A Travellerspoint blog

By this Author: Emily_Lawrence

The Past Two Weeks Flew...

Almost headed home? ALREADY

sunny 80 °F

Arriving in Barcelona was at first a shock from the small little country of Luxembourg and the little town of Differdange, but it was a change that was appreciated after a few days. The life in Barcelona is amazing with something to do at any point in the day minus 12 to 2 in the after noon ( "siesta" time, or what us Americans call "napping"). P6160019.jpgP6160011.jpg(my view from my host family's flat)P6160013.jpg

Class begun in the IES building that over looks the Catalunya Plaza ( sound familiar from the news and riots?) and this building has many American students studying with in it along with our group. So its nice to not be the only Americans in the town. The teacher for our Social Entrepreneurship class, Brett Smith, is a very enthusiastic and great guy. He has recently taken over the position of Head of the Entrepreneurship Program at Miami University and is quickly turning it towards the better! He is even making Nate really believe he wants to minor in Social Entrepreneurship now with how enjoyable he makes the classes. The first weekend of being in Barcelona the group of 25 of us rented out a Beach house for all of us, and arriving to it was a sure surprise! it was a 12th century Mansion!! It was stunning and only pictures and describe it best for you....

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The only issue with the beach house was for the fact that it was so old... that some parts of the house were either brittle or sloping... this led to one of the girls falling down a flight of stairs and hitting her face on the opposite cement wall... leading to 10 stitches in her head and a severe concussion... her face swelled to the size of a melon but she was a trooper! with just recently in Madrid having the issue that no doctor seemed to say they were allowed to take her stitches out ( even in Barcelona they were refusing) and we nearly had to cut them out our selves with one of the girls moms, being a doctor, on skype directing us how to... Thankfully though we convinced a doctor to do it but she was not covered... ( just to let you all know the HTH insurance is worthless since it never be "accepted" ever when she would go to hospitals apparently)

Barcelona has been hectic to the max, with days of wondering aimlessly around certain areas, visiting the contemporary arts museum, witnessing a knife brawl, visiting the amazing Sagrada Church ( Google image it!), or experiencing my first attempted pick pocket!( they are much more physical then expected, and a bigger group!), and last but not least witnessing the constant riots that have been occurring even though i myself haven't seen the violence that the news is showing ( different part of the city apparently). P6140005.jpgP6190050.jpg

For our very last weekend we decided to stay with in Spain and visit the capital, Madrid. One of the girls on the trip had suggested it for the fact her family nearly moved their 7 years previously and her father was still in love with the town trying to convince her mother to move their still. with a 3 hour train ride we arrived in Madrid friday after noon.P6190057.jpgP6190056.jpgP6180043.jpg Madrid it self is okay, i definitely prefer barcelona if i had to pick because Barcelona has so much more depth to it rather then Madrid appears all the same with little sight seeing to do. Its a beautiful hot city with a gorgeous park that was about a 20 minute walk from our hostel that was worth visiting and saying i went, but i am happy to be back in Barcelona for the next few days and then i will be headed home to America on Friday morning! Quiet ready to be headed home

Posted by Emily_Lawrence 13:02 Archived in Spain Tagged barcelona madrid sagrada_church Comments (0)

Paris and Nice ... French will be French

sunny 67 °F

This Past weekend was our "transition" weekend from good little Luxembourg to Barcelona. We finished class on Wednesday and had to arrive in Barcelona by 8pm Sunday evening so why not travel through france on the way right?. as the Title of this article states, French will be French and our group learned what people mean by that.

First we arrived in paris after a short hour and a half bus ride that seemed luscious with its table that was larger then 12 inches to allow us to play our favorite card game called Ukert! Once arriving in Paris we had the fun of grabbing a taxi and instantly realizing the business of the city. I honestly believe Paris does not have traffic laws because the way the cars moved and turned and honked made no sense and just came to be jiborish to me, people wouldn't walk at the green man but would jog across at the red man, our taxi drive drove on the side walk at points and many other odd events. Soon we arrived at our hostel and were greatly surprised with its hotel feel. Paris it self wasnt that eventful with the first evening consisting of grabbing a bottle of wine and the 5 of us walking down the the canal, if thats what they call it, and listening to this amazing singer/ guitarist that had built up quiet the audience( he has a facebook page) play. The situation it self was out of a movie for how pretty it was besides the odd drug dealer passing by offering drugs to any one he/she saw, including small infants... The next day we arrived at Notre Dame and then traveled over to the Louvre and then ended up under the Eiffle tower for a dinner picnic. We were amused watching every half hour the police officers on their bikes herding the venders like sheep out of the grass ( since they were not registered) it was honestly hilarious even though i do feel bad for them. They all would be walking around trying to sell their products and out of no were a mass stampede would begin! and it would be over with in a few short Minutes that resembled scenes from the 3 stooges. Around 9pm that evening we were off again for Nice France with the another journey on a sleeper train... that was shockingly smaller then the last... which we thought was impossible.

The next morning we all awoke to Nice France and boy was it gorgeous
large_P6040001.jpg To be completely honest this stop was definitely not a touristy one for us but rather a beachy get away. Our hostel was honestly the best we have ever been to with a bath room a size of a bed room and all our beds being memory foam ( we almost checked to make sure it wasn't a 5 star hotel!) The city it self is set with in the mountains with a rocky beach and clear blue water. There is a center called the old town that we conveniently were located at that had adorable littlest stores and amazing crepes! P6040019.jpg( this is a picture of the Mini cooper show they had all weekend, thought of you Dad!) That day we ventured to the beach and had a long day of hanging out playing football ( which screamed Americans i am sure). The next after noon we attempted to visit the Cave beaches of Nice which was a bus ride away, but after a 20 minute walk to the bus station and a few buses passing us by not stopping because it was loaded we gave up and ventured back to our beach we previously went to the day before but we were able to capture some great views of the city!
P6040006.jpg the evening came and we grabbed a bite to eatP6040023.jpg and with a nice surprise thunderstorm that was the end of our Nice Visit.

As i had said French will be french because of the stories we heard from our fellow classmates coming to Barcelona. In paris one guy was held at gun- point. another girl got mugged. and a few others got their stuff stolen.

Sunday evening we arrived in Barcelona after a 14 hour traveling day! At the train station i was left by my fellow travelers to find my host family and all i had was an address... i grabbed the first taxi i saw and with a 10 minute drive and a 5 euro extra fee for my bag, i had arrived at a plaza area. After 15 minutes i discovered my taxi driver in fact had not dropped me off at the right location and i had to hike luggage a few blocks down which was an enjoyable experience(not) since Barcelona is the mugging capital of the world and i screamed tourist... I finally got pointed to the correct apartment and i crossed the street to the door. When i reached the door a man was peering through the glass, assuming this was a fellow resident i smiled and continued to try and figure out which button i needed to press to contact my host mom that was somewhere in the massive complex. with in seconds the man opened the door and started to grumple something.. it could have been Spanish or jiborish for all i knew. I happily asked him which room i was in and after that i knew the man was literally insane. He began to hit me with his shoe that i had realized he had removed off his foot and then after me moving away from his aim and his walkable distance ( since this man had to be in his 70's and was some what crippled) i began to panic and try and contact IES to ask where i exactly lived so this nonsense could end. I was soon greeted by the man again that apparently gained enough energy to reach me and he began to try and take my suit case. Might i add it was not a viscious taking but rather he believed the bag was his. So i had the difficulty of not trying to be beaten by a shoe while recovering my bag which held my Blankey inside so naturally i would defend it to the end. After a few short minutes a few business men had noticed the comossion and came over to help me. Even though they spoke no english i picked up that the man was "crazy" and known for his shoe beatings. they pointed to my room and i was on my way up. As i walked in the door i was greeted by a giggly older woman that was very excited to see me, claudiana! My host mom is a very sweet lady probably in her 70's but with lot energy! After going to the TOP floor of the apartments and greeted by my host mate Abby, i was settled in. My host mom speaks no english so the next few weeks should be interesting!

Posted by Emily_Lawrence 14:12 Archived in France Tagged paris nice Comments (0)

Munich Bound!

and unexpected success

semi-overcast 70 °F

Our first Monday and bit of Tuesday of recovering from a "European traveling" journey, also can be referred as hectic and stressful, was a struggle and by Tuesday afternoon all of us had started to build our energy back up, just in time for the Peace ForumP5240148.jpg. We had woken up being informed that we had a field trip to go to and would be gone from 12 in the afternoon until 10 at night... with that we ate our lunches quickly and jumped on the bus for an hour and a half bus ride to Schengen Luxembourg. Getting there we realized we had a full days itinerary starting at 3 and going until 10 at night and with a short break at 5 and then dinner at 9. It was interesting yes, but definitely nothing for us business students and i believe the school had informed them we were all looking to do projects on peace since they kept talking to us about " helping us create our peace projects"... hm. Not that i am against it but they lacked informing us what that whole day was going to be about and through us into a situation where we should have had warning because we just came off stupid to some important people. After a long day and arriving home at 11 at night i was greeted by my host mom with a shopping bag in hand, she was so thrilled to have girl to show her shopping purchases and had me seated on the coach as she pulled out her purchased items. I was coming up with short quick compliments for each purchase, mostly with huge nods or thumbs up. at one point i had to stop my self with a compliment that i came up with quickly, that her new purple swim suite would match her hair perfectly.. but with not knowing if she is aware that her hair is purple, i quickly closed my mouth and just nodded with excitement. My host family is going well, for the most part my place is my "apartment" since i have rarely seen anyone in the family besides the mom in the morning for breakfast where she makes me delicious foods with ENDLESS options. The next morning the group of us were off to another head quarters of a bank in Luxembourg, BNP bank. This bank had a different feel itself, a lot less modern looking with a more airy and welcoming feeling from the BCEE bank, but equal none the less. we were put in a room that resembled a meeting room for high professional business men and after 2 or 3 talks with employees that were high up in the banking world. We were out of there.P5250160.jpg We arrived at a wine vineyard in Luxembourg that was high end, we were given a tour by a drunk man, with humor that he believed was the funniest in the world, and we got to do some wine tasting! For once i liked wine! i learned how to hold it properly too, and its not the typical way you would expect.
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The week once again had rolled through quickly and it was already Thursday morning and we were on our way to Munich, with a smooth transition from train to train we arrived in a city that none of us had high hopes for, but none the less had heard good things and were excited to see what the fuss was about.P5260206.jpg. We arrived at our hostel after a nice 2 minute walk from the station, Wambats. If hostels had hotel rating this would be a 5 star! it was amazing to be in after the previous hostels experience. Everything was clean, we had our own sheets, breakfast, internet room, out door lounge, security was intact and everything was new and kept nice! First thing in the morning we awoke to experience the free Tour that the hostel provides that was highly recommended. The man was amazing, he was born in the Bahamas and moved to Munich 6 years ago with family history rooting here. He made the tour fascinating and never bored any of us at any point. Munich is amazing with its depth history and the nazi background, and i learned, its differences from the Capital of Germany, Berlin. He liked to state that he was always going to be comparing Munich to Berlin in a prospective way to show Germany's diversity but it was evident he preferred Munich, but i didn't mind since he was a great, interesting story teller. P5270219.jpg he showed us around town with first bringing us to the entrance of the town area, the West Gate. The west gate is one of the last 3 gates of this town to still be standing. traveling through the town we saw all these sites, the marianplaza, the boar in Harry potter, hofbrauhaus, and many more things that he packed in to a 3 and a half hour tour.P5270223.jpgP5270231.jpgP5270239.jpg The last picture is of the room at the top of the hofbrauhaus where the Nazi party began, it was weird to be standing in a place which was the birth place of everyone's brutal fates in the 1930's and 1940's.

The next morning us as a group all wanted to make it to Dachau, the concentration camp that opened in 1933 and was the first in Germany. after a train ride and a bus, we arrived at the gates of the gloomy remains of Dachau. we first saw the rail road tracks that were used to directly import the prisoners to the camp with no need for pick up at the original train station, and then we approached the gates. inside we were able to read the stories of many prisoners and learn of their fates, walk the halls of the Bunkers, and see the cremation rooms and gas chambers; all being a shocking experience for all of us. P5290274.jpgP5290280.jpgP5290283.jpg. An experience i will never forget.

To brighten our sadden moods we decide to explore the beer gardens that the tour guide and many others encouraged us to visit. The English garden was a walks away but it was a beautiful day out side and the walk was enjoyed. Inside this park that is twice the size of central park, was a huge lawn for doing any activity as you pleased. We witnessed people type roping between trees, break dancing, soccer and football games, volley ball games, picnics, and any out door activity you can imagine!P5290293.jpgP5290292.jpg. apart from the huge lawn there were the Chinese towers, a surfing pool, and miles of walking paths.

Munich had grown to be my personal favorite city in Europe, and suspect my friends can all agree. with our hopes not high walking in to the city, we left sad to see our time had ended in the beautiful, diverse, city of Munich.

Posted by Emily_Lawrence 06:03 Archived in Germany Tagged munich Comments (1)

Amsterdam

My feet hurt!

sunny 68 °F

Entering a Train station in a non English speaking country with zero percent previous experience was terrifying to say the least, especially a group of 20 of us. We did not plan to definitely all travel together, it just worked out that way with the train options and boy did it help us all out! With out brains put together(yes we needed 20 to successfully get there) ,3 train stops, mad rushes to new platforms, and a long 9 hour traveling day we arrived out our desired destination; Amsterdam. Instantly as we got off the train we all generally split up in our groups, every 4 or so people had planned different hostels together and naturally they were all over the city, I was with Nathan, Bree, Lexi, and Elana. Amsterdam's beautiful weather was our first impression which I had a hunch that it normally isn’t as nice as we got this weekend but I didn’t mind! The train station was a towering old building at the edge of the main canal that looks towards the rest of the city and with in a 5 minute walk we had arrived at our Hostel, Aivengo. The Hostel was not a hotel but wasn’t terrible either, it had attempted an Indian theme with bright colors and glass marbles on the floor but had chipped away over the years and now just looked like it needed a clean coat and a redue (but that’s my judgment). With checking in to our 20 person dorm, finding a square box approximately 15in. X 15in. and sheets that had tears and stains (added to my check list to purchase sheets and a towel for over here now), we ventured to find some dinner. A guy with in our hostel was very friendly and after a half hour of chatting and discovering his story we invited him to dinner as well. He was traveling the world for 2 months, he had grown up in Florida, graduated from North Carolina and got his MBI in Australia, where he currently lives. He was in Amsterdam for the week before traveling to Taiwan and with us 5 plus two others from our group that was in a hostel around the corner and him, we made great conversation! We wandered around for at least an hour in shock at the prices of any restaurant, we finally got so desperate we spoke to some police officers for advice on a cheap place to eat and we ended up in a BBQ kind of place. I purchased just a plate of friends and it cost me 7 euro, but with out having any food for the day expect a sandwich at the station, I was desperate. After dinner our new friend really wanted us to attend this event and he was very good at making it sound appealing, but quickly we discovered he was an undercover promoter! Hired to find youths and convince them to come to the event, the event was harmless but still, eye opener not to trust strangers.
The next morning we forced out selves awake in desperation to reach the Ann Frank museum before the rumored massive lines began. Making it a half hour walk to Ann frank, we joined a half hour queue at 9:30 am. P5210043.jpgP5210045.jpgBeing a museum and me a college student, It did not sound that appealing but having read the Ann Frank book and learning so much a bout it in high school we all agreed it would be great to at least go, and boy were we glad! After nearly being tackled by security for taking this simple photo, I was unable to document the rest of the museum but it was Ann Franks actual house with artifacts and how they left this place in 1942 when they were discovered by the Nazi army. Videos of her Dad, Otto and talking about Ann, the workers Peep and Melp that helped them while in hiding, and other videos were in each room with little artifacts that were mentioned with in her diaries. In the last room her actual diaries were laid out and we were all able see them and confirm she actually existed and actually wrote a diary ( in contrast to current beliefs that she is a fraud). Nathan had never read the book and after hour or so walk through of her home, he was also feeling connected to the story, so needless to say it is a very good museum that I suggest! Afterward we instantly ventured to the Heineken Factory which was heard to be a must see museum/ tour. After another half hour of walking we made it to a factory that was set by its self apart from other buildings, the original Factory. P5210048.jpg P5210073.jpgP5210066.jpgThe Tour lasted at least 2 hours and it consisted of a variety of things. Their were video rooms, virtual experience rooms with a ride, beer tasting, ingredients room, P5210062.jpgP5210059.jpgthe process room, and through out it all there was history of how the famous Heineken brand had begun. This museum was also very impressive and my view on museums just MIGHT be changing. The Heineken factory was at the other end of Amsterdam from the Train station and my group desired to do a canal tour, which was at the train station, so the walking began again and after a stop at the “I Amsterdam”, P5210082.jpglarge_P5210088.jpgand a while of walking we made it to a place with dozens of canal tour options! Because we had only a day to explore Amsterdam we all agreed that a canal tour was a must so that we could really see everything, it was now just the problem of figuring out which tour was the cheapest. We discovered one hour long tour that was 13 euro and we jumped on. Here are the pictures from the tour while we enjoyed a glass of wine!P5210109.jpgP5210103.jpg

The clock was approaching 7pm by the time the tour was over and our stomachs were growling, we had to find a restaurant to eat at and with our struggle from the day previously, we weren’t excited. The police officers from the night before were persistent with advising us we had to get Indonesian with in the time we were in Amsterdam since it was the food of choice for locals here, and us wanting to experience the culture. We ventured until we found an Indonesian place. I was under the impression it would be similar to Indian food which naturally made me completely okay with this food choice but it was definitely more Chinese. I had tomato soup and some rice on the side ( since everything else was meat or the only vegetarian option was 20 euro. So with that, I do not think I will be seeking out Indonesian ever again!

Traveling home the next morning consisted of a train from Amsterdam to Brussels, Brussels to Luxembourg city, a train to Esche, and then a bus to Differdange and then a 10 minute walk home and with travel sickness, it was an unpleasant traveling day to say the least and 12 hours later I made it back to my host family with clean sheets and a towel set laid out for me from my host Mom!

Posted by Emily_Lawrence 02:55 Archived in Netherlands Tagged amsterdam Comments (1)

Trier Germany!

sunny 68 °F

If any of you haven’t gone to Trier Germany I’d expect you to add it to your list of cities to visit in your lifetime! Trier is a gorgeous city with ancient ruins integrated with in the city that can be found every few blocks. After a 45 minute drive entering into the wine growing region and crossing the border from Luxembourg to Germany we arrived in Trier and I can vouch we all got more then pleased to be there with the atmosphere we were greeted. Thousands of people line the streets with street ventors of all natures and stores ranging from little boutiques to amazing restaurants’. P5180012.jpgRefueling our selves at a German pub that was all inclusive with our trip ( I got my first taste of new potatoes after nearly a year!!) we were then greeted by our tour guide that would accompany us for the next 2 hours. I personally and not one for a tour guide, it takes away from experiencing things for your self, but for this type of town with so many buildings she was a necessary. We first entered the building for emperor Augustus,large_P5180017.jpg as you can see this building is huge, but very ugly from the outside! It has a height of 110 feet and a width of about the same. This apparently had multiple uses, such as housing during war and storage, but was mainly the place where the emperor sat while greeting visitors, or better yet law-breakers. He sat at the end of the building and used the height of it to create intimidation this it made the man entering feel like he would never reach the emperor even though the echoes made him appear to be so much closer. The structure of this system would make you assume that this could only be in use during the summer for the winters and a fire pit could never keep this building running and people would surely freeze. The designers had thought of this and built heating under the floors, and then thing hollow bricks lining the walls for the heat to climb in and up to create a even heat through out the building. Of course you would assume smoke would be an issue but only the finest of wood such as beach wood, was used which gave off no smoke or ashes ( much easier for the workers). After this visit we ventured out side to come across this building… even though I could not hear her explaining it, it was beautiful!P5180019.jpgpinkhouse.jpgpinkhouse.jpg A bus was waiting for us around the corner for the second part of our tour, city wide view tour. The bus driver drove us up a steep windy mountain until we came across this view…. Needless to say the tour guide pointed out buildings but the view itself was enough!large_P5180031.jpgP5180028.jpg After a few hours with the tour guide we were released to do our own discovering with in the town, a stop for a café here and there and then we were on our way back to Luxembourg! P5180007.jpg

Posted by Emily_Lawrence 14:56 Archived in Germany Comments (0)

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