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Living in a Castle

a travel blog by KaraSeigal



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Day 1

Well, Netherlands


I am officially living in castle Well in the town of Well, in the district of Limburg, in the country of The Netherlands (or Holland). The plane ride took a surprisingly short 5 1/2 hours, and we touched down into rainy Amsterdam around 7:30 Euro time. It took 2 hours to reach Well, and we had to carry our luggage over the bridge (which is directly above the moat), into the main hall of the castle. The inside was really cool...very medieval looking and authentic...yet with a modern flair. We met the staff (all either Dutch or German or of some other norther European origin.) They moved us into our rooms..mine is really big, airy, comfortable. It also has two sinks for convenience, and a great view of the moat/fields. Some of my friends and I walked around the town...and the many fields that surround the castle. Now I am going to sleep...SO exhausted after no sleep for almost 48 hours.

permalink written by  KaraSeigal on September 12, 2008 from Well, Netherlands
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First Weekend

Well, Netherlands


So, yesterday was orientation. We did a lot of walking around and exploring...had some sessions about policies, and travel and such. The town of Well is really adorable...very small...but with all the essentials. Fresh fruit stands, a really nice bakery with delicious coffee and pastries, a couple restaurants, some bars, supermarket, etc. The man who sells bikes came to the castle and offered them for the semester. I'm thinking about getting one...but it is pretty expensive. Everyone bikes here though, so I feel in order to truly immerse myself, the bike might trump the financial issue. Myself and 7 of my friends booked a hostel in Amsterdam for next weekend...and are thinking of doing Dusseldorf and Munich the following weekend because of Octoberfest. The staff at the castle are all really awesome...pretty lax about many things...but definitely emphasize balancing travel and academics. There are two Young Dutch guys running student activities...they are really awesome and funny. At night a Dutch band came and played music for us...and then we all went out. Today is more orientation stuff and then tonight we are going two hour boat cruise which is apparently the distance to Belgium...and there are something like 100 castles around that area. Tomorrow I start classes....I have 3 tomorrow...Renaissance and Baroque Art, Intercultural Communications, and European Lit. I am really excited about everything!! Now if I could only sleep!

I posted some pictures...I don't know how this website really works...so let me know if they are visible.

permalink written by  KaraSeigal on September 14, 2008 from Well, Netherlands
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Beginnings

Well, Netherlands


So, we went on that boat ride and had wine with our professors. It was really great, and there was a beautiful sunset. The one thing I haven't mentioned yet is that it is REALLY cold here. I would say upper 40's lower 50's during the day, and then absolutely freezing at night. We started classes...Monday the first class I had was Renaissance and Baroque Art. Now, all the professors have other jobs. This guy, Rob Dukors, is a museum curator in Maastricht (south of Well), and has lived everywhere in Europe working with art history. He is taking us on a trip to Maastricht next week, and we'll get a personal look into the museum he runs. Overall it sounds like a really cool class. Then I had Intercultural Communications with this Asian man named Chester Lee. His accent is so bizarre because he spent most of his life in Australia, but the past 15 years in the Netherlands. Yet he was born in Hong Kong. You can imagine how weird he sounds. That class seems cool too. We are having an actual prostitute come in next week and talk to us about her life and why she thinks prostitution should be legal everywhere. We're also going to a Dutch high school to talk to kids about American life, and then we are going to meet with Dutch university students and have a debate about westernization. I love that kind of stuff, so I am really excited. Then...I bought a bike! Which I have been riding everyday since. I love it so much. At night I had European Lit. The main theme of the class is Czech literature, which I am happy about since I've already read one Milan Kundera book and loved it. The professor is this guy from Boston actually, who now lives in Krakow, and sounds like a drunk surfer. Lots of rambling. So we shall see about that class. Yesterday I had History of European music....which was kind of intimidating. We talked about the church a lot, and listened to Gregorian chants. I think it will be interesting...but difficult. Also, we have to go see three concerts which will be great. I guess we already have one booked at the best opera house in London. Other then that, I have just been doing a lot of sleeping, studying, biking, and socializing. Oh, and trip-planning. I think we have decided to go to Austria in 2 weekends instead of Germany. Germany is really crowded right now because of Octoberfest...and there are virtually no accommodations available. And I think for my first extended travel break, I am going to Budapest in Hungary and then Transylvania in Romania. They are both very close to Croatia, and I have friends who want to go. Most people are going to Italy...but I've already done the big cities. Tonight is American night at the local bar (I have no idea what that means), and tomorrow we are going into Venlo at night (a city about an hour from Well).

permalink written by  KaraSeigal on September 17, 2008 from Well, Netherlands
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Amsterdam

Amsterdam, Netherlands


So I went to Amsterdam this weekend with 8 people. It was absolutely beautiful, and we really lucked out with the weather...it was sunny the entire time. We left at 6 in the morning from Well on Saturday morning, and got back around 7 pm Sunday night. We walked the entire city in those two days, and did/saw many things...we went to the red light district (very strange...I'll keep my opinions to myself), toured Anne Frank's house, did a canal cruise, ate delicious pancakes that truly prove that the Dutch are pancake pro's, went to a coffeehouse (hey, when in Amsterdam...), did a little clubbing at night and thoroughly made the most out of our 48 hour trip. We got lost on trains, we were exhausted (probably given that we had about 3 hours of sleep the whole time), we were STARVING half the time because we refused to spend money on food, but it was all so funny and just part of the experience. It was really great. Now I'm back at the castle for four days of classes...then back on the train for another trip!

permalink written by  KaraSeigal on September 21, 2008 from Amsterdam, Netherlands
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Week 2

Well, Netherlands


The coolest thing that happened this week so far is that a prostitute came to my Intercultural Communications. It was very bizarre, but the woman was actually really intelligent and pretty open about everything. We've been doing a lot of trip planning this week...it's a bit stressful...but ultimately really fun. We finalized a lot of our plans...and here is a list of all the trips that we are going on:

Luxembourg (3 days)
Paris (4 days)
Croatia - Zagreb, Split, Dubrovnik (5 days)
Hungary - Keszthely and Budapest (5 days)
Belgium with the rents (3 days)
Austria - Vienna/Salzburg (4 days)
Italy - Cinque Terre (4 days)
Germany - Munich/Berlin (4 days)
London (5 days)
Ireland - Cork/Dublin (5 days)
Switzerland - Interlaken for skiing and parasailing!! (4 days)
Back to London to give an art history presentation in the Tate Modern! Scary!!! (2 days)

the program ends in London on Dec. 19...and after that is still in the works right now.

The weather has been great...I've been biking everyday. Every Wednesday night we have themed "American Nights" at the local bar....last night was 80's and it was crazy and all these Dutch people from the town were there. We've started to make friends with the locals. I especially like this waiter from a Chinese restaurant we went to, he's Dutch and lives in Well. We've all started to kind of make friends with him...and the others that live around the area. Tomorrow I"m going to Maastricht which is in the south of the Netherlands. I'm going with my art history professor (who is really really awesome), and is giving us a personal tour of the museum he curates down there. Then he's taking us all out for drinks haha. After that, 3 of my friends and I are going to Luxembourg city for the rest of the weekend. It's supposed to be absolutely beautiful, and I'm really excited. I put up some pictures of Amsterdam.

permalink written by  KaraSeigal on September 25, 2008 from Well, Netherlands
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Maastricht and Luxembourg

Luxembourg, Luxembourg


So, this weekend was much more relaxing then the crazy two day trip to Amsterdam. My fellow art historians and professor journeyed to the south of the Netherlands to spend Friday in Maastricht. Not only does the Dutch government reside there, but also this beautiful gothic cathedral that my professor curates. We first walked around the city, with a coffee stop which my professor paid for (the paying did not stop there), and then to a romanesque church to have a look around. My professor, Rob Dukors, is so intelligent and really made connections between iconography and Christian fables, and all other elements that surround church art. After that we went to "The Duke's" (as he prefers us all to call him) favorite cafe. He paid for that as well, and then we took off to his own cathedral. We spent about 3 hours walking around....he connected all the artwork through stories. It was very very interesting. After that, as promised, he took us out for a couple drinks....and then my friends Dana, Nicole, and I took off for Luxembourg. It took about 3 1/2 hours to get there, and we arrived around 10 pm. We got really lost, and it was clear to us that the city was built on hills....so we just walked up and down until we finally found our hostel. There we met Sarah who goes to Trinity (and plays lacrosse with someone I went to high school with), and is studying in Barcelona. We also met Poon from South Korea, but that relationship was short given her lack of english and the fact that her snoring shook the building. The hostel included breakfast, so we dragged ourselves out of bed at 8:30, and left the hostel around 9. The view was absolutely stunning...the city is literally a fortress. We walked for 6 hours (we counted)...and then found a farmers market. We bought lots of little things (feta cheese, hummus, mushrooms, bread), and had a little picnic in the grass. It was really nice out, and we just kept walking until about 5 when we were so exhausted that we had to nap for about a half hour. At night we went to an Italian restaurant (Sarah from Barcelona joined us), and then we went to a wine bar. The next day we walked forever again, but most things were closed to we decided to leave around 1ish. The train took 9 hours, no exaggeration. It was really really long and exhausting....and we were so frustrated because for some reason our route took us through the entire country of Belgium (literally...we hit Brussels, Antwerp, and every town in between), and it made absolutely no sense. They had dragged us northwest instead of just north. Everything imaginable happened...cramped spaces with sweaty, undeodorized Europeans, hit with bicycles, incidents with dogs and absolutely disgusting bathrooms. But after we got back to Well, we laughed about the whole thing. And then we stuffed ourselves with Chinese food, the only thing we had to eat that day. All in all, it was an amazing journey...although I would never want to repeat that train experience ever again.

permalink written by  KaraSeigal on September 29, 2008 from Luxembourg, Luxembourg
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