Where Di has been
The Acropolis of Thessaloniki
Heptapyrgion, Dimitriou Tzachila, Thessaloniki, Greece
Standing as a fortress from the Byzantine and Ottoman era, the Acropolis of Thessaloniki is not to be missed. Alongside the overwhelming views of the region there is an opportunity to admire the castle-like structure, which has towers dating back to the years of Roman rule. Regardless of its past as prison, today it calls to tourists and is recognized as a UNESCO sight. I know everyone rushes to Athens, but Acropolis' are plentiful around all of Greece, and the one in Thessaloniki is worth-while if you're a true culture geek like myself.
After my core course's trip to Kosovo, I thought it only appropriate I pay a visit to Serbia and get a feel for the environment there. First, for an American, I don't necessarily suggest not visiting, but just have your whits about you and don't expect the friendliest treatment. All things considered, I was able to pay a visit to the largest Eastern Orthodox church in the Balkans, which is magnificent even with all the renovation being done. Additionally, I had a beautiful view of the region from Belgrade fortress, which is praised as a Monument of Culture of Exceptional Importance, and even found myself smack in the middle of a Renaissance fair. For 16 hours I told myself I would never go back to Serbia, but when situated 125 meters high I began to question just how true that was.
East Side Gallery
Berlin, Germany has my heart and I would've NEVER expected it. I had no interest in visiting the area, in fact I ended up in the area after taking the wrong bus from Poland. However, the minute I stepped foot into the streets I knew it was going to devastating to leave. There is so much to see it is impossible to do in one day, week, or even month (I suspect). Every corner tells a story, as the city holds so much history and culture. I don't even like art and I found myself looking like an idiot stopping in the middle of walkways just to stare at underappreciated masterpieces. I also stayed at an amazing hostel, which besides costing only 11 dollars for the night had a pool, laundromat, bar, restaurant, and bbq area/garden outside. Typing this is making me sad; if you have time in Europe and want to be stimulated this is definitely the place.
(And unfortunately I have no real photos to do this glory justice, so just go see it yourself!!!!)
I'm throwing in Spain because I went only 3 days after my "long-trip" and I generally just want to. On this adventure I visited another student studying abroad (and my fave roomie at Scranton ;). Barcelona was so warm and medieval-ish. The weekend was extremely relaxing. We visited the famous sight La Sagrada Familia, yet tourists be wary, the outside is extravagant but the entire building is under construction. Friday and Saturday nights there is a colorful water show that is simple and memorizing. I took so many photos, and I'm pretty sure they're all more or less the same, but I was in awe so whatcha gonna do. Finally, I spent a relaxing Sunday exploring the region where the Parliamentary building is located. I stumbled upon what I'm going to deem Espana's trevi fountain, and having been to Italy i'm gonna go and say I found this one much more appealing (oops). As is the case in most European cities, Barcelona was large with cultural sights, but small enough that I got a good feel of the area.
The Heart of the Balkans
Šar Mountains, Macedonia (FYROM)
In a 5-day trip with my core course, I went to Europe's newest, and most underrated, country. Kosovo; this place truly has my heart. The small region in former Yugoslavia houses a number of UNESCO world heritage sights that made me want to cry tears of joy, the most excited people who LOVE Americans, and extremely affordable clothes, food, and souvenirs. However, hiking Šar MT (on the border of Macedonia) was the most irreplaceable part of the journey.
Camden Market (Stables Market)
Camden Market, Camden Lock Place, London, UK
London. After all the hype I've heard about the place, honestly it wasn't as magnificent as portrayed. However, Camden Market is worth discussing as it was far beyond expectation. Despite the overwhelming number of food stalls, with delights from every region around the world, the vintage clothing shops and small vendors selling everything from in-scents to Banksy paintings could entice even the most reluctant shoppers. As soon as I walked in I had regretted finding it so late in my trip, and I'd travel back to the U.K. (with an empty suitcase I might add) just to explore the area again. Be warned, the market quickly gains popularity as the weather warms up.
Tivoli Gardens, Vesterbrogade, København VCopenhagen, København V, Denmark
It wouldn't be a summary of my second month abroad without relating back to Copenhagen. Obviously I could write endlessly about my new home, so I'll spare everyone and just comment on Tivoli. Located in the center of the city, the well-known park is open only for a select period during the winter. The amusement park makes you forget just how cold it is to be walking around Denmark in February, given the region's transformation into a "snowy wonderland." Inside, there are smaller shops selling everything from hot chocolate to wool scarfs, and a collection of restaurants you won't want to avoid. It's definitely worth a visit, especially for anyone into ice-skating or kid-oriented rides.
Nyhavn, København K, Denmark
As a consequence of being a tourist, Nyhavn was inevitably my first (and second) stop the weekend I arrived in Copenhagen. The old sailor village, built in the late 17th century, consists of a number of colorful buildings housing cafes, restaurants, and small shops. Although a bit pricey even for this city, its charm relates to the fact that the view is somewhat out of a fairy-tale; which makes sense considering Hans Christian Anderson actually lived there. Today, you're likely to find an abundance of travelers lounging around the harbor. I recommend visiting once the temperature warms up in order to take advantage of the popular canal tours.
Kastellet: The Citadel
Kastellet (The Citadel), Gl. Hovedvagt, Kastellet, Copenhagen, Denmark
At the center of Copenhagen stands the oldest, best preserved star fortress in Northern Europe. Kastellet, which contains part of the Danish military and the headquarters of the National Guard, is credited for its role in the defense of Denmark. Additionally, a number of historical sights are located within the pentagram, so it serves as a beautiful public park. (Views of the church literally took my breath away)
Royal Danish Navy Joint Operation's Center
Carl Nielsens Vej 6, 8000 Aarhus C, Denmark
Despite my study abroad being focused in Copenhagen, the program I am with (DIS) values itself on various opportunities to partake in faculty-led study tours. Students are expected to pick a core course, in addition to a major, and participate in hands-on activities. This past week, which was deemed core course week, I was lucky enough to travel to Aarhus in the Northern area of the country with my humanitarian law class, and get a lecture by one of only seven commanders who run the Danish Navy. Honestly, this has been my greatest experience in Denmark thus far. We were taken to a base located within the woods and behind barbed-wire fences. My teacher, who happens to be heavily involved with the military himself, organized a presentation in which we learned about maritime operations within Danish waterways and got insight on laws pertaining to sovereignty. This was truly a once in a lifetime experience, and although we technically weren't authorized to take pictures I managed to get one of the "instructor." My class also visited Aarhus University, which is the largest school in Denmark, where we were given an amazing talk on the laws of armed conflict by a Lieutenant Colonel who doubles as a professor. Finally, we visited the modern art museum which proves fairly popular among locals and visitors, and I have attached a photo of the class (in the famous rainbow room) so you can see my beautiful face.