It is carnival season! Recently I took a weekend trip to Italy were I got to experience Venice Carnival. Venice carnival is the second largest carnival that takes place in the world. Thousands of tourist flock to the island city to experience the tradition that happens every year. I arrived for the kick off of the event and it succeeded its hype. Everyone wears mascaraed mask the whole time which is very cool to see the details of the mask. To put it into perspective their mask are like our derby hats. Then the carnival kicked off with a parade as most events do, but since Venice doesn’t have streets the parade flowed through the city canals. This years theme was blame the moon so all of the floats had that incorporated into them. I thought this parade was very interesting because while it was a parade it felt more like a performance. Most the parades I have seen just have giant beautiful floats but these floats had dancers and performers on them which was very cool. It was very cool to see this cultural event that has been taking place for centuries happen and I would recommend anyone studying abroad in the spring to check it out.
One of my favorite places that I visited during my time in Germany was Strassbourg, which lies just within the borders of France. Strasbourg is a very interesting city because it has been passed back and forth between France and Germany many times over its lengthy history. Because of this unique history, there is a strange and wonderful cultural blend between German and French cultures. Although they are a part of France, and French is the official language, it isn’t hard at all to find someone speaking German in Strasbourg, or as the Germans spell it, ‘Straßburg’. This was definitely an advantage for me, as my French skills were virtually non-existent. Strasbourg is pretty touristy, so it wasn’t hard to find menus in English, but it’s always possible to run into a language barrier.
While visiting Strasbourg, I would definitely recommend climbing the tower of the cathedral. While entering and viewing the inside of the cathedral is free, climbing the cathedral is not. Luckily, most places in Strasbourg offer a significant student discount. While the view from the top of the cathedral is not necessarily the most amazing in Europe, it does offer a nice view over the tops of the low buildings that make up most of Strasbourg.
I would also recommend stopping for a glass of wine or a hot cup of coffee in ‘Petite France’. This part of the city is very old and historical. From here you can also take a boat tour along the picturesque canals of the city.
Overall, Strasbourg is an amazing city and deserves a visit, especially if you’re studying in Western Germany or Northern France.