I have soooo much to say! So be prepared now to sit for a while to read this… Also know that when I return home, I will be learning French, German, and Spanish so far.
Alright, this was our first overland port. That means we could travel between countries without getting on the ship if we wanted to. Well, the more time in countries, the merrier! My grandma was gracious enough to help me spend time in Paris during this overland travel. But first, I had a day in Belgium. Only one day in a country is not enough time to do everything wanted, but I did my best.
We were allowed to get off of the ship at 6 am (2 hours earlier) so we took advantage! We headed to Brussels to eat some “mussels in Brussels.” Yep, I did it; we got a HEAPING bowl of mussels with Belgium fries (they originated in Belgium–not France) and some more dark beer. We went on a tour around and saw the famous cupid statue peeing! There are a few stories behind this statue, but no one knows which one is correct:
1.) A general lost his son and sent all his soldiers out to find him. When they found him, they were to make a statue of him. You can guess how he was found.
2.) This was a place for the poor to sell their pee to leather makers, since pee helps ferment the leather… eww.. but probably the true story.
After some WONDERFUL chocolate as well (Belgium chocolate is all it is cracked up to be!) and falling in love with Speculoos spread (Belgium and French people LOVE it…. so do I) we came back to Antwerp. Oh, and don’t worry–I had a Belgium waffle too! I decided Belgium was the port of gastronomy… no ice cream though.
The next morning we were on our way to Paris! It was interesting to go with people I haven’t met because I got to meet a lot of new people. Some are pretty cool, and some, I found, hang out on the SAS trips because they can afford all of it and more, no prob. There was a girl that said, “Money can buy you anything….” Obviously she has not been depressed, because money cannot buy you happiness. (cliche, I know)
Anywhom… Paris was… interesting. I am glad I can say I went there. I had crepes, biked around the city, saw the Eiffel Tower, and went to the Louvre. Unfortunately, we weren’t able to go inside of the Louvre or up the Eiffel Tower (most of the students were FURIOUS about this) but we were IN PARIS! It rained the whole time too, so it made it very difficult to see the beauty of the city (OR my theory is it washed all of the dirt away–the streets were DISGUSTING!) Also, I tried some pato fouie bois–fattened duck liver. Actually, it was quite delicious! It looked and tasted like a piece of cheese. I wasn’t disgusted until I looked up how it is prepared afterward for my class paper…
The last day of the trip, we went to Claude Monet’s gardens. It was astonishing!! Beauty everywhere. This trip out of the city into the country made me realize how much better the country is, and that I want to live in the country someday–not city.
Overall, the trip to Paris was a good one that I am glad happened. I probably won’t go back, but it was a beautiful experience, all the same.
The day we returned to Le Havre, I was EXHAUSTED! I decided to go to sleep and wake up early to figure out what I was going to do the last day in Le Havre. This paid off, since at breakfast, one of the lovely faculty stood up and asked if any student was interested in having a free ticket to go to the cliffs of Etraitat. I was immediately listening, and many were going to go independently, and a couple older people were interested, but he wanted a STUDENT to go in his place. I raised my hand and talked to him. All I had to do was take a picture for him to show his son what it looks like. Lucky me, I have been in LOVE with picture-taking. So I thanked him and took a shower. This is what I saw all day:
Returning to Le Havre, the bus stopped and allowed us off in the city, since the port was about a half hour away from the city (first port this has happened) so I got off and found EVERYTHING I was looking for: gold flats, a cardigan, headband (that is what I am collecting from every country) all for under 25 euros, AND it was all done in French!! It’s crazy how much of their language you pick up just by immersing yourself in the country. I also finally had a macaroon and a tart–such a healthy lunch. It was such an AMAZING day, and I felt like a blessing from God–truly. When I got back to my room, the verse of the day matched one of my pictures from the cliffs. And that is what I am going to end with. I am dumbfounded by the goodness of the Lord and how He seems to make all of my dreams come true, and connects my life in ways I couldn’t imagine!
“But those who hope in the Lord shall renew their strength. They will soar high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not be faint.”-Isaiah 40:31
…but they travel quicker on a ship!!!
There is a HUGE rumor circulating the ship that we are going to have a surprise stop in the Bahamas. I think it’s really going to happen and this is why:
1.) On the map on Deck 6, there are pencil lines graphed on to stop in the Bahamas. Earlier on the voyage, there was also the Bahama flag added… curious
2.) We still have not gotten any field programs for Cuba. I believe this is because we will be going to Cuba sooner, giving us more time to be in the Bahamas.
3.) When we ask faculty about it, they make up a silly story, and change the subject right away. Also, one of my friends told me in her class, the professor mentioned something about the Bahamas, and then tried to cover it up. Also, Lifelong Learners have been hinting at it.
4.) My speculation is that they are going to tell us on October 22 (my birthday) but also the day of the party for the 50th Anniversary. It is almost a month away. But everyone is talking about it.
This is like a game of clue! I love it!!!!
Wow! All I can say is WOW! My stay in Germany has been everything and more! I was nervous, really nervous to travel alone, and all the way down to Southern Germany with such little time. But it became SOOOO worth it!
The first day, I went to a concentration camp, Nuengamme, with a couple friends and faculty (just found out one of the professors we traveled with was an astronaut!! No kidding.) It was very sobering; there was an eerie feeling about being there and know the evil that happened on the same ground I was walking on, 70 years ago.
That night I rode a train to Gunzenhausen. When I asked a nice business man for help, he was VERY friendly (opposite of Russia’s people.) He talked to me about his life and boy, and he made me feel a bit insignificant. He has 6 masters degrees, knows 7 languages, traveled to over 30 countries, and he is a professor. I don’t know if I believe everything he said. But I have his business card. I’ll check him out when I get home. I had a layover, which was scary, because it was in the middle of the night. But I am alive to talk about it! :]
I was met by Stefan and Carolin. Stefan was in leiderhosen, so I knew I was in Germany right away!! They had a WONDERFUL breakfast for me, with over 7 choices of meats, cheeses, breads, pastries, and boiled eggs. We had a lunch with the JCs to begin the festival. They allowed me to open the first keg!!! I guess that is a HUGE honor! I had a traditional German lunch and met a real life Bergermeister (mayor to them.)
We toured Gunzenhausen and they explained all of their history to me. We saw a castle, 2 churches, and one of their beautiful lakes with a natural bird-watching area. I learned they don’t really hunt in Germany. Then we went to a political talk and I got to shake the hand of Bavaria’s president! I was literally treated like a celebrity. We went to a party to start the festival (I was featured in a news article!) and had SO MUCH FUN!! There were boots of beer as big as women wear up to their knees, no lie. They also had a live band, all the sausage you could imagine, and a contest to see who was the heaviest man. Winner: 156 kg! You do the math.
After sleeping very little (not going to say how little,) we went to Nurnberg and saw WWII memorabilia. Along the way, we stopped at another lake, learned about how hops are grown and manufactured by the farmers, and RODE ON THE AUTOBAHN! They drive amazing cars; Stefan had a black convertible BMW and Carolin had a cute red bug-like BMW. Riding in style, baby!! I learned a LOT about Hitler’s reign in Germany, saw some cool historical places and how scary close he was to taking over the world (he really was brilliant.)
I came back late at night and slept for a couple hours (not enough) and went to the world-famous fish market. It was excellent!!! I didn’t buy anything, but took it all in. This man asked me for a picture again (it must be a thing market men do) so I asked him if my “buddy” could be in it too. He loved it and gave me a free peach! It was yummy! We started a tour of the city and got bored, so we walked around on our own. We climbed St Paul’s chapel steeple for a city view. It was 544 steps!!! Hopefully that will help with all of the carbs, and ice cream I ate every day!!! (I guess I’ll stick to salads on the ship )
It was beautiful weather–it’s almost like we are chasing summer. I am digging it!! Also! The first day in port, I learned we might possibly be going to the Bahamas. It’s a rumor (and they travel fast on the ship) but on the map upstairs, it’s penciled in. We also haven’t gotten our field programs for Cuba yet, which means we might be going there earlier and have more time to go to the Bahamas. We have asked a couple faculty members and it feels like they are trying to cover it up. They change the subject right away or come up with an excuse.
Things I learned in Germany:
- Prost, das de mika de derosht (drink, so your throat doesn’t become burning dry)
- Traveling independently is how you grow! It’s really not so bad if you are in a safe area and do your research.
- Shaving my head for Neptune Day is in the back of my mind… I bought a headband that can turn into a bandana in case I need to wear it hiking in the glaciers…
- I WILL come back to Germany!
On the road again… well not really on the road, but on the seas again!
St. Petersburg was more fun and exciting and fascinating and interesting than I could have imagined. Going into the port, I didn’t know much about Russia; I was worried there wasn’t enough to do. But leaving, I was sad that I didn’t have enough time.
I planned the trip for my friends and I during our stay in St. Petersburg. We decided at the end of the time there, one of us is good at directions (Meghan,) one is good at decisions and asking for help from others (Rishika,) and I am good at making it an adventure. Basically saying I make it interesting because I get us lost and they get us back. We make a good team. :]
The first day we planned to go to the Hermitage, the popular museum that held Van Gogh, Claude Monet, and ancient Egyptian artifacts. We took the metro, which was an adventure on its own, and ended up on the complete other side of the city! Oops. But once we got there, it was worth it! Russian vodka was tried (sorry Mom) and it proved to be much more potent than vodka in the United States.
The next day, we went to a farmers market. We got there as planned! Wahoo! The workers were from the middle east and they kept asking me if I was from Turkey or somewhere. When I began to talk, they figured out I was American. One of the men had a special interest in me, and gave me free food. He also asked for a picture with me… strange. That night I bought a ticket to the Folkloric show, thinking I would do that instead of the Russian ballet. It was proving to be difficult and expensive to get tickets for the ballet, and I wanted some to see a show that demonstrated traditional Russian culture. It was FANTASTIC! They actually came out in the audience and chose me and another girl with SAS to dance on stage with them. The photography guy for SAS said he got some pictures of me, so keep a lookout for the SAS blog!
The third day we toured the cathedrals and they were so gosh darn beautiful! Gold-plated everything and gorgeous chandeliers hanging from the 61-meter ceilings was breathtaking. The church of Spilled Blood was the traditional Russian architecture with the onion-shaped domes and complete mosaic on the inside. Stunning. Then, we heard from someone that we could buy Russian ballet tickets for $37! No way! It was the swan princess too. Oh, so beautiful! What was cool is that people from all languages, cultures, and countries could understand the dancing and storyline. That is impressive.
The last day, I had a field lab for my history class, and it was SUPER interesting! Background information: history has always been my least favorite class. Growing up, I thought that the material was pointless and the dates and information never matched up. However, going to the political science museum and Peter and Paul’s Fortress where they housed revolutionary prisoners who tried to protest in the communist era. Learning about their government’s background made me anxious to learn more! Maybe it was connecting it with actual experience in and with the country; but I hope learning about each country is that exciting!
So, overall, Russia was a hit, my classes have been a hit, and making friends have been a hit!
Spaciba, (Thank You in Russian)
Wow! I can’t BELIEVE all of the emotions I am feeling/have been feeling the past couple days.
I didn’t know feeling all of these in 3 days was even possible. Semester at Sea has been everything I have wished for, and yet more. I am meeting TONS of people, just like Freshman orientation week. It’s very comparable to that: people are shaking hands, (luckily there is hand sanitizer EVERYWHERE) introducing themselves, jumping from group to group, exchanging e-mails, (not phone numbers, so weird!) and forgetting names. It’s overwhelming coming from a place where I know almost everyone and they mostly all know who I am. It’s a pretty intimidating process.
-A beautiful picture of the water at suntime/sunset.
Speaking of beautiful, I was the winner of a wonderful FREE 25 minute massage!! That’s right, just up my alley, F-r-e-e that spells free! The first day was touring the ship and there is a wellness center open for service. They have facials, manicures, pedicures, hair treatments, and massages. When we were done with the tour, we got to put our name in a drawing for a free treatment of choice, and I wrote down “the seven seas massage.” Cool, right?! Well, after the first day of classes, I got a note on my door saying I won a wonderful prize! So I went to receive it, and it was the BEST massage I have ever had. My knots are gone, I felt like a new person! And don’t worry, mom, I tipped the masseuse well. :]
I am looking at all of the directors, RDs, and Deans-wanting to get a chance to sit and talk with them, but instead I have to read (outside on the deck, mind you) 298 pages for my history class. But my professors prove to be OUT OF THIS WORLD! I never feel a tiny bit of drowsiness, or even think about what I am going to do outside of class. It’s awesome to take these courses and have them transfer back as credit for distributive requirements, when others are not so fortunate.
A huge struggle today especially has been dealing with my Grandpa’s health back home. My sister informed me in an e-mail that he just went into a coma, and my mom cannot get sleep. This makes me cringe that I cannot be there for her or the rest of my family. In class, my stomach dropped, like I knew something bad happened. It was 8:05 am back home…
To lighten the tone, this morning I wanted to brush my teeth and my roommate (one of them- I have two) had to use the bathroom. I wanted to work out soonish, so I asked if I could wet the toothbrush and spit out the foam when she was done. She agreed, and I brushed… and waited… and waited… for 25-30 minutes- KID YOU NOT- so when she finally opened the door, I ran and spit it out. She didn’t really get it, but it made me mad, but now it’s funny.
The other day we passed under the infamous bridge connecting Denmark and Sweden. Here’s a picture.
Alright, about to go get some food and listen about the logistics of Russia. Can’t stay past 1:30 am!
Kait[lyn]<-- I am going to go by both of these names!
Today’s the day! I’m waiting at Edinburgh’s airport for my 6:35 flight to travel to London Heathrow where I will catch a shuttle to the ship.
I can’t believe today’s the day. My friend warned me this summer, before I knew it, I was going to wake up one day and say to myself, “today’s the day I leave on an adventure of a lifetime.” Well, today was that day. Except that the first thing that went through my brain was, “Please, God, let time stop for a bit so I can sleep a little longer.”
Scotland has been a hoot with my best friend Anna and her boyfriend Fergal! We went to Aberdeen, Stonehaven, and I experienced the biggest festival in the UK called the Fringe. It was an excellent beginning trip. When I was walking through security, she used her scarf to wave me goodbye like a handkerchief. I love her and I’m going to miss them both. They got me hooked on tea.
So my Grandpa has 2 months or less to live, and I had to say goodbye to him before I left for my trip. It was one of the hardest things I had to do. But, I am taking a part of him with me. My stuffed animal’s name is Juergen (named after my Grandpa) and he will be in at least one picture every country. Be prepared to find him every so often! Here he is, enjoying the view of Stonehaven’s castle, Dunnottar.
Well, off to spend the last of my pounds, hopefully on something chocolate for the ship! I have a feeling I’m going to need it. :]
When I got into London, it was technically only 8 p.m. at home, so I was still wide awake. However, the whole airport was closed. I got talking to a guy named Bailey who told me he was running away from a modeling agency who he thought wanted to sell him (he compared it to Taken. Was I over-reacting to be freaked out by his story?!?). He just creeped me out, so I left to go to my actual terminal. On my walk (which was underground, ALONE, in the middle of the night) I kept thinking I was being set up only to arrive in a dungeon and be kidnapped. Luckily, the tunnel ended and happy people crowded the lobby of my terminal. I felt safe again.