Monday, December 28, 2009

A Picture of Most Members of the Study Tour

This is a picture of those who were present at the first meeting in October. We weill take another one in the airport and I'll post it here.

4 Days to Departure

I hope you all had a great Holiday and are still having a relaxing break. In 5 days we will depart for Berlin and I wanted to touch base with you. I'll be sending another e-mail 24 hours before our departure. Here is a list of essential things that you MAY not forget: Your passport, ATM card, credit card, any essential medication, some cash. (See below for additional information!)

We all have electronic tickets. Our flight from Washington to Frankfurt is a non-stop flight. Our group confirmation number is: (I have sent this via e-mail). I will order vegetarian meals for those who indicated that on their health forms.

It looks like there will be a 40% chance of snow showers on New Years Eve and New Years Day, the day of our departure. Therefore, I would recommend that you leave early and check the weather report on a regular basis. Please plan to be at the airport at least 3 hours prior to our departure, the latest by 2:30 p.m. Please, make sure to leave early.

The weather report for Europe calls for snow and rain (depending on where we will be). The weather will be similar to here in the USA on the West Coast. Therefore, please take with you winter clothes: warm gloves, snow boots, warm winter coat, sweaters, etc. Here is the link for the weather in Berlin ( check it out.

I have made reservations for everyone for the opera and paid for that using my credit card. I prefer if you can pay me in Euros once we are in Germany. This will be the easiest for me. I am looking forward to seeing you all on January 1 at 2:30 p.m.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Post-Meeting Advise

At the last meeting on Friday, I didn't have enough time to go over everything. Here are two issues that you need to keep in mind:

1. Money: 
  • An ATM card is the best way to get cash everywhere. Therefore, make sure that your ATM card is unlocked and usable in the countries we will visit. It takes up to a week to do that. Therefore, contact your bank immediately. Make sure you also have enough money on your account.
  • I would take at least $300 in cash, for emergency situations. In case you are only bringing cash with you, then I would suggest $50 a day (total of $600).
  • Credit cards: Visa and Master Card are accepted everywhere. However, many shops, bars and restaurants don't accept credit cards. Don't plan on using your card to pay for lunch and drinks. You will need cash for that.
 2. Rechargeable batteries for cameras, etc.: 
  •  Does your camera or camcorder use rechargeable batteries or not? Make sure to bring enough batteries with you in case your camera takes regular batteries. Don't forget your power cords and plugs!!!
3. Getting to Dulles airport in Washington, DC
  • Everyone MUST be at the airport by 2:30 p.m. We will meet at the Lufthansa counter. Please don't check in until we all arrive. We will check in as a group.  After we check in, we will have a short meeting together. I would recommend carpooling together. Therefore, those who from the Westminster area who are planning on driving to the airport and can give someone a ride, should let me know how many people they can take with them. I know from 2 people who need a ride. We will then meet at my house or at the college and then will drive from there.
 4. Food: Please let me know if you are vegetarian or have any dietary restrictions. I'll then try my best to accommodate your needs. I can order a vegetarian/kosher/fish/etc. meal.

5. Additional fees: Those who didn't bring their checks with them, please pay the additional $100 at the Bursar's Office or stop by my office and bring your check, put it in envelope and leave it under my office door.

6. Blog: Please check out my Blog for the trip at:

I encourage you all to create your own Blogs before we leave. Let me know if you have any questions how to do that or click on this link for a video tutorial:

Meeting on December 4th

Our final meeting will be on Friday, December 4th at 3 p.m. in Hill Hall 104. This is obligatory and every McDaniel student MUST attend it. Bring your laptops with you, in case you have one. Also please e-mail me with any questions you have.

In preparation for the meeting, please inquire about the following issues:
  1. Call your bank and make sure your ATM card can be used in Europe (Germany, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary and Austria)
  2. Find out from your cellphone company whether you can use your cellphone in Europe and how much this will cost you.
  3. Do you have your passport? Did you give me 2 copies of the information page? If not, then bring those with you to the meeting. If you didn't get your passport yet, you need to contact your elected officials and ask for their help.
Good News: I have just learned that our tour guide will be Jürgen, the same person I had 2 years ago. He is simply awesome. He is bi-lingual German and Hungarian and speaks fluently English. I'll call him and talk to him about 2 optional tours: a night cruise on the Danube in Budapest and a de-tour to visit the castles of Ludwig II in Bavaria. These are not part of the trip. In order to do that, there will be an additional fee. Last time, we paid 40 Euros for both. I don't know how much this will be this time, but I guess not more than 50 Euros. It will be definitely cheaper than going through the travel agency, which will charge double the amount. Also the travel agency has charged us $34 extra for the non-stop flights from Washington to Frankfurt and Frankfurt to Washington. Therefore, please bring a check in the amount of $100 (made out to McDaniel) with you to the meeting, to cover the 2 tours and the additional fee for the non-stop flights.

In the price you have paid there is a lifetime membership fee for EF. In case you have traveled with EF before, you will receive a refund of $100. Those who are traveling the first time with EF, are entitled to a discount next time they travel with EF. Currently, there are 5 or 6 students who have traveled with EF in the last 4 years. I'll e-mail you separately. You don't have to pay the $100 additional amount. EF will issue us $100 refund for you.

Opera in Vienna: I contacted the Opera in Vienna and tickets fir both the State Opera and the Volksoper will go on sale for January 2010 on December 1. Therefore, I need you to read the descriptions below (and see the prices) get back to me what you prefer to see. Here are the options Just e-mail me back with

Option A: Jan 8: State Opera: Manon - Opera by Jules Massenet (3 hours long with intermission)
Tickets cost 57-168 Euros (most expensive and also will be sold out very fast. It is the opening night o a Friday. I doubt that we will find any good seats.)
Option B: Jan 8: Volksoper: The Land of Laughter, Operetta by Franz Lahar with English subtitles (2 hours and 45 minutes with 1 intermission)
Tickets cost: 36-80 Euros
Synopsis: Lisa, daughter from a good Vienna family, falls in love with the Chinese prince Sou-Chong. The couple want to lead their life as a couple in China, but the cultural differences are soon revealed as unsurmountable and their love fails as a consequence. The prince is ultimately left only to conclude sadly: "Always keep smiling..." - even when your heart is at its most despondent. Franz Lehár created beguilingly beautiful music, making this work one of the most well-known and most frequently performed operettas worldwide. With English Subtitles

Option C: Jan 9: State Opera - Nutcracker Ballet (2 hours with Intermission)
Tickets cost 48-130 Euros

Option D: Jan 9: Volksoper: La Boheme, Opera by Giacomo Puccini (2 hours and 15 minutes with 1 intermission)
Tickets cost: 36-80 Euros