A Travellerspoint blog

Sofia

sunny 19 °C
View Eastern Europe on Caitlin L's travel map.

YAY HOLIDAY! I am on vacation for the next two weeks and am so excited to get our of the institute. I am planning on taking the train through Eastern Europe. To start my vacation off I traveled the farthest distance and have begun seeing Sofia, the Bulgarian capital. It was a long full 22 hours of travel by train to get here but I got to sleep most of the way, starting my short time here rested.
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The first thing I saw in Bulgaria was the Rila Monastery. It is a 10th Century Monastery that was a safe haven for Bulgarian culture during the Soviet occupation. It was tucked away in the hills of Bulgaria and it was nice to get some fresh air. All the leaves were yellow and red and it was a peaceful backdrop for this gorgeous haven.
After the day in the hills I did a little walking around the city to find a park and some good shopping. I was planning on having some Bulgarian food, but as I walked to the restaurant that was recommended there was a dog on a spit in the window, I had a Gyros instead.
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The people of Sofia were starting to warm up to me and I really enjoyed the architecture of the city. Most of the older buildings were stripped with bricks. The churches were stunning as always, but the main church in the city was magnificent. Orthodox churches are so different.
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They are always covered head to toe in fresco or mosaics. They always have a beautiful iron chandelier in the middle but never any seats. I love how sturdy and strong they look as well, as if they could with stand anything. People come in and they do the cross on their bodies so different the Catholics. It is a lot bigger and deliberate, I really like it is seems more intentional then mandatory. In the church there are 4 pictures standing in the middle of the room and the worshipers come and kiss them and pray to them (I am assuming) then they take their candles they just bought (I am sure this is the churches way of staying in the black) and light several candles. Because of most of the smoke it is very hard to see in the building but it gives it a old feeling.
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I really enjoyed Sofia and I was sad to leave and at the same time excited to see some other Eastern European cities, so I continued on the train to Belgrade.

Posted by Caitlin L 13:15 Archived in Bulgaria Comments (0)

Weekend in Prague

sunny 19 °C
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Wow... what an amazing city. Prague was the most beautiful city ever. It was picturesque! Kate and I took the train and meet Dani King (a friend from High School) in the city. Kate and I arrived early in the morning and no one was out yet. There was heavy fog the created a very eerie feel.n46002787_..62_8888.jpg
We saw the sights... Castle (largest one in the world), St. Vitas Church (prettiest stained glass ever), St. Charles Bridge, Old Town Square then we walked through two parks and got great views of the city.
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We went back to the Old Main Square and had some gelatto. It hit the spot.
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Then we went to a craft market where I spent too much money. As we were wandering the streets we ran into a protest. They were marching against CCTV. It was cool to see it, Prague is known for its Bohemian lifestyle and I think that we just got a taste of it. We ended our day early and started Sunday rested.
Sunday began with a trip to the Jewish Quarter. There we saw 3 Synagogues and the old Jewish cemetery. Here they had to stop burying people because the graves were 12 people deep.
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We then walked to the John Lennon wall. This wall was a form of expression and defiance to the Soviets during the 80's. Students filled the wall with Beatles quotes and messages spreading love and peace.
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We then walked to a island on the river and enjoyed the golden and red trees. We went for a walk and sat on a bench soaking in the wonderful weather before we got on the train and headed home. It was a whirlwind but I absolutely loved it. By far the prettiest city I have ever seen (but I have a feeling that that will be changing as I see more of the world). It was great to get away from the Institute but I have a lot of work to do. Despite my stack of school work piling up, my adventure to Prague was well worth it!
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(sorry it has taken so long for me to upload this one)

Posted by Caitlin L 08:06 Archived in Czech Republic Comments (0)

Weekend in Budapest

Yes, another weekend... I can't get enough

sunny 17 °C
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I spent the last weekend in Budapest trying to see all the sights with my friends, Casey, Hilary and Samantha. This is us at our hostel... man at first we were a little scared because the outside of the hostel was not in the best shape, but inside was nice and safe.
I started the weekend off going to see Bank Ban, a Hungarian opera. It was in Hungarian and the supertitles were in German so I barely got the plot but there was royalty, poverty, love, death... standard opera plot but amazing singing. I couldn't see a thing from my $3 tickets, but luckily I got to sneak into a better box before the show started.
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On Saturday we went to the Gallert baths, wow! It was amazing. There were 6 baths including two thermal, a sparkling, two heated and a cold wave pool. There was also a sauna and steam room. I came out completely relaxed and ready to start my second week of school.
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We finished our time in Budapest in the laybrinth under the Buda castle. It contains caves over 10000 years old. There were ancient drawings on the wall from hunters. It was also used as a storage and refugee place during WWI and the Cold war. We walked through the caves with no lights on, just a old oil lantern and saw the drawings and some statues. It was great.
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I came back exhausted with a lot of work but it was totally worth it and I can't wait to go back.

Posted by Caitlin L 16:47 Archived in Hungary Comments (0)

Week 1 Done Fhew!

My first week done and I am ready for some more!

rain 12 °C
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Well I have been to all my classes. My schedule is nice, short Mondays, LONG Tuesdays, very very light Wednesdays, LONG Thursdays, light Fridays. The only thing that would make it better was no Friday afternoon class. All my teachers are amazing! They are clearly here to help us grow. It is so nice to be in that environment! I am taking: Solfege, Hungarian, Methodology (where we observe and discuss the Kodaly method in elementary classes) Hungarian Music Lit, Folk Music, choir, Voice and Piano Lessons, Chamber Ensemble and I am observing a conducting class. I am very excited and I have already learned sooooo much! All my classes are very small but it is nice to have an intimate setting with these AMAZING musicians. We went to see the Bartok Quartet, wow they were superb.
The weather has been very strange, it rains every night with a clear morning. It is nice to go to the market in the mornings however. The past three days have been nice; however, it wont last for very long.
I have a lot of work but I am slowly chipping away at the pile (literally) of music on top of my piano. I hope that everyone is having a good fall, the leaves have just turned colors and it is so beautiful here. I miss you all!
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This is a picture of the first grade class. We observed them use a 5 line staff for the first time, they know so much already and they were constantly smiling.

Posted by Caitlin L 15:09 Archived in Hungary Comments (0)

A Great Week in Kecskemet

Carla, Opening Ceremonies, Folk Dancing and lots of Laughing

rain 14 °C
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This is the front of my school.
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And the cute fruit stand in front of school.

Wow this weekend has been packed full of fun. It really started on Friday because my testing finished Thursday, which went ok by the way. I am taking 18 hours of class a week, that is nothing compared to last semester, but I have a feeling these classes are going to be just a tad bit harder.
Thursday night, to celebrate classes being done, we went to a Carla, pronounced [charla], which is traditional Hungarian food. It was excellent; however, we had a translation issue and a girl ordered a bottle of wine instead of glass but it was good wine so we didn't mind.
Friday started with the Opening Ceremony for the Institute, this year the director (who founded the Institute with Miss. Kodaly) is passing the torch. So there were lots of speeches, but I enjoyed seeing Miss. Kodaly, the directors new and old of this Institute and the Liszt Academy Director. Afterwords there was a nice reception and we took pictures in the courtyard while we were all gussied up. These are all the students studying at the Institute this year.
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After the Ceremony I went shopping with my new friends: Casey from Alberta Canada (he is not Canadian but French Canadian), Hilary from Ireland and Emma from Ohio (who is also a Hungarian citizen and speaks Hungarian- she is kinda like the freshman at school with a car, everyone wants her to be her friend, but I really enjoy spending time with her).
To finish the night we went to the Folk Dance Concert. It was very fun, in a few days I will upload some videos of them dancing but for now I just have a few pictures.
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It was great to see children all dressed up, dancing and singing . We left a little early because all the music was in about the same key and they don't really sing, they yell AND while dancing they do this high pitch whistle or yell and it was making our heads hurt.
After the concert there was an opportunity for everyone to learn to dance. I got most of the steps but some of them were quite complicated. After a little break I went back to dancing and was asked by both a old man who had too much to drink and a young boy who claimed he was 14 to dance. I had fun but it was tiring. It has been a great weekend and I can't wait to see what other adventures await me while I am here in this unique country.
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Posted by Caitlin L 16:27 Archived in Hungary Comments (1)

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