Casey and Meredith's Blog

Casey and Meredith''s blog of their trip to Europe during the Summer of 2013.


June 2, 2013
We made it! After flying about seven hours, watching a bunch of  movies, and not getting a minute of sleep on the plane, we were finally in London! After we landed in London around 9:45am, we gathered our checked bags and other luggage and were bused to the Holiday Inn Kensington in London. Our group got the opportunity to visit and tour BBC studios. Our tour guides were super enthusiastic and they informed us about all the production that it takes to produce and manage such a widespread news network. We were fortunate enough to see some recording studios, an auditorium that features famous bands, historic BBC memorabilia, and the grand productions room where the crew is hard at work airing and broadcasting the most current issues and topics.

BBC Studios

After our tour, we returned to the hotel for a quick dinner before we headed to Royal Albert Hall. This theatre was featuring a Coronation Classics concert that celebrated the sixty years since the Queen’s coronation. The Royal Philharmonic orchestra along with the Royal Choral Society and the Fanfare Trumpeters of Band of the Royal Artillery performed a tribute concert with two featured soloists. The first half of the concert started off very slow, but the second half was very entertaining. There was a great amount of audience participation and we really enjoyed the conductor’s enthusiasm as well as the musicians’ talent!

 

Casey and Meredith

June 3, 2013
At 9am, we boarded the bus and traveled the busy streets of London with our tour guide, Sue. We were able to check out Trafalgar Square, Piccadilly Circus, the London Eye, the Houses of Parliament, and Big Ben by bus. The bus driver dropped us off around St. James’ Park and from there we headed to St. James’ Palace to experience the Changing of the Guard. Sue was able to get a perfect view of the entire progression and it was a really cool experience! The soldiers were dressed in their royal uniforms and the bright feathers on their famous bear skin hats symbolized the country they represented. We then watched the soldiers march down the street escorted by horses and made our way back on the tour bus. Next, we traveled to St. Paul’s Cathedral and walked across the Millennium Bridge.

Royal Albert Hall

The London Bridge!

 

After lunch, we met up with the entire group and took a tour of the Tower of London. Sue informed us that during its 1,000 year history, the Tower of London has not only served as a royal palace, impressive fortress, and a prison, but it has also been a mint and even a zoo! During the tour, we were able to visit the museum of the Crown Jewels where all of the King and Queen’s gold scepters, swords, and even silverware are kept on display. Some of the items were missing and were replaced with little cards that read “in use” because of the coronation taking place. The crowns sparkled under the lights and were covered with Kohl-I-Noor and Cullinan diamonds, rubies, emeralds, and sapphires. One of the diamonds on the crown was said to be over 530 carats!
After dinner, we walked to the Apollo Victoria Theatre and watched the musical Wicked. The Broadway production was fantastic! 

 

Casey and Meredith


June 4, 2013
Today, we began or journey at the Globe Theatre. We began by roaming around the Shakespeare’s Globe Exhibition while we waited for our guided tour. We learned about the history of the Globe Theatre and how it is still utilized to this very day. Actually, our group was headed back to the Globe Theatre that night to see “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.”
After finishing up at the Globe, we had free time by ourselves for lunch. Since it was a beautiful, sunny day (very uncustomary for London) the group ventured for lunch and we decided to have a picnic in Hyde Park. After walking around the gardens filled with purple, pink, and red flowers, we returned to meet for our tour at Kensington Palace. It was interesting to learn that even though Kensington Palace is considered to be a historical landmark, some of the Modern Royals still live in a separate part of the Palace today. Also, we really enjoyed learning about all of the history behind Queen Victoria’s life as a child, wife, mother, Queen, and Empress. After touring the entire Palace, the entire group enjoyed dinner at the Anchor Bankside which overlooked the river. The view was beautiful, and once we finished, we walked over to the Globe Theatre in order to watch “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.”

The Globe Theatre

To be honest, we were very hesitant about seeing this play because we were very unclear about the background of the events that took place. At first, we were unsure about what to expect; however, the production was extremely well done. The characters did a wonderful job making the plot easy to follow for the audience members, and we thought the play was hysterical. Before we knew it, the production was over and three hours had past. Today was a very long day, but in the end, it ended up being much better than we expected. London never ceases to impress us!

 

Casey and Meredith


June 5, 2013
We can hardly believe it, but today was our last day in London! Where did the time go? Today was our first free day on this trip so many people of the group decided to visit the National Art Galleries with Dr. Lawerence and Dr. Francis. We met at 9am in the lobby of the hotel and ended up taking the Tube for the first time! Once we arrived at the Gallery, we explored the art inside.

 

After spending some more time at the Gallery, we all had a lunch on to go as we walked to Westminster Abby. The group was given a private tour and we had a chance to learn about the extensive history of this royal Church. Once we finished at Westminster Abbey, we had time to explore the city. In the Covet Gardens, we found street performers and funky open air markets with artistic vendors. It was a very cool section of the city so we spent the rest of the afternoon there until we had to meet the bus at the British Museum to be picked up to be taken back to the hotel for dinner.

 

Casey and Meredith


June 6, 2013
Today was another very long day. After receiving a 3am wake-up call, the group traveled about an hour to the airport to catch our flight from London to Dusseldorf. Luckily our first flight was only about an hour and after an hour layover at Dusseldorf, we arrived in Salzburg around 2pm. As we walked off of the tiny commuter plane, we could not believe the magnificent view of the mountains.

 

Now, coming from the hustle and bustle from the busy city of London, we were very curious to see what Salzburg was like. After settling in at the hotel this afternoon, we decided to explore our temporary home. We stumbled upon an Italian market outside that had homemade meats, cheese, wines, and there was even an artist creating glass decorations. We really liked how Salzburg is much more relaxed than London and both the architecture and countryside are gorgeous. From the city, you have a wonderful view of the mountains in all directions and all the funky shops, outside cafés, and artistic atmosphere are very interesting.

Once everyone was finished with dinner, we decided to take a walk around the city. We were lucky enough to have our friend Dan as the tour guide and we ended up walking all around town for the rest of the night before we had to check back in at the hotel. Dan took us to see some of the famous sights that were not on the sound of music tour, so that was awesome! We got to see the fountain that is featured in the movie and other famous landmarks. After touring the city for a bit, we stopped and enjoyed the colorful sunset over Salzburg.

 

Casey and Meredith


June 7, 2013
Our first morning in Salzburg was very busy! We boarded the bus at 9am and met our new guide for the Sound of Music tour. She was very funny and told us all the details about the Von Trapp family. On the bus, we were able to see two amazing views. One of the spots was a smaller mountain that overlooked a beautiful blue-green lake. The second view was absolutely breathtaking. We were at the top of the mountain that overlooked a magnificent lake with huge mountains in the background. It was just a marvelous view and really showed the true essence of nature.

After driving a bit more, we visited the church that the wedding in the movie actually took place. There were some cool shops and little cafes that surrounded the church, so after taking pictures at the church, we browsed around. Then, we headed back on the bus to visit the park where the Glass Gazebo was. We then returned back to the city and stopped at the Italian Market for a quick lunch that consisted of free samples.

Our next stop was the Red Bull Futbol Stadium where we received a personal tour of the pitch, the players’ dressing rooms, the VIP boxes, and the conference room. It was really neat to see all the behind the scenes aspects of the stadium!

 

            Then, we enjoyed another dinner at the hotel before venturing out to the music festival that was being held downtown. There were two stages set up and both bands were actually singing songs in English. The one band that we listened to actually incorporated a saxophone, trombone, and trumpet player in many of their sets. They played great songs with a steady beat, so many members of the audience were dancing the night away. It was a beautiful night and it was really cool to experience another fun event in Salzburg.

 

 

Casey and Meredith


June 8, 2013
This was our very last day in Salzburg and it started out with another great breakfast. Today, we had planned a walking tour with Heidi, the tour guide from yesterday. We met her at the Italian market downtown at 9am and made our way over to the Mirabile Gardens behind the Universidad de Mozart.

After listening about the history of Salzburg, we walked over the Lock Bridge. This bridge is famous because anyone who visits Salzburg can purchase a padlock and ten write their and their significant others’ name on it, lock it to the bridge, and toss the key into the river. We finally made it to Mozart’s Museum, which was his actual home, in time for a short piano concert at in one of the rooms. The pianist, named Damir, played four of five of Mozart’s famous pieces on a historical piano
After the concert, we explored the museum with our tour guide Heidi. She was very well versed on the history of Mozart and all of his accomplishments. Once we finished in the Museum, she then lead us to St. Peter’s church to tell us more about the history of Austria and Salzburg itself. We then walked around the famous fountain seen in the sound of music and got the opportunity to see the graveyard behind St. Peter’s. Heidi dropped us off at the open air market and we were given the rest of the afternoon to wander around for lunch. After dinner, we went back to the music festival and walked around until we found a band playing classic rock and roll. The band consisted of just four members- a lead singer, guitar player, string bassist, and drummer. Even though they had four musicians, their music was awesome! The guys had the entire crowd on their feet singing and dancing. Everyone was having a great time just enjoying live music on a gorgeous summer night.

 

Casey and Meredith


June 9, 2013
Today was another early morning because the group had to travel from Salzburg to Vienna.  We’ll admit, we were sad to leave Salzburg because it just had such a small town feel. We enjoyed walking around the shops, open air markets, and just exploring and experiencing the culture of this unique place. Luckily, the hotel was nice enough to open up the dining room at 6am so that everyone could enjoy a delicious breakfast before heading on the bus. We boarded the bus at 6:30am and drove to Vienna. Our goal was to make it to Vienna before 11am, so that we could attend the Vienna Philharmonic concert. Around 10:30am, our bus pulled up in front of the performance hall and we received our tickets for the orchestra concert.
The concert lasted about two hours and I really enjoyed the first piece the orchestra played. This work featured two soloists, a violinist and cellist, and I was extremely impressed by the cellist. He played an extremely challenging piece, but had such smooth technique. His performance was fantastic and really showcased his talent. After the concert, we met our tour guide and she recommended a buffet restaurant for lunch before we embarked on our Beethoven, Schubert, and Haydn tours. We first visited the Beethoven house and museum as well as the Schubert House and Church he was born in, and finally the Haydn house.

After listening about the history of Salzburg, we walked over the Lock Bridge. This bridge is famous because anyone who visits Salzburg can purchase a padlock and ten write their and their significant others’ name on it, lock it to the bridge, and toss the key into the river. We finally made it to Mozart’s Museum, which was his actual home, in time for a short piano concert at in one of the rooms. The pianist, named Damir, played four of five of Mozart’s famous pieces on a historical piano
After the concert, we explored the museum with our tour guide Heidi. She was very well versed on the history of Mozart and all of his accomplishments. Once we finished in the Museum, she then lead us to St. Peter’s church to tell us more about the history of Austria and Salzburg itself. We then walked around the famous fountain seen in the sound of music and got the opportunity to see the graveyard behind St. Peter’s. Heidi dropped us off at the open air market and we were given the rest of the afternoon to wander around for lunch. After dinner, we went back to the music festival and walked around until we found a band playing classic rock and roll. The band consisted of just four members- a lead singer, guitar player, string bassist, and drummer. Even though they had four musicians, their music was awesome! The guys had the entire crowd on their feet singing and dancing. Everyone was having a great time just enjoying live music on a gorgeous summer night.

 

Casey and Meredith


June 9, 2013
Today was another early morning because the group had to travel from Salzburg to Vienna.  We’ll admit, we were sad to leave Salzburg because it just had such a small town feel. We enjoyed walking around the shops, open air markets, and just exploring and experiencing the culture of this unique place. Luckily, the hotel was nice enough to open up the dining room at 6am so that everyone could enjoy a delicious breakfast before heading on the bus. We boarded the bus at 6:30am and drove to Vienna. Our goal was to make it to Vienna before 11am, so that we could attend the Vienna Philharmonic concert. Around 10:30am, our bus pulled up in front of the performance hall and we received our tickets for the orchestra concert.
The concert lasted about two hours and I really enjoyed the first piece the orchestra played. This work featured two soloists, a violinist and cellist, and I was extremely impressed by the cellist. He played an extremely challenging piece, but had such smooth technique. His performance was fantastic and really showcased his talent. After the concert, we met our tour guide and she recommended a buffet restaurant for lunch before we embarked on our Beethoven, Schubert, and Haydn tours. We first visited the Beethoven house and museum as well as the Schubert House and Church he was born in, and finally the Haydn house.

After this tour, we drove to our new hotel to check in and get settled before dinner. We enjoyed a delicious dinner at the hotel and I was very glad that they actually had a salad bar!

 

Casey and Meredith


June 10, 2013

Our first full day in Vienna was spent as a free day!  Groups of us took the tram into the city since our hotel is too far away to walk to all of the sights.  Public transportation is really scary, but someone managed to make me get off at the right stop and get us all back to the hotel in one piece.  In the city, we found a fountain to play around and then a palace to visit, simply just by wandering down the streets of Vienna.  The palace was beautiful with three fountains in the back and grand staircases that led you to the actual palace, which served as some type of museum.

            Then we walked back in the direction of the tram stop and found another fountain to eat lunch by.  We did not know until later that this fountain was actually a part of the Vienna Opera House, which we would be back at later tonight to see The Barber of Seville.  After our lunch, we walked some more streets in Vienna and stopped in shops we thought were interesting.  Then after some stress, we found our way back to the hotel and got ready for dinner.  After dinner we went back to the Opera House to see The Barber of Seville, which was an amazing experience.

Casey and Meredith


June 11, 2013

This morning, we went to the Wiener Zietung Newspaper headquarters to learn more about media coverage in terms of paper form.  We all sat in a conference room while the editors and publishers of the paper gave a presentation.  It was very interesting to hear how their paper is run and how many people in Austria actually take the time to read a hard copy form of the newspaper.  The publisher said that on average, Austrians spend about 41 minutes per day reading the paper, where Americans only spend 26 minutes per day.

Later in the day, we went back to the Vienna Opera House for an official tour of the venue.  The Opera House looks very different during the day without all of the nicely dressed people lingering around the bar or scurrying to their seats, however, it is still beautiful to look at.  We even got to go backstage to see how they strike the sets after each show.  There is a new opera every night at the Vienna Opera House, and about 700 people are needed to swap the sets after each show.

After the tour, we went back to the hotel for an hour or so and then went to dinner at a local restaurant in the city.  We finally got to try Wiener Schnitzel and it was delicious!

 

Casey and Meredith


June 12, 2013

Finally out of Vienna, and now we are in Venice! After a bus to the train station, a 4-hour train ride, and a 4-hour bus ride, we made it to our destination! It was a very long day, but the food at the hotel was delicious! After dinner, we took the train into Venice to explore. The city is absolutely beautiful. We tried to find a famous bridge and took all of the back alleyways to get there, which was fun. Once we made it to the bridge we got to take a lot of pictures of the houses along the canal; these house are so well kept and pretty. After the bridge we began to walk back to the train station, but before we left, a few of us stopped at a café to get a glass of authentic Italian wine. Then we took the train back to the hotel and it was time for bed! One scary thing that happened was that a few of the girls on the trip were actually followed by a man whom they innocently asked for directions at the train station. We must remember to be on high alert at all times in this city for sketchy people!

Casey and Meredith


June 13, 2013

And now we are out of Venice and in Rome!  Although it was a short stay in Venice (with a lot of stress leaving) we think we saw everything we absolutely needed to see.  Meredith and I started the day with breakfast at 7:15 and we were on the bus at 8 with our luggage in the lobby ready to leave for the train when our tours were over.  We rode the bus to a boat, which took us into Venice and to St. Marc’s Cathedral.  The square and building itself were absolutely magnificent.  The architecture was impeccable; murals on the ceilings outside that were painted with 24-carat gold. 

            While we were about to tour St. Marc’s, trouble started.  Our tourguide, Yvonne, forgot to arrange for our luggage to meet us at the train station for Venice, so we had to end our tour extremely early and run to get on to another boat to take us to the train station.  We took the train from Venice back to the hotel, got our suitcases, then took the train back to the city and waited for our rescheduled train (which was at 4:30).  In the end, we had more time in Venice to explore, but it was still extremely stressful for everyone involved.
While we stayed in Venice, our group got to go shopping and we ate pizza at one of the outdoor restaurants.  It was absolutely delectable.  Then we walked around a little bit more and found gelato and ate that by the canal.  American ice cream will never taste the same.  Then we met up with everyone at the train station and took the train to Rome!  It was a very long day, but definitely worth it! 

 

Casey and Meredith


June 14, 2013

Today was a jam-packed day of Catholicism!  We went to Vatican City and toured St. Peter’s Basilica and then participated in a mass in the morning.  The nuns in the front pews helped the crowd with following the norms of church. 

After the mass, we went and toured the Vatican Museum.  This is where the Sistine Chapel is located, but in order to get to the chapel, you must work your way through at least fifteen different rooms and five staircases in order to see Michelangelo’s masterpiece.  The weather today was very sunny and warm, which made the museum extremely warm and uncomfortable to walk around in.  The massive amounts of people walking through the halls and rooms did not help with the overwhelming feeling of claustrophobia we were experiencing throughout the visit.

The tour of the Vatican Museum took such a long time, that the official tour of St. Peter’s was changed to be optional.  A group of us went to get lunch at one of the shops along the road by the Vatican.  We ate our food outside since it surprisingly costs more to dine-in at restaurants in Rome.  Then we met back up with everyone and went to tour the Vatican Radio studio.

            This studio was much different than we expected it to be.  Since the Pope runs the station, we thought it would simply contain religious programs 24/7, but they do a lot more than that and reach many more people than those in Vatican City.  The guide explained that there are different countries represented on each floor of the building that broadcast to their people.

            After the tour of the radio station, we went back to the hotel and waited for the bus to pick us up to go to a local restaurant for dinner.  We had bruschetta, pizza, and panicotta for dinner, and it was awesome.  Tomorrow is our free day, so hopefully we will do more exploring of the beautiful city of Roma!

 

Casey and Meredith


June 15, 2013

            Today was our free day in Rome, and WE GOT TO GO TO THE BEACH!!!  That’s right, we stepped our feet into the Mediterranean Sea!  We got up early, ate breakfast and left for the train station at 9 AM.  We had to take two trains in order to get to the beach, but we were surprised at how easy it was (with the help of our European expert Dan).  The second train we got on was incredibly crowded and had a group of high school boys playing loud music out of a set of speakers like they were at a dance club.

            When we got off the train, we had to walk about a mile from the station to where we could access the beach.  We had to go to a private beach because we could not find the entrance for the public beach.  We were forced to purchase two umbrellas, which would give us access to the water.  Since there were nine of us, it only cost six Euros per person, which was not bad at all.  We stayed at the beach until 2 PM or so (so we got out money’s worth).

            After the train-ride home, we went back to the hotel to shower and then went out to the market to shop around and then ate dinner.

 

Casey and Meredith


June 16, 2013

We cannot believe today was our last day in Rome!  The good part about it was that we saw all of the "touristy" sights that we could see.  We started off the day visiting the Spanish Steps.  Then we went to the Trevi Fountain, which is as beautiful in person as it is in movies and pictures.  There were a lot of people at the fountain, but we still managed to squeeze our way into the front and threw one coin in.  Apparently the legend says, one coin in the fountain: you will come back to Rome, two coins in the fountain: you will get married, and three coins, you will get divorced.

After the Trevi Fountain, we visited the Pantheon and the Piazza Navona where we ate lunch at an outdoor cafe!  Lunch is never complete until there is gelato, and we got the best, mouthwatering ice cream we have ever tasted! Then we got back on the bus and visited the Colosseum.  After the Colosseum, we visited the Ancient Ruins, which was really neat to see.  Part of the ruins was the place where Julius Ceasars' ashes were laid to rest and a lot of history in general.  Then, we realized as we were getting on the bus to go back to the hotel that we lost one of our group members.  Thank goodness she made it back to the hotel because we were all extremely worried.

The day we had today was the perfect way to end our trip.  It seems like we have been in Europe for months, but also like we just got here.  We could not imagine spending these past few weeks with a better group of people, and we feel so lucky and blessed to have gotten this opportunity.  We will truly remember it forever.

 

Casey and Meredith


Summary

The Bloomsburg University Honor Program is a community of students and faculty with strong academic, social, and service aspirations.

Location

Honors Department Offices
Located on the corner of Luzerne nearest the BU store, across from the Kehr Union building.

Contact

Feel free to contact the honors department with any questions you may have.
Phone: (570) 389-5481
Email: sthonors@bloomu.edu
More contact information can be found at the contact us page on this site.