Saturday, December 15, 2012

Farewell Brunnenburg 2012 - The end and a new beginning!

Three wonderful months drew to an end but not without several exciting events occurring.  Our last two weeks in Dorf Tirol were busy with workdays, classes, Thanksgiving, outings with the family and a delightful, delicious Farewell Dinner.  Also, one last adventure in Munich, Germany was a highlight for the group.

Tony, Amber, Ramsey and I headed to Merano on Thursday, Thanksgiving Day to shop for dinner.  What an interesting experience!  We bought vegetables, turkey breast, ham, etc.  Thank goodness for our translation books and the German we learned in Michi’s class.  We headed back to the castle in time for lunch with our backpacks full.  Around 3:00 , Amber and I started some of the cooking.  Amber worked on deviled eggs.   While the students attended Sizzo’s class, I fixed the turkey and ham.  Ramsey made chocolate banana nut muffins and garlic mashed potatoes while I made dressing and gravy.  Tony set up the computer so the guys could watch football.  What fun!  Everyone had a great time and we all were truly thankful.

The weekend prior to the last week was spent relaxing and packing.  The students were busy studying for their final exams and we had our last Sunday tea with Mary.  The week began with Tony and I enjoying dinner with the family in Merano on Monday night.  The pizza was so good!  Rainy weather prevented us from having a workday the last week other than cleaning the croft and our apartment.  Exams went well.  Everyone was excited about the farewell dinner in Sizzo and Brigette’s apartment.  Brigitte out did herself with the meal.  Everyone’s plate was clean and hardly any scraps for the animals.

Tony had Mike, Danny and Sebastian share with the group a slide presentation they had made of the full three months abroad.  Sizzo thanked the group and Nik, of course, brought out the wine the students made and gave each of us some to take home.

Everyone headed to finish packing and prepare for our trip to Munich and home.  We awoke to snowflakes but not enough to keep our bus from coming down the hill to pick us up.  Goodbyes were said by all and off to Munich and good ol’ USA.

Saturday and Sunday were spent exploring Munich.  Temperatures were chilly but the Christmas markets were beautiful.  We all were getting excited.  Monday, December 3 has finally arrived along with several inches of snow.  Not enough to stop us from getting to the airport and boarding our plane to London and on to Raleigh-Durham Airport.  After 9 long hours we touched down.  Everyone was on pins and needles.  Will we be in customs a while and will suitcases arrive intact?  No problems.  Amber’s family is waiting for her and our ride is also there.  Tim and Kay have the van ready to go.  It’s 73 degrees here.  We left 35 degrees or less.  Sebastian and Danny head out to catch their flights to their homes.  Mike, Ramsey, Megan, Tony and I head out in the van while Amber leaves with her family.

We are home safe and sound.  What a WONDERFUL experience!  Hope all of you have enjoyed our journey.  We had an amazing group and THANKS to Mary, Sizzo, Brigitte, Michi, and Nik for opening your home to us.  Most of all, thank you St. Andrews University for allowing this opportunity to your students and to the both of us.
Written by:  Gloria Cates

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Roaming Around Rome and Other Adventures

Roaming Around Rome and Other Adventures

This blog is going to cover three weeks, basically our last few full weeks here at the croft and in Italy. We will be leaving for Munich Saturday the 1st of December to fly home for winter break. We take you back to Sunday, November 4th.
This Sunday was spent catching up on homework that nobody had brought with them on fall break and then a nice tea with Mary in her blue room. The room is filled with many interesting things, many of which were Egyptian. We had a nice time chatting, but Mary again scolded us for being too quiet and not talking enough. On Monday, we had class and tried to remember everything we were learning about before our very long and exciting break. Brigitte helped refresh our memories with an amazing lunch of lamb. We also got a paper assignment for our Cantos class to write about what knew and learned about Venice and Ezra Pound with Mary.
Tuesday the 6th was work day, but unfortunately the boys came down with a stomach bug and were extremely sick. The girls took on the day all by ourselves and stacked wood and rolled nets for the day. It was a demanding day, and we all got a workout which was nice. Wednesday was a class day, but now Amber and Ramsey were sick for the day. Thursday everybody was feeling better and we all attended class. Mary usually urges us to ask three questions and to be curious, and today was no different. We asked a lot of questions during class. However, Mary did not like our “laundry list” questions about her life and Ezra’s experiences.
Friday the 9th was an eventful day, a few of our group went to Meran for the day, and at night we celebrated Danny’s birthday with a bonfire. It was a very fun night and afterwards the boys went out by themselves to Club X to dance. On Saturday Tony and Gloria invited us for dinner in their apartment to celebrate Danny’s special day. Gloria made some amazing lasagna and everybody really enjoyed the meal. Sunday we did not have tea with Mary because she was away giving a lecture, so we used the day to catch up on homework and finish up the important paper for Mary. 

Tuesday was a work day and the group stacked wood, raked leaves off the hills, and swept the roads clear.
Wednesday the 14th was the day we left for Rome on the train. It took us about six hours to get there. The trip went smoothly and we found our hostel without much trouble. On Thursday we received a Roma Pass, which was very helpful because it allowed us to travel on the metro and tram without having to pay. We visited the Vatican Museum in the morning and after that we walked around exploring the city on our own. The Vatican had many amazing things, but one of my favorite things to see were all the carriages that the different Popes had ridden in over the years. That night we ate at the Road House Grill and had some good steak, burgers, and chicken wings. Needless to say we were missing American food.
Friday we went to the Colosseum and the Santa Maria Maggiore, we had a great time walking around the sites and reading about the amazing history and architecture of the places. Around the Colosseum we saw the Arch of Constantine, the Forum, and the Palantines with the group. After that we split up and went separate ways to again explore the city.
Saturday the 17th we broke off in twos and walked around Rome and saw the major sites during the day. Most of us visited the Trevi fountain, the Spanish steps, Pantheon, Piazzo Popolo, and different small churches. We all had a great day. That night, most of us ventured out to view the Trevi fountain and the Colosseum at night and we were awestruck by how beautiful the night lights make them. Sunday we then left for the castle again by train. It was a good trip back, with a lot of talking, sleeping, and playing 21 questions.
Monday the 19th and Tuesday of the following week we had class and shared all the pictures of our adventures here in Italy. Wednesday was work day and Danny and Ramsey helped to build the stone wall that had collapsed due to heavy rains. They mainly helped to haul dirt back and forth to the site and to fill in the space behind the wall with dirt again. Thursday was class and Sizzo talked to us about our finals which are coming up this next week, we are all terrified and therefore studying like mad. Friday we went on a field trip to Brixen, Bolzano, and Neustift for both the classes that Sizzo teaches. We saw many churches and and Otzi the Iceman. It was amazing to see the great architecture and to try and decode the frescos that we saw using the symbols that we were taught. Otzi was also interesting to see in person. We learned a lot about the tools he used and the clothes he wore.
The weekend was spent packing some of our things for our trip back home, studying for our finals, and generally just relaxing. We have enjoyed our time here, but all of us are very excited to see our friends and families back home. 

Submitted by, the two best friends anyone could have,
Ramsey Vogt and Megan Jolly

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Our Fall Break Journey

I found Paris
On Saturday October 20, 2012 I gathered my luggage and began my journey to Paris alone. Starting at 7am I left Brunnenburg to catch a bus in Dorf Tirol where I then took a train in Merano taking me all the way to Verona, where I got on a plane to Paris. During my journey I met a lovely lady who assisted me with not getting lost while heading to Paris, she too was heading to Paris. She became my guardian angel through my travel. Once in Paris, I had to find my first hostel, taking multiple connecting metros, and through the ups and downs I finally found my hostel and was so relieved once I hit my bed for the next two days. I was only staying at this hostel called “Open Hostel” for two days because the other one only allowed for you to be there for seven days. 

Sunday morning, I awoke and went for some Chinese food for lunch. After lunch my roommate Oliver at my hostel who was a teacher in Paris and waiting for his apartment to finish being under construction took me on a tour of Paris for the day. Taking me to all the most popular monuments, museums, churches, and eating a delicious crepe ending the night at the Eiffel Tower watching it glitter for 5 minutes at the beginning of every hour starting at 6pm to 1am.
Oliver and I

Beautiful Sun Set
In front of the Louvre
The Eiffel Tower glittering at night


Monday the 22nd I woke up at 8am, packed my suitcase and gathered all my belongings heading out the door for my next Hostel, which was Caulaincourt Square Hostel. I knew how to get to this hostel because Oliver and I the day before went and found it. This hostel was a very nice hostel being in the central of Paris in a wonderful part of the town. It was 2 blocks from the metro station, and beside a delicious pastry shop and restaurant. The Hostel was at a cheap price for what all it offered. Every morning starting at 7:30 till 9:30 there was a continental breakfast including a basket of bread (croissant and a roll) and different cereal. For beverages, you had hot chocolate, coffee, and orange juice. During the hours of 4-8 was considered happy hour, they gave out free crepes and discounted drinks. The hostel offered free Wi-Fi and 5 computers to be used for free. There was also a kitchen where you could prepare your own meals as you pleased. It was like I was back in Brunnenburg. On Monday, I did not go anywhere except for checking into this new hostel. My day was spent working on homework for my online class that I added, and counting down the time that my mother’s birthday gift would arrive. Monday was her birthday, and I had bought her an edible arrangement she had no clue. That night for dinner I found a close restaurant where I had chicken, rice, salad, and fries. 

Throughout the week of being in Paris I met some great new friends who too was either doing a study abroad trip or was traveling alone; I interacted with so many different cultures. To name a few; I met girls from South Africa, Chili, Switzerland, Canada, U.S., Germany, and Hungary. Some of these girls and I actually explored Paris together. Going to see the Montparnasse Cemetery, Arch de Triomphe, went shopping on the famous street of Champs Elysees, as well as visiting many more places. 

Victory Angle
I personally went and saw the Louvre which was an all-day event; I started at 10am and did not leave the Louvre until 6pm. But I was able to see many magnificent art pieces, including the Mona Lisa, Victory Angel, and hundreds of statues and paintings. I also set a day aside to see the Notre Dame where I was just in awe of how beautiful it was on the inside. I decided to climb to the top of the Notre Dame; so paying 5 Euros I began to climb the 444 steps. I finally made it to a magnificent view; all though it was cloudy that day with a few sprinkles you could still practically see all of Paris.
Notre Dame

On Thursday I got together with Pedro whom lives in Paris, he is a life time friend of Professor Cates and Mrs. Cates. When he was younger he was an exchange student in the US at the Cates home. Before leaving for Paris, they had contacted him informing him that I was coming to Paris for 10 days and if he would be available to show me around. Of course him being the sweet guy he is, he agreed. Once in Paris, we went out for dinner one night, (which I very quickly realized no one does dinner till around 8pm at night), talk about starving! Thursday was a day set aside for Pedro and I, I got up that morning and met with him at one of the Metro stations, where he first helped me purchase my train ticket to leave Paris for Venice to meet up with the group; this adventure took all of three hours to do. Once I had my ticket in hand to leave for Venice on Sunday, Pedro took me to a museum known for its history of Paris (Musee Carnavalet). Pedro was full of history about Paris I learned so much through him. Once finished with the museum we went for some lunch, eating what looked to be a nasty vegetarian sandwich but was actually really good, from there we went and got some coffee while sunbathing in the sun; then catching the Metro to catch a panoramic view of Paris. We went to the Galleries of Lafayette (an 8 story mall) and went to the terrace, during sun set. Let’s just say it was a breathtaking view.  After our day full of adventures we called it a night and separating.

Saturday my last day in Paris, I decided to do the Hop on Hop off Double Decker Tour Bus, which stopped at five well known places including the Eiffel Tower and passed by many other places. I got off at the Eiffel Tower and began to take many pictures, then standing in line for 4o minutes to climb the Eiffel Tower quickly realizing that the line I was in was to climb to the top of the Eiffel Tower. I told myself I was not getting out of line. So I climbed all 1789 steps to the tip top, in the cold, rain, and wind. Once there it was a magnificent view. I ended up being at the Eiffel Tower for 3 hours. I took the Elevator back down and caught my bus for the next tour, after I stopped for an amazing hot Nutella and banana crepe. That night I did the Seine River cruise. It was so cold, but I sat outside to take great pictures. The cruise was an hour long, taking you along the river to see all the monuments during the night life when all lit up. I even got to watch the Eiffel Tower glitter again. The cruise was so peaceful and relaxing. I definitely had a great time in Paris, and would go back again to see the rest of the monuments I did not have time to see.


Sunday October 28 was another big day of traveling; I left Paris on a night train at 7:45pm and would be arriving in Venice at 9:30am on Monday the 29th, where I would meet up with the rest of the group on Tuesday. The night train I took was a rather experiencing trip, but through all the trials and tribulations I found my compartment where I had a bed and luggage rack waiting for me.

That Monday when I stepped on the train in Venice I felt like I was in a whole another world. Although there was the typical hundreds of people walking around, there were no more cars, busses, bikes, trains (except for the one I just got off), there was just millions of feet trampling everywhere and Waterbuses zooming along the canal. Once I finally found my waterbus that would take me to my port where I had to find my hostel, I was relieved and overwhelmed with the beauty of the place I was now in. After about 2 hours I found my hostel again through all the tribulations, once inside I was shown my room and never left it except to get some dinner. I was so exhausted through all the traveling that all I wanted to do was sleep. I actually found out that Danny had shown up to the hostel with his mom late afternoon. But he did not stay there; he and his mom had another hotel someplace else.

Tuesday October 30th, was the day everyone showed up but all at different hours. The Cates came met me at the hostel around 11am then Ramsey and Megan came in from Greece around 2pm and Danny showing up right after them. Once everyone was all together minus Mike and Sebastian who were still traveling from Greece, we went out for some pizza and toured Venice while it was still beautiful. We went to a lot of shops trying on masks, and checking out the amazing glass art work that was everywhere throughout all the shops. Danny’s mom actually joined us later that day for some festivities of shopping and exploring. Once the sun started to set Megan, Ramsey, and myself said our goodbyes to Danny’s mom and we went back to the hostel to relax, and I did an assignment for my online class. Around 9pm we started to get worried because the guys had not shown up yet, but come to find out they were having flight delays. They finally arrived to the hostel at 1am. 

Wednesday was the group adventure day, all the students met with the Cates at the port at 9:30am; where we quickly realized that the day was going to be full of rain and high tide. Not realizing the extremity of the weather we all got onto the waterbus heading to Ezra Pounds home (The Nest) where Mary was waiting for us. Once there, Mary made us some of her amazing hot tea (Earl Gray) and read us some Cantos while the Cates went out and got us some breakfast. Once the Cates returned with, doughnuts, croissants, cake, cookies, and a variety of drinks, we all had our portions with a belly being content till lunch we all left with Mary being our tour guide. She showed us some churches, bridges, canals, museums, a place where Gondolas were made and many more. By the time we got to the next port to take a waterbus to go see San Giorgio church and San Michele (where Ezra Pound was buried) everything was flooded due to the high tides, we were walking in water that was already ankle deep and thigh deep in some places. When we got to the port where we trying to catch the water bus the water had raised even more, Tony was carrying Mary through the water in the mist of me trying to jump over a wave of water coming in when I was wiped out and went for a swim. I was now soaking wet and dealing with a camera that had too fallen in the water. After that we had all agreed that the weather conditions were too bad and went back to “The Nest” where I could dry off, and Mrs. Cates made some spaghetti for lunch and Mary bought a slice of pizza for everyone. While at Mary’s home, we had a lesson on the Cantos, listening to Mary read the Cantos in Ezra Pounds home was just amazing. You could really feel a connection with the Cantos and Pound through being in his home
At 4:00pm the group had an excursion to the Academia, where thankfully the Cates had previously made reservations, allowing us to skip the line and not stand in the rain, flood, and cold.  While at the Academia we saw some beautiful paintings done by artists who were from Venice. After we were done with the Academia the group split from the Cates heading back to the Hostel to put on some dry clothes and relax till 7:30pm when we were meeting up again for dinner. While heading out for dinner, we heard sirens going off which meant the flood was coming and going to be even worse than what it was during the day. We quickly ate and headed back to our safe grounds. 

Thursday November 1st, was the day we departed from Venice heading back to Brunnenburg. Around 7:30 that morning we heard the sirens going off warning about the flood, not realizing how bad it was till the hostel manager told us, we quickly changed clothes and all put on flip flops to conquer the flood. Once outside we then realized how bad it was going to be for us trucking through the water with our entire luggage in tow. We were all walking through ice cold, nasty knee high deep water all the way to the waterbus which was taking us to the train station where we were meeting with the Cates. On the bus, you could really see the devastation caused by the flood, it felt like we were dealing with Hurricane Sandy, but just not as bad. Once the group was all together we had lunch and waited for our train to depart at 1:30pm. 

Finally arriving back in Brunnenburg at 7pm we all went to the local pizza stand and got some pizzas, then coming back to our long missed temporary home where most of us unpacked and Skype with our families to tell about our adventures. The weekend consisted of us all recuperating from our break and catching up on much needed sleep.

In all everyone had a great fall break, Mike and Sebastian went to Munich for a few days and then meeting up with Ramsey and Megan in Greece where the four spent their time having fun and experiencing a lot of culture. While Danny’s mom came and visited him and they went to Naples where Danny has family at. Danny had a great time seeing his mom and visiting with all his family. He said one of the best parts of the break was eating all the different types of amazing foods. The Cates went on a Royal Caribbean Cruise to the Greek Isles. They too said that they had a blast seeing and meeting new people and cultures, although there was way too much free food on the cruise.

The Cates Cruise.

I hope you enjoyed our 12 day journey we all experienced. It was a once in a life time ordeal and was much needed. I am thankful that through all the separations, everyone had a great and safe trip. I am glad that we are all back together again though. We finally have ONE MORE MONTH till we are back in the states. 

Here is a link for you to view the flood of Venice the day we were leaving. It made national news! 

Submitted By: Amber Hicks