Here at CIMBA, we’re offered more opportunities to travel than most programs. Students are given the chance to travel on the weekends, as well as on our two travel breaks which consist of 10-days. Throughout my first travel break, I hit the destinations of Paris, Amsterdam, and Berlin. Each destination had its own atmosphere. Picking different cities for the travel break is a tough task. Whether you like to sit still and relax, or if you enjoy walking around and exploring, there is always a right destination for you. Each city for me brought new explorations and sights to see. In 10 days I accomplished more than I expected. I visited sights I did not think I would visit, so below I have given you some of my most exciting events throughout my first travel week as well as some tips on how to get the most out of your travel break from start to finish.
With plenty of jaw dropping sights to see, the Eiffel Tower to me was the most memorable. Built in 1889 the Eiffel Tower has become not only a global cultural icon of France, but also one of the most fascinating pieces of art in the world. It is the tallest building in France at 1,063 ft. tall and has become the most visited monument in the world. In addition to being the tallest building in France, it is also known as the tallest man-made structure in the world. When you visit the Eiffel Tower it is important to hike up to the top. The cost to climb up was about 5 euro, which is not much considering the history behind the Eiffel Tower. Sadly, the top section was closed when we went due to the gloomy weather. Luckily we were able to hike to the middle section where it is just as scary looking down as it would be from the top. The view was unreal:
Being the largest city and the capital of Netherlands, Amsterdam was originally settled as a small fishing village in the late 12th century. Late in the 19th century neighborhoods and suburbs began to form. As a finance major, I found it interesting that the oldest stock exchange in the world was located in the city center. So to me that was pretty interesting being able to say I visited the oldest stock exchange in the world. In addition to the oldest stock exchange, I was able to take a tour of the Heineken factory as well as see the historical canals on a sunny day. Our time spent in Amsterdam was very relaxing considering how small the town is compared to other big cities such as Paris and Berlin. There is much less walking in Amsterdam and public transportation than the past cities I have visited. We visited Amsterdam during the week so we were able to experience the outside life during a typical work day. I am shocked to say that I saw more people riding bikes than I saw cars being driven or parked. Amsterdam is a very quiet and settled town which is lit up by its canals and historic buildings.
The capital of Germany, Berlin, is where the German Democratic Republic constructed the Berlin Wall that is known for completely cutting off West Berlin from East Berlin. The main purpose of the wall was to prevent large amounts of emigration post World War II. The wall consisted of large concrete elements and blocks with an oval shaped top to make it harder to climb over. When we first walked towards the wall we did not expect it to be along the street like it was. We expected it to be more of a blockade of a street instead of an entire strip. The Berlin Wall is truly amazing because of the ongoing history behind it. It may not be as jaw dropping as I expected, but once I was up close to it I realized the real meaning behind it. My buddies and I walked around the area and saw other editions to the wall such as fencing and trenches. The Berlin Wall was the most intriguing sight I came across and I highly recommend taking the time to see it with your own eyes because it is well worth it.
To make the best of your travel breaks I highly recommend looking into what your destination’s most remarkable sights are. We all knew Paris was known for its Eiffel Tower and Berlin was known for the Berlin Wall, but what we did not know was that Amsterdam had a lot more to offer than we had in mind. Before you leave for your trip research the sights that are most popular to its visitors, because once you leave you may never go back. One thing my group did not do was sign up for tours of the major cities we visited. Tours are very beneficial because most of the time you will learn and hear about more sights and history that you did not know of. You have a short amount of time abroad so it is your job to make the best of it.
Upon my arrival back to campus on Sunday, February 19, I received a phone call from my dad letting me know my grandma Joan has passed away peacefully as the result to a shocking diagnosis of lung cancer less than 1 month ago. Being overseas, I was not able to make it home to say my last goodbyes. I know my grandma was looking forward to seeing pictures of my travels, but with the challenges we face in life, some we may overcome and some we may not, she will no longer have the opportunity to do so. With the passion for traveling my grandma Joan once had, this blog is fully dedicated to her for the major impact she has had on my life as a child as well as an adult. Our summer days on the river will not be the same without you.