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First Impressions June 4, 2012

Posted by kmorrisey3 in Travel Log.
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Today marks the beginning of my third week abroad. It’s strange to think it’s only been 14 days! I feel like I’ve already become a world traveler! So far, Oxford Group 3 has visited Budapest, Hungary, Prague, Czech Republic, and Vienna, Italy. Currently we are in Venice, Italy and next on the itinerary is Florence, Italy. To say I’ve been having the time of my life would be an understatement. The experiences I’ve already gained in the short amount of time I’ve been abroad is remarkable. In just two short weeks, I’ve attended 3 concertos  (an instrumental performance centered on contrast between soloists and a string-dominated orchestra), 1 opera, 1 ballet, 6 churches, 9 museums, and other numerous historic monuments. A couple of things I’ve noticed about Europe…

  1. Bread, meat, and cheese are a part of nearly every dish-especially for breakfast. Nutella is nearly as abundant!
  2. NOTHING is free. Water and public restrooms included.
  3. Wifi is hard to come by…explaining my lack of blog posts thus far!

Budapest, Hungary

Budapest was Group 3’s first stop on our trek across Europe. It was absolutely beautiful-clique, I know. Upon my arrival in Budapest, I quickly realized two things: 1) I was definitely no longer in America, and, the more painful realization, 2) I had packed way too much (shocker)! We had to carry our suitcases up and down a few staircases in the city of Pest (Buda and Pest are actually two main cities that are separated by the Danube river-I had no clue either!) to get to our hotel. Taneisha and Derek, our group leaders, weren’t kidding when they said to practice carrying our suitcases up three flights of stairs before we came on the trip. The ornate architecture of the city of Pest distracted me from the weight of my suitcase as we trudged through cobblestone streets and down into underground tunnels to get to our hotel.  The city’s architecture was very strange to me; it is nothing like the architecture of American cities. Throughout our stay in Budapest, we visited multiple museums, cathedrals, historic monuments, and, of course, local pubs. One of my favorite tours in Budapest was our visit to St. Stephen’s Basilica. I was overwhelmed by the amount of detail in the interior and exterior of the building. European architecture is just so different than what you see in America-the history here  is so rich!

St. Stephen’s Basilica- Budapest, Hungary

Another tour I enjoyed was our tour of Castle Hill. The Castle Hill area was just precious. It’s a picturesque blend of cobblestone streets, quaint restaurants, and historic monuments. The most impressive part of Castle Hill was the view atop it. A couple people in our group watched the sunrise from atop Castle Hill one night. I decided to get some sleep instead of trek up the hill early in the morning-a decision I’ve regretted ever since. Who needs sleep, anyway?

View overlooking city of Pest from atop Castle Hill- Budapest, Hungary

Prague, Czech Republic

I was sad to leave Budapest (and their incredibly weak currency, the Florin), but excited to be in Prague! Unfortunately, our trip to our second city was rough. We got little lost, and then held up at a gas station, but our hilarious and amazing bus driver, Baloo, got us to Prague safely, and that’s all that matters, right? (I’m trying to not stress about things this trip…..mission impossible, but I’m trying) Our welcome dinner in Prague was DELICIOUS. The caprese salad was so fresh, and my chicken dish was cooked and marinated to perfection. But even that delicious meal doesn’t compare to the new dish I discovered in Prague….KEBABS! Kebabs are kind of like European burritos, made from skewered and slow roasted meat, fresh veggies, and a creamy ranch like sauce. I can already tell I will miss those in America! I saw my first opera in Prague called Tosca. Tosca is a melodramatic piece set in June 1800 in Rome, a time when the leadership of Rome was threatened by Napoleon’s invasion of Italy.  This opera centers on the main character, Tosca, a famous female singer, Mario Cavaradossi, a talented painter and Tosca’s lover, Scarpia, the police chief and main antagonist, and Cesare Angelotti, the imprisoned former consol of the former Roman Republic. Angelotti escapes imprisonment and seeks refuge from Cavaradossi, his longtime friend, causing a chain of events which end tragically in torture, murder, and suicide. Initially, I didn’t think I would like Tosca, but I made sure to keep an open mind throughout the performance. I was pleasantly surprised by the opera; it was fairly enjoyable! I’m definitely coming to appreciate art and music through my experiences on this trip.

Allison and I at the Prague State Opera House before Tosca- Prague, Czech Republic

Vienna, Austria

Prague was definitely too short of a trip. I wish I could’ve spent more time there! I was eager to move on to Vienna, though. Our first day in Vienna was crazy busy-we only had 3 hours of free time to eat dinner, change, and get ready for a concert later. After our classes and tours for the day, my friend Mary and I decided to skip dinner and shop (shocking). There is literally an H&M every 3 blocks, so we just had to stop in one. We shopped for a little (I only got a pair of shoes, mom and dad! …..and two dresses…..and a shirt….hehe) and decided to explore the city for an hour and then walk back to our hotel. BAD IDEA. Mary and I got so hopelessly lost. With every turn we took, we just walked deeper and deeper into the city and away from our hotel. To make matters worse, it started pouring-not just raining casually-POURING. Our map, of course, got wet and ripped. We asked many locals and eventually found the underground metro, where we discovered the routes to take us back to our hotel. We had to switch routes so many times; we had unknowingly and unintentionally wandered so far! The good news is we made it back to the hotel safely. There is no better feeling than getting lost in a completely unknown place and finding your way back. I felt so empowered and independent! It was definitely a learning experience. The bad news? Well, by the time we arrived at our hotel, we were supposed to be ready and at the concert hall for our second concert, a Mozart Concerto featuring the premier violinist, Anne-Sophie Mutter. I’m not sure how we did it, but Mary and I changed into our business casual and got back downstairs to the lobby at the same time as our professors/group leaders. We walked with them to the concert and all was well. It was definitely a success.

Mary and I in the Musikverein (Vienna Concert Hall)- Vienna, Austria

 

I’m currently in Venice, and loving every second! I can’t wait to write about the rest of my experiences in Italy! Ciao!!

Kelliann, World Traveler.

Welcome to Budapest, Hungary May 23, 2012

Posted by williamsessions in Travel Log.
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After arriving at our hotel, napping, and eating an absolutely delicious welcome dinner, a few friends and I decided to go for a walk around the city. We wandered toward the Danube river which separates Buda from Pest (Buda + Pest = Budapest, get it? Get it?), and over to the Buda side. We observed some absolutely beautiful views of the city and river as well as the well illuminated bridges that span the Danube.

This morning, we had an early breakfast and a short class time before being released for lunch. We strolled toward St. Stephen’s Church, our afternoon art location. The inside of the church was quite expansive and very impressive. After waiting out a nice afternoon thunderstorm, we walked to a trendy cafe nearby to have lunch.

The afternoon was spent in venturing out to the Franz Liszt Music Academy, but we found that it was undergoing major renovations so we weren’t able to go inside. Instead, we went into a small music store across the street which we thought was a shop that sold instruments and music and such. Instead, we found that it was a workshop where a man was making violins! He couldn’t speak very much English and we have no grasp of Hungarian, but it was fascinating to see all manners of violins and cellos in all sorts of stages of construction.

Soon we headed back to the hotel to relax for a couple hours before dinner.

Welcome to Budapest, Hungary May 23, 2012

Posted by williamsessions in Travel Log.
Tags: ,
add a comment

After arriving at our hotel, napping, and eating an absolutely delicious welcome dinner, a few friends and I decided to go for a walk around the city. We wandered toward the Danube river which separates Buda from Pest (Buda + Pest = Budapest, get it? Get it?), and over to the Buda side. We observed some absolutely beautiful views of the city and river as well as the well illuminated bridges that span the Danube.

This morning, we had an early breakfast and a short class time before being released for lunch. We strolled toward St. Stephen’s Church, our afternoon art location. The inside of the church was quite expansive and very impressive. After waiting out a nice afternoon thunderstorm, we walked to a trendy cafe nearby to have lunch.

The afternoon was spent in venturing out to the Franz Liszt Music Academy, but we found that it was undergoing major renovations so we weren’t able to go inside. Instead, we went into a small music store across the street which we thought was a shop that sold instruments and music and such. Instead, we found that it was a workshop where a man was making violins! He couldn’t speak very much English and we have no grasp of Hungarian, but it was fascinating to see all manners of violins and cellos in all sorts of stages of construction.

Soon we headed back to the hotel to relax for a couple hours before dinner.