Weekend Trip: Amsterdam

This weekend concluded 3 straight weekends of traveling! With midterms coming up soon, I think my brain and my bank account need to take a little break. Anyways, I had a fabulous time in Amsterdam this weekend, here are a few of the highlights from my trip!

Vondelpark

 

We woke up at the crack of dawn on Saturday morning to start our day! After a 15 minute tram ride we ended up in Vondelpark. We had a great time walking around the park and could not have asked for better weather!

Waffle eating

 

After working up an appetite walking around the park, I stopped at a little street vendor to get Amsterdam’s world famous Sugar Waffle. This was quite possibly the most amazing waffle I have ever had and I ate it in a record breaking 2 minutes ūüôā

Amsterdam Sign

If you didn’t take a cute pic at the Amsterdam sign, did you even go to Amsterdam?? Well I am never one to turn down a photo shoot so I loved this and lucky for me there was a T to sit on! Some people where really brave and climbed the letters to sit on top of them, but knowing my lack of¬†coordination, I settled for a pic on the ground.

Heineken experience 

The Heineken experience was definitely an experience! We first walked through the interactive museum about the history of the beer and then went on a little ride as if we where brewing beer. And most importantly we got to sit on the Heineken thrown (pictured above) which I guess makes us “Heine-Queens”

Dam Square

Then we walked around Dam Square in the city center. This was super cool because the architecture was amazing! Some of the buildings almost seemed like the where slanting toward the street and they looked so old, they might have been!

Canal Boat Tour

The number one thing you absolutely need to do if you visit Amsterdam is go on a canal tour! We took a pizza dinner tour at night and it was my favorite part of the weekend! The canal is the best was to see the city and at night it was stunning!

Well that is it for now! Stay tuned for a Edinburgh post soon about all the fun things I have been up to here this semester so far!

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Day Trip 2: Malmo, Sweden

Surprise a double blog post!

Like I said in my previous post, the weekend did not end in Denmark. After less than a 20 minute train ride I arrived in Malmo, Sweden for a fun filled day before my departure back to Scotland!

Malmo was full of amazing places, here are just the few things I managed to see in my day trip:

Kungsparken

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Although only a 20 minute train ride away, this Swedish garden could not have been more different from the Danish garden I saw the day before. The plants were not in straight rows as they were in Denmark, rather they were almost growing wild which added to the feeling of natural beauty. The crooked picket fences created a cozy atmosphere that was welcoming and homey.

Slottsmöllan

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I know what you are thinking, no I did not hope countries to the Netherlands! This Swedish windmill was just so beautiful I HAD  to take a picture with it!

Malmo Castle

I clearly picked a great day to visit Malmo, because entrance to the Castle was free! I spent hours exploring the different exhibits from the aquarium to the repurposed fashion design section to the modern art exhibit.

Lilla Torg

I had lunch at a little cafe in Lilla Torg, a cute pedestrian shopping street in the city. I loved walking around and looking at all the old-school ¬†architecture, but couldn’t help but wonder when the Scandinavian Ikea style I had come to expect in Sweden would appear.

Turning Torso

This neo-futurist building was exactly the dose of IKEA style I needed! This residential tower reaches a height of 623 ft with 54 storeys and 147 apartments. Although only residents have access to the building, looking at this architectural masterpiece from a far was just as amazing.

Scaniaparken

We ended the day at Scaniaparken, a park right on the edge of the water. We sat down on the doc for some time and just took in the view of the ocean. The Baltic Sea was breathtaking and I could not have been more at ease in that moment. After a quick train back to the airport, I set off back to Edinburgh.

As I was flying back to Edinburgh I had some time to reflect on my adventures so far. It is crazy for me to think back to that day in August when I left my home in Massachusetts. In a little over a month I have traveled to 6 countries and numerous places within Scotland. I feel more self-reliant, more confident and much more at home than I ever expected to feel in such a short period of time.

I am excited for my upcoming adventures and will be sure to fill you in on all the good stuff as usual!

A Weekend in Copenhagen

This weekend I traveled to Copenhagen, Denmark!  It was a great weekend trip and I could not have asked for better weather!

The weekend began on a dark Friday morning at 5:00 A.M. in Edinburgh as my friend and I traveled to the airport for our 7:00 A.M. flight to Denmark. After a 1 hour plane-ride nap, we arrived in Copenhagen.

Here are some highlights from my trip:

Friday

Rosenborg Castle

This stunning Castle was super close to our hostel in a beautiful park area. The mote around the castle had a bunch of extremely friendly swans and ducks swimming around the water. Being the budget conscious travelers that we were, we didn’t pay to see inside the Castle, but walking around the outside was just as stunning.

Botanic Gardens

The Botanic Gardens were one of my favorite places in all of Copenhagen! There are multiple greenhouses filled with tropical plants and a spiral staircase you can take to walk around the top level of the garden. Word to the wise, tropical plants require tropical weather, so make sure to take your jacket off before entering the greenhouse!

King’s Garden

The gardens surrounding Rosenborg Castle and the Botanic Gardens were an idillic oasis from the bustling city center. We followed the meandering path through the gardens and across a quaint little bridge over a stream.

National Gallery of Denmark

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This museum was incredible! Although I didn’t buy a ticket to see all the exhibits, I did see the free exhibit focused on the refugee crisis around the world. I loved the exhibit because there were so many different things to read, listen, and watch.

GoBoating on the Canal

It is my firm opinion that the BEST way to truly see Copenhagen is by boat. Goboat is this amazing company that lets you rent boats on an hourly basis and drive them around the many canals of Copenhagen. This beatiful boat ride was the highlight of my weekend!

Saturday

Paper Island

I got lunch at Paper Island and I am still dreaming about that food. Hundreds of tiny food stands line the walls of this giant building and the possibilities are endless!

Nyhavn

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When you think of Copenhagen you imagine vibrant houses along a rippling canal, right? Well, Nyhavn is exactly that! I had a great time walking around and taking in my surroundings. I couldn’t help but think back to the similarly color townhouses of Georgetown and the fall foliage of D.C.

But the fun didn’t stop there! Check out my next blog post for a surprise day trip to Sweden!

 

 

 

 

 

Oktoberfest 101

I just got back from Oktoberfest this weekend, so while the advise is fresh in my mind, I’m writing this blog post! Here are a few tips and tricks to help you enjoy Oktoberfest and most importantly stay safe.

Before the Festival

Getting Here: Transportation

Munich public transportation is fairly easy to navigate and much cheaper than a taxi. Make sure to check which direction you want to get on the S-Bon and your final destination. When in doubt, follow the dirndls!

What to Wear:

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Lets talk dirndl. This traditional German outfit consists of a white blouse, dress, and apron and can usually be purchased together. Now, not everyone at Oktoberfest dresses up, but if you are like me, the outfit is (one of) the most important part! Some people spend a whole lot of money on the ‘authentic’ high quality outfits, I on the other hand was much more budget conscious.

I bought my dirndl for only 19.95 euros at a store called Arico right across from the Haupbanhof train station. Keep in mind that many stores in Germany close at 8 pm, so if you are dead set on wearing one for the festival, I would recommend trying to get to a store the night before.

I would also recommend wearing closed toed shoes because the floors are a little sticky. I wore converse along with a light jean jacket, it will be cold outside by the time you leave the tents and also in the morning when you get there. Bring a small purse to carry you money and phone in, but make sure to keep it with you at all times. I used a good old-fashioned fanny pack and love it!

To recap: through on a dirndl, wear some sneakers, tie a jacket around your waist with your fanny pack, and most importantly braid your hair to really play the part!

Day of the Festival

When to Get Here

Rise and Shine! In order to truly experience Oktoberfest in all its glory, wake up with the sun and get in line. Most people start lining up as early as 6:30, but I would recommend sleeping in a few extra minutes. My friends and I got to the line around  7:30 and it worked out great.

A good thing to keep in mind is that the line that forms outside the Festival grounds in the morning is actually the line to get into the festival. Once you get through this line you are not out of the woods yet, you then need to line up for the tent that you want to sit down in.

So wear some comfortable shoes and get ready to make friends with the people around you because you won’t get into your tent until 9:30 at the earliest.¬†I went on a Saturday, so the timing might be different for different days of the week.

Choosing a Tent

There are over 15 tents at Oktoberfest so make sure you line up and get into the right one! I spent all day in Hofbrau Festzelt and had a blast! This tent was full of other study abroad kids and we had almost 3 full tables of Georgetown students. Seating at these tables are competitive, so make sure to snag a table with your friends the first chance you can get!

Tips for in the Tent

I spent over 10 hours in the tent, so just know that Oktoberfest is a marathon not a sprint. Make sure to eat a good breakfast before you get here and continue to eat throughout the day. I would highly recommend trying the friend dough (basically just warm sugar bread). Stay away from the giant pretzels, they are terrible tasting!

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Have fun at your table and get into the German music! I personally thought that all the songs sounded a little like the “Genovia” national Anthem from the Princess Diaries and loved it!

Pro tip: Standing on the benches is fun, even dancing on them is encouraged when the traditional German band is playing. Standing on the tables is a BIG no! 

Bathroom

If you think you need to go to the bathroom, get ready to wait in a 20 minute line! Make sure to take a buddy with you to navigate to the bathroom inside the tent. Some of the security guards will tell you to leave the tent to get to a shorter bathroom line, DO NOT LEAVE THE TENT!

This is really important to know: once you leave the tent for any reason you have to go back in the super long line you where in at 7:00AM. So stick it out in the crazy long bathroom line safely inside the tent.

Before You Leave

Make sure you have all the personal belongings you came int the tent with. The last thing you want to do it crawl around on the beer soaked floor looking for the purse you left near your table. Once you have probably taken 5 million photos, seen 3 kid you went to high school with, and lost your voice from singing german songs you don’t even know the words to, you might be ready to leave.

Just remember to stay safe and always have a back-up plan. Make sure to stay with a buddy at all times and if you get separated have a meeting place.

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I had a great time at Oktoberfest this weekend, and hopefully these tips will help you guys on your own Oktoberfest adventures!

Auf Wiedersehen!

Day Trip 1: Loch Lomond & Oban

Hi again!

So this weekend I went on my first trip of the semester to Loch Lomond and Oban. I have loved getting to know Scotland and had so much fun traveling to these two “Highland” destinations. As you can see on the map below, the Highland region is everything above the red line, and yes I did use the drawing app on my phone to make these lines ūüôā¬†org_heraldry_scotland

Anyways, I went on this weekend trip kind of on a whim. I sign up for it a few days before and woke up early Saturday morning to start my adventure! This trip was so relaxing because all I had to do was show up at the bus stop and everything else was taken care of!

Our first stop was in the town of Luss. I walked around the quaint town and couldn’t help but think I was walking in a little gingerbread village.

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After a tour of the town, we walked down to the docks on Loch Lomond, one of Scotland’s most famous lakes. I cannot express how beautifully peaceful Loch Lomond is! The water was still and blue and there were two white swans walking around the shore.

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Once I got back on the bus, we stated our Scotland playlist. It was a mix between classic Scottish folk songs and some contemporary Scottish rock songs. My favorite was “I would walk 500 miles” by the Proclaimers because we did a sing-a-long version, and there is nothing I love more than a good sing-a-long!

We arrived in Oban around 1:00 and had some free time to walk around a explore the beach. It amazed me that I was starring at the ocean in front of me!

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We visited McCaig’s Tower, a strange and small replica of the Coliseum in the middle of Scotland. It is the highest point in Oban,and had a beautiful view of the water below .

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After all that “hill walking” I rewarded myself with some well deserved ice cream. I couldn’t resist snapping this pic with my new friend!

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As the sun began to set, we headed back to Edinburgh. It was a long day, but I had so much fun! I can’t wait to keep exploring Scotland and sharing my adventures with you, stay tuned for more posts!

Freshers’ Week at Edinburgh

Greetings from across the pond!

After a crazy first week in Scotland, I have finally had some down time to sit down (in a cafe obviously) and write this blog post!

I arrived in Edinburgh a little over a week and half ago with my mom and sister. We got to explore the city for a couple of days before my orientation started and scope out the University campus. I had so much fun walking around Edinburgh, here is a few things we did together.

  1. Arthur’s Seat

    this extinct volcano right on the edge of Edinburgh was an amazing walk with breathtaking views (even though it was  a little rainy that day)

  2. The Elephant House

    This world famous cafe is where J.K Rowling started writing Harry Potter. The bathroom is graffitied with all sorts of Harry Potter quotes!

  3. Campus Tourimg_6253I felt like a freshmen again going on a college¬†tour with my mom, but in the end I’m glad I took the time to walk around campus and get to know the area.
  4. Dorm Room Move in

    Huge shoutout to my mom and sister for helping me lug my giant suitcases up 7 flights of stairs.   

I am so thankful that my family was here to help me transition to Edinburgh. Moving across the world is one of the scariest things i have even done, and I would not have been able to do it without the help of my amazing family. I miss them everyday I am away from them, but I try to FaceTime or text them every chance I get!

Orientation

So here is the scoop on University of Edinburgh Orientation: It is actually fun! Besides the necessary dorm meetings and academic talks, there are so many fun e vents to get new students to explore the city!

Here are all the events I went to: 

The Scotts Monument

yes I climbed that entire thing! It was VERY exhausting, but the view from the top was amazing!

 

Hop on Hop Off Bus

I had a great time seeing the city from the top of a double decker bus.

The Royal Mile: Saints and Sinners Tour

I now know the history of Edinburgh’s most famous street, The Royal Mile, as well as some conspiracy theories and ghost stories unique to Scotland!

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The Edinburgh Dungeons

Part haunted house, part murder mystery, part rollercoaster, what happens in the dungeons, stays in the dungeons!

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The Edinburgh Castle

The inspiration for the set of Game of Throne set atop yet another extinct volcano. Fun fact: Scotland’s national animal is the unicorn (pictured below)!

Carlton Hill

A stunning mix of nature and historic monuments, arguably one of the best views in Edinburgh.

I have had so much fun getting to know Scotland and I can’t wait to keep exploring!

stay posted for more blogs soon!

 

Not Another Study Abroad Blog

I am excited to announce that I will officially be studying abroad at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland this fall!

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Like many of my fellow college students,  I have decided to start this section of my blog to chronicle my travels. While I was trying to decide where to study abroad, I became obsessed with travel blogs, so naturally I have decided to create one of my own! I want to use this as a virtual scrapbook to share with my friends and family, and hopefully provide helpful travel tips and tricks.  

I cannot wait to explore all that Europe has to offer and have some amazing adventures along the way!

Feel free to follow my travels here as well:

Instagram: tforells

Bon Voyage!