Wednesday, August 15, 2012

It's Been A Long Week

The creative juices have not been flowing at all this week due to the dam in my brain caused by excessive studying for the GRE.  Took the little bastard today, and don't get me started on my opinion of standardized tests.  I could drag this out for hours.  All I will say is what idiot decided years ago that it is completely reasonable for someone applying to a history type program to take the same test as someone applying to a psychology, a global health, communications, or public administration program, and what idiot decided that the GRE is still an accurate measure of a student's intellectual capabilities....because I can tell you that my GPA and GRE scores are on the complete opposite ends of the spectrum.  Enough ranting.

So I have nothing new to report as of now, but my sister messaged me this afternoon, and it looks like she's been doing some research of her own.  Thought I would share!

"I wanted to congratulate you on taking the GRE by letting you know that I've done a good amount of research today on finding the cheapest flights to and from Europe. Here is my plan.
5/20 - Depart ORF for LHR (London Heathrow). Arrive in London at 6:55 am next day.
5/21 - Depart LHR at 7:25 am for CDG (Paris Charles de Gaulle). Arrive in Paris by 9:40 am. Only thing we have to bank on is that the plane doesn't arrive late and we miss our flight. 30 minutes is enough time for me to get from one terminal to the next. Take a nap....
6/23 - I know we are taking a train from Miltenberg to Frankfurt on this day. That's about an hour and a half trip or less. We'll be able to find this transportation easily enough. At 5:10 pm, depart FRA for LHR. Arrive in London at 5:50 pm. I found a cheap hotel near LHR that offers free shuttle service to and from the airport. It's called the Heathrow Lodge. There are a few bars/pubs around the area too.
6/24 - Depart LHR for ORF at 7:50 am.
And drumrolls...cost of flights and the last hotel = $1132.50 per person...and we'll get a night out in London to celebrate surviving the trip. Whatya think????"

Makes a sister proud.  I'm going home this weekend, so I'll see her for a couple of days.  Hopefully we can get some things planned!


Sunday, August 12, 2012

The Travel Bug

Was there a single event that makes me want to pack my bags and venture off through the world?  Not quite.  I think it's a mixture of my love for history, languages, and different cultures.

If you talk to anyone from my high school, they will probably tell you that I was good at math and studied German.  I was the biggest math and science geek.  From Physics to AP Physics to Honors Algebra to AP Calculus, numbers were my thing, and I was damn good with them.  In the ninth and eleventh grade, however, I had two European history teachers who began the process of converting me to a history obsessed girl.  History was alive -- at least European history (not the biggest fan of US history until we get to Wilson, but I'll talk about that reasoning later) -- and history was fun.  In between all the Louis, Habsburgs, and anyone who had "the Great" after their name, I couldn't get enough of.  Even with all of the passion I had though, I didn't know if I was ready to say goodbye to my numbers.  They had been so good to me.

Here comes the other thing I was good at -- German.  Don't let me fool you, I was good the German my high school teacher taught me, which was catered to the National German Exam.  If you don't know, it's not necessarily the most useful German if you actually want to hold a modern conversation today, which frustrates me.  After about 7 years with the language, I'm nowhere near the level I want to be...but back to the story.  Every other year anyone who had studied up to two years of German at my school could participate in the German-American Partnership Program.  Needless to say, signed myself up.

Now, to where the two sub-stories combine into one, epic story.  Well, at least to me.  This trip occurred after I finished my AP European History course, which is still probably my favorite history class, and I'm about to enter my senior year of college.  After the three-ish weeks we spent in Hannover and four days in Frankfurt, we finally made it to Berlin.  On one of our day trips, we went to the palace Sanssouci in the nearby city of Potsdam.  This was the summer residence of the one and only Frederick the Great.  We used an audio tour, and our group entered one of hundreds of the ornately decorated rooms.  Not gonna lie, they all started to blend together after an hour.  The Palace was still beautiful though - well worth the visit.  This room, however, was different than the rest.  There I stood, staring at a random desk and chair.  All of a sudden, the voice on the audio tour said something along the lines of, "this is the chair, in which Frederick the Great was sitting when he died."  OH. MY. GOD.  I may have embarrassed myself..and by may have I mean having the most excited/I'm freaking out over this reaction.  I had literally just spend weeks studying Frederick the Great, and here I was, standing where he died.  I felt SO cool (it didn't actually add any cool points for me back home).


This was the turning point where I decided to abandon numbers.  I loved math, but history became a passion, and seeing history up close and personal was a whole different experience.

So why Europe?  Because I love European history.
Why travel?  Because traveling brings history to life.  It opens you up to a whole new world of experiences that you can't see in your backyard.

Follow your passions.  You would be doing yourself a disservice not to.


Saturday, August 11, 2012

The Future

Since I obviously can't see all of Europe during this trip, in my head I've already imagined several future trips I would like to make.  Thought I would share :)

I call this lovely adventure "The Isles:"

  • Galway
  • Dublin
  • Belfast
  • Glasgow
  • Edinburgh
  • Manchester
  • Liverpool
  • London
This one I have dubbed "Viking Adventure:"
*I know absolutely nothing about Vikings, but I picture them coming from Scandinavia 

  • Copenhagen
  • Gothenburg
  • Oslo
  • Stockholm
  • Helsinki
  • St. Petersburg
  • Talinn
  • Riga
  • Kleipeda (never got to go when i was in Lithuania)
  • Gdansk
And finally, not so creatively named, "The Mediterranean (for the most part):"

  • Lisbon
  • Madrid
  • Barcelona
  • Marseille
  • Cannes
  • Milan
  • Zagreb
  • Dubrovnik 
  • hop back over to Naples, Italy
  • Rome

I literally want to see everything.  Athens, Istanbul, Kiev...but let's be honest, my trip is taking place 2013.  If I go anywhere in 2014, it's going to be South America.  BRAZIL 2014 WORLD CUP!  Ohhhh yeahh!


Wednesday, August 8, 2012

The Trip

Blog post number 2!  I'm already leaps and bounds further than any other attempt I've made!!  I guess I should explain a little bit about the trip that my sister and I are planning.

Well, I graduate from college this May (yayyyyy!!!/OHMYGODWHATAMIGOINGTODONOW) and before I enter into the "real world" or some type of graduate studies program or just doing whatever I can to avoid moving home, I decided that I want to go on a grand, epic adventure throughout Europe.  Backpacking through Europe has been planned in my head for years, but I am determined to now make it a reality.  That's why my sister and I have been slaving away all summer and will continue to work throughout the school year to make sure this happens.

Whenever I wanted to buy something when I was younger, my father always said, "do some research, make a budget, and show me."  This method has become instilled in my cranium.

1.  So, first thing first, I looked at a map of Europe.  This may seem stupid, but to see and enjoy all of Europe within a month period of time is just not possible.  Let me warn you, I'm a history major.  Good luck trying to get me to see everything I want to see in one day.  The sister and I made a list of places we would like to visit -- a very, very lengthy list...mainly my fault..sorry not sorry -- and then began the process of elimination.  Arrivederci Italia!  Adios EspaƱa!  Goodbye Ireland, Scotland, and England! :'( This was a painful process.  So the final route we planned makes a circle through continental Europe: Paris, Brussels, Amsterdam, Hannover, Berlin, Prague, Vienna, Munich, Miltenberg, Frankfurt.

2.  Second, and probably the most difficult for us to determine, the budget.  We divided the budget into several sections: transportation (to and in Europe), lodging, food, and liesure (museums passes, souvenirs, etc).  For transport to Europe, we reflected on previous trips abroad to estimate flight costs.  For transport in Europe, we looked at the various Eurrail passes.  To get an idea of lodging, I looked up hostel costs on sites like and  Food -- I think we can survive off of buying bread and sandwich meat at grocery stores for a month.  Let's not forget to add in the cost of gelato!  Mamma Mia!  After adding everything up, we came to a figure around $3500, hopefully less.

Now that we have saved up some $$$, let the serious research of things to do in each city begin!


Monday, August 6, 2012


Yay first post!  I thought I'd give the whole blog thing one last try.  Every other attempt I've had at one has been an epic flop..probably because there has never really been a point or real defining reason or even motivation for me to blog.

Well, then what makes this time different?  I'm sure you are on pins and needles to know the answer.

It is fairly simple.  I want to document my experience planning and travelling for a hopefully not once-in-a-lifetime adventure to our neighbors across the great Atlantic: Europe.

I've been to Europe three times, but so far each time has been somehow related to my studies.  The summer before my senior year of high school, I participated in an exchange program with my German class.  We spent almost 3 weeks with other students in Hannover before spending a few days in Berlin/Potsdam and Frankfurt.  The second trip abroad occurred the Winter of 2010-2011, this time participating in a short-term abroad program through my university.  The trip began in Berlin and then ventured to Gdansk, Warsaw, and Krakow, Poland and Budapest, Hungary.  My final European experience took me even further east to Lithuania where I spent 10 weeks interning.

So, although I've traveled to and far, most of the logistics of these adventures required little planning on my part.  To me, this will be my first big girl experience organizing a month-long, backpacking trip with my younger sister.

Hope to get you as excited as me!  If anything, you can learn from whatever numerous mistakes I am sure to make :)