Sunday, May 30, 2010

Home


"I hear you call my name. & it feels like home."       These girls are all so amazing in every way and I swear have the gumption, attitude, and will to outshine the world.


I'm still asking myself constantly how I got so lucky to live surrounded by so many funny, inspiring, intelligent, crazy, people. My life is truly blessed. 




    
 "I heard Americans party with red cups" 
Silly string. Bubbles. Breaking down walls.
Successful weekend back.
Going from having about 10 numbers in my British brick to a couple 100 in my storm is pure insanity.
 Its the third week home and I'm still not used to everything. It's so great (and weird) to be back on Bentley's campus in the lib studying. It's wonderful to just sit at parties and hear all of my friends voices blending together in a familiar buzz, and I am so grateful I got to see my sister Rebecca throw jav at the state meet, to see my sister Juliette graduate high school, and watch both of them leave with their dates for prom. 



There's a letter posted under the recent blog post titled "Thank You's" which has solidified the fact that my 5 month hiatus in Europe was just a brilliant test pilot of what I plan on experiencing in my life time.


To follow me on my next big adventure
Livin' in a Land Down Undah

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Taxi?

The Eve of my departure from England I had snuggled into my Royal Holloway bed for the last time. I had set my alarm on my Ipod, called the taxi, and double checked to make sure I was all packed, I then heaved a bittersweet sigh and closed my eyes for my last night in England. 

During the course of my beauty sleep, my Ipod died. 
I honestly would not have woken up if not for the poor maintenance man who came by to check the water pressure. He was startled by my discombobulated state. I ran out the door in search of the time. I have been known to sleep through an entire day and this was not one of those days I could sleep in. I needed to catch an 11:30 taxi ride. You can imagine my panic.
Thankfully it was only 10, so I was able to shower, get my act together, and cart my suitcases out the door in a more leisurely manner than the first time I ran out the door.
I sat in the taxi and listened to a little man from Pakistan babble on about Politics. It was comfortable to hear him talk as my stomach was in knots thinking about leaving my new home. I was crushed leaving everyone behind especially Ericka. I had never thought about how many life experiences we've shared until my flight home, flying home without her was like leaving a piece of me behind.
My flight home was delayed a bit as we had to fly over Iceland instead of flying over Greenland due to the volcanic activity.  I had four suitcases, all incredibly overweight stowed underneath me. Only one of which I paid for (Thank you friendly American Airlines worker!) I also had an empty seat next to me because the same wonderful man 'blocked' the seat for me, so I could 'sleep' on the long flight home. 

I got home, buzzed through customs, grabbed my luggage, and headed to the gate where I ran into a hug from my father, sisters, and mother. It was so nice to be home, listening to the familiar sounds, the flow of conversation trying to exist amidst my youngest sister's incessant babbling stream of thoughts.
We went to dinner and then stopped at the grocery store to pick up some milk for breakfast. I ran in with my sister to get it. I ran in, and stopped half way to grabbing the milk overwhelmed. It had been months since I had been in a grocery store with as many aisles. When we got to the milk aisle I just stared for a bit overwhelmed again by the various brands, types, dates.  
I unpacked that night knowing if I did not do it then, I never would. Crawling into bed that night exhausted from travel and unpacking a lifetimes worth of memories. 

The next day I woke up and went into Boston with one of my Best friend's from high school Caroline. Seeing the American flag with the Boston skyline behind it was possibly the best view to see the day after arriving home. That night was my sisters' prom. I am so happy I was home in time to see them all dressed up with their dates. They looked beautiful. 


Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Budapest

BudaBudaBuda Rocking Everywhere

I am slightly obsessed with this beautiful city. We stayed at the Big Fish. This city is definitely where I felt like a fish out of water. The people all relatively dressed American, it was weird. I saw more flip flops, jeans, old clothes, etc. That being said, I also saw so many more 'coffin dodgers.' Literally, I saw more older American tourists than anywhere else we've gone. Little old men and women supporting their little old organizations with their hats: Audubon Society, National Geographic Society, and of course Red Hat Society. Note: They make the best frappes in this country. Surprisingly def the most amazing coffee mixtures! (above) Parliament in  all its glory! The second day we were there I woke up early and went on a Bike tour with a tour group of about 30 swedes, it was great!


Coffee Foodie Cartoon



Hero's Square
(Where I learned not to clink glasses when you cheers!)

Budapest is known for its baths; however, we did not have time to enjoy their healing mineral powers. We definitely did not have enough time to explore this beautiful city, but then again we didn't really have enough time to explore anywhere that we went. Just enough time to get a taster and in the meantime learn some of the ins-and-outs of traveling Europe. 

Vienna

Vienna Waits For You

Vienna was gorgeous, very clean, and the people are my all time favorite. Down to earth would be an understatement if classifying the population of Vienna. We arrived at 5 am and slept on the couches in the Lounge of the Hostel. Around 8 am we went out and braved the city until 2 p.m. when we finally were able to check in. Talk about a long day! We went to view the Praterdome, and then went to schonbrunn palace. It was absolutely breathtaking!

I went on a tour of the Palace and was asked by a youngster after hearing how long it took to have pictures painted back in the day "How did you sit that long like that?" and another told me "Your dress is beautiful."  Apparently they thought I was Sisi, I still have no idea why. After the tour I went to meet up with the kids again for lunch and market drinks. I waited for them in front of this church (below). We later went to a predominately Mozart Classical Concert, and then went to an outdoor free popfest festival in front of the same church! The amount of beer cans, drugs, and people I have seen gathering in front of churches is slightly mind-boggling considering I have had a relatively conservative, Roman Catholic, American upbringing. 



Prague

I love PRAGUE! If I could be a tour guide or teach kids for a Gap year between School and Real life, I would be perfectly happy doing that here.  Everything was like out of a fairy tale, it was gorgeous. (The prices were amazing too!) Everywhere we went the people were so down to earth and friendly.


We met up with the Biela sisters and went on an organized pub crawl. It was soo much fun. We also ran into another Deepher! From what I have seen DPhiE girls, no matter where they're from, like to travel and have a lot of fun doing it!

We were all a tad hungover in the morning, we sat on the ground in the middle of the square and had sushi that the Biela sisters were thoughtful enough to save for us. I then left everyone to go on another free walking tour and learned more than I have in years. 





Berlin


WELCOME TO BERLIN
Berlin was interesting. The architecture was very cold and unwelcoming, but the people were wonderful and very friendly and helpful! I traveled there by myself and met up with Ericka, Nick, and Katie at the Hostel Meringer. It was the first time I was really 'traveling by myself.' I took the bus to the plane, and then took the bus, to the metro, to the Hostel. The online directions for the Hostel were incorrect, so it is completely thanks to a kindly old sweet grandfather who sent me in the right direction off the bus, and then a kind college student who helped me buy my metro ticket and showed me the way to my Berlin Home. I walked up to the Hostel and there were the kids just checking in. Perfect timing :)

As soon as we were refreshed we left the Hostel and wandered to find food. It was late so we stopped in at the first food place we saw. It was American. California style. Then we went to get drinks, we were exhausted and did not want to meander too far from our Hostel so we stopped in at the first bar we saw. It was Cuban. I began wondering if German food/drinks existed in Berlin. When we found a Dunks the next day, I was annoyed. I did not come to Berlin to experience America! It was a little overkill, but having a iced coffee with extra sugar was pretty amazing. 


We went on a walking tour of the city and found ourselves at different memorials around the city.
Of course we also visited the Berlin Wall


That night we went out to probably one of my favorite areas we've been in yet. It was a street of all bars, with a real down to earth vibe. The night went well, everyone had fun, it ended with Nick and Ericka in Burger King Crowns. Most American trip to date.

Backpacking


I was a trooper this past trip, I packed all my things into one small school backpack. I'd start singing 'just pack the bear necessities the good old bear necessities;' however, I packed an  Ipod, Laptop, more makeup than I'd ever need... I  packed it all in a backpack... with about two weeks worth of clothes. Not to toot my own horn, but toot toot :)





Sunday, May 9, 2010

Home to England!


So around 3000 photos later I got back home to England. Just in time to study for my exam in Statistics. On the day of the exam I was having a nervous meltdown, I felt sick to my stomach and couldn't eat. We went into a huge room and were seated by candidate numbers. I felt like I was taking the SAT's. We filed in, and we filed out. We had to leave all things at the door, were given calculators, and were told not to talk. It was all slightly militant. I just hope I passed! After we left I literally just slept for a day and didn't move from my bed, both mentally and physically tired from travel and studying. However, immediately upon waking up I started packing for our next crazy backpacking trip... 

Milan

Italia
We walked all around the Duomo trying to find the entrance to the top. Once we found it, the line was long and not moving, it really didn't look like we were going to get up there, but I insisted we stay. I don't think they understood my fascination with the top of the Duomo until they got up there themselves.
Heading out from Venice to Milan! Ericka writing in her journal, Max studying for Statistics. We're Party Animals. Don't doubt.

We left the Duomo and went to have an Aperitif. The Italian 'Pre-dinner drink' I am officially a huge fan of it. We went to a place down the road and stopped in and drank outside with the locals. We then left there to find our next hotspot, a Cuban bar! We got yummu mojitos. We then left the cuban bar for a local small sports bar. It was nice and the people were friendly. Max looked like a little kid watching the game, he seemed quite content, and it was nice to see him so enthused. Ericka and I decided to talk to the Bartender from the Philippians, who very quickly fell in love with us and just kept offering us booze and a lot of it fo free. Max eventually had to take us home. 

It has to be said that in Milan, even for girls, there is usually just a small whole in the ground in place of a toilet. Needless to say, whenever I saw this... I walked in, and walked out. 
In Milan there are places where you can fill up a water bottle, quickly wash off your hands, cool off. These continuously pour water from an ancient spout. I found it hysterical. and if you hold down the bottom, it builds up pressure so the water spurts  from the top of it in an arc, just like a water bubbler at home :) Otherwise you can cup your hand and drink out of that like drinking from a little running fountain.

 
The next day we went off exploring. Max took off to the Milan Stadium while Ericka and I decided to do a little window shopping! We found a place with amazing gelato called Frosted (I believe), but it's right by the place where we had drinks the night before.  We then went to the river and found a large flea market and a great restaurant where the service was impeccable.
We had to leave mid meal however to meet up with Max at the Duomo. There we found the aftermath of a peace movement. People were sitting everywhere, smoking joints and drinking beers all along the steps and square in front of the Duomo.
I enjoyed it a lot. We then went for a walk around town, had dinner, then went to bed. The next day was our last day in Milan, we had a cappuccino and then went for a walk in the park. I hate leaving Italy, it's definitely one of the harder places to leave, yet at the same time it always feels like one day I'll be back!
Buttercup

Croatia

 




We paid about 7 euro I think to go to the top of the wall. It was a fairly long walk couple hours with photo stops. If you don't mind walking? The view was well worth it.
I was a bit disappointed because due to the volcanic activity the Adriatic  water was a bit rougher than usual and the caves were too dangerous to enter. So we had to give up on our plans of kayaking along the crystal clear waters of the Dalmatian Coast line. However, we would not have had a chance to explore the beautiful city and would have missed out on what Dubrovnik has to offer. Everything happens for a reason! 

Day at Sea

Back on Board!
I have no idea what we caught, but all of us were sick that night. I was stuffed up and nauseous to the point I was eating Saltines and needed to go to the top deck for fresh air.
However, dinner was always amazing. We had three course meals and could choose from about 10 different choices per night. We had a Turkish Waiter named Bayram, who was the man. He could play the Piano, knew all the best food, and where to go at port. His assistant waiter was this quiet Jamaican named Jeffery. Later that night we went to the Disco, where we danced the night away... sober. and to 70's music!

We had dinner every night with the cutest couple and with three medical students. We had a few 'formal' nights... we were all amidst our weeks of backpacking, none of us had planned on formal wear. Thankfully, we're three classy human beings and were able to put together outfits that not only were appropriate, but outclassed some of the best.







 




Turkey

The city is filled with friendly people. I never felt I was in danger, but I did feel a bit uncomfortable. Max was told how lucky he was to be traveling around with two girls. While we dealt with people approaching, only inches away, whispering "beautiful girl." Obviously there are still archaic ideas regarding gender and behavior.There were a ton of little old Turkish men everywhere we went. They were adorable.

Turkish coffee is not that much better than Greek Coffee. My suggestion is to not even bother trying it. It will make your tongue feel like a cat's. It is literally just ground bean and water and a bit of sweetener served in an espresso glass. 


Ephesus

Our "I don't look like a Turk, but I'm Turkish" Tour guide.




The city itself was very picturesque and has been around since the neolithic era. Persians, Greeks, Romans, Byzantines, have all lived and thrived in this beautiful location during their perspective political successive takeovers. The city is steeped in history and it is thanks to John Turtle Wood, a British Archeologist, who in 1863 started to excavate the land. Progress stopped soon after in 1894 but resumed later with Otto Benndorf  as the leader in 1895; however, again excavations have slowed because there is no real way for Turkey to truly protect the treasures once they have been unearthed. They are just left in the open again to face the world's harsh eroding capacities. To the left is a picture of their brilliant plan to save the structures. This road was all tile and beautifully preserved, our tour guide said it led to the upper class homes. The upper class homes, homes that had running water, bathrooms, you know all the luxuries we have today. 

That being said, this is the public bathroom:
(Ericka wanted me to sit for a picture... No thank you, I'm fine.)
 If you were wealthy enough you would have a slave sit down before you used the toilette, to warm up the stone a bit ensuring a more pleasurable experience.


The Celsus library is an example of gorgeous 117 A.D. architecture with large Corinthian style columns holding up the second floor. The library supposedly held around 12,000 manuscripts behind second walls to preserve the scrolls from the heat. The Center of the Library's columns are a bit longer/bigger than the ones located on the ends. This is to give an optical illusion of a larger library as you can see above! (mind the bottom level of columns in particular!)


To make the columns they would carve out the blocks of stone and stick a piece of steel down the middle and let it protrude a bit from the top so as to hold the next piece in place, they then would pour concrete into the column to hold the piece of steel straight.



There was a really cool old amphitheater where big name stars still play today... Elton John being one of them!
From here we watched the most bizarre show ever, it was to show how the Ephesians lived.

I was slightly obsessed with all the cute Kitten's for one of my pledge sisters Heidi's sake. They were adorable.

Turkish Rugs

Tulip shaped tea glassAt the end of the tour we were taken to a little shop by our ship's port and given the traditional Turkish Apple Tea and biscuit. The Tea was delicious, warm with just enough spice to pleasure the senses. Apparently business here is done first with a shared cup of tea offered in friendship and hospitality. Then they all, no matter the store claim "I no work for commision" If they are old? They state their age. They all seem to think by saying they'll give you a good price, you'll believe them. "You like? I'll give you a good price." When you ask what the price is, they reply "For you? Good price." Failing to actually answer with a price. The tour of the little shop however was much different than the market place. I enjoyed it. They brought out many different examples of Turkish handwoven rugs, they were all beautifully made. There were rugs on top of rugs on top of rugs, it was insane the amount of rugs that were rolled out in hopes of selling a few. They even had a young girl there creating a silken welcome mat as we were watching them roll out designs and fabrics.