Showing posts with label travel. Show all posts
Showing posts with label travel. Show all posts

Ghana Itinerary

Monday, February 27, 2012

Our tentative itinerary was just posted online. I AM SO EXCITED!!! Especially for the orphanage!! I hope the kids don't mind getting red Indiana University t-shirts :) Also, I can't believe we are meeting the mayor of the capital of Ghana at his home. Accra is a huge city - 1.6 million people!

Activities Planned                                                                                                                 
Saturday March 10
5:12pm: Depart for Ghana
Sunday 11

1:10 pm:  Arrive Accra, check in to Fiesta Royale
Kwane Mkrumah Memorial Park and Craft market
Monday 12

Meet Mayor of Accra at his residence
University of Ghana visit
Coca Cola Ghana

Tuesday 13

Kingsbridge Microfinance, Raphael Tyson
Lunch on our own around the marketplace
Cocoa Marketing Board
Drive to Aburi
Woodcarvers village
Botanical gardens
Wednesday 14

BUV Ghana & Akosombo Hydroelectric Dam Tour 
Group lunch near the dam
Tafi-Atome Monkey Sanctuary
Cocoa Research Institute
Thursday 15
Country-Side Orphanage visit (rural Bawjiase
[children need school supplies, t-shirts, dictionaries, toys, food items, rice, beans]
Cape Coast Slave Castle
Museum and City tour
Friday 16

Cape Coast – Coconut Grove Resort
Visit Elmina Slave Castle
Kakum National Park bridge walk
Lunch with Kwesi’s family
Batik Workshop
Traditional Dancing and Drumming Performance

Saturday 17

Return to Accra this morning
W.E.B. Dubois centre, cultural visits, and shopping
9:55 pm: depart Accra
Sunday 18
12:48 pm: arrive in IND


Shots, shots, shots!

Sunday, February 26, 2012

For those of you who are pop culturally literate - no, the title of this post is not referencing the LMFAO song, but rather all the immunizations I had to get to travel to West Africa! I leave in 14 days - March 10th. I think it goes without saying that traveling to Africa is more of an adventure than Europe. I'm not really sure what some of the diseases are that I had to be immunized against and I don't really want to know.

  • yellow fever
  • hepatitis A
  • typhoid
  • hepatitis B
  • rabies
  • meningitis
  • polio
All of Ghana is a risk for contracting malaria from mosquitos so I have to take antimalarial pills before, during, and after the trip. Additionally, I have to treat my clothing with permethrin (it's like deet on steroids!! and kills cats and fish!) and use 30-50% Deet on my skin. We are staying at hotels with air conditioning (thank God! it's going to be like 100 degrees in Ghana) so we don't need to sleep under mosquito nets. I know a fellow IU student who studied in Ghana last semester...and I thought moving to Eastern Europe was kind of crazy!

Other fun diseases that can be contracted in Africa: dengue, filariasis, leishmaniasis, and onchocerciasis, schistosomiasis. Basically, don't drink the water, only eat cooked foods, don't go into bodies of water, don't get bit by a dog, bathe in Deet, and have anti-diarrheal medications on hand. After the initial consultation with the IU travel clinic I think most of the class was wondering what exactly we have gotten ourselves into :)

Dare I...?

Friday, December 2, 2011

One of my good friends just messaged me out of the blue and asked if I would be interested in going back to Europe with her to backpack for a few weeks after we both graduate in May. This would be our last chance to live young, wild, and free (haha) before we start working in the corporate world and only get 15 days of vacation a year.

AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH! Do I dare entertain the idea of going back to Europe for a third summer in a row (after going to Ghana in March)?!?! I'm already mentally making a list of all the countries I missed last semester and dreaming of going back to Hungary and visiting some of my friends there...

"The world is a book and those who do not travel read only a page." -St. Augustine

Taken last Thanksgiving before I moved to Hungary... The world is my playground :)

You know you are in Texas when...

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Earlier this month I was in Dallas, Texas for a few days of job interviews (tis the season for traveling on the corporate dime and missing tons of class!). I've never been to the southwestern part of the I had no idea what Texas was like other than the typical stereotypes like everything is bigger, everyone wears cowboy hats and boots, tumbleweeds, oil barons, etc).

While I was waiting for the car service to pick me up I noticed a man standing across the road who looked like a cross between Santa Claus and John Wayne. I remember thinking, "Is this guy for real?" Then my phone rang and the driver started explaining where he was standing and what we was wearing, "I've gotta black hat and a white beard..."

Yep, Texan Santa picked me up at the airport and took the George W. Bush Turnpike to my hotel. All stereotypes confirmed. Sorry Texas, y'all lose ;)

I don't think we're in Indiana anymore...

This Time for Africa!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

I've been waiting to blog about this until I was officially accepted, but now I have some exciting news! Though my globetrotting ways are currently on hold, they are soon to be continued. I'm studying abroad again, this time in Ghana, Africa!!!!!!!!

The "travel bug" bit me hard in summer 2010 when I spent ten days in Italy. As you know, that eventually led me to Hungary and all over Europe. Leaving Europe left me thirsting to see even more of the world, especially the obscure and ignored parts of the world that most tourists would never venture to. A year ago, I was terrified (and excited) about moving to Hungary. Leaving the comforts and familiarity of the US for a post-community country was challenging enough, and I never would have considered a developing country. And a poverty-stricken third world country? Forget that!

This summer a friend from home went on a trip to Kenya with his university. After hearing about his experiences and seeing his pictures...I had the intense desire to go to Africa and mentally added that to my life bucket list.

Now cue the Kelley School of Business's Emerging Economies program. Kelley offers a class each spring to study global emerging economies. The class includes a 10 day study tour of an emerging economy over spring break and is very competitive to get into. Initially, I didn't think I would have room in my schedule my final semester to take a class I don't technically need. Because my study abroad advisor is a miracle worker, she found a loophole allowing me to take 12 credit hours next semester instead of the 18 (while still finishing both of my majors on time) I had previously planned on taking. That left plenty of room for 3 more credits for the Emerging Economies class.

I applied a few weeks ago and ranked Ghana as my top choice, with Chile, and China following. I can tell you for sure that a year ago I would have ranked China #1 and would have had no interest in going to Chile or Ghana. I found out Monday that I was accepted into the program and was placed on the Ghana trip! In addition, I received a scholarship covering 1/3 of the cost and am applying for a second scholarship that would cover another 1/3. Major kudos to IU and the Kelley School for being wonderful promoters of international experiences and enabling students to study abroad through a multitude of scholarships and for making this small town girl's travel dreams come true...twice!!

I've been listening to the song Waka Waka (This Time for Africa) by Shakira on repeat :)

Next Small Town Girl adventure....AFRICA!!

Europe: Conquered

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

2 credit cards, 4 months, 11 countries, 19-ish cities, 6500 pictures, & a lifetime of memories.

Countries I visited: Hungary, Germany, Slovakia, Austria (twice), Denmark, Sweden, Italy (twice), Czech Republic, England, Ireland, Poland.

Places I've been
    Now that I am home and settled into my normal routine, it's hard to believe that my semester abroad actually happened and that jet-setting around Europe was MY life for four entire months, especially when I look at that map! Surely these things only happen to exciting people, not girls from Cornfield, Indiana, right? I've always had a curiosity to learn about world cultures, and an even greater desire to experience them. I've now traveled to more countries at the age of 20/21 than the majority of people will travel in their entire life. I am thankful I decided to study in Eastern Europe (my childhood dreams of living abroad never quite took place in post-communist countries haha) and in a country where I could immerse myself in a unique culture. Hungary, you have my heart! I doubt I would have ever traveled to Eastern Europe otherwise. 

    I owe my parents a multitude of thanks for allowing me this opportunity (after some persuasion on my part), for being supportive, and for coming to visit me. I didn't realize how hard it was for my parents to let me go. A few weeks ago I was shopping with my mom and she mentioned how much she missed me and how happy she was that I was back. I asked her how long she cried for after I left. She got teary-eyed and told me she cried off and on the entire four months. Poor mama :(

    My intention here is not at all to brag, but rather to reflect on the incredible opportunities and blessings I have been given. Thanks be to God - Deo Gratias!! 

    The Pope is Dope

    Monday, July 4, 2011

    Pope Benedict XVI used an iPad to send out the first Papal tweet earlier this week. Awesome. I think Twitter is lame, but the Pope just made it infinitely cooler and holier.

    In other news, I'm leaving tomorrow at 4am for vacation in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. Seven full days of sun and sand with my friend Ashley before she enters the convent in August. Yes, I know I just returned from what was essentially a four month European vacation. However, I need this vacation to recover from the last vacation ;) Instead of re-packing and jetting to a new country every 48 hours (which is quite stressful and exhausting) I will be firmly planted on the beach with a pina colada in hand for the next seven days. I've also never been to South Carolina, so I am excited to see a new place in my own country. It's not the Amalfi coast, but it'll do just fine.

    Besides being Independence Day, today is a double whammy of a feast day. Happy feast of Sts. Pier Giorgio Frassati and Elizabeth of Portugal! St. Elizabeth of Portugal is named after her great-aunt, my patroness Elizabeth of Hungary.

    Be good, be holy, and love the Lord! (And maybe say a prayer for my pastor, who broke his shoulder playing ultimate frisbee with me and my friends. Ouch Charlie!)

    Not So Lucky Charms

    Wednesday, June 1, 2011

    To be honest, I didn't really like Dublin. The city isn't beautiful, there is not a lot to see or do, and the weather sucked. I wanted to love Dublin, I've heard nothing but great things and I am 25% Irish, but it just didn't happen. I left feeling disappointed and wishing I had spent more time in London instead. Even more disappointing was that there was hardly any mention of St. Patrick anywhere in the city!! I found a small plaque outside St. Patrick Cathedral stating it was the spot where he converted people, but that was it. I couldn't believe the souvenir shops didn't even have anything. No love!

    Alicia finally got her bag at Gatwick in London and then reluctantly checked it onto our flight to Dublin. When we went through passport control the Irish man working the desk decided it would be fun to mess with little American girls. As he flipped through our passports he asked if we had read the Irish immigration laws, "you know you have to stay for 7 days during your first stay in Ireland, right?"  I found it hard to believe, but I wasn't going to argue with the officer holding my passport. Maybe he was right? After a few moments he broke a smile, stamped our passports, and told us to enjoy Ireland. Thanks, asshole. After leaving London at 4:40am for our flight and sitting behind twelve rowdy guys on the plane, I was in no mood to be toyed with.

    We made it into Dublin city, checked into our hostel, and hit the ground running for a walking tour of the city.  Some of the sights we saw were:

    • Dublin Castle
    • Christ Church Cathedral
    • St. Patrick's Cathedral
    • National Library
    • Temple Bar
    • Trinity College
    • St. Stephen's Green

    After our tour we explored a bit more and went to the Temple Bar area for a traditional Irish dinner of boxty, traditional Irish potato pancakes. The next morning we went back to Trinity College to see the Book of Kells, an illustrated Book of the Gospels made by Celtic monks around the year 800. The illustrations are incredibly extravagant and complex. Julie left shortly after for Greece and Alicia and I went to the Guinness Storehouse for a tour and beer tasting. Guinness smells and looks so delicious, but I hate the taste. At the end of the tour everyone gets a free pint. I drank as much of it as I could, but it tastes so bitter to me. I'll stick with Soproni Naranc (a orange-flavored Hungarian beer that tastes like Fanta, haha). We had our beers in the sky bar, which overlooks the city. I thought maybe Dublin would be prettier from above, nope.

    There was a soccer match between Ireland and Scotland that weekend so were were Scotsmen in kilts everywhere. And no, they definitely do not wear underwear. After two full days in Dublin we had seen everything there was to see. Our last day we went on a day trip to Glendalough, in County Wicklow. We drove along the coast, saw Bono's house (from U2), had lunch at an Irish pub, saw St. Kevin's 6th century monastic settlement, and saw lakes, bogs, and more. The countryside definitely made up for the lack of beauty in Dublin city.

    We got into Christ Church Cathedral for free by going to evening prayer, but when we asked to go into St. Patrick's to pray, we were sent to a small, ugly chapel instead of getting into the main church. Foiled! We sat there for the appropriate amount of time to look like we were praying and then left. St. Patrick's is no longer a Catholic church, so their prayer chapel was basically a corner of the church by the entrance with a white wall and two pews. Ireland is split between Protestants and Catholics. There was one street where there was a St. Audoen Anglican Chuch and a St. Audoen Catholic church right next to each other. Confusing!

    Our hostel in Dublin was fantastic so we spent our evenings there hanging out with other travelers and exchanging travel tips and stories. I suppose Dublin is really great if you are into the pub scene (there are something like 600 churches and 900 bars) but beer was $7-8 euro a pint. No thanks.

    Flying into Ireland
    Dublin Castle?
    Georgian doors of Dublin
    River Liffy has nothing on the Danube

    Boxty and halluska
    My goodness my Guinness 

    O'Connell Street
    Dublin McD's has curly fries!!!
    Sending Julie off to Greece
    Guinness Brewery

    My goodness, my Guinness
    St. Patrick

    St. Patty's Cathedral 
    Haha! A pub in Dublin
    Kilts and Timbaland boots


    Friday, May 27, 2011

    London was fabulous! We left this morning at 4:40 am for our flight to Dublin. Two more days in Dublin and then off to Italy. Remaining Ireland agenda: Book of Kells, Guinness Storehouse tour, St. Patrick's Cathedral, & day trip to Glendalough, a valley in the countryside.

    Alicia finally got her luggage this morning, thank goodness! Blog about London is in the works :) Sneak preview - we saw President Obama.

    London calling!
    Bike tour of London
    London Bridge

    Off to a rough start...

    Tuesday, May 24, 2011

    Eurotrip 2011 is starting out a little rocky. Alicia and Julie both had several flight complications - multiple delays, missed flights, and rebooked flights. They were due to arrive in Budapest around 11am yesterday on the same flight but they ended up being re-routed all over the place and both landed by 6pm. While my friends made it to Hungary, their luggage did not. Julie's bag was delivered early this morning but Alicia's is still MIA. We did a bit of sightseeing along the Danube to relax and then finished our last minute flight/hostel booking.

    Alive and well in Budapest!
    We cut Munich out because when I went to buy our train tickets yesterday I wasn't allowed to print the tickets, they had to be mailed to me. Bah!! Yet another logistical fail that would have been okay if I had planned this trip more than a week in advance.  We could have chanced it and tried purchasing tickets on the spot in Rome, but we decided that was too risky. We extended our stay in Rome and found a cheap flight back to Budapest. This way we'll have a day in Budapest to relax and sightsee before my parents come and we'll save $400 on night trains.

    If you missed the news the past few days the world didn't end on May 21 but a volcano in Iceland erupted, spewing volcanic ash into the air and disrupting flights. Our flight to London boards in 30 minutes so it looks like we will be okay, but hundreds of flights have been cancelled in the UK/Scandinavia. Hopefully we will be able to fly to Dublin at the end of the week :\

    Please pray that the start of our adventure isn't indicative of how the rest of the trip will go...we are rather worried about how everything will turn out. St. Christopher, patron of travelers, ora pro nobis!

    Where in the world is Liz?

    Friday, May 20, 2011

    It's been a crazy week, but I am officially DONE with classes and exams at Corvinus University! My last final was this morning and I was up late last night alternately studying and booking flights for my upcoming Eurotrip. I pretty much violated every rule of when not to book a flight...or six. I booked our flights (three for me and three for Alicia) five days before departure, on a Thursday night after prices had already spiked, and most of our flights are on weekends. Well done, miss world traveler. My bank account is having a heart attack, c'est la vie! And so much for RyanAir have cheap flights! My flight to Rome was 50 euros, but by the time all the extra fees and taxes were added in it doubled the final price. 6 euros for web check-in? I call shenanigans! In all fairness, I haven't had time before now to figure things out.  Alicia was busy taking finals at IU and then left to scuba dive in the Dominican Republic, and as of late I've been tied up with projects, exams, and soaking up what's left of my time in Hungary. I still have to figure out how we are getting from Rome to Munich and Munich back to Budapest. Any travel agents out there who would like to volunteer their services?! I also need to book all our hostels and have a general itinerary prepared for each city so we can maximize our time.

    So here's where I'll be for the next few weeks...

    May 21: Tihany Village & Lake Balaton, Hungary
    May 22: Esztergom, Hungary
    May 24-26: London, England
    May 27-29: Dublin, Ireland
    May 30-31: Rome, Italy
    June 1-2: Amalfi Coast, Italy (Pompeii, Positano, Sorrento, Naples)
    June 3-4: Munich, Germany
    June 6-8: Krakow, Poland
    June 9-10: Budapest, Hungary
    June 11: USA!!

    Ciao for now...say a prayer for safe travels! :)

    Cz-Cz-Czech it out

    Monday, May 16, 2011

    I made a circuit through Central/Eastern Europe April 29-May 6. Seven days was the longest I have traveled consecutively and I was exhausted by the time I got home. I traveled with my friend Salima, another Hoosier on exchange. We spent three days in the Czech Republic, two days in Hungary, and two days in Austria.

    Our first stop was Praha (Prague) in the Czech Republic, formerly part of Czechoslovakia but is now two separate countries - Czech Republic and Slovakia. I had heard positively glowing reviews about Prague, but honestly I wasn't enchanted like I was expecting and neither was Salima. Maybe it's because at this point all of Europe is beginning to blend together. If you've seen one old bridge, church, tower, monument, you have pretty much seen them all. In addition, Prague looks and feels like Budapest and Vienna. Scenic bridge across the Danube river? Been there. Done that. Multiple times. Nevertheless, Prague was charming and the weather was lovely. Salima flew in from Seville and I took a bus from Budapest. A bunch of TOTALLY sketchy Hungarians were on the bus and I was getting seriously creeped out. I am pretty sure the girls were prostitutes and the guys were their pimps or something. I was so happy to get off that bus after six hours.

    Salima arrived a few hours after me so I went back to the bus station to meet her. As I was approaching the bus station two Czech policemen started yelling. It became apparent they were trying to get my attention and were not yelling "HELLO! HELLO!" in an effort of Czech hospitality. Long story short - I either jaywalked or wasn't supposed to be in that area of the bus lot because they demanded to see my passport. As I handed over my obviously American passport, one asked if I spoke Czech. No. Deutsch? No. English? Duh. Anyway, I was pretty scared since no one else was around, the policemen were holding onto my passport, and I was late to meet Salima. After a few minutes they found a Czech person to yell at and let me go. Whew. I made sure to check for police before jaywalking the rest of my stay in Prague.

    We went on one of Sandeman's free walking tours (high recommended, they are all over Europe in major cities) and explored more of the city on our own. Some of the highlights of Prague:
      • Old Town Square
      • Charles Bridge
      • Astronomical Clock
      • Prague Castle
      • St. Vitus Cathedral
      • Old Jewish Quarter
      • Spanish Synagogue/Museum
      • Church of Our Lady before Tyn
      • Powder Tower
      • Toy Museum with Barbie exhibit!!
      • Lennon Wall
      • Infant of Prague statue & church

    Infant Jesus of Prague 
    On Sunday (May 1 - Divine Mercy Sunday and JPII's beatification) we went to Mass at Our Lady of Victorious, where the shrine with the original Infant Jesus of Prague statue is. May 1 is also the Feast of the Infant Jesus so it was a three in one (trinity!) celebration. The church was packed for English Mass and at the end each person received a rose to give to the infant Jesus. Salima is Ismaili, a branch of Shia Islam, so we spent much of the trip discussing similarities, differences, and histories of our respective religions. It was refreshing to have a conversation with a peer about religion, spirituality, and morals - topics that are generally taboo for college students. We also immersed ourselves in Prague's Jewish history by touring four different Jewish synagogues, museums, and a Jewish cemetery. Something like 77,000 Czech Jews disappeared during World War II.

    My favorite part of Prague was easily the Lennon Wall and the Toy Museum. Since the 1980's this wall has been covered with John Lennon/Beatles inspired graffiti. This expression of free speech angered the communist regime, so they would frequently whitewash the wall. By the following day the wall would again be covered with murals, poems, and inscriptions. The toy museum had all kinds of neat antique toys, but the best part was the Barbie exhibit. I was a huge Barbie fan as a kid. Three-story pink mansion, camping R.V., beauty salon, pink name it, I had it! As I got a bit older my mom began buying collectible Barbie ornaments at Christmas and I've been collecting them ever since. The highlight of the entire Barbie exhibit was spotting an Indiana University cheerleader Barbie in one of the display cases!! Salima and I squealed like little girls when we saw it, haha. Not to mention I totally own that Barbie doll, it sits on top of my tv in Bloomington. Noticeably absent was a Purdue Barbie...sorry Boilermaker fans, yet another indicator of your inferiority, even on a global scale ;)

    Praha from Charles Bridge
    Catholic statues lining Charles Bridge 
    Lennon Wall
    Kelley School does Praha
    Praha vineyard - loving life!

    View from Prague Castle
    St. Vitus 
    Jewish Cemetery - layers upon layers of graves
    Spanish Synagogue 
    Toy Museum - super psyched!
    Box o altar boys!
    DO YOU SEE IU BARBIE?! :D Lower left corner
    Old Town Square
    Astronomical Clock
    Easter Festival 
    Pilsner beer was invented here
    Art Nouveau buildings - love it 

    As usual, you can view all of my Prague pictures here and here. Peace!