where I go, who I meet, and what I think in Europe

Saturday, May 30, 2009

What a small world!

Thursday evening I was completing my routine facebook and e-mail checks and I received a message from Billy Crean, a old friend from middle school. What a coincidence he was in Paris too! He's been studying abroad since January, and after traveling around other parts of Europe, he was back in Paris for one more weekend. So we made plans to meet up on Friday.

Friday morning I met up with Billy near where he was staying in the 5th arronssement. We began our day together by visiting a Colosseum near his apartment. It was alittle anticlimatic, but I never would have found it on my own. Through out the day, Billy and I visited several churches including the church of St. Sulpice where the famous Rose Line is and the Madeleine. Around 1:30, Billy and I met up with three of his friends, and we all went to a park near the Chateau de Vincennes and ate lunch. We had so much food! The menu included lots of bread, cheese, meat, and wine. The essentials really. With our stomachs filled, we walked inside the chateau to take pictures. Billy and I spent the rest of the afternoon walking around Paris. I swear we walked the entire length of Paris. I saw sights like Place Vendome, the Opera House, and Galeries Lafayette. Spending time with Billy was really great; we got to catch up and reminisce about our middle school days.

I went back to the apartment to eat and split a bottle of wine with Justin. Then we headed over to Justin's friends Chris' apartment. This was around 11 pm. Friday ended with a long night at the club. We didn't get back and into bed utnil 6 am. I was very tired!

Because of our late night out, Justin and slept in very late on today (saturday). We bummed around most of the early afternoon until we decided to go visit the musee d'orsay. Unfortunately, the museum was closing when we finally got there. We decided to walk around and window shop. One of our stops was at a huge grocery store. It was a high end grocery store where items like "Bling" water could be bought for 30 euros a liter. Very pricey. After our long walk, we were famished, so we headed home and bought Doner.

After dinner, Justin got ready to meet some friends, and I made a plan to head out to see Sacre-Coeur and the Eiffel Tower at night. This was very worthwhile. The city does a great job lighting up these sights. Every 30 min for 5 min span of time the Eiffel Tower sparkles with flashing lights. It's very cool to watch. As I drooled over it's beauty, I enjoyed a nutella crepe. Now i'm home, and very tired. Tomorrow, Justin and I are going to try again to visit the museum. Then on monday I will be meeting Jill in Amsterdam! I am really looking forward to spending time with her in Europe. Goodnight!

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Paris makes me sore

I can't believe today was only my second full day in Paris. I feel like I've done it all! Justin doesn't work for the remainder of my stay, so I think we may take a day trip outside of Paris. First, I'll tell you about today...

Since just lives in arronssement 18, I decided to visit the Basilique du Sacre-Coeur first today. I was able to walk to it within 15 minutes. The basilica was beautiful like everything in Paris. It was a real treat to visit because there was a service happening inside. A woman sang some very lovely hymns while I walked around. It made the touring much more magical.

I continued outside and walked the streets of Montmatre. I visited a few souvenir shops to see what they offered...not much. Then I went to the the artists' square where many painters and sketchers sold their work. If I wasn't going to be traveling to several more countries, I may have bought a piece because many of the painters were very talented. However, I am a poor college student, so I kept my money. Down the hill I found the Lapin Agile, a small bar-cabaret that has showed up in Picasso's work. It wasn't open when I walked by. This walking tour of Montmatre also took me to Cimetiere St. Vicent where I saw French painter Maurice Utrillo's grave. This wasn't very significant to me since I don't know his work, but I went nonetheless.

My day took me next to the catacombs. If you every come to Paris, I definately recommend visiting these. It was creepy to walk underground Paris and be among so many bones, but I've never seen anything like it! Originally built to quarry stones, the catacombs are now the gravesight for milions of skeletons.

I came out of the catacombs in a different place from where I entered, and it took me awhile to locate myself on the map. After meandering around, I eventually found out where I was, and continued on another walking tour from my borrow Fodor's guide. I stopped at the Foundation Cartier, a museum for modern art setup by the famous jeweler himself. There were two installations there each very different from each other. It cost 4.5 euros to get in, but it gave me a chance to use the restroom and eat my packed lunch in the museum's garden. I'm glad I stopped.

I finished my tour of Montparnasse by walking through the Jardin du Luxembourg. I saw the Fountaine de l'Observatoire and tree, tree, trees! It was about 5 pm when I finished in Montparnasse. I was very tired because I began around 10 am, but I had one more stop to make before I could call it a day.

Notre Dame!
The cathedral lives up to its reputation. It's beautifully designed, and I really enjoyed the stained glass windows. Again, there was a service happening which made the visit more exciting. I couldn't figure out how to get high up amoung the gargoyles, but I enjoyed looking at them from below. As I thought my visit was over, I became the target of a weird middle aged French man. He began talking to me in French, and I told him "I'm sorry I do not understand," but unfortunaely he also spoke English. He just rambled on about the beautiful cathedral. Then he asked me where I was from and was surprised I was American. blah blah blah very weird guy; he offered to take me to a cafe, but I told him I had to meet my friend because I had his apartment key (this really wasn't a lie). It was hard to get away from him; he gave me his e-mail address, and I made up a fake one for him because it was the only way he was going to let me go. Why he thinks I would contact him is beyond me...

I took the metro back to Justin's place after Notre Dame and had a little dinner. it's now 11 pm, and I'm editing my pictures from the past two days. If I don't stay on top of this stuff, I'll be overwhelmed at the end of my trip. On a side note, I found out this morning that it looks like there will be 4 other volunteers with me at the farm in Ireland. Three spanish guys and a girl from Germany. I hope we get along well!

I have no clue what i'll be doing tomorrow! I hope since I'll have Justin available to me, I can go to a French restaurant because I've been to scared to order anything. All I know is that I am very sore from walking the past two days. I'm sure I've walked many miles and climbled thousands of steps. That's no exaggeration either.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Karas in Paris

Ok I figure I have to get this all out before I forget. Today is very fresh in my mind, and I did sooo many things; I have to write it out now even though it's very late.

I woke up at 9 am and drank coffee with Justin in his cute apartment. I did the usual showering and such, and packed my bag with the necessities: sweaters, maps, camera, money, and snacks. Justin wrote out an itinerary for me last night, so I had step by step directions on where to go and how to get there. I began at the Louvre. I spent about 2.5 hours at the museum; I don't think i could have spent much longer...I stopped taking in details. It was information overload. I really enjoyed the paintings (Italian more than French). The Italian Frescos had more expression to them. Of course, I saw the Mona Lisa. Everyone down-talked the size but it was just about as big as I originally thought, so I was pleased.

After the Louvre, I walked through the Jarden des Tuileries (Gardens) and to the Place de la Concorde. I walked along Champs Elysees amongst all the fancy shops like Louis Vuitton and Cartier. A long walk later, I made it to the ARc de Triomphe. At first, I had no idea how to get it. The Arc is surrounded by a circle of MAD traffic. I was prepared to risk my life to get to the beautiful piece of architecture until I realized there was an underground entrance on my side of the circle. I went up to the top of the Arc where I got my first real view of Paris, France. What a beautiful city! You know how colleges are often labeled as red or white campuses depending on the material used to creat the buildings? Well maybe that's just something my mom says, but Paris is definately a white city. All the buildings are very light, and the white buildings create a gorgeous landscape even on an overcast day.

I spent a decent amount of time on top of the Arc planning out the rest of my day and eating a few snacks. I had to get my money's worth! Then it was time for the Eiffel Tower! I took a metro closer to the famous structure, and when I turned the corner my breath was really taken away. I couldn't erase the smile from my face. It wasn't the size or the design that impressed me (not that those aren't amazing!) but one of my life's goals was instantly completed. I always dreamed of coming to Paris, France and climbing the Eiffel Tower, and there I was today doing just that! It felt really good. Before I went all the way to the tower, I stopped and bought a Nutella Crepe and stared at the tower and took it all in.

I didn't go all the way to the top of the Eiffel Tower, but I took the stair tour which got me most of the way up (it was cheaper). I counted 673 steps. I definately gave my legs a workout, but it was definately worth it. The view was yet again very beautiful from the tower.

By this point, I had been walking around for 7 hours. I decided to make one more stop before I called it a day. I went to the Moulin Rouge! I didn't spend too much time there because I wasn't about to go in. The show costs about 120 euros at the cheapest rate! I did walk around the area and found the cafe that Amelie was filmed in. I also found the Australian bar "Cafe Oz" Tom told me about. While I was walking around, Justin called me and I had to go meet him at Pigalle because I had the keys to the apartment. I may head by to that area again tomorrow since I left a little earlier than planned.

Justin and I returned to the apartment and had a few snacks. He had to turn in grades for the presentations he spent all afternoon watching, so I read the paris travel book to plan for tomorrow. I think I will visit the Catacombs for sure. Justin and I shared a bottle of wine and listened to music and watched youtube videos for the remainder of the evening. It really was a great day. While all the sightseeing was done alone, I didn't mind because I was able to go at my own pace. If I wanted to stop and people watch, I did. If I wanted to count every step I walked up in the Eiffel Tower, I could because no one was there to make me loose count. Don't get me wrong, I love people and company and it's weird to be in such a magnificent city and have no one there to oooo and aaaah with you, but I felt like i was in the final scene of the movie "Paris je t'aime." It is the scene directed by Alexander Payne and you follow a woman around who has finally made it to Paris, France after dreaming about it her whole life. (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S2EbK0NEl5Av=S2EbK0NEl5A )It's a very sweet scene, and I definately felt like that woman except I am fortunate enough to have made it to Paris, France at the young age of 21.

ok it's late and those are all my thoughts. I apologize for all my grammatical mistakes. I do not go back and proof read these posts. I get my ideas out as fast I can before they disappear. I think you understand.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Day 1 in Paris

This morning, I got on a train in Aachen, Germany, and three hours later, I was in Paris, France. Isn’t Europe wonderful?! You can switch countries so easily. I met up with Justin this afternoon at the train station (platform 10 to be exact) and it was just like old times! He just makes me laugh so easily, he shared stories about last night’s events and people he’s met recently. Justin kept me very busy this afternoon; we walked to the grocery store and got his laundry. Then we did some spring cleaning in his apartment because he’s giving his key away on Monday when I leave.

Around 7:30, Justin met his friend Chris so they could go to the gym, and I went to the canals. Now I ask you, “is it possible to get lost finding the canals when you are two blocks away?” Cleary, I am living proof that it is possible. It took me about 45 minutes, with a map mind you, to find them. I literally walked right by them, but I really didn’t mind because it allowed me to take in the local color. I spent about an hour walking up and down the canals. I even skipped some rocks like Amelie does in my favorite movie. See the video of my adventure. After we got home, Justin made us some dinner (salad with a fried egg on top which is very French), and it was very good. Then, we sat around and checked Justin’s emails from his students. They are expected to make a ten minute presentation tomorrow and over half the class e-mailed him claiming they were sick and unable to make the presentation. It was quite hilarious to read the e-mails because the illnesses are sooooo over the top. He wants to “kill them all!” haha.

Tomorrow, Justin has to teach for most of the day (aka watch presentations), but I have plenty of things to do. I am heading out towards the Louvre and markets. I’ll spend most of the day on my own, but I don’t mind that. I have my camera which always keeps me company.

Monday, May 25, 2009

The adventure continues

The first chapter of my journey comes to a close today. I am spending my last night in Germany in Aachen with Kirsten. I had a lazy morning and afternoon in Duisburg. I packed up my suitcases and watched Gladiator with Dominik. Around 6pm Dominik, Lothar, and I headed to Aachen. Dominik and I met up with Kirsten, and the three of us went to dinner at the Nu/Co. The restaurant is really great. For only 9 euros, you can order as many courses from the menu and you can eat. I ordered enchiladas first, spring rolls w/ rice and curry sauce second, burrito third, and then I helped Kirsten finish her pizza. I am still stuffed as I write this blog! The three of us came back to Kirsten's apartment and smoked hookah. Now it's 11:06 here, and most of my friends are probably sitting down to dinner now.

Just a short summary of yersterday. I got to plaz PitPat! Only my family really knows what this game is, but it really is the best. Its like mini golf but on a pool table. There are 4 different balls each a little bouncier than the next. Using a cue stick you must get the ball around the obstacles and into the hole. This isn't a prevalent game in Germany either, but I always had fond memories of PitPat from the last time I was in Germany ten years ago.

Germany has really been great! I tried lots of new foods, and learned a little German. I can definately see how spending a year or a semester in a foreign country can make someone fluent in the language. In only 10 days, I understand the language much better. I don't pick up details, but I can usually figure out the subject of a conversation. I am sure if I were to spend more time here I would start associating words and sounds with those subjects, and sooner or later, I might be able to speak a little German myself.

Tomorrow I head to Paris. I will be living with a friend Justin. I am nervous because I do not speak French, but I've learned a few phrases to help me get around. Wish me luck and keep reading!
with love,

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Two Cities Two Days

Yesterday, I spent the morning with Kirsten and Birgit in town of Venlo in the Netherlands. Considering it was just us women, we spent the day shopping through out the quaint streets. I didn't buy much, but my most notable purchase was a Kinder Surpise Chocolate Egg. I felt like a little kid opening up the chocolate egg to see what prize was trapped inside. I got a pretty cool top which I am sure will keep me entertained during my train and plane rides coming up this week. I also bought a mug with a ladybug on it (my favorite creature). The mug says ladybug in Dutch (liefebees). The day consisted of eating Dutch food and drinking coffee as well. Shopping and food, I really couldn't ask for much more.

Friday evening I went with Dominik and Marina to their friend's house for a barbecue. Again, lots of food, but it was fun because everyone brought a different salad and meats to grill. We smoked hookah while we waited for the grill to heat up. I also brough ingrediants to make the infamous drink amoung my friends, Red Headed Sluts. For those who do not know, a red headed slut can be taken as a shot or drink with Peach Schnapps, Jagermeister, and Cranberry Juice. Everyone seemed to enjoy the new concoction.

The highlight for today was Koln (Cologne)! I got to see Germany's largest cathedral, and it was absolutely gorgeous! For me, the cathedral was a chance to see beautiful architecture. I enjoyed especially the stained glass windows. While the cathedral was not a religious experience for me, I observed how important the visit was for other tourists. Many people took time in the pews or at prayer stations around the cathedral. After the cathedral, Domink, Marina, Alex, and I walked along the Rhein river to the Chocolate Factory in Koln. Oh the smells that lingered in the air. It's amazing how much history chocolate has! Of course, the best part of the museum was the free chocolate samples!

We were supposed to go to the club P.M. tonight but we were all too exhausted from our long day in the city. Instead, we rented movies and ordered pizza. We watched Blades of Glory and Harold and Kumar escape Guatanamo Bay, both very funny movies. I only have two full more days in Germany until I head for France. I'll keep you updated. Take care!

Thursday, May 21, 2009

German Food

I went to a brunch this afternoon with Kirsten, and it inspired me to write a short entry about German cuisine.

For Americans breakfast typically consists of sweet things. We eat cereal, muffins with jam, waffles, pancakes, french toast, and donuts. Of course, larger breakfasts have bacon and sausage or an egg sandwich, but generally breakfast is sweet.
A german breakfast if very different. I can best describe it as being similiar to our lunch. They have brotchen which is like a bread roll. On brotchen they put butter, cheese, salami, turkey, ham, etc. This is very good tasting, but definately different.

Biggest Meal:
In America, our largest meal is dinner. We eat it sometime between 5pm and 8pm depending on work schedules, school, family yada yada yada. Dinner can really be any type of food, but we eat a lot of whatever is on the menu. Again, this is not the case in Germany.
Here, the main meal is lunch. Germans eat lunch around 1:30 when schools get their 65 minute break. The menu is very similiar to our dinner. However, it's served in the afternoon. This is just another food observation.

I have been trying my best to try new foods here in Europe. At home, I do not eat red meat, but I told myself food is culture, so I eliminated this absense in my diet for these three months in Europe. It's a good thing I made this decision because Germans eat a lot of meat. I asked Kirsten and Dominik if there are many vegetarians in Germany, and Kirsten seemed to think so, but Dominik did not. I guess it just depends...I am glad I haven't been a picky eater because I've learned about so many great foods, most of them are Turkish. Doner which I've already described in earlier entries and Lahmacun (pronounced Lacmajoon) which is Turkish pizza have been my favorites.

All this talk of food has made me hungry...


I finally had a great night's sleep Tuesday night! I went to bed at 10:00 and literally woke up in the same position at 7:00 am Wednesday morning. It felt so good to be well rested!

I went with Birgit to school for the last time. She had a very easy today because her lessons revolved around me. Basically, I shadowed her from class to class, and her students interviewed me. German schools are set up very differently. The students all remain the same classroom and the teacher changes. Birgit must be prepared to teach every grade and every subject. She has no homeroom. It seems this would be difficult because as a teacher she has no room to call her own. Her preparation space is about 3 square feet in the teachers' room. The students asked very good questions and their English was excellent. I could tell many of them were very shy to speak up, but in every room, there was one very eager student. Some of the questions were surprising, but I answered them nonetheless. Questions included:
Do you like Germany?
Where are you from?
Do you have brothers or sisters?
How old are you?
Who did you vote for Obama or McCain?
What do you like most and least about America?
What do you think about the death penalty?

After school, Birgit and I went to Aachen to visit Dominik and Kirsten. Aachen is a B.E.A.Utiful city. It's quaintness reminds me of West Chester a bit. I visited the large Cathedral in Aachen with Dominik. I wasn't allowed to take pictures without paying 2 Euros so I bought a few post cards instead. Maybe some of you will be lucky enough to recieve one....

Birgit, Dominik, and I went to their favorite restaurant called the Chicken Pont. I had Doner for my second time.

They dropped me off at Kirsten's new apartment, and after some time Kirsten and I decided to smoke some Hookah. She is quite the expert, so I wanted to experience smoking with her. We smoke coconut tobacco...yum.

The night concludes with "Crossing Aachen." Basically, this is a bar crawl. You buy a card for 5 euros and at each bar you can get two drinks for free. There were five bars, but we were out from 10-3, so don't worry mom I wasn't out of control. :-) It was a great time, and Kirsten's friends were very nice. At the last bar Kirsten entered a Fuzball table tournament and won 5 games in a row. Good Job Kirsten!

As you can see, I am having a really great time, but there are a few things I miss about America. They are:
1. Daily conversation with my family and friends
3. watching movies online (internet won't allow it here)
4. Peaco (my ugly doll)
5. English (everyone speaks it here so well! However, I miss being able to walk into a restaurant and order my own food. I am trying to learn some German, but it's not nearly enough in just 1.5 weeks)

Bon Qui Qui signs out. Peace.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Education, Botanical Garden, Castle, and Green Beer...all on 5 hours of sleep

An update of the past few days. I am still trying to get over jet lag believe it not. Usually around 2 pm Germany time (8 am America time), I feel absolutely exhausted. I struggle to stay awake on car rides, and I yawn a lot. Last night (Monday night), I only got 2.5 hours of sleep. I planned to go to bed around 10:30 pm because I had to be up at 6 am. I called my mom on Skype in order to say hello but she wasn't done with work and asked me to call later. I decided the best option would be to sleep and set an alarm to wake up at midnight and call again. I did just that, but unfortnately after our talk, I was unable to sleep. I tried reading, laying in the dark, checking my email, but nothing seemed to work. I decided if I was up I might as well call more friends and say "hello." No one answered except for my Dad and Tom. Thanks you two! So tonight I plan to sleep heavily and possibly catch up. I have a very busy week ahead with lots of plans.

So I spent two days visiting schools in Krefeld. The first consisted of older grades and the other was an elementary school. I sat in on a 7th grade English class. The students were great and the teach had me read a passage so the students could hear the difference between and American accent and an "English" accent. They were very amused especially by how I say the A vowel. At the elementary school I watched a math class in german and a 1st grade English class. After all this I was done with schools for the day, so I took a walk until Birgit was finished teaching.
I took a visit to a Botanical Garden near the school. It was really beautiful. You can see some pictures I posted. After being around so many people it was nice to have a moment alone and collect my thoughts. The rest of the day was pretty lazy. I read on a couch and talked with Birgit. We also unsuccessfully looked for a European cell phone for me.

After hardly any sleep, I went back to school today. I went with the younger school to their Sports Festival. We walked about a mile with the students, I escorted 4th grade, to a track field. During the walk I spoke to some very eager 4th graders. I was absolutely amazed by how much English they could speak. Communicating was definately a challenge, but we did a fairly good job. A young girl Laura was definately a fan of me and English, very sweet. At the field, they kids went around and did sport stations. I helped with the long jumb. Other sports included soccer and sprinting. At 10:15am Alexander picked me up at the field.

Alexander, his friend Jonas, and I went to get breakfast. We ate so much and still had lots left over. Again, look at the picture...it is of our left overs! Then we went to their friend's Christina's house. We watched some television and had some great laughs. We took a stroll and bought some ice cream.

Then Alexander and I went to visit the Burg Linn Castle in Krefeld. It was great to see such old architecture. The castle's construction because during the 12th century but went through many stages of development.

Finally, the day's main events ended with a trip to the park with Christina, Alexander, and Jonas. They treated me to pretzles and a Beliner Kindl beer flavored with Waldmeister. The beer is green and has a sweet flavor. We aren't sure was Waldmeister is, but it is some type of fruit. So the day leaves me here. I am very exhausted, very full, and very wishful that I could speak a little more German than I do which is basically none.

I miss you all and I will write again soon.
love, me

Sunday, May 17, 2009

My 1st night in Duisburg

Yesterday was great! I arrived at the Dusseldorf airport at 7:30 am. I went through customs, got my suitcases, and met up with Lothar and Birgit Anders. We went to their house in Duisburg, Germany. I had a second breakfast with them which consisted of Brotchen (bread rolls) and meat. I caught up with the family who I haven't seen for a very long time, and I proceeded to take a nap. I was surprised I was so tired because I slept a lot on the plane trip. I slept until 3. I went to Dominik and his girlfriend, Marina, to Duisburg city. We shopped and got icecream. The icecream presenation was absolutely gorgeous. I had vanilla ice with baileys and chocolate on top. Delicious! I came hope and ate again! I was in a stage of constant fullness yesterday. Then around 8pm Dominik and I went to pick up a bunch of his friends to head to Krefeld. We went to a bar and hung out for several hours. Then we went to a club called Konigsburg. We danced and drank; it was great fun. I recognized most of the music, so of course I danced a lot! Clubs in Europe are open until 6 or 7 am. Everyone could not believe our bars closed at 2 am. They felt bad for me...haha. Everyone spoke English most of the time, so I understood everything. I only wish I could speak a word of German. After the club we got Doner (pronounced Doona) which is a Turkish food very similiar to a gyro. It was Lecker! (Delicious) Then I slept until 1 pm today. I guess I am still trying to get on the hours here. In about an hour, I am going to see "Angels and Demons" with Dominik, Marina, and friends. I hope it's good!

Below is a video I took in the club. It gives you an idea how huge this place was! The song that is playing was a technofied song from Pirates of the Caribbean. I found it very amusing

Saturday, May 16, 2009


I made it to NYC safely. Now I just have to wait ten hours until I can leave for Dusseldorf, Germany. Surprisingly, I already waited out 3.5 out of 10. However, I am not over the hill yet. JFK airport is so gigantic; I don’t think I have ever taken a flight out of here before. Terminal 4 which is where I currently am has a lot of places to sit down and eat, so I’ve been reading Eclipse (the third book of the Twilight series). I plan to finish it today. Since I am not willing to pay for internet, this won’t get posted until later, but I need something to do with my time.

I’ve decided to devise a short list of activities I want to do specifically while in Ireland that don’t include the typical sigh- seeing. I have a pretty filled agenda for Germany, Paris, and Amsterdam. While in Ireland I want to:
1. Fish with a local
2. Hitchhike (I’ve been told this is very safe to do)
3. Learn a little Irish step dancing
4. Learn how to swear in Gaelic
5. Become a regular at an Irish Pub
6. Milk a cow
7. Swim in Co. Cork
8. Listen to the stories of the locals
9. Try lots of new foods
10. To be filled at a later date…

I’ll keep you updated as I check this list off. I hope in two months they can all be accomplished. I just find it hard to believe that after three years of planning and dreaming I am actually going to Europe. Many people (Mom, Alexandra, Dr. Baloche) can testify how hard I have worked to get to this spot. Well now it’s been about 4 hrs at JFK…time to move onto something else. Until next time…

8 hrs later...
I have arrived safely in Duisburg!

Monday, May 11, 2009

Coincidences in Pittsburgh

I can't believe it! My family and I went to the southside for dinner tonight at Piper's Pub, a well known Irish bar in Pittsburgh. Our waiter comes up and introduces himself as, "Tom the only Irish waiter in Pittsburgh." He has an accent and everything. I am already convinced that this is a sign that my summer is off to a great start. I ask Tom where in Ireland is he from; he responds, "County Cork." I am amazed because this is exactly where I will be farming this summer. I tell Tom this, and I also explain how I will be near the city of Macroom. He say, "I am right outside of Macroom." What a coincidence! I asked him to give me suggestions of where to go, and he does. Then he continues to give me his parents' phone number and address. He tells me to contact them if I have any trouble while in Ireland. I continue to eat my dinner with my family, but before we leave, I ask him how long he's lived in Pittsburgh. He says for the past two years but he used to live in Philadelphia. What a coincidence! I go to school in near Philly. He lived in Upper Darby. Wow that's near me in West Chester! He used to bartend at the Blarney Stone on South Street. WHAT!?!?! That's my favorite bar on South Street; I know a bartender there! It was really coincidence after coincidence. What a small world it is. I really took this as a sign that this summer is going to be amazing!

Saturday, May 9, 2009

3 month itinerary

So here is my itinerary of where and when I will be traveling starting May 15th.

May 15th-Fly from Pittsburgh to Dusseldorf, Germany with a 10 hr layover in NYC :-( I spend the next ten days visiting the Anders, family friends, in Duisburg, Germany.

May 26th through June 1 - I visit my friend Justin in Paris, France. Justin and I worked together at the J&R summer camp two summers ago. I believe he is currently getting his Phd in Paris.

June 1 through June 4- I meet up with Jill in Amsterdam. Jill is a very close friend from West Chester. We met through the dance company.

June 4 through June 7-Jill and I fly over to Galway, Ireland. We hope to see some dance shows since Galway is known for it's performing arts scene.

June 7 through June 11 - Jill and I head over to Dublin. Jill leaves on the 10th and I spend an extra night on my own.

June 11 through June 14-I fly to Berlin to meet up with the Anders and some of their relatives. I am not sure what our plans are in Berlin, but I have been instructed by my brother to visit the Jonglier Katakomben (a juggling hostel/training facility) so hopefully I get to do that.

June 15 - I fly back to Ireland to begin my project. I spend the next two months at the Leades Project farming. I hope to travel a little on the weekends or my free time.

My family comes to Ireland on August 6th to check out where I've been living for the past two months. When my program ends on August 8th we will travel Ireland until August 14th. Then I head back to America!

So those are my plans. If you have any suggestions of sights to see and places to go, please tell me! Thanks!

Thursday, May 7, 2009

8 days and counting...

So I've set up this blog in order to keep everyone updated about what I do while in Europe. I leave in 8 days, and I am slowly getting very excited and nervous. This is my first time traveling abroad on my own. Fortunately, I will spend the first month with friends, but once I begin my program in Ireland, I'll be on my own. For those who are curious about what I'll be doing in Ireland, I copied parts of a recent e-mail I recieved from Ulrich (a german man who has already gone through the Leades Project). It's gonna be rough for sure; I've been raised as a city girl so farm life does not come naturally to me, but I think I can handle it. I'm a little nervous about not being able to get off the farm. Ulrich's email makes it sound like transportation is an issue, but I can easily walk 6 miles if need be. That's all for now...Wish me luck, and keep checking this out if you're curious about my travels.

Ulrich's e-mail:

Hey Anna,
I have been in the Leades House last year from June till August and it was nice. So I will just telling you a few things. The Leades House is like a farm with many different animals. So you work will be most of the time to work with the animals or doing some gardening work. So in my opinion it is more to work on a farm than on an environmental project.
General work at a day:
Feeding the animals in the morning, collecting the eggs, working in the garden, digging potatoes, making yoghurt with the milk from the cows, preparing lunch, preparing the products for the market. On Tuesday and Saturday you can go with Collin (the owner) to the market to sell the products.
You won’t have a special plan what to do every day. Often Collin will tell you what needs to be done or you have to look around and see what might have to be done. At the beginning it’s not so easy but after you while you know what you can do.
In your free time during the week you will often stay at the Leades House because it’s difficult to go to Macroom, the next big town. it can be nice just to relax or reading a book and there is a sauna we often used. When I was there we had a computer with internet access, I hope it is still working or you parents can call you.
The Leades House is in the middle of nowhere in County Cork. The house is in the landscape, the next town macroom with a few thousands inhabitants is 6 miles away. But there is no public transport. If you want to go to town you have to hitch hike or sometimes Collin or some neighbours can take you. from Macroom you can be in 30- 40 min with the bus in Cork (second biggest town in Ireland) or to Killarney (1 hour). in general you can say that the public transport is bad because it just goes to a very few big cities and without a car it is difficult to go to all the sightseeing’s.
What I also very enjoyed was that the Irish people are all very friendly and also Collin is very nice.

many greetings from Germany