Monday, December 31, 2007

2007 Recap!

2007 was an amazing year!
I find seeing 13 countries in one year pretty amazing, especially since I just got my passport in January. I have a lot to be thankful for, especially my health, family, and friends. I am also very lucky for the opportunities that I have had this past year. I couldn't have asked for more. Being able to travel and live in another country have been a wonderful experience and I hope everyone gets a chance to do both. I hope the new year brings as much luck as the last!
Goodbye 2007, Hello 2008
My video of my travels in 2007!

Friday, November 30, 2007


November 21-25, 2007
Tunis is absolutly beautiful and it is the most surprising country I have been to.

Day 1
Victoria and I left campus at 11:00 to catch our 11:47 train to Stuttgart. We arrived in Stuttgart on time and caught our train to Strasbourg. When we arrived at Strasbourg train station, we wanted to check our bags so that we could explore the city a little before making our way to the airport. We had a couple of hours to kill, but the stupid baggage storage cost 4 Euro per locker and we could not share one. So we just decided to walk around with them. However, when we got to the front entrance of the train station, we noticed it was raining, and that really put a damper on things. We decided it was not the best of ideas to walk around with our suitcases and get them soaked, so we sat in McDonalds until we needed to leave. We ate some food, played some cards, and got harassed by a couple of guys, the usual!! Ha ha. Anyway, we made it to the airport after taking a tram and bus, checked in and boarded the plane. We arrived in Tunis at about midnight, got our bags then looked for our driver. At first we thought he was the wrong person but it was too late, we were already on our way!!! It was really the car that threw us off, we were expecting a nice town car, but instead got an old beat up, Toyota Camry! We arrived at the correct house and deduced that it was in fact the right person! We settled in and hit the sack!

Day 2
We slept yesterday’s travels off until about 10am and woke up to a beautiful day. We went downstairs where Nora, the housekeeper, was making breakfast because the cook was out. We had a nice breakfast, and then got dressed for the day. Since it was thanksgiving, we decided to stay around the house. Aunt Cynthia had a few meetings and an early dinner with the US ambassador for Tunisia. Victoria, Maraion and I went for a little walk around the neighborhood. We were looking for a specific shop, but got lost until we asked someone, then we realized we had passed it two times! After the walk, Victoria and I decided it was too nice to be inside, so we went to the roof. We brought towels, cards, and music with us and spent the next couple of hours basking in the glory of WARMTH. It reminded me a lot of Arizona. The sun was waning, so we went inside and changed just before the guests started to arrive. Shortly after the guests arrived, dinner was ready, and it was a fest fit for a king! We ate, talked and laughed until people slowly started to leave. After the last person left, we changed into our PJ’s and watched CSI. It was so nice to finally watch American TV!!!! (The military had a TV network she had access to!) We went to bed shortly after 11pm!

Day 3
Today we ventured out into the city with Marwin, the driver for the ambassador. We went to La Mensa, the Cartage and Sidi Bou Said were we saw a lot of local life, and visited many shops. We saw some amazing seaside views of Tunisia. We spent most of the morning out and about, until we got a call form the ambassador. We had to go to her office and pick her up. So we drove over to the African Development Bank and sat in her office and waited for her for an hour. Victoria and I played cards. We left, went back to the house and ate a late lunch. We then drove over to the Tunis City centre, which is the most famous shopping mall in North Africa. We spent an hour there, and then went back to the house to get dressed for the Gala to be held in Aunt Cynthia’s (ambassador) honor. The Gala was really nice, good food, and many inspiring speakers. We went home and went to bed for another long day!

Day 4
Today Marwin took us to Sousse, which is a beautiful coastal town south of Tunis, but there were a lot of tourists! We spent the morning there looked in the shops, bought some stuff, then drove back up the coast to Hammamet. This city was so amazing, very pretty, small and a lot to do in the off season. We ate lunch at a nice small restaurant, I had steak and eggs, it was delicious! Then we took some pictures on the beach and drove to Nabeul. Nabeul is known as “pottery town.” The town has more pottery than I have seen in my life! We spent an hour in one store, bought some bowls and other dishes, then went back to the house. We had dinner together, watched the Island on TV, then packed and hit the sack for another early morning.

Day 5
Today was a long day. We woke up at 8am and ate breakfast together. Then Marwin took us to the Medina where we bought a lot of random gifts. I bought Converse’s and Victoria bought a lot of Pashminas! Then we went back home and had a small lunch and said good bye to everyone. We arrived at the airport and the day of travel began! We didn’t get home until 12:30. We even missed our train, but everything worked out anyway! We had a great time.

Tunisia was a 5. As beautiful and amazing as it was, Tunisia it is not indicitive of Africa. Don't be fooled!

Thursday, November 15, 2007


November 8-11 2007

The Blue Mosque is amazing at night and during the day!!
Day 1
Travis, Victoria and I caught the 8:44 bus to Stuttgart airport. Our flight, living at 11:00, was on time and arrived in Istanbul, after a quick layover in Zurich, at about 4:20pm. When we arrived, there was a man holding a sign with my name on it from the Antique Hostel***. We had pre-requested a pickup service, since it would be easier and saver, and since we really didn't know the city. The ride to our hostel took about 35mins, and it was nice to see some of the city by car first. We checked into our hostel, put our stuff down then decided to go out find food and explore the area close to our hostel! We found this restaurant, that looked nice, and sat down. We were the only customers in the restaurant. We decided to split some courses, but the restaurant was bogus!! The pictures where nothing like what was served, and we shared a shrimp platter that had maybe 5 shrimp on it! Then we had stewed fish, which was actually good. They kept bringing us bread and we thought we had to pay for it so we kept refusing it!! All in all it was a terrible first experience, we paid quickly and left!

Day 2
We woke up around 9:00am ate breakfast, got dressed, and then headed out for the day. We went into the Blue Mosque, and had to take off our shoes and cover our heads. It was interesting inside, but other people were rude, because they didn't have their heads covered! Jerks. Anyway we headed over to the Hogia sophia, then further to the Topkapi Place but we didn't go inside either! We just walked and hit up: the Grand Bazaar, Nuruosmaniye Mosque, Yeni Mosque and later the Spice market! We had our first Turkish doner, it was okay but, I have had better in Germany!! After our doner, we headed to the Asian side. To a town called Uskudar. We got off the ferry and started to walk without a map or any idea where we were going. We found a Domino's (pizza place from the states) and I bought Cinna Sticks, while Travis and Victoria waited on a bench for me. After we ate we walked down to get an umbrella for Travis, that's when he realized that he didn't have his wallet. He had set it between them on the bench! Dumbass! Anyway, we start running back to get it and Travis pulls ahead panic stricken! He makes it to the bench and there is a couple sitter there, they look at him and say "lose your wallet?" Thank goodness they were sitting there and not someone else or that wallet would have been gone!! Needless to say, we weren't that fond of the Asian side after that! So we left and went to the hostel, then ate a pizza joint that was excellent!

Day 3
Today was a short day for me! I had been sick for the past week, and the cold and rain didn't make it any better. So we ate breakfast as usual, then got dressed, and headed out to the Topkapi Place. We spent about 2 hours there, and that's when I decided to head back and relax in the hostel. So we separated, and I bought some cooked corn and ate it on the way back!! I have had better! I watched some movies, and talked to random people at the hostel. Then Travis and Victoria come back and we played cards. Then we went and had pizza at our favorite spot!! When we came back we met another American and started talking the him, and then watched the Bourne Ultimatum, then hit the sack.

Day 4
Today was an interesting day. It started off nice, we woke up, at breakfast checked out, and then I was forced to give the hostel a review right then and there! But it was an decent hostel, so I didn't really care. We watched some TV, wrote in journals, read, and played cards. Then we went out for a little walk. We bought some gifts for ourselves and our family!! Then we went back to the hostel caught our ride to the airport at like 2:50, and arrived at the airport just before 3:30. We had to go through security before entering the airport, which was crazy!! Then we got the Swiss Intl. Airlines counter, they were rude right from the beginning. They made us check our baggage, "because the plane was packed" but we didn't have to check them coming to Turkey. Then we get on the plane and they were running 30 minutes late, which made us miss our connection in Zurich. Not only did we miss our connection in Zurich but we missed the bus and last train to Reutlingen. When we tried to explain this to Swiss air, they basically told us that there was nothing they could do so we might as well walk!! BASTARDS. Our flight didn't leave until 10:40 so we had to wait for 3 hours. When we finally arrived in Stuttgart, and guess what they lost my luggage! How convent, they made me check it after I refused 3 times to, then they lost it. Jackasses!! Anyway our friend Roger was nice enough to drive the 40 mins there and back to come and pick us up. Thank goodness to, because otherwise we would have had to pay 60 dollars for a taxi. Anyway we got home around 12:15. how annoying! Let's just say that I'm filing a large complaint!!

Turkey was a 3. It was cleaner, and safer than you would think, but I would never live there!!

Tuesday, October 30, 2007


October 25-28, 2007

There were too many things to take pictures of!!!

Day 1
Jessica, Victoria, and Priscilla and myself left Reutlingen University at 11:33 and headed downtown. We went to the HBF first to check our train situation, because once again Deutsche Bahn was on strike. Once we figured it out and bought tickets we had some time to kill, so we got food. We took two trains, an S-bahn, and 2 buses to get to the Baden-Baden airport! I'm not sure if it is worth saving a little bit of money to do it like that! Anyway, we fly Ryanair so of course it was a little crazy and unorganized, but we made it too Rome safely by around 7pm. We found a cheap bus to get us within walking distance of our hostel for 6 euros. We checked into our hostel, dropped off our stuff and headed out for dinner. We ate pizza at an "okay" little bistro, and then took Priscilla to the train station to meet up with her friend. The rest of us went back to the hostel and played cards in the hallway, then went to bed.

Day 2
We woke up at around 9am and had our free breakfast that consisted of bread, coffees, jam, butter, and oh more bread! After that, filling meal, we took the metro to the Colosseum where we were meeting up with Priscilla. Jessica went inside, but Victoria and I waited for Priscilla, and killed time by playing cards. From the Colosseum we just wondered around hitting up almost everything including: Arco di Constantino, old Rome, Arco di tito, Vittroiano E Piazza Venezia, Pantheon, Fontana di Trevi, Piazza di Spagna, Colonna Traiana, Mercati Traianei, Santa Maria Maggiore, Repubblica, Piazza Navona, Campo de Fiori, San Carlo Quattro Fontane, Fontana del Tritone, Villa Medici, Piazza del Popolo, Palazzzo Montecitorio, Palazzo Chigi, and Teatro dell Opera. Basically everything and anything we could walk to! Later that night after we rested, Vic, Jess and I at dinner then dropped Jess off at the train station to meet up with Pris. Victoria and I had an Opera or actually an Aria at 8:30pm to attend at San Palo Church. The aria was amazing and we had a really good time. After that we meet up with Pris and Jess and hung out with some of Pris's friends and then went back to the hostel.

Day 3
We spent a bulk of the day at the Vatican (see below). When we were done with the Vatican, we went to Castel Sant Angelo and Palazzo Giustizia, where we sat and waited for Pris, but killing time, by once again playing cards! We went back to the hostel to relax and change before heading out for dinner. We got ready, then meet up with Priscilla and her friend at 8:30. We were a little late but we found them and went to a nice restaurant near Piazza Tritussa. After the dinner we headed home, because we were tired and had to check out early the next morning!

Day 4
We woke up at 9:15am, checked out, ate breakfast, then hit up the bus to go to the airport. We arrived at the airport at around 10:30 am. We had originally thought that our flight was at 2pm but it was actually at 2:45 so we were even earlier than we needed to be. We hung out, played cards, read our books and waited. We are literally the stupidest people around. It wasn't until we thought that our plane was really, really late that we realized that it was daylight savings time. So we were actually there an hour earlier than we thought. So we technically woke up at 8:15 and didn't have to check out until 10 nor be at the airport until 2:45!!!! How annoying! Anyway, we got into Baden-Baden took a 9 euro bus ride to Karlsruhe, then a 9 euro train ride to Reutlingen. We finally got home around 9pm. AHHHHH such a long wasted day!!

Rome was a 3. There were a ton of tourists, it was kind of dirty, and the food was okay!

The Vatican City
October 27, 2007
The Vatican was so packed and crazy, it was hard to enjoy it.

Day Trip
We decided to wake up early and go to the Vatican. Its a good thing we did too, because we found out later that everything was going to close at 1:30. We ate breakfast took the metro and was at the Vatican around 10:30am. I cannot even begin to explain how crazy the Vatican was. The main reason, I think, was due to the fact that the next day was going to be the last Sunday of the month and the Pope always holds a sermon then. So there were a lot of tours and people visiting that weekend. Anyway, we waited in line to enter the basilica for only 30min. Which was surprising considering it wrapped almost completely around the inside circle of the Vatican!! We went inside the basilica and it was free, thank goodness. There were so many people I could barley keep track of Jessica and Victoria. It was really quite amazing inside the basilica. After we finished with that we decided we needed to see the Sistine Chapel. So we waited in another line, this line however was about an hour wait. But the time flew by because we decided to play cards, yet again!! We make it to the front, payed 8 euros, and began the biggest, and most annoying maze of my life. There were, once again, so many people that I could not enjoy the beauty of the place. It took us an hour to get through the entire Vatican Museum just to see the Sistine Chapel. You can't go any other way, but through the entire thing in order to see the Chapel. AHHHHH! It was really terrible! Anyway, after that fiasco we decided to get the hell out of there. So we left, and went to this amazing Gelatto place. All in all i would never go back to the Vatican!

The Vatican was a 2. I was really pretty, but there were too many people!!

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Burg Hohenzollern, Germany

Burg Hohenzollern
October 21, 2007
This photograph was not taken by me. When we went there was a lot snow and fog.
Day Trip
This trip was a ESB function. They rented a small charter bus to drive us to the castle. We met the bus in front of our dorms on campus at 9:45am. This was slightly hard to do because most of us didn't go to bed until 5am. Not to mention that when we woke up that morning it was snowing. In the middle of October, that was the earliest I have ever seen snow! Anyway, about 17 of us made it to the bus, out of 24! The castle is located 50m outside Stuttgart, so the bus ride was only about 30-40 min, which wasn't long at all. When we arrived we were told that we could either walk up to it (20min) or take the shuttle, we decide to walk. I instantly regretted that! It wasn't bad, but it was cold and we were tired! Anyway we make it to the top, had time to kill before our tour began, so we got postcards, and drink coffee/hot chocolate.
We took the tour of inside the castle, which lasted about 40 min, then hungout for 20 mins; taking pictures, using the restroom and so forth. We had voted on where to eat and had unanimously decided on Burger King, because of their "Angry Whopper!" So we ate there, quickly, went back to the bus, and started our journey home. By the time we got home, which was around 2, everyone had been dying to get off the bus; I think it had something to do with the Angry Whopper, or hangovers, or perhaps a combo of the two! Anyway, even though I was extremely tired and it was snowing outside which ruined a lot of our view, I still had a really good time!

Burg Hohenzollern is a 3, it is biggest castle I have seen in Germany so far!

Brief History
Burg Hohenzollern is a castle, about 50 km south of Stuttgart, Germany, is considered home to the Hohenzollern family that came to power during the Middle Ages and ruled Prussia and Brandenburg until the end of World War I. The castle was originally constructed in the first part of the 11th century. It was completely destroyed after a 10-month siege in 1423. A second, larger and sturdier castle was constructed from 1454 to 1461 and served as a refuge for the Swabian Hohenzollern family during wartime, including during the Thirty Years' War.

Overtime the castle lost its strategic importance and fell into disrepair, which lead to the demolition of several dilapidated buildings. The third version of the castle, which stands today, was constructed by King Friedrich Wilhelm IV between 1846 and 1867, under the direction of Oberhofbaurat Stühler, who based his design on English Neo-Gothic style as well as the castles in Loire. No one lived in it until 1945, when Crown Prince Wilhelm took it as his home, the prince and his wife are buried there.

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Ulm, Germany

October 6, 2007

The Danube river in another city in another country!

Day Trip
The Reutlingen gang took another day trip! Surprise surprise!! We used the Baden-Württemburg rail pass, which is good for the whole day, with up to five people anywhere in Baden-Württemburg. We left Reutlingen at 10:48am changed in Plochingen then arrived in Ulm at 12:47. It normally only takes an hour to get to Ulm but we are only allowed to take Regional trains with the pass, which slows you down a bit! Anyway we arrive in Ulm, once again without a map, but three objectives, to see the Danube, eat food, and go to the Ulm Münster!
We found food at a posh sushi lounge, which left us satisfied for about 30 min! We walked to the Münster, looked around inside, took some pictures, and decided we were hungry again. Jessica stayed behind because she wanted to climb to the top of the Dom and see the view, but the rest of us went to feast on chicken and Bratwurst! Later, we walked down to the Danube, took pictures with some guys dressed in cowboy costumes and then walked toward the Rathaus.
We saw the Rathaus in Fisherman's quarter, then walked down a little to see "The Crooked House," which is a house surrounded by water and is.. well.. crooked! It was interesting to see, so we took some pictures and then headed back to toward the train station. We caught our train back to Reutlingen at 17:00 and arrived in Reutlingen at about 18:20. Once again, perfect weather, and a very nice day trip here in Germany!!

Ulm is a 3. It's big enough to be noticed by tourist, but average as far as German cities go!

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Schloss Lichtenstein, Germany

Schloss Lichtenstein
October 3, 2007
It's no Neuschwanstein, but It was a great day trip, and a pretty little castle!

Day trip
Reutlingen Gang strikes again! We took a day trip to Schloss Lichtenstein on a Wednesday, because it was Reunification day, and therefore we had no school! We took a bus leaving from Reutlingen, at 12:21pm. We were only on the bus for about 20 min, and the bus driver pulls over to the side of the road and says "Schloss Lichtenstein!" Mind you the road we were driving on was out in the middle of know where. So we got off and crossed the road and saw a sign that said 20 minutes on foot to the castle; so we started our walk. The walk was nice, we had perfect weather, and green fields of grass, surrounded by many trees to look at! 20 minutes later we arrived at the castle, which was only 4 euro, including a tour, to enter. We took some pictures, bought postcards, and ate ice cream while waiting for our tour. At 2pm we took the tour which showed us the inside of the castle, and lasted for 30min. The inside of the castle was nice, but nothing too large or super impressive. The walls and ceilings we painted with detailed drawings that gave the castle a rich look! Anyway, after the tour we ate some french fries and curry wurst, then headed for the bus. We arrived back in Reutlingen at around 4pm, stopped and had donners then headed for the school!

Schloss Lichtenstein was a 3. If I didn't leave this close to it, I might not have made the trip to it!

Brief History
The castle located near Honau in the Swabian Alb, Baden-Württemberg, Germany. Its self-descriptive name in English means "light (colored) stone." Historically there has been a castle on the site since around 1200. It was twice destroyed, once in the Reichskriegs war of 1311 and again by the city-state of Reutlingen in 1381. The castle was not reconstructed and subsequently fell to ruin. In 1802 the land came into the hands of King Frederick I of Württemberg, who built a hunting lodge there. By 1837 the land had passed to his nephew Duke Wilhelm of Urach, Count of Württemberg, who, inspired by Wilhelm Hauff's novel Lichtenstein, added the current castle in 1840–42. The romantic Neo-Gothic design of the castle was created by the architect Carl Alexander Heideloff. Today the castle is still owned by the Dukes of Urach, but is open to visitors.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Freiburg & The Black Forest, Germnay

September 29, 2007

The Black Forest!
Day Trip
Jessica, Priscilla and I took a 7:40 train to Freiburg, it took 4 hours and we changed trains 3 times. But the time flew by because we were reading, talking and sleeping. We arrived in Freiburg at noon, without a map or an agenda, just a time frame of 6 hours! We found a Asian cuisine restaurant and had lunch there. We then walked around looking in shops, taking pictures, and buying post cards. We then decided that its time to hit up the black forest.
So we find a map, make some guesses, ask somebody and find our way to the right tram; which takes us to the right bus, which then takes us to the lift, that finally gets us up to the top of the black forest!!!! By this time its 3pm and we have an hour before we should head back to the train station. So we enjoy the hike, take some pictures, sit and enjoy the view. At 4 we take the lift back down to the bus, to the tram, and then walk to the train station.
We arrive at the train station, Priscilla eats pizza, Jessica and I eat McDonald's, then we board our train, for another 4hour ride and 3 changes! The time passes by even more quickly this time because we play 20 questions!!! I had a really great time with them, visiting the black forest and the city. Best of all the whole trip cost about 30 euros! We arrived back in Reutling around 10:30, then 11:00ish at the school.

Freiburg is a 4. It was really pretty, larger than Reutlingen, and the Black Forest was Great!