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Monday, August 3, 2009

Ciao Bella!

Sorry for the delayed posting...we had a jam-packed weekend! We saw everything there was to see in Rome in 2 days, which means I am definitely ready for a foot massage when I get home. Any volunteers?

Tomorrow, we make our final presentation to the Leipzig Eagle's Basketball team. Say a little prayer for us that we get rest tonight and do our best tomorrow. We have worked hard - now we're ready to WOW them with what we've found! We'll post some highlights of the presentation later.

And now, a preview of the Rome post to come!

raspberry and chocolate.

the forum.

Highlights: Gelato. Oh, and the history was amazing too... :)
Lowlights: Rome may have some of the worst bathrooms and smelliest men. Yuck.

But overall, the trip was incredible and Rome is definitely my favorite place I've ever traveled to! Look forward to more pictures soon.

3 days. Then home.
Love yall,
Sylvia

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Beachside in Berlin, then Rockin' in Roma

Thursday morning we had a much needed restful morning, then we set out for Berlin!

Upon arrival, we navigated the massive underground system to find our awesome 1 star hotel, and then to see a few new sites in Berlin.
To our amazement, we discovered our new favorite place! We went to the East Side Gallery, which is a 2 Kilometer stretch of the Berlin Wall left intact, but now artists have been commissioned to paint on different parts of it. It is really cool!

But...the best thing we found was behind the Wall, along the river. Someone brought in a ton of sand, and set up a beach front type area. There was lawn chairs and food and drinks galore!

Sylvia and I sat and enjoyed the people, good music, and evening atmosphere along the river for a while, but then realized that we needed to go back to the real world

We grabbed some Calamari and Pommes for dinner...
And headed back to get a good night's sleep before our 4am morning wake up call to get to the airport on time.

Friday

So I'm going to give a basic rundown, with a lot of pictures, because that's the best part!

4:20AM, leave our hotel to catch the series of public transportation vehicles that eventually reach the airport which is only 4 Kilometers away.

Anyways we reach the airport a little over an hour later, grab some breakfast and settle in to wait for our flight at 7.

9:00AM Arrive in Roma!

11:00 Set out to see the sites, we began, of course, at the Colosseum.



After this we grabbed an over-priced, yet tasty, pizza lunch from a local vendor and set out to explore Palatine Hill and onto the Forum.

The Arch of Constantine

Palatine Hill

Part of the Roman Forum

The lofty history accompanying these three sites alone is incredible. I feel like I should have someone from the discover channel, preferably with a British accent following me around explaining every rock that is placed "just so, because of this or that," but maybe that's why some people pay for tour guides.
Gotta love all the FREE and tasty water in ROMA!

Either way, the whole area was incredible

After The Forum, we took a long walk over Capitol Hill, and down the other side, stopping for our first, but not last Gelatto!We hit the Pantheon next, with it's amazing design, and breathtaking frescos, and everything else! Don't worry, we grabbed another Gelato near the pantheon.


Next, I dragged Sylvia on a little personal quest of my own, We went to see my alltime, out of the way, favorite Roma Attraction, the Church of Santa Maria Della Vitoria. It's a Tiny Church filled with works by Bernini!
The Ectasy of St. Theresa, Bernini
read Angels and Demons Lately?
Watermelon snack on the way to the churches
Another amazing Santa Maria Church
We had dinner with some Jen, Josh, Brad and Phillip in the Campo di' Fiori at a Pizza place, then headed for a night walk across Roma.

First, Piazza Navono
Then,Four Rivers Fountain in front of the Pantheon
The Trevi Fountain
Spanish Steps
and We Finally dragged our tired and dirty feet back to our hostel for an some sleep!

Thursday, July 30, 2009

The Turtle Always Wins

After a long week of working hard, we had a little time to play.

We met early in the morning to finalize plans for the project before everyone took off for the weekend, and then we set out for some fun in the sun....Canoeing down the Elster River.

It started as a sweet innocent canoe trip along the beautiful canal behind our apartments, but then developed into a little something more...as would any water event where boys are involved.

Introducing, the Tortoise...
And the Hare...
It started some some innocent splashing...

Then some ambushes...

Then some tippie canoe...
Followed by revenge!
If we had to end up in the River, the boys were coming down with us.

They Turtle might seem slow and weak in the beginning, but he Always wins the race!
Poor Boys...
Don't worry, we all made it back safely
After cleaning up, we headed for a tour of Amazon, and had a great time learning about the different processes that our good go through before landing on our doorstep. We saw the delivery and shipment stations, as well as the sorting and picking lines.

It was amazing to see how much of the process was done by people instead of machines! Our tour there was very informative, and Amazon seems like a great company!

Today, we are headed to Rome for the Weekend! It's going to a wonderful experience full of history and excitement! We'll be back on Sunday for more work work work, and then give our final presentation to the Eagles on Tuesday Morning!

We'll be seeing you all soon, Less than a week!

Love, Jenny

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

All wrapped up in Prague...

SATURDAY:
By Saturday, we were already pretty exhausted! Not only were we in a new place, but we were having to try to communicate in a completely new language (fortunately many people spoke English!) and deal with a totally new currency. (I got jeans for 299 CK....it sounds expensive, but that is only about sixteen American dollars!)

We decided to explore our side of town before going to the main part of the city. Amazingly, we found an amazing monument by wandering around with no map - it was called the Vysehrad, a gorgeous fortress with a huge wall that looked out over the city.

Inside was a church and a graveyard. Unfortunately, we missed seeing the church by about 3 minutes! I still got a few pictures of the inside though, through the glass in the door.

The inside of the church. The ceilings were so beautiful!
Another gorgeous graveyard.
View from the wall
Prague is so pretty!

After the wall, we headed to the "mini" Eiffel Tower in Prague. The line to ride up to the tower was at least an hour and a half long, and would probably cost about 10 euros. So we (some of us reluctantly) decided to trek up the mountain. It was rough work! After that walk,  I could definitely feel the effects of the German food I've been eating! It was worth it though. Now I can say I've been to two Eiffel Towers!

It definitely looks a lot taller  in real life than it actually is! This tower is only 60 meters high in comparison to the 273 meter high Eiffel Tower.

The Jewish Quarter is closed on Saturdays, because of the Sabbath, so we saved that for Sunday. After having seen most of the sights we wanted to, we headed to the old town square for some souvenir shopping! We successfully found a decent crystal place. Not the cheapest (we had lots of warning NOT to buy cheap crystal in Prague!) but reasonable with what seemed to be pretty high quality crystal. Some of you reading this should be excited - there may be some crystal headed your way!

It only rained for a few minutes on Saturday, and we ducked into the Salvador Dali exhibit in the Old Town Square. Laura and I had both studied Dali a lot in our middle school and high school Spanish classes, so it was cool to see a lot of his work outside of the textbooks. In case you didn't know, though, Salvador Dali was CRAZY. Talented, but crazy.

This was one of his coolest pieces of work. I couldn't see it at first, but this is a collage that from far away looks like Abraham Lincoln. It was so weird - you can see Lincoln so much better through the camera's lens! Without it, Lincoln is much more difficult to see.

This was the view out of the exhibit. There was a folk dancing competition in Prague this weekend, and there were people dressed up everywhere we went! Can you see the crazy headdresses?

Jenny, Laura, and I waiting for the bus.

We had dinner at a great local restaurant - it wasn't easy to find, but it was a little underground restaurant on one of the main streets. We think it was much more of a "local" place rather than a tourist restaurant. I had good intentions of trying some more good Czech food, but when I saw some of the interesting choices (pork knee) I opted for familiar chicken breast. Maybe I'll be more willing to try the native food in Italy...pizza and gelato? I can do that!

Our basement restaurant - I wanted to find an underground pizza place recommended to me by family, but this was a good substitute. Thank you for all of the Prague advice, Terry!

We all were asleep as soon as our heads hit the pillow. One more day! 

OK mom you were right...I should have brought my Chacos! Sperry's are not the most practical shoes for miles and miles of walking.

SUNDAY:

We didn't sleep in on Sunday, but we went straight to the Jewish Quarter. This was probably my favorite part of the whole weekend.

We went on one of the strangest tours I've ever been on. One ticket covered six different places, so we had to walk all over the quarter. It was definitely worth it! There were signs posted everywhere not to take pictures, but we managed (along with almost all of the tourists) to sneak a few. It was too amazing not to photograph!

All of the men were asked to wear a head covering. Brad was not thrilled to be wearing his Yarmulke, but he was a trooper.

This is the Jewish cemetery. For many years, any Jews in the Czech Republic had to live in this small area. They were also only allowed to bury their dead in this cemetery - over 100,000 people are buried here, some as many as 12 people deep! As you can see, all of the headstones are piled on top of each other. It was incredible.

Click on this picture - it should open in a bigger view. This is inside of the Pinkas Synagogue. Painted on the walls inside of this synagogue, there are over 80,00 names of Czech Holocaust victims. It was very moving and also amazing how precisely the names were written.

A picture of the ceiling of the Spanish Synagogue - I wasn't looking when I took this picture because the man behind me was asking people to put their cameras away. The ceiling was so ornate!

This is a picture of all of the people who gather to see the Astronomical clock every hour.... and this was a Sunday morning!

After stopping in a few more souvenir shops, we ran back to the hostel and then to the train - literally. We had an hour to get from the Old Town, to our hostel to get our bags, and then to the train station. In Prague, trains do not run on time like they do in Germany (we're spoiled, I guess...) so we were racing through the streets like typical crazy Americans. We arrived at our train five minutes too late - but thankfully, the train was delayed 20 minutes! Definitely an answer to prayer!

This was the double-decker train we took back to Leipzig. It was not a fast "ICE" train like the one that we took on our way to Prague, but it was ironically about 20 degrees colder than the "ICE" train.

When we returned, all of the students met in a group to discuss our weekends. It was great to be together again and to laugh at all of the experiences we had.

This is the only other travel picture I have so far. Grant, Branson, and Collin went to Paris! This weekend was the end of the Tour de France, so it was pretty crowded.

As is our tradition, we ended the evening with our communion in plastic shot glasses.

This week is going to be our last full week here! We are excited, but we know we'll be tired at the end. We are talking to players, interviewing staff of the basketball team, thinking of creative ways to promote the team around Leipzig, and working on our final presentation. We have a long way to go, but I know that our final presentation will add a lot of value to this team.

Last night, the girls went out with one of our German friends, Elfi. She is a businesswoman here in Leipzig, and it was great to hear about her experiences living and working here. Hopefully we'll see her again before we leave!

Love you all! Thanks for reading!
-Sylvia