Monday, December 26, 2011

Highlights!

Hello world!
Well, I am finally writing a blog about my recent adventures. I can't write about everything that happened, so I am just going to give a few highlights from each place and photos as well.
But first of all, I want to wish everyone a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! Hopefully you are all benefiting from spending time with family. I know that I sure am!
So. Highlights!

DUBLIN, IRELAND

the Temple Bar
Famous Fish and Chips

Celebrating Jody's 20th
-eating fish and chips at the oldest chiperie in Ireland!
-celebrating Jody's 20th birthday at the Temple Bar (very crowded!)
-getting to see a bunch of our group before parting ways for Christmas

MUNICH, GERMANY
Jody and Michelle at the Christmas market!

Gingerbread stand!

Pork knuckle, potato dumpling, and (not shown) cabbage salad for dinner! I did not eat all that meat...
Cheers to Bavaria with our new Australian friend

Awesome pancake deliciousness

Dachau camp and the memorial

The gas chambers



Memorial statue
-staying at an amazing hostel (Wombats), where we met a few nice Canadians and our new Australian friend, Mariana
-strolling through the amazing Christmas markets
-the chance to visit the Dachau concentration camp and have history come alive
-spending time at a traditional Bavarian restaurant and Beer Hall

STRASBOURG, FRANCE
Typical house decorations

Le grand sapin de noel!

-being in the "capital of Christmas"--- so many Christmas markets and gorgeous decorations everywhere!
-sitting in on a free Christmas choir concert
-eating Kugelhoff!! (didn't get a picture, but it was like this weird looking bread thing with dried fruit)
-speaking French!

BRUSSELS, BELGIUM
Jumping for joy at having our own space!

Chocolate museum :)

Free samples at the beer museum

Belgiam waffles!

First snow!
-staying in a hotel (rather than a hostel)
-chocolate museum!
-beer museum!
-musical instruments museum!
-speaking French!

AMSTERDAM, NETHERLANDS
Admiring the canals

Like a postcard!

My little Dutch travel companions

Clog!

All the bikes
-meeting Jody's friend Weedo and his girlfriend and having them show us around
-visiting the Riejksmuseum!
-eating croquette!!
-eating Olie Bollen!
-eating Stroopwaffles!
-seeing how many bikes there were! so many!
-visiting the Anne Frank house
-exploring a very scenic and beautiful city
-hanging out in by far the coolest library I have ever seen. Cool doesn't even begin to describe how fantastic it was!

And there you have it!
I hope everyone has a wonderful time with their families and friends. I will certainly be enjoying my family time! See you on the other side of the ocean :)

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Dublin and Munich down, Strasbourg, Brussels, and Amsterdam to come!

Hello all!
I said I would not write anz blogs for a while, but we have a long while to wait for our night train and not too much on the agenda. So, a quick update!
We arrived in Dublin in the late afternoon on Saturday and it was already starting to get dark. We did not do too much, just saw a bit of the Trinity College. I loved the atmosphere though, and definitely want to return to Ireland in the Spring. We walked around in our big group for a while and got some tasty fish and chips from the oldest chipery in Ireland. They were delicious! Then we went back to our respective hostels to hang out for a bit before we went out. It was my friend´s 20th birthday, so we celebrated a bit in Dublin! Our hostel was right next to the famous Temple Bar, so that is where we went. It was the single most crowded bar that I have ever been in, but it was really fun and we met a lot of really nice people. I even learned how to say "my name is Nicole" in Gaelic. Ask me sometime!
We didn´t stay out too late since we had an early flight to Munich the next morning...
After a 2.5 hr flight and 1.5 hr bus ride, we arrived in Munich and found our hostel. It is pretty much the greatest hostel I have ever been in! There is a louneg area, a bar, the best breakfast, huge clean rooms, and really great people! We met a couple Canadian girls, some Americans, and an Australian girl. The first night we just walked around the Christmas markets. They were so gorgeous!!! You can not really understand how they just take Christmas to the next level here... it is not nearly as commercialized, but there are shops everwhere selling cute little trinkets, delicious food, warm drinks... so nice! And there are lights everywhere and carollers. It was magical! We also ate a traditional Bavarian meal at this wonderful restaurant. Delicious.
Yesterday, we just did a walking tour of the city and saw a lot of beautiful churches, buildings, and parks. We even saw a surfer on this huge wave in the English Gardens. So crazy! In the evening, we went with our Australian friend back to the German restaurant but this time we went to the Beer Hall area. We all got a beer and sat around a chatted. We also ordered this dessert on the recommendation of the waitress, which was a giant pancake with blueberries, ice cream, and whipped cream. It was so good! And the man at the other end of our table, who we never even talked to, left before us and the waitress came over and told us that he had paid for our drinks and that he wanted it to be anonymous. How kind! It was a great evening with great conversation and company.
Anyways, my internet time is running out so I gotta dash. I will post about our trip to the Dachau concentration camp that we saw today later. We are off on a night train adventure to Strasbourg tonight! Hopefully we sleep well!

Friday, December 9, 2011

Off, Off, and Away!

Well, this will be my last post for a while I think! Tomorrow I am off to Dublin (following the cheap flight route, of course!) before going to Munich, Strasbourg, Brussels, and Amsterdam with two of my friends. After having not traveled for a few weeks, I can say that I am definitely itching for a change in scenery! After a week that included a lot of rain and homework, I am ready for the break.
Yesterday was my last day of classes and this morning I handed in one last assignment, so I am now officially done. We have already been given some things to think about for next year, but of course nothing is pressing and we are free to enjoy our vacation. After our last philosophy class yesterday, our prof wanted to go out for a drink with us so we all went out as a big group before parting ways. We had a great time, but the end of the night was a little strange. Some of our group left this morning for home, others for traveling, and some of us are leaving tomorrow. After spending 3 months with the same people, it will be weird to be apart for a month. It is really neat how we've all bonded as a group and I will definitely be missing people!
There is not a whole lot left to say before I leave... other than that if I don't post before December 25 (unlikely) I hope that everyone has a Very Merry Christmas :) And thanks for keeping up with me!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Almost Done!

Well, I am coming up to the end of my first semester in France! I am taking a quick break from some schoolwork to just post quickly about my week. And this one will be short, because really not much has happened since we last met!
I had my last day of placement before the break, and was lucky enough to play "Bowl of Fame" with my students. It is a game similar to charades that we play often at camp. This time, however, the students were given vocabulary words from their first few units as the words they would have to describe. It was really interesting, a lot of fun, and I really want to do it with my future French classes if possible!
I know that I could complain about the school work due this week, but in reality it is not near as much as I would have during exam time at Trent. I don't really feel too stressed, just rushed. We have a lot due this week, as well as many of us our traveling or going home, and so figuring out travel documents and saying our goodbyes for a month is feeling a little strange. It is hard to believe that I have been here for three months... this was how long I was in France last time, and it feels like I just got here!
That being said, I am very excited to see my family for Christmas. I arrive at home on the evening of Dec. 22, so it is coming up fast! While I'm traveling, I will try to update my blog if possible so that there isn't an overload of posts during the holidays. But I also might take a little break while I'm vacationing and at home... so I will continue to post new blogs on Facebook, but if they aren't as frequent as usual, never fear! I'll be back in January :)
I am currently working on a sociology of religion essay, a language article, and studying for my grammar test tomorrow. Tonight, I'm having dinner with my host family and tomorrow night all of the Canadians are going out with our philosophy prof before the holidays. On Friday, some people are heading home, and on Saturday a lot of us are Dublin-bound before parting ways.
I hope that everyone is doing well and not feeling too stressed about exams and final assignments. If you're a camp-type person, have fun at Youth Eventz this Saturday!
Christmas is almost here :)

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Water into Wine

Hello all!
If you remember way far back to the beginning of October, you will remember me posting about a winery that I visited with my host family and how we sampled various unfermented wines. Well, today we returned to the winery with two other Canadians and their host families to sample the finished product!
It was really interesting sampling wine that we had tried before it became alcoholized (is that a word? I want to say alcoolisé) and seeing how much it had changed (and gotten better!). There were 6 wines in total to sample, as well as a type of champagne. There were definitely a couple that I preferred and since wine, even good ones, aren't that expensive, I bought two bottles of wine, one red and one white, and a bottle of champagne (spoiler alert: Merry Christmas, Mom and Dad!).

Siobhain and I sampling the goodness.
Along with the many glasses of wine we were able to try, they also had some local farm products to sample with bread, called charcutrie (like a meat spread, or pate if you know it). It was also delicious. And of course, because of where we are situated, they had oysters to try if you were brave. Michael likes oysters, so he had a few. Siobhain was brave and actually tried two as well. Me, not so much. I tried them last time I was in France and didn't even succeed in swallowing one, due to the fact that it felt like I had a ginormous booger in my mouth. Gross. Anyways, they are braver than I am, end of story.
After our excursion, which lasted about 3 hours and was full of wine and French-speaking, we headed back to my host family's place for some lunch. We didn't actually sit down until practically 3:00pm for lunch! We had some potatoes, duck, bread and cheese, and ice cream and baked apples (and more wine). I'm pretty sure that I drank more wine today than I ever have in my life (ok, maybe not, but I'm all wined out for now, haha). We had a nice long lingering meal and chatted about whatever. Overall it was time very well spent in some great company. It also was a wonderful way to spend a very rainy day! I also found it really hard to transition back into English speaking after an entire day of speaking French... which I guess is a good thing!
Tonight I'll be heading out for a friend's birthday but hopefully not staying out as late as last night. After all, it is the last week of classes and I have 2 tests and 2 assignments to do. Thank goodness for free Sunday afternoons! Time to hit the books.
Only one more week until traveling! Dublin-Munich-Strasbourg-Brussels-Amsterdam... and then CANADA!!!!