Get Around Round Round R-95 Gets Around

Hello everyone! I know, I know, I have been really lazy and haven’t posted anything in a while. Myself along with the rest of the group have been super busy with traveling and preping for our spring break in 3 weeks time. Our first stop a while back was the musical center of Leipzig in Saxony. Liepzig was incredible and rich with culture and history every where you looked. While in Leipzig our group visited the Nikolaikirche in Leipzig which not only has historical significance to Johann Sebastian Bach but also to the Monday Demonstrations in the late 1980’s demonstrating against communist rule.

Outside of the Nikolaikirche

Outside of the Nikolaikirche

This is the outside of the Nikolaikirche (they wouldn’t let me take photos inside) but the inside of it is very beautiful with large white vaulted cielings and greek columns lining the nave that look like they have coconut tree leaves sprouting to the top of the cieling. We also got to see the Thomaskirche which is the final resting place of Johann Sebastian Bach. Also we were privaledged to listen to a concert on Bach’s works at the Thomaskirche. The concert was absolutely beautiful simply put. The music in general in Leipzig was fabulous. Everywhere you looked their were street performers either playing violins, guitars, accordions, or all three! (Not really because people don’t have enough hands but that would be pretty cool though).

The Grave of J. S. Bach

The Resting Place of J. S. Bach

Thomaskirche

Thomaskirche

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

While in Leipzig, the group also visited the Johann Sebastian Bach Museum located directly across the street from the Thomaskirche. The museum was very fun and informative because of how interactive it was. Also the museum housed a belt buckle and thimble that are supposedly from the original coffins of Bach and his wife Maria Barbara at their original burial places. Also while in Leipzig I visited the Battle of Nations Monument on the northern side of Leipzig. The Battle of Nations Monument is a monument commemorating the combined defeat of the Napoleon  in 1813 by the nations of Prussia, Austria, Russia, and Sweden.

Battle of Nations Monument

Battle of Nations Monument

Battle of Nations Monument

Battle of Nations Monument

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Personally the size of the monument took me completely by surprise. From pictures I saw before going I thought that it was going to a lot smaller but it is truly massive. Where the monument stands is supposedly were Napoleon stood himself during the battle (so the story goes). Overall, Leipzig was a college city with fantastic music everywhere you listened.

Our group also visited the massive (joking) city of Wittenberg for a day trip to see Martin Luther’s home as well as the castle church where Luther (supposedly) posted his 95 theses on the castle church door. The doors are unfortunately not original because the original doors burned down in a fire. These doors happen to be bronze and inscribed on them are the 95 theses. This also means that these doors have 95 doctorates in theology (sorry, bad joke).

Luther's Casa (House in Spanish)

Luther’s Casa (House in Spanish)

Castle Church Door

Castle Church Door

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

After Leipzig and Wittenberg our group had another fun day excursion to Eisenach where we visited the Wartburg castle. At the Wartburg castle, Martin Luther was ‘kidnapped’ and taken there by Frederick the Wise’s men for Luthers own protection after the Diet of Worms. The Warburg castle also happens to be the spot of the Wartburg Festival in 1817.

Inside the Castle

Inside the Castle

 

 

 

 

Wartburg Castle

Wartburg Cast

 

 

 

 

Eisenach also was home to the first Bach museum, that was for a while believed to be Bach’s own home. However this was disproven recently, but never the less it is still a great museum. One exhibit was Benjamin Franklin’s own glass harmonica.

The last stop on our Luther and Bach trip was Erfurt. Erfurt was amazing, not only because of St. Mary’s Cathedral, but also because they had amazing Thuringian sausages at a local stand for only 1 Euro! That is a deal that even Vince from Sham Wow could sell me on.

Inside the St Mary's Cathedral

Inside the St Mary’s Cathedral

 

We also saw the St Severus Cathedral that happens to lie directly adjacent to St. Mary’s.

St Severus Cathedral

St Severus Cathedral

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Left-St Mary's. Right-St Severus.

Left-St Mary’s. Right-St Severus.

After our group trip. Myself along with Raechel, Morgan, and Jared went to Munich. Let me tell you folks. Think of all of the possible German stereotypes possible, then close your eyes. Congratulations you are in Munich! Munich was by far my favorite place I have been. The people, the scenery, the history, the lederhosen. It is ALL there! Our hostel we stayed at offered a free 3 hour walking tour of the city that included the glockenspiel, which in iteslf was amazing. The glockenspiel is Munich’s biggest attraction, and not only was it cool to see that, but to look behind me and see a group of no less than 500 people all staring up at it. We also saw the famous and original Hofbrauhaus which had a very cool atmosphere to it. On a more depressing side of history, the top of the Hofbrauhaus is a larg banquet hall, and in this banquet hall is where Adof Hitler gave one of his first speeches to a large group of people.

Glockenspiel

Glockenspiel

Marienplatz

Marienplatz

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

R-95 Takes the Englischer Garten

R-95 Takes the Englischer Garten

 

 

 

We also were able to visit the beautiful Englischer Garten.

This past weekend, our group was able to visit the amazingly picturesque city of Heidelberg where we received a tour of the only college of Jewish studies in all of Germany. After we also received a small tour of Heidelberg itself. Honestly, everything looked like it could be on a post card.

Just Beautiful

Just Beautiful

Shelby with the Heidelberg castle in the background

Shelby with the Heidelberg castle in the background

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The day after Heidelberg Shelby, Morgan, and myself traveled to Frankfurt for the day to get the one. The only. Chipotle. Yes that is right there is a Chipotle in Frankfurt and it was worth every minute of that train ride. We also walked around and saw the old Rathaus and were outside of the election room where the electors met to decide who would become the next Holy Roman Emperor. Unfortunately it was raining during our exploration of Frankfurt so I couldn’t take my camera out. But Frankfurt so far was the first city to remind me of the U.S. Frankfurt is also home to the European Central Bank and is home to the Euro Tower. Frankfurt was a nice city that looked the least like the Germany people tend to imagine, but nevertheless it was a lot of fun (and Chipotle was so worth it).

A couple of us will be traveling to Vienna this weekend so check in next Tuesday at the latest for another blog post about what was once the seat of the Habsburg Empire! Thanks for being patient and keep on keepin on! For everyone on spring break at Valpo, be safe and have fun! Until next time ladies and germs, this is ya boy Austin P signin off from the land of sausage and bread, peace!

“I think it’s my adventure, my trip, my journey, and I guess my attitude is, let the chips fall where they may”

~R.I.P. Leonard Nimoy

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The Satisfaction of Stamps

ViajandoOne simple joy of traveling, is the getting the beautiful, unique stamps you receive at customs when crossing international borders. Pictured here is the filled-up passport of one of the study center directors, Alfonso Meléndez who is from El Salvador, which has this intricately colored and culturally-relevant designs. Here in the Valpo Costa Rica program, we have finished up our two classes of Spanish, culture, history and social justice and are getting prepared to start our internships in different areas and organizations in the country. We are also excited to welcome the group of nursing students who are coming to work in clinics for underserved populations in Costa Rica and Nicaragua. Right now I’m making sure I have my bilingual medical terms down as I’m translating this week!

Italy Trip: First Stop – Venice!

From February 12-14 six of us Cambridge students began an adventure through Italy and Spain.  We stopped in Venice first which was great because Carnevale was going on and people dress up in fantastic costumes and masks! The city itself was gorgeous too.  Nothing like floating on a gondola during Valentine’s Day weekend.  The gondola man does not make too bad of a date!

Valentine’s Day in Switzerland

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Living in a huge city like Paris, life is always moving as if there is a continuous sea of people running one way or another. While it is exciting, it can also be stressful or lonely. Therefore this Valentine’s Day weekend I left for peaceful Switzerland, basking in the beautiful streams and gorgeous mountain views.

Earlier this week, I read an article about how technology can actually detract from the study abroad experience. Searching for places with wifi to have access to social media, posting every moment of the trip. In Bern and the village of Thun, I made an active decision to turn off the technology, only taking photos and appreciating the nature around me.

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No photo can truly show the magnificence of the Alps, the way the quiet streams sparkle under the sun as swans swim towards the mountains. The sun warms your skin, as you walk along and breath the fresh air and hear the birds singing above you. I climbed to the highest tower in Thun, seeing the landscape of forests, streams, and mountains unfolding before me. Moments like this make you reconsider what is important-collecting souvenirs with exciting stories or simply appreciating the experience.

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Pretoria and Welcome to Namibia!

To say our final thirty-six hours in South Africa, were bittersweet is an understatement. While all of us weary travelers were exhausted and home stays had given us a teasing taste of finally being settled in again, Johannesburg was beautiful and no one was ready to leave South Africa yet. Our final day full day we packed a ton of activities in, which also was tribute to the intense academic and adventuring schedule that had occurred for the past nine days. We woke up as the sun was starting to come up and headed out to Pretoria — which is the capital of South Africa– to visit the United State’s Embassy, Freedom Park and Voortrekker Monument. The drive to Pretoria takes about an hour so I took advantage of that time to doze back off but woke up in time to view Pretoria as we passed through. First glance, Pretoria seems a lot cleaner than Johannesburg, it’s also notably smaller in size and population. I wish we could have spent a day or two exploring Pretoria because aside from it’s tourist and historical monuments and elements, it looks like a fascinating place to be.

Pretoria from the Hills

Pretoria from the Hills

The visit to the Embassy was educational and is home ‘base’ to approximately 28 Government departments and agencies. Part of this can be contributed to the United State’s strong business and trade partnerships with South Africa. As of 2010, the United States was South Africa’s third largest trading partner falling after Germany and China. The US is also the largest source of foreign direct investment in South Africa and the Embassy regularly holds workshops on entrepreneurialism, small and medium business management, and financial planning for businesses. It was an interesting visit as the traditional blanket role is to protect the American individual overseas, but the Embassy reveled to me that it’s also any American investments and accessories. It also put somethings in perspective for me since I have considered professions within the International Government sector and the trip shed some more light on what that would actually be like in practice.

After the embassy, we went to Freedom park and took a long walk around. Freedom Park is a beautifully constructed tribute to those who lost their lives in South Africa’s turbulent history. There is a wall of names which dedicated to all those who were killed during the South African Wars, World War I & II, and during the Apartheid.

Wall of Names

Wall of Names

The museum part of the Park hosts elements from the beginning of Africa’s geological conception, 3.6 Billion years ago all the way to recent years where it serves as a means of symbolic reconciliation where past elements can be laid aside in order to heal.

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Following Freedom Park, we went directly across the hills to the Voortrekker Monument which memorializes the opposite side of history. The Voortrekker Monument pays tribute to the other side of South African heritage.IMG_9559

The inside was pretty spectacular. It is called the “Wall of Heroes” which is decorated by 26 hand-carved, marble, Italian mural like works that chronicle the Afrikaner assent into South Africa and the pioneer history that the country has. The large circle opening is where the Cenotaph in the Cenotaph Hall can be viewed.

Wall of Heroes

Wall of Heroes

But the most incredible part of the Voortrekker was the view from the very top of the monument. You could see for miles in every single direction. It was absolutely breathtaking to see Pretoria in this fashion. I’d also say that for this reason, the Monument was my favorite thing we did that day.

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It was really fascinating to see Freedom Park and the Voortrekker in the same five hour time span. Both cover vastly different sides of history and it’s very interesting to see how each side has been memorialized and celebrated by the South African people. After a long day of running around, our group had dinner in Mandela Square and I got to take a picture under the giant dancing Mandela statue with my friend Jordan.

Mandela Square!

Mandela Square!

The next morning we flew to Namibia and got to see our new home! The house is beautiful and I’m feeling so blessed to be here. The last ten days have flown by fast and it’s crazy to realize the first leg of my adventure is over. I still have 102 days of adventuring left and I plan on taking advantage of every second.

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Sunset, Volcano, and Beach on Ometepe Island, Nicaragua

Ometepe Island BeachDuring our visit to Nicaragua, we visited the Island of Ometepe in the middle of the Lake of Nicaragua. The island is made up of two volcanoes, (one active!) and breathtaking biodiversity. The island is home to wild monkeys and petroglyphs from early inhabitants, while one can even find sharks swimming in the Lake! This photo was taken on a lovely stroll down the beach where one can find locals playing a pickup game of soccer, called a “mejenga” in Central America, as well as backpackers from around the world soaking in the sun and serenity of the island.  The clouds in this photo are made up of the steam that comes out of the active volcano.

 

Day Trip to Windsor Castle

While everyone has been off galavanting over Spain and Italy during first break, Jessica and I have been taking several small trips around England. Our first stop was last week in Dover, and our next trip was to Windsor and Eton to see Windsor Castle.

IMG_4025Before we left, we checked online ahead of time just to make sure that it was open, because we didn’t want to have a repeat of our Dover trip where we arrived and found the castle closed. Luckily for us, the castle was open and we hopped onto four different trains to Windsor. The castle is very cool because on the outside, it looks old and very medieval, but on the inside, it has been renovated and decorated.

IMG_4052_2During the winter months, the State Rooms are often open to the public. We got to wander through all of the State rooms, which were very interesting. St. George’s Hall had hundreds of family crests covering in the walls and the ceiling. The stairway entering into the rooms was covered in a great display of antiquated swords, guns and other weapons, showing off the power of England to all who come to visit. My favorite room was one decorated in red (my favorite color) and gold, with an entire wall of windows that overlooked the gardens outside.

We also got to see Queen Mary’s dollhouse. This dollhouse is absolutely amazing. It was built to reflect the culture and fashion of the times, and was incredibly elaborate. They said that all of the golden plates in the dining room were made of real gold, and the Crown Jewels were actually small jewels. If I had a dollhouse like that, I could have played with that dollhouse for hours.

IMG_4078_2Because we went on a Sunday, St. George’s Chapel was not opened to the public, as they were holding services all day. We did get to see the outside of it, and the rest of the outside of the castle as the sun was going down. It was very pretty.

We had a great time traveling down to Windsor, but were very happy to take a few days for a break before our next day trip adventure. Coming up next is our trip to York!

Chilling in Granada, Nicaragua

Chilling in GranadaThis past week, our group visited Managua, Granada and Ometepe Island, Nicaragua. Here are sophomores Jennifer Carpenter and Jasmine Lopez taking a break after touring around the colonial and colorful city of Granada.

 

Day in Dover

We’re already at our first week break of the semester! I can’t believe that it’s already been a month since the new group arrived. This week, the majority of the group is headed off to Spain and Italy. Jessica and I, however, decided to stay in England and use up our Britrail passes and travel to a couple of places in England that we really wanted to see.

Dover Castle

Dover Castle

Yesterday, the two of us trained down to Dover to see Dover Castle and the White Cliffs. Dover Castle sits on top of one of the cliffs, and the town sits below it. We had to walk all the way up that cliff to get to the castle, only to discover when we reached the top that Dover Castle was closed. Needless to say, we were quite disappointed, and had to settle for taking pictures of the outside of the castle. Luckily, the weather was pretty nice, so the climb up wasn’t too bad.

Our next stop was to try to find a good spot to see all of the White Cliffs. There was a winding road that led from the castle down and toward the cliffs. We thought that the it would take too long to follow that winding road, so we hopped a fence and walked through a lovely English pasture down toward the road. It got a little sketchy when our third fence-hopping experience happened over a barbed wire fence, but we had fun frolicking through grassy fields and seeing the scenic side of Dover.

The first fence we hopped on our trek down to the road

The first fence we hopped on our trek down to the road

After wandering back to the road, we ran into a very nice couple who kindly suggested that maybe the best place to see the cliffs would be on the waterfront instead of on top of them, which is where we were. So we made our way back into town and walked along the water. We never really got a good look at the cliffs because there were cars and overpasses in the way, and we didn’t have a car. It was a little disappointing, but we did spend some time picking rocks on the beach, and watching the waves coming in and out, which is my favorite thing to do.

Our day ended with a visit to a museum in Dover which houses the oldest seafaring boat that has been found. This boat dates back to the Bronze Age in 1550 BC, and was excavated from Dover in the early 1990s. It had to be the biggest attraction to the museum, because it was pretty much the only thing inside, but it was still pretty cool to see something that old.

Overall, our little misadventure turned out to be pretty fun. I would probably like to go back to Dover and actually see the castle one day, but that was a fun first time. It was also a good reminder that even when things don’t go exactly as planned, they can still turn out to be fun if you go with the flow.

White Cliffs of Dover

White Cliffs of Dover

Pier in Dover

Pier in Dover

Bronze Age Boat

Bronze Age Boat

Along the Backs

It is great to take a break every once in a while and take in the beauty of a city and the landscape.  One of the most beautiful places to go in Cambridge is along the Backs (the backside some of the more famous colleges of the University of Cambridge).

Cambridge football practice complex

Cambridge football practice complex

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