Lebanon Valley College Study Abroad

A Trip of a Lifetime

Thank you LVC for the opportunity to experience so many adventures this summer! The first short-term summer program to Perugia, Italy allowed for a great learning experience of Food and Philosophy of Italian Culture. While in Perugia, we were able to do amazing things like eat great Italian food, go to the Perugia flower show, and enjoy the incredible views!

DSC00619      Our Walk to Class View

Our class had several excursions; including trips to Venice, Parma, Modena, a winery, an olive oil tasting, and world famous Dario Cecchini’s butchery.

Venice, Italy

We also had a few free days to explore other parts of Italy! We chose to visit Florence and the hillside town of Assisi…

The Hillside Town of Assisi

This study abroad opportunity allowed a few of us to travel to various places in Europe afterwards! The first stop still within Italy was Ancient Rome.

The Colosseum: Rome, Italy

Our next destination was Munich, Germany! At this destination, we enjoyed the quaint buildings and beautiful views from nearby towns.

Munich, Germany  Outside of Fussen, Germany

We also traveled to the nearby town of Fussen to see the famous “disney” castle, Neuschwanstein Castle.

Neuschwanstein Castle, Germany

Next on the list was Paris and London!

The Eiffel Tower: Paris

Lastly, I would like to once again thank LVC study abroad and everyone else involved in making this trip possible for the amazing opportunity. I have been able to see so many incredible attractions, and I am so grateful for the experience!

 

 

Constants and Variables

The curse of my generation, it is often said, is that we were born too late to explore the earth, but too early to explore the universe. Personally, I think this is pretty dumb, because we were born just in time to explore the places on earth that people on Trip Advisor have already meticulously mapped out and reviewed, which, generally speaking, leads to a lot less scurvy and imperialism.

"Great atmosphere, but not in India as advertised. 1/5."

“Great atmosphere, but not in India as advertised. 1/5.”

I’ve been a little inactive blogging lately as a result of this trip; but now that I’ve returned and have sorted out the details of my eventual departure from New Zealand, I am happy to document my travels to the other windy city: Wellington.

It was an unusually sunny Friday morning when we departing from the university. Our hopes were high, our gas tank was full, and the trunk was filled with a week’s worth of peanut butter and jelly supplies. The road trip had begun, and like the explorers of yore, we were off to find new places and then take Instagram photos with them.

me n my crew reppin christianity #columbus #crissyc #spanishempireabroad

me n my crew reppin christianity #columbus #crissyc #spanishempireabroad

Most of our trip gave us a good look at something that, oddly enough, we hadn’t seen a lot of during our trip: the beach. Pristine in the winter, New Zealand beaches lacked tourists to scour them clean of all of the best shells, so we really had to pick up the slack in that department. Slightly more confusing is when, upon hiking up nearby Mount Maunganui, we found that there were still seashells at the top of the mountain, so clearly, the seashell collectors of New Zealand need to get it together. The view was spectacular, but this country doesn’t earn points for that anymore. The university food is terrible, the liquor is expensive, and the view from the mountains would make Michelangelo cry joyful tears into his toga. Yawn. You’ve heard it all before. Much more interesting was an establishment in the town below called “The Pizza Library,” which raised all sorts of questions about the feasibility on flatbreads and card catalogs. Does the Pizza Library use the Dewey Decimal system? Is there a specific shelf for meat lover’s, or is it just lumped in with the rest of the nonvegan section? Can the stereotypes of sultry librarian and Italian pizza chef be combined?

According to Google Images, they can.

According to Google Images, they can.

Pizza archiving aside, we ended up eating at a place that specialized in “American Food,” which apparently consists of lots of macaroni and cheese and at least three different types of gourmet butter. Although I had spent some time puzzling over why mustard and butter needed to be combined in any capacity, it was nice to an American restaurant not sporting golden arches.

Later that evening, I began my love-hate relationship with hostel showers. Generally speaking, I hated them, and they loved to shift to cold water at unexpected moments, leading to goosebumps that could have cut diamonds. As is always the case with trying out new showers, I soon discovered that the shower back in the dorms at school had been my one true love all along.

Cue the Whitney Houston music.

Cue the Whitney Houston music.

One downside of traveling in the winter is the general emphasis on outdoor activities. So, deprived of our usual fare of mountaindiving, skyboarding, and sheep herding, we were forced to turn our gaze inward, to the museums of varying quality in each town we passed through. No New Zealand town seems to think itself without some kind of history, as I found out upon reading about how the explorer James Cook once stopped to get gas and buy a meat pie at one of the town’s truck stops.

Day 304: William won't stop asking us to play twenty questions. We may have to throw him overboard.

Day 304: William won’t stop asking us to play twenty questions. We may have to throw him overboard.

That being said, there was enough weird art to be ironically enjoyed and enough nature to observe at a safe distance to keep up busy for a few days. However, the true prize had always been the city of Wellington, where at the very least, we could get a break from all of that annoying beautiful nature.

We’ll get to that next.

The last adventure!

Barcelona is so beautiful! I spent the two days just relaxing on the beach. It was very refreshing to just sit by the water and relax after a month of traveling. But I think my favorite part about Spain was the food. I had paella, fresh seafood, and wonderful sangria while there.

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Super fresh seafood in Barcelona

As always, once we arrived it is a little bit of struggle to find the hostel, but I think this trip was almost record time. I had to break out my very rusty Spanish skills while trying to navigate. The people of Barcelona were super friendly and were always willing to help.

The beach of Barcelona was small compared to our idea of a beach. It’s just right along the city which is pretty cool! While on the beach there were multiple people trying to sell things, from alcohol, clothes and even massages. But it was technically illegal for them to be doing that so when the Police went by it was comical to watch them all run and try to hide!

Our last day on the beach right before we left, we met some super friendly Dutch guys. Obviously we conversed a lot about our summer program in Maastricht. The one guy said something that stuck with me. “It’s nice to be important but it’s more important to be nice.” I think this not only shows the true Dutch culture but also speaks a lot to life.

From Barcelona, the plan was to go to Paris for the day and then arrive late at the Brussels airport. But God has slightly different plans than that. We woke up at 5:30 and made our way to the airport. It was time to board and there was no plane in sight. At this point, I’m a little worried, but only hearing of a one hour delay I didn’t think much about it. However, after that hour, the desk started to hand out food coupons. Which as a student on a budget I greatly appreciated, but this meant the delay was going to be a lot longer. Word finally comes around that we will be leaving at 3:30…. Let’s just say there was some sleeping and multiple games of uno and rummy. Brittany and I even went “shopping” around the area and I found a very cute dress!

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The Eiffel Tower!

Although a little frustrated, I didn’t let myself get upset about this. Although we already used our 30 minutes of free wifi at the beginning, I knew there was nothing we could do about it so getting upset would only make the situation worse. So we finally leave around 3:30 and arrive in Paris a little after 5. Knowing that our train that night was at 9:45, I thought well at least we have 3 hours in the city. But with our luck that day, it was an hour bus ride into the city and it took 40 minutes to get to the other train station. This meant that we had an hour and half in the city. We felt so rushed the whole time (even though it wasn’t long.. ha). We literally took pictures at the Eiffel Tower, got a mediocre crepe and then had to head to the train station.

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At this point on the metro, I’m thinking okay our bad luck has to be gone by now… right?? Well not exactly. On the metro, I had a man try to steal stuff out of my backpack, which is not my idea of fun. But not to worry, I luckily saw him and was able to stop him!

After 9 hours in the airport, a rushed hour in the city, and a stressful metro ride, I was ready to get on the train and just get to the airport. Thankfully, no problems getting on the train! FINALLY, we are on our way to the end of our journey.

EKKK.. that was the sound we heard mid-way through the trip. You are kidding me right?? The train is now stopped and they just made an announcement that they are unaware of why the train has stopped. Brittany and I just look at each other and start busting up laughing!! This was a day filled with bad luck and we were so tired that we just found the whole situation hilarious. After some time, they figured out that the train in front of ours had hit an animal and that was what caused the delay.

We have finally arrived at Brussels train station a few stops down from the airport which meant we had to buy a ticket. Of course, none of our cards worked and neither of us had enough euros left to buy the tickets. So at this point, we just hopped on the train and decided to pay for the ticket on board. Thankfully, this worked out and we were able to get to the airport and retrieve our luggage with no problems.

Now, only 9 hours til our flight home……

When in Rome (or Venice)…

This week was filled with a lot of different emotions. On Friday we went to the USA vs. Netherlands soccer game, which turned out to be a huge upset. The Americans came out on top in the last couple minutes of the game. It was an awesome experience, but we were definitely the black sheep repping our red, white and blue!

Soccer game

A little blurry.. but the Xavier and LVC crew before the game!

Then Saturday we said goodbye to all of our Xavier and LVC friends and they all left to go back home. I have to admit I was slightly jealous of them all because part of me just wanted to go home and see my friends and family. But Brittany and I planned to stay an extra week and travel to Italy, Spain and Paris!

We started in Venice, Italy! We got into the city pretty late which wasn’t the best idea. The streets of Italy are a maze and of course we didn’t have a map or Wifi. We asked so many people for directions but still couldn’t find out hostel. God bless the one man that called our hostel for us because we would have been walking around all night! A worker from the hostel actually came and picked us up so we didn’t have to navigate through the streets anymore. After finally arriving at the hostel, there was no sign indicating the hostel, just a little piece of paper on the call button outside…. No wonder we couldn’t find it…

ITaly

The next morning we woke up and ate some breakfast. This is where we met the nicest mother and son from Tennessee who showed us around the city that day. They were so nice and really helped us learn the streets of Venice. It was also nice to talk to fellow Americans for a couple hours. That day we saw all of the “touristy” attractions. Then after we ate lunch with them and said our goodbyes we decided to venture to a recommended pasta restaurant. A Le Torte makes their pasta every morning from scratch and it was delicious! I had black pasta and seafood with asparagus and it was one of the best meals I’ve had in Europe! To my surprise I was not overly impressed with the pizza in Italy. The only perk about the pizza was that the cheese and toppings were super fresh but it just tasted like normal pizza to me.

pasta

Black Pasta!

After our pasta, we decided just to venture around the streets of Italy. This is when we found some of the coolest places. We first stumbled across a little lookout point onto the Mediterranean Sea and another island. It was right at sunset and was absolutely breathtaking! Then we kept walking and came across what looked like a little yard sale. After talking to the locals, it was a fundraiser for the church to go on a mission trip. They were selling homemade baked goods, so of course we had to try some of the classic Venice desserts. We had a very tasty fruit cake! After taking a few steps around the corner we saw there was a little fair going on. Food, beer and even a concert filled up the little village’s square, along with all of the locals. We were absolutely amazed at what we had found. We stayed and enjoyed some Italian music for an hour or so. I was so thrilled that we stumbled across this little village in Italy. It was without a doubt an unforgettable and once in a lifetime experience.

Lookout

The next day we ventured to another little island 10 minutes from Venice, called Lido. We spent the day soaking up the sun! We were a little worried that it was going to be a nude beach because most beaches in Europe are nude beaches, but thankfully we were safe!

Our last day in Venice, we walked around the museum, Basilica and Palace and saw some really impressive art and sculptures from hundreds of years ago. That night we went out and “did as the Romans do” and enjoyed an Italian lifestyle.

Overall, I really enjoyed Italy. The humidity and heat were a little overbearing but the beauty of the city made up for it! I would love to visit not only Venice, but also all of Italy again!

Me-italy

Now we are in Barcelona, Spain!! The game plan is just to enjoy two days on the beach relaxing after a full month of traveling.

 

One month ago tomorrow…

Ciao!

Exactly one month ago tomorrow came nerves, excitement, and the realization that we were just an 8 hour flight away from Italy. Most of us met at the airport on Sunday May 10, which happened to be Mothers’ Day, so there were a lot of “happy mothers’ day, bye for three weeks, mom!” situations going on. We were able to easily get through security and checking in and arrived at our gate with plenty of time to spare before our flight departed.

Waiting to board Flight 718

 

Before we knew it, we were boarding the plane. Next stop, Rome!

After landing in the Rome airport (Monday morning), we were taken to Perugia by the Umbra Institute staff and briefly introduced and oriented before being taken to our apartments. We were all fortunate to be placed into the same building, 5 of us in each apartment on the first, second, and third floors. That night, we were given a walking tour of Perugia to help us orient ourselves around the city and taken to get our first Italian pizza!

First Italian Pizza Screen Shot 2015-06-06 at 5.24.46 PM Screen Shot 2015-06-06 at 5.24.22 PM

 

The first few hours in Italy definitely were filled with excitement and recognition of how different our culture is from theirs. The next week was kept activity packed. Between an “authentic” 5 course Italian meal at dal mi’ cocco, a pizza making workshop, our first couple of class sessions with Dr. Valgenti, and grocery shopping, we were guaranteed to get a few hours of catch-up sleep on the bus to Venice Friday morning.

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Waiting for the first course at dal mi’ cocco

 

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Third course

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Fourth course

 

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Pizza making workshop

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Completed product :)

Reliant internet, you were missed

Ciao tutti!

So I know that a couple of posts were made while we were abroad but our internet was so spotty that many of us could barely connect to send in our assignments, let alone post both informative and visually intriguing updates on our fantastic three weeks abroad. Though most of us are back home, I plan to do my best to post-update everyone about our class, excursions, field trips, interactions, etc. to the best of my ability. So, for the next couple of weeks or so, I look forward to giving you a glimpse of la vita italiana.

Traveling Cliches are 100% true

It’s hard to believe but we only have one more day left at the university! Time sure flies when you’re having fun. It feels like yesterday when our plane finally touched down. Without a doubt this experience has been unbelievable.

From traveling around Europe, I have not only met a lot of people from all around the world but also figured out a lot about myself. It’s crazy how in 4 weeks you can learn so much about a different culture that helps shape your outlook on America and the world. Just from being here I have gained even more independence and confidence in myself. Just something about getting lost in the middle of nowhere with your friends but finally finding your way is invigorating.

As much as I hate to admit it, every single cliché about traveling is completely and utterly correct.

1.You will take a picture of almost every meal because everything just looks amazing!

Maastricht Sour Meat

Maastricht Sour Meat – an authentic Dutch meal!

Tiramisu

Tiramisu – Our “last supper” that all LVC students and professor enjoyed!

2. Time really does fly when you are having fun!

3. You will get lost…. For me….. more than once.

4. Laughing is a universal language. No matter where we went this was one thing everyone had it common.

The Girls

5. You will be homesick. Yes I have to admit, I miss my family and friends A LOT!

6. On the same note, when it’s time to leave you will do everything in your power to stay.

7. Traveling is exhausting! All those steps add up and at night you can’t wait to get to bed!

8. Take the road less traveled. Believe it or not, the unknown places can be just as fun, if not more fun than the popular spots of Europe.

9. When preparing to travel, lay out all your clothes and money. Take half your clothes and twice the money. So sad but oh so true.

10. I’ve met a lot of people in Euorpe. I’ve even encountered myself – James Baldwin.

Tomorrow we have 2 finals, an exiting lunch and then the USA vs. Netherlands soccer game! This week has flown by. We had a couple days of classes and a field trip this week to visit regional companies. The first stop was at a Stroop (Dutch jam) factory. Unfortunately, they went out of business in the late 80’s so we mainly heard about the history of the factory and saw some of the old machines. For this stop, the best part was getting to try the different flavors. If you haven’t learned by now, I ABSOLUTLY LOVE anything with the word free before it!

The next stop was at Brand Brewery. They are a regional beer distributor who is now under the Heineken Company. I found this visit very interesting, I love hearing about how a company positions themselves in order to be profitable in a certain market. Once again, at the end we had a free beer tasting, which  I’m pretty sure everyone enjoyed!

Brand Brewery

LVC Business in the European Union at Brand Brewery

International Criminal Court

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Hello everyone,

Yesterday I experienced the most challenging and difficult time during my abroad experience. I attended the status hearing of suspected Congolese war criminal Bosco Ntaganda at the International Criminal Court in The Hague (Den Haag). Bosco Ntaganda is facing charges of 13 counts of war crime that include: murder, attempted murder; attacking civilians, rape; sexual slavery of civilians; pillaging; displacement of civilians; attacking protected objects; destroying the enemy’s property; and rape, sexual slavery, enlistment and conscription of child soldiers under the age of fifteen years (and using them to participate actively in hostilities) and 5 counts of crimes against humanity.

Bosco Ntagada

Bosco Ntagada

Before going to the actual status hearing we went through security, watched a film and presentation. After asking questions we went to the status hearing where we sat in front of the entire court. I was not expecting to be sitting across from a man who has committed these heartless crimes. The judges sat directly across from us, below them the legal chambers were present, to the right of us were the legal representatives of victims and the prosecution, and to the left of us were the defense, registry, and Bosco.

At one point in time he finally lifted his head during the status hearing and I looked into his eyes. His eyes were empty. I saw no one behind his eyes. Therefore, no matter what happens, found guilty or not guilty, no punishment will ever live up to the crimes he committed. There will never be an amount of time or revenge that will serve justice to the victims and their families. This is what made the court case difficult for me because I could not stop thinking about the people who have been affected by his actions. Toward the end one legal representative of the victims read quotes from the victims and their families, in which I was saw no emotional reaction from Bosco. During the reading my heart pounded and ached for the victims and their families. I am not sure what causes so much hatred or reasoning that justifies his courses of action. In the end his court case is pushed back an additional week upon prosecution’s request due to the need for additional translations. This court case definitely made me rethink what justice truly means.

 

LVC Students at the International Criminal Court

LVC Students at the International Criminal Court

Thank you for reading,

 

Corby Myers

The Flying Dutch Experience

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Hello everyone,

This past weekend was one of my favorite weekends of being here! We traveled by train to Eindhoven. We met up with some of our friends who live in Eindhoven. We went out for dinner at a place called Vapiano’s! The company was developed from previous McDonalds managers who were not happy where they were at and wanted to develop and work under a different vision of serving people. The restaurant has very nice inside interior that allows people to have their own private table and waiters who serve drinks. The only part that is similar to McDonalds is the ordering food process. In order to purchase your meal you get in line, choose your meal/pasta of your choosing, order it, watch the chef cook your food, and swipe your own card that is given to you for the time spent there. You can add food or other beverages to the card throughout your stay at the restaurant. Needless to say we enjoyed our time here and the food was delicious!

 

Vaptianos!

Vapiano’s!

 

Our Cooks!

Our Cooks!

 

The blob!

The small blob! Take notice to the name!

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Inside the actual blob!

Beach Volleyball in Eindhoven!

Beach Volleyball in Eindhoven!

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1 euro vending machine that actually slides your food to you

Eindhoven at night

 

The main reason we came to Eindhoven our final weekend was to attend THE FLYING DUTCH MUSIC FESTIVAL!!! This music festival had the top DJS in the world play music here. We had an absolute blast here! We arrived at the music festival around 2 pm and never stopped dancing until 11 pm. This music festival was not only a great time with the music, but also learning, talking, and building relationships with the local people who live in Eindhoven was a cultural experience!

The DJS who were here!

The DJS who were here!

The stage! This stage also shot out streamers and confetti during the day and fireworks and fire throughout the night.

The stage! This stage also shot out streamers and confetti during the day and fireworks and fire throughout the night.

Sun is setting and the entire place was packed

Sun is setting and the entire place was packed

My temporary free souviner from the Flying Dutch. We thought we were just going to get a star stamped on our wrist, but got toilet instead (please going to the bathroom here is not a privilege and you have to pay to use the bathroom).

My temporary free souviner from the Flying Dutch. We thought we were just going to get a star stamped on our wrist, but got toilet instead (please going to the bathroom here is not a privilege and you have to pay to use the bathroom).

 

During the music festival

During the music festival

You can never go wrong with ending a night with these kind of fries!

You can never go wrong with ending a night with these kind of fries!

 

Thank you for reading,

 

Corby Myers

I AMsterdam!

This weekend was our shortest during our trip. We only had 2 days to travel, so in order to save some time and money, a small group of us went to Amsterdam for the weekend and it was a blast! However, finding a hostel for Friday and Saturday seemed almost impossible. After hours of searching we decided we would just leave super early Saturday and just stay one night.

I AMsterdam

Well let’s just say 5:30 came really early Saturday due to some electrical problems the night before. Friday just wasn’t my day when it came to electronics. During the afternoon my phone was completely shot and would not turn on despite all of my effort. Thankfully, with the help of a fellow LVC student we got it working again (THANK GOODNESS!). But my trouble didn’t stop there. After an exciting night of card games with Xavier and LVC students, we decided to go to bed. When I went to unplug my surface charger, the lights turned off…. I went out into the hall and heard that everyone else in our floor was out of electricity. So I went down to safety desk and an officer came to assess the problem. Of course, he couldn’t find a problem with our breaker. At this point it’s about 12:30 and I am so tired and just want to get to sleep but he had to call in a specialist. After fiddling around with some things, the electricity was back, FINALLY bed time….. Well not exactly, as I plugged in my phone charger, the electricity went out again. After this, I realized I’m probably the source of the problem. So the specialist finally makes it to our room and I explain that I think it was my outlet causing a problem. After some investigation, he determined that I was right and had to replace my outlet. It is now 1:30 and he is just finishing up. Mind you we have to be up in 4 hours. I’ve never been so excited to lay down in my bed and get some sleep!

After a short night of sleep, we got up and took the train to Amsterdam. Upon arrival, we didn’t really have a game plan what we were going to do. So we got a hop-on hop-off canal tour for a very reasonable price. The first stop was to a cute little market that had a lot of good finds for cheap prices. I actually found a couple good gifts here!

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One of the sights from the canal tour!

After this the group I was with decided to split up, they were going to the red light district and I chose to do the Heineken Experience. After talking to them about the red light district, I was happy I didn’t go. They all said it was so sad and shameful how the women were portrayed. There were almost naked women displaying themselves in windows. They were pretty taken aback about how women could do that to themselves. Overall they said it was a huge eye opening experience but they definitely wouldn’t go back!

The last attraction I did was the Heineken Experience! Since no one else in my group wanted to go, I met up with some other students from Xavier and LVC to complete the tour. It was awesome! We got to learn the history behind the Heineken family, how they brewed the beer and, of course, tasting the beer. It was very interesting to learn the small details behind brewing the beer. At the end, they had a lively bar and a couple free drinks for each guest. That night, we dined at a little Italian restaurant and got some really good pasta!

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The 4 ingredients Heineken uses to make their beer

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Since I am super interested in Advertising, I loved looking at all their historical branding and their modern posters throughout the tour!

It was around 9:00 and we were completely exhausted. So we headed to our hostel by taxi because we didn’t really have a clue where we were going. During the ride, the taxi driver mentioned that this “wasn’t the good part of town.” Great, 4 American girls in a part of town that is known for being unsafe. At that moment we all started to internally freak out. We arrived and checked in and noticed that the hostel was pretty nice considering the situation. Due to our pure exhaustion, we decided to just spend the night in our hostel, grab some food, relax and sleep!

I was so excited to get more than 4 hours of sleep! I barely made it through a 20 min Netflix episode before passing out. The next morning we woke up around 6:30 in order to get to the city center and get to the Anne Frank house before the line was too long. We arrived around 8:40 and the line wasn’t too bad compared to what we saw the day before. Waiting in line might have been the most miserable I’ve been on this trip. It was freezing (of course, I didn’t bring a jacket, because what college student needs a jacket….) raining, and a long wait. An hour and half later we finally enter the warm building and complete our tour of Anne Frank’s house. It was super interesting to hear her story and see a house where a Jewish family had to hide out from the German army. Unfortunately, there were no pictures allowed during the tour. But I will remember that museum for the rest of my life. I wouldn’t recommend waiting any longer than an hour and a half for the tour for any future travelers.

We then proceeded to get our souvenirs from Amsterdam. Which for most of us consisted of a postcard and shot glass from the city. Next up was food! For lunch, we went to a little café in the city. Three of us scarfed up cheeseburgers because we have been craving them for over a week. I do have to give that restaurant some props, because that cheeseburger was quite appetizing!

Amsterdam

After eating, we got our train tickets and headed back to Maastricht since it was just raining all day. Tomorrow we are going on a field trip to the Brand Brewery and a syrup factory which will be interesting to visit!