Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Today I started out at 9 am, made it to Sacre Coeur and got to see the church, the crypt, and went up to the top to see the view of the city.  I saw a "statue" man who did not think he was getting enough attention so was coughing at people as they walked past.  I also saw a "iron" street sweeper as he was applying his coloring but did not get to see him after he was finished.  Since I did not have a real plan or clue on how to get anywhere, I saw some shiny roofs from the top of the hill and just headed into Paris.

I ended up at the main Opera house which had a ridiculous amount of statues and decorative carvings.  At the opera I saw a chicken-man (apparently French people like to dress up).  After I just kept walking in random directions and apparently ended up on the opposite side of the street of the Louvre except I did not know this and this was the point I stopped and turned around..... by the time I got back it was roughly a 6 hour walk.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

So my last night in Cyprus was nice.  I spent most of the evening with Ramin and Muhammad trying one last turkish dish (special type of doner) and then beers one final time at Cafe Inn and one final movie (last minute idea because Ramin was about to cry).  Also hung out with Remember (Zimbabwean) for awhile and Fijo (Nigerian) for a bit also.  Then pulled an all nighter since there was no way I was going to wake up at 4 am to catch the bus.  Got to drag my luggage all the way across campus because all the cabs were going the wrong way, then sat in the airport (after my bag got searched) for 3 hours.  Ended up being told I owed 2,000 liras (~$1400) or 4,000 liras if I wanted to pay the debt the next time I came back (aka never go back) because I was 33 days over my 90 day visa.  Dunno if the customs guy got rid of the fine because he was nice or something actually made it go away but I got away with it.  Ended up meeting a (nother) British Cypriot on the other side of customs and talked to him until the flight came and had my final Cyprus beer for breakfast (not best idea before a plane ride I should mention).  Flights were uneventful until Paris where I managed to follow the wrong sign for half a second out through customs instead of to baggage claim so had to deal with going reverse through customs (not so fun) to get bag.

Paris was a whole nother fun.  Lady behind me on RER train got pickpocketed, first ~25 minutes on train all I saw out the windows was graffiti and run down buildings, and I thought I might die.  Got to Gare du Nord (like a  mini-mall but mostly empty (storewise, not people)), and managed to prevent another pickpocketer i think (swerving to walk towards cops made him disappear).  Got to the line two gate to find out you buy the tickets somewhere completely else so lady I asked where to buy tickets just let me go through with her, only to find control (ticket cops) standing further up.  Thankfully they were on the stair side and left the escalator side open so I got away with it.  On this train a band randomly got on and started playing music which was a nice change as I was completely exhausted.  Then got out of that train station just to be in the middle of about 6 roads and having no clue as to which was which, just knowing the name of the street I had to walk down.  I asked about 5 people if they knew which was which (none did) before one person intelligently suggested I just ask the street vendors, and as he predicted, they knew.  Got to hostel, checked in, took shower, and feeling human again.  (also has smallest elevator I have ever seen).

And so ends the blog about studying abroad and so begins the blog of EuroTrip

Monday, June 4, 2012

Not to much to say as the semester is wrapping up (7 days left till I go to the airport).  I have mostly been hanging out with Muhammad and Ramin (Iranian masters students).  Thanks to them I have become not as horrible at backgammon.  The other night I helped set up for their friends surprise birthday party, and then the next day made burgers (mushrooms, onions, and more =) ) and homemade fries.

Other than that the only thing going on is finals (of which I studied ~20 minutes for the first and second (aka I woke up day of final, opened notes, flipped through it, and walked out door to take final) and the 3rd I studied an hour) which I finished today.  Now all I have left is packing and relaxing.

About a month or month and a half ago it became difficult not being very distracted when I walked anywhere.  This was because the strays which are everywhere on campus and in Cyprus (somehow all very healthy and friendly) had their litters.  So everywhere you walked you saw puppies and kittens of every color.  A couple days ago apparently was the 2nd round of kittens and one mother apparently liked my dorm building so every time I walk back I hear meowing and see 4-5 kittens running around.  On the note of dogs, I stopped to pet one of the them towards the beginning of the semester and since every time he sees me he runs up to me and just follows me wherever I may be going.  The other night he found he halfway through campus and followed me all the way back to the dorm and then when I walked through the door just stared at me with sad eyes until I came back out to pet him again.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

This past weekend Ash had two friends that he met while in Turkey visit.  One was from Italy and the other Poland and both were studying abroad in Turkey for the year.  Ash had planned on taking them to Girne and Karpas but due to the limited bus schedules, they decided they would rather try hitchhiking.  Somehow on Saturday we were able to hitchhike to Girne and back.

It was amazing how simple and how nice the people were and how varied the types of people that we met were and how varied the cars that stopped were.  Our drivers varied from workers driving trucks, a college girl with a compact car (somehow managed to get all 5 of us in the back seat still), and yet another driver in a BMW 7-series (~$100,000 car).  Once in Girne, we visited the castle and a monastery up on the hillsides (hitchhiking again to this).

Right before we got a truck to stop (nice ride in the bed)

View from the Bellapais Monastery


Ash whining about how he is afraid of heights

Where we just climbed up from (realized stairs right on other side as well)

Girne Harbor

Sunday the girls decided they wanted to hitchhike again isntead of trying to get a bus to Karpas.

I had assumed this would be more difficult because the further you go towards Karpas, the less roads and villages there are.  Somehow though, we still managed to get to the furthest building - the monastery (the last leg in a tire repair van).  We then hitchhiked back from the monastery to the Golden Beach part, although we did not stay long because it was cloudy (just one small strip of clouds but looked as it stretched all the way back to Famagusta). 

Famous Wild Donkeys of Northern Cyprus
(supposedly the only thing Cyprus is known for in Iran)

Donkey Tour Bus

Shore line below the monastery

The Golden Beach

The fields around the area (completely undeveloped except for several cabin areas)

When we started our trip back from Karpas, we did not see a single car for quite some time.  The first we did see we thumbed only as a joke to start..... 
But if quickly became the funniest and most enjoyable ride we had.  We ended up in the trailer full of some seed being pulled by a tractor.

We also passed several shepherd and their flocks. This particular one had a minimum of 6 dogs that I saw.

One of our final drivers of the weekend (after stopping at a market to buy us snacks (people are ridiculously nice to students here)) made a slight detour after hearing the two girls were traveling to the Greek side the next day.  When we got out of the car, we found ourselves at the memorial for one of the small villages.

The notice at the entrance to the memorial

The list of those slaughtered in this village. Aylik means months. Gunluk means days. Also notice the last names.

We had the privelege of meeting a survivor of the massacre at the site.  He told us of how he was spared only because he was at work at a British site when it occurred.

Monday, May 21, 2012

So as I was walking to class I saw frames being put up and that was how I found out that the university has a annual festival.  The amount of people at the festival was astounding to me and was the most people I had yet to see in one place in Cyprus.  The festival went for 5 days, had concerts, a couple rides, a bunch of stands selling random stuff, and a bunch of different food (also first ice cream truck I have seen here).

I managed to have the opportunity to travel to Karpas (the northern peninsula of Cyprus) with a class field trip.

Since the area is the furthest north point, it means we got to pass through most of the country.  The best part about the northern part of the island not being very developed is that the majority of the island is still in its pristine form.  The drive was beautiful and amazing. Just a couple of the photos and the rest will go on facebook.

Ash and our bus (had two for our group)

Ash, his friend from class, me and my Kosovo friend

This part of the island is still the purest part (least development, smallest villages, and northern tip is a national park) and is a protection area for the wild donkeys which almost went extinct.  The furthest point before the national park is an old monastery which was right on the sea (also large gathering spot for the donkeys).
Apostolos Andreas Monastery

We then ate lunch and spent a couple hours at the Golden Beach which is famous as one the cleanest beaches in the world.  There might have been more photos except I was teaching most of the engineering students how to play volleyball when I only know the basics.....the team that then had never played before beat everyone continuously.