4/19/2005

European Tour with the Riff Raff Kids

Oh my brothers, this was a the pinnacle of my exchange, the capping moment that every participating exchange student eagerly awaited. They assembled at the Mainz trainstation in Germany, excited, though stuffing the joy down down because we were indeed too cool for the Europe Tour 2005. At least at first, ey?



I was most looking forward to seeing my two good friends, Leah and Jay. Jay is pretty passive, and I can say he has a touch of Darien in him. Everyone hates Leah, but that is because they make rash judgments of her physical appearance, which I discourage. She is funny, and far from ignorant. She even managed to teach me a few much needed lessons over the course of the 18 days.


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Here is Jay exhibiting a popular expression of exhaustion mixed with irritation. Sometimes it was just too much.


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Leah and I on the bus that was on the TRAIN that took us underneath the English Channel. Hence, the Chunnel Train. (I am clasping my two hands together.)


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Here is the Main Chathedral of the Anglican Church in Canterbury, England. The country side was very green, and Katie(Canada) screamed, “We’re driving on the wrong side of the road!!”


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So we finally got to London and the tour started prompt at 10 am. Our hotel was in Notting Hill, where supposedly, Princess Diana enjoyed her shopping. There was also a peace full demonstration against, what else, America. But it was too radical for me.


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Oh, and how many of you knew that I have a sister? Well, I always knew but never really thought about it. Here she is, Elizabeth, my half sister. I don’t really see a resemblence, but she very bright and makes her brother proud. We met for lunch and then I spent the rest of the day by myself, which was nice.


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A nice Spanish lady took this one for me.


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The London Eye is the largest Ferris Wheel in the world. 15 Pounds to ride. Nope.


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The River Thames and the neon red is the famous London Bridge.


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and off to Paris.



Here is the group that I led around Paris. I usually was the map man, and people would surprisingly follow me, though I managed to get us around well enough. We are on Montmatre.


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The Louvre Entrance. I did go in, but only because the Palac d’Orsay was closed.


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The Notre Dame was more spectacular in the Disney feature, with the sweeping views and birds and sliding around flying buttresses, but I think this thing is also older than most cathedrals. About 1000 years.


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Something funny happened but Jay and I only ran back to see this. Still was hilarious.


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A girl named Dez took this photo of the Eiffel Tower. Better than the ones that I made. Used without permission, too.


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Avignion, where the Popes temporarily relocated before the Great Schism. Something like that. Dez and Brigid (USA) on the broken bridge.


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The Popes’ Palace.


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You can tell I am wearing boots in this picture. Right is Erika from Canada.


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Our very own perverted bus driver Ralph. Caio from Brazil with the guitar and Rebecca from Mexico.


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An aqua duct that really was one of the most impressive things we saw.


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On the beach in Cannes, where they have an annual film festival. It was raining, but I still dressed to kill.


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Jay likes a lot of the same music as Ben and surprisingly, me.


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On the same day we were in Monaco, where you have to pay 10000000 Europs just to be able to live there (not including your apartment or house) and we had to pay 100 Euro just to park. But it was certainly chic. Here is a fountain park with a casino at the end. The casino’s parking lot was populated by a lot of Rolls Royces’.


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Yachts. A pair with helicopters.


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The next day we went to Florence. This was a Renaissance city, and had many important people as inhabitants at one time or another. Machiavelli, da Vinci, Michaelangelo, Dante. And there is this bridge and it has jewelry stores on it.


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I liked these supports.


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There is this fence with locks which hold a tradition for lovers and trust. It annoys the city, supposedly.


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Shopping street.


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And Pisa was probably the most hilarious place. Jay and I certainly laughed the whole visit. Because of these people. These are just two, but there are Japanese and Americans all over the place doing these supporting poses.


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(my Favorite!)



Surprisingly, the only picture that I have of all three of us together.


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On Easter Sunday, we were in Rome, which was well planned. In the morning we made it to the Vatican to see Mass. It was certainly very nice. No stress from the crowd, no pushing, everyone had plenty of space, and it was so quiet. Just the speakers(in many languages)…


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…and immense cheering for the Pope, the little white dot in the open window.


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Just a cool picture.


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Stephani (Brazil) and I. She reminded me of Frankie Temple.


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Katie from Canada. Who was very crazy and at first annoying but I really learned how interesting and friendly different characters can be.


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I think Jay was poked in the eye or something. In the back is Megan from Michigan.


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A sign at the bottom of the Spanish Steps. Among other things, it forbid defecation on the stairs.


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The monument for the unification of Italy in the 19th Century. My favorite site in Rome.


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They added a reconstruction of the wooden floor in the Coliseum, which I thought was very cool. Some people said the Coliseum was small, but they were idiots.




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The Roman Forum, the main social point of Ancient Rome. The emperor had his palace there too.




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Another view of the Vatican without all the people.


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And Peter’s Cathedral. The main cathedral of the Catholic Church. Was very big and very decorated. The Sistine chapel was closed.


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We left Rome and made a lunch stop in Assisi, where the Franciscan Monks originated. Allen Ginsberg paid a visit here too.


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And to start Venice, here is a Venetian Mask shop. It smelled very good here.


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The group in Venice. It was different and it was relaxing.


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A Canal.


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We were on a Gondala! 60 Euro for 5 people and a half hour.


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The view of the main bridge from our Gondola, also covered in shops.


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A famous building in the city. I forgot the name.


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We also had a little party in one of our hotels. This is Diego from Argentina. And I am wearing a towel cape. Hmmmm.


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In Saltzburg we saw Mozart’s Apartment and all mutually decided that the world famous Mozart Chocolate Balls suck.


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And we ate at Mcdonald’s in every country. The winner? France, because they use meat from France, and not Mexico or whatever.


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And if you were wondering where Win was, here he is. Being teased by Leah. The tour was almost over, and there were certainly mixed feelings about that from me.


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On one hand, I really wanted to stay with all of these people, and the friendships were so rewarding. I feel like a slightly better person because I made so many friends and because I COULD make so many friends. I made a lot of pictures like these next two, but of course, there are just too much. Here is Jar, also from Thailand. Her smile was very cute.


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And Fiona from France, who always wore a scarf. I heard all French wear scarves to hide hickies. Oooooo.


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And a picture to sum up the departure. It really was sad.


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And that was it. I had to hurry up to put in the comments, but pictures speak more for them selves, I think. It was so great, and so overwhelming. I am still shocked at the things I have seen. And the people I have met and oh, I have to stop, it was too wonderful.



Next week my trip to Tuscany with the Germans. (very different)

9 comments:

Katy said...

I just knew that by the end the exchange would be totally worthwhile. Miss you. Glad it was everything and more.

Anonymous said...

um, miss you too? you already know that. i am going to eat a flower. to see if it tastes like apples.

<3 me

Anonymous said...

kool stuff.
who is it mr. oberst ?
mom

Bernard said...

is that the big grand finale before you settle down into the final stretch?

Anonymous said...

hey Kostya
I'm dissapointed that there is mention about me :(
noo, just kidding.
You have nice pictures here.
I miss you! And i hope everything is ok there.
with love,
Jenni, Finland

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