitely have a better appreciation for our wonderful country.  It has been the best summer of my life, but I do love being home especially for GA Tech football!


My “Favorite” City August 12, 2011

Posted by Colleen Crouch in Travel Log.
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So the title is a tad bit misleading.  I do not have a “favorite” city because all of the cities that I have been to (I think the count is up to 27) are unique and therefore difficult to compare.  However, one city on the travel portion I just could not get enough of–and this is partly because we only spent two days there–was Munich, Germany.

Of all the countries I have been to, I must say that the people of the UK, Germany, and Austria are the sweetest.  Not only were the servers some of the nicest people, but also even a passerby would smile at you which is rare in other parts of Europe.  Even when I was lost in Rome (Surprise!  Italy has the worst maps, and the street signs are nonexistent), a man came up to me and offered his assistance, and no he was not Italian but rather Austrian.  Also, if a person is from Italy, we call them Italians, but do we call a person from Austria and Austrian?  Oh, the many questions that I never would have thought to ask before this trip.  Anyways, here is a recount of my first day in Munich, Germany:

WOW! I LOVE THIS CITY! Even though it was raining and freezing cold all day, I feel in love with this city.  We started our day off going to a beer hall for class. First off the Germans really do know how to drink beer. (Seriously when we came out of class at 11:30, people were already drinking copious amounts of beer).  After class Rachael, Rono, Sean, Marlee, Emily, Lauren, Sean, and I headed to the supermarket to grab lunch.  I bought a thing of chocolate chip bread, a huge thing of potato salad, and some egg salad all four five Euros, and I could not even finish the bread or the potato salad.  Next we went to the Glyptothek which is where a ton of Greek and Roman sculptures are, and well Rachael and I were completely disrespectful and took some hilarious pictures (mainly consisting of me pretending to grab sculpture’s and guys’ in our group butts).

Pretending to grab Joseph's butt after taking pictures with sculptures.

On our way back we saw where the Nazis first started in a certain building.  It is weird how a city that I enjoy so much can have such a dark past.  Afterward we walked back to the hotel for only a few minutes to grab rain gear and then headed to the Hofbrauhaus and walked through the center of town where they were having a huge festival, but very few people were there because it was so miserable outside.  At first, we believed we could not get in to the HB, so Marlee and I stopped at a cute coffee shop in this outdoor mall and bought latte macchiatos (we tried to get them with amaretto, but it was lost in translation).  We then went in the pouring/freezing cold rain to the huge building with the cuckoo clock that actually moves and watched it for the five o’clock.  Next we sprinted to a random beer hall/restaurant, and since we were so cold, Marlee, Sean, Mark, Elizabeth, Sean, and I decided to eat and drink to warm ourselves up, and that was one of the best decisions ever!  The place looked exactly like I picture Germany to look like with the wooden beams and the rustic decorations.  I was adventurous and ordered veal meatballs with this type of jelly on it, and I have never eaten meat that tasted so good.

Delicious German Meal

Next we decided to at least go see the HB, and on the way there Marlee and I devised a way of rating German men (American boys were automatic zeros): a cute guy was 1, an ugly guy was 0, and an in-between guy was 0friend.  This kept us entertained for our two days in Munich.  Once we made it to the HB, we decided to go upstairs to the beer hall where they have singing and dancing, and they let us in!  Mark and I split an apple strudel, and it was absolutely fantastic.  After everyone finished their beer and food, we decided to walk to the park which had little waterfalls, and since it was around 9:30, the sun was just going down.  It was such a fantastic day that I decided to just go to sleep after skyping Mom.



Finally going to London August 8, 2011

Posted by Colleen Crouch in Travel Log.
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So after living an hour away from London for five weeks, I finally went this weekend.  Of all the trips I have made in the United Kingdom, this was the only city that I knew for sure I would be coming back to in the future (I wish I could revisit all of the other cities, but I don’t think a trip to Betws-y-Coed, Wales would ever be practical).  This made for an interesting perspective: I did not feel as if I had to cram everything in to three days.   That being said we still did a ton of stuff!

Friday we were standing in line for Buckingham palace when they told us the tickets were all sold out! Very disappointing, but instead we went to the War Rooms that Churchill and his cabinet used during World War II.  It was one of the best museums I have ever been in.  I have to say that London has the best dang audio guides in Europe.  Next, we went inside Westminster Abbey which was by far the most magnificent church that I have seen all trip and a ton of famous people are buried there including two of my favorite authors: Emily and Charlotte Bronte.  The final place we went to on Saturday was London Bridge/Tower Bridge.  At this point, I began to sing the famous song and realized I did not know whether London Bridge ever actually fell, so I looked it up http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/London_Bridge_Is_Falling_Down.

Saturday was just as epic, and as my parents requested here is the copy of the email I sent them Saturday night.  (Good thing I did since there happened to be riots in London that night–I did not hear about this until after we got back).

“About to head to bed after a very very long day.  We woke up and got on a train at 7:15 to make sure we got those gosh darn Buckingham palace tickets. And we did!! We went to the Mews which is their famous stables which I absolutely loved  seeing all the carriages and a few horses 🙂 Next we toured the state apartments and I have never been so impressed by decorations (and that is saying something since I have also seen Versailles and other places).  I am now absolutely set on becoming a princess and spending Christmas in that magnificent palace.

Then we went to Tower of London to see not only where thousands of people were killed but also to see the incredibly beautiful crown jewels of England.  GEEZE!!! There are so many crowns and scepters and a spoon(?) and tons of other really really really expensive and old stuff.  Next we went to Chinatown to stuff ourselves with food.  And according to Rachael, it is the oldest Chinatown in the world (excluding China of course 😉 ).  Then we went to King’s Cross station to take a Harry Potter picture.  Turns out it is not actually between 9 and 10 at the moment.  You have to exit King’s Cross station to go to 9 3/4 and take pictures with the cart.  The had to move it for construction:  All of London is under construction in preparation for the 2012 Olympics.

Sunday we went to Greenwich to stand on the prime meridian (and that is about all that is in Greenwich that is worth seeing).  Of course, being England, a terential downpour started while we were in line to take a picture, but Rachael and I were so used to it that we just laughed and as the Brits say “Keep Calm and Carry On.”  By the end of the day, I was so exhausted that I literally collapsed into bed.

What a fantastic weekend!!

Officers in Vienna August 4, 2011

Posted by Colleen Crouch in Travel Log.
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It is surprising to think that I only have ten days left in Europe before I head back home and back to Tech.  As much as I love this place and the experiences, I know that I will be ready to be home after taking finals.  Looking back on the past two and a half months, some of my favorite memories come to mind such as our free day in Vienna. 

Rachael, Lauren, Connor, Nick, Mark, Gannon, Shinjini, Sean McParltan, Sean Chait, Addy, Rono, Joseph, and I went to the giant Cathedral to take pictures.  Sadly, they were doing construction on most of the outside of the building, but the inside was beautiful!  Rachael and I both lit candles and said a prayer.

Next we decided to walk all the way to the duomo which I am so glad we did because it turned out to be an epic day!  First we visited the Austrian University, and secretly I was hoping we would run into Phil or the law school guy, but we did not.  Then as we were heading to the duomo we passed a huge government building that had been roped off as if there was going to be a parade, so Rachael, Joseph, and I wanted to figure out what was going on.  We walked up to the doors of the building and tried to read the German signs, and a cameraman was there so Rachael asked what the building was and what was going on.  He attempted to explain to us that the governor worked there (he knew Rudy Giuliani), and he brought us over to the officers because they spoke English.  I was really nervous that we were going to get in trouble for being there, but they were so very nice.  The young guy was an Austrian officer with a British accent whose father had trained in the US before he was born.  The older man that I talked to was an Italian officer who did not speak the best English, and his fellow officer barely said a word.  They explained to us that there was going to be a parade and that the famous running Italian band was going to play.  They walked us over to introduce us to the band, but they were not there.  At that point, the other members of our group looking very nervous walked over: they thought we were being escorted off the premises.  We of course decided to stay for the parade!

Then we finally decided to make it to the duomo, and it was gorgeous inside.  There was also a huge nasty fountain outside of it that we walked in (I am so thankful that we did not catch some kind of disease!!).  Next, we split up to find some food.  It was the best meal I had in Vienna.  It was some kind of pasta bowl with ham and an amazing cheese sauce.  It was funny that the other group just got kebabs when we had an authentic Austrian meal.  That pretty much wrapped up the day besides writing a concert report.  One of the coolest experiences of my life!

Overview of the best summer! July 25, 2011

Posted by Colleen Crouch in Travel Log.
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150 GT students + 55 days + 21 cities + 7 countries + 4 classes= the best summer of my life

I have not updated my blog all summer simply because I have far too many stories and very little time that I wanted to spend on the internet.  After one month of having very little internet has “lessened” my dependence on the internet; however, some stories are just too good to not tell.

This summer I have seen more, experienced more, and met more diverse people than in my entire life.  Without this study abroad, I would never have seen all of these cities, and when else would I meet military officers from Austria and Italy, see Jersey Shore in Florence, take a typical picture of the leaning tower of Pisa, meet a distant cousin in Rome, take a gondola ride in Venice, eat and drink the best meal in Munich, see the horrors of a concentration camp in Dachau, spend an entire day wandering around Prague with my best friend, see the “epic” Ghent Altarpiece, experience a crazy bus ride (wait that was every bus ride) in Brussels, eat lunch beside a canal with my music professor in Brugge, take classes at the famous Oxford University, make a spur of the moment trip to Glasgow and Inverness (to see the Loch Ness monster), see the crown jewels and of course the sites that inspired Harry Potter in Edinburgh, eat at a diner in Newcastle, see everything Beatles in Liverpool and everything Shakespeare in Stratford-upon-Avon, ride the tallest roller coaster in the UK at Blackpool Pleasure Beach, and hike one of the tallest mountains in Wales with two of my best friends in Snowdonia National Park.  And yes, I have done all of that in only fifty-five days!  Soon I will post about specific days that are the most memorable (if I can actually choose).

Connor and I at the top of one of the tallest mountains in Wales!