Friday, April 15, 2011

Another weekend, another country...

In March I went with Ashlee, her brother and sister-in-law to Berlin for a night. It was a quick but amazing trip. As soon as we got in we asked the hostel about a concentration camp memorial. We got on a train and an hour later we were at the Sachsenhausen concentration camp memorial. Not that far from the center of the city, and was established the same year that the Olympics were held in Berlin. It was just unreal to walk through there and be in the bunkers where they lived and see the wall that kept them in. It was so sad to see and I heard a lot of interesting stories in the museums there. I never knew that the men made the woman prostitutes in the camp to give the men incentive to work hard. The men that worked the camp would "try out" the woman first . They gave the male prisoners coupons for hard work to go visit a prostitute. Much of the camp was destoryed but some orignal buildings remained.
The first night we went over to another part of town for drinks and stumbled upon the east side gallery. This is a part of the Berlin wall that has a big mural on it that is redone frequently.
One Sunday we took a free walking tour of the city. At our meeting point the tour guide pointed out a big hotel near by. This hotel is famous for many reasons. It is where the current movie unknown is filmed. It is also where many famous people have stayed including Michael Jackson. This is actually the hotel that he hung his baby of the balcony. Later on in the tour we visited more important things. Next was the Memorial for Murdered Jews. The guide pointed out immediatley how harsly this had been named. He said that they picked such a powerful name for a reason. We then stopped on top of the old bunker of Hitlers. This was the place where he got married and then killed himself. This was just a random plot of land that had no marker or anything on it. The tour guide told us that this was intentional so that he would not be able to be honored in any way but rather just forgotten about.
That night we happened to walk by the East side gallery. This is a part of the Berlin wall that is frequently repainted with art. We had a very quick visit to Berlin but saw and learned a lot!

The next weekend Ashlee and I took another quick trip to go visit a friend we had met in french class here. She just moved to Valencia, Spain so we went for 24 hrs to visit! Another quick but very fun trip. They toured us all around and fed us well. We had little montaditos (sandwiches) and patatas bravas. We went to the beach but unfortuately it was unusually cloudy this short time we were here. It was great to see another place and visit with a friend though! They treated us so well. We had pizza in and dyed Ashlee's hair before going out for the night!

My mom was just here for a weekend also on a quick trip! She came for a nice girls weekend and we had so much fun!! I have never spent that much time with just my mom and I loved it! We started with just exploring Brussels and catching up. Then on Saturday I took her on a surprise location to Keukenhof! This is a huge flower garden in Holland. We saw soo many beautiful flowers! We spent 6 hours admiring and walking around enjoying. Then we headed back to Brussels for dinner and rest. The next day we went to church, the market to get lots of yummy food that we then brought to the park. It was such a beautiful day that we sat in the park til the sun went away picnicing, napping and playing cards. I got a sunburn and mom was even hot! It was so nice and relaxing. We even stopped at the little vendor in the park to get some ice cream to cool off. Monday we met for another picnic at my school and a walk in the forest. After school I met back up with mom for another park walk near my house and dinner. Tuesday I was sad to say goodbye but we had so much fun and I will be home soon!
School just ended on Friday and I am running out the door to go home quick then go meet Donna and Eric at the airport! They are coming for the first week of my break and then I will travel just with my roommates. I am off for 2 weeks to 4 countries... :)

Friday, March 18, 2011

What a wonderful world...

Well it has been quite a while since my last post. When I got back from Christmas things really got busy around here. It was hard coming back to get into the swing of things but a few days later I woke up and decided not to be sad anymore, since then things have been great. My first big event since Christmas was having Nick's mom Rita and sister Lauren visit! There visit was so much fun and we even got to travel together. Over the weekend we went to Venice with my roommate Ashlee. We loved walking around and eating our way through the city. One day we ate dinner then walked to the next restaurant and got another dinner. The pasta was just so good and we only had two days!! We also walked around Brussels a lot and the grand place was one of their favorite things in Europe!

After they left was my birthday! It was a great birthday and I am lucky to have such wonderful people here to celebrate with. It was also a friend of mine, Erin's birthday so we combined forces and had a get together at our house then out to the bars. We went to a very interesting karaoke bar in the city for a bit before dancing. For my actual birthday I had French class. But before we went to class some of the girls grabbed drinks at an outdoor cafe since it was a beautiful day! The fact that we were at the bar for "happy time" made French class a bit more difficult. I also brought some cake and wine to class. It was a great time.

The next weekend I set off to Croatia with Ashlee. We did not really know what to expect here and were delightfully surprised! The weather was nice and the city was beautiful, but the best part was the weekend we happened to chose to go. When we checked in the person at the desk informed us that it was the 100th year of the football team there. They had a big celebration all weekend. At one point we were at the ATM and Ashlee saw a bunch of guys in warm ups and said , is that the team? I told her there was no way, but we followed them anyway. Turns out it was the team walking down the street and they were going to this square to be honored. They set off flares from the bell tour as it went off. That night at midnight before the game the street was flooded with people. Everyone set off fireworks and starting chanting soccer chants. It was crazy but so much fun!

Next was Nick’s visit here!! He planned it to come on my break to celebrate our one year and it was amazing!! We first relaxed and explored Brussels. We enjoyed some days out seeing the city and some days being lazy, reading together and enjoying each others company. It was perfect. Then we headed to Paris to explore. We did museums and walked all around. The weather was a bit rainy but the rain made paris feel even more romantic. We even enjoyed an amazing, romantic meal on the 2nd floor of the Eiffel tower! After seeing all the sites and enjoyed lots of crème brulee we headed off to London. There we were supposed to see Arsenal play a game but it got cancelled so instead we did our own tour of football stadiums around the city one day. We also went to see Love Story the musical which was amazing and I cried the entire time! After the show we went out for drinks and were drawn into a bar by the loud soccer chants. Nick loved it so much he was taking videos of these intense fans. Later he was approached by this large bald man who asked if he was a cop. After much convincing the guy told him he would not head butt him and throw him into the river Thames. It was a bit horrifying but then we befriended him. He went on to explain that he was a fan of the team that was playing arsenal the next day. He explained that he loves his team and would die for them. Him and all of his friends showed us their chains and tattoos in honor of the team. I thought sox and Yankees fans were bad, but this is like nothing I had ever seen before! We survived that night and then headed back to Brussels the next day. On Monday it was our anniversary and I had to work. When I got home Nick had cleaned my place for me I was so excited. We got ready for a nice dinner and went out. It was a nice night and a great way to end his trip. It was really hard to say goodbye but I am excited that I am so close to coming home for good!

The weekend after Nick’s visit I went to Copenhagen with Ashlee to cheer up! Again we did not know what to expect and of course we loved it there. The city was just so nice. They had beautiful sites, great cafes and some of the best street music I have ever heard. We just walked our way through the city drinking coffee and stopping to listen to music. It was a wonderfully relaxing weekend that definitely cheered me up.

This past week Jen and Jeremy have been visiting. It has been so great having them here! As soon as they got here we went to Amsterdam. The weather was great so after the Van Gogh museum we walked all around the city. It was a long day, especially since they had not slept in a while but we really enjoyed it with our caffeine highs! We have been enjoying walking around Brussels as well and eating as much waffles and frites as we can. I have loved having them around and when they try to convince me to live in Rochester it is hard to say no :). Tonight is there last night so we are going out for a nice dinner and drink. Tomorrow when they go to the airport I will go with them and head to Berlin with Ashlee, her brother and his wife!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

"Did you bring my life jacket?"

Well it has been a while since I posted last and a lot has happened! Before break school was crazy and it felt like we had a celebration every day. I love working in a place with so many cultures because we just celebrate every holiday! Santa came in and everything, it was a fun month.
Then I went home and had an amazing time with friends and family!! When I got home Maddy and Jackson were at my house being watched by grandma and grandpa. It was lots of fun because we all got to do Christmasy things like bake togheter! Maddy enjoyed eating the cookie dough most and then told me it was my fault she had a tummy ache, even though I had cut her off :). The next day we headed down to Maryland to return the kiddies and celebrate christmas! For one day while we were there ALL of the siblings, spouses and kids were together!! It was so noisy, chaotic, and wonderful....the best Christmas present possible! We even got a photo of everyone on the couch! Then for Christmas number one, on the 25th we had my parents and the Maryland arnolds. It was lots of fun and Maddy enjoyed leaving out cookies and seeing the crumbs and note that santa left.
It was sad to leave them but we ran out at 8 at night ahead of planned because there was a store coming up the coast. My mom drove all night running from the storm and we arrived back in Rochester. Here Nick came and stayed with us for the rest of my time! It was so nice having a relaxing week to be with him and play lots of games with family! On the 28th we had Ryan's baptism. I was the godmother and since my brother Mike who was the godfather could not make it Nick stood in as godfather for the baptism! Our church has a rather large baptismal font, about the size of a hot tub, so when we arrived big brother Tyler went over and asked "did you bring my life jacket?" We had to explain to him that it wasn't really for swimming but for Tyler to be baptised :). Both him and Ryan were very good during the baptism. Ryan loved the water but got fussy at the end with the oil. After we all had cake and watched Tyler run around.
That night the Virginia Arnold's spent the night at grandma and grandpa's for Christmas number two. We woke up and the tree was surrounded by presents! We had a great Arnold family Christmas. Tyler is at such a great age that everything was just what he wanted! That night after some naps we had game night at out house. We had lots of people over and played some great games of Mafia, Spoons and the oven mitt game. It was a blast.
On the 30th Nick and I headed to Niagara Falls, Canada to bring in the new year! Everything was wonderful and the only bum in the road (a hole to let everyone into our hotel room) was easily fixed. We had so much fun playing glow in the dark mini golf and eating out at a nice restaurants. We even went Under the Falls and looked at them from the tunnels below. We walked around a lot in mostly cloudy weather but just as we got to the horseshoe falls the sun came out to make a rainbow! On the 31st Jen and Jeremy came to meet up with us. We went out to a really nice dinner at a restaurant overlooking the falls lit up at night. It was fabulous. We went into the casino for a bit to gamble and get some hats! We were successful and went back down to the free concert of Barenaked Ladies by the falls for midnight! They stopped playing for a count down with fireworks on the Skylon tower and above the falls. It was the best way to bring in a new year! The next morning we got up for breakfast and hit the road.
I had a few more days at home to play games with my parents and relax before heading back. Now I am back and getting back into the routine of real life. I was really sad to leave, but starting to feel back to normal now. Thanks everyone for a wonderful break!! :)