Thursday, April 26, 2012

The Volkswagen Scirocco

The new Volkswagen Scirocco. The hatchback that sticks out from all the rest. It's nimble, quick and sleek. Its smoldering grimace catches the eye of any passerby. It is the best small hatchback I have ever seen in my life.

Why am I so obsessed with the Scirocco? Maybe it's because I saw the diesel version reviewed on Top Gear, my favorite car show. Though that review was not in the positive for this wonderful little car, it was the diesel version. The gas (or petrol, as Europeans call it) version offers a lot more satisfaction. For one thing, it does not sound like a canal boat barreling down the road. Also, it's faster, more responsive and better sounding than its diesel friend. 

Another reason I'm obsessed with it is because no one has one. There are a few in Europe, but in America, we don't even know what this car is. Who knows anyone that has one of these? If you know someone, tell me. I'll buy it off of them. 

I'm actually not that big a fan of the hatchback. I've never actually understood the concept or appeal, but the Scirocco... The Scirocco has changed my mind. It makes the hatchback appealing and cool.

Not mention it's called a Scirocco. How cool of a name is that? Doesn't get much cooler than that. Except maybe the Lamborghini Aventador, but that's a whole different league of car.

Well, back to Scirocco. I get distracted so easily. The name Scirocco has an interesting meaning. It is a term used to describe a wind that blows from the Sahara Desert over north Africa, southern Europe and the Mediterranean. It's a particularly strong wind that often causes extreme sandstorms. The Volkswagen Scirocco indeed flies like the wind, unless you have the diesel version. Then it's a canal boat puttering it's way down the river. But it's not a diesel. Because I wouldn't buy a diesel. Because I like to fly like the wind.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Adventures in Meow-Meow Land

While living in Vienna, I took several trips to a place called Meow-Meow Land. It's a magical place where anything can happen. On my first trip there, I met a beautiful young lady and fell in love. She is the Princess of the Meow-Meows. Luckily, I knew how to speak the Meow-Meow language so our relationship took off quite quickly.

Together, we journeyed to Meow-Meow Land, often stumbling upon bad guys and meanies around every bend. We chased them away and fought them off as best we could. Occasionally, I would turn into Princess Meow-Meow's faithful steed and take her far off into Meow-Meow Land's beautiful countryside.

One of our many adventures in Meow-Meow Land

Princess Meow-Meow stole my heart away. She is so adventurous, energetic and beautiful. She also has quite the amazing imagination.

I even think that she liked me back just a little bit. We had quite the amazing relationship.

I'm going to miss seeing this pretty Princess in Meow-Meow Land. I haven't been back there since I returned home from Vienna. Maybe, someday, I'll be able to walk the streets and hills of Meow-Meow Land with my little Princess.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Bright Angel Trail

I am down in Arizona giving the Grand Canyon a visit. I could not be prepared for the grandeur that this magnificent wonder has to offer. The are miles of multi-layered, red rock creating valleys, hills and cliffs that are amazing to behold.

After seeing such a beautiful sight, we embarked on our ambitious journey. We quickly found our trail after being advised that we shouldn't take it. Regardless, we were on an adventure and nothing was going to stop us.

The total journey, to our destination and back, was measured at 12 miles. We were headed to Plateau Point, a spot nested in the middle of the canyon with epic views of the canyon and the Colorado River. On the way down, feeling sprite, I stopped for a photo op.

Don't look, mom. I'm being stupid. I promise that I'll come home safe.

Our first six miles to the plateau were a piece of cake. We were there in no time, enjoying the views and our lunch.

This is the view back to where we came from. We started at the top of this ridge. 

The Colorado River. 

The view directly ahead of us.

Full of life and energy (thanks to our lunch) we started making our way back. Since the hike down to Plateau Point was 99.9% downhill, that meant we were in for quite a little workout. Perfect. That's what I came down here for. Summer of the six pack in action!

We cruised through the first mile and a half and realized something quite terrible. The temperature out in the sun was 110ºF. That's pretty dang hot. And about 90% of the trail was in the sun. We continued to cruise along until one of our group members began to feel quite nauseous. We still had 4.5 miles left in the hike at this point.

Eventually, about six and a half hours later, we reached our destination. It was too bad that one of us got a little sick, but in the end, everyone was fine and we were proud of our amazing accomplishment.

The place we went is right by my hip. That's quite a ways.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Human Pyramid

Being clever college students, we are always trying to find simple, inexpensive (usually free) ways to entertain ourselves. One form of entertainment, of which I'm sure we never tire, is forming a human pyramid. This idea never gets shot down. There is always someone willing to sacrifice their body to recreate the equilateral shape. Then everyone sees how much fun they are having and before you know it, you have enough people for a decent sized pyramid. Awesome.

Well, while we were visiting the deceptive and tricky fountains of Hellbrunn in Salzburg, this amazing idea came to our minds.

"We should totally make a pyramid!"

"That sounds SWEET!
How many people do we have?"

"Umm... (1, 2, 3... ) We have 7."


"Yeah. 7."

"I don't think we can make a pyramid with 7."

"Sure we can!
We have to.
It's the best idea we've had in a long time.
We can't just let it slip by!"

"True. Let's do it!"

"Hey! The Hinckley kids are here.
Maybe they can help us make a real pyramid."

"Let's ask. That would be awesome. They'll totally do it."

After much persuasion and empty promises, our dream became a reality.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Time to get Married

It is about time, folks. I definitely need to get married. I just decided that now is the time. Well, I didn't technically decide this. The decision was made for me. I just happened to stumble upon my wedding band and all the sudden, it's time.

Check it out!

It's made out of carbon fiber!!! How could any guy resist this? It is essentially the epitome of cool. When I get married, I'm definitely getting one of these bad boys.

Now I just need to find the lucky lady that can stand me wearing this, let alone, stand me.

I have my work cut out for me.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Last Sunday in Vienna

Sunday was my last full day in Vienna. I am back in the states now and it is good to be back. I'm going to miss a lot of things about Vienna. One thing that I will miss the most is my host family. They were so amazing and so kind to me and my roommate. They really made my Vienna experience a million times better.

Their kids were so cute and we had so much fun playing with them.

I love this face. He makes it for every picture. :) 

After one used the basket, they all wanted a turn. 

She is so adorable! I can't get over it.

The youngest was being exceptionally adorable and she let me hold her. I just had to get some pictures because she was being irresistibly cute.

All smiles and cute as can be. 

Playing with my tie. 

Giving me some kisses. This was so cute!

I'm so grateful for my experience in Vienna. It was amazing and it really did change my life. I'm so glad I got to study and learn great things as well as create new, lasting friendships.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Shadows of Salzburg

I was briefly in Salzburg for a night during my amazing Spring Break. We were able to go up to the huge castle/fortress at the top of the hill, but didn't get to spend too much time there. After our week long tour of Italy, we headed to Salzburg to stay for a few days. This gave me plenty of time to go back up there. It was absolutely amazing and some awesome things happened up there that I could have never planned by myself. This is why I have amazing friends.

Andrea and Jarom

Jarom, Teancum, yours truly, Julia

We spent one entire evening up there and it was beautiful. One of the churches down below has enormous lights that light up the entire castle at night. Upon taking some of these group pictures, we noticed something amazing.

Our shadows were being cast on the castle! Oh boy! This night was not going to end any time soon.

We proceeded to get a little more creative. We tried spelling some words.

Alright! This one turned out awesome. Teancum's "e" was definitely the highlight of this shot. Awesome.

Then we attempted to be a little more adventurous. A couple was walking around where we were and saw that we were making words. They quickly offered their help and soon we were up to six letters. So, what six-letter word could we spell? We all put our brains together and then cleverly came up with a five-letter word.

Yeah. Don't ask about the "w." There are some sore spots there.

After creating two words, we decided just to go nuts. Here is what we came up with!

Jarom and Andrea being cute and married

Hearts to show our affection for Salzburg

Julia and I were making crazy shapes. I won't mention how long this went on...

Julia doing something awesome. She'd kill me if she knew about this.
(Note :: if no further posts follow this one, it is safe to assume that I'm dead)

Thursday, April 12, 2012

A Few More Reasons I Love Florence

There are a ton of reasons to love Firenze. Ties just happen to be a small part of the experience. Who can honestly turn down some good Italian ties? I obviously couldn't. There are some other reasons that are more dear to me and made my experience in Firenze amazing.

1. Breathtaking Views

I am a sucker for finding the highest point in a city and just staring and marveling for quite some time. Our group has labeled this as 'parking' and it is my favorite thing to do. I don't like to feel rushed from place to place. I like to go at my own pace (which is usually slow) and soak everything up.

This night scene was absolutely gorgeous. I couldn't stop looking at it. I could have stayed and stared through the entire night until the sun crept over the horizon. I just love how the prominent and important buildings make themselves known and the rest of the city just glitters and glows.

2. Quaint Architecture

This was one of my favorite pictures. In my mind, it shows the evolution of a building. It's almost like it started out a lot smaller and someone just started adding more parts to it. It just has so much character and freedom. There is no defined symmetry or stress for everything to match. It was not created using cookie-cutter technique. So beautiful.

I love these buildings that are just right against the water. It's perfect for night scenes as the lights reflect off of the water.

3. A Large River

I have decided that every city needs a large river that runs through it. The trickling of the water is so hypnotic and relaxing. At night, it really works some magic and enhances any light that touches its surface.

4. Bridges

This is a direct bonus because of the river. Bridges are just so much fun. One bridge in Firenze actually has apartments built on top of it. It's also filled with jewelry shops on the bottom level. It would be so cool to have an apartment on a bridge.

5. Narrow Streets

Barely a small car could pass through a lot of the alley ways in Firenze. Most of the center of town is all walking, which is nice. It's just filled with people and shops and lots of things to do. Everything is just crammed in nice and cozy.

6. Artistic Moments

I took a picture of two bicycles. I felt artistic, in a city full of amazing art. Nowhere near Michelangelo's David, which I saw in person and was completely blown away. I really wish I would have just snuck a picture but I didn't. I was just so captivated and overwhelmed by how amazing it was. Besides, a picture would not have done it justice. I've seen tons of pictures of it and was not prepared at all for what I saw.

7. Friends

What would a beautiful city in Italy be without the company of amazing friends? I'm glad I had so many with me. They really made this whole experience totally worth it. In fact, if we didn't even have Italy as our backdrop, it still would have been totally worth it to just be with these people.

I just love these people so much. They all have made my experience on this study abroad so amazing. I didn't have pictures of all of them in Firenze, but everyone in our group has made this overall experience far exceed any expectations that I had.