What I’ve Made in Metz So Far: My Dishes Ranked

Join Kaitlyn as she ranks her culinary creations while living in Metz with her newfound cooking skills.

Thursday, February 4, 2021 | Written by Kaitlyn

As my family and friends know well, I am not the most… skilled at cooking. When I am feeling generous, I would rate my culinary skills as solid 4/10. Though this semester in Metz has taken some adjustment, a large part of that adjustment has not been living in a foreign country,  but rather learning to feed myself without the safety net of a meal plan or my mom’s cooking. So, I thought, in the spirit of my new found culinary skills, I would rank a select few of the dishes I’ve made in my dorm thus far, from worst to best.

The time I burned water. I never would have thought this was possible, but you learn something new every day, right? This shocking incident occurred when I heated up my empty frying pan and suddenly, smelled the unmistakable scent of something burning. Turns out, there was a little bit of soapy water leftover from when I had previously washed the pan and it burnt when it hit the hot stovetop.

A very crispy quesadilla. I was in the middle of video calling a friend back home while attempting to make a quesadilla, my fatal mistake.

very burnt quesadilla
I hope you like your quesadillas very, VERY, crispy.

Imagine my surprise when my very pale tortilla began to smoke. Confused, I flipped the seemingly underdone quesadilla over to discover a disconcertingly dark underside. “Ah,” I thought to myself, “that might be the cause of the billowing smoke.” I panicked for approximately four seconds, then realized I should probably do something to avoid setting off the smoke alarm. How mad would everyone be if the alarm went off and they had to trudge out of their rooms into the cold at 9PM? It could have been an opportunity to learn some new french curses, but I decided it would be best to just remedy the issue. I cracked my window open and held my pan outside to let the smoke blow into the night. Later, after recounting the night’s events to my friend across the hall from me, she only chuckled and said “Oh yeah, I keep smelling stuff burning from your room”.

A nice warm bowl of chili… or not. On one of the many cold, rainy days we have had in Metz, the idea to make a large, comforting pot of chili to warm myself up popped into my head. Naively, I thought to myself, “How hard could it be? I just need to throw a few things in a pot, right?” As I now know, there is much more involved in making chili than simply just throwing things in a pot.  Most of the recipes that I read online called either for using a slow cooker, which I unfortunately do not have, or for a few hours of cooking chili, which I also did not have. This was news to me, but apparently, throwing some canned tomato puree in a pot along with meat and vegetables isn’t quite enough to taste good. I was still determined to get my chili though, so the next time I went grocery shopping I settled for purchasing an already prepared can.

Pasta. Pasta, in any form is a truly classic meal. It is relatively difficult to mess up, but with my track record I am rating my rendition relatively high – both for not having burned it and for having completed it. The only thing I haven’t liked about my pasta dishes is the frozen meatballs I’ve gotten from Cora, finally something I can vindicate myself from blame for. Hopefully, a trip to an Ikea (maybe even the original Ikea in Sweden?) for some Swedish meatballs will be able to elevate my spaghetti and meatballs dish. For now, my specialty will remain pesto pasta.

Pretty successful pad thai! At last, a successful dinner.

an image of Kaitlyn's pad thai
Successful pad thai? I’ll let you be the judge of that… at the very least it looks delicious.

A friend and I pooled together the odds and ends from our fridges to make some pad thai. Thanks to the magic of pad thai sauce and some fancy garnishing with lemons, we were pleasantly surprised at our creation. In hindsight, maybe the key to making it taste good was covering the dish in sriracha, which, given my previous cooking experiences, seems highly likely.

Summits above Switzerland

Join Kaitlyn as she visits a place she’s dreamt of – Switzerland. Read her story– one filled with chocolate, chess, and snow capped mountains– in her latest blog post!

 

Thursday, January 28, 2021 | Written by Kaitlyn

From the Appalachians to the Sierra Nevadas, my favorite family trips growing up were always the ones we took to visit the great mountains of the United States. As I spent my time staring at and summiting peaks, I’ve always dreamt of being surrounded by the majesty of the alps. This weekend my travel companions and I journeyed to Luzern and Zurich, Switzerland to make what was once a distant dream, reality. 

Day 1

My group and I left Thursday morning to start our multi-train journey towards Luzern. Our travel went relatively smoothly… except for one of our transfers in Basel. We only had a few minutes to change trains and ended up sprinting to catch our next one before it departed. The nine of us running at full speed through a small train station must have been quite a sight to the other travelers.  While I was sprinting, I looked to my right to see a small Swiss boy take one glance at us, then start sprinting in the same direction. I was so focused on catching my train, I never glanced back to see if he realized there was no reason for him to run.

swan in a lake Once we caught our breath (safely on our train) we were able to fully take in the scenery as we rode closer to Luzern. In the span of just four hours, we had gone from viewing the lush green countryside of France to staring, awestruck, at the snow capped mountains of the Alps. We arrived in Luzern in the mid-afternoon, and had a few hours to kill before we could check into our Airbnb. So, we did as one would do upon arriving in a foreign city: we explored. It was a beautiful, partly sunny day (something that is hard to come by this time of year in Metz) and we took full advantage of it. We came across an urban park where two old men were playing giant chess. I’ve never played a game of chess, but I watched Netflix’s The Queen’s Gambit, so that must count for something right? Lack of chess knowledge notwithstanding, it was enjoyable to observe the men amicably argue back and forth in German. Our last activity for the day was hiking up to the top of a very tall hill. Standing on the top, I came to the conclusion Luzern has a sort of indescribable charm I could never aptly write about as I took in the view of the lights of the city.

Day 2

church in luzern Luzern still had plenty more to offer, so we spent our second day continuing to explore the city. A friend and I split off from our group and wandered around with no specific destination in mind. We walked into a stunning cathedral which reminded me more of a Disney princess’ castle than the typical gothic European cathedral. The ornate details of the architecture took my breath away upon our arrival. Instead of being made of stone and stained glass, it was covered in white and pink plaster and embellished with perfectly placed gold accents. chocolates, yum!After our time in the cathedral, we checked off a Swiss must-do: eating delicious Swiss chocolate. It might have been expensive, as everything in Switzerland is, but I can say with confidence that it was worth every Franc.

Day 3

zurich street photo Luzern treated us well, but we wanted to see more of what Switzerland has to offer, so we took a day trip to Zurich (only a 50 minute train ride from Luzern). One of our first stops was to grab lunch from a kebab restaurant. I have a feeling that this might be a recurring destination throughout my time traveling in Europe, as we also ate kebabs the previous day. It’s filling, delicious, and relatively cheap which is all a college student could ever ask for. After exploring the streets of the city, we hopped on a bus to Uetliberg, which is affectionately nicknamed the top of Zurich. To anyone who visits Zurich, I highly recommend you visit Uetliberg. We climbed the mountain to the summit, where we saw the entirety of Zurich below us, and the Alps above us in the distance. It was a fantastic way to end our last day in Switzerland and a truly breathtaking experience, mostly from the beautiful views, but partially from the steep uphill climb.top of zurich picture

Un Sac, S’il Vous Plaît & More First Moments in Metz

Join Kaitlyn as she details her first few days of living in Metz and the insights she’s gained from her new experiences.

Friday, January 22, 2020 | Written by Kaitlyn

Hello, all! As I sit at my desk in my dorm room, I believe I’m just starting to take in the fact that I’m in France, about as far away from home as I could be. Gone are the days of enjoying the comfort and security of home cooked meals and only ever leaving my house to walk my dog around the neighborhood (thanks, pandemic!). In their place are days full of adventurous attempts at cooking for myself and thrilling strolls around Metz and all it has to offer. It’s certainly a pretty intense shift from the past nine months of small-town America, but I know I wouldn’t have it any other way, and I feel so fortunate to be embarking on this journey. 

Flying into Paris with the moon overhead.

In the past ten days, I’ve learned so much about the French lifestyle, met so many incredible people, and seen so many beautiful sights, that it is all a bit overwhelming – but, I think that I can summarize my experience so far into a few key learning experiences and observations. Let’s jump right into it.

French customs agents? Anything but intimidating. When packing for this trip, one of the most important things we needed to bring was a plethora of documents. Documents showing proof of residence, negative COVID-19 test results, visas, insurance – you name it, we needed it. However, when we stumbled off the plane upon landing at Charles De Gaulle, and lined up to go through customs, we had a much easier process than expected. Maybe it’s because we are innocuous American college students? Either way, I was more than happy for the straightforward procedure.

Me, when I realized that I would actually need to speak French to get by while living in France.

Come physically and mentally prepared to Cora. After arriving at our dorms, a group of us decided to head to Cora, or as I choose to call it, French Super Walmart. When I and a couple others went to go check out, we realized that unlike most places in America, there were no grocery bags available; all the locals we saw around us had brought their own. Upon seeing this, I’ll admit I started to get a little nervous. How was I going to ask for a bag from the cashier? There wasn’t enough time to frantically Google “How to ask for a bag in French,” so I stuffed my newly purchased goods into my backpack (tragically crushing my chocolate croissants in the process), and resigned to hugging my bundle of paper towels against my chest on the walk back. My goal for my next trip to Cora will be to ask the cashier, “Je peux avoir un sac, s’il vous plaît?”

GTL couldn’t have been put in a better location. On Saturday we were given a tour of downtown Metz. I was instantly enchanted by the cobblestone streets lined with bakeries and shops, the cheerfully yellow buildings, and the general infectious liveliness of the city. We stopped at the most notable areas and buildings, then were left on our own to wander around. My group and I headed toward the Moselle river. We were greeted with a breathtaking view of Temple Neuf, lit up with its reflection shining in the water, and the cathedral glowing warmly in the distance.

Colors dancing on the walls of the cathedral.

The next day, we headed back downtown. It was a bit of a struggle catching a bus – we were about ten feet from making it to the bus stop when the bus we intended to hop onto blew right by us and the bus stop, not even slowing down for just a second. However, I am happy to report that we did eventually catch a bus and arrive downtown. We walked around the quiet streets (most places are closed on Sundays), taking in the sights with no specific direction in mind. A few of my favorite things I saw included: the Cathedral of Saint Stephen, where the sunlight shined vibrantly through the stained glass, a pair of ambitious swans looking for food along the river, and last but certainly not least, a delicious crepe that I consumed within seconds. 

Make the most of our time here. As a very wise person once said: “YOLO”. I like to think that this applies to studying abroad. Even just after a few days of living in a new country, I’ve had so much fun from figuring things out, experiencing French culture, and exploring Metz. Though it may be slightly more difficult to abide by this saying with certain restrictions in place such as a curfew, I like to think that there’s still so much at our fingertips while here in the heart of Europe. I’m very excited to see what’s coming up in these next four months, and I can’t wait to continue documenting it all here on the blog.

From College At Home to Studying Abroad!

A new semester brings a new Georgia Tech-Lorraine blogger! Meet Kaitlyn, the GTL blogger for this spring as she introduces herself and her anticipation to study abroad in Metz!

Friday, January 5, 2020 | Written by Kaitlyn

Bonjour à tous!

According to Google Translate, that means “hello everyone!” en Français. Unfortunately, my only experience with the French language is half a year of classes… from middle school. The irony in the fact I chose to study Spanish for four years, but am studying abroad in France, is not lost on me.

Anyways, hello! My name is Kaitlyn. I’m a second-year industrial engineering major, who like most of the other students enrolled at Georgia Tech-Lorriane this semester, has been looking forward to this opportunity for as long as I can remember. Since my older sister studied abroad in Italy two years ago, I’ve been dead set on studying abroad as well. When I was searching for colleges to apply to for my undergraduate degree, an outstanding study abroad program was a must. Luckily for me, Georgia Tech has exactly that.

Under normal circumstances, this upcoming semester would be remarkable. I feel that this year, with unusual circumstances, is going to be, although quite different, especially remarkable. This past semester, I chose to stay home and take my classes remotely. While I’ve been thoroughly enjoying the comforts of the at-home life (where I can attend classes in my pajamas), it has overall been… interesting. Plus, being at home all of the time has just made me that much more excited to have the opportunity to get out there and travel this semester.

Me and the classic French baguette, age 11.

When I was younger, my thoughts on France were very stereotypical; i.e, believing Paris was the only city and thinking that all France had to offer was baguettes and berets. This line of thinking was also perpetuated by an actual visit to Paris that my family took when I was 11 years old.

Being so young, I wasn’t able to fully appreciate the places my parents took me to, and instead fixated on simple things like seeing pretty buildings and eating good food (not to say that I won’t still appreciate those things when I go there this time).

Wearing a Paris sweatshirt in Paris. Who could have possibly spotted me as a tourist?

 

This time around, I am looking forward to discovering the places in France 11-year-old me didn’t know existed, particularly Metz. While I’m sure I will still be drawn to the “touristy” places, I am excited to spend my four months in Metz exploring and seeing all that the small city has to offer. I am a firm believer in taking the road less traveled, and I plan on implementing that belief during my time abroad.

Whether it be through making new friends, exploring an unknown city thousands of miles away from home, or attempting to communicate with locals, I am beyond excited to use this time to further my global perspective. I will be far away from the comforts of home, and it is only given that I will experience personal growth and make progress on discovering my niche in the world. It’s amazing to think that soon I’ll be somewhere so different from home. Until then, don’t worry — I’ll be practicing my French.

Roaming Around Rome

Join Kaela as she makes her way around the grand city of Rome during her fall break at Georgia Tech-Lorraine. Read on to hear about her experiences at landmarks she’s been dreaming of visiting as long as she could remember!

Monday, November 16, 2020 | Written by Kaela

ROME, ITALY

Italy was everything I had ever dreamed of and more. When planning my trips before attending Georgia Tech-Lorraine, Rome was one of the cities I looked most forward to seeing, so we set aside more than enough days to enjoy this beautiful city as well as the Vatican.

DAY 1:

Santa Maria Maggiore
Santa Maria Maggiore

Since we arrived in Rome around midday, our itinerary was short. First, we headed to Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore, one of Rome’s four major basilicas. From floor to ceiling, it is adorned with mosaics, illustrations, engravings, figures, and looks like the whole basilica was dipped in gold.  Adornments filled every inch of the building. I could spend days admiring each and every detail, each one as beautifully crafted as the next. While at the beginning of my travels I spent time comparing all of the cathedrals, basilicas, and churches I have been fortunate enough to visit, I have come to realize they are all dazzling in their own ways – whether it be expansive displays of stained glass like the Cathédrale de Metz  or the gilded details of the Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore – and I simply cannot choose a favorite.

Enjoying the sunset at the Spanish StepsOur next stops were two famous tourist attractions: the Trevi Fountain and Spanish steps. One of the girls traveling with me had visited these locations before and showed us pictures she took which were filled with hordes of tourists taking their own snapshots. Without the typical swarm of people, we had the opportunity to view every angle of each of the attractions. As the sun set over the Spanish Steps, I couldn’t help but pinch myself to test I was really awake.

DAY 2:
We began our second day  in Rome at Mercato Centrale Roma. The delicious smells of fresh herbs wafted through the air, leaving our mouths watering. We all wandered amongst the many vendors until I finally decided to purchase truffle pasta that was to die for.
After we all finished enjoying our plates of heaven, we headed straight to the Colosseum.

QUICK TIP: Travel with all sorts of different people. It opens your perspective and you will learn a lot along the way.

Our group turned out to be the perfect team at the Colosseum. We all had knowledge in different areas which we could share with one another: one girl studied Latin and could translate various Roman texts, another knew a lot about Roman history, another is really knowledgeable about art and I have some knowledge of architectural history. It was sort of like having my own personal guides while traveling through Italy. It is more enjoyable to do more than just “sightseeing” and actually learn about what you are looking at. Which leads to my second–

QUICK TIP: I recommend doing a little bit of research before you visit somewhere, and take the extra time to read all of the informational signs. This will make your experience so more valuable.

We then walked through the Roman Forum and enjoyed the view from Palatine Hill. I found myself imagining the area filled with people and what it must have looked like when it was first built. We then walked to the Pantheon, enjoying the great weather and strolling along the cobblestone streets. At the top of the
dome of the Pantheon is a 9 meter (~30 feet) hole. which serves as the church’s main source of light. At first I was confused, isn’t the point of a roof to keep out the rain? I learned that rain does come through it but the floor is slightly sloped and has well
hidden drainage holes, which only left me even more in awe of the Pantheon than when staring at the 30 ft hole above my head.

We stopped for dinner nearby for a cheap four course meal at Taverna del Seminario. After having a tiramisu once or twice a day everyday while in Italy, I now consider myself a pseudo tiramisu aficionado. My rating is that the one from Taverna del Seminario was by far the best. In major cities, with the pandemic, many businesses close early, so we’ve gotten in the habit of heading back early to wherever we are staying to catch up on schoolwork. On the way to our airbnb, we stopped at Chiesa di Sant’Ignazio di Loyola and a couple souvenir shops, making the perfect end to a perfect day.

Exploring an Everlasting City

Kaela is back on the blog with her latest adventure. Join her on her trip through time in Pompeii: the city encased in ash by Mount Vesuvius in 79 AD.

Thursday, November 5, 2020 | Written by Kaela

POMPEII, ITALY 

Prior to the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 AD, Pompeii was just another seaside Roman city. The explosion buried the city in ash, killing thousands of people, leaving it abandoned perfectly preserved until it was rediscovered by explorers in the 18th century. Pompeii is not a destination Georgia Tech-Lorraine students prioritize visiting as it’s a very long trip from Metz; however after my trip, I believe the amazingly preserved city should be on everyone’s bucket list. 

My delicious margherita pizza!

We started our day in Pompeii at Alleria Pizzeria. I ordered my first Italian meal, a margherita pizza topped with fresh buffalo mozzarella. The flavor that emanates from three simple toppings is a classic and never ceases to amaze me. The buffalo mozzarella was both sprinkled on top and baked into the pizza, adding even more depth to the flavor. For dessert, we ordered deep fried dough balls topped with an abundant amount of Nutella and powdered sugar. As we left the restaurant full and happy, we strolled the streets under a light drizzle, making random pit stops at souvenir shops and street-side vendors. Luckily, the weather cleared up just as we approached the Pompeii ruins. While the city of Pompeii may be frozen in time, our time to explore the preserved city was limited. We initially passed the ruins of the amphitheatre. I found myself comparing it to the one I visited in Trier, which had crumbled more becoming engulfed in the surrounding terrain. By comparison, this amphitheater was astonishingly well-preserved. Afterwards, we followed the tourist carved path to viewing boxes filled with artifacts found throughout the city. The fascinating collection included food scraps burnt by falling soot, weathered gold jewelry, cracked mirrors, shining gems, bronzed coins, and many more commonplace items that have become relics. In the structures, some of the murals, mosaic flooring, and kitchen stoves still remain. Other artifacts such as clay vases, plates, and bowls remained placed throughout various rooms as if time had just stopped. 

Throughout the various buildings throughout the city were not only the everyday objects of life in Pompeii, but plaster casts of the people of Pompeii preserved in the volcanic ash. In 1860, an archaeologist named Guiseppe Fiorelli discovered he could make casts of the slowly decomposing bodies by touching up any holes with plaster. Fiorelli and the volcanic ash preserved the position they made upon their death. The haunting figures remained in fetal position or standing, all covering their face to keep from inhaling the ash; Pompeii’s fleeting last moments forever encased in stone.We wandered along the main street and went into buildings as we saw them and ended up finding stairs that led to a view overlooking the city surrounded by beautiful mountains. We ended our time in Pompeii with a view of what started it all, the now sleeping Mount Vesuvius. 

A Week of Attending Affairs Around Metz

Weekdays at Georgia Tech Lorraine are for more than just classes. There are lots of fun events by the GT-Lorraine staff as well as events throughout the city of Metz. Read on as Kaela details her time at two events she attended last week in Metz: a meeting with the Mayor of Metz and a National Orchestra of Metz rehearsal.

Wednesday, October 27, 2020 | Written by Kaela

In addition to giving students a chance to travel Europe, Georgia Tech-Lorraine hosts a lot of events for students during the week! With COVID-19 it makes organizing events a bit more tricky, but luckily, some are able to take place (with proper precautions: masks, social distancing, etc.) and last week, I was able to attend two of them! 

City Hall with the Mayor 

The mayor of Metz invited Georgia Tech-Lorraine students to a welcome reception in downtown metz. It took place at the Town Hall, an 18th century building with an ornate and elegant interior. It was absolutely beautiful inside. I personally love when buildings or their interiors are adorned in gold. Upon arrival, we had some time to mingle with other Georgia Tech-Lorraine students. This was a great opportunity, because this semester it has been difficult to meet graduate students since they live in another dorm. Soon after our arrival, the Mayor came to greet us. 

building
The town hall building in Metz

His speech was in French, but thanks to Sonia Serafin (a GTL professor) it was translated to English for us. He spoke about the history of Metz: how it has been German at some points and French at others, how it has acted as a battlefield and a fortress in the past, and in the 1950s it was chosen to be the capital of the Lorraine region. Currently, the mayor aims to move towards clean energy such as solar panels and windmills. Georgia Tech-Lorraine then gifted the mayor with Georgia Tech merchandise. Afterwards, we were given refreshments and a welcome bag (with a book, mask, pen, and a couple of other items). We once again had the chance to network with one another as well as professors who came to the event. 

National Orchestra of Metz Rehearsal

We had the opportunity to sit in on the music rehearsal of the National Orchestra of Metz under the direction of David Reiland. Metz’s location between France and Germany has given it a colorful past including being a war city. This orchestra rehearsal took place at the Arsenal, a building that once housed weaponry and military equipment, which has now been converted to hold receptions, performances, conferences, galleries, seminars, ceremonies, and so much more. The conversion of old buildings into cultural hubs is a common occurrence in France. This trend often lowers the cost of construction because instead of tearing down a rebuilding, they will strengthen old structures. We were given a short tour of the building and I learned the bottom of the chairs are lined with carpet so that the acoustics are similar to if there was a full house, regardless of the size of the audience. 

The National Orchestra of Metz was rehearsing for an upcoming performance of Sibelius’s Violin Concerto and Beethoven’s 5th Symphony. It was amazing to hear some of the best musicians in the country play. I was taken back by the amount of skill sitting before me. I played flute for seven years and after starting college, I have been unable to find the time to play. Sitting before them gave me nostalgia and I left longing to play in an orchestra once again. Hopefully, I will have the chance to attend a concert in the future. 

Attending these events taught me more about the city of Metz. In my desire to go to different cities on the weekend, I often take for granted the beautiful one I am temporarily residing in. The Mayor said that he “hopes [we] will keep a small part in [our] heart for Metz” and I most definitely will.

Interloping through Interlaken

Join Kaela for her adventures in Interlaken, Switzerland – a weekend filled with mountains, canyons, and chocolate of course – in her latest blog post!

Monday, October 26, 2020 | Written by Kaela

INTERLAKEN, SWITZERLAND 

As our train made its way through Switzerland, I felt more like a tourist than I ever had before. My phone was glued to the window trying to capture the scene true to life as we sped by snow capped mountains, dense forests, and turquoise water. I could barely contain my awe at such a breathtaking country, so much so I was taken aback by the people surrounding me on their electronics and asleep. How could they take their eyes off the window? Graced with good weather upon our arrival, we quickly dropped off our belongings at our airbnb and made our way to a popular hiking trail, Harder Kulm. 

cityI underestimated this hike. As we started the hike I was singing, running, and taking treacherous shortcuts, but soon enough, my singing became only the rhythm of my heavy breathing. As we made our way up the mountain, we took periodic stops to take in the view, catch our breath, and eat some snacks. I, naively, trusted google map’s 1.5 hour estimate for our hike. To compensate for the steep incline the trail goes up, the path zigzags, making the hike more manageable. There is a tram that takes people straight to the top of the mountain, we used it as a reference for how far we were from the top. As we neared the 1.5 hour mark we wondered why it seemed to go on for much longer, but we were convinced our multiple breaks and slow pace were the reason for this. As we neared the 2 hour mark, we started to get worried. We needed enough time to come back down the mountain before the sun set. After asking a fellow hiker, we came to find out that the hike actually takes about 2.5 hours: much longer than we had anticipated. 

mountainsOur main concern was our misunderstanding that you can only pay for the tram with cash, and neither of us had francs. We debated cutting the hike short and heading down prematurely, but we had worked hard to get to that point. We were so close to the top and despite the beautiful views on the way up, nothing could compare to the one waiting for us at the top. We made a call to some friends who intended to meet us and worked out a plan: they would take the tram up to meet us at the top, francs in hand, and we could use that cash to pay for a tram back down, allowing us to watch the sunset from the summit. (We found out later you can pay for the tram in cash, but I’m grateful this dilemma helped to motivate us to the summit.) 

We powered through the last of the hike and surely enough, we made it to the top. The mountain no longer blocking the wind, the sun setting in the distance, and the high altitude, made the temperature difference almost shocking. Nonetheless, the view overlooking Interlaken was more than worth the steep winding journey. No camera, on matter how good the technology, can accurately capture the magnificence my eye could see from the summit. Our friends ended up joining us soon after we got to the top and we spent hours taking photos, talking, and appreciating the landscape. After the sunset, we took the tram back down the mountain and headed to our airbnb. Needless to say, after all of the twists and turns of our day I had a great night of sleep. 

The view over Interlaken

canyoningThe weather the next day was rainy and cold, but we took advantage of this by doing an activity that ended up with us being cold and wet anyway: going canyoning. At least this way we would be rappelling, exploring, jumping, and sliding distracting us from how cold and wet we were. I felt so daring as I rappelled and swung around Interlaken. The final slide made me feel exhilarated but sad the day was almost over. We ended this experience the best way possible: with a warm cup of hot chocolate. We spent the rest of the day exploring the city, souvenir shopping, and of course, eating lots and lots of Swiss chocolate! (And I’d be remiss if I didn’t leave you with a picture of some delicious ice cream with Swiss chocolate in the background, one of my traveling staples.)

More Time in Munich

Some adventures are so long they have to be told in pieces, like Kaela’s latest trip. Join Kaela as she details the second half of her journey in Munich in her latest blog post!

Monday, October 19, 2020 | Written by Kaela

MUNICH, GERMANY (CONTINUED) 

We started the second day of our adventure bright and early with a quick visit to Odeonsplatz: a square lined with ornate buildings. We then headed towards Kaisergarten: our breakfast spot of choice. On our way there were no turnstiles, workers, or barriers to ensure that you stamp the 10 trip pass, rather the German train system relies on the honor system, which felt quite novel. We did however encounter many multi directional escalators– a great space and money saving idea.

My avocado toast was absolutely delicious!
My avocado toast was absolutely delicious!

For breakfast, I had delicious avocado toast before we ran off to the next activity of our weekend. We made a quick stop by the BMW welt, but opted out of going to the museum. We then headed towards the English Garden, stopping for some cake on the way there. After finding a bench to eat on, enjoying the quick snack, and walking around, a surprise drizzle greeted us. The cold weather and rain did dampen the experience slightly but we happened upon a small shop, grabbed a cup of hot chocolate, and waited out the light sprinkle. 

We ended up back at Odeonsplatz while trying to visit the Kriegerdenkmal and ended up in the middle of a protest. The rain suddenly started to pour, so we waited it out under an arcade by Kriegerdenkmal. After freshening up at the hostel, we made a quick stop at Gute Nacht Wurst for currywurst, which was even better than the dish I had in Trier. I was tempted to order more, but this visit was meant to hold us over until dinner later that night. We made another stop in Marienplatz for pictures and visited some of the surrounding shops. We ended up running into a model whose pictures were displayed in an advertisement there.

Scrumptious Strudel!
Scrumptious Strudel!

Since it was a Saturday night, many places were full but we got lucky and ended up getting a table at Hofbräuhaus München once again. Luckily, thanks to the night before, we knew exactly what to get: chicken, schnitzel, and pretzels! Unfortunately, we ended up with a table outdoors in the cold so I spent a decent amount of time walking around looking for an empty table indoors. This gave me the chance to explore all three floors of the restaurant. We ended up finding a table inside! We celebrated by eating strudel, playing games, and hanging around. 

THE NEXT DAY 

We went to Cotidiano for a less German-style breakfast. This place was amazing! I got an american style breakfast, an acai bowl, and a brownie with ice cream. This breakfast was similar to what I would eat at home, so it felt nostalgic after being away for so long. We spent some time in Gartensplatz taking photos and then went on a quest to find an open souvenir shop on a Sunday.

St. Peter's ChurchDuring this search, we ended up making a pit stop at St. Peter’s Church. Of all the churches I have seen so far, this might be my personal favorite. It was a bit different from the stone and stained glass I am used to seeing in cathedrals. It is mostly white with paintings covering the ceilings and walls. Golden figures line the sides leading up to the altar where a figure of Saint Peter lies. The smoke from incense filled the nave and caught the light beams streaming in through the windows.

We ended up finding souvenirs at Munich’s large train station and then boarded the train to head home.

A Minute in Munich

Join Kaela in Munich as she learns observes the traditions of Bavaria, halted by a modern dilemma. Read on to find out more about her delicious meals and the sights of the city!

Friday, October 16, 2020 | Written by Kaela

MUNICH, GERMANY 

When people think of Germany, they might think of people dressed in lederhosen (leather breeches) or dirndls (traditional dresses) eating copious amounts of meat and pretzels. After my brief visit to Munich, I can confirm these assumptions have at least some truth. We decided to visit Munich because one, it is a beautiful city, two, Germany has great food, and three, we wanted to catch the end of the Oktoberfest “celebrations.” Oktoberfest began as a wedding celebration more than two hundred years ago and soon became an annual event intertwined in German culture. While the Coronavirus pandemic halted what would have been the 187th Oktoberfest in Munich, the spirit of the celebration still continued on. People dressed in traditional outfits peppered the streets and many restaurants offered special “Oktoberfest” menu items. 

My delicious wurstlteller!
My delicious wurstlteller!

After a long morning of travel, we headed to Augustine Keller for our first German meal (as well as our first meal of the day.) A friend and I shared a wurstlteller: a platter with an assortment of sausages. We took our time tasting each sausage and examining their flavors as though we were food critics. I tried some of a travel companion’s schnitzel and thoroughly enjoyed it (and highly recommend it). I left the restaurant wishing both my stomach and wallet were larger so I could order a schnitzel for myself. We played a few rounds of cars after our meal, but our fun was cut short by the menacing chestnuts hanging above our heads. Every time a strong gust of wind blew, a few would come flying down towards our table like hailstones.

Upon arrival at our hostel (Augustin), I immediately fell in love with our temporary housing. We had traveled with enough people to have our own hostel room and despite the bunk bed style sleeping, there were a lot of private spaces. We had our own large bathroom with two showers and the toilet was placed in a separate area. There were more than enough mirrors, sinks, lockers for storage, and couch space all placed strategically so it did not feel cramped. The room was modern, clean, and had an amazing view overlooking a small courtyard. German engineering is renowned for a reason. 

Our lovely traveling gorup!
Our lovely traveling group!

After freshening up for a bit, we headed to a famous Munich landmark, the Bavaria statue. Our hostel happened to be extremely close to the statue, which sits in the middle of the grounds where Oktoberfest would have been hosted, Theresienwiese, had it not been cancelled. The statue is meant to be a female personification of the Bavarian homeland. It reminded me of a piece of home, the Statue of Liberty. Both statues serve as monuments to their homeland, personifying patriotism through the depiction of nurturing and powerful women. It was fascinating to walk through the entirely empty fairground and imagine what would be there: food and drink tents, traditional music, dancing, horse races, temporary museums and crowds of people. I took a moment to try to imagine the fanfare and compare it to the somewhat empty large park before me. There were people wind skateboarding, biking, running, working out, or passing through like us. 

An image of the beautiful Marienplatz.
An image of the beautiful Marienplatz.

We passed through Marienplatz on the way to our next eatery: Hofbrauhaus. We admired the New Town Hall building and its gothic revival architecture. I admired the Rathaus-Glockenspiel, a tourist attraction in its own right, with 43 bells and 32 life sized figures. Unfortunately, we were not able to see the show while we were in Munich but I imagine it is quite a spectacle.

Our last stop of the night was at Hofbräuhaus München. This Bavarian restaurant dates back to the 16th century and is three floors high. Its aura was incredible: live music, bustling customers, the smell of great food, couples dancing, traditional clothing, and workers walking around selling pretzels. Our group opted for a family style meal allowing us the opportunity to try all of the restaurant’s popular dishes. My favorites? For sure the half chicken, schnitzel, and pretzel. After eating and playing more card games without the threat of chestnuts falling on us, we headed back to the hostel for the night. As I listened to the snoring of a travel companion in the bunk above me, still full from my traditional meal, I slowly drifted off, excited for what the next day would bring.