Tuesday, May 26, 2015

The Netherlands

We had an amazing weekend visiting our friends Charlie and Zita in Deurne, Holland! We traveled there by train and I loved every minute of it! Being able to look out the window and see all the small towns and scenery we passed was beautiful. Saturday after we arrived to their house, we walked into town to enjoy some traditional Dutch beer and appetizers (think fried meat and cheese) before enjoying a delicious dinner prepared by Zita which featured the Dutch specialty, white asparagus. Saturday brought a day of touring the nearby Holland country side/small towns and really seeing and experiencing the lifestyle here. Some of the highlights was traveling by ferry back and forth over the Maas River, enjoying drinks at a local brewery right on the river, and visiting an old original castle. Sunday night I ate the best meal of my life at a local Dutch restaurant.

All in all, my reactions of small town Holland is that I really love their lifestyle. Their towns are so organized and perfect and the people there have so much pride in their country. The Netherlands is small yet millions of people live there making it the most densely populated country in Europe. Due to this, they use every single inch of their land to the fullest. The houses are charming and the gardens are impeccable. The farms are so small compared to US farms but every single one of them is kept so well. They also rode bikes or walked everywhere. I fell in love with small town Holland!

On Monday we traveled to Amsterdam. It was quite different from where we came from and at first that was quite the shock. There were so many people in such a small area and it was quite overwhelming. The amount of people, bikes, trams, trains, cars and construction make it very intimidating to try and get anywhere but once you figure it out, its not that bad. Early Tuesday morning, we had the opportunity to tour the Anne Frank house which was very impactful and interesting to experience. We also went on a super fun bike tour through the city where we were able to see all the major sights of the city and attempt fitting into the bike culture. Surprisingly, we learned that there are only an average of 5 deaths a year in Amsterdam due to bike accidents! With how crazy it was, that is hard to believe.

All in all, Amsterdam was quite the experience. It is such a carefree city and here anything goes. I think what I have been most impacted here is just the mentality they have that everyone is welcome as long as they are not harming another. Basically, their mentality is that you do what you like and I'll do what I like and as long as you don't harm me and I don't harm you, we can be friends! I think that is a good mentality and everyone can use a reminder to be more open minded.

Next up, we are heading back to Germany to tour down the Rhine river before heading over to Munich!

Friday, May 22, 2015


We safely landed in Frankfurt this morning and have had quite the day!

First off, FLYING WAS AWESOME! I loved it!! The food was actually really good and it seemed like it just kept coming, there was an endless choice of movies and shows and games, and the worlds cutest one year old boy sat right in front of me and we kept each other entertained quite well. I did not sleep well at all which was frustrating but expected but hopefully I will just bounce right back and into the new time zone.

Here are my first reactions to Europe/Germany so far:
  1. There is no feeling quite like being in a new place where you can understand no one and cannot read or even pronounce any sign…
  2. There are wonderful people out there who will see you are lost and offer to help… These people rock and I hope I can do that people more often at home.
  3. Europeans are quiet (or Americans are loud). They talk quiet to each other and do not really talk on public transportation.
  4. The style here is nice… I like it.
  5. The Germans here are just so relaxed. They sit around outside and just talk and drink and eat. It seems so calm and easy-going and I like it.
  6. I don't like pigeons.
  7. Everyone seems to know English and really has no problem speaking it here.
  8. Frankfurt made me realize/appreciate the amount of German influence there is in Cincinnati.
  9. Traveling abroad is tiring and jetlag is real…

With that note, it is time for bed for me! (it's 9:30 German time which means 3:30 Cincinnati time) I am shocked I have been able to stay up this long. Tomorrow we venture on the train up to The Netherlands to meet up with our family friends Charlie and Zita for the weekend! 

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Pre-departure thoughts

As my hours left in the US dwindle, I decided to finally sit down and cross "starting my travel blog" off my bucket list. So that is what this is.

I leave in a mere 24 hours to embark on this grand journey. It will begin in Frankfort as I traverse through the Netherlands, Luxembourg, Germany, and France alongside my parents, concluding my journey with them in Toulouse, France. I will then spend the month of June studying at Ecole Superieure d'Agriculture de Purpan where I will delve into French language, culture, agriculture, and viticulture while also exploring the charms of southern France. When July rolls around, I will be off to intern on a vineyard while staying with a French family and immersing myself fully into their culture and costumes.

This trip will be full of many firsts:

  • first time out of the country
  • first time I can remember being on a plane
  • first french class
  • first time traveling by myself
  • first time meeting anyone else going on this trip
  • first time not spending my summer at the Evendale pool
  • first time with a real internship
  • first time not really celebrating 4th of July "American style"
I have read what seems like every blog and talked to numerous travelers for advice. My bags are [mostly] packed and all the paperwork and planning is complete. All that is left is to hop on the plane and start exploring!

Je suis pret pour cette adventure commence! *

*this was written with the help of google translate.... I have yet to learn more than about 10 words of French. So prayers and luck for learning a means for communication would be greatly appreciated.