Sunday, September 28, 2014

On a Weekend in Roma: Day 1

Best thing ever is when I would hear
"Hey Sydnee, we're going to ____. Would you like to join us?"
The answer will always be "why yes, yes I would."

So when that blank was filled with Rome, Italy, I didn't even hesitate.

I went with a couple members in our ward and we flew in on Ryanair.
If you have ever flown with Ryanair, you'd know that it's pretty cheap and basically.. you get what you pay for.
On this flight we flew over Rome, I could see everything! I can't wait to land! We must be landing soon!
I would say.. an hour later, we were still flying around in the air. I understand that it takes a while to land but.. yeah something wasn't right. Then the pilot came over the intercom,
"Uh good afternoon folks, it seems that our landing gear isn't quite working so we're flying into a different airport because we will landing at a higher speed."
That isn't scary at all. Then a German woman next to me asks me what they are saying because she doesn't speak english. So with my incredibly poor german I try to explain the situation and she then shoots me the most terrified look basically looking like "Are we going to die?" No, I assure you we are not.
We finally landed and finally found our room to stay in



Just eating gelato on the Spanish Steps.
 
I don't think I even want to disclose how much gelato I consumed..
It was a lot.





We then ate some pretty terrible Italian food and called it a day.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Cologne (not like the perfume)

I live.. kind of in the middle of nowhere in Germany. I can't just jump on a train and be in Munich for the weekend and then come straight home. It is quite annoying.
The only way I can really get anywhere is in a car. Meaning I have to get a ride somewhere or somehow get the precious car from my host parents. It just isn't convenient.
So when you have an opportunity that the car will be available to use on your day off.. it's kind of bliss.
I've found myself in this boat very seldom but one Saturday I was.
I took advantage and drove an hour and a half to the city of K├Âln. Or Cologne in English.

It took me an hour to find parking (you'll find that this is a recurring theme when I drive myself into cities) and finally was able to walk around.
Cologne is most famous for it's incredibly impressive cathedral






Nothing really exciting about this city besides the cathedral but wow was it worth it.
I couldn't even get a decent picture of it because it was just so massive.

I also stopped by the Museum Ludwig museum of modern art.
It was good because it made me realize how much I do not like modern art.
I don't understand how a canvas that is just painted one color of blue (mind you, a very cool blue) can be considered art and put in a museum and probably sold for thousands of dollars.
I walked into a room at one point and I thought "Oh I think I've walked into the bookshop." But as I looked around at the books I realized that I was in the middle of an art piece...
I don't get it...
Still an experience I guess.

I quite enjoyed it. I did some great shopping and got some boots for 10 euros.
SCORE.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Bonjour, Paris! Part 3

I woke up to a blaring alarm. I think I got about 4 hours of sleep.
Packed all my stuff back up in my backpack, pulled my hair into a top knot and set out for day two of another Parisian experience.
I walked to the nearest metro station. On the way there, I mistakenly made eye contact with a guy (note to any girl who would ever find yourself in a city where you feel a little unsafe, try to never make eye contact with anyone. I know sometimes you can't help it but whenever I had a run in with a shady guy, it was because I made eye contact with them.). He started yelling at me in french and walking straight towards me. I quickly side stepped him and made a B-line for the metro station. Luckily there were enough people around for the guy to do anything too stupid. And after I was able to catch my breath and get my heart to beat at a normal pace, I was okay.

I ended up wandering around and finding little gems.





I met my lovely friend Haley at the Louvre and then we strolled down the Champs Elysees




I somehow found my lovely friend Haley in this crazy city. It was a great taste of home.





All in all, I would say I liked my Paris trip.

WARNING: Stop reading if you don't want your dreams to be crushed




The city is, however, quite different than you would think. Lots and lots and lots of tourists. And dirt. And thieves. And poop.
Let me just warn you about something though, there is a thing called "Paris Syndrome".
American's come to Europe and Paris is top of the list. You have to see Paris right?
WRONG. Skip it if you want. It is really not what it is cracked up to be. Sorry to spoil your dreams little girls. But it isn't.
Yeah you have to see the Eiffel tower but it is just not worth it.
I could recommend at least 10 other cities I think you should go to to get that real European experience.
You don't get that real experience in Paris. It's a trap. Unless you will be there for extended period of time maybe, like my friend Haley was so lucky to do. Or you do a heap of research.
Anyways. Enough about my rant. I could keep going but I'll just stop here.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Bonjour, Paris! Part deux

First off, let me tell you something.
Driving into any city gives me crazy anxiety.
Salt Lake City might be the only exception, only because I've driven into it many times but still.
Driving in Europe is scary business at times. Driving in European cities? Forget about it.

So luckily I wasn't driving myself into Paris, I drove in with a family in my church.
As soon as we got into city limits, I realized what I got myself into. This place was a teeny bit shady.
People were coming up to our windows begging. But worst of all, they try to wash your windows.
I know you're like what? How is that shady?

We're stopped at a red light and three or four teenagers come up and try to wash our windows. We're shaking our heads, waving our hands around, clearly signing that "We do not want our windows washed!"
Suddenly I look to my side.. and someone washed it. Oh shoot.
That means you owe them money. We're still saying no. So they all gang up on the window of the driver and start yelling, probably saying something in french like "You betta pay up fool."
Then one of the guys tells the rest of them to back up and he takes his squeegee for washing windows and starts smacking the car's window. That's right, he is trying to break the glass. He got a few smacks in really good (I really thought it was about to shatter) before finally we were able to speed out of there once we had enough room. They still came up running after us but never got anything out of it.

And that my friends, is how my trip into Paris began.

"Welcome to Paris!" The driver of the car said with a sarcastic tone.
I was nervous to say the least.




I must say, Notre Dame is actually quite interesting. I especially like the inside. Then again, I'm a huge fan of cathedrals.



There is a reason the Eiffel Tower is so hyped up. It is actually pretty magnificent. It's such a symbol that so many people know and admire, but to actually see this thing right in front of you. It's a weird feeling. But a good feeling.


Then we ate some crepes by the Seine while we waited for it to get dark.


Why were we waiting for it to get dark?


For this of course.



Topped of the day with a view of Paris lights from the top of the Eiffel Tower.

Bonne nuit Paris!

The family was leaving that night to go home and I wanted more time.
So I was dropped off at a hostel where I spent the night by myself, ready for another adventurous day tomorrow. But I won't lie, I was a little scared.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Bonjour, Paris! Part 1: Monet's Gardens

When I’ve told people that I’ve been traveling around Europe for the past few months, people will ask, well did you go to Paris?
Paris seems to be (in American’s minds) the ultimate European destination. Its full of romanticism and beautiful architecture. The movies always talk about how you can’t beat this place.
But when I would talk to people in my ward and I would ask how they liked Paris and they would almost always answer the same way.
“Yeah.. Paris is... Paris.”
“I liked it. Yeah I guess I liked it.”
But you have to go right? You can't come anywhere near western Europe and not at least grace the city with your presence.
So on a nice Sunday afternoon with my good friends the Stewarts, they tell me that they have family coming to Germany and they're going to Paris on a weekend. They just happen to have a extra seat in their car that a mooching 21 year old may take if she pleases.
So at 4 AM I jumped in a car and drove for four hours.

We didn't start in the city, we started in Monet's gardens.
I'm such a fan of the impressionism style so I was stoked to see it.




Overall, I enjoyed it but there were way too many people.
Also someone from my group fell in peony bush so that made it even better.
To be honest though I was just itching to get to the city.


And it was after that, and a couple peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, that we made our journey into the city of Paris..

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Prague, Czech Republic

One of my favorite questions to ask people is "If you could travel to anywhere in the world, where would you go?"
It gives so much insight into that person, their ambitions, what they like to really do in their free time, if they're more free thinking, etc.

Before I started this absolutely grand adventure my answer was almost always Prague, Czech Republic.
Something just seemed so enchanting about it.
It was on my German test trip that my host parents informed me that.. My dream was coming true..

We were going to Prague.



Let me tell you, I didn't have too high of expectations. This city was everything I imagined.
The most beautiful old world architecture. Every corner was full of beautiful things to see.
Unfortunately I truly had no time here. I think I spent less than a few hours walking on the streets. This was, of course, totally not up to me but that's neither here nor there...
I could have spent days in this place.




When people ask me what my favorite place has been, Prague is on one of the top spots. (It's probably number 2 now, but I will tell you about that later)

Monday, September 15, 2014

Dresden and the dreaded A1 Deustch test

So I know this is so stupid to always say but I will be back updating my blog. A crazy amount of things have happened and for some reason on a 4 hour bus ride today, I had this feeling like I should be back to blogging. So I'm starting all the way back in April because yes, I have not updated since then.. embarrassing. 

In order to be an au pair here in Germany, you're required to take a test on the language. Needless to say, if I didn't pass then I would be kindly asked to leave when my tourist visa expires after three months of entering the country.
Unfortunately (kind of) we waited to long to sign up for a test that was near us so I had to go all the way to

Dresden

If you know where that is, I'm thoroughly impressed. Basically though, I live in about the most west you can be in Germany and Dresden is almost the most east you can go.
So my host family and I made a trip out of it! All six hours drive worth.

I listened to German CDs all the way there about how to order a cup of coffee, how to ask a train person how to get to Hamburg, etc. It was maddening. 
And so, there I was. I was at the Goethe Institute where my fate for the next six months was going to be decided. I sat in a classroom full of so many other people thinking the same thoughts I was probably thinking.
"Shiz what if I don't pass this test? I don't want to go back to my home country yet! So many German things I have yet to experience! I can't leave all the delicious brotchen."
I was sweating through my leather jacket as I tried so hard to listen to the CD that played the hearing portion of my test. "What time did they say that they were going to the movies?? Was it at 4:00? or 14:00? Oh gosh so much dialogue."
I muddled through it, not completely confident but.. confident that I at least passed. And for now, I was done.

I was alone, and not quite ready to back to the hotel. So I did what I love most, walked around a city that I didn't know.


And a beautiful city it was. Full of amazing old architecture (pretty rare for Eastern Germany). I'd go back in a heartbeat and spend more than just an evening.




Dresden will always have a place in my heart.

(Totally passed my test by the way. Solid 80%)