Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Weekend Trips (July 6-July 8)

Here are last weekend's adventures told by those who went:

We traveled to Rome, Italy this past weekend. We spent a lot of our time sampling the local cuisine, including gelato, prosciutto, pizza, and pasta. Morgan Murphy ('13) ate an entire ball of mozzarella cheese in an impressive time of five minutes. In between our meals, we saw all of the major sights, such as the Coliseum, Roman Forum, Trevi Fountain, and Vatican. We also met up with another Carl, Alex Voorhees ('13), and an alum, Troy Samuels ('11).

David Stillerman ('14), Joey Pedtke ('14), Morgan Murphy ('13) and Nate Grant ('14)

Pedtke, Stillerman, Murphy, Grant and Voorhees

We went to Scotland FridaySaturday, and Sunday of last week. We stayed in a hostel that was about a 15 minute walk from the center of the city. There was a small area of the city that was relatively cosmopolitan and modern, but most of the buildings were old stone or brick. We visited St. Giles Cathedral, the Scottish Parliament, walked along the Royal Mile, and hiked to the top of Arthur's Seat (an old volcano outside of the city). There are a number of other monuments and sights to see that are interspersed within the city that we also visited. Unfortunately it rained for most of the weekend, and once we got to the top of Arthur's Seat we couldn't see anything because the fog was so thick.

Edinburgh castle is visible from most parts of the city, and it sits on the core of an old volcano above the other buildings. We never made it into the castle due to the rain and expensive admission, but the views from the outside are enjoyable. The castle used to be partially surrounded by a lake, but it has since been drained, and now it is a large park. They have also erected a soccer stadium fairly close to the castle for the olympics, and there is a huge set of olympic rings near the castle. Besides the castle, the other thing that we missed out on when we were there was eating haggis, but none of us are too sad about that.

On the way back we stopped at Berwick-upon-Tweed, which the northernmost city in England (~10 minutes from Scotland). It's mostly a fishing village and tourist site now, but it has a large old fortress and walls that were built to keep out the (constantly) invading armies. The city changed hands numerous times (more than a dozen), the last time in the 1482. Because of the constant fighting, the city was not technically a part of Scotland or England until the 1700s.

Simon Johansen ('14), Mike Chappell ('14), Seth Althauser ('13)

St. Giles Cathedral

Arthur's Seat

Outside the Scottish Parliament

A piece of trash that looks oddly like the UK

The Olympic rings and the castle

On Sunday, Cody and I got up bright and early (depending on your definition of "bright and early") to head off to Stonehenge. Stonehenge is located near Salisbury, which is west of London. Using our BritRail passes we took a train from Cambridge into King's Cross, and from there journeyed to Waterloo station where we caught a train to Salisbury, and a bus from there to Stonehenge.
The Monument of Stonehenge was truly amazing. Our bus tickets included the price of admission and an audio guide. The audio guide really made the whole experience more enriching. When the audio guide mentioned that over 1/3rd of each stone is still buried to anchor it, I was impressed. Also fascinating were the myths surrounding Stonehenge's construction and purpose. 
While walking around Stonehenge, I was struck by how beautiful the countryside was. The green grass of the rolling plain and the cool breeze made the day quite pleasant. After walking around Stonehenge and completing the audio tour, we took a few last pictures of the monument and made our way back to Cambridge by train, wesat next to a man who was streaming the Wimbledon final live on his iPad. Even though the entire train was disappointed when Andy Murray lost, Cody and I both felt the day was a success.

Micah Muhr ('14) and Cody Young ('14)

A few of us stayed in Cambridge for a quieter weekend. It was an especially good time to be here, since the city was celebrating the arrival of the Olympic torch relay on Saturday. A couple of us explored the Fitzwilliam Museum in town, which has an interesting summer exhibition of treasures from tombs in Han Dynasty China. We also wandered over to Parker's Piece on Friday night and watched part of a concert by The Noisettes, a British indie group. They were pretty good, and there was a fun mix of locals to people-watch.  On Saturday we walked out to The Orchard for a nice lunch. It was a bit of a hike, but through a beautiful area of meadows, and the food, scenery, and history (many of Cambridge's best minds have spent time there) were well worth the trip. Later we staked out a spot on Mill Road outside Hughes to see the torch come through, which was pretty exciting! The rainy weather stuck around and foiled our plans to go punting on the river on Sunday, so that will have to wait for another time, but overall we had a fun weekend close to home!
The Olympic torch going through Cambridge
A number of us went to Ireland this past weekend. Most of us decided to take the cheaper route and travel by train up to the port, then take a ferry across to reach Dublin. On Thursday night, we caught a 6:45pm train and we finally arrived in Dublin at 6am Friday morning. After learning that our hostel room was not going to be ready until noon, we had a decision to make: find somewhere to eat breakfast or take a quick snooze and get something to eat afterward. We chose option B, which eventually turned into us sleeping in the hostel lobby until 9am.

Since we had a large group go to Ireland, we split up into two smaller groups but generally saw the same things. We visited the Guinness Storehouse, which is a brewery turned into a museum. Some members of our group went on a walking tour and saw the Dublin castles and went to Kilmainham Gaol, which was an important historical site that told the story of Ireland's struggles in failed revolutions and famines.

The following day (Saturday) some of us took a bus across the island to the Cliffs of Moher, which was an incredible sight. The cliffs are 214 meters high at their highest point and its a little frightening walking alongside these cliffs because most of the them do not have any fencing around it. In nearby Galway, there was a huge celebration that revolved around the Volvo Ocean Race, which is a sailboat race around the world that ends in Galway. Unfortunately by the time we got there all of the boats had made it to the harbor.

Danny Geiger ('14), Max Timm ('13), Michael Elder ('13), Anna Versen ('14), Katherine Greenberg ('14), Andy Zweber ('13), Ben Truax ('14), Josh Estes ('14), Michael Austin ('13), Travis Nordgaard ('13)
All of us passed out in the hostel lobby after a night of travel. This picture was taken around 8am courtesy of  Travis Nordgaard.
Timm, Elder, Geiger, Greenberg, and Versen at the Guinness Storehouse. Note how Geiger really stands out in this picture, this may be the photograph that really gets his modeling career going.
Greenberg, Timm, Geiger, Versen, and Elder at the Cliffs of Moher.

Nordgaard posing in front of the Irish natural landscape.

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