Category Archives: World & Travel

One ticket – boundless fun

As the semester break is slowly approaching, it’s time to plan your activities, if you haven’t already. If you love backpacking, you should definitely try Interrail. It’s one ticket that allows you to travel by train across Europe. You can choose between one country (One Country Pass) or several (Global Pass, 30 countries). I did this two years ago and had lots of fun. Three weeks with the Global Pass gave me the chance to travel to three countries, the UK, Ireland and France in the summer.

A beach in Cornwall.
A beach in Cornwall

First stop: England

I took the plane from Memmingen to London, so I visited the UK capital first. However, other parts of England you don’t usually visit much were more interesting. So I travelled to Cornwall and was stunned by its natural beauty. St. Ives (Cornwall) is a really small town, but it’s as beautiful as the rest of this region. When visiting Land’s End, you feel like you’re in a different country, because it’s not how I had imagined England: blue sea, sunshine and very nice paths along the coast. Even beaches. The windy weather is dangerous for sunburn, as I experienced painfully.

Killarney National Park
Killarney National Park

Second stop: Ireland

A ferry to Ireland was next. The journey went by very fast and then Dublin was a blast. Street musicians, lovely people, cosy pubs, it has everything. Next stop was the small town of Killarney. With a national park in sight, I rented a bike and explored it. Everything is green and you feel really healthy.

So far so good – but trouble was brewing, unbeknown to me. I mixed up the dates at the end of July. I’d almost boarded the train to the port of Rosslare, when I noticed my blunder. The ferry was departing in a few hours that very day whereas I thought I had an extra day, which is why I booked an extra night in Ireland. Things then got very hectic. Will I ever get to France in time? When does the next ferry depart? Where do I stay till then? I contacted Irish Ferries, and thank God, they were very kind. The next ferry was departing in three days and they cancelled my reservation on the other one. And they got me a ticket for the next trip. I even found a nice hostel in Dublin until then.

seine
Seine sightseeing tour

Third stop: France

Paris was my first choice in France and I wasn’t disappointed. I can very much recommend a Seine sightseeing tour. There are boats leaving every 30 minutes at the Pont Neuf, and it’s a really different view from down on the river, especially at sunset. After only three hours aboard the TGV, I found myself on the Côte d’Azur in Marseille. Finally, 35°C and a beach to relax on. And the restaurants have delicious food, especially fish and vegetables from the region.

Go try it yourself!

In the end, it was a fantastic trip. You even get discounts on ferries, and as long as you’re under 28, the pass is cheaper. So don’t hold back – explore Europe!

Author & Pictures: Thomas Kienast

New York City – aftermath of the election

One of the most vicious elections in history, the biggest story of 2016, the gaudy circus, the bitter fight for the White House or the mud-slinging Clinton vs Trump – whatever one may choose to call it – resulted in reactions all over the world. In the aftermath of Donald Trump’s election as the 45th president of the United States, New York seemed to be in turmoil. Hundreds of people marched to protest against Trump’s election. The streets were filled with people chanting slogans, traffic jams, honking cars and police officers. Three students from University of Augsburg sum up their different impressions and experiences on their study trip to New York with Prof. Dr. Middeke right after the election…

posters

Carolin

You couldn’t pass a television or newspaper kiosk without seeing Trump’s face. The election was omnipresent – you heard people discussing the recent event everywhere. Once a young woman and two cab-drivers wanted to know what we Germans thought about this topic. We all admitted that we’d never expected Trump to win, and that we thought his victory was a bitter pill. I only talked to one older man who voted for Trump and claimed ‘Trump has no experience and no experience means good experience. He’s neutral and powerless.’ The conversations I had really made me think about people and their attitude towards democracy.

Michaela

I thought we’d see more riots and more upset people, but the New Yorkers seemed relatively calm, even though almost none of them really support Trump. But I saw a protest on Time Square, with people marching on the streets, shouting ‘Not my president!’, and holding up signs of protest. My personal favourite was one that said ‘This P*ssy grabs back!’ right in front of the Trump Tower on 5th Avenue. And while I was eating a burger on Broadway, a girl handed me this note…

protestLaura

Visiting New York was an amazing, surreal experience. One thing was always present on the trip – the US elections. When I heard the news, I was shocked and also tense about what visiting New York after such an election would be like. When we were eating breakfast, the election and its consequences were all over the TV screens. As we walked out of a shopping mall, the only thing we heard was countless people yelling NOT MY PRESIDENT’. Walking past the Trump Tower meant walking past a huge amount of security. One homeless man wore a Trump mask and held a shield that said ‘Trump is our president. Need money to leave the country’.

Author & Pictures: Stefanie Frank

London on a student budget

If there is any vacation destination that I could call my home away from home it’s London. The British capital captured my heart from the first time I visited and has me coming back as often as I can. But frequent trips to London have one major drawback: this city is bloody expensive! So when my best friend asked me to spontaneously accompany her for just three days, I hesitated for a while, wondering if the expense was worth it for the limited time we had. In the end, I went with her, of course, and spent under €200, thanks to a couple of things I learned during my previous visits.

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In 2001 all state-managed museums in London abolished admission charges, which means all of the major museums like the National Gallery or the Tate Modern are completely free. This allows you to basically museum-hop, which is what I like doing in the city more than anything else. If you want to visit the British Museum, just to look at the Rosetta Stone and admire the impressive architecture of its main hall – go for it! Tea at the Victoria & Albert and a quick detour through the dinosaur exhibit of the Natural History Museum? Lovely idea!

Churches

London makes up for the free museums with horrendous admission charges to its beautiful churches like Westminster Abbey or St.Paul’s. During a service, however, it’s completely free. I would especially recommend the choral evensong at Westminster Abbey; sit down to listen to the famous choir while taking in the gothic architecture and delicately carved décor.

West End showslondon3

No visit to London would be complete for me without seeing at least one West End show. Lots of theatres offer special daily tickets for a huge discount, but most of them are on a first-come-first- serve basis and require lots of queuing. So if you’re pressed for time or simply don’t want to research all the different deals, drop by the “tkts” booth in Leicester Square. They always have a lot of discounted tickets for evening performances on the same day, so you can go by and just pick what’s cheapest or sounds the most fun.

Food

You can find the best bang for your buck for a quick meal at “Wahaca”, a Mexican grill right beneath Waterloo Bridge. Their 6-pound pulled pork burritos are mouth-watering and satisfy even the biggest hunger. And if you want to make a little sightseeing trip out of it, cross Waterloo Bridge at night for a breathtaking view across the whole cityscape, get your burrito and wander along the Thames in the direction of the Tate Modern. Your path will take you through trees full of twinkling fairy lights and to Blackfriars Bridge, where you can check out “Doggets Coat & Badge” pub for a pint of cider or alelondon4.

Author & Pictures: Anna Reinbold

America, what have you done?

Trump won.

This sentence is as shocking as it is short. It only takes these two words to shatter what was left of the hopes of tolerant people. But it looks like we have to start getting used to being a minority. Tolerance seems to be out of fashion. The new season brings the colours of racism, hate and anger.

I can still remember the times when racist comments would be regarded with public indignation. But today, Trump’s triumph has proven what Brexit had already foreshadowed: racism, intolerance and sexism are socially acceptable again. A person who boasts having “grabbed women by the pussy” and plans to build a wall, in a time when history has long proven that walls must fall, has been elected the 45th President of the United States.

You can only imagine the dictators of this world, watching the presidential debates and the procedures of the election night and rejoicing over the fact that democracy is ruining itself. Look, they will say to their people, this is what happens if you give people a choice!

IMG-20161109-WA0017

The choice the American people made last night will not only affect their own country. The consequences are already visible. The stock markets are plunging and Canada’s immigration website collapsed under the rush of desperate Americans looking for a way out.

What will happen next? Frauke Petry as the next Bundespräsident? Kim Jong Un attacking South Korea? Everything is possible now in a world where the seemingly impossible becomes a hard fact.

In spite of the facts I received this morning via all news agencies, I have to admit I didn’t give up hope until it was already too late. Apparently, I’m a desperate optimist. Deep down I just couldn’t imagine that anyone with at least a brain and a heart would actually vote for Trump. I was terribly wrong.

In his election night message, Obama said: “No matter what happens, the sun will rise in the morning”. Famous last words, one could say, because the sun has risen, but what it has revealed is far from the sunny side of life.

Author: Noemi Hehl
Pictures: private

Tips for a great Dublin experience

Spending a semester abroad has been on my to-do-list ever since I started studying, but you know how things can go sometimes. Plans change, things get in the way, and in the end you have to set your priorities. Last term I finally did get my chance to take an Erasmus semester in Dublin and I honestly have to say that it was one of the best experiences of my life. So here are some things you absolutely shouldn’t miss while you’re on the green island.

dublin4

Explore the country. Ireland is really not all that big. With the Bus Éireann lines you can get from Dublin to Belfast in a few hours relatively cheaply. Landmarks like Tara, the Giant’s Causeway or the Cliffs of Moher are just a wee bit away. If you’re taking a semester abroad, the international societies like the Erasmus Student Network organise trips regularly as well. Ireland is beautiful. Go see for yourself!

Grab a few friends and visit Temple Bar in Dublin. I don’t think I’ll have to say much about it, but one bit of advice: the famous pubs aredublin2 cool, but, well… famous. My favourite place was a small cafe a bit further down the road. You still had the whole setting, but you could actually talk without having to shout at each other or having to cope with getting elbowed in the back. Keep your eyes open and you’ll find a bunch of places that are not on tourists’ radar.

Check out Grafton Street. There’s always stuff going on in one of Dublin’s busiest shopping streets. Very close to Saint Stephen’s Green (a beautiful park), it leads you straight to Trinity College. On the way you will not only find the Gaiety Theatre, all sorts of shops and restaurant, but also street performers and buskers. You can find some real gems there and occasionally even catch some more famous bands. If you are there around Christmas, prepare yourself for an incredible experience. Choirs, Christmas music and the lights and decorations transform Grafton Street into an absolute winter wonderland. The snow generally gets substituted with cold rain, though.

dublin

One really important tip for all fellow students: you probably won’t be able to get a room at the on-campus residences, at least not until well into the semester. So arrive a week or two earlier, embrace the hostel lifestyle and then use Daft.ie, the local newspapers and the Facebook pages of the international societies (again, ESN helped me a lot here) to find a place to stay. You’ll probably be able to get something that’s significantly cheaper than on-campus accommodation, too.

Other than that, just be open-minded. The Irish are extremely welcoming (and chatty) people and if you approach them with a smile, they’ll pay it back with nothing but kindness. I’ll never forget my time in Dublin and I can’t wait to return to catch up with all the friends I have made there.

Author & Pictures: Andreas Böhm

It’s not about the money

We all know this problem: the desire to discover new places in the world, see as much as you can, but without much cash. So what do most backpackers do? They save their money on food: fast food, instant noodles or sandwiches. Anything that‘s easy to prepare and that fills your tummy.

But when I was in Sydney, I discovered a place where you can get really good restaurant food, even on a small travel budget. Lentil as Anything is a non-profit-making organisation which runs six pay-as-you-feel restaurants in Australia. Their philosophy is that everyone should have the opportunity to eat out and be social, regardless of their financial situation.

When you enter the restaurant, it’s a warm and welcoming atmosphere. The furniture is simple but modern, designed with much love and creativity. The walls are covered with paintings and other artwork. Every table has a menu that offers breakfast, lunch and dinner, depending on the time of the day. You might expect that the low costs mean it’s automatically self-service, but I was more than surprised that after a few minutes a friendly waitress came to our table to take our order.  We felt like guests at her house and she was inviting us for dinner.

The people working in Lentil as Anything are all volunteers or long-term unemployed. Or backpackers. For two weeks of helping out in the restaurant, backpackers can get free accommodation and, of course, a warm meal. And the meals are not only more nutritious and diversified, but also much healthier than a Big Mac Menu at McDonalds.

One aim of the restaurant is to promote multiculturalism, which is also reflected in the food. It’s basically a mix of everything. One customer is having Indian curry for breakfast, while at another table people are having scrambled eggs with bacon. And, of course, there are vegan meals too. And if you‘re still hungry, you can order the banana pancakes with syrup (which I can only recommend!). Before you leave, you can think about how much money you want to spend and put in in the box. And if you want or if you can’t spend anything at all, then you simply don’t put anything in the box.

Now you may be asking the same question that came to my mind after visiting this place: how can the place survive? Can, in today’s society, such a model make enough money to pay the rent, utilities and stock? Apparently it is. The philosophy has been working for over thirteen years now and in the last five years three new restaurants have been opened.

Surprisingly, people who visit the restaurant are not only homeless or backpackers, but also families with a normal income, who get the chance to take their children to a restaurant to enjoy good food more often. And that‘s how donations are collected.

So, for your next trip remember that a small travel budget does not necessarily have to mean that you can’t afford to eat out in a restaurant – the pay-as-you-feel philosophy is becoming more and more popular in all parts of the world, and who knows, maybe there‘s a similar place at your next destination 😉

Author & pictures: Carina Lamb

Airbnb – there’s no better place to stay

Low-budget traveling has been cool for a long time. The most popular way to go on holiday without much money Airbnb1is certainly staying at a hostel in a dormitory with four to fourteen people. But honestly – is this a “holiday“? If you want to hear your roommates snoring or you want to discover more of their bad habits, you should definitely spend your time there!

However, let me tell you about another, for me personally more comfortable, nicer way of going on a journey. In any case, a very well-organized, practical website to book your accommodation, in any case is Airbnb. You may have heard of it yet: it’s an online platform where people from all around the world offer you a place to stay. The community was founded in 2008 in California to give people who have a free bedsit the opportunity to subrent it, as well as providing an alternative to low-cost booking websites such as “couchsurfing“.

Users can either provide a private room or a whole apartment. Using the website is quite easy. Just choose the city you want to go to and the date, and thousands of hits will appear, from expensive to cheap. The offers are very diverse and, of course, reliable. Airbnb guarantees booking security so you can check in advance whether your host has a good rating or not. A further advantage is that you’re able to pay online, so there’s no need to carry lots of cash with you during the trip.

As a Airbnb2passionate traveler I have already visited eight different places with Airbnb, so I’d like to share one experience with you:

Probably the most adventurous, extraordinary place I’ve been to was a wooden bungalow in the middle of the jungle in the southern Thai province of Krabi: imagine…35 degrees and no air conditioning, sharing your daily shower with frogs, lizards and cockroaches, getting bitten by thousands of mosquitos. Even though this doesn’t sound like a relaxing holiday at all, if I look back now, it’s just a really funny, unforgettable memory which only cost €9 per night.

Anyway, Airbnb has simply everything. It‘s a precious opportunity to explore so many different places, and get to know interesting people from everywhere. Simply unmissable!

Author and Pictures: Isabelle Zint