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The Alarming Pine Street Flats

February 11, 2014

There is nothing that pierces the calm of night quite like an emergency alarm.  The sharp “WAH – WAH – WAH” that abruptly jolts anyone in the vicinity to life.  Or, if the alarm is further away, it dully, but surely wakes you with its incessant monotony. “wah – wah – wah.”

For the last two nights, this has been my life.  This is not the first time the alarms have gone off in Pine Street Flats since I became a resident in July 2013, but it certainly is the most notable series of alarms.  For those of you who do not live in the Gulch, because I am certain anyone who does has heard these alarms, let me summarize the last couple of nights for you.  Sunday night (Monday morning, really) the alarms in the entire Pine Street Flats building went off from 2:15 a.m. until roughly 3:00 a.m. due to some sort of water main surge; then just the retail space facing 11th Avenue from 3:00 a.m. until 4:30 a.m.  The following night, in a feat of sheer ineptitude, the alarms in the 11th Avenue retail space sounded from approximately 2:00 a.m. until 5:28 a.m. (by that time I was paying close attention).

To the tune of around $2,400.00 a month, I live in a high-end, Gulch (11th Avenue) facing unit in Pine Street Flats, directly above the retail space.  I really like my apartment, it is a good size and is brand spanking new.  My community has a great pool, gym, zen garden, and community room.  There is a fantastic Pub (called “The Pub”) in my building.  There is also a burger place and a clothing store.  The area is very trendy, in my opinion, the best location in Nashville.  Until recently, I have seldom thought anything negative about my apartment.  Well, with the exception of the people who run through their apartment above me, but that is the nature of apartment living, isn’t it?

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So around 3:30 a.m. Monday morning there I was, fuming in my bed watching Canada and Germany battle each other in an intense curling match, listening to “WAH – WAH – WAH” coming from below me.  I decided then to go find someone to complain to about these alarms.  I thought surely someone would be around since only a short time before half a fire station had been hanging out downstairs.

Finding someone was easier than I could have ever expected.  I burst out my door, walking with a fury, the way I do when I am especially worked up, and there is one of our maintenance men.  As he jogged down the hallway, toward the stairs that lead to the retail space, I asked him if they planned to ever turn off the concert of alarms sounding below in the retail area of the building.  He informed me that no one could get to the space where the alarms were situated and  the man with the key was not answering his phone.  Of course not, it was 3:30 in the morning.

But seriously, the people who own the building have no access to this massive alarm system in the building they own.  This just seems like a incompetent ridiculously foolish design.  The residents paid the price for this design malarkey…  The alarm finally shut off around 4:30 a.m.

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So fast forward to the end of my long, exhausting work day, accentuated by next to no sleep.  I get an email pretending to apologize for the alarm issues.  Management is sorry for the inconvenience and they are working to remedy the issues, all typical of the emails we receive regarding issues in the building.  The email reminds me “there are advantages to living in a multi-use building and being close to the several retail options” and further instructs “[a]s with any multi-use building, some of the safety precautions and alarms in place encompass the entire structure, therefore alerting all of us when there is a potential trouble signal detected.”

DUH.

My issue was not with the fact the alarms went off initially.  I understand that happens, and would prefer to err on the side of caution when it comes to such things.  However, I felt allowing the alarms to sound for hours after determining there was no emergency was unnecessary.

I responded to this email, my tone notably livid.  My building manager took the time to inform me she understands my frustration and exhaustion as she had to do her job talk to the alarm company on the phone from 2:30 a.m. until 5:00 a.m.  She told me there was an error read on a control panel in one of the retail spaces to which they do not have a key, hence the long delay in shutting off the alarms.  But then, she also told me that they had to make sure there was no fire in the building before shutting off the alarms.  So which is it?  And does finding a fire really take several hours?  It seems to me there was a massive design flaw and no one knew what to do about it.

But as my long Monday came to an end, what could I really do?  I thought, it is what it is, I am going to bed.  I felt terrible, like I am getting sick.  So I took a dose of Nyquil and floated off into a heavy, much needed sleep.

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“WAH – WAH – WAH”

“WAH – WAH – WAH”

I groggily came out of my Nyquil coma around 2:00 a.m. this morning.  At first I had no clue where, or really who, I was.  I must have been in a deep sleep.  Then I heard it, “WAH – WAH – WAH.”  I thought, nope, this is a dream, go back to sleep.  Sadly, getting up to get a glass of water, I realized this was no dream.  The alarms in the retail space were going off again.

I threw on my winter coat and walked out on my balcony.  I leaned over the rail, and sure enough, The Pub’s emergency lights were flashing and the alarms blaring.  I tried to peer at my neighboring balconies to determine if anyone else was outside.  I could not see the balconies and determined leaning any further over the railing would cause me to fall.  That was the last thing I needed, a delirious fall from my third floor balcony.

I went back inside and tried everything I could think of to drone out the alarms and get some sleep.  I turned on the Olympics, that didn’t help at all.  I put on a Spotify “sleep mix” with headphones.  People who can sleep in headphones are amazing.  I cannot do it, it was terrible for the entire five minutes I attempted it.  Lastly, I played the same mix through my Bose speaker which I sat on by my window.  That worked for a little while so long as I kept my pillow and blankets over my head.

Then the alarms spread.  The alarm in the clothing store directly below me started to cry “WAH – WAH – WAH.”  That was it.  No more sleeping for me.  I called the emergency line at 4:00 a.m.  The line informed me of the specific covered emergencies.  This was not a listed emergency, thus should have been a regular maintenance request, but call it fury or delirium, I was not waiting any longer.  Of course no one answered, or called me back.

Around 4:15 I stuck my head out into the hallway.  Not surprisingly, one of my neighbors was standing out there, kind of just staring off into space.  The alarms were distinct in the hall as well.  He told me his newborn baby has been screaming, unable to sleep, because of these alarms.  Poor guy, poor baby!  I immediately felt far less entitled to complain.  We discussed the flooding, multiple alarms, and general incredulity about these issues at length.

Really, a property owner should probably be concerned when residents are meeting for the first time in the hallway before the sun rises and no one has been out partying.  Sadly, this is how I have met every single one of the neighbors I know (which is most of them).

The alarms finally shut off at 5:28 a.m.  But seeing as I have to go to work today, that did me little to no good.  So I got ready and left for work.  I have sent yet another email to my manager, presently unanswered, we shall see where it goes.  But for now, I am wondering if I should find another place to stay tonight.  If I hear “WAH – WAH – WAH” one more time, I may lose my mind.

Over/Under on when and if the alarms will go off tonight???  Anyone want to make a wager???

2013 Alabama National Championship

January 9, 2013

Roll Tide Roll!

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Goodbye Jackson, Hello Miami!

I just returned from a fantastic weekend in Miami with my family and the Alabama Nation.  We played Notre Dame in the BCS National Championship at the Sun Life Stadium.  This is the second (technically third) National Championship I have attended.  I went to New Orleans last year when Bama played LSU. I was also in New Orleans when Bama won the 1992 National Championship, but I was a very small child and have little memory of that trip.  This was far and above the best NC ever and perhaps my all-time favorite trip to see Bama play ever.

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We stayed at the Courtyard Marriott on the Beach in Miami.  This hotel was amazing!  It is a smaller hotel with only about 10 floors, right on the beach.  There is a relaxing pool and a great beach-side bar with direct access to Miami beach.  My family and I spent a good deal of time at this hotel bar.

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Beach at the Marriott.

We stayed at the Courtyard Marriott on the Beach in Miami.  This hotel was amazing!  It is a smaller hotel with only about 10 floors, right on the beach.  There is a relaxing pool and a great beach-side bar with direct access to Miami beach.  My family and I spent a good deal of time at this hotel bar.

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View of the pool and beach from the hotel.

On the day of the game, Stephanie, Erin, and I walked to the Fountainbleu hotel a block down from us where the team was staying.  We sat around the pool and waited for game time, taking in the celebratory atmosphere.

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Fountainbleu Pool.

Eventually, our car arrived, and we left for the game.

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The sun setting around the stadium was beautiful and set the perfect scene for the victorious night ahead of us!  We parked at the game and entered the stadium.  It was shocking the lack of NC merchandise available to buy, that was pretty disappointing.  But other than that one little surprise, the rest of the night was incredible.

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The game did not disappoint.  We dominated the entire time.  We expected to win, but we certainly did not expect to score as many points by the start of the 2nd quarter as we scored in the previous year’s game overall.  We left the stadium ecstatic and ready to celebrate.

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We went to the Fountainbleu to celebrate with the team when we finally worked through all the traffic and made it back to the beach.  On the way back, our driver managed to get in the line with all the coaches being escorted by the police – our car looked exactly the same as all of theirs.  This really expedited the traffic process.  We celebrated well into the night, so much so that when I left, I grabbed my bags from my hotel and got in a cab for the airport (I had a 7:30am flight).

This was a short trip to Miami for the National Championship, but also a memorable and fun weekend.  I could not have asked for a more perfect trip.  Doesn’t hurt that my team just won their 15th National Championship either… Roll Tide!

La Ville Lumière

July 18, 2012

Paris – the last stop on our amazing adventure.

We traveled from Perpignan to Paris by train.  Seeing the French countryside fly by in the rain was both lovely and relaxing.  I do enjoy travel by train.

When we arrived in Paris, it was raining.  Even when raining, it is undeniable, Paris is a beautiful city.  Paris glows in the rain.

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We rented a small flat in an old building on Rue Rodier near Montmartre and the Opera District.  After getting into the apartment, we wandered off to find something to eat – we were starving!  It was late on a rainy Friday, evidently a time during which nothing is open in Paris.  We finally found a pizza place and escaped the rain to enjoy delicious, and shockingly spicy, French pizza.

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The next morning we got up early to explore.  It was Bastille Day, France’s 4th of July, and insanely crowded in the city.  Our first stop was breakfast.  I got coffee and quiche.  I could live on delicious food like this found in Paris forever and never once get bored.  They know what they are doing…

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After breakfast we climbed Montmartre to see the Sacre Coeur.  The views of the city from atop this hill are unbelievable.  We watched a storm rolling through the city from this high point, but luckily it remained sunny where we were.  Finally, no more rain!

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After the Sacre Coeur, we wandered down to through toward the Moulin Rouge.

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We continued walking – in the direction of the Avenue des Champs-Élysées and the Arc de Triomphe.  After the tons of walking we had done, I had to stop for bandaids.  My new flats were killing my poor feet!

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We continued walking, taking in all the festivities and French culture celebrating their country. It is wonderful to see people excited and passionate about their country.

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Finally, we started making our way home to get ready for the evening festivities.  We had every intention to celebrate France with the French that evening!

Later, after showers and a little rest, we went out to find some dinner and a good place to watch the Bastille Day fireworks.  We stopped at a street restaurant in the Opera District and ate French cuisine while watching the people walk by on the streets.  I chose a delicious scallop pasta.

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Then, we were off toward the Eiffel Tower!  We finally decided not to try to watch the show from the lawn of the Eiffel Tower and instead chose a spot along the Seine with a perfect view.  Once settled, we waited for the sun to set and the show to start!

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And then there were lights…

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After the fireworks, we wandered to a huge Irish Pub to continue the celebrations.  At some point in the night, the pub morphed from an Irish Pub into a dance club.  Only in Europe…  Hailey and I partied until the sun came up, it wasn’t until after someone broke a beer bottle on my foot that we decided to wander home.  Everyone else had gone home hours earlier, but we did not want to miss a moment.

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The next morning, some of our group went to see Versailles, but Hailey and I decided breakfast was vastly more important.  Something about staying out all night likely contributed to this decision…  Naturally, I got quiche again.  Hailey ordered a bizarre, yet delicious, salad.  Again, the food in Paris is undeniably delectable.

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Hailey and I spent the rest of the day wandering through Montmartre and visiting little shops while we waited for the others to come back to the city.

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When everyone got back, we grabbed dinner at another street cafe.  I love these little restaurants…and pasta.

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The next morning, our last day in Paris, and Europe, we set out to see more iconic Parisian sites.  We ventured to the beautifully decorated subway and off we went.

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Our first stop was not so much Parisian.  We decided to spend our last morning at a restaurant called Breakfast in America, a restaurant opened by an American man who wanted to bring some authentic American breakfast foods to Paris.  We had not been home in months and America could not wait another day.  I ordered a breakfast burrito, a personal favorite.

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After breakfast, we walked across the river to the Notre Dam.

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Next up, we walked down the river to the Louvre.

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The Louvre was insanely crowded inside.  I do not think I have ever seen that many people in one place at one time.  While there were many amazing things to see, it was difficult to see anything through the hordes of visitors.  On the top floor, where there were scarcely any people, we discovered a wonderful impressionism exhibit.  The Egyptian exhibit was also quite impressive.

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After the Louvre, we wandered to the Galleries Lafayette to do some shopping…or at least some looking.  Mostly, we went to the little restaurant inside the Galleries Lafayette and dined on delectable desserts.

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After our shopping excursion, we decided to head back to the Eiffel Tower.  We grabbed some street crepes and watched the sun set behind the Eiffel Tower.

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Sitting on the lawn of the Eiffel Tower was a beautiful last night in Paris and a magical way to close out the most amazing summer of my life.  Living in Europe these months is the most adventurous and rewarding thing I have ever done.  The world is such an amazing place, going to new places and meeting new people is my absolute favorite thing to do.

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The next morning, we all went our separate ways.  Lauren and I taxied to the Paris Orly Airport.  We flew AirBerlin back to Berlin where we exited through customs.  We then boarded our jumbo jet and flew back to New York, thus ending our Summer 2012 European Adventure.

 

 

Barcelona – Part 3 – Barcelona by Night

July 13, 2012

Our last, and second, night in Barcelona, we decided to really go out.  We all met at the apartment the boys rented for the weekend.  We drank cheap wine and beer while we planned where to go an what to do.  We decided to go to the bars situated along the coast.

The first club we tried was a place called Opium.  Friends from home suggested this was the best club in Barcelona.  Unfortunately, we were unable to get in.  So we wandered to find another club.

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We found this club nearby that had a street entrance.  Upon entering, you descended down a set of dark spiral stairs into the club below.  Once down in the club there were two large rooms.  One with a long, neon bar and low sofas.  THere were not many people in this room.  The other room had a DJ and a dance floor packed with people.  It was near impossible to move there were so many people dancing.  We grabbed drinks and made our way out into the crowd, dancing the night away.

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Eventually, after hours of dancing, that club closed and we found ourselves back on street level searching for something else to do.  We followed the crowd and discovered another strip of clubs further down along the boardwalk.  These clubs, it seemed, did not have a closing time.  We picked one that looked fun and joined the party.  As the night wore on, some of our group gave up on the party and went back to the hotel.  The rest of us danced until we noticed the sun rising through the front windows.

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When we saw the sun coming up we decided to abandon the club and take a walk on the beach.  This ended in an early morning swim in the Mediterranean Sea…

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We eventually left the beach, washed off our feet in a fountain, and grabbed a taxi back to our hotel.  It was an incredible night, Barcelona did not disappoint.

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The next morning (in reality later that morning), we ventured to yet another area of Barcelona in search of a brunch spot we were told we could not miss.  After winding around the streets for some time, we finally located it.  Thankfully, this place made a mean bloody mary (we all needed one).  Breakfast was pretty delicious too.

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After breakfast, we wandered around the streets of Barcelona enjoying the street performers and Spanish culture.  For me, Barcelona was surprising.  The entire atmosphere was entirely different from the parts of Spain I have visited in the past.  I spent a couple weeks when I was 17 in the Andalusia Region of Spain.  Barcelona was upbeat and modern while still maintaining the old world feel I remembered from Spain.  Barcelona deserves more than a few days of exploring, there is so much to experience and see in this unique city.

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The bus ride back to Perpignan was BRUTAL.  It was insanely hot, “air conditioning” on a european bus involves roof tiles that open slightly to let in a minuscule amount of wind.  Plus, as it would turn out, so many europeans seem to dislike showering, and we could smell them.

When we arrived at the Spain-France line, the police stopped the bus and pulled off what initially looked like random bus riders.  None of our group was selected.  It turned out they removed the most stinky riders (coincidence?, I think not).  They searched the person and bag of each person removed from the bus and then inspected their travel documents.  Evidently this was the French searching those who may be involved in terrorist activity.  This was more than slightly disturbing when they allowed these individuals back on the bus.  The smell that returned was also disturbing.

Despite the strange and uncomfortable bus ride back, we were all still quite happy.

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Barcelona – Part 2 – Gaudi and a Million Other Sites

July 13, 2012

We woke up Saturday morning in Barcelona and devised the best way possible to see as much of Barcelona as we could.  We decided that to do this, we should do a “hop-on, hop-off” tour like we did in Budapest.  We also had lunch reservations at a restaurant called Ca La Nuri.  It was a restaurant recommended to us by the hotel and known for its great paella.  We set off to the restaurant.

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The paella was delicious.  Our group was so large, we were sat in a separate basement room at this enormous table.  We were down there by ourselves.  It was fun not having the whole space to ourselves.  We sampled various appetizers placed on our table and ordered a ton of paella – which was served in giant dishes for us all to share.  It was delicious.

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Haley and I at Ca La Niri

After we were done with lunch, we made our way to the main square (I have no clue what it is called) to find a bus tour.  There were so many choices, but we eventually found the bus corresponding to the tickets we purchased through the hotel concierge.   Onto the bus tour we went!  Oh the sights we saw in fast-motion…

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We got off the bus tour for the first time at La Sagrada Familia (which I repeatedly referred to as “Gaudi Cathedral”).  We wanted to go inside, sadly the line was wrapped around the monument so far it would have taken hours to get in.  So instead we chose to take a bunch of pictures.  I still cannot believe we got to see this!

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We then got back on the bus and continued our dream tour of Barcelona.  Our next stop was Park Guell (which I continually referred to as Gaudi Park).  This place was insane.  We had to walk up this monster hill to get up there.  It was literally a hike to get from the main road to the park itself.

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The park was filled with beautiful flowers!

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The view from the top of the park was incredible.  You can see over Barcelona all the way to the Mediterranean Sea.  It was truly beautiful.

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As we left the park, my sandal, which I had purchased for this trip, broke.  I guess my hiking in Santorini, walking all over Berlin, Nice, Budapest, Prague, Lyon, Perpignan, and now Barcelona was too much for it to handle…

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We hopped back on the bus and completed the tour of Barcelona.

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After we got off the bus, we went shopping (mostly looking for shoes for me since mine broke).  Then we went back to the hotel to get ready for the night!  The sights of Barcelona were truly amazing.  I wish I had more time to see them.  I would love to go back some day and spend a longer amount of time there.  Barcelona was quite cool!

Barcelona – Part 1

July 12, 2012

Last weekend we took a bus from Perpignan to Barcelona.  We needed a weekend away from Perpignan.  After this weekend, I think we would have enjoyed spending this week in Barcelona…  This city is incredible.

So we booked sets on a bus to get to Barcelona.  This was certainly not the fastest way to travel, but it was inexpensive.  One benefit of traveling by bus through Europe is that you get a good view of the countryside.  I do not know why, but busses in Europe do not have air conditioning.  They claim these busses are air conditioned, this is a lie.  The ride to Barcelona was not too hot, the ride back certainly was the opposite…

Once we arrived in Barcelona, our group parted ways to go to our respective hotels.  The guys rented an apartment for the weekend, two girls were in a hostel, and Haley, Danielle, Lauren and I were at the Silken Gran Hotel Havana.

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We went to dinner at a restaurant called Speakeasy located through the kitchen behind the back of a bar called Dirty Martini.  It literally is set up like a speakeasy – very cool.  Just the girls went to dinner.  We got all dressed up, ready for a night out on the town.

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Dinner was wonderful.  We enjoyed great food and great drinks.  We had a fantastic time.  After dinner we decided to find some fun bars to try.  We talked to the waiter and got some suggestions and hopped in a taxi in search of some fun.  We went to a couple of bars but ultimately decided to head home for the night.  Barcelona had much more in store for us this weekend.

Last Days in Berlin

June 28, 2012

The last two days in Berlin were a total blast.  The first week our group arrived in Berlin, we found our Deadmau5 was doing a show in Berlin.  Our entire group bought tickets.  Some of us (predominantly me and a couple others) were very excited about this, the rest had no clue what Deadmau5 was but went along with the plan.  The concert was scheduled for my last full day in Germany, perfect timing.  

That morning we went to class and wrapped up our second course.  Following the end of class, we took a special tour of the ESMT, our school, then we decided to see Checkpoint Charlie and the Berlin Wall Monument.

The European School of Management Technology (ESMT) is located in the former GDR Staatsratsgebäude (equivalent to the US White House).  This building, a registered UNESCO World Heritage site, is leased by the ESMT and was almost completely renovated.  What was not renovated is not open to the public, but we got to see it.

Stained glass windows in the ESMT representing the German working population.

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The ballroom in the ESMT.

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A lecture hall in the ESMT with the GDR symbol preserved.

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Checkpoint Charlie was the American entrance/exit to East Berlin.  The Berlin Wall Monument gave the history of World War II through the fall of the Wall and Reunification in 1989-1990.

Checkpoint Charlie

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The Berlin Wall Monument

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After our last bits of tourism, we went home to get ready for dinner and the concert.  We scheduled a “goodbye Berlin” dinner at the White Trash burger place before going to the show.  Dinner was delicious, amazing burgers were had by all.  After we finished eating we found our way to the subway to venture to the concert.

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Eventually, we found the show!  And it rocked!!!

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The next day I left Berlin for good.  On to the French part of my journey!  But I had one last nice dinner on Museum Island before leaving.  A lovely goodbye to the most amazing city I have ever lived in and the greatest summer I could have asked for.  This historic restaurant sat us outside and I enjoyed the most bizarre fish meal I have ever had before catching my flight to Lyon.

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Or at least I enjoyed the meal until Heath pointed out my fish had teeth (like a piranha) and made it’s mouth move to talk to me.  Then I was done.

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Danke Schön Berlin!!!

D-Day 2012

The Berlin Zoo

June 26, 2012

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One of my last days in Berlin, our group visited the Berlin Zoo.  This zoo was large and unlike any zoo I have seen before.  The animals were fenced in only with small motes and fences around knee-height.  The animals here seemed happy and content in their large enclosures.  Though the day at the zoo was overcast and cold, I still enjoyed exploring the zoo and looking at the animals.

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I love elephants. Roll Tide.

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Prague Day Two and the return to Berlin.

June 25, 2012

Our second day in Prague started with a guided tour provided by our professor. We started in Old Town Square which was just by our hostel. We went in two churches located in this square.

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We then hopped on the subway and a tram and headed across the river to the Prague Castle. This castle isn’t set up as one typically would expect of a castle. Rather than being one grand building, it is a vast area on which many grand buildings sit. There are mansions originally designed to be homes for noble families, churches and a large cathedral, and other governmental buildings.

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The group at the Prague Castle.

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Guards at Prague Castle.

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Inside the Prague Castle.

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View of Prague from the Prague Castle.

After wandering around we visited the cathedral within the castle walls.

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Inside the cathedral.

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Exterior of the cathedral.

We then watched the changing of the guard.

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And took pictures with the guards…

After leaving the Prague Castle we walked back down the hill through various Czech vineyards built into the hills. These vineyards had beautiful views of the city. There will little restaurants built into the vineyards that overlooked first the grape plants and behind them the city. It was a beautiful setting. Much to my dismay, we did not stop to taste any of the wine being created at these vineyards. I am still shocked by this decision.

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A couple of others and myself separated from the tour group after leaving the vineyard area. We had been walking in the heat all day and we were starving. We wandered back to the Old Town Square area and found some easy food – donor kebabs (literally 3/4’s of my diet in Europe).

Once we had eaten we met back up with the group at the hostel and made plans for the evening. Some of our group decided to go to the fan zone in the Old Town Square and watch the soccer game. Myself and Lauren, Heath, Geoffrey, James, Jon, and rebekah decided to take a party boat for the evening.

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The party boat was an excellent decision.

Much like the pub crawl the evening before, we went to a bar where we were given free drinks while we waited for everyone who was going on the boat to arrive.

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After about an hour we all jumped on a tram down to the port. This was a huge group and we overwhelmed all the others on the tram. It was quite funny.

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On the docks.

Once we got to the port we all got on the boat. We had such an amazing time on this boat. We had fun with one another and meeting new people. There were British people on a stag party – the European version of a bachelor party. The main difference I’ve noticed about these parties is the guys dress in women’s clothing for their parties. So strange. There were also French teenagers on the boat with us, they made fun of my horrible ability to speak French. That was fitting I imagine. Nothing makes you feel older than being on a party boat with teenagers ten years younger than you… There were also people on the boat older than me by ten-plus years. There was a very varied group of people on this boat!

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Heath and I with a new friend on a stag party.

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Silly silly.

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They love to wear women’s clothing. It fascinates us…

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Heath and I on the boat.

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This is one of my favorite pictures. We had so much fun!

After the boat tour ended they took us back to the huge dance club! Like the night before we danced like Europeans for the rest of the night. Eventually we ran into our friends who did not go on the boat with us at the dance club. So ended yet another amazing night in Prague.

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Clearly, the next morning came early.

We got out and wandered to the Astronomical Clock in the Old Town Square. Every day at noon this clock has moving people on it when it chimes. People fill the street under the clock to watch. Based on the huge crowd the first time I saw it I expected something crazy, I was fairly disappointed. So on this day we decided to watch it from the top of the tower.

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Crowd to watch the clock at noon.

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Elevator shaft in the clock.

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View of Prague from the top of the clock tower.

After climbing to the top of the clock (while not feeling entirely excellent) we wandered to the Hard Rock Cafe. It was so nice to be in an American restaurant for a short period of time. It’s strange how little things are different in Europe that you do not notice until you’ve been abroad for a while. It is hard to describe exactly what is different, but it certainly was nice to sit in a more familiar environment for a little while. I ordered a cheeseburger and demolished some french fries.

After lunch we all tackled the subway system again and returned to the bus station. The cafe at the bus station that advertised air conditioning lied, but at least there was internet! Both of these things have been exceedingly difficult to find in Europe.

Our bus ride home was miserable. The bus also lied about having air conditioning. Apparently the Europeans are just used to being uncomfortably hot all the time, but we certainly are not. A couple people in our group finally had enough of the stifling heat on the bus and demanded the bus attendant do something about it. There was no way to get the air turned up higher, but he did pop open the vents in the roof. That almost instantly cooled down the bus and we were much happier. At some point it started to rain and it started raining on us through the vents. Not one person complained about getting rained on – we were that hot.

When we arrived back in Berlin It was raining and cool and felt amazing. We jumped on the U-Bahn U8 back to Alexanderplatz. As always, it felt great to be home! Berlin really is wonderful. I FaceTimed mommy and watched the city out of our amazing apartment until I finally fell asleep.

Prague was crazy but Prague was amazing. So glad we went!

Praha Day One

June 25, 2012

Prague was amazing. Prague was crazy…

Nearly the entire group went to Prague in the Czech Republic. We all took a 7:30am bus through the Alps down to the Czech Republic. Just getting to the bus was an adventure…

Lauren and I had to take the S-Bahn about 15 stops, change trains and go one more stop to get there. Luckily we left early, it took forever. The bus advertised that it would leave promptly at the departure time and would wait for no one. Naturally, our group had some stragglers. JP and Morgan were running late that morning and we knew they were not going to make it on time. For this reason we all decided the best course of action would be to play “dumb tourist.” I asked the lady about 12 times what I was supposed to do with my bag. Heath bought tickets for six of us, so we were all on the same printed page. The bus people wanted everyone on our ticket to check in and get on at the same time. With everyone running around like crazy (and very sleepy) people, this was exceedingly difficult.

We asked the bus line to wait for our two missing riders, but they said no. So then Danielle, Lauren, and I ran to the bathroom (which was disgusting). I came back before them and the bus was literally about to pull out. I yelled “but two girls are in the bathroom!” That stopped the bus workers long enough for us to see JP and Morgan come running, with all their luggage, around the corner. The check-in lady on the bus started laughing and let them check in. Our entire group somehow made it on the bus!

After that we settled in for our four hour ride to Prague. I spent most of the bus ride passed out against the window. When I woke up I took a guide book, stood in the aisle, and started reading about different bars and restaurants to the group sitting in the back of the bus (our assigned seats were scattered all over the bus). I do not think the people not with our group were as enthralled with my reading of the local cuisine and nightlife as my friends were.

When we arrived at the bus station in Prague our first order of business again was to get Czech money. The Czech Republic, while in the EU, also does not use the Euro. The Czechs use currency called the Koruna. The Koruna also is not worth much, the dollar is currently worth over double the Koruna.

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Once we got local money we wound around the maze they call a bus/subway station until we finally found our line. We got on the subway and took it to our stop. When we got off we discovered an escalator very similar to the scary one in Budapest. What is with these European countries and these scary subway escalators? Again, the locals do not seem to notice. It just baffles me.

When we got off the subway we quickly found our hostel. This was the easiest time we have had to date in trying to find our housing. In the hostel Heath, Geoffrey, James, Barron, and Austin got a room together. This room was on the top floor and had a small balcony that overlooked the courtyard you walked through to get to the hostel. The rest of us – Lauren, Danielle, Morgan, JP, Jon, Jerrod, Rusty, and myself – stayed in the big room on the first floor. We had a nice little balcony off our room. This was a 12 person room and there were 8 of us. So we had some new friends staying with us. When we arrived there was a group of british guys there who were still passed out from the night before. Needless to say, the loud Americans woke them up…

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The boys hanging out their window from the balcony off the big room.

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Common area in the hostel.

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In case you forget where you live…here is a card to tell you how to get home!

After getting settled and figuring out how to work the lockers in the hostel, we went exploring. We walked across the closest bridge and found ourselves directly across from the Charles Bridge, the famous bridge in Prague.

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We took more pictures down on the river.

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I do not know what is going on, obviously.

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After a while wandering, we stopped at a restaurant for some drinks.

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Just hanging out…

After we got done eating we wandered across the Charles Bridge and around the other side of the river. Then we went back to the hostel to get ready for the “bar crawl” we signed up for for that evening.

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Clock tower in Prague.

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Cathedral in the square.

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Jerrod and I on the Charles Bridge.

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Cathedral near the hostel.

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The girls and the Prague opera house.

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On the streets of Prague.

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Strange things in Prague.

After our Czech Wanderings, we returned to the hostel to get ready. We signed up for the bar crawl through the hostel. Basically, the bar crawl is an organized way for us to be able to see the nightlife in the city without having to figure out where to go all on out own. Plus you pay the fee for the bar crawl and get free drinks at the different bars throughout the night!

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Outside the hostel, ready to go!

We started the bar crawl at a bar where every drink was free. This bar was the starting point and we hung out there as other people joining us arrived. After being there for an hour the whole group moved on to the first bar.

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The first bar was a normal bar at the front. If you continued walking though you found yourself in this dark red cellar-type area. They had dance music playing in this room and fun lights. The sole group spent the entire time dancing here.

The second bar was a two story bar with several rooms. Upstairs there was a bar in the front and a lounge area in the back. Downstairs there was another bar and many tables for people to sit. There was also a huge dance floor. A group of us climbed onto a small raised area and danced pretty much our entire time at this bar. It was also at this bar we lost some people to what I’m calling exhaustion…

The last bar we went to is called Karlovy Lazne. It is a five story dance club – the biggest club in Europe. Each floor has a different kind of music. The first floor is sunken into the ground and the floor on which the entrance is located has a balcony area that overlooks it. This floor plays mostly current popular music that has been remixed into dance music. This was my favorite floor and we spent a lot of time dancing there. Other floors had different kinds of music including a house music floor that was very dark with crazy lights and an oldies-like floor that was more chill. We explored most of the club and danced for a while before heading back to the hostel.

The bar crawl was so much fun and such a success! After one day in Prague, It was clear this place was awesome.