A Travellerspoint blog

Entries about rivers

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

6449293059_10ec453a1b.jpg
Dijon, France

6449288435_77c30fd4cf.jpg
Paris, France

6449287101_dc72025a5c.jpg
Paris, France

6449285707_b31f978a8c.jpg
Paris, France

6449283803_8d3eee0a46.jpg
Paris, France

6449281971_bc49d87eaf.jpg
Paris, France

6449278741_b68231265d.jpg
Paris, France

6449275627_17ce5a4d07.jpg
Paris, France

6449272469_b0228a4b83.jpg
Paris, France

6449270087_8a8ee43294.jpg
Paris, France

6449266321_8314d6c414.jpg
Paris, France

6449262825_0c4871a1bf.jpg
Paris, France

6449259519_294a0f5953.jpg
Paris, France

6449256575_989fdd6ec8.jpg
Paris, France

6452355803_185c650906.jpg
Dijon, France

6452356001_db629c518a.jpg
Dijon, France

6452356499_cb7b205108.jpg
Dijon, France

6449255343_79e44ca417.jpg
Dijon, France

6449253205_647d731512.jpg
Dijon, France

6449251353_3f156484ff.jpg
Vienna, Austria

6449216543_3726355bb4.jpg
Vienna, Austria

6449242941_a2e52d224b.jpg
Vienna, Austria

6449248289_db4a39dc11.jpg
Vienna, Austria

6449221075_c1b0a71491.jpg
Vienna, Austria

6449234113_13da28d159.jpg
Vienna, Austria

6449227713_b8fdfb60c8.jpg
Vienna, Austria

6449209303_6e8c914909.jpg
Vienna, Austria

6449200901_abe1a14412.jpg
Vienna, Austria

6449192015_46bb1e8b67.jpg
Vienna, Austria

6449184233_56068ee3f3.jpg
Rome, Italy

6449180279_ccc220f475.jpg
Rome, Italy

6449178007_44bbd649de.jpg
Pisa, Italy

6449175613_11d39f529f.jpg
Florence, Italy

6449172031_11958c9a69.jpg
Florence, Italy

6449170701_b585a647d7.jpg
Florence, Italy

6449166599_835985e3d3.jpg
Florence, Italy

6449163229_1db8b850f1.jpg
Somewhere on a Train, Italy

6449162069_86d8aafe47.jpg
Venice, Italy

IMG_2432.jpg
Venice, Italy

6449159071_22941e35c7.jpg
Venice, Italy

6449156353_bb1d8e1e42.jpg
Venice, Italy

IMG_2465.jpg
Venice, Italy

6449152085_c3b448af36.jpg
Venice, Italy

6449150671_438b8d88a5.jpg
Venice, Italy

6449147855_86f684ef99.jpg
Milan, Italy

6449145377_73344d43fb.jpg
Florence, Italy

6449142081_862f3d4ae4.jpg
Somewhere on a Train, Switzerland

6449138503_c6774343b4.jpg
Zermatt, Switzerland

6449134361_1f7204ab4a.jpg
Zermatt, Switzerland

6449130613_119677f158.jpg
Zermatt, Switzerland

6449125771_3047c1ac88.jpg
Zermatt, Switzerland

6449120581_f426fc7859.jpg
Zermatt, Switzerland

6449116913_0574650771.jpg
Yours truly in Zermatt, Switzerland

6449104981_58a98c9e8b.jpg
Mt. Pilatus, Switzerland

6449101115_8f262878fc.jpg
Mt. Pilatus, Switzerland

6449111261_90e5d4ceb4.jpg
Mt. Pilatus, Switzerland

6449107709_c431815048.jpg
Mt. Pilatus, Switzerland

6449112989_1d31fbd2b4.jpg
Mt. Pilatus, Switzerland

6449098967_b8c6885e5f.jpg
Mt. Pilatus, Switzerland

6449093483_04240cf56a.jpg
Mt. Pilatus, Switzerland

6449096559_137d275009.jpg
Mt. Pilatus, Switzerland

6449092293_778dee6338.jpg
Luzern, Switzerland

6449081603_d95e304ed2.jpg
London, England

6449067349_167ea3afa5.jpg
London, England

6449088641_ceb2f7a2c6.jpg
Yours truly in London, England

6449083977_961431428b.jpg
London, England

6449064799_771605e9ae.jpg
London, England

6449075413_cb1b5d0eb8.jpg
London, England

6449071327_39e2b1069d.jpg
London, England

6449079765_493c144008.jpg
London, England

6449061965_6e9d3e4c7c.jpg
Paris, France

6449057591_ed594a8f15.jpg
Oktoberfest, Munich, Germany

6449054217_33ec81ccb9.jpg
Oktoberfest, Munich, Germany

6449051243_119d4abd2e.jpg
Dijon, France

6449048475_3d36b828c7.jpg
Strasbourg, France

6449004717_147785e074.jpg
Strasbourg, France

6449042789_00f08b17c5.jpg
Strasbourg, France

6449037873_4882147eba.jpg
Strasbourg, France

6448992095_c01da3f7e3.jpg
Strasbourg, France

6448986399_f86bdec5f7.jpg
Strasbourg, France

6448999051_454b6dd662.jpg
Strasbourg, France

6449007075_59a42d5b64.jpg
Kehl, Germany

6449010221_c0c5757dbd.jpg
Kehl, Germany

6449018689_57d637ee9a.jpg
Kehl, Germany

6449031875_fba6d81c55.jpg
Kehl, Germany

6449027531_0393916c7c.jpg
Kehl, Germany

6449023169_19acd2fac5.jpg
Kehl, Germany

6448980767_3b59f20565.jpg
Rome, Italy

6448971153_ffc53cba81.jpg
Rome, Italy

6448974729_84995051e0.jpg
Rome, Italy

6448972503_331db238c7.jpg
Rome, Italy

6448953447_1f343c0d4d.jpg
Rome, Italy

6448963893_6caabd69b0.jpg
Rome, Italy

6448960051_1f755f2361.jpg
Rome, Italy

6448929053_36b469c21a.jpg
Rome, Italy

6448947231_e7ff99a459.jpg
Rome, Italy

6448924475_3841c9a572.jpg
Rome, Italy

6448934985_5d7fd7da51.jpg
Rome, Italy

6448939043_b6f16c8b28.jpg
Rome, Italy

6448919529_62daa13e16.jpg
Rome, Italy

6448913667_366149a6f0.jpg
Milan, Italy

6448908687_a206df577c.jpg
Chambery, France

6448904461_827ffdd65f.jpg
Dijon, France

6448887817_63efba5f66.jpg
Dijon, France

6448881189_bac57d1346.jpg
Dijon, France

6448876251_3e8b56777e.jpg
Dijon, France

6448899077_d64795c35f.jpg
Dijon, France

6448892671_b6600829a4.jpg
Dijon, France

6448865725_206448c814.jpg
Dijon, France

6448871039_9c25de7f58.jpg
Dijon, France

6448817211_f61c5c9dde.jpg
Dijon, France

6448812427_a048cd68c1.jpg
Dijon, France

6448798879_4c75864b30.jpg
Dijon, France

6448806069_33e09da029.jpg
Dijon, France

6448788637_9c9b3c1cd9.jpg
Dijon, France

6448794127_e82217deb9.jpg
Dijon, France

6448785293_f6b8070867.jpg
Dijon, France

6448856093_68649e4682.jpg
Beaune, France

6448860415_b1b5c5fe21.jpg
Beaune, France

6448832169_ea5a544759.jpg
Beaune, France

6448839687_f14409db0c.jpg
Beaune, France

6448834569_d80ab95675.jpg
Beaune, France

6448824013_66641b47b3.jpg
Beaune, France

6448844233_5c3e721fc6.jpg
Beaune, France

6452367703_7fe552a501.jpg
Beaune, France

IMG_2884.jpg
Agadir, Morocco

IMG_2886.jpg
Agadir, Morocco

IMG_2891.jpg
Agadir, Morocco

IMG_2894.jpg
Agadir, Morocco

IMG_2904.jpg
Agadir, Morocco

IMG_2924.jpg
Agadir, Morocco

IMG_2902.jpg
Agadir, Morocco

IMG_2920.jpg
Agadir, Morocco

IMG_2927.jpg
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.

large_295863_250..04956_n.jpg
The Discovery, Paris, France

large_8IMG_2146.jpg
Gare de Lyon Train Station, Paris, France

large_0IMG_2230.jpg
Top of Mt. Pilatus, Switzerland

large_7IMG_2262.jpg
Glaciers near Zermatt, Switzerland

large_IMG_2302.jpg
Zermatt, Switzerland

large_IMG_2394.jpg
Zermatt, Switzerland

large_9IMG_2422.jpg
Venice by Day, Italy

large_IMG_2412.jpg
Venice by Night, Italy

large_IMG_2518.jpg
Florence, Italy

large_6IMG_2554.jpg
Dueling Cameras above the Vatican in Rome, Italy

large_IMG_2555.jpg
The inside of the Dome at the Vatican in Rome, Italy

large_IMG_2699.jpg
Roman Ruins in Rome, Italy

large_IMG_2700.jpg
The Roman Colosseum by Night, Rome, Italy

large_IMG_2226.jpg
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^^

large_IMG_2933.jpg
Agadir, Morocco

large_IMG_2934.jpg
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!

9IMG_2915.jpg

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.

IMG_2934.jpg
IMG_2876.jpg

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!

IMG_2889.jpg

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

IMG_2884.jpg

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

IMG_2886.jpg

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

IMG_2915.jpg

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.

IMG_2930.jpg

Meals with Friends

IMG_2894.jpg

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.

IMG_2904.jpg

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

IMG_2891.jpg

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)

My 6 L's to Happiness

Found again at last

rain 45 °F

Background

P1040115.jpg

Over 2 years ago in the summer of 2009, I spent 3 weeks in a place called Philmont. For those who aren't familiar with Philmont, it's a Boy Scout high adventure base in New Mexico just south of the New Mexico and Colorado border. I took part in an 11 day backpacking trek there in the summer 2007 and fell in love with the place. It's been nicknamed "God's Country" by many, and I'll tell you, they don't call it that for nothing. I returned in 2009 as part of a 3 week Rayado trek with 7 other guys who I had never met, but are some of my best friends now because of the things we accomplished together during those 3 weeks. Those 3 weeks were the best experience of my life to date, and has only been rivaled since by my study abroad experience. We'll see where the two stack up when I get home in a couple weeks and can have a chance to reflect. On this 3 week experience, our two staff guides immersed us in what would be known as the "Solo" experience.

During the morning of this solo experience, all maps, compasses, watches, and GPS devices were removed from our 8 person crew. We soon veered off a trail and down ravines and over some hills. I still to this day don't have the slightest clue where in God's Country (or in God's name for that matter) we were taken. The guides split the 8 of us up, one by one, in complete and utter silence. We were all taken to random places and given a water bottle, sleeping bag, journal, and tent rain fly. Nothing more. With the exception of when they brought me small amounts of food, I passed the next 48 hours until they returned alone. I knew we were at around 10,000 feet altitude, but that was about it. It rained twice, and was a constant struggle to keep the shelter I built from blowing away to keep my down sleeping bag dry, essential for warmth during the night.

During these 48 hours, I wrote a lot in that journal, which I took with me to Europe during my semester abroad. Unfortunately, one of the things that I did not write down were the 6 L's to Happiness that I came up with while I was there during that solo experience. I remembered them for the rest of that trip but for some reason never wrote them down. I couldn't remember them when I got home months later, and then they came back to me at one point, but I forgot to write them down, again. I told them to an old girlfriend at one point, but she doesn't have them anymore either since they were erased when we parted ways last year. Every now and then I try to remember what they are, and all I can come up with is Live, Love, Laugh, and Learn, which is all over Google and every high school girl's tumblr page. But for whatever reason when I was in Paris with my family last week for a few days, they all came back to me. All six. So I quickly wrote them down, and I wanted to write a short blog about them in the hopes that you'll save them somewhere too instead of losing them for 2 years like I did. This was one of the greatest things I got out of Rayado, one of the greatest experiences of my life, so I hope you'll get as much from these as I did and still do.

6300_84600..23115_n.jpg
My friend caught me sleeping on a beautiful morning on Rayado

Live

One of the questions that keeps coming to mind as a wrap up my time in Europe and my study abroad experience and look back at these 3.5 months is, would I be happy with what I did today and the way I lived today if I died tomorrow? It seems like an extreme question to ask sometimes, but I try to remind myself of it as often as I can now. Instead of taking all the short cuts in life to get to where you're going faster, why not take the long road? Why not see what's around that other corner instead of walking home the normal way. Sometimes life's greatest adventures and experiences are right around the corner, and you'll never find them if you don't take a chance and look. Take chances, take risks, and do your best to make sure that when you wake up tomorrow morning, you don't have any regrets about today.

One of my favorite quotes from my 800 page Ralph Waldo Emerson book reads as follows, "My life is for itself and not for a spectacle." I think you should strive to live your life every minute of every day exactly the way you want it to be lived. You should live it for what you want it to be and not for what anyone else thinks it should be. When I look at my life sometimes, I question myself for how true I am being to myself. And if you're not and you're letting other people make decisions for you when you know you'd rather be doing something else, you aren't living your life, you're living the life someone else would rather see you live. It's something worth thinking about to me, and I do my best to make sure I live my life the way I want it to be lived so when I get old some day I don't have a lot of regrets.

Someone read me a quote recently and I don't remember where it was from exactly, but I found it to be especially useful to me as I'm preparing to graduate from college in 6 months: "Don't be so concerned with making a living that you forget to live." It's pretty simple honestly, but it's something that so many people forget about in this rush to work society we live in. Everyone is so concerned with making a living, getting the highest paying job they can, and falling into a routine of constant work that they forget to live sometimes. I hope to have a decent job when I graduate, but if I'm more concerned with the monthly paycheck than enjoying what it is I'm being paid to do, something isn't right to me. Remember to Live.

Laugh

They say that life is better if you just remember to smile every now and then, and I think it's true. (How many of you just smiled?) Laughing is part of smiling, and I think it's important to laugh as much as you can. Life is meant to be enjoyed! So if you're not laughing and smiling, you're doing something wrong. I also think it's important to laugh not just at the world around you (in a good way) and funny moments, but it's important to laugh at yourself sometimes. Don't be too hard on yourself and don't take life too seriously that you forget to laugh at yourself and have some fun. Remember too that no one is perfect and everyone makes mistakes. If you make a mistake, try to laugh at yourself next time, learn from it, and move on. It's good for you, I promise. I never met a happy person who didn't know how to laugh from time to time, so try it.

Love

This goes hand in hand with so many things. Love your family, love your friends, love what you do (if you don't, find something else to do), but I think when looking at those things, you first have to love yourself and your life, and love it for what it is. If you can do this first, the rest will follow and be infinitely more rewarding. Love your family because when everything else in life falls, they'll still be standing there with you. Love your friends, because they've always got your back, and you learn so much from them. You only get into something what you put in, so love your family and love your friends and you'll be loved in return. And if you're not, you've got the wrong friends.

Listen

This is one of the ones that I came up with on my own to add to the L idea, largely because I was alone in the woods for 48 hours by myself. You listen to things around you subconsciously, and you learn a surprising amount of things sometimes if you just take a minute to stop and listen to the world around you. With listening comes learning too, which I keep mentioning and will get to at the end. I think it's important to listen to not only what's around you (for me that was in nature at the time), but also to listen to the people around you. Friends. Family. You learn from them more than you think. Listen to what they have to say and value their insight, it will benefit you later in life. Listen to your parents too. You won't always want to and you won't always agree with what they have to say (I know I still don't), but they have your best interests in mind and are there to protect you. So whether you want to or not, listen to them. Sometimes listening to friends, family, or nature around you brings peace too if you let it in, so I think it's important to listen to what's around you to find happiness.

Lose

This is the second of the six that I came up with on my own during that solo time, and might seem kind of odd to some. How is losing a step to finding happiness? But for me it's like a lot of other things in life, when you're broken down you tend to build yourself back up stronger and better prepared for next time. You learn from nearly everything you'll ever lose, whether it's a family member you wish you could have spent more time with or a your keys at a party because you drank too much. If you never lose anything, you'll never learn how to be better prepared for next time, and you'll never build yourself back up as a stronger person in the future. It's also really cliché to say, but if you never lose something you'll never know how much (or how little) you really had in the first place. So I think it's important to lose sometimes to find happiness, especially at those rare moments in life when you lose something and realize how much happier you are without it. But you wouldn't have known that without losing something in the first place. It breaks us down but allows us to come back stronger and better for it. Part of losing though is learning to pick yourself back up.

Learn

Everything I've already mentioned seems to come back to this somehow. You have to be willing to lose to learn how to pick yourself back up. If you listen to what's around, you'll learn from what's around and hopefully learn how to take from those experiences and incorporate them into your own life. You learn from your family and you learn from your friends, and you learn from loving them in many ways. You learn from your own mistakes and you learn how to avoid them in the future. You learn from everything you do in life, and knowledge is power. The more you learn and know, the happier you can be. Try to learn as much as you can from the people and the world around you, it'll help you figure out who you are a lot of times and will make you happier as a result.

Find Happiness

So in summary, if you want to find happiness, it starts here with these. Live, laugh, love listen, lose, and learn. I don't think I've found anything that made me happy in my life that can't be somehow traced back to these simple ideas. They serve as a nice reminder and reality check sometimes too. I try to continually reevaluate my life week in and week out to make sure I'm where I want to be and if I'm not happy with something I want to know why so I can understand it and hopefully fix it. It always comes back to these. I hope people have enjoyed reading this, and if anyone has any feedback or comments on this idea I'd love to hear them too! Too cliché? Funny? Dumb? Thoughtful? Enlightening? Different?

Au revoir!

--Scooter

6298090_253..57110_n.jpg

Posted by la vita bella 07:04 Archived in France Tagged landscapes waterfalls sunsets_and_sunrises mountains churches skylines people trees snow night rivers paris hiking france travel colorado trekking river backpack aspen ski friends philippines life live country family love man creek rome hike eagle smile happiness mtn denver international college god student abroad american boulder experiences sherman relationship lose learn scout solo study iphone laugh learning prepared shavano princeton scouting scouts girlfriend esc listen rayado philmont Comments (5)

London

And other Wicked awesome things.

IMG_2146.jpg

IMG_2131.jpg

I'm going to make this blog as brief as possible since I'm running on about 3 hours of sleep following leaving London for Dijon this morning to make class here in Dijon today. Study abroad and traveling has done a really good job of teaching me to give up sleep and deal with it. You can do a lot more things with the extra time that way, see more sights, travel more, and since the workload is still almost nonexistent over here, it's worked out great.

Last week was pretty low key for the most part, with a few small highlights. The housing situation here is still an absolutely mess and continues to cause problems, which consumed more time for me last week than my classes did. I went and toured a new flat across Dijon, it's sort of an apartment styled place in the basement of a single woman's home. That was quite the experience, because she spoke no English, and I didn't know this beforehand, so I basically went apartment shopping in a foreign country in a foreign language. Quite the experience to say the least. Luckily, my French is good enough that I was able to communicate most of my ideas, understand most of what was being said, and it all worked out. It's in a beautiful part of Dijon on a Lake I haven't seen yet, and the apartment is great. The downsides are taking a bus to campus and the train station requiring a monthly bus pass, and the general pain of moving all my stuff again. It was also the first time I had ridden in a car since leaving Denver, which was weird, and she neglected to tell me she wasn't driving me back to campus, so I was left to explore and figure out the bus system on my own, in a foreign language. It all worked out in the end, but if you thought navigating the Denver bus system was bad, just try this the next time you're alone in a foreign country where you barely speak the language. I may end up moving to this residence, but things are still uncertain. The residence I'm in currently looks more and more likely like it has bed bugs, but the French don't have a word for bed bugs, which makes everything challenging. And regardless, I don't think they'll actually let me move out without taking my money, so it's all a mess. At this point the figure ranging around 500 Euros has changed 3 times, so I've asked for an official record and receipts of payment from them, which I haven't received yet. As far as I'm concerned the ball is in their court to get the money out of me, and I'm going to keep fighting the bed bugs problem. I really hope this thing ends soon because it's put my study abroad experience in a completely different light than I ever would have expected or wanted, but who knows where it'll go from here.

The highlight of last week was Wednesday when I returned home from class to an email from Denver saying that my story which was featured on DU Today online is going to be printed and run in the Denver quarterly magazine, which gets sent out to over 100,000 alumni, faculty, staff, students, parents, and affiliates worldwide. I sent them a few hires pictures of me as requested, and can't wait to see what the finished product looks like. It blows my mind how big this story has become. I told my parents and best friend the day it happened and that was it, viewing it more as a right place right time and preparation plus opportunity equals success kind of thing. Since then, I've been in the Vail paper twice, the Salida paper twice, been on an online Colorado news site I didn't even know was published, been on the BSA website as an Eagle Scout who saves a life, been in DU Today and on the front page of the DU website, and now this. It blows my mind because I didn't think anything of it when it happened. I'm honored and flattered by all of it, and I'm curious to see the reactions I get from people when the DU Magazine goes out. So, when you receive a copy of the magazine, look for me in there!!

And lastly, I spent this last weekend visiting London with my Filipino friends! By far the coolest city I've ever visited and I think it's the coolest city in the world. I took an early train Saturday morning to arrive there by noon (Dijon to Paris, Paris to London), which was relatively pain free. The Chunnel is incredibly overrated and Eurostar charges obnoxious fees to ride the train from Paris to London, but it was better than flying from my my Filipino friends told me since they all flew. The so called Chunnel is just 30 minutes of darkness underground before you emerge on land again. No tunnel underwater views, no open water views, nothing fancy. When I arrived there I checked into our hostel and dropped my stuff to meet my friends about 20 minutes away at Hyde Park for a walking tour. On the tour we got to see Hyde Park, Buckingham Palace, Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament, a couple of the old palaces from former kings and queens, a London protest, Westminster Abbey, among other awesome things. All of the pictures are posted in a gallery that I've linked below. After the walking tour we went and had midafternoon lunch at a local pub, where I ordered two burgers (they were on special, I promise!) and promptly enjoyed the first two beef burgers I've had since leaving the States. They weren't Cherry Cricket burgers by any means, but I was satisfied. I tried a local ale with the meal as well, which was great. I'm trying to sample a local beer in every country I visit, along with wines in places like France and Italy.

After this, we headed to Covent Gardens, which is kind of an open air market area with shops and outlet shops. We looked in stores for a bit (man is Burberry London expensive...who buys that stuff anyways?) and then headed to Apollo Victoria Theatre for what was probably the highlight of the trip for me...Wicked in London. Words can't really do it justice, honestly. It was just so so SO good. Chills the whole time. Set was incredible and world class, and the cast was even better. Truly the best musical in the world with its best and strongest cast. Unbelievable. Well worth the money I spent on those tickets. Afterwards we all regrouped and headed back to the hostel. After dropping our things at the hostel we headed to Baker Street since I've played gigs at probably every Baker Street Pub in the state of Colorado and wanted to see the real thing. Unfortunately, Baker Street is really just a bunch of shops in London for the most part, but it was cool just so I can say I've been there now I guess. That concluded Saturday in London. Sunday, we headed to the Tower of London for a tour there, which was really awesome as well, and right next to the Tower of London bridge (commonly referred to as the London bridge, even though it's not). Inside the Tower of London is also where the Queens royal jewelry collection is stored, including the crowns and the 530 karat diamond. Yeah, it's absolutely huge. And yeah, the case was surrounded by girls. It was still cool thought. That afternoon my friend and I went to see Lion King the musical also, which was not as good as Wicked in my opinion, but the choreography and costume designs were phenomenal and it was still incredible. After this we headed towards the London eye where I met up with an old friend of mine. He and I went to Regis high school in Denver, and he's a junior at DU this year, so it was awesome to connect with him, a fellow Coloradoan, and just talk and catch up. He's spending a semester in London right now. We both went up in the Eye of London together too, where I caught some awesome pictures and an absolutely killer 360 panoramic shot, linked below. We stopped by the train station on the way back to the hostel to visit Platform 9 and 3/4 from Harry Potter, but this basically concluded our night and trip to London. We went back to the hostel, crashed, and I got up at 330am to head to the train station for my 530am train back to Paris and then back to Dijon since I had French class tonight.

Needless to say, class wasn't nearly as exciting as London and running on 3 hours of sleep I almost passed out in class, but I made it out ok. This week should be a pretty light week of class, again, before leaving Friday evening for Zurich in Switzerland with my Filipino friends. We're coming back Sunday evening, and Monday the 17th will be my 22nd birthday. After spending my last two birthdays on the summit of 14ers in Colorado with some of my best friends, I'm trying to come up with an equally creative and awesome way to spend this year's birthday. Right now I'm considering the Eiffel Tower in Paris since it's close, or a brief train ride to the Alps or Italy for the day. Either way, it should be a great day. The weekend after this one, we've already started trying to plan another trip. I'm considering taking the weekend "off" and staying here to rest for a weekend especially since there are rumors that SNCF is planning a strike around then, but no plans have really been decided yet. Either way, every week promises to be an adventure here with constant unexpected things popping up and new places and countries to see and explore. As always, enjoy the pictures and 360s posted below, and stay tuned for more travel stories and pictures from Switzerland and beyond!

IMG_2091.jpg

London Pictures. I actually put some time into the captions here, so take some time to read them!
http://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.2514231697109.2142651.1292672395&l=a6d6e9b7b9&type=1

360 views!
From the top of the London Eye at night: http://t.co/9y7g8HOx
Inside the lobby of the Apollo Victoria Theatre before Wicked: http://t.co/bgJ5bmTs

Posted by la vita bella 12:33 Archived in France Tagged mountains bridges churches art trains beer london cathedrals rivers tower paris france history travel hotel bus train of green river italy backpack philippines garden cathedral hostel man language french europe mtn thames abby switzerland international dijon eye swiss harry abroad business sherlock holmes american panoramic residence osprey westminster dame potter scout study iphone learning euros 360 14ers scouting scouts chunnel esc camera+ francs Comments (0)

The Journey Continues

sunny 70 °F

IMG_1921.jpg

IMG_1955.jpg

A lot has changed since the last time I wrote last week, so I'll do my best to bring everything up to speed...

Friday was a pretty good day, with my second real class here in International business. The class was on International Management stuff, which is a pretty simple and easy subject, but also pretty interesting to hear taught in an international environment like this. The professor is German, and is very open minded about everything, and I like open thought/questioning type environments, so I think it'll be a good class. Like many of my other classes so far, the grading looks pretty simple and straightforward, and the class is actually scheduled through the end of the semester unlike my law class, so it should make for a good class and allow me to continue to plan out crazy travel adventures. Friday night I packed for Strasbourg for the weekend, which was awesome.

Saturday morning I got up a little bit early to skype with my girl, only to find out things are working out anymore and she won't be coming to visit for Thanksgiving like we originally planned. A little bummed, but I'd be lying if I said it came as a surprise since I've predicted this "relationship" almost start to finish now. And it's not all bad, because it should allow me to travel more freely without as much concern, experience French culture a little bit more, and it means that when my family visits over the same week or so, I'll be able to spend a lot more time with them. I'll be able to act as their translator with what French I do know and get to spend a lot of time with them, which is great. I'm not sure what she'll do with the round trip plane ticket she has to France, but she said she'd figure it out, so I guess that's that. I'm kind of bummed that I won't get to take a girl out for a romantic evening here in France, but it's probably for the best. So much for having a girlfriend while abroad, but I think there are a lot of opportunities for me to pursue that might be better off done single anyways over the next 12 months, so here's to those.

That said, I took my lightly packed Osprey backpack (which continues to be one of the best investments I've made in the last year or two) and headed off for the Dijon train station to meet up with two other American friends and 5 other Filipino friends for Strasbourg for the weekend. We arrived in Strasbourg around 2 in the afternoon, travels were problem free, checked into our hostel, and headed out to explore. We first went to the Notre Dame Cathedral, which is absolutely stunning. The kids from the Philippines said it was more impressive than the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, which is the famous one, so I thought that was pretty cool. We paid a small fee to be able to climb to the top of it, where I took a bunch of pictures and a 360 shot. After that we made our way to the area of Strasbourg called Petite France, which is adorable and really looks like old timey France. The houses, cobblestone roads, bridges, rivers, and so on. We ate dinner at a restaurant here, which was pretty good. Then we made our way back to our hostel, hung out for a bit, watched some tv in English on the tv in our room (they had 2 English speaking channels!) and then went to bed.

The next day we got up, checked out of our hostel, and headed out for some more exploring. Sunday was cool because we went to the garden of two rivers which is on the Rhine River and is really pretty, and we had a beautiful day for it. We took the really artistic bridge and crossed the Rhine also and went into Germany, although briefly, for lunch. We explored a little town called Kehl in Germany for a bit, and then headed back to Strasbourg. We wandered around for a bit longer, checked out the Ponts Couverts, and then caught our train home. Strasbourg is a really cool city! It had lots of rivers running through it and around it, and the culture is very interesting because of how much German and French there is there. Although we were only there briefly, it was an awesome trip. Next weekend, some friends and I are headed to the real Oktoberfest in Munich, Germany, which should be awesome. I'm super excited to see what it's like, enjoy some good beer, and hopefully not end up too tipsy. The weekend after that the American guys are heading to Paris to visit family in town, but the Filipino kids are all heading to London I think they said, so I may try to tag along with them for that trip. I have no preference in where I travel really, as long as it's somewhere new, different, and interesting. I'm trying to visit as many places over here as I can in a short amount of time, but it also exposes you to an incredible number of different cultures as well, which has been amazing and fascinating. A trip to somewhere in Switzerland is coming sometime soon also, just not positive when. The options are endless over here, it's incredible.

This morning has been another adventure, although a less fun and less exciting one as I continue to try to sort out all of the problems that I'm encountering at this residence here. They have told me now that if I don't pay the remaining balance of 500 Euros (which is their error and I don't think I should owe), they won't replace the two burned out lightbulbs in my flat, so I think I'm going to go replace those on my own later. It's been a rather disappointing experience with this place, and every hostel's shower and bed, hostels not hotels, mind you, have been nicer than what I'm paying for here. But I'm locked into this place for another 12 weeks, so it'll just be an ongoing issue to see what happens next. Other than that, life here has been and continues to be incredible, with each day and week bringing on another new challenge or adventure to explore and allow me to grow as a person. Below I put some links to pictures and a few new 360s from the Strasbourg trip, so be sure to check those out, and look for more to come from future adventures!

Photos of Strasbourg: http://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.2461367895547.2140848.1292672395&l=549a8910f5&type=1

360 on top of Strasbourg Notre Dame: http://360.io/uJjQv9
360 in the Jardin des Deux Rives: http://360.io/6FzKYD

Posted by la vita bella 12:20 Archived in France Tagged beer rivers france travel train trekking germany backpack philippines garden cathedral family tv photos wine europe international housing dijon abroad business american panoramic residence osprey oktoberfest notre dame relationship law jardin petite study iphone strasbourg euros 360 skype girlfriend esc ponts couverts kehl camera+ Comments (0)

(Entries 1 - 5 of 5) Page [1]