Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Back from Europe--With Pictures!

Wow.  Would you believe that I've been home from Europe for two weeks already and I have yet to make a post?  Shame on me!  But life ended up taking the reins and as I prepare for graduation in may, the amount of things that I need to get done keep snowballing into one big, frustrating ordeal.  That's normal for any graduating senior, I suppose, but I still remain committed to updating as much as possible and sharing as much as I can of my life with you.  In any case, I'd like to thank all of the readers and everyone that wished me a good trip in Germany and France.  I had a fairly decent flight to Europe and once we got there, it was certainly a great experience!

One of the first places we went to was Hohenzollern castle, which was just absolutely gorgeous.  It sat atop a mountain that we actually needed to climb.  It was then that I realized...I am terribly out of shape!!! (I'm making strides on improving this...more to follow in the next Susan G. Komen post.)  Despite huffing and puffing all the way to the top, I found that it was definitely worth it.  The architecture was beautiful and it totally spoke to that side in me that yearns to be a princess.

While we did a few touristy things while in Germany, we did visit quite a few businesses and we went to places where we could observe International Marketing (that's what the trip was for, after all!).  One such place was the outlet town of Metzingen.  It was a very beautiful set of outlets with high-quality stores like Burberry, Ralph Lauren, Puma, and Hugo Boss.  Despite being an outlet town, however, everything was still much too expensive for me and I ended up window shopping.  It was still a good experience--and I saved my wallet some, too!  Another place we visited was Reutlingen University, where we had a lecture and got to see the way that German universities operate.  For those of you that enjoy a good "brewski," I am pleased to announce that we did go to a German brewery!  It was named Berg Brewery and we got to do our own little beer tasting there as a class.  We also had an authentic German dinner in which I finally figured out what a schnitzel was!

Another highlight of the trip was the Mercedes Factory and Museum.  I don't know much about cars, but I do appreciate good design and quality engineering.  I was surprised to see a lot of Mercedes cars were used as police cars, tour buses, freight trucks, and more.  I was also surprised to see that the Pope Mobile was a Mercedes, too!  Out of all the cars in the museum, I think my favorites were probably the convertibles.  One of my biggest "fantasies," so to speak, comes right out of those old movies.  There's nothing I'd love more than to have a dashing gentleman waiting in front of my house in a convertible, ready to pick me up and ride into the countryside.  Let me also add in that a stylish scarf around my hair and big sunglasses are also necessary!  But in all seriousness...not only were the cars amazing, but the design of the actual building itself was dazzling as well and very modern!  Overall, it was a good experience to see where these cars got their start and how they evolved through the years.  I had a similar experience on my last day in Germany, when we went to the Porsche museum.

I'm not really sure how much of this is evident in the posts that I make, but I would probably consider myself a very traditional person.  It's probably not a surprise that the quaint little town of Rothenburg found a special place in my heart.  A city that was once ravaged by war, Rothenburg, it was able to rebuild and rise once more.  The architecture here was stunning and if there was one place I visited where I would choose to live full-time, it would be here.  From my research, Rothenburg served as inspiration for the setting of the Disney movie Pinnochio and was the setting of scenes in the film Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (not that I've watched it--I just heard about it!).

It was in Rothenburg that I had my first mini schneeballen, a dessert made of fried dough.  Although everything in the bakery looked delicious (it's Europe, after could it not?), I decided to go with the mini-schneeballen.  The particular kind I decided to try (and the one featured in the picture!) is of the cinnamon-sugar variety.  Other varieties that were available were nut, chocolate, and powdered sugar.  I suppose what I would compare it to is kind of like a donut hole (in terms of available flavors), except on the crunchy side!  I determined that the mini schneeballen wasn't for me, but it wasn't bad at all!

After taking care of business in Germany, we went to France.  The picture on the left is of the Arc de Triomphe, which we visited on our first night in Paris.  It was breathtaking at night!  Though you'd think that after nearly keeling over climbing the mountain to Hohenzollern, I would give up on climbing, I decided to be a trooper and stick it out.  I ended up climbing to the top and I'm really glad that I did.  From the top of the Arc de Triomphe was an astounding view of the entirety of Paris.  Though I ended up going a lot of different places throughout the rest of my stay in Paris, I think that by far, my favorite pictures were taken here, that night, at the Arc de Triomphe.

This picture is of the city street, branching out from the Arc de Triomphe.  What I really liked about our trip to Paris was that we were given a 3-day metro pass for our weekend there.  With that pass, we were able to go see the all of the tourist destinations in which we were interested as well as go poking around the city.  Though I'm not fluent in French (my experience spans four years of French education courses in high school...I am now a senior in college), I was surprised at how much came back to me and how well we were able to navigate and get around the city. 

While I only featured a few pictures here on the blog, I did visit a lot of tourist attractions.  I was able to make it to the Eiffel Tower, the Moulin Rouge, the Louvre, Montmarte, the Basilica of the Sacre Coeur, the Notre Dame de Paris, and the Saint Denis Basilica.  My general feeling is that I saw a lot and not enough at the same time.  A weekend was definitely not enough to accomplish all that I wanted to accomplish, and I am definitely looking forward to going back to Paris and seeing all these things again. 

While we were able to visit a lot of tourist attractions on our own, the entire class went to visit Crown, Cork, & Seal, a company responsible for metal packaging.  It's actually the industry leader and you probably would never know.  It manufactures containers for a lot of things from beverages to cleaning products to watches to wine to even cosmetics.  Who knew?  It was definitely interesting to see things from their perspective.

So what did I learn overall?
  • I love architecture.
  • I'd love to learn  more about photography.
  • I need to get in more of my pictures.  I was behind the camera almost the entire time!  I need to document that I was actually at these places!
  • Pain au chocolat is absolutely DELICIOUS and I will miss having it for breakfast every day...although it's probably a good thing I'm not having it every day, haha.
  • European chocolate is WIN.
  • Europe is super fun!  :)
If you've got any other questions or comments, please feel free to leave them here and I'll be happy to answer!

Friday, March 4, 2011

Au Revoir & Auf Wiedersehen! Mellie Goes to Europe

Yes, that's right!  By the time you have read this blog post, I will probably be on a plane to Europe.

For those of you that don't already know, I will be traveling abroad for the next few days with an International Marketing course at my school.  We'll be going to Germany and France to see various companies and observe marketing in different cultures.  Since I haven't been to Europe before (only Asia!), I thought it would be a great opportunity to experience something new for a change.

While it spells out great opportunity for me, it means that I more than likely will be absent from the Internet--but don't fret!  I've got a few posts scheduled for my time away and I'm definitely planning on making a post summarizing my trip (complete with pictures!) shortly after I get back.

Thanks again for being the wonderful readers you are.  I'm going to miss you all--without you, this blog would be nothing!

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