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Open Your Legs, Darling or My First Time Skiing!

Sestriere Skiing

I have always been a little bit terrified of skiing. I think it stems from my godmother having a wicked looking scar on her knee from a ski accident. When you combine that with news stories of celebrities (including a Dutch prince) dying or being seriously injured skiing which come every ski season, and skiing was on my top 10 never try list. However, when an opportunity came up to learn to ski in the Italian Alps, you know I jumped on it. 

We went to the Grand Hotel Sestriere, the town where some of the downhill races of the 2006 Torino races took part. For those of you who have never been skiing here are some of the things you should know.

  • Ski boots are the most uncomfortable shoes you will ever have to walk in. Don't kid yourself, you will have to walk in them. My tip is to dance in them instead, you might look totally crazy but your feet will thank you later.
  • Skis are a lot heavier than you thought they would be, and you have to carry them. In our case all the way from the hotel, which was not that far but with skis felt like miles. 
  • It is perfectly acceptable for grown men to yell at women to open their legs further, provided that they are your ski instructor.

In the end, I realized that skiing is super fun. While it is not something that I would go out and actively pursue myself, if given the chance again I would totally go. Oh and word to the wise, if you are staying at the Grand Hotel Sestriere, stay clear of the dining area. Everything I ate had a soapy aftertaste! 

Now for what you really want, pictures!

Oh Mountains, I have dreams of you. 

My view

Have you ever been skiing?I'd love to hear about it. 

Until next time,

 

Section: 

For the Love of Travel Series- Jenn from My Life Dictated (Guest Post)

Did you miss the series last week? Well, it is back! However, now that I have almost met the criteria for school credit, I am going to be posting on a bi-weekly basis. Don't forget, you can join in the fun by emailing GAPeachAbroad@gmail.com

Today's For the Love of Travel comes from my friend Jenn. Jenn and I met at my first grown up job, she was a rock for me there. Since then, she has left Georgia and moved back to her home and favorite state Florida. You can check out more about Jenn at My Life Dictated

 

Where did you grow up?
 
Anna Maria Island, FL (South of Tampa Bay)
 
What is your favorite destination and why?
 
I love NYC, Seattle, Southern California and the Carribbean - all for different reasons and hard to pick just one
 
What is your least favorite destination and why?
 
I would have to say Cincinnati or Cleveland, OH... not very cultural and when I have been in town, toooooo cold
 
What is your favorite vacation memory?
 
It would have to be a toss up between a day spent eating and drinking my way around San Juan, Puerto Rico and my tradition of drinks at Windows on the World atop the World Trade Center. Before 9/11, we started every trip to NYC this way. It was wonderful and brings back some really happy memories.
 
What is your profession and do you ever travel for business?
 
Technical Writer/ Illustrator. I do not travel in this position but I did travel for three years, every single week, all across the US. And I loved every minute of it.
 
How do you pack and do you have any items that you have to take with your?
 
Pack the night before and the only real "must includes" were my camera and my yoga mat. Regardless of where I wake up, I have started my day on the mat for the last 14 years. 
 
Do you have any trips planned for the future?
 
No solid plans but would definitely like to plan a yoga/ surf trip to the Dominican Republic and visit my good friend who is living in Shanghai. (I would also love to see the Netherlands and the friend who is there now as well.)
 
How do you plan your trips?
 
With my travel partner, choose a few destinations and then by price/ schedule. Best of both wins.
 
What is your dream vacation?
 
My dream vacation would be a trip around the world and high places on the list would be around the Mediterranean, Thailand, Bali (Indonesia), French Polynesia, Argentina and Brazil for sure. Also would have to include at least one month in France. I'd love to see the places where my family comes from.
 
What kind of traveler are you?
 
I love to travel. I love the beach and the city but not too fond of country-esque trips unless there is a full schedule of adventure: horseback riding, boating, etc... I've done a tour group once but prefer to research and get a little help from the concierge. Now that my mom is no longer with me, my friends are the best travel partners and I LOVE sharing these adventures with them. 
 
Thanks so much Jenn! If you have any questions for her, leave them below! 
 
 

Section: 

For the Love of Travel Series- Lily from Lily Wanderlust (Guest Post)

Lily in Ghent

Today, I bring you a post from one of my best friends, not just in my expat life, but in life in general. Lily of Lily Wanderlust. After all, it isn't many people you down two bottles of wine with over lunch the first time you meet them. I could go on and on about how awesome she is, but I think it might be best for me to just let her speak for herself. Here it goes. 

Tell us a bit about you.

Hi there, Georgia Peach Abroad readers! I’m Lily, an expat blogger and friend of Kaitlin’s here in the Netherlands. Amsterdam has been my home for the most part since 2009 when I moved here on the fly to work as an au pair and in that time, serendipity brought my Dutchman and I together and now we live along the canals.

Where are you right now?

Keying in tonight at home in Amsterdam.

Where did you grow up?

My early years were spent outside of Chicago, so my roots are Midwestern but my formative years were spent in Central Florida which explains my penchant for southern charm, bluegrass tunes and a constant craving for sunshine! My mom is a flight attendant, so it’s no surprise my first passport was issues at only a few months old and every holiday from school was spent in a different corner of the world! I’ve been to 35 countries so far and plan to keep that list growing. My mom definitely instilled an appreciation for cultures and globetrotting. 

What is your favorite destination and why?

My current favorite is South Africa! I honestly had no idea what to expect before spending three weeks trekking around on safari in Kruger Park and road tripping along the Garden Route with my mom. Aside from the friendly, interesting people of South Africa, learning about nature on safari and exploring a completely new side of the world, there's just so much to learn about yourself and others while traveling through new places! 

What is your least favorite destination and why?

You’ve got me racking my brain trying to think up a place that I’d probably never return to again and I can’t think of any! In my experience, every location has its perks and disappointments and every adventure comes with a lot of laughs and a few tears of frustration. Although, I will admit that studying abroad in China made me lose all appetite for their cuisine, sadly.

What is your favorite vacation memory?

In January, I spent a few weeks back home in Florida. It’s my current favorite for the great memories I made catching up with hometown friends. Most afternoons were spent relaxing in the sunshine so this wasn’t what I’d consider wild traveling, just a (well needed) holiday. Spending cozy, quality time with my amazingly sharp 95-year-old Granny was a big part of my trip home as well. 

What is your profession and do you ever travel for business?

I split my week between an English language preschool and working as the Lifestyle Editor forIamExpat.nl a media platform for, you guessed it- internationals in the Netherlands. You could say I’m very immersed in the expat community here in Amsterdam, which makes sense since culture and creativity are two important aspects in both positions. Engaging with other’s who are living overseas is great and after going through so many up’s and down’s in my own expat experience it feels good to help other’s find new ways to settling into life abroad.  I’d love a job that requires more travel and still haven’t given up on my mom’s dream for me to join a flight crew! At the moment, any travel for work is within the Netherlands and usually related to international community events.

How do you pack and do you have any items that you have to take with your?

I’m definitely a light packer- that is, unless I’m heading back from America with a suitcase of my favorite bits from home (especially hot sauce, sour patch kids and beef jerky for my Dutchman). For trips two weeks and under day backpack and a purse fits enough. This backpack and sleeping bag have been to a few different continents with me and I recommend both!

Clothes always flex with location but I’m a casual traveler. Mix and match outfits work great and save space. In my experience, long skirts, a jean jacket and a multi purpose scarves can go a long way with the right clothing combinations. 

At least one camera is always on hand while traveling! I use the Cannon Powershot G series, my Iphone 4s and on occasion one of my 35mm cameras like an old Nikon or Holga or FishEye. Capturing special moments while traveling make the best souvenirs. 

My must-have list includes: an mask, q-tips, rosebud salve, baby wipes, mini first aid kit and a good book. Any favorite things usually end up staying tucked inside and ready for the next trip! You can read about how I packed for safari in Kruger Park here.

Do you have any trips planned for the future?

One of my best friends from back home is visiting me in Amsterdam (this week!) and we’re heading off for a few days in Paris together! It’s her first time in Europe and I can’t wait to her around Amsterdam! Plus, I haven’t been in Paris in years so there’s a lot to look forward too.

How do you plan your trips?

Planning trips is one of my favorite hobbies! Not just for the anticipating and curiosity that comes with discovering a new place but also because I genuinely really, really, enjoy research and planning! I like to pick my top 5 - 10 spots to check out (museums, festivals, monuments, eateries, etc…) and the adventure comes along with trying to navigate your way there- I love maps and navigation, getting lost is half the adventure!

What is your dream vacation?

South East Asia  and India are both high on my list for my next big trip. My Dutchman has visited multiple times and a slight hint of envy always strikes when he talks about how amazing his adventures were! Visiting India has always been a dream and after this much time spent in Holland I’ll take as much sunshine and warmth as I can get!

What kind of traveler are you? 

Budget travel is definitely a preference, along with discovering places off the beaten path and supporting the local businesses and artisans. Growing up, my mom and I made it all over the world with a rental car and an overly examined map and that’s still how I tend to travel today. A lot of our favorite adventures came along whilst trying to get to ‘our final destination’ (isn’t that what they all say?) For suggestions, my travel favorites are Lonely PlanetSpotted by Locals and Couchsurfing. Of course, if you have any connection to a local (through friends or family) then it’s great to get in touch and hear tips from locals.

After finishing university I spent 6 weeks backpacking and couch surfing around Scandinavia with a childhood friend. We made it all the up to the Arctic Circle of Finland for a friend’s summer wedding and also celebrated Swedish midsummer in the countryside in an adorable farm house stuffed full of Couchsurfers! That was such a random and memorable travel moments!

My personal blog is www.lilywanderlust.com,  a lifestyle blog about everyday adventures of life in Amsterdam. You can also find me on instagrampinteresttwitter!

Thanks so much Lily! Check out her awesome pictures below. If you love her pictures or have any questions/comments drop them below. Also if you want to help a student out and be part of the series, drop me a line at GAPeachAbroad@gmail.com

South Africa

South Africa with a Cheetah

South Africa

China

Lily in China

Panda China

HollandDutch Canals

Sweden

Midsummer Sweden

Venice

St MarksB

 

Section: 

For the Love of Travel Series- Jana from Breaking One Hundred (Guest Post)

Cruise in Russia

I first met Jana at a now defunct book club here in the Netherlands. I thought she was super sweet, and I really wanted to learn more about her, which is why I was so excited when she said she wanted to be part of my For the Love of Travel Series! I hope you have as much fun getting to know Jana through this post as I have. And don't forget to check out her blog over at Breaking One Hundred!

Tell us a bit about you?
 
My life goal is to visit 100 countries and join the Travelers’ Century Club (hence the name of my blog, breakingonehundred). I’d also like to break 100 in golf, but honestly the former feels much more attainable at times! I met my husband when we were both studying abroad in London (he’s also American) so I knew he had the traveling spirit and would be up for the challenge too. I’m currently at 45 countries according to the club rules and he is at 30.
 
First things first, where are you at this moment?
 
We’re living in Amsterdam for a few more weeks. At the end of the month we move back to our home in Boston with our Old English Sheepdog Ozzie.
 
Ozzie in Amsterdam
Ozzie in Amsterdam
 
Where did you grow up?
 
I grew up about an hour northwest of Philadelphia in a very small town. Despite that, my parents had us traveling from a young age. I have them to thank for my wanderlust and it’s something I am eternally grateful for.
 
A view of the Oley Valley
A view of the Oley Valley
 
What is your favorite destination and why?
 
London will always hold a special place in my heart. I fell in love with London on my first trip to Europe when I was eleven and I fall further every time I’m back. It’s also the place I met my husband and some of my best friends, and where he proposed!
 
University of Manchester
Our Uni
 
What is your least favorite destination and why?
 
Yet to be found.
 
What is your favorite vacation memory?
 
Our ‘destination’ wedding in Bluffton, South Carolina! We got there early so we could just relax and enjoy time with everyone as they arrived. I have wonderful memories of lounging by the pool, spa time with my bridesmaids, and my bachelorette in Savannah in the few days before our wedding. And of course it only got better when we reached the wedding weekend events. It was an incredible week.
Jana's Wedding
Our Wedding at Berkeley Hall. Photo © Tim Zielenbach Photography
 
What is your profession and do you ever travel for business?
 
I am in Finance for a Chemicals company. When we were in the States, I regularly went to our office in western Massachusetts and took a few trips to NYC per year. Here, I frequent our office in the south of the Netherlands. My more exciting work travel comes when I get to visit our other offices, partners or attend conferences. That has taken me to Brazil, Argentina, Mexico, Chicago, LA, Sweden, Turkey and London on multiple occasions. And of course Amsterdam when I wasn’t living here!
 
Istanbul by Night
Istanbul from my hotel room window.
 
How do you pack and do you have any items that you have to take with you?
 
Ah, a favorite topic. So much so I do a regular bit on my blog, “The Packing List” where I detail what I packed and how I wore it. I was terrible at packing for a long time. I over packed and often found myself buying lots of clothes before trips. Of course it’s fun to get new things but I saw this as an indication that I was missing key pieces and not putting outfits together in a smart way. Now I’ve got a pretty good handle on what to bring to feel appropriate in all situations [and not like a tourist] while still packing light.
 
Two things I always bring are comfy shoes (and at least two pairs, because even your comfiest shoes can start to hurt after a lot of walking) and my cashmere wrap (keeps me warm on planes and doubles as a scarf if our destination is chilly).
 
Do you have any trips planned for the future?
We’re spending ten days in South Carolina [Bluffton and Charleston] and Georgia [Savannah] right after we get back to the states.
 
How do you plan your trips?
 
The first decision point when we plan a get-away is do we want to take a ‘trip’ or a ‘vacation’. I’m a firm believe there is a difference between the two! Next, of course, is can we hit a new country on the list. (Note, this is much easier while living in Europe) Then we look into flights and hotels for our shortlist and pick a winner. I love a point system (we used points for our honeymoon and only had to pay for one of our ten nights!) so, if we can, we stay at Starwood hotels and fly SkyTeam. If we hit all those in one trip it’s the trifecta but we don’t let that
limit our travels.
 
What is your dream vacation?
 
Tough to pick just one! (I dream a lot). I’ll go with staying in an over water bungalow in the Maldives. It just seems like pure bliss.
 
What kind of traveler are you? 
 
My husband is my main travel partner. Luckily, we have the same travel style which I will classify as ‘leisurely.’ We’ll make a point to see the major attractions in a city, but we’re not the type of people who wake up at 6am and sprint from museum to museum. Before trips we research a few spots we want to go and use those as a rough guide. We walk everywhere we can and generally just explore. In my book, eating and shopping are the best ways to see a city so those are things we include. I always seek out the market or food hall at our destination - it’s a great way to sample local treats and see more of the city.
 
Our favorite stand at Borough Market in London. Grilled Cheese and Raclette.
Our favorite stand at Borough Market in London. Grilled Cheese and Raclette.
 
Fresh fish at the Central Market in Helsinki
Fresh fish at the Central Market in Helsinki
 
Amazing traditional Swedish fare at the Willy Ohl counter in the Stockholm Saluhall
Amazing traditional Swedish fare at the Willy Ohl counter in the Stockholm Saluhall
 
Delicious Estonian Garlic Bread in Tallin.
Delicious Estonian Garlic Bread in Tallin.
 
 
Thanks so much Jana! Check out some more of her great travel pics! I'll admit, I'm more than a little envious! 
 
 
Crete
The view from our room in Crete
The view from our room in Crete
 
Budapest
Fisherman’s Bastion in Budapest
Fisherman’s Bastion in Budapest
 
Berlin
Berlin’s Eastside Gallery
Berlin’s Eastside Gallery
 
Saint Petersburg
Church on Spilled Blood in St. Petersburg
Church on Spilled Blood in St. Petersburg
 
Copenhagen
Adorable Nyhavn in Copenhagen.
Adorable Nyhavn in Copenhagen.
 
Norway
Gaustatoppen Norway
Gaustatoppen Norway
 
Holmenkollen Ski Jump in Oslo
Holmenkollen Ski Jump in Oslo
 
Belgium
Walking in the Belgian countryside
Walking in the Belgian countryside
 
Morocco
Dirty faces after 4-wheeling through the Moroccan desert.
Dirty faces after 4-wheeling through the Moroccan desert.
 
Hong Kong
Victoria Peak in Hong Kong
Victoria Peak in Hong Kong
 
Macau
Cotai Strip in Macau
Cotai Strip in Macau
 
Golfing!
 Golfing in Phuket
Golfing in Phuket
Golfing in the Canary Islands
Golfing in the Canary Islands
 
So pretty, don't forget if you want to be part of the For the Love of Travel Series, send me a line at GAPeachAbroad@gmail.com And don't forget to leave us a comment, we love comments!
 
 
 

If you liked this post, you should also check out:

For the Love of Travel Series- Sarah from Life in a State of Wanderlust

For the Love of Travel Series- Amanda from Poppies and Ice Cream

For the Love of Travel Series- Carolyn from Carolyn Horne Illustration 

Section: 

The Writing is on the Berlin Wall

Peace Love Unity- East Side Gallery, Berlin

I mentioned a few posts ago that I am reserving my judgment of Berlin until I visit it again on my own. But, I did really really love the East Side Gallery, as much as I loved the artwork, I love the messages written on the wall even more. Here are some of my favorites. 

 

Dawn of Peace- East Side Gallery, BerlinSuch a beautiful statement!

Drown Investors Dreams- East Side GallerySo glad that for now, there will be no hotel where the gallery stands.

Get Human- East Side Gallery, BerlinGet Human

Many Small Places- East Side Gallery, Berlin

Many Small People Who in Many Small Places Do Many Small Things That Can Alter the Face of the World.

 die bestandigkeit der ignoranz- East Side Gallery, BerlinThe Resistance of Ignorance.

Leave Us Kids Alone- East Side Gallery, Berlin

Love Make Better Persons- East Side Gallery, BerlinYes!

No One But Ourselves Can Free Our Minds

Fuck You- East Side Gallery, Berlin

With Silence Comes Peace- East Side Gallery, BerlinNot sure I agree with this. 

So Stark Und Dochverletzbar Das Volk, Der Mensch Der Wald Der Baum

Trust in Life- East Side Gallery, BerlinTrust. 

He Who Wants the World to Remain- East Side Gallery, Berlin

I Want This Place to Stay Like it is Now.

I hope you enjoyed the messages as much as I do. Which one resonates with you the most?

Section: 

For the Love of Travel Series- Sarah from Life in a State of Wanderlust (Guest Post)

This week's post comes from Sarah, a fellow American expat who currently resides in Tillburg (in the Southern part of the Netherlands, for those of you who aren't familiar).She is originally from Virginia (Southern Girls Unite!) I've had so much fun learning about Sarah's adventures and it looks like soon she will be moving closer to my neck of the woods! You can learn more about Sarah at Life in a State of Wanderlust

Let's do this thing!

Tell us a little about you.
 
Let’s see. I’m 23 years old, and I have always loved to travel. So far, I have lived in three countries and visited 20 others. My bucket list is a mile long, and I’m constantly adding to it. I was born and raised in the United States, but I spent the past year in London completing my Master’s degree in Global Politics from the London School of Economics and Politics Science (LSE). Currently, I am residing with my boyfriend in Tilburg, the Netherlands. Living in Europe provides far more opportunities for international travel than in the States, so I am trying to take
advantage of every chance I get to see as much as I can while I am here!
 
Windmills do exist!
The cliché is true- windmills are everywhere in the Netherlands
 
Where did you grow up?
 
I spent my whole life in Virginia before I moved abroad for graduate school. Virginia was an amazing place to grow up. In only two hours by car from where I lived, you could be hiking in the Blue Ridge Mountains, swimming at Virginia Beach, or enjoying a city-break in Washington, D.C. There’s really something for everyone.
 
What is your favorite destination and why?
 
This is a difficult question! There are so many amazing places around the world. I think my favorite destination so far would have to be Dubrovnik, Croatia. Dubrovnik’s nickname is the “Pearl of the Adriatic,” and if there is any city that deserves its nickname, it is Dubrovnik. There are gorgeous beaches, winding alleyways to explore, and breathtaking cliff side cafes where you can dive right into the sea—if you dare! The old town is one of the most beautiful places I have ever seen, yet there is so much more to the area than meets the eye. Dubrovnik was nearly
destroyed during the Balkan Wars in the early 1990s, yet it has been painstakingly rebuilt over the years. You can still see evidence of the war if you look closely at the famous red roof tiles, because the ones that were replaced after being bombed out are slightly different colors than the original tiles.
 
The Old Town of Dubrovnik, Croatia
The Old Town of Dubrovnik, Croatia
 
What is your least favorite destination and why?
 
My least favorite destinations are those where the only “cultural experiences” include laying on the beach during the day and partying every night, only to repeat the process for a week straight without ever leaving the resort. That is pretty much my travel nightmare. I travel because I love history, culture, and seeing the way different people live around the world. If I wanted to party into oblivion, I might just as well do it at home.
 
What is your favorite vacation memory?
 
In 2011, my dad took me and my brother to Tanzania for two weeks. We spent half of the trip wilderness hiking and camping in the African bush, an experience that was unlike anything I had ever done before. The trip was more than just a typical safari-vacation for us, though, because Tanzania was also the place that my dad grew up. His parents were missionaries in Arusha, and he lived there from when he was a baby until he returned to the U.S. at age 17. This was his first trip back to Tanzania in twenty years, and the first time my brother and I got to finally see the places we had been hearing about in stories our entire lives. The trip brought both tears and laughter, but having that shared experience definitely brought us closer together.
 
The house in Arusha, Tanzania, where my dad grew up.
The house in Arusha, Tanzania, where my dad grew up.
 
At the top of Ol Donyo Sambu, Tanzania
At the top of Ol Donyo Sambu, Tanzania
 
Close encounters of the elephant kind
Close encounters of the elephant kind

 

How do you pack and do you have any items that you have to take with you?
I have traveled so much in the past two years that I pretty much have packing down to a science. I generally try to travel with only a carry-on, mostly because I am cheap and hate paying baggage fees. The possibility of forgetting things used to worry me, but I’ve since realized that stressing over something like a toothbrush is not worth it. It doesn’t matter where you go in the world; I promise you will be able to buy a new toothbrush when you get there.
That being said, I always take my camera (of course), a good book, and a pair of earplugs. Nothing can ruin a trip like a symphony of snores coming from your seat mates on a 14 hour overnight bus ride in Morocco.
 
Do you have any trips planned for the future?
I have been living in the Netherlands for months now, but my Dutch boyfriend has still never been to the United States, so I would love to take him on a classic American road trip to show him my home turf. On the other side of the globe, my best friend is currently teaching at an international school in Brunei (on the island of Borneo). If I had the opportunity to go somewhere a little more exotic, visiting her would definitely be first on my list!
 
How do you plan your trips?
 
I love planning trips! Researching and learning about my next destination is one of my favorite things to do. I’m one of those people who brings along a stack of information with me whenever I go somewhere. I still love to do spontaneous things once I get there, but the planning is part of the fun of travel for me. It increases my anticipation and excitement for the place I’m going to be. It is always a good idea to at least learn a few words in the language of the place you will be, and not just assume that English will be spoken everywhere.
 
What kind of traveler are you? 
 
I believe it is important to pick your travel companions wisely, no matter where you are going. I grew up taking road trips with my family, which I think is a great way to develop a love of travel. Now I generally travel with my close friends. I have found that small groups are always better to travel with than large groups. Large groups (even if you are all friends) mean too many opinions. Everyone is forced to compromise on what they want to do, and in the end no one is satisfied.
 
I am definitely not a tour group kind of person. I know some people greatly enjoy tours, but I do my best to stay away from them. Tour groups hardly ever allow you to do something on a whim—the kind of random adventures that make travel exciting. I don’t want to spend ninety percent of my vacation on a bus with people from my own country. That defeats the point of travel for me.
 
Thanks so much Sarah! I enjoyed reading about all your adventures, and I am totally with you on the tours thing. I hope you guys are loving this series as much as I am! If you want to be involved, and I so hope that you do, drop me a line at gapeachabroad@gmail.com.
 
Check out these other gorgeous pictures!
 
Middle East
Sarah with her Berber guide on a camel trek through the Moroccan Sahara
Sarah with her Berber guide on a camel trek through the Moroccan Sahara
 
A Sufi Dervish (“whirling dervish”) ceremony in Istanbul, Turkey
A Sufi Dervish (“whirling dervish”) ceremony in Istanbul, Turkey
 
Europe
A cold winter night in Bruges, Belgium
A cold winter night in Bruges, Belgium
 
View of London from the top of St. Paul’s Cathedral
View of London from the top of St. Paul’s Cathedral
 
Prague Castle at night
Prague Castle at night
 
At the top of Untersberg Mountain near Salzburg, Austria
 
Light streams through the windows inside St. Peter’s Basilica, The Vatican City.
Light streams through the windows inside St. Peter’s Basilica, The Vatican City.
 
If you liked this post, and I know you did. You should check out:
 

Section: 

Berlin in a Blur-Sachsenhausen and East Side Gallery

I'm back babies! Berlin was crazy. I'm still processing it all. I'm not sure how I feel about the city. I'm going to wait to reserve judgment until I go back with my own agenda and not with my whole class. After all, there wasn't that much time to venture out and see the city on my own. But, I did have a lot of fun bonding with my classmates. I learned some interesting things and now we have some great catch phrases from the trip!  Oh, and that salt should never, ever, ever be put on pineapple!

Here is an overview of what I did.

Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp:

One's first introduction to a city should never be a negative one. Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp was our first scheduled stop in Berlin. The camp is located in Oranienburg, just outside of Berlin and was first used an internment camp for political opponents of the Third Reich. It was then used during World War II as a concentration camp and housed the central administration for all Nazi concentration camps. Finally, it was used as a Soviet Special Camp. That is a lot of evil for one place. This was my first experience to a concentration camp and it really moved me. One of the most shocking things for me was the proximity of houses to the camp today and in the past. It is shocking that people could live so close and turn a blind eye to such atrocities. Our guides at Sachsenhausen were really top notch, especially Sophia, who really made her love of history come alive.

sachsenhausen concentration camp trees

Sachsenhausen tree

East Side Gallery:

By far my favorite thing in Berlin. This part of the wall is filled with art, and inspirational messages from all over the world. I took a ton of photos! I love that something so negative as the Berlin Wall has been given new life as something beautiful. Unfortunately, this outside gallery and monumental piece of World History is supposed to have parts of it torn down to make way for a high rise. This breaks my heart. While we were there, students were making films about why the East Side Gallery should remain. Just days before, there was a protest of thousands to save the Wall. I encourage all of you to sign this petition to support the East Side Gallery

Fuck You

Trabi Car

Tomorrow I have another lovely guest post for you and then it is more about Berlin! 

Section: 

For the Love of Travel Series- Amanda from Poppies and Ice Cream (Guest Post)

This week, I am introducing you to Amanda a fellow expat here in the Netherlands who blogs over at Poppies and Ice Cream. Amanda is fluent in Spanish and has offered to help me improve my language skills. This is one of the many, many reasons I love having a blog, you get to meet so many interesting people. 

Here it goes. 

Tell the readers a bit about you.
 
I am a Mexican-Swiss-British (by accident) girl. Sounds complicated, but, it’s not so much. I was born in the UK (because my parents were studying there), my mom is Mexican, my father is Swiss and my lovely husband is Dutch. I am a biologist / veterinarian who loves baking, reading, traveling, discovering new places, jumping around like crazy and red dresses.
 
Where are you at this moment?
 
I currently live in The Netherlands.
 
Where did you grow up?
 
I grew up in Mexico, where I lived in different cities.
 
What is your favorite destination and why?
 
After thinking long and hard (there are just so many places I love), I think the answer is Barcelona. The first time I went there I was just “passing by”, on my way back to Geneva, Switzerland, where I studied at the time, after having spent the summer working at a Physiology lab in Santiago de Compostela. I went to Barcelona to visit a friend, whom I had met in Venice at the youth-hostel where we stayed, and also, because back when low-cost airlines were just starting, cheap flights were only available from “La ciudad condal”. As soon as I set foot in the
city I knew I would be back. To live. And I did. First I stayed a year, as an Erasmus student, and then I went back for 4 years to study my second degree. The city is full of life, and magic I would say. It is lively, young and international. It has everything you could wish for: mountains, check. The beach, check. Lots of parks, check. Cultural activities at every moment, check. Lovely medieval streets where to get lost, places full of history in unexpected places*, delicious food, friendly people, buildings that could belong in fairy tales**, perfect weather, beautiful avenues….
 
*For example, the Biblioteca Nacional de Catalunya lays in the building which used to be the very same Hospital, dating from the 15th century, where Santiago Ramón y Cajal worked and made his fascinating discoveries on the ways neurons work.
 
** Doesn’t the houses in Park Guell look out of Hansel and Gretel? And what about Casa Batllo or Casa Milla? Green dragon backs, towers that seem made of soft ice-cream….
 
What is your least favorite destination and why?
 
I have yet to find a place that I haven’t loved. I guess we always try to make the most out of any trip and even if I find myself in a seemingly abandoned train station in the middle of nowhere, I can always read a book, go to the supermarket to search for the local treats, or go to a movie theater or a square and just sit and people-watch.
 
What is your favorite vacation memory?
 
It must have been the time I met my husband on an airplane. He was sitting right next to me and we did not stop talking for the duration of the flight. (You can read all about it on Poppies and Ice Cream
 
What is your profession and do you ever travel for business?
 
I am a veterinarian, though I do not currently work in my field. I used to work for a big hotel-reservations website, but I spent my time reading guest reviews and learning all about which hotels had mice, lizards or squirrels and which were located near good restaurants, among other crazy stories. I did not really get to travel for work though.
 
How do you pack and do you have any items that you have to take with you?
 
I normally pack in the last-minute rush; sometimes early in the morning of the day I am traveling. I try to bring items that can be used more than once and combined in different ways (jeans, one or two thick sweaters, a scarf, t-shirts in colors that go with everything else). It is important to bring a good jacket, a rain-coat depending on your destination and comfortable shoes that will not make your feet hurt after lots and lots of walking. If it’ll be warm lots of dresses and a denim jacket do the trick. I bring an extra plastic bag or two as well as Ziplocs. Snacks, tissue and some first-aid supplies* are always good to have with you.
 
** anti-inflammatories, Pepto-Bismol tablets, band-aids, disinfectant…
 
Do you have any trips planned for the future?
 
Yes, we are headed to Northern California (San Francisco and the surrounding area) later this year. I am so excited.
 
How do you plan your trips?
 
I think of a place (I pretty much want to go everywhere, so that is not normally a problem), I figure out the cheapest way to get there (bus, low-cost airline, train) and try to find out if there are any offers for our destination of choice (for instance every now and then airlines release discounted tickets for short periods of time). Right now there are many websites that let you compare rates among companies, I use these to check prices and then book directly with the company involved. Road trips are also lots of fun, Google maps is a great tool to find the places where you would like to stop between A and B and to calculate reasonable distances to travel every day of a journey. Once we sort all of that out, we find a place to stay. We like clean places that are well communicated (even if we have to take public transportation, that´s ok, it adds to the travel experience). I have stayed in youth hostels before, but nowadays in Europe the rates start at circa 25 EUR per night, and since I travel with my husband, with that price we can already stay at a nice, simple hotel, with lots of added comfort and privacy. Staying at apartments is also great because you get to cook your own meals and spare some pennies that you can spend otherwise. After that it is just a matter of studying the place, figuring out if there are specific sights / museum exhibits / restaurants or bars / places that we would like to visit, and otherwise, once there, we just get a map (often free at Tourist Offices) and proceed to get lost in the city and let it surprise us.
 
What is your dream vacation?
 
Oh this one is hard. I really would like to see South East Asia: Vietnam, Cambodia, Singapore, Thailand, Indonesia… Costa Rica is also pending on my list. But if you just bring me to France or Italy I will be happy as well. I still have to go to Chiapas, Tulum and Palenque in Mexico. I like to see the places, know the people and experience the local culture, so pretty much any destination will suit me.
 
What kind of traveler are you?
 
I tend to prefer city trips, and I love flying, airports are among my favorite places on earth. Traveling by train is also exciting though, I would like to take the Trans-Siberian train from Russia to China, through all the countries in between once.(Kaitlin here, this is my ultimate travel dream too!) I normally travel with my husband, or with my family. I have also traveled with my 2 best friends, during college. I don’t normally take group tours, I kind of hate being told what to do and given a limited schedule. I prefer discovering things by myself, and stumbling upon places by surprise, which is why we like to walk and walk and walk. Beach vacations and camping are also fun, but I think those are a lot more fun as children or if you are traveling with kids. These days, we kind of get bored if we are just laying in the sun not doing anything. For our honeymoon we combined 3 days of beach- chilling in the Mexican Pacific coast (which were more than enough) with a road trip that took us to other cities (Colima, Guadalajara, Tequila, Tlaquepaque, Manzanillo, Puerto Vallarta, Tenacatita).
 
Thanks so much Amanda, I had so much fun reading about your adventures. If you have any comments, leave them below. Nothing would make our day brighter! And, if you want to participate in the For Love of Travel Series, send me some love at gapeachabroad@gmail.com
 
Barcelona 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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For the Love of Travel Series- Carolyn from Carolyn Horne Illustration (Guest Post)

Carolyn is a former colleague and great friend of mine from Georgia. She and her husband Daniel (the one with the epic 'stache) are two of the most creative people you could ever hope to meet. I mean they designed their own wedding invitations, created their own decorations, and perhaps most impressive of all, they made their own wedding bands. So sweet! You can see some of her work at Carolyn Horne Illustration, when she updates it. (hint, hint).  Here is Carolyn's story:

Where are you at this moment?

In my apartment in the Atlanta suburbs.

Where did you grow up?

Mostly in Augusta, GA. Which is a great place to grow up, until you hit about 14 or 15- then it becomes Disgusta. (I say that with love...)

Do you have to travel for your job?

No.

What is your favorite destination and why?

That’s so hard! That’s like choosing your favorite child- they’re all different and beautiful in their own way. It’s funny, I love museums and cultural attractions and history, and I don’t consider myself super outdoorsy. And yet my very favorite places I’ve visited so far are Zion National Park, Miur Woods, and the El Yunque rainforest. There’s something really transcendent about these primal, unspoiled places.

What is your least favorite destination and why?

I can’t say that I’ve ever really disliked a destination. I usually travel with family or friends; even with the more touristy/commercial places that I wouldn’t normally choose to visit on my own, I still enjoy seeing new places. With the right company, anywhere can be an exciting destination.

What is your favorite vacation memory?

There are so many good ones, but since my husband and I just celebrated our 2nd wedding anniversary and I’m feeling sentimental, I have to go with one from our honeymoon. After the day-after-the-wedding brunch, and after the goodbyes to our friends who attended the brunch, and after we had somehow, miraculously, managed to smash all of our luggage into our car, we finally hit the road. And as lame as that sounds, driving down I-95 singing along to Journey and Queen with my shiny new husband will always be one of my favorite vacation memories.

How do you pack and do you have any items that you have to take with your?

I pack the night before, like a maniac. A camera is a must, and I also try to bring a sketchbook and some drawing supplies.

Do you have any trips planned for the future?

I’m really hoping to go visit my sister in DC this spring, and I’d love to be able to visit all my far-flung friends. She means me, well and some others, but mostly me! 

How do you plan your trips?

Honestly, I’m not usually the planner of the trip. I specialize in finding bizarre attractions and activities to inflict on my travel companions once we’re there, like the time I made a group of friends accompany me to the Salt and Pepper Shaker Museum in Gatlinburg, TN.

What is your dream vacation?

A very leisurely tour of Europe, with time to satisfy all of my art nerd desires.

What kind of traveler are you?

I enjoy cities and usually think of myself as more of a city person, but I love visiting beautiful natural places as well. I’m not a huge fan of flying, but will put up with the indignity of a public boob grope by a surly airport worker for the sake of adventure. I’ve never really had the opportunity to join a tour group, so I’m not sure if I would like that.

Thanks so much Carolyn, if you have any comments for Carolyn, or would like to commission an amazing art piece, leave your comments below! Have I mentioned how much I love comments?

17 Mile Dr, California 

San Francisco Tea Garden, California 

San Diego, California 

Muir Woods, California 

Grand Canyon

El Yunque Rain Forest, Puerto Rico 

 

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I'm Heading to Berlin and ITB in March!

You guys, I am so excited to tell you that I am going to be in Berlin from March 6th to 10th! I'm going with my university. It will be my first time in the city, my first time staying in a hostel (I'm so sorry roomies, I snore), and my first time going to a travel industry event! I'll be at ITB, which is the largest show in the travel/tourism industry on the 9th. I'm really looking forward to the networking opportunities, so if you are going let me know! 

 

I must confess, my knowledge of the city is strictly limited to WW2, the fall of the Wall, and watching Cabaret. I also know that everyone I know who has been loved it and that there is something called Museum Island. Since, I am going with my university, there are a lot of preplanned activities but there is a lot of free time as well. So, I want to know, what do you love about Berlin? 

Flickr Image:  Some rights reserved by korbatz

 

 

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