Jun 16 2011
My name is George Weber (friends call me Dane) and I have been in Europe since May 30/31st for Widener Law’s study abroad in Lausanne. This is my first time blogging.
As I have not posted until now i have a lot to share. I have been keeping a journal since the start of my journey for the purpose of blogging. Here is my journey so far:
Today/yesterday we took off from Washington/Dulles to London-Heathrow. The plane ride wasn’t bad – although I didn’t get much sleep. I watched “Little Fockers” which was funny but predictable. A few of us flew together. Rebekka, Nina, and Jolee from the Harrisburg program were on my plane. My girlfriend, who decided to come along for a week, had to take a separate plane that actually arrived earlier than mine. Tarin, another person from my program, left from New Jersey and arrived about an hour after we did.
Since none of us got much sleep on the plane we got some food and something that resembled coffee and set off to find out hostle. The hostle was cramped but nice. After about an hour, and getting off on the wrong stop on the tube, we arrived. Some people decided to take naps but myself and a few others decided to truck through. We found info on day passes into London proper and went back to wake everyone up and went into London.
London was very pretty. We got tickets to the London eye, where you can see pretty much the entire city and spotted some places that we would like to go. After this we crossed the river and saw Big Ben/Parliament and Westminster Abbey. Both buildings were closed today so we are going to try to come back tomorrow.
After that we walked to Buckingham Palace through the gardens. When we got there we were able to see the famous palace guards do a timed march (I think they do it on the hour every hour) that was quite something. It was a bit different than I imagined because I always thought that people could get up close to the guards and pose in photographs – something that I was looking forward to doing even though it is quite “touristy” of me. I was also surprised to see the ceremonial guards to be carrying assault rifles. Again, a misconception on my part but I though they held ceremonial rifles but is seems that they are a fully integrated security component to the palace.
After we saw Buckingham Palace we were tired so we came back to the hostle and called it a night – a good call considering we have all been up for nearly 48 hours.
Today we went to the Towe of London which used to be the seat of the English Monarchy in the past. There are several museaums on the grounds which take you through the tower and give you a quick lesson on the history of the tower and of the Englich Monarchy – which I find very interesting. Also housed here are the Crown Jewels of the British Empire. I was not able to get any pictures because they are prohibited and they were watching everyone very closely.
From the Tower we went back to Westminster Abby. Today we went inside. I am very glad we did because it was very impressive. In some ways the building was more impressive than some of the churches, cathedrals, and basilicas in Rome – although it is very different from those buildings so it is not a very good comparison. Sufficed to say this is something that everyone should do while in London – make it a priority for sure. While we were in the Abby, we saw the British tomb of the unknown soldier where President Obama had left a wreath just a week before.
Today we rounded out our day by going to Pickadilly Circuis and eating at a very signature English resturant and English pubs – also a necessary experience in my opinion.
Today was not a very interesting day. We checked out of our hotel at 12 p.m. and caught a train to Paris. When we arrived in Paris we had to separate, however, because we could not all get a hotel in the same place. To make matters worse, the internet in our hotel was down tonight so we were not able to get in touch with our other group members – hopefully we will be able to get in touch with them tomorrow.
On a positive note I can see the Eiffel Tower from my hotel.
We made contract with our group on the other side of town and were able to meet up at the Louvre. Since the Louvre is pretty expensive, 26 Euros to get in — unless you are under 26 and go in after 6 p.m., which pretty much settled the matter.
We walked the main road from the Louvre to the Arch de Triumph. On the way we ate and did some shopping. It was a good thing too because the walk from the Louvre to the Arch is…well it is a long walk. When we go to the Arch we went on top. There is a spectacular view of Paris from the top. This is a must – you can see the Eiffel Tower and many other main attractions from the top of the Arch.
Later in the day we walked back to the Louvre. Our group split up here. My girlfriend and I went to see the Mona Lisa, the Louvre castle ruins (which are really cool – you go through the dungeon!!!), and Napolean’s apartments.
Since it was a pretty long day we decided to go back to the hotel and walk to see the Eiffel Tower. I am sorry to say that we did not have the greatest of experiecnes there. We were sitting down and chatting (which apparently is the thing to do at night as there were probably hundreds of people there) when two teenagers (I think they were teenagers anyway) came up to us and asked us for cigaretts. When we said we did not have any they proceeded to try to take some drinks that we had with us (non-alcoholic drinks). The situation got heated but eventually we just left and everyone was fine. On the bright side of things, the Eiffel Tower was very beautifully lit at night – it sort of glows and actually sparkles at midnight.
Today my girlfriend and I went to the Invalid, where Napolean’s tomb is located. The Invalid Palace is very pretty. There is a small chapel where the tombs of several famous French persons are burried. There is also a Frendh Military museum and an Medieval armor exhibit. Napolean’s towb (as you would expect from someone with a height issue) is burried in a huge tomb – one that could probably hold hundreds of Napoleans. It is in the center of the Chappel in the crypt which is visible from the main floor. His tomb is actually the center piece of the chapel. What a grand monument for such a little guy!!
After we visited the Invalid we went to Mommarte, a small village on the top of a hill overlooking the entire city. This is definitely something that everyone visiting Paris should experience. There are local painters and local shops with authentic souvenirs that everyone should have before leaving Paris.
After Mommarte, as always we were very tired so we went back to our hotel and met up with Nina and Tarin. from there we went to probably the best crepery that I have ever been to. I actually don’t like crepes normally but these were delicious – probably because they were authentic Parisian French crepes. Bottom line: get crepes when you are in France.
Today was a travel day. Did homework on the train for my summer classes in International Investment Law and Comparative Bioethics. I am really looking forward to my international law classes because I would love to work on the international stage with legal affairs.
We arrived in Lausanne very tired from travel. Finding the dorms was not hard but the room is small and the bed hardly fits me. Oh well, I will sleep when I get back to the States.
Today we had our first classes and a reception/orientation.
We toured the University of Lausanne campus and went down to the lake – - – what a view! The mountains surrounding Lake Geneva a very stunnding.
The classes today were very interesting. I think that I am going to really like International Investment because it has to do with treaties. Comparative Bioethics seems very nice as well because of the many approaches to the field in different cultures.
Second day of classes today. We got more in depth with the material. The readings for the classes are very time consuming. As a law student I am used to this but I expected the reading to be more on the light side for the summer program. Oh well, less sleep for me I suppose – It is just the life of a law student.
Today was a normal day in class I suppose. The Bioethics class seems like it could sturr a lot of debate – ahtought everyone seems to be pretty level headed as of now.
We did not do much after class today.
Today I had to take my girlfriend back to Geneva for her flight back to the States. This meant that I had to get up at 6 a.m. I ended up being 15 minutes late to class. Luckily the trains run on time here because it could have been a complete disaster if I missed class all together. Today was our last day in Internaitonal Investment – tomorrow is the quiz – I am not exactly sure how one tests on one week of school work so this should be interesting.
A bunch of us went to Ouchy in Souther Lausanne today after class. We walked around and scoped out prices for renting a boat – which we all agreed we would do next week. We also went to a “beach.” I say “beach” because it was about 100 feet wide and had no sand at all. We stayed there for a while before heading back to the dorms to get ready for our final that we have tomorrow and do homework for Bioethics as well.
Today was our final exam in International Investment – this was not an easy exam. Apparently, contrary to what I thought, there is quite a lot that can be tested on for a week’s worth of classes.
After class a buch of the group left for Venice. Tarin and I tried to get last minute tickets to Barcellona but there were none available so we decided to stay on Lake Geneva this weekend and do Munich and Barcellona next break.
Today we wandered Lausanne which, contrary to what I originally thought, has a really big market/shopping district in the old town. It was very nice. We saw the old Notre Dame Cathedral and the town hall. We also discovered that the metro stops on our local line are not far apart from each other. In fact, we walked straight from one to the lower end of town witout realizing it. BUT, going up hill is not easy without the metro – so thankfully there is one or life here would be tough – although I do enjoy all the walking that I have been doing.
Tomorrow: Evion and Vevey!
Today Tarin and I bought a two day (5 day discounted) pass for ferry rides and regional trains for 100 CHF. I think we probably got out money’s worth today alone.
Today we went to Evion, France, which is right across the lake from Lausanne. The town was nice but not alltogether that impressive. To get there, we took the ferry. On board we met a New Zealand woman who was a massage therapist going to work with the bike maraton that was starting in Evion. She had been backpacking in western Europe for some time and this was the “hard” part of her trip. In Evion, there was information on self guided tours around the “city” itself but generally there was only a small shopping district that made the trip worth while. This shopping district had a shop where I found the only French decorated German stein (the ones with the decoration on the ouside and the metal caps) so I bought one. Collecting these steins has been a hobby of mine when I travel. My goal is to get one from every country that I visit in Europe. So far, the only country where I have been wholly unable to find one is Great Britain.
We left Evion with a lot of time left in the day. Because of this, we took the train from Lausanne to Vevey in the hopes of finding the wine train. We were unsuccessful in this because we arrived arround 7:00 p.m. so we decided to explore Vevey instead. The town was very nice with great views of the Alps (better than the view from Lausanne for sure). We walked around the lake-front and met some young German Swiss (or at least I think that is the way that you refer to the native German speakers of Switzerland). We talked to them for a while and they gave us great advice on what to do – they said that Interlachen was nice if we could make the trip and that exploring the lake Geneva region was very rewarding. They also gave us advice on which Swiss watch to buy. Apparently Swatch watches are on the lower scale of Swiss watches but “last forever” so I think I will probably make that one of my purchases while I am here. They also gave us information on how to catch the train – the trick is that you have to take the regional train to Vevey and then take the “local train” to get to the wine train – good to know for tomorrow.
After a while of walking around and popping in and out of the local establishments we went home to go to sleep – the overarching trend here is that travel in the Lake Geneva region is brutal (it must be all of the hills).
Today we decided to go to Yvorre instead of on the wine train because some of the information that we collected in Evion yesterday seemed to indicate that there is a medieval town in Yvorre. Boy were they right, and what a town!
We took the verry via Nyon (which was a much shorter ride than to Evion) and immediately after docking you see a very well preserved medieval town unfold before you. There was not much information on the actual history of the town that I found but there was a great garden that appealed to all five of the human senses. This is definitely recommended. After the garden there is a shopping district where you can buy local French goods (some made right in the shop in front of you!).
After getting some gelato and waiting an insanely long time for the ferry to arrive (thus causing a severe farmers tan and somewhat or a sunburn) we took the ferry back to Nyon, explored for a bit, then took the train to Montreaux. Montreaux is a cool town as well. There was a festival of some sort going on when I got there where they were selling all sorts of ethnic foods which we sampled and of which some were very tasty.We also learned that the song “Smoke on the Water” is written about the city of Montreaux itself. After taking in the view we headed back home to get some rest so that we could wake up early and catch the wine train.
Today Tarin and I took the wine train through the many vineyards on the hillside to the North of Lake Geneva. The station stops that we took I cannot remember as Tarin had planed the whole trip. The wine train was nice because of the great views that it offered of Lake Geneva and the Alps but there was not any wine to taste on the tour itself except for on two days out the year – June 11 and 12 (yesterday and the day before!!!!!). Oh well. We did get a good recommendatoin from a local in the wine area that the wine cellars near the train station offer tastings (be careful because the tastings of the wine is not free (or cheap for that matter). I did buy two bottels, one red, and one white.
After this we were very tired so we decided to do out homework for the class tomorrow and to get some rest for the week. Tomorrow we have a new class to replace International Investment – International and Comparative Health Law – sould be interestering as I already find great interest in Bioethics.
Today we had our first International and Comparative Health law. The teacher made me sit up front (along with everyone else that walked in), probably because we walked in late due to missing the tain earler. The front row is useless for me as I feel anxious and unable to function – but I suppose the same is true for all law school classes no matter where you sit.
Our new teacher seems very nice and knowledgeable about the subject and Profesor Goldberg is always a delight.
After class Kristin, Brittney, Tarin, Nina, and I rented a boat and took it out on Lake Geneva (rented from a business near the Ouchy metro stop) for two hours. While out there we swam in the lake, the girls sun bathed, and I had a blast just being at the helm. Before we went into shore we took pictures with my under water camera of us swimming in the lake (which is absolutely freezing by the way) and went in to shore.
This has been my trip up until June 14. I under stand that there was a problem with this post as I tried to post this on June 14th but when I checked it today there was only the portion of the text of this blog that had existed when I saved what I was writing on June 10 – my apologies for this. I will try to post every two or three days from now on to avoid any sort of problems associated with posting.
I will post from June 15 – 17 later in the day on June 17.
Thank you and I hope you enjoy what I have shared.