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Europe and Africa through the Eyes of my iPhone

A collection of my favorite mobile shots from my semester abroad

sunny 30 °F

I've spent the last three and a half months of my life studying abroad through University of Denver's Cherrington Global Scholars program, and a large part of that time has been spent out and about traveling Europe, exploring everything I can get my hands on, and soaking up as many new cultural experiences as I can. Armed with just my iPhone 4 camera, I've been photographing my travels and have somehow managed to compile over 1000 images alone, not including the awesome 360s I've been able to take. Below is my collection of over 100 of my favorite Camera+ iPhone 4 pictures (I don't use Instagram) from study abroad all over Europe, followed by my favorite 360 Panoramas, panoramic pictures, and a few other shots from my ending trip to Agadir, Morocco last weekend. Enjoy!

Pictures

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Dijon, France

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Paris, France

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Paris, France

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Paris, France

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Paris, France

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Paris, France

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Paris, France

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Dijon, France

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Dijon, France

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Vienna, Austria

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Vienna, Austria

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Vienna, Austria

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Vienna, Austria

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Vienna, Austria

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Vienna, Austria

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Rome, Italy

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Rome, Italy

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Pisa, Italy

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Florence, Italy

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Florence, Italy

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Florence, Italy

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Florence, Italy

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Somewhere on a Train, Italy

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Venice, Italy

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Venice, Italy

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Venice, Italy

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Venice, Italy

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Venice, Italy

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Venice, Italy

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Venice, Italy

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Milan, Italy

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Florence, Italy

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Somewhere on a Train, Switzerland

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Zermatt, Switzerland

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Zermatt, Switzerland

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Zermatt, Switzerland

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Zermatt, Switzerland

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Zermatt, Switzerland

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Yours truly in Zermatt, Switzerland

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Mt. Pilatus, Switzerland

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Mt. Pilatus, Switzerland

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Mt. Pilatus, Switzerland

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Mt. Pilatus, Switzerland

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Mt. Pilatus, Switzerland

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Mt. Pilatus, Switzerland

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Mt. Pilatus, Switzerland

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Mt. Pilatus, Switzerland

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Luzern, Switzerland

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London, England

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London, England

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Yours truly in London, England

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London, England

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London, England

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London, England

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London, England

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London, England

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Paris, France

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Oktoberfest, Munich, Germany

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Oktoberfest, Munich, Germany

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Dijon, France

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Strasbourg, France

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Strasbourg, France

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Kehl, Germany

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Kehl, Germany

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Kehl, Germany

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Kehl, Germany

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Kehl, Germany

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Kehl, Germany

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Rome, Italy

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Rome, Italy

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Rome, Italy

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Rome, Italy

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Rome, Italy

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Rome, Italy

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Rome, Italy

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Rome, Italy

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Rome, Italy

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Rome, Italy

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Milan, Italy

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Chambery, France

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Dijon, France

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Dijon, France

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Dijon, France

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Dijon, France

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Dijon, France

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Beaune, France

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Beaune, France

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Beaune, France

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Beaune, France

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Beaune, France

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Beaune, France

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Beaune, France

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Beaune, France

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Agadir, Morocco

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Agadir, Morocco

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Agadir, Morocco

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Agadir, Morocco

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Agadir, Morocco

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Agadir, Morocco

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Agadir, Morocco

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Agadir, Morocco

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Agadir, Morocco

360 Panoramas

Big ups to the awesome people at Occipital for creating the 360 Panorama app that's allowed me to take all of these 360 views of places I've traveled. Note: For an even better viewing experience, open these links on an iPhone, tap the gyroscope icon, stand up, and spin around.

Castles and Wine in Burgundy

Dijon Square

The Vatican

The Roman Circus Maximus

Oktoberfest in Munich

Atop the London Eye by Night

On top of Mt. Pilatus in Switzerland

Bluebird day in Zermatt, Switzerland

Venice, Italy

The Roman Colosseum by Night

The only thing there is to see in Pisa, Italy

Inside the Sistine Chapel in Rome

Inside the Roman Colosseum

Inside the Glass Louvre Pyramid

Wine for days in Burgundy. Who's thirsty?

Stand on a beach in Agadir, Morocco

Camel tour to a Moroccan Estuary and National Park

Panoramic Pictures

When I was bored in Paris one day, I decided to play around with the 360 app a little bit. I started taking half 360s within the app and then opened the raw files in the Photoshop Express app, allowing me to crop out the rounded edges on the images. I thought the results were pretty cool, so I started using the pair of apps to start taking larger panoramic pictures that wouldn't fit in a normal shot. My favorite shots with this technique are below.

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The Discovery, Paris, France

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Gare de Lyon Train Station, Paris, France

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Top of Mt. Pilatus, Switzerland

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Glaciers near Zermatt, Switzerland

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Zermatt, Switzerland

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Zermatt, Switzerland

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Venice by Day, Italy

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Venice by Night, Italy

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Florence, Italy

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Dueling Cameras above the Vatican in Rome, Italy

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The inside of the Dome at the Vatican in Rome, Italy

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Roman Ruins in Rome, Italy

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The Roman Colosseum by Night, Rome, Italy

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Mt. Pilatus, Switzerland
^^This is actually a full 360 from the top of Mt. Pilatus in Switzerland, but I thought it looked too cool to pass up^^

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Agadir, Morocco

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Agadir, Morocco

9,308 Miles Later...

...You have a map that looks something like this. Trains, planes, metros, subways, undergrounds, and maybe one or two buses later. Life's a blast.

And there you have it. Over 100 of my favorite photos, some of my favorite 360 Panoramas, and some panoramic pictures from traveling Europe, Africa, and study abroad, all taken from my simple little iPhone 4 camera, and a nifty little chronological map at the end. Traveling Europe has been one of the greatest things I've ever done with my life and I highly encourage everyone out there to do it at least once in your life if you have the opportunity. Let me know what you guys think of the photos!

Cheers!

--Scooter
--Follow me on twitter at @scott_treks!

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Posted by la vita bella 10:25 Tagged me landscapes waterfalls sunsets_and_sunrises mountains lakes beaches bridges churches art buildings skylines people parties animals sky snow night planes boats trains castles beer london cathedrals rivers desert venice vienna tower paris hiking france culture history travel hotel bus colorado train trekking river austria germany italy pisa backpack city ski museum friends philippines florence garden cathedral live country sculpture family africa castle circus hostel man rome photos language french hike eagle roman wine torino bike morocco europe happiness painting camels gondola mtn greek thames vatican graduation pantheon graffiti switzerland international pope schonbrunn tiergarten college dijon god german republic eye swiss grafitti latin colosseum student milano abroad alps michelangelo munich forum graffitti american ag bern chapel panoramic experiences trevi oktoberfest catholic ville cultures notre dame architechture marrakesh renaissance relationship tiber caesar jardin gelato lyon scout study iphone Comments (6)

Morocco

A Walk on the Wild Side

sunny 75 °F

Wow. What a trip is all I think I'll ever be able to really say about my 3 day trip in Morocco, but I want to share some of the experiences from the trip that have opened my eyes and affected me the most.

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Getting There

I left Dijon in France early Saturday morning to meet up with my four American friends who I've had the pleasure of traveling Europe with this semester. When we all arrived at the train station, we were waiting to see the platform number for our train to Lyon, and in France it's totally normal to not know your gate until 15 minutes before your train leaves. Well, our train never really arrived, or never left, rather. We never did figure out if it was due to a typical French strike or if was just "supprimé" just because, but we now had to take a later train to Lyon to catch our flight, leaving us with a tighter window in Lyon. I've learned to just kind of let go when traveling and let the adventure happen, especially in Europe and unfamiliar places, because you never really know what'll happen. You just have to relax and kind of go with the flow, or you'll get too stressed out and possibly forget something important... We had to wait a few hours for the next train which we passed laughing at all our stories we've collected from this semester together. When we eventually made it to the Lyon train station we had to take a tram out to the St. Exupery aeroport, a 25 minute ride plus the usual airport nonsense. All went smoothly and we arrived at the airport in plenty of time, but because my friend had checked a bag in Lyon for his flight out, guess what he left at the train station? His passport. Of all things you can do without when flying from Europe to Africa, your plane ticket and passport are the two things you can't. So it was time to form a plan B.

We all decided that he would go back to Lyon station to get his passport and attempt to make it for the flight while we went and waited for him at the gate. At the airport we had to go through 2 or 3 security checkpoints, and the passport check was miserable. No line, mob chaos, 6 stations with only 2 open (typical French efficiency), and the four of us only made the flight with a few minutes to spare. We waited there on the plane twittling our thumbs hoping he'd show....but minutes later the flight was off and we were without our partner. I was pretty sad since I knew how bad he wanted to go on this trip, and the most frustrating part was none of us had means of contacting him to figure out where he was since we're not in our native country and phone service/wifi can be hard to get. It was a smooth flight with a beautiful sunset over the Mediterranean Sea, and 3 hours later we landed at Al Massira Agadir airport in Morocco. I had officially landed on a fourth continent!

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We proceeded to take a cab to our hostel hotel only a few hundred yards away from the beach. This marks experience number one for me. If you've ever seen videos of traffic problems or wild traffic patterns in Africa in class or on the Internet, well, it really does look like that. There are medians and lanes, but no one uses them. Our cab driver drove right down the middle of the two lanes! Whenever he needed to pass he just flashed his brights and cars would move over. And most of the cars are old beat up clunkers that feel like they're going to break down every 5 seconds from the jerking while riding. All of the road signs were interesting too. Because Morocco (le Maroc) was a French colony once, all of the people there speak Arabic as their primary language but know French as well. Because Arabic is read right to left, all signs read French from left to right and Arabic from right to left. It was pretty cool to see. Half an hour later, we arrived at our hostel hotel (which was really nice and cheap too, pool, balcony, beach view, free wifi, 10€/night) and immediately jumped on the wifi to message our travel partner to figure out where he ended up. Very long story short, he ended up back in Dijon, never attempted to make the flight, and had already booked a flight out of Paris for Agadir for the next day. I was pretty excited to have him join us, but it meant that we needed to get all of our "forgetting something?" and "boom roasted!" jokes out before he arrived. We ordered room service for the night since the area around us looked kinda iffy at night and crashed, safely and soundly in Morocco, Africa.

The Moroccan Sun

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Sunday was a lazy day for the four of us, which was a really nice change from most of our travels. Europe is so packed with things to see and do that you can never really see everything, so being able to relax and hang out was really nice. We got up around 11am, and headed to the boardwalk and the beach. I haven't been to a beach in a while since I'm definitely more of a mountains and snow guy than a sand and the ocean guy, but let me tell you, this place was gorgeous. The sand was a little bit more orange colored than most of the beaches I've been too (from what I can remember), and of course I had to go stand in the ocean. I think I might have been the only of my friends who actually went and stood in the water, but I figured life is too short not to stand in the ocean on an African beach, and I'll probably never be back. So, Chaco flips in hand, I ran around in the waves on the beach. The pictures turned out really well too, which I've linked at the end of this entry. That afternoon our travel partner arrived, and now that we were a complete group, we decided to venture out a little bit.

The Souk

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This marked culture experience number two for me here. I'm sure most people don't even what a Souk is, but it's a traditional Moroccan market place of sorts where you can buy almost anything. It's partly open air, partly covered, loaded with souvenirs, trinkets, foods, black market goods, fake bags and shoes, and everyone is in complete Islamic attire. Wowee wowzers. I felt pretty uncomfortable in there at times, but I kept reminding myself that I didn't go to Africa and Morocco to feel comfortable, I went to take a step out of my comfort zone at times, eat weird foods, see a new part of the world, and learn and grow a little bit bigger as a person. The place was crazy. Agadir is loaded with shop vendors eager for your money, and it's not quite as easy to hide as in Europe since we're all white and obviously not Muslim, so we were hesitant to talk to people who approached us. But, a very nice man who works for the government of Morocco gave us a nice short tour of the Souk, and didn't ask for money afterwards. I also considered it an accomplishment that I spoke French to him initially and he didn't guess correctly that I was from the US until after trying France, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand first. I was weary to let on to anyone we were Americans while we were there for fear of being judged, so I played the French card as much as possible on the trip. This brings me to another observation.

On our way to the Souk when we refused to take directions from a Moroccan (since he was probably going to ask for money after), he called us all racists. It's really depressing me that the world feels the need to judge people, anyone for that matter, in any way. You either talk to the man and take his directions to get to the Souk where he asks for money and you lose, or you refuse and he calls you racists for refusing to talk to him. Saying no isn't an option with these people either, it's more of an invitation for them to try harder to sell you. The media today plays up stereotypes and creates false perceptions of people often times in areas of the world that they don't understand. You always fear what you don't understand, but that doesn't mean it's bad for you or even wrong in any way. I wish people would stop judging. We met plenty of very helpful and nice Moroccan people who were delighted to talk to us about America and why we had chosen to visit their country. It's too bad, really. Not all Americans think every turban wearing guy or woman in full Muslim dress is sent to blow up a car in a town near you these days. I should add that it's pretty fascinating to spend time in a country where Islam is the national religion too. Every room has a sign somewhere that points the direction to Mecca, and during the day you can hear loudspeakers come on with a call to prayer and sometimes people just stop to pray. It's a pretty mind blowing experience to me. I don't agree with their religion necessarily, but to see someone's devotion to their faith can be a powerful thing sometimes, and I think it's always important to understand where someone is coming from too because it helps you better understand why you believe what you believe. And if you can't justify why you believe what you believe, then, well, what do you really believe in anyways?

The Camel Ride

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Monday afternoon we had reserved a 5 person camel tour, since we all thought it would be insanely cool to "ride camels in Africa". And, it was. And, we took tons of hilarious pictures that I'm sure will soon be on Facebook... But the camel experience was something pretty special in a lot of other ways too. We rode the camels through a little bit of a desert, national park, to a bird estuary, and through some small African villages. First, the bird estuary and national park on the Sous River was gorgeous. I've never been anywhere quite like it. It was kind of like the stuff you see in Planet Earth in some ways, but to actually be there was amazing. And the African sky is just...unique. It's different and unlike anywhere I've ever been, too. We rode through some African villages on our way back too, which was eye popping in an incredible way. On our left side we had a walled up lush, green, golf course with gorgeous sweeping views of the mountains near Agadir, on our right we had fences where African villages were, and around our path there was trash. Tons of trash. It was striking to me how polar the world is sometimes. We continued forward into another village where kids were kicking around a soccer ball, women were hang drying clothes, and men we in shops. Buildings were just concrete and cement blocks, most of which had wavy tin rooftops held down by more concrete blocks. And around all of it - was trash. It was a, although brief, look into the world that some people live in. I mean, it wasn't your typical commercial of starving kids in Africa who are paper thin and dying where they ask you to call and make a donation, but it was pretty eye opening. It fascinates me to think that that's the way of life for some people, and yet we listen to people in American complain sometimes about stuff. Never again. It's a reminder to how lucky some of us really are. At the end of the ride we parked our camels at a fence, yes- parked our camels, and enjoyed some traditional Moroccan tea before heading back to our hostel hotel.

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Meals with Friends

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We headed out for dinner on the boardwalk shortly after arriving back at our place (and after posting our obnoxious camel pictures on Facebook and Twitter, of course). I decided that for dinner I should probably try some traditional Moroccan food, so I ordered a Tajine, which ended up being really good. We were able to watch the African sun set over the water on our way to the beach too, which was gorgeous. We had had lunch earlier in the day on the boardwalk as well, so the dinner topped off one hell of an amazing day with friends. It hit me again how polar the world can be though, it's all happy and fun on the beach and the boardwalk (minus the panhandlers) but half an hour away it's poverty and a fight to live day to day. I was awesome to enjoy such good meals and scenery on the beach with friends though, since we all have to part ways tonight to fly home this week. I'm going to miss these kids, that's for sure, but hopefully we'll all be able to visit each other though, since we all live in the same country at least.

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The Journey Home, or, Europe, Rather.

Tuesday morning we all woke up much too early to catch a cab to the airport, which again was somewhat eye opening. We got to see the sunrise from the cab, but drove through some pretty rough looking areas. Again, concrete apartment buildings, many without windows. Trash was everywhere, and people were all standing around at what appeared to be a bus stop. The apartment buildings were unfinished concrete walls, and in some ways resembled a bird coop in ways, grey, dull, dirty, boring, and darkness inside the window without a window pane. It was amazing to see something like that. Shortly thereafter we arrived at the airport, passed all security and passport check points (yippee! no more visa drama or Préfécture visits!) and are now sitting on board a plane back to Lyon. Hopefully we have smooth travels from here back to Dijon where we'll all have to say our goodbyes and part ways to head back to the good ole US of A in a couple days (Africa today, Europe tomorrow, North America Thursday...woo!). It's going to feel good to be home, no doubt, but I wanted to write an entry on my short time in Africa that has taught me so much more than I expected. I left Dijon knowing next to nothing about Morocco and Agadir and attempted to let down all walls and become a sponge to absorb as much as I could from the new cultural experience. I think I succeeded, and I hope you've gotten a few things out of my experiences too.

Cheers!

--Scooter
--@scott_treks

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Picture Gallery

Photo Album

360s

Stand on the beach in Agadir

The camel tour at the estuary and National Park

Posted by la vita bella 10:22 Archived in Morocco Tagged landscapes sunsets_and_sunrises mountains lakes beaches bridges churches buildings skylines people animals birds sky snow night planes boats trains rivers desert paris hiking france culture history travel hotel bus train trekking village river backpack friends garden life live country family africa love hostel photos language french bike morocco europe happiness camels mtn graduation denver international college dijon eye student abroad american chapel panoramic atv experiences residence osprey catholic cultures marrakesh relationship lose learn lyon scout study teva iphone agadir laugh learning euros 360 scouting scouts nigeria girlfriend esc camera+ francophone sncf listen Comments (1)

12 Days of Traveling Europe

...and all of the adventures in between!

sunny 60 °F

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After my last class for the last two weeks on October 20th, I went home to pack up my backpack for 12 days of travelling across Europe. The things I saw, the things I learned, the strangers I met, and the adventures I had along the way were fascinating. Since it's impossible to cover 12 days, 8 cities, and 4 countries and everything that happened in one post, I'm going to do my best to hit the highlights: the things I enjoyed the most, the best adventures, and the most impactful moments and memories. Take a seat and get ready to travel!

October 20th - October 21st: Milano and Venezia

We left Dijon for Milano in Italy via a night train at 11:30PM on the night of the 20th, ready to rock. All of my friends were traveling with two bags or a backpack and a suitcase but I traveled with just my backpack. Definitely the right way to go, since I had being held down by luggage and reduced mobility when traveling. The night train was 6 hours, so we arrived in Milano at about 6AM. I'm not a coffee drinker, but when we arrived in Milano I was exhausted so I ordered a true Italian cappuccino, and let me tell you: that will wake you up FAST. Wow. It was so small too, like a shot sized cup, but bam, I was awake a ready to explore Milan for the half day we had planned there. Milano is very industrialized, so there's not too much to see there, and it's absolutely loaded with people ready to steal your stuff and steal your money. The Africans who gave me a wristband and asked for money afterwards received nothing, especially since they called me a "playboy" once I told them I was from the US. Another lesson learned in the stereotypes people have of Americans outside the US. We saw the world's largest Gothic church in Milano, took some photos, and moved on for Venezia (Venice for those who don't speak Italian). When we were waiting for our train's gate number, all of a sudden the board begins to read "cancellato". Leave it to the Italians to cancel a train half hour prior to departure. I asked the staff what we should do since I speak Italian and they told us to get on the next train half an hour after hours no problem. Sure enough, it all worked out. Some of my travel companions were stressed over the change, but that's part of learning how to travel: nothing ever goes as planned and life's an adventure. Expect the unexpected and have fun with the adventures that follow. After a pretty simple train ride, we arrived that night in the hostel in Venezia, which was great, and then headed to the city for some late night gelato.

October 22: Venezia

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We got up this morning ready to explore Venezia, which is too romantic and beautiful for words. It's the only city I've ever visited where I think you could legitimately walk through the city with Sepia or black/white lenses on and everything would still be absolutely beautiful. The domes, the churches, the bridges and canals...it's a pretty special place. We spent most of this day wandering around the city, getting lost, and just generally enjoying the city. We also took a "gondola" ride, which is really just the fancy canoes they paddle around the city. It was pretty pricey, but definitely worth it to see the city from ground level by water, travel through the narrow canals, and see the old and famous buildings in Venice. This canal ride is probably one of my two best memories from Venice. The other is when we were trying to find our way out of the city and while we were a bit lost, a French couple came up and asked us for directions. Since I had just asked the nearby police officer in Italian where the way out was, I was able to explain to them in French how to get to where they wanted to go on their map. Although I'm nowhere near fluent in all three, being trilingual and able to manuever in three different languages is awesome. After this we headed back to our next hostel in a different location in Venice for some rest before leaving the next morning for Vienna.

October 23 - October 24: Firenze

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We had to catch an early train out of Venice for Florence this morning, and we arrived in Firenze at about 10AM and headed for the hostel to check our bags for the day. Our hostel in Firenze was a bit special and unique, because they let all travelers write on the walls who pass through. I took a 360 of this and some pictures, so be sure to look at those below after reading. After checking our bags we headed out to explore Florence. Not long after arriving I purchased my new leather jacket at the world famous San Lorenzo leather market. It's an awesome looking jacket, and has a design I've been wanting for a while. It's handmade from Italian leather, and had a surprisingly good price you wouldn't find in the US. I normally don't splurge on fashion, but this was the exception. I found some great leather gloves also to spruce up my existing leather jacket, and bargained with the seller in Italian to knock the price down. Again, a pretty cool experience. Later in the day we explored the famous Duomo in Florence, and I was able to go up into the tower next to it. I got some awesome views from there and some pictures as well. That afternoon we went to the Uffizi Museum which houses some pretty famous artwork, and is right next to the Piazzale Michelangelo, where the Statue of David is. Florence was key in the Renaissance era, so the artwork and architecture there is amazing. Italy is so amazing, the history is just so rich everywhere you go. That night I could tell I was starting to come down with a cold, so I called it a night early.

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The next day I was definitely down with a cold, but I got up and went out on the walking tour anyways because I knew I wouldn't be back anytime soon. My friend who I was going to go with didn't show (he overslept) but I went anyways. It was a great walking tour, and many hostels offer free walking tours, so I definitely recommend doing them whenever you find them. We saw some great examples of renaissance and gothic architecture and artwork, the Salvatore Ferragamo building (didn't know who he was...but I definitely do now!), found the oldest wine bar in Florence, the Ponte Vecchio where lots of really expensive jewelry is sold, and she tipped us off on where to go for the best view of Florence. After the walking tour I headed there to get some pictures which turned out great, and while I was up there I had the best hot chocolate of my life. I was five euros, but I'm pretty sure it was just melted chocolate and milk and came with a world class view, so....I have no complaints. While sitting there I took some time to reflect on things, where I was, what I was looking at, where I was going, and how lucky I am. Sometimes I lose sight of how lucky I am, and every now and then there are moments like that that just sock you in the face and say "you lucky bastard look at this!" Definitely one of those moments, and it made me that much more thankful for the awesome friends and family I have that have helped me get here/there. After this, I left for the hostel again and went back to hang out and relax. That night we went out for dinner and I showed my friend where Italy's best gelato is (the walking tour tour guide tipped us off!). It was SO good. The texture was indescribable, like something in between ice cream, milk, whipped cream, frozen but not quite frozen, and super fresh made that morning. I'm definitely going to miss that.

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October 25: Pisa and Roma

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Another travel day was upon us, and today we traveled in the morning to Pisa for a few hours to see the leaning tower, which is basically all there is to see there. That building really IS leaning, by the way. Pictures make it look leaning, but until you see it in person with the buildings around it you don't really understand how much is actually is leaning. The 360 I took posted below shows that pretty well I think. After visiting Pisa for 3 hours, we headed back to Florence and then took a train to Rome. We arrived in Florence about 5 minutes too late and ended up missing our train to Rome. Again, my travel companions were freaking out, but we got on a train to Rome about half an hour later and all worked out. It's all part of the fun of traveling.

October 26 - 28: Roma

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I had already visited Rome once before a month prior with my American friends, but you can never visit a city of that much historical significance too many times. That night we relaxed in the hostel, getting ready for the next day. On the following day we went to the Roman ruins and the Colosseum and spent about half a day there. I was like a kid in a candy store all over again. Having studied Latin for 5 years in high school, it knocked me off my feet all over again seeing all of those ruins in person. Life is so awesome sometimes. After spending time in the ruins we went into the Colosseum. That place is incredible and it's hard to imagine what it must've been like two thousand years ago full of Romans cheering on gladiator fights. That stuff still fascinates me, and although the Colosseum isn't as big as the football stadiums modelled after it today, it's still an incredible feat of architecture for it's time. We went back that night to see the Colosseum at night, which was pretty cool to see too. It's equally as impressive at night as it is during the day.

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The next day we visited the Vatican, St. Peter's Basilica, and the Vatican Museum. Too much for one day for sure, but we still managed to hit the highlights. We saw the Vatican relics and artifacts in the exhibit inside the Vatican, went to the top of the dome that looks down on the Obelisk in front of the Vatican where masses are held, and inside the Vatican museum we saw tons of famous works of art: statues from the Trojan war, the Sistine Chapel, the School of Athens paintings, Caesar sculptures, and so on. Pretty phenomenal stuff. Out of all of this though, the two highlights of the day for me were none of these.

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On the subway in the morning, we passed a group of about 8 autistic adults heading to the Colosseum for a visit. They were SO excited! Two of them were even gladiator fighting each other with sounds effects and invisible swords. I was able to understand most of what they were saying and they were all super excited to see the Colosseum. It was another reminder to me that I need to volunteer with some organization when I get home to work with autistic kids and adults because they always make me so happy. The other moment was when we were at breakfast. We sat down at a table with an older man who was 80 years old. I began conversing with him in Italian and we later learned that he was from Spain, lived in Portugal, retired and loved to travel, married to a French woman, and spoke French, Italian, German, and of course Spanish. He bought us all a second round of breakfast cappuccinos, but most importantly he reminded me of my grandfather who passed a year ago. His thirst for knowledge, love for travel, and desire to learn new languages was fascinating to me. I hope to be like that when I'm 80 years old, speaking multiple languages and traveling. Sometimes the people you don't even know can having an incredible impact on you. It's one of the many awesome things about traveling the world and living in other cultures. After this day of exploring, we left Rome for Bologna where we then took an over night train to Vienna, Austria for the last city on our grand voyage.

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October 28 - November 1: Vienna

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I had incredible luck with overnight trains on this trip, and the overnight train was no exception. Again, sometimes the strangers you meet traveling can make the trip that much more incredible. When we got on the train, I asked the man across from me if it was ok if we traded seats if necessary since he was traveling alone like myself and I wanted to sit with my two friends for the overnight train (we had opted to sleep in the chairs instead of the cars with beds to save money). He agreed. Later that night, at about midnight, he and I ended up engaging in a discussion on history, Italy, the US, African cultures, and more for about 2 hours until 2am. He was from Nigeria and spoke all three languages fluently from Nigeria, English, and Italian and was in Rome to study history and archaeology. One of my courses last year for Italian was on the history of Italian from the 1000s on, so we had a great talk about that, cultures, forming new cultures, differences, the US, and lots of other awesome stuff. Again, I was fascinated not just by his knowledge and proficiency in languages, something I desire too, but his thirst for knowledge. He was headed to Vienna to visit his brother who had lived there for 15 years to visit his brother but also because he wanted to study German next for history and language purposes. Fascinated, and a sure inspiration to me. He even offered to have his brother help us find our hostel when we arrived in Vienna the next morning. Another lesson learned: strangers are not always bad people when you're traveling foreign countries and are in some cases awesome.

He taught me another lesson that I think is worth mentioning and had been on my mind the past few days coincidentally. Live in the present. Not the past, and not the future. I read a book recently that talked about how the imagined future is as real as the past in affecting our decision making, so live in the present and the now. As I was standing in front of the Colosseum the day before, I was thinking the very same thing. There I was, standing in front of the Roman Colosseum. THE Roman Colosseum. And for the rest of my life, I'll look back on that time I was standing there looking at the Roman Colosseum from the Palatine hill, and I'll remember the excitement from that morning on my way to visit it again, but there, there in that moment, I was in front of it. Take it in. Enjoy it. Savor it. You may never be back. So live in the now. Lesson learned.

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We arrived the next morning in Vienna, ready to explore again. We headed to the hostel first to drop our bags, and then headed out to explore the city. That afternoon we found our way to the Schonbrunn gardens and palace, which are incredibly gorgeous this time of year. It's basically a bunch of very well groomed trees, gardens, and foliage, and we got lucky and caught it all in full fall effect. You won't believe the pictures I got of it, attached below. After exploring here for a bit, we made our way to the Austrian Zoo for a few hours, which is probably the prettiest zoo I've ever visited. Very clean, neat, well organized for seeing all the animals, and the foliage added to the visit. We saw some awesome animals here as well, including the baby panda bear they have. There was an amazing sunset that night as we were leaving, which was a nice pre-end to such an awesome trip. We found a great student bar that night too, where the bartenders working there gave us a free round of welcome shots and showed us a place for food across the street with a student dinner not on the menu to help us save a few bucks. We stayed here for a bit drinking, which is where I met the bartender from my hometown. We live in such a small world. We started talking about where we went to high school, and all the stereotypes we had of each other's schools. Lesson learned: where you study and studied, whether you fit that school's stereotype or not, where you're from, and what you do with your life and the reputation you have will follow you everywhere, even to the other side of the world sometimes. Never forget that.

We spent our next day in Vienna renting bikes for the day and biking around the city siteseeing. It was a pretty cool way to see the city, and on this trip I had now seen some of Europe's most famous cities by foot, bike, train, and boat. Not a bad way to see the world. We met up with two other American students from Dijon for lunch and their American friend studying in Vienna, which was awesome. Always nice to see some fellow Americans when traveling. We ate lunch at a "pay what you wish" all you can eat Indian buffet in Vienna, which was also awesome, especially for a tired traveler on day 12 of an epic journey. We spent the afternoon seeing sights before leaving on our train at about 6pm for Munich. We connected in Munich to a sleeper train headed for Paris. We were finally heading "home". I've spent the last half a year or so asking myself where is home with this wild life I lead, whether at DU, the summer internship in Vail, my parent's house in Parker, Dijon, or somewhere else whoknowswhere in between. But, that's a blog entry for another time... I had good luck again on the sleeper train ending up in a seat area that wasn't completely full and lots of room to spread out and sleep. We arrived in Paris right on time, took the metro across town form Paris Est to Gare de Lyon, and caught our train home to Dijon. We arrived home in Dijon after about 15 hours of train travel across 3 countries coming home.

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November 2: Home in Dijon

Needless to say, after a journey like that, I'm not travelling anywhere this weekend. It'll mark my first weekend in Dijon since arriving on September 5th, 2 months ago. I can't believe I've traveled that much in so little time. I also can't believe I've been calling Dijon home for 2 months now when it feels like I just arrived. I think the next items on the list are local travels around France. I can travel to Paris for free with my rail pass and I can see lots of things in Paris for free with my student card including the Louvre, the Eiffel Tour, The Versailles, The Arc de Triomphe, and more. I'm not broke yet, but I think it's time to slow down for a bit and enjoy France for what IT is. I went to my first class in two weeks tonight and sure enough my French speaking kicked right back in. Being able to convey your ideas in so many different ways is amazing to me. It's like an art but you're able to paint the same story in so many different colors. I am tutoring two French girls starting this week in English and can't wait, the language nerd in me is freaking out a tad bit. I can't decide now if I should learn German or Spanish next, though Spanish would be more useful in the business market right now. Maybe I'll be lucky enough to learn both someday... As for life in France, there's actually homework due during the month of November as the only work I've done thus far is a mid term in a class and light homework here or there, so it's time to get to work. I returned to more residence problems (of course), but I'm not going to ruin an epic blog entry like this with so many positive lessons learned in it with residence drama. I'm still probably coming home 10 days early as a result of the residence problems, but more on that later. I've posted the links to pictures and a few 360s below, and I hope you've enjoyed reading about all of my travel adventures!

Au revoir!

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Full Picture Gallery

http://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.2595779575755.2145267.1292672395&type=1&l=f5042237d3

360s

Piazza in Milano: http://360.io/9w3fUN
Standing alongside the Grand Canal in Venice: http://360.io/2qnnhV
Renaissance Architecture in Florence: http://360.io/5vyfcV
Best view in all of Florence: http://360.io/24Z2m9
The Hostel in Florence: http://360.io/NrBVnz
See the Leaning Tower of Pisa: http://360.io/kN4wdz
Stand inside the Vatican: http://360.io/wvYzAT
Visit the Colosseum at night: http://360.io/YLPczF
The Roman Ruins: http://360.io/fW6aUv
Emperor Nero's private garden: http://360.io/NfHVVW
Inside the Roman Colosseum: http://360.io/5EB35W
Standing inside the Sistine Chapel: http://360.io/TkCn9Z
Study at the School of Athens: http://360.io/Gw5nyJ
Palace in Austria: http://360.io/YpbEUn
The Schonbrunn Fall Foliage: http://360.io/49yuCx

Full account page for all of my 360's: http://occipital.com/user/ccc6-62663/scott-larson

Happy travels everyone!!!

Posted by la vita bella 13:32 Archived in France Tagged landscapes sunsets_and_sunrises mountains lakes bridges churches art buildings skylines people children animals sky snow night boats castles beer london cathedrals venice vienna tower paris france history travel hotel train trekking village zoo metro river austria germany italy pisa backpack city ski museum friends philippines florence garden cathedral sculpture family africa castle hostel rome photos language french roman wine boy bike europe painting gondola mtn greek vatican pantheon international pope housing schonbrunn tiergarten dijon german united republic latin colosseum milano abroad michelangelo munich forum american bern chapel panoramic residence osprey catholic ville dame architechture renaissance tiber caesar jardin gelato lyon study iphone learning sistine euros 360 prepared princeton città nigeria esc maximus archbishop trajan brutus augustus ponts couverts camera+ mannheim francs francophone sncf trenitalia sinking statesuffizi raffael Comments (1)

Transitions.

Some chapters are ending as others are just beginning...

overcast 55 °F

What a roller coaster ride my life can be sometimes. The last couple weeks have been crazy, and the next few promise to be just as crazy. Last week was awesome. I think at the end of the week I felt like a true mountain man, and living the mountain lifestyle has become the greatest thing in my life. I lifted weights a couple days, spent two days biking 20+ miles all over Vail, climbed Vail Mountain in record time, and went rafting down the Arkansas River in Buena Vista under a full moon. Full moon rafting was a bit of an adventure, after all rafting class IV rapids under the moon is a bit challenging, and I got thrown out of the boat once, but it was an absolute blast. Truly, a once in a lifetime experience. The unfortunate news is that my knee is still not healed and the future of it is unknown, pending a doctor's visit at some point, so it looks like I'm done hiking for the summer. This is my last week of biking for the summer as well, and I'm hoping to make the most of that. Vail continues to have me in the best shape of my life, and I think that alone is worth coming back here for in the future, someday.

France. Wow. As I write this, I'm 13 days from departure. It still feels like it'll never actually happen because it's such a big deal and so many words describe it. Nervous. Terrified. Excited. Anxious. That's just the surface. Hopefully I can embrace it enough to make the most of it. I'm most looking forward to growing more as a person during my stay there, the adventures I'll have, people I'll meet, and what I'll be able to take away from it. You'll definitely want to stay tuned here once I get over there for pictures, panoramas, 360 views, and blogs on all of my adventures. I can't wait, and I can't believe it's finally actually here.

And as I continue to be surprised and flattered by this, it looks like I may end up in yet another publication somewhere for my lifesaving story. My university, Denver, has already spoken to me, and now it appears my high school out here in Colorado is interested as well. It's so flattering to me, and more attention than I ever expected to receive for what I did. Lucky guy in the right place at the right time I guess. This weekend on Saturday I'll be receiving my Award of Distinguished Service from the Chaffee County Sheriff's Department at their banquet, which I'm looking forward to. I'll finally get to meet the gentleman's wife who I saved, and the other guy's wife as well who was there that day. My best friend Zach will be there as will my family to spend some time together and spend the night in Salida. It should be a great day all around, and I'm really excited for all of it.

And as I said, as some chapters are ending while others are beginning. This summer's time in Vail is coming to a close much too quickly, while my time abroad is about to begin. Call me crazy, but I'll be leaving for France while in a brand new relationship, which will make things even more interesting, but we're both excited for the future and giving this a try. I'll leave it there for now, with this beautiful picture of the double rainbow I caught over Vail tonight. Until next time... Double Rainbow over Vail tonight, 8/22/11

Double Rainbow over Vail tonight, 8/22/11

Posted by la vita bella 19:00 Archived in USA Tagged mountains hiking france village hike bike mtn dijon lionshead vista buena vail prepared buena_vista antero rmvr Comments (0)

VAIL & 14ers

Let me preface this entry by just saying how lucky I feel sometimes. To have the opportunities that I do over the next 6 months is incredible, and I feel incredibly blessed/gifted/however you want to take that to have been given these opportunities. I hope I can make the most of them. I am told by many I am an incredible musician, but I also love to spend time hiking as high as the mountains around me will allow and skiing down whatever happens to be in front of me. Speaker of 3 languages and knowing a 4th. I feel so incredibly lucky to be this talented and have the opportunities in front of me that I do. I hope I can share my gifts with each and every one of you in some sort of way someday.

With just one week left of school followed by a few finals, I am beginning to get into full gear for move out and on up to Vail for the summer. I'm also beginning to prep for my 6 day trip down near Buena Vista hiking a bunch of 14ers in the Sawatch Range. The downside to the trip is that all of my friends I had hoped would be able to come with have since fallen trough, so I'll be doing the trip solo or with other 14ers.com forum members. Either way, I'm excited and ready to see what gifts Nature brings me while I'm down there. I know my mom will be worried sick if she finds out I'm doing these solo, but I feel I have the knowledge and experience necessary and a PLB registered with NOAA if anything serious were to happen. There have been a number of great Trip Reports on 14ers.com from this weekend detailing what the conditions are like down in the Sawatch Range right now, and I've been watching them closely to make sure I don't get myself into any trouble. I even got lucky enough to find a webcam pointed straight at Antero's East face, so I can check it whenever I want!

I am also beginning to get the details on the place I'm staying up in Eagle-Vail, and apparently will be sharing the room with a guy from Boulder. Hopefully, all works out. I am beginning to have some concerns about the weed consumption up there and after my boss added me as a friend on Facebook the other day, it definitely seems apparent that she likes to party...a lot. So, that being said, hopefully all works out. I've never been much for parties and getting hammered, but I guess there's a learning curve with everything, so we'll see how this summer works out. I am, however, looking forward to the sheer amount of world class vineyards when I study abroad in the fall. With regards to that, no update. Still waiting to find out why she can't guarantee me a room. My classes over there are looking really good though and I'm really excited about every one of them so far.

Question for Vail: my place is 7 miles from the office in Vail, and gas is $4/gallon currently. Do I bike to work every day or drive? Thoughts?

Posted by la vita bella 18:56 Archived in USA Tagged france ski hike bike vail 14ers shavano tabaguache princeton buena_vista Comments (1)

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