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Appreciation

Six months of my wild and crazy life wrapped up into one, simple, word.

sunny 45 °F

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Silverthorne, Colorado

The last six months of my life have been a wild roller coaster ride to say the least. I finished my junior year at University of Denver at the end of May, and packed up my things to move to Vail, Colorado for a 3 month internship. I was pretty excited with all the mountain stuff I do to live in such an awesome place, not to mention one of the most desirable places in the world for many people to live. While in Vail I met lots of awesome people, worked for an awesome company, lived out some of my dreams, hiked tons of 14ers, helped save a man's life, enjoyed more than my 15 minutes of fame, expanded my horizons, grew a lot as a person, and so on. After 3 months in Vail, I packed up my things to get on a plane and fly across the great pond to Paris where I took a train to Dijon to "study" for 3 months. I arrived safely in Dijon in early September with no lost luggage (imagine that!) ready to begin my studies here. I was a lost little island at first, not knowing anyone over here, not knowing where anything was, knowing enough French to do simple things but by no means enough, and the first few days were pretty rough for me and a bit challenging. I thought I was ready and totally prepared, packed smart, and was ready for this thing, but it ended up being so much more.

Before long I made lots of new and awesome friends from all over the world and began my classes. But before even going to a class, I started traveling. I have since then traveled all over Europe, visited Africa, and walked amongst and breathed in so many different, new, unique, and often times strange cultural experiences. I've traveled nearly everywhere by train, something that isn't common in the United States. My family spent one week in Paris and Dijon visiting me, and am now back in the US trying to resume life as normal, if there is such a thing anymore. All of these experiences have helped me grow and realize that I am not anywhere close to the person I was six months ago, I wouldn't be the person I am today if it weren't for these experiences, and I wouldn't change a thing. However, these experiences have also taught me to take a look back and examine life for what it is. That said, I think that I can sum all of my life's experiences over the last six months, no matter how crazy, drastic, bizarre, or otherwise into the simple word of Appreciation. A lot of this may sound really cliché, and I'm sorry if that's the case, but these six months have taught me to appreciate everything you have in life, including the things you wouldn't really expect. I'm writing this all down in the hopes that people might be able to learn to appreciate things in life as much as I have over these last 6 months.

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Dijon, France

Appreciate New Opportunities

Not everyone in life is as lucky as you. Moving to Vail was a gift, and one that I was incredibly fortunate to have. My dad has talked for years about "retiring in the mountains someday". Sometimes, it sounds like it might happen for him someday, and other times it just sounds like this dream, one that he shares with many other people. I was lucky enough to live and work in Vail for 3 months, and it helped me grow tremendously as a person. I was able to live in the heart of the Rocky Mountains of Colorado. I felt like I was taking advantage of it at the time, and I think I did, but I still don't think I appreciated it enough today.

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Sunset over Mt. Shavano from Salida, Colorado

Study Abroad. I was terrified when I was preparing for study abroad and I often questioned whether or not I'd make it. I convinced myself I'd be fine, and then got to Dijon and the first few days were really, really, tough. I was the only kid from Denver in Dijon and the only person I knew in the whole town. But I read a quote somewhere recently that we always fear what we don't know and what we don't understand, but those are always the experiences that we grow the most from. And as I sit here today, I am a walking, living, breathing testament to that. New opportunities in your life are something to be grateful for, even if they scare the crap out of you at first. Embrace them and make the most of them, and you'll be that much better of a person for it later.

Appreciate Life

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Sunrise on Mt. Antero from Mt. Princeton

I learned very quickly when moving to Vail how quickly life can change. When I was out hiking Mt. Antero one day, I ended up helping rescue a man who crashed his ATV and saving his life by taking care of the proper first aid steps and precautions after we pulled him from the river. It was a pretty scary experience and one I'll never forget. It changed me forever, that's for sure. Every time I think about things in the future now, banking on the idea that something will happen, or asking myself why I'm recertifying myself for CPR when I don't necessarily need it since I have most of those steps memorized now, I'm always reminded: Life can change in an instant and you could be dead tomorrow. I don't mean to be heavy with that, but it's true. I look at life differently these days because of what happened that day. So appreciate life and every moment of every day and make sure if you died tomorrow that you'd be happy with what you did today. (Don't kill yourself today in case you might die tomorrow though, that would be bad.)

Appreciate What's Given to You

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Salida, Colorado

After all of this life saving heroism drama story stuff happened, I got more than my 15 minutes of fame. I'm not the kind of person who likes to be in the spotlight, so it was a little shocking and weird for me, but cool in some ways too I guess. Regardless, appreciate the things in life that are given to you. I only told three close friends and my family about what happened the day it happened, completely content with moving on with the rest of my life as though it never happened. But instead of staying out of the spotlight my story was covered by newspapers, blogs, and magazines over and over again. I was in the Vail Daily newspaper two or three times for it, the Salida newspaper twice, a couple online blogs I didn't even know about, the DU blog, and now in the DU magazine which gets sent to over 100,000 people this month. It all still blows my mind, and definitely isn't something I asked for or expected as a result of what happened while I was out hiking. So, appreciate what's given to you. Not everyone in this world is as lucky.

Appreciate the Little Things

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Lionshead during a hike in Vail, Colorado

Some of you reading this probably live in Colorado, where we receive over THREE HUNDRED days of sunshine every year. Not the case in Dijon, or most places in Europe for that matter. I didn't realize how much I would miss that when I came to Europe. The same is true for mountains. We are too lucky to have mountains like we do in Colorado, and you can see them whether you're in Denver, Boulder, Colorado Springs, driving i70, or anywhere in between. I missed those in Dijon. If you're near a window or an open area, go look at the mountains or the blue sky we have. Not everyone gets to enjoy it like we do. And needless to say, I'll probably never want to live anywhere other than Colorado now. - Maybe I'm lucky, but I miss things like having cell service on my iPhone all the time, having access to a car regularly, fast internet, or having a reasonable bed at night to sleep in. All of these things changed when I went to Europe, and you don't realize how much you enjoy these things until you no longer have them at your disposal. So, appreciate the little things, because they make all the difference sometimes.

Appreciate the United States of America

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Double rainbows over Beaver Creek, Colorado

Yeah, I said it. And whether you love or hate the way our country is run these days, once you live outside the country for an extended period of time, you'll learn to appreciate how lucky we all are to have what we do in our country. I considered myself somewhat patriotic before I left, but having lived in Europe for 3.5 months, I'm incredibly proud to represent the country that I do. Our political system, though it may seem screwed up at times, isn't anywhere near as bad as some stuff is in Europe, Africa, or other areas of the world. Talking to international students has taught me that. Appreciate the fact that you live in a culture and language that you know and *fully* understand. I can speak French, sure, and I know enough to get around, ask questions, convey my ideas, etc, but I am no where near fluent. The social norms and customs in Europe are incredibly different sometimes, both in France and in other countries, and be thankful that every day you understand things around you. It's not always that easy. By living in a culture that you understand you often times have the ability to "predict" in some ways the next move a person is going to make based on the situation, and I didn't have that in Europe. So, appreciate the fact that you do understand everything, and when you want to ask for something in a restaurant or while traveling, you're able to understand everything. I didn't realize how much I would miss that when I left the US in September.

Appreciate Your Friends

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Hôtel Dieu, Beaunne, France

When you live on the other side of the world from all of your friends, life can be a bit challenging. You will always have friends you can turn to, but you won't always have friends you can go to. Make the most of those moments while you're at home or when you have the chance to spend time with your friends. Appreciate the ones who make an effort to keep in touch while you're gone, too, they're the ones who matter the most. Not all friends are that awesome. Appreciate the new friends you make too. All of my friends I've made over here in Europe have been awesome, and I'm lucky to have them. We've shared some pretty wild and incredible travel adventures together and some wild nights together in Dijon too. Appreciate the times you have with them while you've got them there. I know I'm going to miss all my friends I made during study abroad when we all fly back home to our different parts of the globe.

Appreciate Your Family

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With my brother at the Eiffel Tower in Paris, France

This kind of goes without saying, but I guess I always took it for granted that my family was a phone call away. It was always easy to call, text, get on the lightrail, drive, whatever, and see my family. When you're on the other side of the world, it's not quite so simple anymore, and the best you've got is Skype when you can find a way to line up the time differences. So make the most of the time that you have to spend with your family, whether they live close by or a 2 hour flight away. Having them visit me in France was awesome, and gave me a great appreciation for how important family is, something I undervalued while living at home and in Vail.

Appreciate Loved Ones

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A candle burns for my grandfather in this small Church at the top of Zermatt, Switzerland

This one kind of took me by surprise and wasn't something I expected, but I've had a number of travel experiences across all parts of Europe, high and low, that have reminded me of my grandfather who passed a couple years ago. I referenced a man in Italy who I met who reminded me of my grandfather, and I felt something special and surreal come over me when I was in Zermatt in the Swiss Alps that reminded me of him. If I could put my finger on what that was, I would. There are a few churches in Europe (Italy, Zermatt, France) where I lit candles and said a few prayers, if you can call it that. I'm still skeptical at times of religion and it's place in my life, but something out there was calling, so I lit the candles and said thanks in a moment of thought. The moments that reminded me of my grandfather were something very special. I'm lucky that he's the only close family member I've lost, but don't take that time for granted. I certainly won't from this day forward. It makes me wonder sometimes what I would say to him about the last six months of my life, what he would think, and what kind of hilarious jokes I'm sure he would make about all kinds of things I would tell him about. I wish I could have that back sometimes, so appreciate it in your life while you've got it because those people won't always be there.

Appreciate New Experiences

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Sunset on Oktoberfest in Munich, Germany

Traveling Europe isn't like traveling like the United States. The cultures are richer, older, deeper, and so much more diverse than the US it's incredible. And then you go to Africa and it's something completely different too in its own right. Traveling Europe has become one of the greatest things I've ever done with my life. I realize that's a bold statement to make, but it's true. I'm thousands of dollars poorer because of it, but my life is infinitely richer thanks to the new experiences I've had from it. While these experiences will no doubt throw you into situations that you aren't prepared for, appreciate them for what they are. When traveling Europe and so many different cultures, you learn to kind of just go with the flow and act like a sponge absorbing everything you can and accepting the experience for what it is. You will inevitably miss a train here or there, screw up a hostel reservation by being late, and be forced to eat new foods or take the subway systems in a city with the rest of the people who call that city their home. While these experiences are foreign and sometimes bizarre, they also teach you the most by exposing you to new cultures and walks of life that you may never have known existed. New experiences will shock you, terrify you, and sometimes break you down, but you'll be a broader and richer person afterwards as a result, so embrace them.

Summary

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Sunset over the Vatican from Rome, Italy

So there you have it. If I could pick one lesson that I've learned from the last six months of my life, it's to appreciate everything you've got around you. Living in Vail for three months expanded my horizons and changed me more as a person than I could have ever imagined. And then I jumped inside a metal tube with a couple bags of belongings for Europe, and my world and horizons exploded even more. These six months have taught me to appreciate a lot, and I guess on the flip side who and what in my life really matters to me and what I can live without. It's all been invaluable information to have learned at such a young age, and I hope to carry it forward with me every day for the rest of my life. Appreciate every minute of every day and everything about each of those moments. In closing, I want to use one of my favorite quotes of all time. I spend a lot of downtime reading a big fat 800 page book of mine (no, it's not that really long Harry Potter book) called The Essential Writings of Ralph Waldo Emerson. In one of his works he writes,

"To the attentive eye, each moment of the year has it's own beauty, and in the same field, it beholds, every hour a picture which was never seen before and which shall never be seen again." - Ralph Waldo Emerson

So, appreciate every moment of every day of your life. You may never have back what you have in that moment, whether its a loved one, family, friends, the little things, or your own life, and learn as much as you can from what's around you and what you have. I hope everyone who reads this gets something from it, even if it's just one tiny little thing. Feedback is welcomed too! Enlightening? Boring? Funny? Too cliché? Let me know, and hopefully I'll see you all around now that I'm back in the United States of America!

Ciao, au revoir, and God Bless!

--Scooter
--@scott_treks

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Posted by la vita bella 13:29 Tagged landscapes sunsets_and_sunrises mountains beaches bridges churches art skylines people parties snow boats trains castles beer cathedrals desert venice vienna tower paris hiking france culture history travel hotel bus colorado train trekking village river austria germany italy pisa backpack city aspen ski museum friends philippines florence garden cathedral life live country family africa love castle hostel creek rome photos language french hike roman wine torino smile morocco europe happiness painting camels gondola mtn vatican pantheon switzerland denver international pope housing schonbrunn tiergarten college dijon god united republic eye lionshead swiss colosseum student milano abroad alps munich forum business american vista bern panoramic boulder atv experiences sherman residence osprey trevi oktoberfest catholic ville cultures notre dame architechture potter marrakesh renaissance relationship eu buena lose caesar learn law gelato lyon scout solo study iphone agadir laugh learning strasbourg appreciation Comments (0)

Europe and Africa through the Eyes of my iPhone

A collection of my favorite mobile shots from my semester abroad

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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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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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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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Strasbourg, France

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Strasbourg, 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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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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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)

Time Flies

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With so much to talk about, I really don't even know where to begin to write this post, but I guess the title says it all. Time flies by so much faster than you ever think it will. I remember when I moved to Vail at the beginning of June this summer thinking, man, I have 3 months ahead of me of living in one of the most beautiful and most desireable places to live on Earth! This is going to be amazing! And then at the end of August, I began to realize how quickly that time had passed. Here I am now, with only 12 days left of my study abroad experience, and 4 of those will be spent in Agadir, Morocco, and one of those is the travel day home. So really, I only have one week left here in Dijon. I am absolutely positively ready to come home, but that's not without a bittersweet feeling of everything here that I'll miss. The people I've met here have been amazing, and the friendships I've made are incredible. I'm going to miss the moments and memories I've shared with every single person here, especially the wild travel adventures. All of that said, here's what I've been up to for the last couple weeks as well as everything that's on the horizon.

Paris

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After I wrote my last entry, I headed off to Paris for a few days to join my family. I can't believe they flew all the way across the world to spend a week here with me. It was great to see them, spend time with them, and have them on this side of the great pond for a bit. In Paris we spent time seeing most of the major attractions, the Notre Dame, the Louvre, the Eiffel Tower, the Champs d'Elysées, Arc de Triomphe, Mont Parnasse Tower, Musée d'Orsay, as well as a few other highlights. I had a few interesting observations too. First of all, the Notre Dame in Paris is no doubt impressive, but I've seen plenty of Cathedrals in Europe now ("oh god, we're going to see another cathedral in <insert city name here> tomorrow?") because that's just the way Europe is and it is by no means the most impressive cathedral in Europe. My travel advice would be to see the cathedral in Strasbourg instead, which is much more impressive and equally as ancient... or old, rather. The Louvre was pretty impressive too, and the amount of famous artworks in there is phenomenal. The Mona Lisa? Not as phenomenal as everyone thinks. It's small, has a room dedicated to it, is dark, you can't get close, is behind bulletproof glass, and is surrounded by a horde of people. It was cool to see the world's most famous painting, don't get me wrong, and the thing is invaluable, but it's not nearly as impressive as I thought it would be. The artwork at the Vatican Museum in Rome or the Uffizi Museum in Florence is much more impressive to me. Everything really is better in Italy.

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The Eiffel Tower was pretty cool to visit, and it's cool that I can now say I've been up to the top of it. We were pretty lucky to have such a great day for weather when we visited it too since almost every other day was foggy or gray. The disappointing thing with the Eiffel Tower to me was the sheer number of Asian tourists that were there. It's not really the Paris or France experience I was looking for. I'm really glad my brother can say he's been to the Eiffel Tower now though since he's always talked about it like it existed in some far off place. The Champs d'Elysées and Arc de Triomphe were also pretty cool, though we didn't go up inside the Arc. The Mont Parnasse tower was cool too but we had terrible weather so the view from the landing pad on top wasn't very impressive (and cold!). The Musée d'Orsay was probably one of my favorite things we did actually. The artwork in there from van Gogh, Renoir, and other famous painters was cool to finally get to see, and I got some awesome pictures from inside there too.

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Dijon

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After visiting Paris for a few days, my family and I took a TGV to Dijon, which was their first real train experience. It's kind of a weird thought to me since I've traveled all over Europe on nothing but trains, so the train station drill is normal too me. My dad has also never taken the Denver lightrail, so it was his first actual train experience too. I explained to my parents how gates are announced just 15 minutes before departure most of the time and is pretty normal in France, which is a totally foreign idea to us Americans who are used to getting to the airport hours before a flight and knowing exactly which gate to go to. We spent the next few days in Dijon, which was nice. It was actually kind of funny when my parents asked me what there is to do in Dijon and I felt kind of clueless because I've been traveling Europe so much this semester. I'm really only in Dijon when I have class or on weekends when I feel the need to stay here to get classwork done (which has only occurred in November). But it was nice, we did part of the owl tour around the town, visited a few cathedrals, yes, more cathedrals, and just kind of explored Dijon. We also rented a car, which was quite the experience... With all of the tram construction going on in Dijon right now, the entire city is screwed up for traffic purposes, so driving is far from ideal. We took the car out to the Burgundy wine region though, which was fun for the day, even if there were moments where I thought we were going to die. We drove part of the Rue des Grands Crus, and actually had a really sunny day for it, which was great. After a few days in Dijon, my parents boarded their TGV train back to Paris to fly out the next day. All in all it was a fun few days in Dijon and great to spend time with my family again.

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What's Next?

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I've spend the last few days since they left wrapping up school papers and projects and random ends trying to get ready for the end of the semester. I've said it already but I'll say it again, time flies and I can't believe I only have one week left here. I finished my last paper last night which leaves just a French language exam this week and a French Culture exam this week. After that, it's off to beautiful Agadir in Morocco for a few days with my American friends to send off the semester the same way it began and then a quick turn around in Dijon to Paris and a flight home. I have a few odds and ends things left to take care of here in Dijon like the OFII forms (that I was supposed to do months ago), close up my French bank account, and hopefully finally resolve things at the residence, but then it's time to go home. I'm going to miss this here, no question about that, but it will be nice to go home and return to a life and culture that I fully understand, and hopefully I can make use of everything I've learned here back home and in future adventures.

That's all I've got for now, and this may be one of my last real entries, but make sure to stay tuned for my blog that sums up 6 months into one word, which I'm planning to start working on today. I'm really pouring my heart into it in the hopes that others will be able to get as much out of it as I have writing and living it. Looking forward to seeing everyone back home soon!

Au revoir!

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Pictures
http://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.2755652452477.2148433.1292672395&type=1&l=a3693937bc

360s
http://360.io/EhT3vt Burgundy wine region
http://360.io/CkKFkE Dijon mustard store
http://360.io/jUZmMv Paris old military courtyard
http://360.io/2RzAn8 Near Napoleon's tomb
http://360.io/4vHKdv Standing under the Eiffel Tower
http://360.io/kaXxQ5 Standing inside the Louvre pyramid (my favorite!)
http://360.io/hHXhpx Standing outside the Paris Notre Dame

Posted by la vita bella 03:06 Archived in France Tagged landscapes mountains beaches bridges churches skylines people animals snow trains castles cathedrals paris france travel hotel colorado train trekking austria italy pisa backpack city aspen ski museum friends philippines florence garden cathedral family africa castle hostel rome photos language french morocco europe painting camels vatican pantheon denver international housing college dijon united eye swiss student abroad alps michelangelo american panoramic experiences residence catholic cultures notre dame architechture marrakesh renaissance relationship massive law jardin study iphone agadir learning strasbourg euros 360 emerson scouting nigeria beaune esc dieu camera+ francophone uffizi Comments (0)

Paris, Morocco, Home.

All good things must come to an end...for now.

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A lot of things have transpired since my last entry, so here's everything you need to know about what's changed and what's coming up in the next few weeks.

Dijon

Since my previous entry, I still have not managed to leave this country, or this town for that matter. It's been kind of weird not being constantly on the run with traveling like the first two months of my stay here, but definitely nice also. I was talking to one of my Filipino friends this week who traveled with me those 8 weekends in a row and the 12 day European Excursion (http://lavitabella.travellerspoint.com/29/) and he's been traveling every weekend still. It was interesting to hear him say that he's starting to feel a little "jaded" now with all the traveling going on. It's an awesome like and I wouldn't trade being able to travel like this for anything, but it wears on you more than you ever think it will. That said, resting in Dijon isn't half bad either. It's allowed me to go out to the bars and clubs more with friends here, which is a cultural experience in itself. I've also learned a ton about Dijon weather... Fog. And more fog. Since arriving home in Dijon on November 2, I have seen the sun twice. Today and two days ago. As a Coloradan, we get over 300 days of sun every year. You really learn to appreciate that sun when you don't see it for days and days on end. It was starting to drive me crazy even on some days when you couldn't see more than 10 meters in front of you. So, I'm thankful I don't have to live in places like San Francisco or Seattle.

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Travel

My favorite part of every entry is writing about travel, so here's what's coming up since I haven't been anywhere recently. This week I am headed to Paris on Thursday morning to be reunited with my family for Thanksgiving. I think it has the potential to be the best Thanksgiving of my life to date, too. I can't imagine a better way to spend the holiday than with family and to have them fly around the globe to celebrate it here is incredible. I am so lucky and thankful for that, and I plan on giving them all a huge hug when I see them on Thursday. I'm spending the following few days with them around Paris visiting all the sites like the Notre Dame, the Louvre, and of course the Eiffel Tower, before heading down to Dijon for a few days here with them. In Dijon I think we'll just enjoy the little town and it's Notre Dame, do some wine tours of the Burgundy region, and possibly visit Beaunne, which is an absolutely awesome tiny little town outside of Dijon.

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After they leave, I have about 10 days more of classes to conclude the semester and then my American friends and I are flying to Agadir in Morocco for a few days on the beach down there. This trip still blows my mind. I've never been to Africa. It will mark my 4th continent I've visited, it looks absolutely gorgeous, and it should be an incredibly different cultural experience than anything else I've ever walked or breathed in. So, I'm super excited, and the trip isn't even very expensive ($170 roundtrip plus hostels!). I am still slightly worried about safety and water and stuff, but the more research I do the more my fears are lessened. I'm pretty excited to end this study abroad trip the same way I started it to. Four American friends of mine and I spent 3 days in Rome together during our first week abroad, and we're ending it together too, complete with African beaches and camel rides to a wild bird reserve. Feels pretty awesome. It'll be pretty weird to travel from Africa to Europe on December 13, and then Europe to North America on December 15 too, 3 continents in 3 days. That blows my mind over and over again. That all said though, it's also time to start thinking about home.

Home

I can't believe it's already here. While I'm certainly ready to go home to familiarity and a culture and language I fully understand, I've enjoyed my time here too and learned a ton. I learned everything I didn't expect to learn and nothing I expected to learn. This past week, I've been in touch with my boss back home working out my schedule for work when I get home, which will be gladly welcomed since I'm starting to feel the pressure on my wallet after no paychecks since June 1. This past week I also registered for graduation. Good lord, how did that come up so fast?! I guess people really aren't kidding when they tell you college will be the best and fastest four years of your life. It's a surreal feeling, but also one of accomplishment and satisfaction knowing that I've made it this far and successfully completed the major and double language minor I aimed for the day I accepted my letter from DU. It's weird that now I have to start thinking about the future, the real world, and planning for the rest of my life. I won't rest until I find a job in the mountains somewhere working in the ski industry, but I don't know exactly how I'll get there yet. I've explored the ideas of coming back to the French Alps or Italy to work in the ski industry as well, but who knows where I'll end up yet. First up is completing the Colorado Trail this summer after graduation, a goal I've had for a long time. It's amazing how fast time really does fly sometimes. Only 25 days left until I'm home in beautiful sunny Colorado! Thanks for reading, and I'm looking forward to seeing all you all soon!

PS. I'm working on two epic blogs currently, one to wrap up all of study abroad with tons of pictures and my favorite experiences, and another to take the last six months of my life and sum them all up into one, simple, word. Props to anyone who can figure out the word!

Au revoir!

--Scooter

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Posted by la vita bella 10:31 Archived in France Tagged me landscapes sunsets_and_sunrises mountains beaches bridges buildings people parties trees animals snow night planes trains beer cathedrals desert tower paris hiking france culture travel hotel bus colorado train trekking metro river backpack city ski friends philippines cathedral sculpture family africa castle hostel photos language french hike eagle wine morocco europe camels gondola mtn graduation switzerland denver international housing college dijon swiss student abroad alps american panoramic experiences residence osprey catholic cultures notre dame architechture marrakesh relationship law lyon scout study iphone agadir learning euros 360 prepared rmvr scouting scouts città nigeria beaune girlfriend esc dieu camera+ Comments (0)

12 Days of Traveling Europe

...and all of the adventures in between!

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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)

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