Monday, August 29, 2011

Going below the radar...

Well the time has come for me to part ways with my laptop.

What that means for my blogging?  I'm not sure.  I'd like to continue with my blog the best I can and will make every attempt to for the remainder of my trip.  My camera will be joining me, and you best believe that I'll continue snapping away at everything and anything.  If I cannot upload photos, I will do so when I get back to San Diego...which by the way, is in the less than a month.  This experience has definitely flown by and I am so happy to have had the opportunity to travel, study and explore.  I wouldn't consider myself necessarily homesick, but when the time comes for me to return to the States, I will be ready and grateful to get home.

Well, happy travels to everyone, and I look forward to seeing everyone when I get home.  Until then...stay classy.

Mann....signing off.

Just Czech'n it out

Well the 4 of us left Berlin in one piece and took the train down to Prague for a little taste of eastern Europe.  Drink it up.

Prague is really nice as it would be.  We arrived on a hot and humid day and all walked to the hostel with our bags strapped to our backs.  Tiring but we survived.  Celebratory dinner and beer were next followed by a quick night walkabout of the city itself.  The old city of Prague reminded me of Copenhagen somewhat in that the buildings are old and scattered almost randomly.  Very disorienting.  I think we almost immediately got lost.  Caitlin and Brandon failed on their attempt to walk home and ended up cabbing it.  Shaun and I failed as well, ending up walking in the complete opposite direction of our hostel.

We spent the first (extremely hot) day walking around being tourists.  We took pictures of anything and everything, saw the old Prague castle, visited a beergarten, and even ducked into the Communism museum during a rainstorm.  All in all a good day.  We ate at an authentic Czech restaurant (potatoes and beef please) and Shaun and I checked out some of the Prague nightlife.

Shaun, Caitlin and myself taking a break from being a tourist

The next day was again spent walking about, trying to take in as much as the city and culture as possible.  Another Czech dinner down, and a "somewhat" successful pub crawl of Prague followed later in the evening.

Hungover as hell, we got a shuttle to the train station for our trip south to Vienna.

The next 48 hours (for Shaun and myself) go by quite quickly so I'll try and capture it all.

Caitlin, Brandon, Shaun and myself make it to Vienna.  The train station we're at, isn't the one we thought we should have been at.  Caitlin and Brandon are going their separate way at this part, so we all say our byes and they take off.  Shaun and I have booked an overnight train from Vienna to Venice, so we don't miss an entire day traveling.  So we grab all our gear, metro it to the correct train station where our train will leave later in the evening, and we set off to explore Vienna in 4 hours.  Lots of pictures, a few pedestrian streets, and a subpar chicken sandwich later, we had to rush back to the train station to board our "double" sleeper cabin.

We were dumbfounded when we looked into our cabin.  It was a small seat in a 5'x7' cabin.  We had absolutely no idea what was going on…so in our nicest American-Italian we asked someone working onboard what the hell was going on.  He quickly showed us how the bunks folded out of the walls, but that he had to unlock them…so before bedtime, just flag him down and he'd tuck us in.

Shaun and I sat side-by-side, sharing a pair of earplugs, watching Captain America on his laptop…it was awkward. 

So bedtime it was; we flagged down our friend and he unlocked our beds.  No bedtime story though, unfortunately.  It wasn't all too comfortable, it was hot, the train was really rocky, it was loud, and I had a green service light in my face the entire night.  Not to mention the knocking at some hour of the night by 2 Italian chicks who swore that we were in their bunk.  After simple explanations on the premise of a reservation and the reading of a ticket (in Italian), they seemed to realize that they had made the mistake. 

What felt like minutes later, the cabin door knocked again, this time it was our friend again…it was time to get up!  He even brought us breakfast.  Shaun and I stumbled around our closet and packed our stuff and pulled into Venice around 8AM.  And by 8AM it was already pushing 90 degrees and ridiculous humidity.  Not a problem, we only had to walk to a boat taxi terminal, take 2 boats and walk a little more before we could put our bags down officially at a campground on Fusina.

It was actually a really cool place and I'm glad we stayed there.  We showered the sweat off, and immediately ferried back to the islands of Venice were we sweated some more, walked and walked and got lost, and walked, and drank water, and got lost some more. 

That city is amazing, but is a labyrinth.  And when it's that hot, it adds a little more to the fun.  Shaun and I wrapped up our day with some pizza, beer and mingling amongst our fellow travelers at the campground and called it a night….because, we have an 8AM shuttle to the train station so we could head on to Nice, France.

Just keep moving.

Friday, August 26, 2011

The Road to Berlin

So after goodbye with the roomates and a quick cleaning of the apartment in Copenhagen, Shaun and I strapped our lives to our backs and headed for the train station to take a train to Hamburg, then on to Berlin.

Instead, our train from Copenhagen to Hamburg was cancelled without any explanation 10 minutes before we were to take off.  We were instructed to get on a different train, a slower, regional train, to take to the end of the line where a train was supposed to be waiting for us to take us to Hamburg.  So we cram all our stuff together and ride for about 2 hours through back country Denmark.  Not too comfortable at all.  We arrive "somewhere".  I have no idea where the train took us or where we were when we got off the train and onto another train that was waiting for us.  Obviously we were in the wrong train cars but ended up with seats and were nice and comfortable.  Not long into our trip though, we stopped, the conductor mumbled something in Danish, and then we were slowly going into reverse.  Backing into a ferry.  Yes, a ferry.  We were on a train, being loaded into the storage area of a ferry.  This was certainly something new for me.  We had to get off the train for the ride to Germany onboard.  So we went above deck (it was pouring rain) and had some food.  Eventually returned to the train, were unloaded, and away we went to Hamburg.

Hamburg was the first taste I have had in months of the western world.  At our connection in Hamburg, Germany we got off the train to huge signs, and billboards, and advertisements for McDonalds, Burger King, Philips, Sony, the list goes on.  I'm not going to was nice.  So nice in fact that I felt I deserved a chicken sandwich from Burger King.  It was terribly delicious.

Part 3 of the trip was a straightshot from Hamburg to Berlin...but Shaun and I didn't have reserved seats on this train and had to sit with all our stuff in the vestibule between trains.  And I really couldn't have cared less.  I had plenty of leg room, lots of windows to look out of, a bathroom right there, and my headphones.  Surprisingly quite content.

Berlin is not what I was expecting, in a good way.  It's awesome.  We started our experience by going through the German Jewish Museum.  A very interesting building for sure.  We spent a couple hours there and really just got lost in the city looking at whatever we could.  We had teamed up with some other friends from our study abroad program so we were able to share some more time together.

DIS Crew at the Holocaust Museum

Isabel is trying to sketch

We covered the touristy spots and made a reservation to tour the Reichstag dome.  It was definitely worth it.  Great views and pretty informative.

Berlin was awesome, and very surprising.  If you ever have the opportunity to visit, I'd highly recommend it.  There is so much to do and see, the food is good and the people are generally very friendly.

Next stop....Prague.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Farvel Kobenhavn

44 days ago we arrived in Copenhagen.  We have completed an architectural summer abroad program, met some great people from Denmark and elsewhere in the world, travelled throughout Scandinavia, drank a lot of Carlsberg and Tuborg, and even picked up on some Danish along the way.  Brandon, Shaun, Tim and myself have been living in close quarters for nearly 2 months, going to school and travelling together, and we haven't killed each other.

Now it's time we have to say goodbye to each other.  Bittersweet would be the word to describe the feeling.

Tim and Kate, I hope you guys have an amazing time backpacking through Asia and look forward to seeing you both when we all get back to San Diego.

Brandon and Caitlin, enjoy your Eurotrip and maybe we'll bump into each other on our travels.  If at NewSchool starts on Oct. 3rd...I'll see you then.

Shaun...the train leaves at 11:45AM...see ya in the morning.

And now ladies and gentlemen...the proposed itinerary for EuroTrip'n 2011.


But it's all up in the air so we'll see where we actually end up.

So long Copenhagen.  Goodbye DIS, the friends we've met, Carlsberg beer, shawarma, china box, T&K, Istanbul Pizza, LA Bar, Fisk, Tuborg, 5 flights of stairs up to our apartment, countless flights of stairs up to school, bicyclers, Francis Pony, Australian Bar, Norreport Station, the Stroget, cobblestones, the Hornsleth, Nyhavn, hot dogs, Sandwich Pigen, the Danish kroner, rediculous Danish sales tax, windmills....


Thursday, August 11, 2011

The end is near

53 days outside of the US.  Wowzas.

Well...our time here in Copenhagen is quickly coming to an end.  We came, we saw, and I'd like to believe we've conquered.

For any of our fellow NewSchool'ers reading'll be happy to know that we feel that the education we are receiving at NewSchool is quite good, after attending the summer abroad program.  We were all anxious to see how we stacked up against other architecture schools and students, and from what we have all experienced, we agree, that we feel we are right where we need to be.  We've met very many interesting individuals from all over the country, and have enjoyed the time spent working and playing with you guys.   Working with and learning from Danish instructors has been something I will never forget either.  Their take on architecture, culture, and life was great to experience.  Bo is the man.  A charismatic, genuine, and smart individual.  Many many thanks Bo if our paths don't cross again.

We have added on 2 other members of the San Diego community to our company, Caitlin (Mrs. Great One) and Kate, Tim's fiancee.  It has been great to see both of them and hope that they're getting to enjoy Copenhagen as best as they can.

Shaun and I are preparing to make hot moves toward Berlin after our time is up here in Copenhagen.  We have our hostel booked and are meeting up with a British friend we met the first couple of days here in Copenhagen at the same hostel as us.  Also, a good group of people from our program here in Copenhagen are heading to Berlin so we will have a bit of company on the first leg of our travels.  Tim and Kate will be leaving soon, as well as 'Dini and Smitty.  While so stoked to check out other places, it will be bittersweet to leave Copenhagen.  We finally feel comfortable and situated here.  A home away from home for sure.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Checking in...

Well, 44 days outside of the United States.  The NFL lockout has come to an end.  The last NASA shuttle has returned to Earth for the last time.  The country's national debt ceiling has been raised.

Each day since we have gotten back from our trip has been roughly the same...up early, off to school, work at school, eat lunch, work at school, eat dinner, work at school, walk home, work at home, go to bed.  Throw in a shower every now and then and we're good.  Heads down and were pushing through the last bit of time we have here in Copenhagen.  And obviously, since we have been swamped with work, the weather has been amazing.  Naturally.

Today, our instructor Bo broke up the monotony, and held our critiques to a couple hours and took us on a field trip to Orestad, the new development area of Copenhagen.  What was once land own by the military, the state gave back to Copenhagen and have been letting developers, architects and planners go crazy.  It has some great examples of modern architecture.  We saw the 8 House by BIG, which was a blast to explore and see in person after reading about and seeing in pictures.

Beyond that, work as usual.