A Travellerspoint blog

Italy

10 days in the sun and fun


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Italy is such an amazing country. We were there for 10 days straight in 4 different cities and I would not have done it any other way. I am not going to go too indepth on this one, after all, 10 days of shenanigans is quite a bit to write about.

The first day we arrived in Rome around 10 am after sitting through a grueling 9 hour night train ride from Ulm. It was brutal. I will never take a chair on a night train again, always front the 20 euro and get a bed.

Anywho, the first day was pretty legit. Since we had such an early start we roamed around Rome and found a nice place to eat some Italian pizza, which was really good. Pizza Diavola, its like spicy salami and fresh mozzarella. So good. So then we walked down to the Colosseum just to visit it sort of and by the time we got back that pretty much ended the day. This was all after we decided to get a nice Roman hair cut from a barber next to our hostel, it was the first haircut I have gotten away from mom cutting mine, and I think I will stay with the one person who does it best.

The second day in Rome was filled almost entirely of the Vatican, St. Peter's Basilica and the Sistine Chapel. We were able to find a nice tour guide with a ticket for the Basilica and Sistine Chapel for only 30 euro. It was a really nice tour and we got to see a lot of the museum that most people would not have even guessed. Shockingly when the Sistine Chapel was cleaned a few years back, a Japanese television station bought the exclusive rights to photos and media to the Sistine Chapel since they made such a vast donation for the cleaning, so sadly, I could not take any pictures while in the Chapel. It is absolutely beautiful tho. St. Peter's was amazing. To build a Basilica like St. Peter's in today's era, it would cost BILLIONS of dollars, easily into the hundreds of billions. The amount of marble, copper, brass, bronze and gold within the Basilica blew my mind. I was really pissed because my camera battery died like 5 minutes into the Basilica but what I got to see I will never forget. The artwork and architecture is amazing and easily the most beautiful building I have set foot into. Afterwards, we went to a really nice Italian restaurant and got a 3 course meal for like 16 euro. Ravioli, Veal Parmesan and gelato (italian ice cream).

When we got back to the hostel, we were pretty beat so we took a quick nap and then decided to go to a nice cafe and drink some cappuccino and have a cannoli. That was a lot of fun.

The last day we were in Rome we went and toured the Colosseum as well as the Roman Ruins. The Colosseum was an amazing place, and a huge feat of design and architecture. I was so impressed with how well preserved and sturdy it stood since its a couple thousand years old and has been through numerous wars. The pictures I took really do justice of just how big it really is. I stone work, the mock floor the put it, you could just sit there and imagine just what went on in the past during some of the big events that have taken place there. Afterwards, we toured the Roman ruins which were pretty interesting and showed a little bit of insight on how Rome look way back in the day. It was fairly breathtaking and very impressive to say the least.

On our fourth day, we left Rome in the morning and headed to Florence for the next 3 days of our trip. Florence was a smaller city compared to Rome but it was equally beautiful. The first day in town we walked around the entire city it seemed and saw all that we could so we could have a layout of the next few days. By this time in the trip we were already pretty tired so a lot of the trip we just relaxed, ate some good food and chilled in the hostel for a bit too. The second day in Florence we went to one of the museums close by the hostel and saw some major art work pieces as well as the statue of David. Of course, we couldnt take pictures of that either, which was disappointing because it was very impressive. Its hard to describe. The last day in Florence, we decided to take a quick train ride up to Pisa and see the Leaning Tower and tower the Cathedral of Pisa as well. Both were very impressive, the weather was beautiful and we even took a quick nap on the lawn in front of the Leaning Tower, it was a great day.

The next two days of the trip we stayed in Modena, Italy which is by Marenello where Ferrari is headquartered as well as Maserati. While 3 of the other guys toured Ferrari, the rest of us just chilled in Modena. There was not much to do, but it was a nice city to relax and take a few days off from heavy travel. We ate Thanksgiving Dinner in Modena, and it was fantastic. We had wine and beer, a 3 course meal with dessert. It was absolutely fantastic and by far the best Italian food I have ever had.

The last two days of our trip were spent in Venice, but it was sadly cut short when the train back to Ulm left half way through our last day so we left a little earlier than expected. The first day in Venice was spent primarily walking around Venice, eating some delicious food again and seeing all of the shops that Venice had. It has so many shops and little stores for being a smaller Italian city and near the water. The canals were awesome and everywhere throughout the island. Venice is known for its glass making so most of the shops had hand made glass pieces, statues, jewelry and other items, it was all very cool to see. The last day in Venice was spent seeing what we didnt see before like the town center and the main port of Venice as well.

All in all, Italy was my second favorite trip aside from golfing in Scotland. I wish I would have had more time to travel south to Sicily and some of the warmer cities, but the 4 I traveled to in 10 days were worth every minute in my book.

Posted by CDUBS 12/05/2012 04:36 Archived in Italy Comments (0)

Salzburg, Austria

The hills are alive with the sound of music!


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This past weekend was a shorter trip than normal. We took a two day trip to Salzburg, Austria to see what all the buzz was about.

The first day there, we explored the city a little bit and visited the Red Bull Hangar 7. Since Red Bull was founded and made in Austria, Red Bull is everywhere. Hangar 7 is a really cool art gallery and airplane hangar with Red Bull sponsored power sport stuff like cars, airplanes, race cars and more. It was a lot of fun. We even enjoyed some delicious Red Bull inspired mixed drinks. I had a Flying Bull which consisted of grenadine, lemon, Red Bull and vodka, it was pretty amazing, tasted a little bit like a sour watermelon drink or something along those lines.

After the Hangar 7 experience we went back into the town and went to a quaint little Irish Pub where I have honestly experienced the most delicious bacon cheeseburger in my entire life. It was absolutely amazing, im not even lying, words cannot describe. I think at least 5 of us plan to take a day trip back there just to indulge in the burger again.

After the most amazing burger ever, we walked around just to see what was going on and we stumbled upon an outdoor concert and skating rink combo. The concert was really cool while we just chilled for a little bit, and Brandon, Ethan and Billy skated for a bit as well. It wasnt an ice rink, but they used high density polyethylene instead which has a surface almost like ice so people can actually skate without frozen water, its pretty cool. (Polymers class payed off).

The next day we visited the Salzburg castle on the top of the hill which was pretty amazing, it was essentially a city within a city. It had some amazing views of the surrounding city as well as some of the mountains of the alps.

The big group split up and 4 of us went to the Salzburg Zoo before we decided to head home. We got to see all kinds of animals which was nice because I havent been to a zoo in like 8 years. I have some cool videos of Snow Leopards playing with each other. Plus all kinds of pictures of monkeys, reptiles, foxes, lions, rhinos, deer and a bunch more, it was a lot of fun.

Stayed tuned for the massive post I will be making for my trip to Italy!

Posted by CDUBS 11/14/2012 07:40 Archived in Austria Comments (1)

Berchtesgaden, Alps

The German Side of the Alps


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Hello All,

So this past weekend we took a school scheduled trip to the city of Berchtesgaden which is in the south eastern point of Germany close to Austria.

The first day was spent touring a 500 year old salt mine dug right into the side of a mountain. We were allowed to take any photos, but it was incredible inside. We took a little electric train inside the mountain and toured the mine a little bit. After a neat laser show, showing the formation of salt crystals and the brine levels, we took a ride down a huge 3 story wooden slide. After a bit more touring within the mine, we took another ride down an equal sized slide, it was all a lot of fun. We even got a mini bottle of salt take right from the mine we toured. To this day it is still mined daily by workers.

After the salt mine tour, we took a tour of the city of Berchtesgaden. It was beautiful since it is set right in the middle of a valley of the Alps. On the top of one of the mountains was Hitler's 50th birthday present, The Eagle's Nest. Huge house basically set right on top of a mountain, and the most ironic thing about it was that Hitler did not like heights and was claustrophobic so he only visited The Eagle's Nest 14 times in his life after it was given to him.

The next day was spent taking a boat tour on the Konigsee (King's Sea), which is one of the most pure lakes in all of Germany with water clean and fresh enough to drink. We arrived in St. Bartholoma which was a settlement at the far end of the lake that had a nice church on it along with some small homes and cottages. We were allowed to tour the island for a bit, walk the trails, and take some of the most beautiful pictures I have taken to date. Check them out in my photo gallery.

Afterwards, we took the boat back to the main land and walked around to find some lunch. We decided it would be a great idea with the time we had left to ride a small lift car up to the middle of one of the mountains. It was amazing. We spent the next 2 hours hiking trails in the Alps, taking some great pictures. We even met a dog named after one of the mountains, Wattsman, he was a chocolate lab hiking with us for a bit, it was pretty cool. Hiking along those paths had some of the most breath taking views I have seen in my life. Sadly, the tram that would take us to the tip top of the mountain was broken so we never made it all the way up, but hiking along the mountain 1200 meters high was pretty amazing.

All in all, it was a successful 2 day trip with the international students. We all had a really good time. I hope I have time this term to make it back there again.

Posted by CDUBS 11/09/2012 03:44 Archived in Germany Comments (2)

Amsterdam and Brussels

The Netherlands and Belgium


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This fine weekend in Europe we decided to meet my good buddy Greg Heitmann in The Netherlands and Belgium. He is working near Brussels for his company and decided to spend a nice weekend with us.

Amsterdam was one city I had a different perspective of before arriving. My initial thought was that it was going to be a slower city near the water with nice people and all that jazz. Haha, yea right. It was like the European New York city. Scooters and bicyclists zooming everywhere nearly running you over. It was crazy, but enjoyable at the same time. Regardless of its hustle and bustle it was still a fine city at that.

With hundreds of canals and waterways running through the whole city, it was something very different to explore and enjoy. Of course there were ridiculous amounts of pot heads and things of that nature but we managed to find our own enjoyment while in Amsterdam.

The first day started with a 4:40 am train ride towards Amsterdam so we could arrive at our hostel somewhere around 1pm. It wasnt so bad even though the hostel was 30 minutes outside of Amsterdam in Haarlem. The commute wasnt so bad so we went back to Amsterdam and decided to explore while we waited for Greg to meet us after he got out of work. We enjoyed some Netherlands style food and zig-zagged our way through the different alley ways as well. Once Greg arrived we grabbed a late dinner and went to the bar for a few Heineken beers (which are everywhere).

The second day was one of seeing what Amsterdam had to offer. Since we had a late night before hand, the 970 Perry group (myself, Brandon, Clint and Greg) decided to sleep in and catch up with our other group members around lunch for a canal cruise of the city. The canal cruise was fairly interesting as it showed more of what Amsterdam had to offer than what I imagined, with it being a critical trading city in the early years. The canal cruise set us up for some afternoon activities within Amsterdam exploring different parts of the city that we didnt see the day prior. The group of us decided to buy some tickets and make a reservation for an Ice Bar. Yea, an Ice Bar. It was pretty awesome. They had an outside lounge area where we could indulge in drinks and then they had specific times where we would actually enter the Ice Bar for 45 minutes or so, enjoy few free drinks and then make our way out. Everything was made out of ice; the walls, chairs, benches and sculptures. Even our cups where made out of ice. It made the beer you were drinking that much more delicious. We all had a great time for sure. Not to many people can say they have been in a bar made completely out of ice.

Afterwards we went to the same bar we did the first night just as a cool down before we made our way to Belgium the next day. A few of us met this guy born in Seattle who is now living in Amsterdam. I have never met someone so versatile in finances and travel. I could have talked to him for hours and hours still learning new things, and he was only in his early 30's at the oldest. I am investing as soon as I have enough cash to do so. Global money market funds and CD's, thats my start. He bought us a few rounds of beer and then we left in order to get a good nights rest.

The next day was an early one to make it to Brussels, Belgium. Brussels was a much cleaner city, beautiful architecture and pleasant, less busy people. We roamed around after finding a nice hotel for only 22 euro a night per person. 180 euro a night hotel room and we got it for 22 a person. It was an awesome lofted room with 4 beds and a huge bathroom. It was great! Anyway, we got a cheap lunch and made our way through some shops and the city center exploring what Brussels had to offer. We walked around seeing what Brussels had to offer, like our Belgium hot chocolate we had. Simply amazing stuff right there, even with little squares of chocolate to melt in the drink. We also had it in mind to find a bar called Delirium that a few of my friends from Esslingen, Germany told me about. Over 2000 beers and over 250 of them on tap. It was a great place, amazing atmosphere and 3 different "sections" of places to sit and enjoy worldly brews. After the bar, we said goodbye to Greg since he had to be at work the following morning. So, Clint was craving some muscles (Muscles in Brussels, lol) so we went up and down this little side street near the city center finding a reasonable place. We did. A 3 course meal for 12 euro. We hog smashed some steak while Clint and Ethan enjoyed their muscles. All in all, it was a fantastic day, simply content with how everything worked out.

In the end, Amsterdam was a great city, one that I can check off my to-visit list. Brussels on the other hand is one city I will be visiting soon. One day in Brussels does not set the tone right for how much it has to offer. Before my trip ends, I will visit that city again, hopefully to buy some fresh Belgian chocolates before Christmas too!

Posted by CDUBS 10/30/2012 11:56 Archived in Belgium Comments (0)

Scotland!

The Birthplace of the Greatest Game Ever Played


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So this past weekend, the Flint kids made it up to Scotland. We finally made it there. Scotland may possibly be my favorite place to visit of all the countries so far and is going to be a place that I will visit again sometime in my life.

The group of 6 decided to split up so that the golfers would travel up north to the Highlands and golf and see Loch Ness and then two would stay in Edinburgh and visit the city for the weekend.

So, Ethan, Clint, Brandon and myself decided to travel up north to Inverness to stay a few days, take in the sights and of course GOLF!
The first day was a long train ride to Inverness then walking in the rain to find a hostel, but it was totally worth the walk back and forth into town a few times. Saturday was a little more eventful with the help from the guy at the information center. Maps acquired, plans made and of course tee times booked for the day. It was only Ethan, Clint and I going golfing while Brandon walked the city for the day. We had to walk the 2 miles to the golf course and when we got there I got goosebumps. Granted, it wasnt the oldest course in Scotland, but I guess the 130 year anniversary is pretty legit. We didnt have any collared shirts so we had to buy some, I didnt care, I dropped 100 bucks like no big deal, it was one of those bucket list check marks I just had to jot down; Golf in the birthplace of the greatest game ever played. DONZO!

I walked away with a course polo, Scottish Titleist hat, ball marker and course towel. I was ready to go, even with some decent rented Callaway Razr Black clubs with a bag a trolley. I made best of the club situation since I didnt have my own set, but I kept telling myself, "im golfing in Scotland, I could shoot over 100 and still be happy." Luckily I didnt! haha. I shot a 90 which made me pretty happy. I took pictures of every hole marker and hole layout but pictures dont do justice of how awesome it was. We managed to walk the 18 holes in less than 4 hours and right before night fall too.

We had to wait a bit for Brandon, so we went to a pub and grabbed some pints and dinner. I had a burger with Scottish bacon served on a sheet of slate. Yea, its legit.

After dinner, we couldnt find a bus to take us to Drumnadrochit so we took a taxi were dropped off at the front door of a small hostel named Loch Ness Backpackers, it was pretty awesome. Wendy was a great host and told us to break into Urquhart Castle since there arent any trespassing laws in Scotland, so we did! haha. We walked a mile and a half to climbed a few gates and walked around at night in the castle since it was all lit up. It was very cool. I wish we would have had time the next day to do more exploring, but with the messy bus schedule we only had a few hours the next morning to explore Drum before we had to make our way back down to Edinburgh.

We were able to go through an awesome exhibit of Loch Ness and the mystery behind the Loch Ness monster. We had two beautiful days in Inverness and Drum and it was amazing. I cant wait to go back.

We got to Edinburgh Sunday night and walked around seeing the sights within our time period. 730 rolled around early Monday morning and we had to make our way home to Ulm.

Scotland is an amazing country, I want to go back so badly to experience more of what it has to offer, especially the golf scene, thats obvious.

Posted by CDUBS 10/24/2012 04:56 Archived in Scotland Comments (1)

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