Saturday, August 4, 2012


Our trip to Vienna began with an interesting night train. We were in a cabin with 3 other people, 2 girls that we met who went to NC state and an old German man. He insisted that we pull our chairs out and make a huge bed,which did not turn out as planned. He snoozed the whole 9 hours unlike us 4 others. Luckily the 2 girls that we met were really cool, being forced to make due with the room we were squished in. We arrived in Vienna at 745 am, grabbed some breakfast, and checked into our hostel. We then made our way down to the Old town, the center or the city, stopping at some shops along the way. We first stopped at the Habsburg Palace and were harassed by a Mozart maniac to buy tickets for a Mozart performance. Denying the tickets, we went into what appeared to be a large greenhouse, but was actually a butterfly house. We went into it and walked around for a few minutes observing all the butterflies. It started to rain once we got out so we made our way back towards the hostel. We stopped and grabbed lunch at a German restaurant where I got a Viennese meal of roasted pork with a side of dumplings and sauerkraut. We then headed back to get settled in and took a short, much needed nap. That afternoon we headed back towards the center and saw the Stephanplatz Cathedral. We walked around this area, full of shops and restaurants. People were set up in the middle of the streets playing classical music. We loved hearing this everywhere we went, as we were in the city of classical music. We ate dinner at Swarovski Wien cafe, a little cafe located outside of the Swarovski store in the middle of the walking path. We both enjoyed a couple glasses of wine and a pizza. Not knowing that Swarovski was founded in Austria, we decided it was ok if we ate there since we were getting a little of the Austrian culture, right? After this we went to grab desert at Hotel Sacher to try the famous torte that Brooke's friend told us we must try while in Vienna. It was basically just a chocolate cake with hardened chocolate icing on the outside, which was great despite the simple explanation. We decided to head back to the hostel and get some sleep because we wanted to wake up early to site see and the beds had down comforters at our hostel...needless to say we slept amazing and got some of the best sleep of our entire trip. We woke up the next day and went to the Schönbrunn Palace, the palace that the Hofsburg Monarchy lived in during the warm months. We took the 45 minute tour, equipped with the audio guide. It walked us through a bunch of the rooms and told us some of the interesting facts about the purpose of each room. After this we grabbed some lunch and our bags and decided we'd leave Vienna a little earlier than we expected and head to Prague!
I wish that we had a little more time in Vienna to explore the history but we are so excited for Prague, as everyone has said this is one of their favorite cities in Europe (and really cheap! which will be a nice change).


We ended up staying 2 extra nights in Paris so that we could have some time to pack up and relax before we started our 2 week travels. On the morning I the 30th we woke up early, dropped our bags off at CEA and boarded our train to Interlaken,Switzerland! The train took about 6 hours and when we got there I was starving because we didnt get a chance to grab lunch. The first thing we did when we got there is went to an Irish pub, where I ordered a 18.50 Sfr cheeseburger ( yeah, we didn't realize that any place could be more expensive than Paris). After we got settled into our tent in Balmer's tent village. Each tent is named for a major city around the world (Hong Kong, New York, Buenos Aires,etc). Our tent was Mexico City and it was located right beside main tent with the bar,bathrooms,and tv area. The first night we got there Balmers was having a band play so we grabbed some beers (Rugenbräu, a swiss beer) from the grocery store next door and enjoyed the music. After the band stopped at 10, we made our way down to the main hostel location of Balmers where there was a bar underneath the hostel.
The next morning we got up and made our way to Seilpark, a high ropes course. Me and Brooke got all geared up in our harnesses and gloves an went for it. It was the scariest,most exciting thing that I have ever done. The instructor took us on a mini course before directing us towards the real course all by ourselves. We did two of the intermediate courses where we walked across small wires and zip lined from tree to tree. After the high ropes course we made our way back to the tent village and spent a couple hours reading in the hammock.
The next morning we got up early so that we could make it on our canyoning adventure. Brooke and I decided that we would do one of the outdoor sports while we were in Interlaken,since that's what the majority of the attractions there are. We decided on canyoning because 1, it was one of the cheapest options and 2, we had no idea what it really was except that you were treading through water. When we first got to Outdoor Interlaken we met 2 other girls from the US. We we're then given wetsuits, jackets,shoes, and helmets and all packed into a bus that took us to the top of a mountain. We made our way down to a stream and began our canyoning adventure. We jumped from cliffs into waterfalls, as our instructor pointed to the area we were supposed to land. We did a little bit of sliding down rocks, where we were spit out into churning, freezing waters. For some of the high jumps we were barely given much of a platform to jump from, making it all the more frightening. Our 2 instructors were very helpful as they counted to 3 and talked us through what to do as we got to each major spot. After sliding and jumping for about an hour and a half we made our way to still water where we then hiked back up to our bus. After getting back to Outdoor Interlaken, we thawed out with a hot shower and a complimentary Rugenbräu. After this we walked back to the tent village and put on our bathing suites and went to Funny Farm, a hostel down the street, where we went swimming. Since it was Swiss day (we're just hitting all the independence days, first Bastille Day now Swiss day), there were young people crowded all around the pool drinking and hanging out. We hung out for a few hours then got dressed and headed to a big field where there was a fireworks show in celebration of Swiss day! On the way over to the fireworks, we met two girls who were from Sumter and went to graduate school at USC. We watched the fireworks show with them-which was unbelievable. After watching the fireworks show lying under the Eiffel Tower, I didn't think that a fireworks show could top that. The fireworks show was amazing, with fireworks shooting for a good 30 minutes one after the other. I had never seen fireworks quite like these.
Our last day in Interlaken, we got up early and packed up our tent. We decided to rent bikes with 3 friends we made- 2 boys from Canada and a girl from Indiana-and take them up a mountain. We took a bus up with our bikes and stopped at a small village where we decided to bike down from. It took us about 3 hours to bike down as we stopped halfway down to eat some lunch at a restaurant overlooking the lake. The ride down was so scenic and pretty, despite being slightly scared since we were curving and turning with our hands pumping the brakes the whole way down. After returning our bikes we grabbed some last minutes souvenirs, grabbed our bags, and boarded our night train to Vienna, Austria!
Our time in Interlaken was amazing because it was completely different than Paris with greenery and mountains surrounding us any way we looked. We finally got the chance to bum it and enjoy the outdoors. It was the perfect place to go to begin our two weeks of travel as we got to see two very different, but equally amazing places back to back. I loved Interlaken and hope to eventually come back and enjoy even more of it!

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Last moments in Paris

Despite my lack of blogging, I have been pretty responsible when it comes to taking pictures of everything I eat,do,see which makes for a easier time recalling what the last weeks in Paris were like. Not having the energy to type out every detail, these pictures highlight many moments worth documenting.

Shooting with the 4x6 film camera in photography

L'as du fallafels- the best fallafels in town located in the Jewish became one of our favorites

Night out to a new area, Poisson, with the roommates

Trying food from all over the world
Cuban food
Lebanese food
Colombian food- Mayra, one of our roommates who is Colombian discovered it and took us there
Lulo juice- made from a Colombian fruit
Mexican-so missed that we asked out teacher if there were any Mexican restaurants in Paris and she recommended here

Cafe de Fleur- the famous chocolate chaud! 8 euro hot chocolate, but so worth it!


Another night at O'chateau..the reason we missed our bus to the Loire Valley

Paris Plage- the Seine is turned into a beach late July to late August for those who cannot afford to go on Vacation..the perks to socialism

Las Durée- the famous macaroon shop

A salad with a wheel of carambert cheese on it

Printing out pictures for final project in photography!

Farewell dinner at a Mosque- complete with lamb cous cous

Final night with everyone at O'chateau
 Olympics opening ceremony

followed by meeting Kate Moss's agent..who bought us a 250€ bottle of champagne

Making our way up to Mont Marte to see the Sacré of my favorite churches ever

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Bastille Day!

We started Bastille day off slowly because we were exhausted from the night before. Spending the early part of the day in bed, I went down to the supermarche below our apartment and got some goodies for lunch.
my personal picnic
We then got dressed and some friends came over to meet to us before we headed towards the Eiffel Tower to the Bastille celebrations. We grabbed some dinner and a bottle of champagne and headed to the yard of the Eiffel Tower. 
We got there around 8 but the fireworks and show didn't start until 11 but we secured our group a spot right in the middle and just waited. We enjoyed some ice cream from one of the stands then assumed our position again. We made friends with some Americans that were sitting right by us who came with a program from Boston University. They had been here for 2 months and were leaving the day after Bastille Day. We got to talking with them and they recommended several places and told us how sad they were to be leaving and to cherish every moment. 
trying to keep warm..Paris weather is bipolar
borrowing umbrellas so that people could locate us..making a scene, Americans
admiring the Eiffel Tower as it began to light up
And then it turned 11 o clock, music began to blare from speakers and the show began! The light show went on for about 30 minutes and various American songs were playing. It was so amazing, we could not believe where we were and what we were watching.
This morning we woke up and all wanted a good, hearty American breakfast. Our teachers had told us about a restaurant called Breakfast in America (how original) and so we had our mind made up of what wanted. We waited in line for about an hour to get a seat and eat. It was well worth the wait...

a breakfast burrito (tabasco sauce included) and home fries with a bottomless "cup of Joe"