Tuesday, July 8, 2014

The last 3-4 months...

Well hello! It has been 3 months and I haven’t written any blog posts. Oops! I guess life got in the way…

Let me just summarize what I have been up to and where I have been traveling—I will make another post about finishing up my time teaching and in Bulgaria.
Oh and fun fact: I’m posting this from Zurich, Switzerland! Hello summer travels with mom J

Like, I said, this post will just be about the travels I have done in the last 3-4 months.
I’ve been really busy! 

***quick note! my internet/computer are not co-operating, so I'll add the rest of the pictures later!***

I also finalized my plans for next year. I am very excited to announce that I will be moving to New York, New York! Can’t wait to spend a year (or maybe more) in the Big Apple. I will make another post about the program I am doing once I am home (in TEXAS!!) from traveling.

Here are the trips I’ve taken (as far as I can remember!)-

March:  Veliko Turnovo, Bulgaria

1. Spring Break trip with the family! (London, Paris, Edinburgh, Gibraltar)

2. Trip to Israel for the holiday of Passover (Pesach)

May:  Romania (Bucharest and Brasov)

Instead of writing a long post about each place, I will just provide some pictures with descriptions. Everywhere I went was interesting and unique in its own way, but I don’t really want to write a summary about each locale. 

Veliko Turnovo, Bulgaria-
The medieval capital of Bulgaria, Veliko Turnovo (VT) is filled with windy cobblestone streets and a fortress overlooking the city. I went here with 2 friends from Fulbright and we spent a lovely weekend exploring the city. Because VT has a university, it has the feel of a student town, and even has some lovely street art that really helped enliven the city and its buildings. We stayed at a quaint Hostel that can only be described as the hippie-est hostel I have ever stayed in-- complete with the owners smoking some herbs on the balcony and making us homemade bread and yogurt for breakfast. They even talked to us about our auras and one is them is a certified Reiki instructor (click here if you don't know what reiki is). Not very typical for Bulgaria, but it reminded me a bit of Smith and Northampton and it was really lovely to meet a very non-traditional couple. 

Awesome breakfast!

Street art

Spring Break Trip with Family
What a whirlwind trip! I am definitely not the picture-taking member of the family, so most of the good pictures come from my brother, sister, or dad. Nonetheless, I have provided a few for you here. We were in so many different cities but stayed in London the first week and Gibraltar for 2 days which made for a  very comfortable experience. We even rented a 3 bedroom apartment so we could all have our own space. 

Pesach in Israel
I flew back to Bulgaria from London for about 6 hours before heading out to Israel for Pesach. I stayed for 2 weeks and because it was not a tourist trip, I didn't take many pictures.
This is apparently the only picture I took... Leaving Israel...

The final trip I took during my official year in Bulgaria was to Romania, in May. It was the first trip I took alone, and it was an incredible experience. Traveling solo is definitely something I'd be interested to do in the future. 
I spent a few days in Bucharest, the capital of Romania, and then headed towards the famous/infamous transylvania region. The 'dracula' tale  comes from the true story of Vlad the Impaler- A 15th century ruler in Romania who earned the reputation of impaling his enemies after he captured them. (More about him here)

Alright, that's it for now! I will post some travel updates from my trip with my mom, and hopefully (at some point!!) make a post about finishing up and leaving Bulgaria.


Saturday, March 29, 2014

Germany part 2 (February)

After only a few weeks back in Bulgaria, I returned to Germany on January 31st for a wonderful 10 day trip to see my friend in Hamburg and my family in Freiburg. It was great to discover more of this country, and see more than just the WWII history.

My friend, R, is doing Fulbright in Hamburg, and it was wonderful to see her and compare a bit about the similarities and differences of our two programs. We spent most of our time eating wonderful food.
Hamburg is a major shipping port in Western Europe

It was really cold...

Kosher Deli in Hamburg

In the Kosher Deli (He's reading a yiddish newspaper...)

The one sunny day during my time in Hamburg

Mutterland a.k.a. Motherland a.k.a. BEST BRUNCH EVER

The following pictures are mostly for my Dad, or anyone else who has a penchant for model trains. They are from Miniatur Wunderland, which is one of the largest model train displays in the world.
(If you're not interested, scroll down to the section titled "Southern Germany")

From Wikipedia:
"Miniatur Wunderland (German for miniature wonderland) is a model railway attraction in Hamburg, Germany, and one of the largest of its kind in the world, built by the twins Gerrit and Frederik Braun. As of January 2011, the railway consists of 12,000 metres (39,370 ft) of track in HO scale, divided into seven sections: Harz, the fictitious city of Knuffingen, the Alps and Austria, Hamburg, America, Scandinavia, and Switzerland. Of the 6,400 square metres (68,889 sq ft) of floorspace, the model takes 1,150 m2 (12,378 sq ft)."

Every few minutes, the lights went out and it switched from Day to Night

Part of the America Exhibit

The Grand Canyon

Las Vegas

Florida is on the left

Back in Hamburg

The opera house, which has yet to open in Hamburg (but there was a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the mini version here...)

The spiecherstadt district of Hamburg- where Miniatur Wunderland is located

Now on to Scandinavia


Middle Germany

The Alps

The Alps

Fictional Knuiffingen Airport

Bombed out Berlin after WWII

Berlin with the Wall
Hopefully this will entice my dad to go to Germany :)

Southern Germany (Freiburg) and bits of Switzerland and France
After leaving Hamburg, I went to Southern Germany to visit my Aunt and Uncle (who are actually my dad’s first cousin and her husband), who live in Freiburg (Southern Germany). We took a few short trips to Switzerland and France while I was there. They were incredibly hospitable, and my 'aunt' Kathy is one of the best tour guides I know. Jasper (their dog) was also quite a treat to have around. I fully immersed myself in German customs, which included a delicious breakfast with fresh breads and East Frisian Tea (which has become my favorite tea), and afternoon "Kaffe und Kuchen" (Coffee and Cake), which I believe every country should have. If they did, we would surely have no wars, because everyone would be so high on sugar :)
While the weather wasn't perfect, I got a real feel for Freiburg and we were lucky enough to have one perfect sunny day to take a nice long walk and hike.
It was such a wonderful visit that my mom and I decided she ought to experience the Germany I experienced, and so we are taking a 3-week mother-daughter trip (with one week in Germany) in July.

Basel, Switzerland

Trying roasted chestnuts
Back in Germany

My wonderful hosts...

Jasper is ready for his walk!

Eguisheim, France

We found a sled...

Jasper looking out at the world

On our walk

No, I didn't build the snowman

About to board the train to Berlin and back to Bulgaria

What a lovely trip. I can't wait to go back in July, this time with my mom. We will also visit (tentatively): Switzerland, The Netherlands, Denmark, and finally, Bulgaria.

BUT FIRST, I AM SO EXCITED THAT IN 48 HOURS I WILL BE IN LONDON WITH MY WHOLE (nuclear) FAMILY. Stay tuned for that post, which most likely won’t be made for a few months….  :)