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Weekend 8: Prague & Cesky Krumlov, Czech Republic September 29, 2013

Posted by kmneuberger in Travel Log.
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I left for Prague with the Alpha Phis. We left Metz, after some delicious sushi, at 10:14. We has couchettes (actual beds) for 6 hours before a 5 hour bus ride to Prague. I slept very well in the couchette and slept for a while on our bus ride, alternating with reading. It was the first weekend I had brought a book with me! We arrived in Prague with little to no difficulties around 12:30pm. We took out money from the ATM, which seemed like a lot since the exchange rate of Czech koruna is 26 to 1 euro. It’s funny how, now that I have been in Europe for so long, I convert back into Euros instead of US dollars. Anyway, after we got out money we had really large bills so we got some lunch and coffee to break them. Next we had the correct coins so we could buy metro tickets. We took the metro a few stops and then walked a ways to our hostel building. On the way to our hostel we passed by two girls. I overheard one of them say, “Oh, they’re Alpha Phi”. I turned around and asked her if she was also an Alpha Phi. She said yes and we talked to them for a  while. I told them that we were going to a bar crawl that night and we would maybe see them later.

We checked in and payed for our hostel. The Alpha Xi’s (Madi, Charlotte, and Colleen) were going to arrive later that evening since they took trains Saturday morning. We did meet up with another friend, AJ, who hung out with us for the afternoon. After we showered and were ready for the afternoon we left the hostel to explore the Prague palace. We walked through the castle gardens and then climbed the church tower. We had a great view of Prague.
We were staying on the opposite side of the river as the “old square” and it was cool to be able to look out onto both halves of the city.

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We walked down the side of the castle and started looking for a place to have dinner. Along the way Katie P and I split a fried potato that was cut in a spiral, it was a yummy snack! We kept walking and stumbled upon a small “Czech” looking restaurant and sat down. Andree and I split what would be the equivalent of a “meat lovers” meal. We had a quarter of a duck, pork, and rabbit. It came with an amazing homemade gravy, potato dumplings, and steamed red & white cabbage. The meal was so delicious!

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After our very filling dinner we walked back to the hostel and meet up with the Alpha Xi’s. I has emailed someone from the Prague Clock Tower pub crawl who was supposed to meet us at 8pm. That didn’t give us much time to get ready. After we almost had everyone ready to go I ran down to find our pub crawl person. I didn’t see him and soon we were all downstairs waiting. We decided to just go to the clock tower since we knew how to get there. On the way out Colleen saw an advertisement for another famous pub crawl called The Prague International Pub Crawl. Colleen said other people had recommended  this pub crawl and more importantly it was going to end up at the 5 story club. Once our hostel clerk mentioned that we would get free tshirts and a discount we were sold. We got our wristband and started for the old square. When we arrived in the square someone came up to us who recognized our wristbands. He led us to a bar and we waited outside for the previous group to leave before we went in. We saw a few GTL kids on the way out and then we ran into the Alpha Phi’s that we had seen earlier that day! We all insisted on taking pictures together. After the pictures we said our goodbyes and started on the bar crawl. It was quite the experience. We visited 3 bars before ending up at the famous Prague 5 story club. I had a blast partying into the night.

prague bar crawl copy Alpha Phi's prague copy

The next morning it took a while to get everyone up and moving. We decided that part of the group would try and pick up our pub crawl tshirts and the other part of the group went to make reservations at the Mexican restaurant.  The group of us that went to get the tshirts dilly dallied a bit on the famous bridge and bought some awesome souvenirs.  We unfortunately failed on our mission to find the tshirts but we figured we would find them later that night. We returned to the hostel and got everyone together for going to the bone church. The bone church was a two hour round trip and we realized after arriving at the metro station we wouldn’t be back in time for dinner.  Instead of going to the bone church we walked along the bridge again and Colleen and I decided to get a fish pedicure! It was one of the craziest things I have done this summer.  It was such a weird feeling to have fish nibbling on your feet for 15 minutes!

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After our feet were feeling “refreshed” we met up with the rest of the group and decided to see a few more touristy spots before our long awaited Mexican dinner.  We visited the John Lennon wall and we all added a little something!

APhi Jonh Lennon's Wall copy

We then tried to visit the Jewish cemetery, but it was closed for the day.  Next we walked back through the square to pick up our pub crawl tshirts and then walked to the Prague Mexican restaurant, Cantina.  We had great guacamole and enchiladas!  After a very filling dinner we went back to the hostel.  I went to bed early because I had to be up at 5:30am for a 7:15am train.  The rest of the group was going back to Metz on Monday and spending our extra day off in Metz.  I decided to spend that extra day traveling and seeing a new city!

Another GTL student, Karsten, and I planned to visit Cesky Krumlov a city in the Czech Republic about 3 hours south of Prague.  We took at 7:15am train to Cesky and arrived around 11am.  We walked about a kilometer into the main part of the city to our hostel.  After checking into our hostel we got some brunch and then went to explore the Cesky Krumlov Castle!  Once we got inside the castle gates we saw something I was not expecting at all, a bear! A big brown bear! We took lots of pictures and then walked around the castle gardens.  After that we climbed up the castle tower to see a view of the whole city.  We had a great view from the top!

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After a walk down the river we took a much needed 2 hour nap.  Next we walked around the main square and found souvenirs.  On the way to dinner we saw a South African children’s choir group performing in the square.  I love coming across things that are unexpected in the places I visit.  Once the children were done signing we continued to dinner.  We ate at a restaurant called “Papa’s Living Restaurant”.  Karsten and I split two plates of ribs.  They were definitely some of the bet ribs I have ever had, and it was a nice little taste of America.

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After dinner we walked around the city a while longer we headed back to our hostel.  We had to be up and ready for 14 hours of trains back to Metz the next day.  It was a long ride back but it gave me time to work on my blog and do some homework.  We got back to Metz at 11pm and I was in bed by midnight.  The 4 day weekend wore me out.  I really enjoyed my time in the Czech Republic and am excited to compare it to our next Eastern European city, Budapest, Hungary!

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Weekend 7: Interlaken, Switzerland July 11, 2013

Posted by kmneuberger in Travel Log.
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My trip to Interlaken has definitely been one of my favorite trips, being the adrenaline junkie that I am I was so pumped to go canyoning!  To get to Switzerland the Alpha Phi’s and I had couchettes for Friday night, but the girls found out they could get to Interlaken around 12:20pm the next day by taking a train leaving Metz at 6:36am. I needed to be there for canyoning so I decided to use our reservations and give the other reservations to Max, AJ, and Brian.  Our train left at 10:14 and we were going to have about 3 hours in the couchettes. During our hour and half layover in Strasbourg I had what I forgot was a wonderful American treat. Peanut Butter. Smooth, creamy, mouthwatering Jiff peanut butter. Brian and AJ had peanut butter and banana sandwiches and they looked so genuinely happy I just had to take a picture.

IMG_2865           I was content the rest of our journey to Interlaken.  When we arrived we were down to three, Max had gotten off at a different stop to make an earlier train. We walked about 20min to our hostel and I checked in. AJ and Brian were staying in a hostel in a different city but AJ stayed with me for canyoning and Brian stayed and waited for the other girls. This weekend it would be the Alpha Phis, Charlotte, Madi, Brian, AJ, and I. The boys and I went across the street and bought lunch. I paid in Euros and received change in Francs. That was the only money I exchanged the entire weekend! After a quick lunch it was time to get changed for canyoning! I had been looking forward to this for a few weeks. AJ and I walked over to the canyoning place and saw a ton of GTL students that had just finished canyoning from that morning. They said it was an awesome experience but it was the coldest they had been in their entire lives. Nonetheless I was super excited. AJ and I realized that we were doing canyoning with a huge group of GTL students as well. We were with 3 Alpha Xi’s, 4 AΧΩs, AJ, Brent, Karsten, a random person, and myself. After we got all of our gear and picked out our name helmets, my name was Love, we piled into a van and set off for an hour drive up to Grimsel. When we got up there we had to put on all of our gear which included a jacket, an overall fitted wetsuit, another jacket, a lifevest, shoes, our helmets, and a harness. Once we were all suited up we drove a little farther to the start of the canyoning trip. We started with a 50m repel straight down the side of a rock. It was thrilling but I didn’t do the best job since I slipped a few times. I eventually made it down and after we had everyone we started into the canyon. We started off with a small jump to test out the water; it was freezing. I have an entirely new definition for the term “brain freeze”. It was the one of the best experiences I have had in Europe. I did a 9m jump which only about half the group did. I was pretty scared standing on this little brick platform but I jumped and it was a great adrenaline rush. The other exciting part was the zip line. One of the guides put a rope that was attached to the zip line through our harnesses and we had to hold onto the rope with our hands until he said to let go. About half way down the zip line he shouted to let go and it was a pretty big drop. This was towards the end of the trip. One more “jump slide” and we were out of the canyon. It was pretty excited to be warm and dry. We took a few pictures before shedding our layers (which proved to be rather difficult) and trading them for dry clothes. We had to change on the side of the road and let’s just say after making it through canyoning and changing on the side of a road I felt very bonded to my fellow canyoners. Once we piled back into the van we each cracked open a beer and celebrated during our drive back to Interlaken. Back at the base we got some delicious Swiss cheese sandwiches and I decided to buy a video of my canyoning adventure. Here is a picture of the group and a link to a video of the adventure!

Canoying group copy

Link to my canyoning video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=95mSep29P3k
AJ and I went back to my hostel to see if the other girls, and Brian had gotten back from kayaking. We saw there bags but they weren’t yet back, so we decided to walk to the other hostel (Balmers Tent Village) to soak in the hot tub. Along the way we ran into the other group who had just come from the hot tub; the weather was bad so they were not able to go kayaking. They decided to get dinner while AJ and I chilled in the hot tub. Although it poured rain for a few minutes while we were in the hot tub it was very warm and relaxing and we even made some new friends from Florida! Eventually we decided to head back to my hostel. When we arrived AJ had to leave to take a train to his hostel which was in Grindlewald. I showered and was planning on relaxing that night to get ready for hiking the next day. A fellow GTL student told us about the 4+ hour hike they had taken that day and we decided we would do that the next morning. A little before we were going to head to bed a few GTL students mentioned the underground club under our hostel. We decided to check it out and ended up having a blast, partying in our workout clothes and chacos. I’m so happy that my sisters are up for dancing and fun all the time.
The next morning we got up early, had free breakfast, got a locker for our backpacks and headed to the train station. Katie, Jessica, Andree, and I took a train to Grindlewald to start our hike. We had to sprint to the train station since the train only leaves every half an hour and we were going to be tight on time. We got into Grindlewald and walked a ways to get to the gondola. We bought a ticket to go all the way up and were going to hike down. It was a beautiful hike filled with snow covered paths (which proved to be difficult in my Chacos) and rolling hills. The pictures speak to the beauty of the landscape and view. We hiked down the very steep “trail of flowers” and then took the gondola down the rest of the way.

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We had to take the gondola so that we could make the correct train to Interlaken, collect our things from the hostel, get souvenirs, and make outright way back to the Interlaken station. We had to do a bit more running, and sprinting but got all of those tasks accomplished and were on our way back to Metz. We were on the same schedule of trains as about 30-40 other GTL students. During one layover we had to cross the Swiss/French boarder and I bought a jar of peanut butter right before I crossed back into France. We arrived in Metz around 8pm and I was back in my dorm before 9. After an adventure and exercise filled weekend it was nice to have time to decompress and then get a great night sleep before my 8:30am class the next morning.

Weekend 4: Nice, France July 11, 2013

Posted by kmneuberger in Travel Log.
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This past weekend I went to Nice with the Alpha Phis (Katie Pokrant, Jessica Helms, Gloria Lozano, and Andree Curran). We were excited for a relaxing weekend after our long 4 day trip to Valencia and Barcelona. We took an overnight train to Nice from Metz. It was a sleeper train which meant we had seats but they reclined pretty far back. We got kebabs for the train and made some new friends on our way! We met a few guys who were studying in Metz from Brazil. They had just finished 6 months of school in Metz and were traveling for a few weeks before going back home. Eventually it was time for bed, I actually slept pretty solidly for about 6-7 hours (which is a rarity on trains).
We arrived in Nice at around 9:30am and we were supposed to meet our apartment guy, Jack, at a metro stop at 10. The metro stop was only two stops away and we arrived with plenty of time. We waited for a while until we tried to find a pay phone to call him. He called Gloria’s phone as he was walking up to the metro stop. Jack then led us through the old city, where we were staying, and brought us to the apartment. He told us on the way that there was some booking error and we would be in a different apartment than he had planned and there would be someone staying with us. He described the guy by just saying he was an artist and liked to go to the local bar a lot. Assuming this guy was in his twenties I asked Jack how old this man was and was told that he was 55. The girls and I exchanged some looks and then continued to listen to Jack. We decided to get some brunch and the come back to shower and get ready for the day. Jack walked with us out of the apartment to show us around some more. He pointed out a small restaurant that he said had great French food. We also showed us a small cafe where we decided to get brunch. I had a brioche with cream and a cappuccino. I have decided cappuccinos are definitely my favorite coffee drink.
After brunch we went back to the apartment and got ready for the day. This was necessary after a long overnight train. Jack had mentioned that the lunch restaurant closed around 2:30pm. We arrived around 1:30pm and all decided that we would have the “Menu of the Day”. This included a glass of kir, a white wine and blackberry liquor drink, an quiche appetizer, a main dish, and dessert. We soon realized that the restaurant normally closes around 2:30 because they close when they run out of food. We had to change our ordered a little according to what good they had left. I think no matter what we had it would have been amazing. It was definitely one of my favorite meals of the summer (not quite beat out by the Valencian paella).

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After a very filling lunch we decided to walk around and head to the beach. On the way we ran into the palace that Jack had mentioned. It was free entry so we decided to go in and explore. As we walked around the palace we started to imitate the paintings and sculptures. This was hilarious and we got some great pictures inside. Although we didn’t have the most educational time we had a lot of fun.

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Nice museum

 

 

Next we headed to the beach. Now Jessica had mentioned  that Nice had “pebble beaches” but it was more like a rock beach. We went to put our feet in and the water was freezing! It was also difficult to climb out of the water because the rocks were pretty rough on our feet.  When we left the beach the girls decided it was nap time (no one got really good sleep on the train). I slept pretty well so I chose to skip a nap and walk around the city some more. As I started walking I heard church bells ringing, coming from the church down the road. I checked the mass time and mass was starting in 15 minutes. I ran back to the apartment to tell the girls I was going to mass and would be back in an hour. Mass in French was exciting. I could follow along because of the rhythm and order of Catholic mass. I love that about the Catholic Church, no matter what language or country I go to church in it is all the same and I am receiving God in full every time.

I went back to the apartment after mass and woke the girls up from their naps. Feeling like a mom I got the troops together and, following another of Jack’s suggestions headed out for dinner.  He had suggested that we get pizza and wine to take onto the beach and watch the sunset. We got three pizzas and few bottles of wine and a blanket for the beach.  We had a blast. It was wonderful to be so relaxed without anything pressing we needed to get to or worry about. We ate our pizza, played with an adorable pug puppy, watched the sunset, and saw the city light up.

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After dinner we went to the local “famous bar”. The band was taking a break and it was pretty crowded. Instead we decided to walk around. As we were walking we ran into a UGA student who was staying in Nice. It’s funny how small the world is sometimes.
The next morning I was awoken by Jack’s colleague bursting into the apartment and being annoyed and frustrated that we were not awake and out of the apartment. Jack had said the day before that we could use the apartment during the day and leave our things there because our train was later that evening. We assumed we didn’t have a “check out” time if we could use the apartment that day. The woman said she would come back later to clean and that we needed to get up quickly and leave the cleaning fee for her. We got ready and locked our things in one of the two rooms we were using.
We went back to the cafe we had brunch at the day before and got lunch. We had planned to climb up an overlook and ride bikes that day. First we walked down to the beach and then started the climb. We took lots of photos along the way. We decided to go up higher and see a the waterfall. It was an awesome waterfall with a great view of Nice.

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As the weather started to turn ugly we realized we would not be able to bike that day. Instead we went to Finochio’s. They have so many flavors it was hard to decide! I finally chose raspberry and avocado. I had never tried avocado ice cream before and it was great, especially with the sweetness from the raspberry ice cream. It started to rain so we walked back to the apartment. When we arrived with found the woman from that morning and Jack. They were both upset with us. Jack kept saying that we should have been awake and ready earlier although he had never specified a time.  We realized we were really not welcome in the apartment anymore and the rain had let up so we decided to leave. After an awkward goodbye we left for downtown Nice. We walked around for a while souvenir shopping and then decided to go to McDonald’s for dinner and wifi. After an hour or so it was time to go to the train station. We got on our train and prepared ourselves for an long overnight train back to Metz. I didn’t sleep too well on the train ride back and my bed felt wonderful during my nap when we got back.
This weekend was a very relaxing trip. Exactly what we needed after a long trip to Spain.

Weekend 2: Munich June 18, 2013

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This past weekend I took a trip to Munich, Germany with Katie Pokrant, Jessica Helms, and Gloria Lozano.  Unbeknownst to us we would later be joined by two other GTLers, Charlotte and Colleen.  We left GTL and headed to the bus stop.  As we are boarding the bus we see four GTL students running to catch the bus.  It was Colleen, Charlotte, Neil, and Adam.  Neil and Adam needed to get on a train in 30min (the bus ride takes about 25) and Collen and Charlotte were not completely sure of their weekend plans.  Apparently the two girls were planning on taking a day trip to Luxembourg but at the last minute decided to go to Munich.  We decided to include them in our plans and told them they could ride the train with us.  The only downside to our plan was that our train would arrive at 6:00am.  Once we got off the bus we decided (as we always do) to get kebabs before getting on the train.  Here we ran into another group of GTLers headed to Munich as well.  Our train schedules appeared to be a little different but we all decided to stick together.  Our train ride consisted of 3 trains with 2 layovers (each about an hour long).  These trains and layovers were running through the middle of the night.  During the first layover we ventured out of the train stations in search for food.  We found a little pizza place right near the train station.  During the next layover (at around 2am) we went into a bar that was attached to the train station. We were lucky to be able to go inside since it was so cold outside.  Eventually we paid and went back outside a few minutes before our train was to arrive.  Unfortunately there was about a 30min delay on our train and we had to wait it out in the cold.  Eventually the train came and we had about 4 hours until we arrived in Munich.  Most people easily fell asleep on the train but I was kept awake by and uncomfortable chair and a man snoring, very loudly, behind me.  At last we arrived in Munich! It was 6am and we headed into a Burger King for warmth and some free wi-fi.  The hostel that we were staying in was in the city of Dachau so we would have to take another train.  Colleen and Charlotte decided to come with us as they had no hostel plans yet.  The next train leaving for Dachau was not for another hour so we went to Starbucks for some breakfast.

After a long night of trains and no sleep I was so relieved to be heading to our hostel.  The hostel did not open until 7:30am but we knew it would take us a while to find it.  We got off the train and had about a 20 minute walk to our hostel.  When we got inside the women told us we could shower and store our things in the luggage room until check in that afternoon.  Once we were freshened up we headed to the Dachau concentration camp.  I had visited the concentration camp before when I came to Germany in 10th grade with my high school band.  The experience was still meaningful as I relieved the emotions of walking into the camp.

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The sign that you see upon entering the camp says “Work Brings Freedom”.  All the prisoners who walked through the gate read this upon entering.  I also walked over and saw the gas chambers and incinerator; I did not visit this portion of the camp when I came the firs time and it was quite an overwhelming experience.  Especially walking through the gas chambers.  Just imaging how happy those people were to be able to shower and then to be sprayed with gas was horrifying.

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After we left the concentration camp we headed into the city to grab some lunch.  We had a little time before we thought we could check into our hostel.  I had a delicious dinner and was looking forward to a quick nap in a real bed.  Unfortunately when we arrived at the hostel we read a sign that said we could not check in until 16:00 (4:00pm).  The hostel was basically deserted and our bags were still locked in the luggage room, so we did what anyone would do, we took a nap.

We happened to be in Munich the perfect weekend.  It was the Champions League final, Bayern Munich vs. Borussia Dortmund.  We knew watching the game with the locals would be one of the highlights of the trip.  After we checked in we took a train from Dachau back to Munich; we saw hundreds of people decked out in Bayern Munich gear all ready to cheer on their home team.  We decided to take a walk through the Englischer Garten (the famous beer gardens).  Here we ran into some fellow GTL students.  After some pictures in the park we left to find a bar where we could watch the game. The people had the name of a street were the most people would be.  As we walked onto the street I was amazed at everything happening around me.  Every single bar ( and there were tons on this road) was packed.  With a full inside as well as one or two TV outside for people to watch.  We eventually found a place and sat down.  The girls and I had not yet had dinner so we decided to order some good German food.  And that is exactly what we got.  I ordered meat loaf and potatoes.  That and a liter beer was the perfect meal to sit back and watch the soccer match.

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During the game Bayern Munich scored twice and each score was more exciting than the last.  The bar exploded, everyone jumped up and around cheering for the team.  The Bayern Munich team ended up winning the game! It was such an amazing experience walking down the street watching the people of Munich so happy that their team won such an important game.  Winning the Champions League final is probably a bigger deal than winning the Super Bowl.  The streets were shut down to cars because people stormed the streets to celebrate.  After we walked down the street, joining in the celebration, we decided it was time to head back to our hostel.  Not having a real night sleep the night before was really hitting us, and we had to talk a train back.  When we got back we realized the buses were no longer running, so we had about a mile walk in the dark.  When we got back we all immediately fell asleep.

The next morningwe only had until 1pm, when we needed to be on our train.  We decided that we needed to go to Hofbrauhaus.  It was experience we couldn’t miss.  I had also been to Hofbrauhaus when I came to Germany in 10th grade but obviously couldn;t have the full experience if I didn’t have a liter of beer with my meal.  I ordered a dark Bavarian beer that was really good.  My meal was also delicious.  For my main dish I had pork sausage and sauerkraut and for dessert I has apple strudel. Yum!

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After a very filling meal we headed back to the train station for our journey home.  We meet up with two other GTLers who joined us on the trains.  This weekend was a little different than the others.  It was much more of a cultural experience than a “lets see all the touristy things”.  I really like the change of pace, it was perfect for our two day weekend in Munich.

Weekend 1: Brussels & Amsterdam May 30, 2013

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The first big weekend! We had a three day weekend so we decided to fit in two cities during one weekend.  This proved to be a bit tricky but we still made it happen.  The group for this trip included myself, Katie Pokrant, Palavi Vaidya, Gloria Lozano, Jesscia Helms, and Andree Curran.  We decided to book an apartment for our time in Amsterdam before we left for France.  Though this provided us with a wonderful place to stay it meant that we had to get to Amsterdam.  With our Eurail (train) passes we can get to most places for free by just hopping on the train; although, some of the trains require a reservation.  Unfortunately there were no reservations available for us to get from Brussels to Amsterdam!  Thankfully, with lots of searching, we found a MegaBus type service that could take us to our destination. 

     The first stop of the weekend was Brussels, Belgium.  We stopped to get some delicious kababs (the fast food of Europe) for dinner before heading to the train station.  On the platform we ran into a few other GTLers; soon enough the train came and we were off on our first of many adventures!  When we were one stop away from getting off the train something strange happened; a GTL student in another group almost had his backpack stolen.  Now we were told, many times, before this trip that pickpocketing and stealing was very prevalent in Brussels but I had no idea how close I would be to it.   So, once we arrive at this stop a group of men got off at the back of the train car and then walked along the side of the car banging on the window, so as to distract the people on the train.  While this was happening a man walked down the center isle and tried to grab a GTL student’s backpack while he was distracted.  It was a close call but luckily nothing was actually taken.  After that we were hyper-aware of everything and everyone around us.  This was especially important because we arrived rather late at night.  Our train was meant to arrive at 10:50, but it was running late and we did not arrive at the Central station until 11:30.  We were supposed to check into our hostel, but I had emailed them before our trip and they agreed to stay open later.  We got off the train making sure to look around as we walked through a not very safe part of town.  We then had to take the Metro on one line 6 stops and then another line for 2 stops.  We arrived in an even scarier looking area; thankfully our hostel was only 20m from the train station and we walked there very quickly.  I overheard the previous person checking in and noticed that the man checking people in spoke Spanish! This was wonderful because Gloria is fluent in Spanish; she spoke with them and was able to get all of us in one 6 person room.  Once we were settled into our rooms it was a unanimous decision to stay in for the night and not venture out into the city.  The next morning we had a free breakfast at the hostel and were ready to go for the day!

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Here is a picture of the group at the hostel (minus Palavi, the photographer).

     We took the Metro into the city center and started searching for real Belgian waffles and the Mannequin Piss.  We continued walking, stopping at a souvenir shop along the way. After asking a few locals we found our way to a Belgian waffle shop.  I had a Belgian waffle with fresh strawberries, whipped cream, and chocolate sauce; it was by far the best waffle I have ever had! We then walked right around the corner and saw the main attraction in Brussels, the Mannequin Piss.  This little statue is one of the main tourists attractions in the city, even though he is so small!

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     After and very successful and filling morning we walked into the center square.  The buildings there are over 400 years old! It was so amazing to see such wonderful architecture, and this was only our first city!  We then decided to visit the famous Delirium Cafe for some authentic Belgian beer.  I also found ΑΦ♥ written on the table at Delirium, that was exciting for all the APhis to see!

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     Once we had finished at Delirium it was about time to leave Brussels.  We started walking towards the bus station; we had to wait a little while before the bus came which made us a little anxious.  We needed to be sure check into our apartment in Amsterdam by a certain time.  We loaded the bus and headed out for a three hour bus ride, arriving around 7pm.  When we arrived we had to take a the metro a few stops to Amsterdam Central Station, from here we had walking instructions to our apartment.  This gave us an awesome opportunity to walk right through the city center and preview all the things we would be seeing in the next few days. 

     We got settled into our apartment, which was central to just about everything, and then left to find dinner.  It was getting close to 10 pm and all we had eaten that day was a light breakfast and a Belgian waffle!  After walking around we found a small felafel place; it was a tasty dinner, especially since everyone was so hungry.  We then went over to a local bar to have a Heineken, as it is produced in Amsterdam. After a long day of traveling we decided to go to bed to be ready for another full day of exploring our new city.

     The next morning we decided to walk over to the famous Van Gogh museum.  After quite a long wait we finally got inside, greeted with hundreds of Van Gogh’s works as well as some paintings by his mentors and colleagues.  The group was mostly quiet during our walk through the three floors of the museum, captivated by the the vast array of paintings.  It was so interesting to see the the influences of other painters in Van Gough’s work as well as the transition of mood and style throughout his life.  This was one of my favorite parts of the trip.  After this we had a short walk over to the famous I Amsterdam sign.

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This was one of my personal favorites at the museum.

   We then had a quick lunch of kebabs and took a canal tour of the city.  This was such a fun way to see parts of the city we had not yet seen and learn some interesting facts.  One of the most interesting facts was that around 150 bikes and 1 car a week fall into the canals!

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     The next morning we had to be up early to grab souvenirs and then hop on a train.  We had over nine hours before we were back in our home city of Metz with a lot of train changes.  Luckily we made all of our connections and arrived safely back in our dorms, ready to decompress and prepare for class the next morning.