This has been such an exciting week! I’m studying the northern region of the European Union as part of the North Trip – I started out in London, then traveled to Stockholm, Sweden, and now I’m blogging live from the starboard side of the Baltic Queen…. sailing the Baltic Sea from Stockholm to Tallinn, Estonia!
The views of the archipelago outside Stockholm are beautiful….
It’s sooo cold on the water this far north, and snow lingers on all the islands….
The sweeping scenes of the water are so peaceful and gorgeous!
This is an overnight boat, and I’ll be arriving in Tallinn, Estonia early in the morning. I don’t really know what to expect there, but I’m excited to check out the city and learn more about it!
The other day, I blogged live from London. Now, I’m excited to be blogging from my hotel in Stockholm, Sweden!
Stockholm is our second stop as part of the North Trip… studying the politics, economics, and culture of England + Sweden + Estonia. It’s been fun and interesting so far, and I’ve learned a lot about some differences between these northern European Union countries.
One of the first things I noticed about Stockholm: technology! They have great technology and design everywhere. Our first morning, I headed for the metro with Abbey and Kelly to travel around the city, and we discovered this awesome, modern, interactive metro/city map….
This is the fanciest metro information I’ve seen in any city! It’s fabulous and a great example of the efficiency, design, and usability of most things I’ve seen in Stockholm.
So far, I’m loving it here! It’s sooo cold this far north, but I’m piling on the layers and having a blast! : )
This week, my study abroad program is taking us around on regional trips in the EU, and so… I’m posting this blog live from an internet cafe in London! : )
The program split us all into three groups based on which region of the European Union we wanted to study more indepthly: I’m on the North Trip visiting London, England + Stockholm, Sweden + Tallinn, Estonia. There’s also the South Trip heading to Rome, Italy + Madrid and Barcelona, Spain. And lastly, the Southeast Trip is exploring Greece + Bulgaria + Romania. It’s an exciting week for everyone!
One of the striking things about England is the way they drive on the left side of the road. To help pedestrian visitors, lots of crosswalks are painted with helpful reminders….
This way, you’ll know which way to look before crossing the street. I never realized what a natural instinct it is for me to double-check in a certain direction until everything was flipped in the other direction here! Now, I notice it at every crosswalk.
So far, I am looooving London! Can’t wait to post more later : )
Paris is a musical city. One of the stand-out impressions for me was the music being played live all other the place. So! Here are three videos of musicians entertaining all over Paris.
On the steps of the Sacré-Coeur, a harpist playing the French classic La Vie en Rose ….
Musicians randomly jump on trains in the metro system, play a quick song or two, and jump off again in a few stops. Their music is always lively, and I especially like these two guys playing guitar and accordion. I didn’t get any video – the audio is set to some of my pictures of the Parisian Metro.
This guy was also playing on the steps of the Sacré-Coeur. It’s a popular place for impromptu music because soooo many tourists are in the area.
It’s starting to look a lot like springtime around Freiburg. And with the warmer weather, restaurants and cafes are officially using all their outdoor tables. The streets are packed with people enjoying these sunny days. : )
PS – You can find the rest of the ‘Compare and Contrast’ series here.
During our field study trip focusing on institutions of the European Union, my study abroad program offered the chance to explore the Palace of Versailles near Paris. In Part I, I shared some photos of the grounds and architecture outside. Now, here’s some photos from inside the Palace!
Once inside, anything and everything you see is incredibly ornate and decadent. From the bookshelves…
…to the clocks…
…and even to the ceilings!
We went on a Saturday, and the Palace was jam-packed with people eager to see the famous home of the 17th-18th century French royal family. It was especially crowded in the renowned Hall of Mirrors, where the Treaty of Versailles was signed, ending World War I.
In the Hall, one long wall is full of towering windows which each directly face a mirror, so that all the reflecting sunlight makes this room seem the brightest and most open….
The Hall of Mirrors is soooo fancy that it makes other parts of the Palace seem tame!
Getting the chance to walk around inside and outside at Versailles was a great opportunity. There was something there for everyone - history, art, landscaping, gardens, architecture, design…. It’s a one-of-a-kind place!
During our field study trip to Paris, my study abroad program provided an optional excursion to Versailles (just like the optional trip to the Swiss Alps) to see the famous Palace that served as the seat of political power in France for about 100 years in the 17th-18th century.
The Palace of Versailles is enormous. It features vast gardens, lavish decor, gold leaf everywhere, and extremely detailed interior and exterior architecture. The size and decadence of the place is overwhelming and pretty in the embellished, extravagant way.
Your first entry into the Palace is marked by a long, gilded gate….
My favorite part of the Palace was the extensive garden, full of walking paths and fountains. Here’s a picture of one section of the garden:
I loved the endlessness and simple lines of the landscape. It was a cold day during our visit, but I bet this garden is even more breathtaking in the springtime….
I noticed a lot of clocks around Versailles as well, both inside and outside. They make a great architectural detail….
In part II, I’ll share some photos from inside the Palace!
I got a such a good question on twitter about how I get around Germany that I decided to do a blog post on it!
Within Freiburg, the Straßenbahn, or street trams, are perfect for getting around town. Freiburg has four electric tram lines and they are a major source of transportation for Freiburgers.
The other transportation means of choice are… bicycles! They ‘re everywhere!
For longer trips outside of Freiburg (but still within the Breisgau area between the Rhine river and the Black Forest), the S-bahn, or above-ground regional trains, are great. They run frequently and aren’t too expensive.
And for the longest trips, I usually book my train tickets through bahn.com – the Deutsche Bahn, or German train. DB dominates the train industry in Germany.
Back home in the States, I mostly drive a car to get everywhere. Here in Germany, however, I have no car – but it’s still no trouble getting around. There are plenty of options for ways to travel, and I don’t miss my car at all!
It’s been sooo busy these past few days here in Freiburg! Everyone had a lot of projects, papers, and presentations due this week, which meant a lot of hours at the library and in the computer lab.
Last week, I went to Luxembourg, Brussels, and Paris to study institutions of the European Union and enjoy the sights of the cities. We met a lot of interesting people employed by the EU as well as experts from both economic and foreign policy think tanks. I can’t wait to post more about it asap! : )
In the meantime – here’s a photo from Brussels, Belgium….
That’s the St. Michael and St. Gudula Cathedral in the background. We got to spend about half an hour in a small park in front – enjoying the view and the unusually nice weather of Brussels that day.