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London :D July 28, 2013

Posted by Parker Buntin in Travel Log.
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Hello everybody!

Wow. What a summer. This past weekend marked my last weekend traveling. What was the destination you ask? The land of awesome accents and fish and chips.. London!Image

Before I delve into what an amazing trip my London vacation was, I’d like to apologize about my lack of blog posts lately. The primary reason for my hiatus is academics. Before my last blog post on my Paris trips earlier this weekend, I hadn’t posted in quite some time. To rationalize this gap in my virtual updates, I blame school. My classes picked up pace, resulting in an average of 2 tests a week for the duration of my break from posting. This might be an excuse, but I believe it is a rational one, at that. 

Anywho, on to the fun stuff: London! I made the trip with two of my friends, and because all of our Eurail Passes expired, we used busses and flights for the trip’s transportation. Upon leaving Metz in our little Flibco shuttle, I made an unfortunate realization. I had forgotten my camera! I left it charging in my dorm room. On top of that, I also forgot my phone charger in my room. How could I have been so forgetful? This limited my photo-taking capabilities, since I could only take pictures with my phone until my phone died. Whoops.

There were some belligerent drunk Englishmen on our flight as well. I was astonished at how intoxicated this group of eight or so grown men was at six in the evening. One walked through security without wearing a shirt. Another’s entire vocabulary seemed to be curse words. They chanted and sang on the plane like it was a bar. Instead of getting too irritated, however, I had a nice conversation with one of my friends and one of our seat neighbors who’s an American soldier stationed in Germany. All in all, that was one of my more interesting plane rides.

We got off our bus at Liverpool Street and took the Tube to our hostel. I was surprised by the amount of nightlife at such a late time of night. The subway was jam packed with people at 1:30, which is crazy! Fortunately, the majority of the crowd exited the train a couple stops after Liverpool Street. Albeit the rocky start, the trip only got better and better as the weekend continued. We checked into our hostel via a cash register at a bar—our hostel was attached to a pub— and finally went to sleep after a long day of travel.

My friends and I woke up bright and early to eat breakfast and make our way to a free walking tour. The walking tour was neat. We didn’t stay the whole time, but we did see a good number of areas, and I learned a lot! The tour starting at the Wellington Arch and worked its way through Green Park to Trafalgar Square, visiting the Buckingham Palace, the first Hard Rock Café, and plenty of monuments. Buckingham Palace was packed (as expected) and we did not see the Changing of the Guard, but we did have the Royal Band march past us! Did you know that the guards do not wear their iconic hats when it rains, because the hats hold so much water that the weight could cause neck injuries? Crazy!

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We broke off from the tour group at Trafalgar Square because we had tickets to a theatre performance of The Lion King in an hour and we needed lunch beforehand. Where’d we eat lunch, you ask? A Mexican restaurant we found about 50 feet from Trafalgar Square. It was the first Mexican food I’d eaten since the beginning of the summer, and was it delicious! Then we found our way to the Lyceum for The Lion King, sat back, and enjoyed the show.

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The performance was spectacular! The visuals were stunning and the show was very well done. I didn’t like either Simba actor that much, but that was my only critique of the show. I still loved it, and it was well worth the money to see a play in London.

That evening, my friends and I took the Underground south in London to meet one of my family friends who lives in the city. We met for dinner, and then hung out at a pub. It turns out it was “Quiz Night” at the pub, so we all opted in for a fun night of trivia! 

We got last place. Haha but it was really enjoyable! We estimated that approximately 20 out of the 80 possible points were focused on British television. With one British person who doesn’t watch too much TV in our group, that probably put us at a slight disadvantage. At least, that’s what we told ourselves. We said goodbye to my friend and retired to our hostel for the night.

The next morning, my friends and I decided to partake in America’s favorite pastime (aside from baseball). Now, I’m not normally the biggest fan of shopping, but I had fun that morning. We first visited Primark, a department store open only in Europe with ridiculously low prices. I managed to be frugal, only purchasing a few shirts, despite the temptation to adopt an entire new European wardrobe of cheap and stylish clothes. Our next stop was Camden Market. We weren’t shopping as much there as we were just walking around and looking at everything. There were street vendors every ten steps on the street, but also some really cool markets filled with artists and craftsmen tucked away in some squares. I bought some gifts for my family, and then we ate Fish and Chips on the sidewalk. As cliché as it sounds, the food tasted great!

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Our next stop brought out the inner wizard in all of us. We rode the subway over to King’s Cross Station with the intent of visiting Platform 9 ¾. There’s a neat photo opportunity the station’s set up with half of a cart sticking out from a wall underneath a sign that says Platform 9 ¾. My friends and I waited in line to get our picture “running through the wall” just like Harry Potter. I had a blast joking around with my friends and the employee working the photo station. We took our pictures and looked through the Harry Potter store in the station. I’m now considering transferring to Hogwarts. Just kidding, but I’d say our mission was accomplished at King’s Cross!

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We took the Tube over to the London Towers, but decided not to go inside because of the price and the approaching closing time. Instead, we walked over the Tower Bridge and along the Thames River for the rest of the evening. I loved that walk. The river and everything along its banks was gorgeous in the afternoon, evening, and at dusk. We saw Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre, the Millennium Bridge, the London Bridge, St. Paul’s Cathedral, the London Eye, Big Ben, and the Parliament Building. We even managed to take some phone booth pictures when we weren’t taking pictures of all those amazing sites. We ate at a trendy and casual place called Giraffe’s on the Thames. I splurged on the dinner and ate quite well that night. I didn’t and don’t regret it one bit.

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That’s the gist of my London trip! The rest was just travel the next day. My friends and I woke up at 2:30 to get to the airport for our 7:20AM flight. We made it on time, but it was pouring in London that morning, so our flight got delayed three hours. Due to the delay, we missed our scheduled bus in Frankfurt, but managed to use our tickets to board a later one. We couldn’t take the bus all the way to Metz, so we got off at Luxembourg and took a regional train back to Metz. It was a whirlwind of a weekend, but one of my favorites this summer!

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Paris! Two Times is Better than One July 25, 2013

Posted by Parker Buntin in Travel Log.
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Hello again everybody!

I visited Paris twice this summer, and let me tell you, both times were extraordinary. The first trip was the weekend of June 7th – 9th. The primary reason for that Paris trip was none other than the Roland Garros (the French Open). Some of my friends and I purchased grounds passes for the French Open Tennis Tournament for Saturday the 8th, which included admission to any court except for Center Court. After the French Open, my friends and I toured some of Paris’s more popular tourist attractions, such as the Eiffel Tower, the Versailles Palace, and the Arc de Triomphe. 

As the sun rose over Paris, my group made its way to the tournament. Paris’s metro system is complex, which may seem confusing at first, but incredibly efficient in transporting people all throughout the city. This was helpful, since the tennis tournament is held in the southwest corner of Paris, opposite of the hostel at which we were staying. After navigating the underground, we made it to the tournament and walked through the gates like children in a candy shop. It was early, so the park wasn’t too crowded yet. Even so, it was exciting to see ball boys walk around and tennis pros warming up on the smaller courts. We thought we saw David Ferrer hitting, but alas, it was another Spaniard-looking tennis player with long hair. Image

We made our way throughout the park, taking pictures all the while. We climbed to the top of Court 2’s stands to get a view and snap some photos, then worked our way to the Junior Men’s Singles Final. Juniors means they were 16 years or younger. These kids did not look 16. They looked at least 20 and wow, were they good at tennis. It was incredible to watch such a high level of play from such young players in person.

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After the match, we shopped and got souvenirs and presents for family, then experienced an Andre Agassi sighting! We all gawked and took pictures of the tennis playing celeb. After our paparazzi phase wore off, we walked through the Roland Garros museum. It was informative and academic, exploring the history, development, and other neat aspects of tennis. Image

That afternoon, Serena Williams and Maria Sharapova faced off in the Women’s Singles Final. My friends and I got a nice spot to watch the match on a large viewing screen on the side of Court two. We had great seats, but they were under no shade whatsoever. The sun was brutal. Luckily, a hat, sunglasses, and some Häagen Dazs ice cream fixed that! 🙂 Serena emerged victorious (Go USA!) and we said au revoir to the Roland Garros. Image

That evening and night, we went to the Arc de Triomphe and the Eiffel Tower. Both were spectacular and crowded, as one might expect. What was really cool about the Arc de Triomphe was actually quite situational; a military ceremony was going on underneath the arch when we visited. There were a lot of people that looked really important, as well as a French military band that marched past. It was neat to experience some pomp and circumstance celebration in a different country. Image

The Eiffel tower stood proudly over Paris in all its glory when we visited that night. Once we finally made it to the base of the tower (after stopping every two feet to take pictures during our approach), we bought some tickets to make the trek up to the second platform. “We can climb the Eiffel Tower, no sweat!” Right.. 710 stairs later, we caught our breath at the second platform of the tower and soaked in the view of Paris at night. It was gorgeous. Breathtaking (and not just because we were winded from the climb). It was so cool to be so high, on a man-made wonder, staring out over a beautiful city. That’s my humble opinion.. I thought it was awesome!Image

The next morning, we went to the Palace of Versailles. The palace was beautiful, but I can only say that for the exterior, for we decided to only get passes to the gardens of Versailles behind the palace (although I’m assuming that interior was equally as spectacular). It was overcast that Sunday, but that didn’t stop my friends and I from having a blast. We walked around the gardens all day, checking out statues, fountains, and rows upon rows of precisely trimmed hedges. There wasn’t really much more to that day or trip. We just had fun in the gardens, hanging out and sharing plenty of laughs, then headed back home to Metz. I’d say the weekend was a success! Image

My second visit to Paris was July 13th – 15th. I went with a different group of friends this time and had a blast yet again. Some of our sightseeing overlapped from my first trip (I won’t harp on that), but we did see new things too, such as Notre Dame, Sacré Cœur, and the Louvre. Also, we were there on Bastille Day, France’s day of Independence, so there was an awesome fireworks display behind the Eiffel Tower that Sunday night. 

Notre Dame was neat. We didn’t actually go inside or go up it (the line was way too long), but we did walk around it enough to appreciate and take in its awesome architecture. This year marks the 850 year anniversary of Notre Dame, and to commemorate the occasion, large viewing stands were erected in the square outside the front of the cathedral. That was the main difference I saw between now and the time I visited 4 years ago during high school. There were much fewer gypsies around begging for money this year as well. 

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The Sacré Cœur is yet another breathtaking church in Paris, albeit on a hill overlooking the city. It was also neat to visit on a Sunday because Mass was in session when walked around the perimeter of the church (on the inside). This evoked a more authentic experience in a typically tourism-infested area, for which I was greatly appreciative. After checking out the church, we grabbed lunch in the artist district of Montmartre. Although expensive, the food was delicious and filling.Image

The Parc du Champ de Mars, the park extending out from the bottom of the Eiffel Tower, was literally packed full of people Sunday night for the fireworks show. My friends and I got as close to the center as we could, but even so, the trees somewhat blocked our view. The show was great, but our viewing angle diminished the quality a bit, in my opinion. Also, the French didn’t seem too enthusiastic about their independence. The reactions were very subdued, even to the fireworks show. There was a very interesting music selection for the show, the most counterintuitive being “Living in America” by James Brown.Image

The next morning, we all went to the Louvre. The giant museum was neat, much more so than the last time I visited during high school. I felt like I appreciated the art a lot more this time around, what with being older and having learned more in school. Notable works we saw in the Louvre were Hammurabi’s Code, an Easter Island Head, Nike (Winged Victory), and of course, the Mona Lisa.Image

Paris is a great city. It’s the heart of France and one of Europe’s staple cities. I loved my two visits to the city and hope to visit again at some point in the future!

Madrid and Barcelona! June 11, 2013

Posted by Parker Buntin in Travel Log.
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Hello everybody!

When I began writing this blog post, I was sitting on the last train back to Lorraine; the final stretch of railway travel that began in Barcelona, Spain that day. That weekend (Fri. May 31st – Tues. June 4th) was our second longest weekend in the GTL program: four whole days to travel anywhere we want. My destination: Spain!

Almost immediately after our classes ended last Friday (May 31st), my friends and I left  chilly, rainy Metz for  hot and sunny Madrid. The first few legs of the journey were standard railway travel that we had experienced the previous weekends. The difference in this journey, however, came with the overnight train we rode from Portbou to Madrid. The train ride was fun! Four of my friends were in a couchette, a sleeper train, so they had a little room with pull out beds for the night. The tiny little room reminded me of those on the Hogwarts Express in Harry Potter, but maybe that’s just me..

My friend Alan and I reserved our tickets later, so after playing cards in our friends’ room until midnight, we retired to first class. It was tough to sleep. We missed the conductor earlier when he passed our the blankets, blindfolds, and earplugs, because we were in the other room. I got some restless sleep until around 4:30. I woke up, read some of a book, then was lucky enough to find the conductor and ask for a blanket. Then I got some more solid sleep (as much as possible in a chair on a moving train) and woke up in the morning.

The landscapes our train passed were breathtaking. The Spanish country-sides are gorgeous, much like France, Germany, and other European countries, but unique nonetheless. Every country contains lush and flowing landscapes that contain a mix of nature and man’s influence.

We got to Madrid and didn’t get too far in our walk into town before hunger stopped us in our tracks. My friends and I found a small little supermarket that was reasonably priced and gobbled up some ham and egg sandwiches. After that pit stop, we made our way all the way to the hostel. That took a long time; it was a fairly long walk, but it was quite enjoyable to walk from the business district of Madrid all the way into the heart of the historic district. It was such a relief to take off our heavy backpacks when we got to the hostel to check in!

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After checking in, we all decided to go to the Royal Palace. We opted not to go inside, but that didn’t take away from the beauty of the building. My friends and I took a lot of pictures, having fun jumping off a bench to get some cool midair photos. Walking around the castle was also really neat, due to the exciting yet somewhat touristy atmosphere. There were musicians and flamenco dancers, bubble blowers and painted people. Everyone was trying to perform for a bit of extra cash. Then we made our way to Madrid’s giant park. En route, we all decided to stop for some gelato ice cream. While we sat and enjoyed our snack, a bird decided to relieve itself on one of my friend’s shirts. It was quite humorous to everybody but him. Haha be careful sitting in the shade, my friends.Image

That friend bought a new shirt, and then we made it to the park. It was so nice! The weather seemed perfect, and understandably, the park was packed with tourists and locals alike. There were two awesome parts of the park we saw: the rose garden and the crystal palace. The rose garden seemed to be overflowing with flowers, most beautifully in bloom. I took a lot of pictures, trying to be artsy. One of my friends was determined to smell all the different types of flowers. I couldn’t really distinguish between the different varieties, but they all smelled good to me!Image

The crystal palace was neat to visit. The majority of the palace is glass, and there is nothing inside except for some colored dots. As you might be thinking, it isn’t an actual functioning palace. Rather, it’s much smaller and is intended to be a work of art. The way the light came through the palace at every angle was really cool. I like natural light a lot: I seek out windows when I study and what not, so understandably, I thought this palace was very cool.  🙂Image

On the way back to the hostel that night, we happened across a demonstration. It was actually in our way, so we had to take a detour to avoid the protest. The police wouldn’t let us go our normal way back. That was fine. We made it back safely and collapsed in the hostel after walking for about 8 hours. The funny thing was that we took a nap for about an hour, woke up around 10PM, went down the street, and ate at an all you can eat buffet. Then we went back and fell asleep for the night. Hey, college kids have to eat..Image

 The next day, my group and I travelled to Barcelona. We slept in, then hung out at a McDonald’s for a bit before our train. After a few hours on the train, we walked for about an hour to the hostel. Barcelona is a city that is alive, more so than any other city I had visited so far this summer (Brussels coming in second). It took about an hour to walk to the hostel, where we met up with another group of friends from GTL. Then some of us went out to eat with a friend studying CS with the GT Barcelona study abroad program. Small world! We went to a little place and got tapas and paella. The Spanish cuisine was delicious. Stuffed, we met up with the same group of friends from the hostel, then explored everywhere from Old Town Barcelona down to the beach for the rest of the evening. Barcelona never seemed to tire. It felt like the number of people outside never fluctuated. Later, however, it seemed like more of the people outside were locals, rather than tourists. I just thought that was an interesting observation.Image

The next day, my friends and I did a lot of stereotypical touristy stuff. We walked to a park, walked to the Sagrada Família, and then walked up a giant hill to catch a view of the city. The park was nice. It was a lot smaller than Madrid’s, but it had this giant statue that was gold plated and sparkled in the sun. It was breathtaking. The park was also small because it was one of Barcelona’s many parks, not a centralized one like in Madrid. The zoo was also in the southern part of the park, but we decided not to go. Instead, we walked north to the Sagrada Família. The Sagrada Família Barcelona’s largest cathedral and is still being built. It is the longest construction project ever, I believe, because it is funded via donations from the church. As such, it might go several years without construction. That being said, it was definitely under construction when we visited it. There were men in hard hats hard at work from the façade to the peripheral awnings. The cathedral was massive, towering over everyone and everything. It was truly a sight to behold.Image

Then took the metro to a stop near Park Guell, an iconic park at the top of a hill that overlooks Barcelona. It was quite the hike up the hill, which reminded me of San Francisco back in the States. When we got to the top, however, it was clear that the effort was worth it. The view was breathtaking. We all took a lot of pictures, like normal, but it felt amazing just to sit back, relax, feel the breeze, and look out over the entire city of Barcelona.Image

Madrid and Barcelona were awesome. The rest of our adventures consisted of a lighthearted evening and then all day travel back to Metz. It was an amazing weekend, and definitely one I’ll remember. 

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

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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!