March 27, 2010

BOOM

Thunderstorms make this Saturday better.

March 24, 2010

Europe

I suppose traveling to Europe requires a new post, but before I start, can I say how much I love the smell of Spring rain? It rained for about 5 minutes, and now there is a slight breeze coming through my opened window. Oh, I love it. So refreshing. I wish I could believe that Spring has finally sprung but knowing Springfield weather, I'm not getting my hopes up.

Anyway, where to start?

I guess I'll start with the plane ride to Paris, France. Obviously, it was long. Very very long. Knowing that, I assumed I'd be able to sleep...at least a little. But I was wrong. I did not sleep a single minute, which made for a very tiring first day in Paris, but it was amazing nonetheless. The entire 3 days we spent in Paris were phenomenal. We went to all the main attractions, of course. Notre Dame, Eiffel Tower, Arc de Triomphe, Versailles, The Louvre. Everything was so beautiful. I mean, I have heard over and over how beautiful Paris is, but seriously. Paris is BEAUTIFUL.

Notre Dame
Notre Dame
Eiffel Tower
Arc de Triomphe
Versailles
Versailles
"Hall of Mirrors" at Versailles
On the top of the Eiffel Tower...it was windy...
Yup. Still windy.
The Louvre
The Mona Lisa
The Venus de Milo

We ate incredible food, as well. A little bakery called the Eric Kayser bakery was right by our hotel, and everything I ordered there was delicious! The coffee was so rich, and the croissants were just...SO GOOD. We also had amazing sandwiches, and George suggested we try falafel, which was equally as wonderful. On our last night in Paris, after a day of shopping, I thoroughly enjoyed my first real crepe with Nutella, and I continued to fatten my body by having the best Mango gelato of my life. Overall, Paris was everything I hoped it would be, and I am so glad I can finally say I've visited one of the most gorgeous places in the world!

Yummy crepe!
A night in Paris

Our next stop was Berlin, Germany, which was extremely different from Paris. Paris was bright and sunny during our entire stay, but Berlin was cold and rainy. I still loved it just as much as I loved Paris, but in a different way. I loved the romance of Paris, but I loved how raw Berlin felt. On our second day in Berlin we were able to take a four hour walking tour around Berlin, where we learned about it's history and saw all the famous sites. Despite the disgusting weather, I am so glad we were able to take the tour because I would have never known what I was looking at from our amazing view from the window of our hotel!

Berliner Dom (Berlin Cathedral)
Berliner Dom
A Jewish memorial
The Berlin Wall
"Checkpoint Charlie"
(crossing point between East Germany and West Germany)
A church with the famous Fernsehturm (TV tower)
The Brandenburg Gate

We also went to a Jewish museum that was pretty interesting, as well. On another day, we were able to go into the Parliament building, which was very cool. Once you reach the top, you can look down and see all of the government officials working, which is supposed to show that Germany has nothing to hide. On our last night in Berlin, a few of us went to the top of the TV tower, and the view was incredible, but getting a decent picture was difficult.

Reichstag Building (parliament building)
Top of Reichstag
View from the top of the TV tower

The other days were spent at the competition, which was held in our hotel. I have never stayed in a nicer hotel. Breakfast was provided every morning, and it was delicious! There was a lot of variety, and once again, the coffee was great. Anyway, the team did a great job and brought back 7 awards! I got 5th place in the German Expressionist category, which isn't too bad.

Overall, the trip was such a thrilling experience. I never would have thought I'd get to go to Europe during college, and I am so grateful for the opportunity. There is so much more I could talk about from the trip, because so many other great things happened, but I think this post is long enough.