Monday, December 17, 2012

Home behind, the world ahead

And the grand adventure that is my life continues! I'm joining the Peace Corps and am slated to leave for Jamaica in March of 2013. I will, of course, be keeping a blog. The url has been reserved, but the blog itself is not live yet. Check a little closer to when I leave, so you can keep up with me!

This blog (A Kentuckian in England) will remain on the internet for all posterity, so feel free to browse around!

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Things I learned in Europe: A Summary

 I am safely back home (have been for a week and a half or so now)! Flights were uneventful, but I totally forgot to finish up this post and publish it. Here you go!

I'm a list maker, so this was the easiest way for me to summarize all the knowledge I've acquired in almost six months of living abroad.  It's been quite a ride (as you've read throughout the semester), but I'm more than ready to get home and dive in to my last summer of showing (*sniff*), my senior of college, and all that lay beyond.

1. I'll never be able to drive on the left side of the road without injuring masses of people.  Not a good idea.
2. As much as I love globetrotting, I always want to call one place home.  I miss the country way too much. (Although, Scotland definitely qualifies as "country." *wiggles eyebrows*)
3. I've met a lot of great people over here, but I've discovered (to no one's surprise, except mine) that I prefer my own company.  I'm an introvert at heart.
4. You can, in fact, pack enough clothes for two and a half weeks in one backpack.
5. Sign language is universal enough to get your point across.
6. European food takes some getting used to.
7. I like writing, but I don't have enough time for it.
8. British-isms crack me up and I might have picked a few up.
9. Scottish accents > Irish accents.  End of story.
10. Watching the entire series of LOST to date is actually enlightening.  And an excellent way to waste time.
11. My camera eats batteries.
12.  I've taken well over 3,500 pictures.
13. Thanks to Jori, I have discovered a plethora of new music.  Let me tell you about it!
14. Nutella is addicting.
15. I like Earl Grey, but NOTHING can replace a tall glass of Cracker Barrel or McDonald's Sweet Tea.
16. Over here, UK =/= University of Kentucky.  In case there was any doubt.
17. Classes only meet once a week?!
18. Yes, Kentucky is where the chicken comes from, thanks for asking.
19. We really should have more cathedrals in the States.  Behemoth stone structures really do make you feel closer to God.  Trust me.
20. Public transportation in the US needs to make a comeback.  Trains are awesome.
21. Always double check your flight times/dates before you book them.  Again, trust me.
22. Hostels are excellent.  It makes you appreciate peace and quiet, your own bedroom, and hot breakfast all the more.
23. You can watch almost any movie on the internet.
24. Its hard to motivate yourself to do well when you don't give a crap about your classes.
25. I have a higher walking tolerance/stamina than most. This makes traveling in groups tricky.
26. Laughter and booze are also universal.  These should probably play a more central role in international diplomacy.  You heard it here first.
27. Its easy to forget Flat Stanley.
28. Europeans only hate obnoxious tourists, and for good reason.
29. Don't drink the water in Bath.  Urgh.
30. We have couch potatoes for sheep.
31. Gorgonzola cheese is very strong.  And should not be combined with gnocchi.  Don't do it!
32. Grazing at fresh markets is a perfectly accepted form of eating.
33. I can (and have) survived on less than 5 euros a day in food.
34. Pizza and gelato is better in Italy.  Trust me.
35. Scottish people find it endlessly entertaining that we have squirrel hunting season in Kentucky.
36. Flat Stanley was an excellent travel companion.
37. Number one travel annoyance: screaming babies/children.  And I am a magnet for them. ARGH.
38. A steady diet of bread, pasta, muesli, and water is surprisingly filling. And cheap.
39. It is kinda disappointing to realize that the Trapp family didn't REALLY randomly burst into song.
40. French people aren't rude, as long as you attempt to speak French first.
41. I can ask "Do you speak English?" in 4 languages.
42. Crépes: a gift from God.
43. Renting bikes is a surprisingly nice way to see a city. Provided you remember how to ride them.
44. Being tossed into a foreign country all alone teaches you a lot about yourself.  Namely, your language skills and resourcefulness.  I think I passed the test.
45. I STILL don't know what I'm doing after I graduate. I *might* have narrowed it down, but I'm still open to suggestions.
46. Lush products are awesome. I'm glad I found it late in the term though, because I'd be broke broke broke if I hadn't.
47. I didn't get much done on my Honors thesis. Oops.
48. Digestives and biscuits are code words for cookies.
49. I could consider being a beach bum.
50. Take those free tours in the big cities. You won't regret it.

Thank you all SO SO much for reading this blog.  I had a lot of fun writing it!

Friday, May 22, 2009

Pink Lemonade and Apple Streudel

Oops, sorry it has taken me so long, but can you believe that I've been busy? Packing, vacuuming (it takes a long time, believe it or not.), last minute day trips, and whatnot, I've been swamped.  Alternatively: I've been a lazy bum.  That sounds about right.

Anywho, here's the lowdown on Salzburg, Austria.  The town itself is relatively small, but it has a surprising amount of stuff to do.  Obviously, there's the requisite Sound of Music tour (which I did, of course), but there is also a lot of history (Mozart was born there!) to discover.

I arrived in Salzburg from Interlaken about 4PM on Wednesday, which was really too late to start exploring, so I found the hostel, found a grocery store and found my bed.  In that order.  Actually, I had to do a scholarship interview via phone with the Governor's Scholar Program in Frankfort (Kentucky, duh).  That was strange, but I think I did fine.

I booked my Sound of Music tour at the front desk of the hostel, and then promptly went to bed.  My tour was bright and early on Thursday, and lasted until mid-afternoon.  Totally worth the money, if the guide was slightly annoying.  I've found that annoying tour guides kinda come with the territory, though.  The tour took us around to the sights where the movie was filmed in and out of Salzburg.  We went to a little town outside called Mondsee (it means Moon Lake), where the wedding scene was filmed.  All in all, an excellent tour.  Here goes:

No, no we weren't conspicuous at all.

Can you see kids in clothes made from draperies singing and hanging out of the trees? Me too!

Schloss Leopoldskron, where the children and Maria fall out of the boat and Uncle Max partakes in pink lemonade.  Only the back was used in the movie, for the terrace scenes.

Untersberg Mountain, where Maria sang the opening scenes of the movie.  She could not have run down to the abbey in three minutes like she did in the film.  Just saying.

THE GLASS GAZEBO! Most disappointingly, they built it especially for the film (you mean the Baron and Maria didn't REALLY sing romantic songs to each other there? Drat!)

The little town of Mondsee.

St. Michael's church, where they filmed the wedding scene.  It looks ENORMOUS in the movie, but it is really very small.

And ugly.  I think its ugly. Who paints a church pink?

See? Not that big!  They must have done that in miniature or something...

Seriously, though. It isn't very big at all.  I think FCC in Hopkinsville is bigger, actually.

hehe, its crisp apple streudel! With warm vanilla sauce!  I'm going to make some when I get home.

Mondsee is a cute little town.

At the end of the tour, they dropped us off at the Mirabel Gardens, where most of the Do-Re-Mi song was filmed (obviously, the best part!). These are the steps at the end of the song!

How cool is that?!

The covered trellis! "Doe, a deer, a female deer..." Okay, I'll stop.

Almost to the end of the song...

Yep, yep!
After the tour, I walked around the Mirabel Gardens some more, which were beautiful.  Then it rained, for the first time the ENTIRE trip.  And I got soaked, but I got some good pictures.
Atop the Do-Re-Mi steps (seriously, they're called that now) with a good view of Hohensalzburg, the fortress overlooking the city.

Big fountain with Mirabel Palace and statues.  Very nice.

To avoid the rain, I went back to the hostel, with plans to re-visit all the stuff I'd missed earlier.  The first place I went on Friday was Hohensalzburg, the fortress.  Salzburg had been ruled for centuries by the Prince-Archbishop, which I take to be both a religious and government leader.  All of the Prince-Archbisops (what is plural for that? Archbisopi? Archbishopus? Who knows?) put their own spin on the fortress, so it doesn't look very coherent, architecturally.
And guess what? I walked up there instead of taking the cable car! Go me!

Farmer's market where Maria juggles the tomatoes. I think that's right.

Great views of Salzburg and surrounding area.

More Salzburg.

Because I was in Salzburg by myself, taking pictures with Flat Stanley was a bit of a problem, so I had to ask an older couple to take the picture for me.  They were the first people to recognize FS the WHOLE TRIP. I was overjoyed! Turns out they were from southern Illinois (they knew Paducah!) and retired and just traveling around. Man, that sounds nice.
More of the fortress.

It seems that a lot of the castles and fortresses I've been to have had weapons and torture exhibits. Fun stuff!

On the Sound of Music tour, they told us that this used to be the executioner's house. No one liked him, clearly.

After I'd gotten my fill of the fortress, I went back down to the city to explore some more.  There are something like 45 Roman Catholic churches in the little city of Salzburg, so I had plenty to do.
A bakery that used to be run by one of the churches.  It is still powered by water!

Wheel that operates the bakery.

Little chapel of St. Peter's.  The cemetery is gorgeous.  I read that they lease the plots for 10 years and if you don't maintain it to their standards, out you (or your loved one) go.

Very pretty.

So after a long day of walking around and browsing, I headed back to the hostel and ate at the hostel restaurant (yes, they do exist, and they're quite nice and cheap!) and had a schnitzel.  Mmmmm....
Saturday, my destination was Frankfurt, Germany.  The train ride was longer than I thought I was going to be (5 hours, yay!), but it turns out, there wasn't that much to do in Frankfurt anyway.  Guess why?  The Allies obliterated most of it during World War II, so most of the buildings were modern and therefore, not very interesting.  But, there was a festival going on, which only means one thing: BEER. Lots and lots of BEER.
The river that runs through Frankfurt is the Main, and they were holding the Drachenboot Festival (I believe it translates to Dragon Boat).  At any rate, there was a lot of good food and they were racing long paddle boats (small, but Viking-style, with the dragons on the ends).

...And they're off!

Some of the Old Town was still preserved.

Further proof that Germans like their beer: A beer bike! I saw one rolling through town, and found it quite disturbing.

I went back to the hostel, because guess what! They had a free pasta party!  Excellent! They the bar opened, and I made some interesting friends (we tried to guess the origins of everyone's accents.  We failed.  I guessed Greek on an Israeli.  Oops.).  I had an early afternoon flight back to England, so Sunday, I wandered back down to the Drachenboot Festival, had a crépe (a cherry and nutella one, very yummy), and then got a bus to the airport which was TWO HOURS AWAY.  I had planned for that, but we can thank my least favorite budget airline, RyanAir, for picking the furthest possible one from the town center.
So, that concludes the last hoorah, the two and a half week tour of Europe.  I met some great people, ate some amazing food, had some wonderful experiences, but best of all, I have the memories to go with them.  And I've shared them with you all!  This isn't quite the end of the blog, I'm planning a wrap up post, so stay tuned.
Also, I'm coming home tomorrow (due to arrive in Nashville at ~7PM CST).  I have mixed emotions (as expected), but I'm definitely ready for some American food.  And I miss the goats! And I suppose I miss you people too! :o]

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

The Swiss are made of different stuff- cheese and chocolate! Interlaken

Does anyone know the capital of Switzerland? Carly and I assumed it was Geneva or Zurich, but its Bern! Random, yes.  Anyway, that's where we had to change trains on Sunday to get to Interlaken, which took about 3 hours.  The first thing we do in any new city is stake out the grocery stores and find food, so that is what we did.  Interlaken is a tiny little town between (guess what....) two lakes and smack in the middle of the Alps.  Their main attraction and means of income is tourism.  It is also close to the Simme Valley, namesake of the Simmetal breed of cattle, which I saw in abundance.

This, friends, is Jungfrau, the main summit of the Bernese Alps.  Our hostel was at the foot of the green mountains.
How awesome is this? Yes, we are in the mountains!
Closer view of the Jungfrau.
The next day, Monday, we were interested in doing a high Ropes course, but the place wasn't open, so we decided to go to the small town of Grindelwald, about a 45 minute train ride away from Interlaken.  I laughed all day, Harry Potter fans!
 This is where they make car commericials.  I actually made that up, but they should.
  These are real-deal Simmetals, not the homogenized black variety that we have in the States.
Church in the Alps!
 Luckily, there weren't many people on the train, so we got to make fools of ourselves at our leisure.  While we were doing this, Carly told me a story of some idiot who got decapitated on Space Mountain at Disneyland because he stood up on the ride.
 Switzerland is pretty!
The little town of Grindelwald.  Carly doesn't seem to think that the people can possibly survive the winter because they are in this little valley and the snow would fill it up, burying them.  I told her that the Swiss are made of different stuff than we Americans.  She said, yes, they're made of chocolate and cheese.  ahahaha
Here is Carly doing what she does best- setting up our timed pictures. :o]
  I don't know why its a little fuzzy... But the big mountain is Eiger, one of the deadliest slopes in Switzerland.
 I had to have chocolate in Switzerland, so I went whole hog and got some fantastic truffles.  Three of these cost 6.25 francs, which is roughly equivalent to a US dollar. O.o
The next day, Carly booked a sky-diving adventure, and I got my book and read outside pretty much all day while she was gone.  I wish I could do that all the time, but as soon as I get home I know that activity will stop REAL quick. haha
After she got back, we both wanted to visit one of the lakes that Interlaken is, well, between.  The nearest one was Lake Thun (pronounced "tune") and it was gorgeous.  Most of the lakes in the Alps are glacier fed, so the water is FREEZING but perfectly clear.
Whoa, cool clouds!
Ahhh, Lake Thun.
hehe, cute little Swiss chalet on the way back to Interlaken.
 I think this one might be frameable.  I got it just before we left Thun.
After Thun, we went back to Interlaken and had our ritual dinner of pasta and sauce.  I have taken to adding Gruyere cheese to mine and it is gooooood.  Its a Swiss cheese (not with the holes....its made in Switzerland.).  The next day, Wednesday, I had my epically long (8 hour) train ride to Salzburg, Austria, which will have to wait to another post.