Monday, June 30, 2014

Long day of traveling

Kenzi here for our long trip back home! Our last night in Prague seemed to fly by with our group dinner and trying to spend our last few Czech Crowns. 3am came way too fast for us to board the bus. Petr was nice enough to meet early in the morning to guide us from the bus to the airport to make sure we got to the correct place. Prague’s airport was much different than any I have ever seen. It was definitely on a smaller scale and it just had one big area to wait and check in. We arrived plenty early and many of us were ready to hop on the plane when it was finally ready for us. Besides Grant experiencing a fellow passenger passing out and having some sort of medical problem, the first flight seemed to go rather quickly and getting through customs at the Amsterdam airport went smoothly when we landed. Finally, it was time for our nine hour flight back to the United States. I think most of us were dreading that one and it wasn't nearly as exciting as it was on the way to Europe! Delta provided us with many snacks and movies to keep us occupied throughout our bumpy ride. Due to some weather conflicts the pilot seemed to have some trouble finding smooth air and we got to experience quite a bit of turbulence towards the last couple hours of the flight. When we landed half of the plane passengers were cheering, so I think there was some nervous souls during that ride! We finally arrived in Minneapolis around one o’clock, somewhat caught up on sleep we’ve been lacking. The airport security allowed us to cut in front of everybody since we were in a big group. This situation caused quite a bit of anger from some people in line but we tried our best to go with the flow to what we were told to do.
Although this trip was an absolutely amazing experience, it was quite the relief when we landed in Kansas City. Many of us seemed to be ready to sleep in our own beds and see our friends and family at home. I really can’t believe it’s already over! The group has started talking about having a reunion when we get back to Maryville. This just shows how much fun we truly had together and that studying abroad is a great way to bond with new people and students with similar interests as you!

Taking off!


3am loading luggage


Prague airport
XOXO,
Wanderlust

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Last full day in Prague :(


Abby here blogging on our last full day in Prague/Europe. Our trip is sadly coming to an end…but it has been nothing but exciting and a trip none of us will forget! For our last full day, our guide Peter took us to the Prague Castle. It was absolutely beautiful! We got to go inside multiple buildings that were all used by royalty. 

The first building we went into was the Cathedral of St. Vitus. The Cathedral was built in the mid 1300's during the reign of Charles the 4th. Charles the 4th was very well liked because of his goals of boosting Prague's culture. The Charles Bridge is also named after him. The inside of the Cathedral was amazing. The original decor on the inside of the church was destroyed by protestants, but after the thirty years war, the decorations were restored. Charles the 4th and his four wives, along with the Hapsburg's, are all buried in the church. 

Here is the outside of the Cathedral.


Here is one one of the beautiful stained glass windows in the cathedral.


Another well known name buried in the church is St. John. St. John's casket is pure sterling silver, extremely detailed, and very prestige. St. John is buried in the Cathedral because of his honorable bravery. 


Here is St. John's casket.

Along with Charles, the Hapsburg's, and St. John, is the tomb of St. Wenceslas (929). The room his tomb is in, was designed around the tomb itself. This room is very prestige also because of it's beautiful decorations such as a beautiful chandelier and gems in the walls. Inside this tomb room is a small door in the corner. Behind the door is where the Czech jewels are stored. They are stored so they do not experience damage from sunlight, humidity, etc. An interesting fact is that in order to open the door, there are seven locks, each with a different key. And each key belongs to a different person. So in order for this door to be unlocked, all seven key holders need to be present.


Here is the tomb of St. Wenceslas.

The next large building we went inside was the old royal palace. The palace experienced a fire in 1451, which destroyed the original decoration. Inside the palace is what is known as the biggest vaulted hall in Europe. Inside this vaulted hall, the king would meet with his important guests, and this room is also still used in the present when a new Czech president is elected. 


Here is the biggest vaulted hall.

Another building we went inside was the St. George basilica. The basilica is one of the oldest churches in this region, built in the early 900s. The inside is Romanesque style, which is an indicator that it came before the gothic styled cathedral. This basilica is made completely out of stone, and is historically important because it represents the beginning of the Czech kingdom.

While we were in the vicinity of the castle, we got to go down Golden Lane and also down into a jail/torture chamber. It was a very informational and educational day! 

Tonight we conclude our European adventures with a farewell dinner with Peter, and head for the airport at 3:30 A.M. Sad for this trip to be coming to an end, but so glad we got to have this experience!


Beautiful view of Prague from the castle!


XOXO,
Team Wanderlust

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Day 13

Hello!!

Shelby coming at you with today's activities. WE HAD A FREE DAY! Our business visits are all finished, so today we had a day to ourselves. We haven't been able to sleep in that much, so today was refreshing to catch up on some sleep. Around eleven, we took to the streets! I remembered that I had brought a sharpie on this trip, so a few of us decided to make our mark on the John Lennon Wall. Below is a picture of me! I wrote my name and one of my favorite song lyrics by Kenny Chesney: "Never wanted nothing more." And it's true, I don't need anything more but this beautiful city!


After writing on the wall, we had a nice lunch near the Charles Bridge. We were all craving some spaghetti and the cafe had a great dish! Next, we browsed the shops on the bridge. A few of them were very pricy, so we just looked. After that, me and Abby went paddle boating! Although it was tiring at times, it was worth it. The views were spectacular and the weather could not have been more perfect. The water was a little crowded and we actually got honked at twice! It was a great little ride and very reasonably priced! Here is a picture of Abby on the boat.


We were pretty tired after the ride, so we sat at a nearby cafe along the river. The view was like a postcard. Even as you are looking at it, you think "is this real?". It is the most amazing city that I have ever been to and it will carry some of the most amazing memories.


Tomorrow we will meet up with our guide, Petr. We are going to visit the famous Prague Castle. We have heard so many amazing things about it such as the Gothic Church and many other buildings inside. It should be an amazing final day. I am so sad to leave but am so thankful to have had this opportunity. These two short weeks flew by and I am so happy I got to experience this. After all, not many people can say the same. I hope to come back someday and visit other fantastic European countries. This was only the beginning to my book of travels!

Until next time…
XOXO,
Wanderlust


Friday, June 27, 2014

Day 12

Today we went to Hewlett-Packard and the Prague College. HP was interesting because she spoke about their hiring and training process. They focus more on individual people and their skills. The interview process is an assessment test where each individual has a task. By doing these tasks it identifies each person's skills and then human resource decides if they are selected for the next interview. HP is present in over 170 countries with 324,000 employees. They spoke about a new style of IT which involves printers and personal systems, converged infrastructure, and HP software.

HP's training involves each new employee getting a mentor to show them around. This is called the Young Guns program. Then after about 6 month period the new employees could decide if they wanted to continue working or find something else. They are very focused on new graduates and really appreciate them and try to find the perfect career for them. They also mentioned a new program they're implementing at the Czech location. It involves the younger employees mentoring older employees about the new IT systems. It is very new and they have a few problems but
 they are excited for the outcome.

The Prague College has 600 students with a business, IT networking, and arts program. They seem very student focused and about 80% of students are placed with a job or continue their education. After the presentation, we broke into groups and each group spoke with a professor. Our professor was from the UK and he spoke about the cultural differences in Czech and UK. He said that Czech is still very socialist and more introverted. We all noticed how customer service was definitely not like America. He also agreed, and said he goes to Germany just to grocery shop because they are nice. He also said Hard Rock CafĂ© and TGIF's is his favorite restaurants because of the cultural atmosphere the restaurants offer.

After that a large group of us went down into the neighborhood around the college which was a little bit more developed than the other parts of the city like the Old Town that we were used to seeing.  The wait-staff at the restaurant we went to was more friendly and accommodating than most of the other places we went to.  We were so used to waiters being short with us and not friendly, but I feel that's because the area we were in wasn't so heavily trafficked with tourists so it may be that their tolerances for tourists and people are a lot higher than that of a waiter who only serves tourists.  Tomorrow is our free day off so we get the who day to do whatever we want.  About time!  I'm going with a group of people to the highest point in Prague that leads to a tower which was recommended to us by our tour guide Petr.  We're also going to the gardens and the Parliament building.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Day 11

Kenzi here for day 11!
Today was a somewhat relaxing morning, because our first business visit wasn't until 10:00 AND the speaker came to us at the hotel! We rented out a meeting room and listened to the Johnson and Johnson presentation so no traveling was involved and my feet were really thankful for that! We know Johnson and Johnson for their baby lotion and other products, but we found out today that they do much more than that. They have been  operating for 127 years worldwide and they have 11 different devices that they use for surgeries or other procedures. Doctors also don't make nearly as much as we do in the United States and often work overtime.
After Johnson and Johnson, we got a few hours for lunch which many people used to walk around the city and enjoy the close proximity of Prague.
Then we went to Cisco, an IT Company. The presenters explained that there are going to be many advancements in the next few years. For example, light fixtures will be connected to the network and controlled by apps on phones or tablets, and you will also be able to change the color of the light in the room because they'll be LED's. Cisco now has 940 Ethernet ports it won't be long before they reach 5,000. This company is now number one in the market, this fact surprised me because I had never heard of Cisco before.
After our visits we went out to a local pub as a group to watch the US vs. Germany soccer game and eat dinner. It was a great atmosphere and it was fun to get the full "football" experience in Europe while cheering on our own team! Even though the outcome wasn't what we had hoped, we all had a lot of fun!



Cisco Lab                  

USA soccer game!

Local synagogue on the way to Cisco!

XOXO,
Wanderlust

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Day 10!

Abby here!

Day 9 in Europe also marks our 2nd day in Prague. It was a little rainy and chilly today, but we had two business visits to keep us inside and dry.

Our day began with a visit to T-Mobile, where we had two speakers. One was a public relations representative, then we were honored to listen to the Czech T-Mobile CEO. The first speaker began with a lot of background information on T-Mobile.

T-Mobile was established in 1996 as a telecommunications company through Deutsche Telekom Group. As of now, T-Mobile has 5.8 million customers, which is over 50% of the Czech Republic's population. Also, the company employees 3,300. T-Mobile has been a fairly rapid growing business. When they were first established in 1996, by 2000, they had reached 1 million customers. By 2006, 6 million customers. As of now, T-Mobile has 99.3% coverage in the Czech area, making them the best network since 2011.

Deustche Telekom Group operates in 50 countries, with a net revenue recorded in 2012 of 60.1 billion EUR. In the end of 2013, Deustche Telecom had 142.5 million customers. But one thing I picked up, especially from the CEO, is that T-Mobile and Deustche Telecom are heavily regulated by the EU, and that causes a lot of disagreeing.

The CEO was Milan Vasina, and he discussed with us his job as a CEO and being a leader in a challenging time. He presented to us steps in being a successful CEO/businessman and those are to…
1. Listen
2. Be able to change and provide the vision
3. Provide a clear strategy and take action
4. Involve others and increase power
5. Communicate
6. Celebrate and boost confidence in success
7. Change corporate culture
8. Self development

Milan also shared with us T-Mobile's strategy which is to be the first choice in communications. With that it includes…
1. Best data network
2. Best customer experience
3. Innovative
4. Growt in business

Overall, the T-Mobile visit was very informational and interesting. Being able to hear directly from the CEO was very cool. Here is a picture of the outside of the T-Mobile building, and also a picture of Milan speaking to our group.




After a lunch break, our next visit was at AVAST! Software where our speaker was Milos Korenoko. AVAST is a free antivirus company with a very long history that has brought them to where they are today. Beginning back in 1960's, AVAST  has become a very successful business. AVAST became Window's computer friendly in 1995, in 2001 was launched, and by 2004 had 1 million users! Thanks to the help of their product being marketed by SanDisk.

But SanDisk has really been AVAST's only true marketing help. Since then, AVAST has not paid for ANY marketing at all. Which is astounding to me! Considering how many users they have for their product. A quote Milos used was: "Find out what she wants…and give it to her," to describe their marketing plan. They find out what the people need, make it, and let it take its course.

Overall, AVAST is the most installed antivirus in the world with over 1 million users in 41 countries, with it reaching to 234 countries. AVAST gets over a billion downloads weekly, just to put into perspective how the company is literally exploding out of the seams!

Milos, when we got there, had already done some previous Facebook stalking to find out a little more about us, so the picture I am posting is of when he put our picture into his powerpoint!


Today, we were given a lot of information and got to see two very different businesses. One that spends millions on advertising (T-Mobile), and one that tries not to spend a penny (AVAST). That wasn't the only difference in the two companies, but the one that stuck out the most to me. Even when we got to T-Mobile, they had notebooks, pens, and goodies with their logo all over them on our chairs waiting for us. AVAST did nothing of the sort. So seeing two different marketing styles was very interesting!

Overall another great day in Europe!

XOXO,
Team Wanderlust

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Day PRAGUE!

Hello!

It's Shelby reporting from the wonderful capital city of Prague in the Czech Republic! Today was a long day of travel, as we left Vienna at 8 o'clock sharp. We then traveled by train for five hours to Prague. The train even had some water leakage which made for a very wet floor. Let's just say we were happy to be off of there! As we arrived in Prague, we met our new tour guide, Petr. We then got settled into our rooms and then we were off to see the city of Prague! Prague is all original architecture and was the only city out of the capital cities that did not get bombed during World War 2. It is a purely Czech city, because Prague lost its diversity after the war. Before the war, there were about 45,000 Jews, but now there is only about 1500 today. There are only three train lines throughout the city, which is much different than Budapest and Vienna. It is a much smaller city, and Petr said we would definitely be walking a lot.

One of the buildings that we saw today was the Parliament building. This was a very beautiful building and is pictured below. It is the upper chamber parliament building and is also open to the public on Saturday's and Sunday's. It has the most beautiful interior of the 1600s. The lower chamber is also pictured below with the crest. These were located right up the hill from each other.

                                                            

Another one of our favorite spots today was the John Lennon wall. John Lennon was shot and killed in 1980, and an individual painted his face on the wall. The communists would keep painting over it but people kept painting the wall over and over again. They would also play his music. The communists boarded it up but the boards were finally removed in 1989. It serves as a inspirational wall now! This was one of my favorite quotes I found.


 

My personal favorite spot was at the Charles Bridge. This bridge was built in 1357 and is one of the most beautiful parts of the city. For our online class, I looked up a lot of information about this bridge and I could not wait to see it! It definitely did not disappoint. Its views were incredible and it was a wonderful sight to see. I can't wait to go back on it this week! Here are two pictures. 





Well, (half) day of Prague is complete! I am already in love with the city and cannot wait to see more of it. I already know it is my favorite city of all three, and I am so excited to see more of what Praha has to offer!!

XOXO,
Wanderlust



Monday, June 23, 2014

Last day in Vienna!

Today was our last day in Vienna and we had free time basically all day. We visited a modern architecture bank called BAWAG PSK. It's been the largest retail banking system since 1883. I learned that the floating interest rate to have a mortgage is 1.7% a shocking lower interest rate than USA. In Vienna an account holder has to pay a yearly fee of 100 euros to have a current account. BAWAG is a very successful bank and has strategies put in place to insure their stability. They are going to focus on small branches, self-service, online and mobile banking, and a customer care center. All cornerstones are pretty basic for any successful bank. I noticed  that the bank was not crowded. Maybe we saw 3 people the whole time and this is due to the online banking. It's crazy how things have changed in the last 10 years. I also learned that apparently in Europe employers want new mothers to spend a lot of time with their new-born babies. In Vienna maternity leave is 1-2 years and then the mother can work part-time and decide if she wants to return to work or not.

We toured the bank and it has beautiful modern architecture. After the bank, we headed back to the hotel. There were many things to do for our free time. We could go to the museum Quarter and see the museum of modern art and modern science. We could have visited Mozart or Beethoven's home or a variety of other museums. There was also a beach we could go to and many other shops. \

We did a lot of shopping since we had to spend our Euro's. Then we searched for this "beach" area for 3 hours and finally found it around 7 pm, right when the sun was going down. The beach consisted of bars along the river line and about 3 feet of sand. It definitely does not compare to the beaches we are used to, even in Missouri or at Mozingo. We were so exhausted after finding this beach we stayed until 9:30 to recover and give our feet a rest. I was a little disappointed we couldn't see Mozart's home, but we were so exhausted from walking everywhere I'm not sure it would have been a good idea.

From now on, we're planning our trips out at the hotel and taking notes on how to get there so we're not exhausted all the time. I can't wait to see what Prague has to offer.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Day 7

Well hello, it's Kenzi here for the day!

Today was pretty relaxing here in Vienna. We went on a group tour of the Schonbrunn Palace in the morning with our tour guide Manuela and had the majority of the rest of the day free to do what we pleased.
The Palace was absolutely amazing and I think everybody learned a lot about the importance of the Schonbrunn family to Austria through our audio guides. The palace was just the family's summer house and there are over 1400 rooms inside. We got to see 40 of the rooms during the tour, which many had chandeliers and large had paintings. Many of the walls were even hand painted or made out of the finest wood during that time and some gold! I'm definitely glad we got the chance to see this place with our own eyes and were able to picture how royal families lived in the 17, 18, and 19th centuries.
When the tour was over, the group split in different directions. Many people visited the zoo near the palace to see the panda bears and others went to see the St. Stephen's Church. As for me, a few of us went back to the hotel for a few hours to rest up and then took off for the Danube river. There are many different boating docks here in Vienna and places to swim along the shore. We rented a paddle boat for an hour to relax and enjoyed the beautiful weather outside. We really enjoyed the views it had to offer and are even thinking about going back tomorrow!
For dinner we made  reservations at a restaurant near the hotel for all of us to eat together. It had many common local options as well as pizza, burgers, and salads. The service was even fast for having such a large group, and that's something we haven't experienced yet! It was nice to all sit down together and enjoy the meal without being in a rush, too. Of course after dinner we all had to stop on the corner for some gelato for dessert!
Schonbrunn Palace
 
 
Danube River
 
 
XOXO,
Wanderlust
 

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Day six!

Hello from Vienna, Austria! Abby here for day six blog!

Today was a pretty relaxed day. We started with a walking tour through Vienna with our guide Manuela (spell check). Just in a few hours we saw so much! The city is similar to New York City. The outskirts are less wealthy, and as you continue to walked towards the city center it gets more expensive.

Our tour began at the Monument of Mother Teresa and the Square where her monument is. On each side of the monument was a museum: one for natural history and one for fine arts. Some things I picked up about Mother Teresa were that she had sixteen kids! One of them being Marie Antionette. There was a really cute guitar player sitting at the bottom of the monument and he played "O Suzanna" for us.

Our guide also explained a lot about Austria's history while were were at the Mother Teresa Monument. Back in the 16th century, Vienna was the capital of three empires (Rome, Austrian, and Austrain-Hungary). It was called the empire where the sun never goes down because it was such a large area of space.

As we continued to walk, we came upon a very large castle (pictured blow) where Mother Teresa lived, and also where the Hapsburg dynasty used to rule and live which was called Complex Palace of Hapsburg. The Hapsburg name has played a very crucial role in history, for the assassination of Franz Ferdinand is what sparked World War I. Complex Palace was beautiful. Horse drawn carriages, live music, people dressed up. It was such a great cultural experience!




It was so crazy - as we were walking from the Complex Palace we ran into a tour group of older people that are from Maryville! Of course we stopped for a picture and chanted B-E-A-R, C-A-T-S! Small world!

But after Complex Palace and our run in with the "townies", we headed to the most expensive street in Vienna called Ring Street (pictured below). And it was GORGEOUS! We learned that Vienna is the second most expensive city behind Luxembourg!  But everything was very much out of my price range personally! Stores such as Gucci, Versace, Tiffany and Co, Louis Vitton, etc.



We all then were turned loose into a marketplace to grab some lunch and do some shopping. Which was so fun - there was an Indian section of the marketplace so a lot of bright colors and fun little gifts! And a LOT of fresh fruits, veggies, and a lot of other fun stuff!



I could go on and on and on about today! We saw so much in such a short amount of time, but Vienna is beautiful! So far, I think we have all fallen in love with Vienna pretty quick and can't wait to see what the rest of our time here brings!

XOXO
Team Wanderlust

Friday, June 20, 2014

Day 5

Greetings from Vienna!!

Shelby here with today's blog. We have made it to the beautiful capital of Austria: Vienna! A little bit different from Budapest as Vienna is not as crowded or busy. It might be a nice change!

Early morning for us, we left Budapest around 7:30 this morning and traveled to Bratislava, Slovakia. There, we received a tour of Volkswagen Slovakia. This was an amazing experience. This plant is the third largest in the world, and the first largest in Europe. The size of the plant was about 160 football fields long and produced not only the Volkswagen, but also the porsche and the audi vehicles. It was impressive to see all of the hard work that goes into producing vehicles. The plant also uses robots in the creating process. Over one thousand robots to be exact! It was a great experience to see how all the process worked and our guide did a great job of explaining everything. When the plant first opened, about fifteen vehicles were made per day. Now, about 1500 are produced daily, if not more! The company has come a long way, and they are still growing very rapidly. It was one of our most interactive visits yet!



Another thing that we have to account for is the new currency. Here in Vienna, we will be using the euro. Vienna will be our most pricy city, so we will have to use our money sparingly! Tonight, we are going to a welcome dinner at Wiener Wirtschaft. It should be a good night! We already learned what "thank you" is "danke". That should help at dinner!

Tomorrow we will be taking a walking tour around Vienna, and we cannot wait to see what the city has in store for us!

XOXO,
Wanderlust

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Day 4

Today we went to SAP labs and learned about the software they offer. They do business with American Fortune 500 companies and companies all around the world. Markus, the speaker, said if SAP shut down, then the world would come to a halt. The company prides itself on entrepreneurship and innovation to improve efficiency  in business. We were in an industrial park type place and saw many similar businesses including Microsoft and Cannon.

We had free time so we went to H&M and figured out the style in Budapest is basically the same in America and H&M is even a little more pricey. Budapest is a slightly easier city to figure out. Our hotel is in the center of most things and we can easily find a tram or bus back to our hotel. Everything is along the main boulevard so that makes it easier. However, I noticed Hungarians are very inverted and the customer service in the food industry is definitely not the same as America. Sit-in restaurants take a lot of time and the waiters often do not care what happens to you.

After lunch, we went to cathedral type thing. It overlooked the entire city and had an amazing view. After viewing the city, we toured the castle museum  It was interesting to see old statues that were once considered worthless and were thrown out, and now are highly valued. After all the touring Szilvia graciously gave us extra forints to experience a cafe with delicious desert options. That was the best chocolate moose I ever had.

The nightlife culture is very lively here, people always hang out around the Ferris wheel. The city is constantly busy and there are always people out walking around or enjoying late night ice cream. There seems to be a gelotto shop on every corner. Tomorrow we go to Slovakia to visit Volkswagen. I'm excited to see how globalization is displayed across different countries.

-Christina Smith

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Day 3

Kenzi here for our third day in Budapest!
We had two business visits today including Kopint-Tarki Economic Institute and the European Union Commission. As you might have guessed, both of these visits informed us of Europe economic situation and a lot about their history. You can tell people that were raised in Hungary are proud of where they come from and what the country has done to overcome things of the past, especially when it comes to the communism era. We had a guest speaker today from Bosnia, too. It was kind of sad to here her talk about the current economic situation in her home country. Their unemployment rate is 45% and nobody from there knows where they are headed in the future or what will happen to their country.
After our first visit we ate lunch and got to shop at a large mall. A group of about ten of us decided to enjoy a cafe nearby and it took close to two hours to get our food and pay. We got done just in time to catch our next business visit, but unfortunately left no time for shopping!
One thing I specifically remember from our second visit that day is that women in Hungary get nearly 100% of their salary for 6 months after having a child.  Most mothers don't return to work until the child reaches the age of 3 and daycare isn't very common at all for children in Hungary. During this visit the EU representative also explained to us their 20 year plan for the European Union.
By the time our scheduled events were over many of us seemed to be ready for a quick, or not so quick, nap. While others took the time to sight see or shop. It was a very interesting day and I'm excited to see what the rest of the trip has to offer!



XOXO,
Wanderlust

Monday, June 16, 2014

Day One!

Szia from Budapest!

Shelby here for our first blog! We made it to Budapest!!! Finally. We began our journey at the Kansas City Airport. From there we went to Minneapolis, then an eight hour flight Amsterdam, and finally to Budapest. It was a long day of travel, but with a big group we really didn't experience any problems. Except that Abby's luggage did not make it to Budapest, but to Amsterdam. Also, Grant had some issues fitting on one of our planes! But, the important thing is that we all made it in one piece and we were all safe. After a quick bus trip to Budapest we were all ready to explore!

One of the highlights of our day was our welcome dinner to Budapest. It was held at Karpatia and was a very beautiful place. It was a three-course meal that consisted of a goulash soup as an appetizer. Next we had the main course which was grilled chicken with vegetables. For dessert, we had a cherry pastry that was delicious! Budapest is known for their tasty pastries. All during our meal, we also had traditional Hungarian musicians playing beautiful music for us all night. It was a wonderful first meal in Budapest! Posted below is a picture of our cherry dessert.

After dinner, we got the chance to look around the city a little bit! We headed down to the Danube River and the bridge we were standing on had a fantastic view. The city is beautiful during the day, but seeing all the ornate architectural buildings light up at night was majestic. The lights twinkled all night and you could not beat the view! Here is a picture of one of the ornate buildings!

We also learned some phrases that we were in need of! "Bo chi" means "I'm sorry" and "cussey" means "thank you". These proved very useful during the evening!

Overall, day one was a complete success! We are so excited to keep exploring this beautiful city. It has already been a beautiful sight and I am sure there is so much more to see!

XOXO,
Team Wanderlust


Day two

Hi! This is Abby blogging for day two! Good news to begin my blog - I AM REUNITED WITH MY SUITCASE! Reunited and it feelssss soooo gooooddddd!

Anyway, today was a very relaxed tour day. We did a lot of walking, bus taking, and train riding to different sights. Our guide Szilvia took us to three main places: Heroe's Square, Ferfi Noi, and Memento Park. 

Our first stop at Heroe's Square is a very popular sight in Budapest. At the square, there are multiple statues of some of Budapest's greatest and most influential leaders. Some facts are…


-When the monument was originally constructed, Hungary was part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and thus the last five spaces for statues on the left of the colonnade were reserved for members of the ruling Habsburg dynasty. The Habsburg emperors were replaced with Hungarian freedom fighters when the monument was rebuilt after World War II.
-In 1989 a crowd of 250,000 gathered at the square for the reburial of Imre Nagy, former Prime Minister of Hungary, who was executed in 1958.
http://visitbudapest.travel/guide/budapest-attractions/heroes-square/
Some pictures from this stop…


Our next stop was Ferfi Noi which is a city bath (AKA a pool). Ferfi Noi was beautiful! Ferfi Noi seemed to be filled with a lot of different personal health things. Such as a whirlpool, normal pool, massages, and fish pedicures that you can get inside. 
Some pictures from this stop…


Our last big stop was Memento Park. Memento Park was what I thought out to be a statue graveyard. The statues that are there represent Budapest's Communist history - as a lot of the statues are Communist leaders. There was a statue there that represented "Stalin's Boots". The park was a ways out of town so we had to take an underground train and also a bus. 

Some pictures from this stop…





In between these stops, we also had some free time for lunch. A lot of us went to different cafe's in the area and dined outside. Probably one of my favorite parts about here - the food and cute cafe's outside! We also went inside of a HUGE marketplace. It was bustling with people purchasing knick-knacks, meats, and fruits. 

Successful day two of the trip!


XOXO,
Team Wanderlust

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Czech

This week our group spent our time studying and learning about the infrastructure, demographics, and major attractions in Prague, so that we will better understand its populations and the differences that separate us culturally from the Czech people. We found out there are also many similarities. For example: both the people of Prague and the Czech republic have the same literary rate as the United States. Many of them speak our language, but only about 1 out of 4. The male to female ratio is about the same as the US, and the highest earning jobs are about the same as far as position goes, but it pays considerably less than it does here. However, there are many more differences. There is the obvious language barrier for the majority of the population. Their population is also much smaller, but like us, they have plenty of airports and modern transportation. They also use the internet pretty similarly to us.

Lastly, there are many cultural monuments and attractions that the people of Prague are very proud of. One of the major parts of Prague is called 'Old Town'. This famous part of Prague dates back to the 12th century, and has many architectural and historically significant buildings and churches. Another famous landmark in Prague is the Prague Castle, which was built around 880 A.D. and has been continuously renovated, rebuilt, and added on to ever since. Prague also has a famous college, theatre, and of course is home to many large businesses like T-Mobile and Avast. Overall Prague is a very culturally sophisticated and interesting country, and it will be amazing to get to visit such a historic city.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Planning free time!

Over this past week, our group has been researching more about Prague. We were assigned to see what the price differences are of certain products in the Czech Republic compared to the United States.

The following items are more expensive in the Czech Republic:

  • Gym memberships
  • Electronics
  • Brand name clothes


The following items are cheaper in the Czech Republic:
  • A loaf of bread
  • Beer
  • Cigarettes
  • Restaurant food
  • Movie tickets
  • Gas


Knowing price information really helps us to be able to prepare for our free time and know what kinds of products are worth our investment over there! Went on to look up activities for when we have some time to ourselves and restaurants to eat at. Sight seeing at Petrin Hill, the Unicular Railway, Wenceslas Square, Divoka Sarka Park, and the Astronomical clock are all low cost options that people have shown interest in. A "Taste of Prague" tour is a more expensive option that we could buy for a package of wine tasting, meal sampling, souvenir shopping, and other travel tips for the city of Prague in order to get the full cultural experience. The TRAP or Mind Maze games seemed to get our attention too. They are real life escape games where you are put into teams of five people and you have to solve puzzles and clues to escape. It sounds like we might make reservations at one of the locations in Prague for our whole group since it would be a fun thing for everyone to do together! The biggest water park in Central Europe is in Prague as well as a bobsleigh track that would be cool to experience. It would be really neat if we could try things that we aren't able to do here in the United States. Finding out about all these opportunities is really making me excited to leave exactly two weeks from today! I'm hoping we can fit everything we want to do into the short amount of free time we have. We'll be sure to keep you all updated on the places we do choose to go!

XOXO,
Team Wanderlust