Class trip to Switzerland!
Class trip to Switzerland!
I could start this post off with “here is the LONG AWAITED Ireland blog”, but…since I know most of you don’t sit by your computer and anxiously await notification of a new post (except maybe my mom and dad), I will save that opening line and dive right into the details!
First thing is first before you think I am some crazy wealthy child who can jet off and meet mother and father on a whim let me say that the only reason I am able to travel as I do is because my mom is a hardworking Delta Airlines employee ergo I get to fly for free as a dependent. Pretty great right?! Of course I fly standby so I am only able to get on the plane if there are empty seats, which is possible if you time the trip right and don’t mind flying by the seat of your pants but…I’m a Cantrell and when the Cantrell’s go on vacation two things are inevitable. First: it WILL rain, and most likely be cold. Seriously, I can’t remember a family trip that hasn’t involved rain. Obviously by now we are used to it, and always leave with boots, long johns, and umbrellas packed! Second: Something WILL go wrong. Whether it is a lost passport, a dead camera, or most recently completely missing your flight something will inevitably go wrong.
This trip was of course no different. It did in fact rain, but it is Ireland after all so that could happen to anybody AND something did go wrong. Well a few things actually. Apparently everyone and their second cousin decided to fly in Europe the same weekend I did so of course all of the flights to Paris for my connection to Dublin were not only booked, but oversold! When flying as a non revenue passenger oversold is perhaps the most deadly word. Fortunately I had arrived at the Zurich airport a night in advance, and was able to call my mom (who was awaiting her flight in Atlanta) and with her brilliance and the help of her lovely coworkers was able to rebook me and I ended up even making a pit stop in Dusseldorf!
Of course my travels back to the Uni couldn’t have gone smoothly either, and early Monday morning I was told that same deadly word…the flights are overbooked. Really?! Who flies through Paris on a Monday?! This of course isn’t the first time issues like this have arisen while traveling so Mama and I ended up on just about Plan H, and long story short I made it back just in time for Monday evening class!
I don’t know if you have noticed, but when people walk through the doors of the airport their brains and common sense somehow leave their bodies. People become angry and aggressive and easily agitated not to mention panicky. So for the average traveler most of these roadblocks would have turned into a MAJOR life threatening ordeal, but after over a year of flying standby and hoping people miss their plane, this of course was no big deal to Mama or myself. The most important thing is of course that A. I made it to Dublin B. I made it back to Liechtenstein and C. It was free! No complaints here!
I have to admit that I am quite the planner. Ask anyone and they will confirm that I like to have a schedule to follow, I MUST write everything down in my planner, and I am an avid To-Do list maker. This doesn’t mean to say I don’t enjoy spontaneity and adventure, I do! However, when on vacation for only a few days if some planning isn’t done before hand you ultimately spend most of the day going in circles and deciding “well what do you want to do now?” or “how do we get there?” or ultimately missing out on things to do! This of course means before our trip, I had an entire itinerary complete with train times, pre purchased event tickets, directions to and from places, and pretty much everything else. And let me just tell you that pre planning came in handy! Mama and I were able to see and do a great deal of things and visit a HUGE amount of the country.
We started our journey with a train ride to Cork in the south eastern part of the country. Known for it’s fishing villages and “peculiar accents”, County Cork is also the home of the infamous Blarney Castle which of course houses the Blarney Stone. This was a must for our visit, and after a short bus ride and climbing up the most narrow staircase EVER, my lips puckered up and I planted a big one on that good ole stone! And let me tell you it was no easy task. The stone is literally on
the side of the castle, and flexibility, fearlessness, and even a large man holding you is necessary to complete the task, but hey now I will apparently have the gift of eloquence for the rest of my life! Cat shouldn’t get my tongue again!
Blarney offered some of the most picturesque views of the entire trip. Luscious green fields as far as the eye could see were dotted with cows and sheep. Babbling brooks navigated their way beautifully throughout the castle grounds, and quant B & Bs lined the outskirts of the area. One of these B&Bs was our place of choice for lunch, and if you ever doubt the quality of Irish food let me assure you your doubts are unwarranted! Between the Irish brown bread that I swear has addictive properties and the delicious soup of the day those Celts have it going on!
Needless to say Mama and I never wandered across a meal we didn’t like our entire trip! We also visited Kinsale, a small harbor town south of Cork City (where we had another delicious meal) and roamed the lovely streets for the day. Friday
night was perhaps the most exciting and anticipated events of our entire trip. We visited the Cork Opera House to see the Kilfenora Ceili Band the longest running performing ceili band in Ireland! And the show was spectacular! I’m pretty sure the calf pain that followed on Saturday was a direct result of all of the toe taping during the show NO LIE! I never stopped moving along, and the entire experience was straight out of a dream of mine. Blah blah blah make fun of me know, but at least I am a member of the younger generation that can somewhat appreciate actual musical talent!
Our three days in County Cork were certainly not enough, but due to our overall time constraints we left early Saturday morning bound for Dublin. I have probably overloaded you with information and unwitty quips so I assume now would be the appropriate time to end this post and follow up with the rest of the
details in a latter one. But before I do I must leave you with the 5 interesting facts I have learned this week!
1. Irish brown bread is truly a gift from God. Maybe that’s why the big man sent St. Patrick back to Ireland after all…for the bread!
2. The pictures and images of Ireland in movies are completely accurate. It truly is luscious green fields, sheep, cows, cliffs, water, oh and castles!
3. Being a native English speaker DOES NOT mean you will understand Irishmen. Seriously, I think people thought I couldn’t speak English because I was always confused and their accents are ridiculously thick! Lovely, but thick!
4. Jerry from Tom and Jerry is apparently a more famous mouse than Mickey Mouse in Latvia.
5. THis isn’t technically a fact, but rather a point of information…my computer has officially bit the dust. Great timing I know. So from now on I will be mooching off of Jennifer’s properly working technology and trying to navigate my way through the German desktops at the Uni..wish me luck!
I guess it is about that time again…time to give the details of our recent weekend galavant: Bern, Geneva, and Lausanne, Switzerland! Right about now you are probably asking the question “Do those two EVER study?” and let me assure you the answer is yes! We are currently finishing up two major group projects, just submitted a marketing research paper, and completed our first German exam. We just happen to be fortunate enough to have the daytime free for homework and Fridays with no classes, ergo…travel is a must!
This past weekend’s trip was a bit different because it began as an actual class. Our International Human Resources Management class visited Swisscom Corporation in Bern, the capital of Switzerland. We were able to not only speak with some key players at the Telecommunications firm, but also to see a bit of the age-old city. Much like Feldkirch, Bern is very medieval and perhaps one of the most beautiful cities I have visited…that was until Geneva.
Following our class visit, Jennifer and I made efficient use of our day travel passes and headed to Geneva for two nights of sightseeing and exploring. And explore what we did! We covered most of the city in our self guided walking tour (I assure you I have a very official tour guide voice), and even made time for a boat cruise of Lake Geneva. Oh and we “technically” went to France. And by went to France I mean took the tram as far as it would take us and literally walked across a highway to the border, realized there was absolutely nothing there, and returned. But hey Jennifer can check France off the “to visit” list!
I mentioned earlier that Bern was the most beautiful city, until Geneva so why in fact is Geneva my new favorite? The culture, history, landscape and pretty much everything about Geneva is spectacular. It doesn’t hurt that the city is in the French speaking part of Switzerland, and I was able to practice what small French speaking skills I have. The city is centered around giant Lake Geneva and if you can picture the Gulf Coast, mixed with a little bit of Italy, and throw in a bit of France that is quite an accurate description of Geneva. Our Intnl. Human Resources professor told us Geneva is “Europe’s version of New York”, and he was certainly correct.
Young and middle aged business people from across the world lined the streets and crowded the restaurants at night. Tourists from every corner travelled to walk the streets of the city where the Red Cross was founded and serves as the current headquarters of the United Nations, the WHO, and the WTO. The city has a hustle and bustle, yet quaint European aura that will win over even the biggest city slickers. If I had to recommend a place to visit in Europe (as of now) Geneva would be at the top of that list (followed by Bardolino, Italy), but warning: you might want to save up a few bucks because the city is NOT cheap. Seriously…Geneva is tied for third most expensive city in the world.
After our days in Geneva, Jennifer and I parted ways; her traveling to see the Matterhorn (the mountain you see on the Toblerone box) and me to Lausanne. I wasn’t really in Lausanne long enough to give you a full description BUT for the short amount of time that I was there I can tell you that I surely want to go back! Much like Geneva, Lausanne was filled with business men and women as well as tourists coming and going, and the southern part of the city was also located on Lake Geneva. I spent a few hours roaming around, practicing my French (which really only extends so far as ordering food and getting directions) and lounging on the harbor wall overlooking the Lausanne Yacht Club and surrounded by mountains.
I hope that brief description wasn’t too boring for you, but if it was I leave for Ireland tomorrow so surely those blogs will grab your attention!!
I know it has been a while, but time has seemed to fly by the past few weeks and I have of course fallen behind on my blogging. If you can find it to forgive this fact, the following blog promises to provide enough entertainment and knowledge to make up for it. I hope.
I guess I should get things started by warning you that I will be doing things a bit differently in this post. As I was jogging along the Rhine this morning I realized that I don’t in fact provide much entertainment or information that you as readers can’t pick up and get in the typical travel book at Barnes and Nobles.
The past blogs have merely been a play by play account of what things I did, what buildings I saw, and what food I ate. While much can be said for keeping the readers in the loop and up to date with the activities of Jennifer and I, there is more to be said about the people, culture, and traditions that we have been experiencing most of which I have failed to accurately relay to you!
Given that I have set the bar quite high for this blog, if you do in fact like the new style or would rather the play by play approach feel free to go to the Millsaps College Facebook and tell me what you think!
Here goes… Last weekend Jennifer and myself added yet another city/country to the “visited” checklist: Munich, Germany (or München as in German). The trip was of course organized by the wonderful Buddy Program at the Uni and was filled with bonding, sight seeing, relaxing, and overall enjoyment. The purpose of the visit was to experience the Frühlingsfest, or in other words a “miniature” Oktoberfest. Bavarians from all around travel to Munich for weeks of beer drinking, dancing, music, and overall merriment.
Our trip to Frühlingsfest was nothing short of merriment. We had out fair share of 1 liter beers of course, and even resorted to the table tops with the rest of the tent when the Liechtensteiner Polka was played by the band. Whoa before you get all shocked, let me assure you the old couple at the table nearby were up and dancing on their table as well…at Frühlingsfest or really any other Bavarian festival for that matter, it is simply expected of you.
Other than the Frühlingsfest we of course saw a good bit of the city, most of which was in a walking tour, one of the most memorable parts of the trip wasn’t a building or even ordering a liter of beer, but instead was located in a small clothing store. This store is where one of the best purchases of my life took place…a dirndl. In case you are wondering what a dirndl is picture the most traditional German woman yodeling on a mountain. That outfit that she is wearing? Yep THAT is a Dirndl.
The dirndl is worn by each and every Bavarian woman as the female equivalent to the men’s Lederhosen, and if you think I am exaggerating literally all of my German friends at the Uni have a pair and do in fact wear them to Oktoberfest, Frühlingsfest, weddings, parties, clubs, you name the place they have worn it there! Of course Jennifer and I are not ones to miss out the latest trends (or rather century old) so when we stumbled across the store we just had to go inside for “just a look”. Well a look turned into a purchase, and a purchase will turn into years of Halloween costumes (don’t tell the Bavarians I said that) and many memories. Yea just wait and see what my formal dress is next year…
Following the purchase of our Dirndls came one of the most eye opening experiences of my life, a visit to Dachau Concentration Camp on the outskirts of Munich. Ever since I can remember I have sat in my Dad’s lap and later on the couch next to him watching countless movies, documentaries, and television programs about World War II and the gruesome battles between the Allies and the Axis Powers and those humanity battles that took place inside the gates of concentration camps throughout Europe. Perhaps the my most vivid memory is watching Life is Beautiful, an Italian film which I of course “read” more so than “watched’ and being enthralled by the events that took place camps such as the one I have now visited.
Movies, television, books, and even pictures can never do justice to the feeling one gets while roaming the former location of “roll call square”, or walking through the barracks originally built for 200 which would end up housing 2,000. I learned about the events of the Holocaust in school, and even as someone who enjoyed history and learned more than the average student, nothing can ever match laying one’s own eyes on the original crematorium where so many innocent people met the end of their lives. This was in fact a frightening and intriguing moment wrapped up in one.
As I walked the paths that so many others had before, I thought about just exactly how such an awful moment of human history could be allowed to take place, and then I remembered it is STILL taking place. In countries around the world thousands of human lives are being claimed by the hands of government forces, and yet we are allowing it to take place. Will this too be an event that 60 years from now young International Students visit and think just how was this allowed to happen? As the thoughts of how such gruesome events are “allowed” to take place, another emotion came to mind…that of pride. Pride to be from the country that did indeed liberate the inmates of Dachau Concentration Camp and so many more throughout Europe.
The country that today remains a superpower amongst the world, and that truly is the best birthplace a young girl like myself could ever ask for. Surely I have stated that I am one blessed and privileged person to have the opportunity to spend five months of my education in Europe, but that experience itself would not have been possible had I been only born in another country. The United States was and will remain to be a world superpower if the younger generation continues to have experiences like mine, and realize there really is no place like home.
The visit to Dachau not only ignited in me emotions I never knew I had, but it also ignited in me a fire…one that will lead me back home in two months to begin my task of keeping the US just as big and bad as she really is. So Capitol Hill…this could be the beginning of a beautiful friendship. Politician not quite, but I will find my way to serve maybe in future weekend travels I will discover just what exactly that will be! Stay tuned my friends…oh and God Bless the USA.
Weekend getaway to Italy!!
I feel it is necessary to provide a disclaimer before this blog stating that I am in fact enrolled in school, and do indeed spend time studying, attending class, and preparing assignments. HOWEVER, this does not mean my weekends are always occupied so…yet again I went off to visit a few exotic places in Italy. Milan and Verona…maybe you have heard of them? Well of course you have! And Jennifer and I were lucky enough to have a weekend long trip completely organized and planned for us by the buddy program.
We left Vaduz on Friday morning 7 am packed and ready for the short drive to Milan! One interesting aspect of a road trip in Europe is that the size of the cars are a wee bit smaller! No family sized sedans to stretch your legs in that is for sure. Of course a smaller car was completely worth it because after a little over 3 hours we arrived in Milan with the day to explore and see the city on our own. The group split up and Jennifer and I along with our Latvian friend Elina headed to the first stop: the Duomo.
The Duomo is a large, rather gigantic, church in the middle of Piazza Duomo that was yet again a little reminder of just how fortunate I am. We visited the inside of the breathtaking church and were even able to roam around on the roof, which provided a picturesque view of the city. Following our visit to the Duomo we sought out “Luini’s” a lunch spot that numerous people had told us we just HAD to visit. (Well actually they us a while back, but of course no one could remember the exact name, location, or even really why we HAD to go there…) Long story short we texted a friend at school, got the address, and man was it completely worth it! Panzerroti was the specialty, and of course by specialty I mean the only thing they sold with every single stuffing imaginable! The plan was to grab the panzerrotis and head to a nifty park/fountain nearby but…we didn’t exactly make it down the street before the entire meal had already been scarfed down.
On full stomachs we jumped through a million hoops and finally found a way to rent bicycles to explore the city at a faster and more exhilarating pace. Looking back on the day, renting bikes is definitely the way to see a city in only a few hours. Of course, we weren’t able to see every single thing, but we found a wonderful park, the home church of The Last Supper painting (reservations to see it had to be made months in advance so that was a no go), and most importantly a FANTASTIC gelato place. Here would be the appropriate place to include a warning of just how much food was eaten throughout the weekend…lets just say I am restricting myself to fruit for the next months to make up for three days in Italy.
After nearly 6 hours in Milan we loaded up the cars and headed to Verona. There we again ate at a typical Italian pizza place for dinner, and after a day of traveling
crashed for the night. Saturday we made the short drive to Lake Garda and a town named Bardolino. Again words can’t express the lake/city’s beauty, but I can tell you it was a nice reminder of just how much the water means to me. Having been away from it for over two months, the simple pleasure of putting on my bathing suit under my clothes was satisfying enough, but when I set my eyes on the crystal blue water and harbors my happiness was insurmountable. I guess you can’t take the Coast out of me after all.
After spending the day lounging on the lake, we returned to Verona for yet another fabulous Italian dinner..oh and of course gelato! Sunday included a foot
tour of Verona where we visited the most important landmarks of the city among which were Romeo and Juliet’s houses and a Roman Amphitheater which is actually older than the Colosseum in Rome. I guess I am skipping over a few events of the day, but I figure you don’t exactly want an ENTIRE play-by-play so after Verona we loaded up the cars and set off for Balzano, the hometown of one of the buddies.
Again words can’t describe the beauty of his house/yard/view, and the pictures
can’t even do it justice. His family literally lived in a castle surrounded by luscious green mountains and vineyards, with a waterfall in the distance as if straight from a movie. Imagine everything you think Italy to be…yep that is exactly how it looks! There we barbecued and consumed our last bazillion amounts of food.
The weekend included a great deal of fantastic memories, sun, sightseeing, and of course fabulous Italian food. Next on the agenda is Munich for a miniature Oktoberfest so be sure to look for another post. Maybe I will even make it more entertaining next time! But until then here are again five important tidbits I picked up throughout the weekend:
1. Gelato and ice cream are VERY different, and all food consumed in Italy are actually negative calories. True story.
2. Because there is lack of evidence and no documentation, Romeo’s house in Verona is only a guess. Today the house is a private residence not opened for visiting so I guess its left up to you to decide.
3. Jennifer bought one thing in Italy…an American flag print scarf. Typical.
4. Apparently you must buy a special pass to drive the interstate in Austria. This of
course is in addition to the toll ways which are about 8 euros. Those Austrians sure know how to pay for their roads!
5. Setting loose three girls with only 1.5 hours to see an entire town filled with shops is only sealing their fate. Don’t expect them to show up on time…I mean “we got lost…in the dressing room” that is of course why we were late. Believable right?