Friday, May 27, 2016

Munich, Germany

After a day well spent in the southern-most point of Germany (check that out here), I had a few hours in Munich before I had to catch a train back to Paris. While I was only there for a short time, I really enjoyed the city and definitely plan on going back at one point.

I started my day in the main square of the city, called the Marienplatz. It houses the city hall, as well as a large bell tower that is famous for playing a glockenspiel song twice a day. Even though it was nine in the morning, the square was full of activity because the FC Bayern Munich soccer team was arriving in the square later that day, but more on that in a second.



After grabbing a pastry from a nearby bakery, I made my way to St. Peter's Church to climb stairs that take you to the top of the church's bell tower. The view was stunning - the city is filled with adorable red-thatched roofs and is surrounded by Austrian Alps, which are unfortunately out of the range of the photo below.


I made my way back down to the street and set off in no particular direction, with my only goal being to see as much of the city I could see. I found some gorgeous gardens, a few impressive squares, and did my fair share of people watching. But, in true fashion, I managed to find a Starbucks and got a little taste of home.


Back to the soccer ordeal - having taken German in high school for six years, all the boys in my classes would always talk about German soccer teams. Because of this, I decided I should wait in the crowd in the Marienplatz to see the team. The Germans in the crowd sang fight song after fight song while waiting and, needless to say, it was quite the experience.

But, as my luck would have it, I had to leave 15 minutes before the team made an appearance - otherwise, I would have missed my train back to Paris.

Keep up with my adventures on Instagram by clicking here.

xx
Caitlin

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Füssen, Germany

It seems like it's been longer, but I've been in France for a whole week as of today. Not wanting to miss anything, we've done so many things that the days run together, my feet and legs are constantly sore, and it feels as though we've been here for a month. I've ultimately decided that over the course of these six weeks, I'll never catch up on sleep - but, I'm okay with that.

This past weekend was my first trip outside of France, as well as my first time traveling alone! At the conclusion of class on Friday, I made my way to one of the main train stations in France and boarded a high-speed train to go to Munich, Germany. Having learned German for six years in school, I was excited to finally be able to put those years to use and experience a culture I'd heard so much about.


While the walk from the Munich train station to my hotel at 10:00pm was less than desirable, I made it, somehow, in one piece. I settled into the room and tried to go to sleep as quickly as possible because I had an early train in the morning.

The alarm went off at 5:00am and I frantically got ready in order to catch a train leaving at 5:53am to go to Füssen, Germany, which is a tiny town perched along the Austrian Alps in southern Germany. I barely made the train - it started moving about a minute after I boarded. 


Even though it was a two hour train ride early in the morning, it was incredible, simply because of the sights out the window. I saw fields covered in bright yellow flowers, little villages settled in valleys of mountains, and expansive lakes dotted with red-roofed homes. It was spectacular.

Upon arrival in Füssen, I wandered the town for a while before making my way to Schwangau, a town that holds the famous Neuschwanstein Castle, the same castle that inspired Disney World's Cinderella Castle. The area around the castle was stunning, with a large, clear lake surrounded by alps. I took a tour of the castle and then made my way down to the lake to eat lunch.


I wasn't quite sure what was next on the agenda, but I spontaneously decided to take a bus to the next town over, Tegelberg, where I took a gondola up to the top of the mountains, right in the Austrian Alps. The views were incredible and I'll let the photos speak for themselves. People were also parachuting and hang-gliding off the side of the mountain, which was so fun to watch. I hiked in the area for an hour or so and made my way back down via gondola.





At the end of the day, after walking 13.34 miles in total, I was ready to head back to my hotel to go to sleep for the night. As it would be, I had another early morning to explore the city of Munich, which I'll talk more about in the next post.

xx
Caitlin

PS - A perk of traveling alone? No one is there to stop you from having ice cream for dinner. :)



Thursday, May 19, 2016

Paris

Despite the fact that I've only been in Paris for less than a week, I've already grown to love the city. (If you're not sure why I'm in Paris, click here.) It's hard not to be amazed by my surroundings - each street brings a unique tone to the city and every building holds immense amounts of history. I'm constantly in awe of every detail of the city and its rich culture, consistently reminding me how extremely thankful I am for the opportunity to live here for six weeks.


If I had to sum up my time in Paris so far, I would use three words: macarons, cafes, and walks. On our first day here, I bought macarons at, not one, but two different bakeries, one of which was Laduree. If you couldn't guess, this will be a frequent occurrence in my time here. I also plan on visiting as many bakeries as I can - they're all unique, but they all give off the same smell of freshly baked bread mixed with a light trace of sugar.


As for the cafe culture, America has nothing like it. Each street in Paris is dotted with cafes, ranging from tones of chicness to nostalgia to warmness, and everything in-between. Outside each cafe is a handful of chairs and miniature tables. While you can sit down for lunch, people also frequently sit and sip a cup of tea or coffee, making great opportunities for people watching.


And finally, the walking: according to my iPhone, I've been averaging seven to nine miles a day. My goal is to get to know the streets well enough where I can make my way through the main parts of the city without looking like an aimless tourist.


On the note of tourism, the thing I appreciate most about this experience is the ability to approach Paris as a home away from home, rather than as a tourist on vacation. While we do frequent the normal attractions, such as the museums and the Eiffel Tower, we are also truly experiencing the culture and immersing ourselves into life in Paris.

And with that, au revoir!

xx
Caitlin

Friday, May 13, 2016

Summer Travels

As you read this, I am most likely frantically packing at last minute and adding things to my suitcase that I will never use. In a few days, I leave for a study abroad program in Paris! I'll be gone for six weeks, during which I'll take two classes, all while making Paris a home-away-from-home. I'll also be traveling on the weekends to Germany, Switzerland, and possibly Italy! Now as to how I'm supposed to pack for six weeks in one suitcase, I have no idea where to even begin.


So far, I've compiled a few lists of places to see, eat, and wander in Paris and in the surrounding areas. My goal is to see as much as possible and document it with photography. As some of you may know, one of my main passions is photography - that being said, this trip is going to provide me with some unique photo opportunities, which makes me that much more excited.


You can also guarantee that I will eat my way through Paris - apologies in advance for the large amount of foodstagrams you'll find on my Instagram (but also, not sorry). If anyone has any recommendations for food (or anything else, really) in Paris, I would love to hear them!


The last time I went to Paris, I was nine years old. So, I only remember the most random snippets, such as playing cards with my sister in our hotel or how sticky my hands got after eating an ice cream cone from a place called Berthillon. I am beyond excited to make Paris my city for six weeks and see all that I can.

If you want to keep up with my adventures, I will be posting here on the blog! You'll likely find more frequent updates on my Instagram: @caitlinmarie17.

In the spirit of my trip, Au Revoir!

xx
Caitlin







Wednesday, May 4, 2016

To The High School Senior

As I sit here, procrastinating studying for my finals, I can't help but reflect on my freshman year in college. It flew by much more quickly than I ever could have imagined, but it was full of wonderful memories that I know I'll keep forever. There were some amazing high points, a handful of low points, and a whole lot of personal growth.

But, I mainly want to focus on anyone who is finishing up their last semester as a high schooler. You're bound to be craving the freedom from school that is so, so near - I was there a year ago. All you want to do is push through the last set of tests that stands between you and the next amazing chapter of your life. 



The first thing I want to say, though, is: stop. Take a moment to look around at everything and everyone at your life in this moment, mainly because it's all about to change. As you walk around your high school for the last few days, reminisce on your times there. Remember the memories you made, the friends and teachers who impacted your life, and how much you've grown since freshman year. Think about all the football games, late nights with friends, and that hilarious moment from sophomore year. It is so easy to get caught up in the excitement of finishing high school forever - make sure to look back on it all.

Another thing: college is incredible. You have so much to look forward to in the next four years that it's hard to even explain it. I am extremely jealous of everyone about to enter their freshman year of college because I would give anything to live in this year forever. 

That being said, here are a few things to remember: savior every moment - as I said, this year has gone by so quickly that it all feels like a blur. Make sure to live in the moment and have as much fun as possible. Also, do as much as you can. By that, I mean to say that as nice as relaxing on your futon while watching Netflix may seem, you'll enjoy your year so much more if you involve yourself in plans with friends and opportunities on campus. There will never be another time in your life where you get to live in close proximity with so many amazing people - take advantage of it.

And finally, don't be scared. Easier said than done, I know. But as you walk across that stage to receive your hard-earned diploma, know that an amazing adventure is ahead of you. I promise you'll make friends, that you'll have a good time, and that you'll finally figure out what you want to do with your life. The best part of college? It's all what you make of it. So make it the best time you could ever imagine.

xx
Caitlin