Landschafts Park

Oh man, this was quite a while ago now. Like, before fall break. You can thank my laziness and spotty wifi for getting so behind on all my blog posting.

So a few weeks ago, we took a class trip to Landschafts Park in Duisburg. The area had a lot of industry (steel work and coal mining in particular) and the vestiges of these activities were left to rust. Landschafts park took the industrial structures of a steel plant and turned it into a large park. We learned about these post-industrial parks in school so it was really cool to visit and play in one. In the morning, we walked around the park. There was a section of outdoor climbing walls with hand holds everywhere! Very cool. My friend Ned, an avid rock climber, was reluctant to move on. We also got to climb to the top of the blast furnace.

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Here are some cool little gardens

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After lunch at a little kiosk, we went on a bike ride to a huge gasometer. Inside was a photography exhibit that looked like you stepped into an issue of National Geographic. Massive images were displayed in the space, all about mountainous and wild landscapes. We saw a few pictures of Iceland which was exciting! There was also three-dimensional model of the Matterhorn.

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At night, the structures were lit up in spooky colors.

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The next day, we traveled over to the Ruhr Museum that used to be a coal plant

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Paris: Gardens of Versailles

On Sunday, we planned on visiting Versailles then leaving from there to drive home. Going inside was expensive and we got there later than anticipated and the line was crazy long but the gardens were cheaper and had no line. We learned about the gardens of Versailles in class and I think we all had pretty high expectations for what they would be like. In my honest opinion, I thought they would seem grander. But these gardens were also designed mostly for looking at from a distance and not walking through. The level of detail was maybe less than I had expected but also exactly what I thought it would be like.

Here is the entrance to the palace.

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Around the side was the gardens entrance. The gardens were all about having complete control over nature. Shrubs are trimmed to make geometric designs and shapes.

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Here, you can kind of see the “axis to infinity” which was a symbol of power in the sense that it looked like the king’s domain stretched on forever (it didn’t).

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Sometimes being a landscape architecture student stinks because instead of just appreciating the grandeur of this place, I think “Wow what an extravagant waste of space” and “It wouldn’t hurt to add a little more plant diversity”. I know, I know, that’s rude to say about such a famous attraction. Anyway, branching off from the sides of this main axis was a maze of hedges that led to different spaces with statues and fountains.

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There were fountains everywhere but none were running. Probably because when they were built, they had to divert an entire river to make them run since (I think) the grounds were actually up hill from the nearest water source. When Louis XIV strolled through the gardens, servants would follow him and turned the fountains on as he passed and turned them off when he left because it wasn’t actually possible to keep them all running at once but still needed to create the illusion that they were always running. Pretty funny, I think.

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Paris: I Should’ve Bought a Beret

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My perspective of time has really changed with all this travelling. I would not have thought it would be worth it to drive five hours to spend a day and a half in Paris, just to drive five hours back. But, there I was, sitting in the middle seat of the rented hatch-back, sandwiched between Logan and Ned while Ben drove and Tom played the sound track to Bohemian Rhapsody the movie over the speakers. We had left at 2 or 3 in the afternoon on Friday and arrived at 9. Logan and I found our Air BnB and (as I’m sure you can guess by now) we went out to get food. It was not a far walk. The pizza place on our block looked good enough so we sat down. It’s been quite frustrating to not be able to communicate with people every where we travel. But, luckily, our waiter spoke English. The pizza at this restaurant was actually some of the best pizza I’ve ever had.

We had a full day of super-touristy sight-seeing planned for Saturday. In the morning Logan and I took a subway from our place to the Arc de Triumph, got breakfast, and waited for Ben, Ned, and Tom to come from their Air BnB. It was chilly and windy with minimal sun and I had left my warm jacket at home (I’m sure you’re disappointed mothers). Once they arrived, we took a tunnel below the traffic circle to see where it led and learned that you had to buy tickets to see it up close and (apparently) climb to the top of it as well. The line wasn’t too long so we decided to give it a go. The arc was pretty cool and the view from the top was unexpectedly lovely.

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Poor Logan just can’t escape all the tall things.

Anyway, after that, we strolled over to the Eiffel Tower. Stopping along the way to get food at a farmers market. Booths lining the streets sold little Eiffel Tower trinkets, postcards, berets, and other Paris paraphernalia.

The internet informed us that the Eiffel Tower is taller than the Washington Monument. Like the Arc, we had to buy tickets if we wanted to actually walk up to it and climb up it but we decided it was good enough to just look at it from afar. I took a million pictures of it but here are just a few.

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Next up is the Cathedral of Notre Dame, which I didn’t really know much about. Still, the intricate sculpture was impressive.

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There was this flock of pigeons in the plaza that would fly up and land on people if you just stretched out your arms. Here are Ben (left) and Ned (right), becoming one with Paris’s urban wildlife.

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After that, it was the Louvre. We didn’t go inside but walked around the court yards with the glass triangles.

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For a snack, we stopped at a bakery and I got a macroon. I wish it had lasted forever.

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In the evening, we went to dinner, then out to a few bars.

So who says one day in Paris isn’t worth it? No one does! ‘Cause it was totally worth it.

Here’s the whole crew 🙂 Tom, Ben, Ned, and Logan.

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Stay tuned for Versailles in the next post!

 

 

Greece: The Ancient Agora and Hydra

In the morning we went to the Acropolis museum, which was pretty cool. It was mostly statuary and pieces of ancient buildings and columns. The outdoor entry space had glass panels that looked down below on a current excavation site. On the way back to our room, we took a look at Hadrian’s Arch and the Olympion.

Hadrian’s Arch, right next to a very busy road

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Unfinished temple to Zeus in the Olympion.

2018-10-18 11.00.26Since our plan was to take a later ferry to the island of Hyrdra (Idra), we had to go back to our room, grab our stuff, and check out. After that, we headed over to the Agora, which was the open air market and civic center of Ancient Athens. It was much more vegetated than the Acropolis.

Here is a view of the Agora with the Acropolis in the background.

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Temple of Hephaestus

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We had noticed numerous signs that said “don’t pet the tortoises” which seemed strange until we saw tortoises all over the Acropolis and the Agora.

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After seeing a lot of old marble ruins, we sat down at a delicious falafel restaurant, then took a metro to Pireaus, where the ferry would be to take us to Hydra. I thought the port would be a cool area with boats and places along the water to sit, but it was a massive, industrial area with busy roads and over-sized cruise ships that broke the skyline behind them docked in the harbor. We got there way too early and walked around looking for a place to sit by our dock area. Lots of people walked by trying to sell things and asking for money, which was kind of uncomfortable. I had pictured the ferry as one of those boats where you can sit on the deck and watch the water but it turned out to be an ugly metal boat that looked like a plane without wings.

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We were hoping to see a sun set but passengers were confined to the cabin.

The sun was long gone by time our boat docked, at Hydra. Lights from the little town crept up the mountain sides.

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We walked along the waterfront and up to a lookout point, checked into our little hotel room, and then found a place for dinner. It was quite, without the noise of traffic on this (almost) car-less island. After watching fish swimming in the clear blue water, we turned in for bed.

Greece: Delphi

Wednesday, October 17th

 

We decided to rent a car and drive to Delphi, Greece. Logan thought it would be easier to rent a car from the airport. It was not easier. We had to get up and take the subway and two trains (we got on the wrong one) to get to the airport. Then wait for the airport shuttle to take us to the car rental place. It took much longer than expected but eventually we were on the road.

What I didn’t realize until the drive was Greece is pretty mountainous. The road climbed up the side of the mountain with some nice views down in to the valley below.

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Delphi is an ancient city that (I think) was where the Oracle, speaker of prophecies, supposedly lived. I assumed there would be some kind of temple at the top, but whatever path we were on did not have any temples to the Oracle. I think we must’ve missed something. A steep, wide path made switch-backs up the slope. Every level were more ruins, temples, and other buildings.

I can’t tell you much about what we were looking at because there weren’t many signs or maps an I also didn’t do any outside research. But still cool.

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We saw this wild pig/boar thing crossing the road.DSC_0258_edit

 

There are cats all over Greece!

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Greece: A Day at the Acropolis

Tuesday, October 16th

It’s the early morning. A taxi just dropped Logan and I off at the Frankfurt Airport. We got through security, bought some tea and pastries, and took off toward Athens. It seems that more often than not, boarding a plane in Germany involves getting on a bus that takes takes you to the plane, rather than using a jet way directly from the airport. They also board for the front and the back which is more efficient than just boarding from the front.

The plane landed in the late morning. A warm breeze swept across the tarmac as we made our way to the airport. A seemingly-endless hallway from the terminal finally ended in the train station. I was glad I’d done all those lessons on Duolingo to learn the Greek alphabet, even though all I could do was sound out all the words (I had no idea what they meant). We hopped on a train (hopefully) heading toward the center city, transferred to a subway, and emerged somewhere in the center of Athens. The GPS took us through a maze of cobblestone streets and hidden staircases. Lazy cats rested in the shade of olive trees.

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We turned a corner and suddenly came face to face with the towering plateau of the ancient Greek Acropolis. Stupid me somehow didn’t realize what is was and I said something like, Wow, that looks important”.

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Anyway, we eventually made it to the hotel where we talked to the cleaning lady who told us that the toilet in our room was broken so they were moving us to another room. Apparently, that room was in a completely different hotel. We followed her through the streets to a more touristy section of the city and took us to a much fancier room.

Dropping our stuff off, we left to look for food. Since we were pretty hungry, we sat down at the first place we saw. I got moussaka and Logan got a Greek salad which comes with a big block of feta cheese on top.

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With bellies full of food, it was time to go sight seeing.

Being a student is pretty great, because almost everywhere we went offered student discounts. Wide paths took us through ruins of various temples and amphitheaters, leading us up to the real show at the top.

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There was a cool view so I thought I would do a handstand in front of it:

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But then suddenly, someone whistled at me. She said to treat this like a museum. These people are apparently stationed all over these attractions, whistling at people who do things they aren’t supposed to do.

Here is a picture of the Propylon, the entrance to the Acropolis.

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The Erecththeion, Temple to Greek Goddess Athena (Makes sense, in the city of Athens). On the left sides is a porch with columns shaped like young women. These are called “Caryatids” (I learned about them in architecture history).

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The Parthenon!!!! Unfortunately, covered in scaffolding.

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View of the Agora from the top of the Acropolis

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So I sat down on a rock to do a sketch of the Parthenon. Logan came and sat beside me. “Ew! Are those teeth?!” He pointed at what was a molar (I think) with its roots fully intact, laying in the dirt. We speculated for while before deciding to ask one of the people working there if it was important. She said that two years ago the did find a full skeleton but I feel like they’d be more careful about keeping all the teeth they found. She carried them off in a paper towel.

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So basically, we were involved with an archaeological dig on the Acropolis. Pretty neat!

We ate dinner at another restaurant near the hotel (well, I actually think it’s more of a guest house). In more touristy areas, it seems the waiters will stand out front of their establishment and aggressively encourage people walking by to come eat at their place, which makes it difficult to objectively choose a place. I will say that the service here seemed much quicker than in Germany. AND, we got glasses of free water! After dinner, we walked around a bit, before going to bed.

A pretty successful first day, I think!

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Lovely Little Beilstein

Hi everyone! I recently got back from fall break! My wonderful parents came up to visit me for the first half of break. We spent one night in Dusseldorf vising a neighbor of Mama’s when her family lived in Germany.

After a day in Dusseldorf, we drove to a very tiny town on the Mosel River called Beilstein. Population: 130. It’s nestled away in the river valley among the patchwork of vineyards that sneak up the mountain sides. When the wind blows, it smells slightly like grapes.

My mom had originally booked a room where I would sleep under a five-foot-high ceiling but luckily, she switched it to a cute little inn called the Hotel Gute Quelle. Our window overlooked a central market platz.

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We arrived after dark and ate dinner at the hotel’s restaurant. The next day, we took a bus to Cochem, a bigger town where we rented bikes to ride up to Burg Eltz Castle. The ride was longer than expected (per the family vacation tradition) but it was through a nice wooded trail. We locked our bikes and hiked up to the castle.

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The castle was pretty neat. Apparently, the families that owned the castles had many important political ties that kept the castle from being attacked so the entire castle was intact. We toured the inside, which was furnished with period furniture. Unfortunately, we couldn’t take pictures inside.

My parents had planned on taking a ferry from Cochem back to Beilstein but the tour took much longer and it was clear when we got back to our bikes that we weren’t going to make it. And we still had to bike back to Cochem. We could have taken the train, but we didn’t. And we biked back along the road, even though there we were told there was construction. Luckily, it was Sunday so the site was not active. Finally, we arrived in Cochem and decided to take a taxi back.

The next day, we went on Rick Steves walking tour of Beilstien, then took a boat tour along the river.DSC_0082

We were getting some snacks in Cochem where the boat let us off when Logan called to tell me that there was a hostage situation in the Bonn central station and he could not get on the train to Frankfurt. Our families were visiting at the same time and we planned on meeting up in Frankfurt so Logan and I could fly to Greece and his parents could fly to their next destination. I asked if we needed to pick them up but he said he was figuring stuff out. He called a few minutes later and informed me that the hostage situation was actually in Cologne but all trains headed south were stopped. Eventually, he agreed to getting picked up and we made our way to Frankfurt.

Hola aus Barcelona!

[Originally written on Saturday, the 29th]

Right now, I am on the plane flying back from Barcelona. Arrival at the airport and check in for our flight was much more difficult than it needed to be but here we are. Our class went to Barcelona because a biennial landscape architecture conference was happening, but also because we wanted to go to Barcelona.

We landed in the city after a very early flight and took a train to the subway station where we sweat our way to the hotel. After dropping off our bags, we headed over to Park Guell, designed by famous architect Antoni Gaudi.

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Our coordinator took us on a tour around the city, down busy streets and through lively plazas and parks. Las Ramblas, a busy pedestrian walkway, and the Barcelona Cathedral. He left us to go do work and we explored a bit, then had lunch at a tapas place.

In the evening, we went to the opening ceremony of the conference. A bunch of my friends had spent last summer in Barcelona, in a study abroad studio, and all lefter after the opening to get food. But an another classmate who speaks fluent Spanish and already knew her way around the city took a few friends an I to a less-touristy seafood place. We ordered appetizers, a pitcher of sangria, and an absolutely fantastic seafood paella!

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The next day, we attended some presentations in the morning, then went to an open air market for lunch. It was bright and colorful, with vendors selling fruit, juices, pastries, and meats. One stand had samples of salsa and chips. Without reading the label, I took a scoop of salsa and popped it in my mouth. Then Logan told me the salsa was made with ghost peppers. They are very hot.

A few of us then decided to go see the Sagrada Familia (also by Gaudi) which is a very famous cathedral. There were no tickets available to go inside so we just looked at the outside which was quite spectacular.

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Instead of taking the sweaty subway back, we walked around the city and through the Arc d’Triomf park by the hotel.

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For dinner our AIB coordinator, a lovely man, made us reservation at a tapas restaurant. We didn’t have to order anything, they just brought s a bunch of pre-ordered tapas. All delicious.

On our last full day, we went to a presentation before lunch, then took a trip to Casa Batllo, a house designed by Gaudi. It was cool to see, but all the rooms were empty to make space for the tourists. And there were a LOT of tourists!

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Before the closing event and reception for the conference, a group of us decided to head down to the beach. I looked for cool rocks while a few people swam in the ocean.

In the morning, before heading out, Logan, Haoran, and I went with our AIB coordinator to a walk around the park. No one else came because they were all sleeping. Anyway, it was an enjoyable walk.

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Greece: Hydra

Friday, October 19th

We had planned a big hiking excursion around the island but decided to take a day to relax after days of walking through ruins in the hot sun.

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In lieu of cars, the people on the island use donkeys as their main source of transport. In the morning, donkeys were lined up at harbor waiting to be loaded up.

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There were also cats that would wait to snag fish from incoming boats.

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After breakfast, we took a stroll down one of the roads, just to see where it went. There were many cats hanging out along the road side and an occasional trash truck that passed by. Returning to the town, we sat by the harbor and watched the fish swim around. When two big cruise ships dropped off a hoard of people, we decided to head to the beach. A pebble beach just a kilometer or so from the main harbor.

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Here is a very picturesque bench under a tree, looking out toward the mainland.

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We encountered quite a few cats on our walk. This one was my favorite.

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The pebble beach!

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I waded in up to my waist while Logan swam for a bit. The rocks weren’t very comfortable to walk on so we spent a while sitting and looking for cool rocks and stacking the flat ones. In the evening, we boarded the ferry (which was bigger than the one we took to get to the island) and spent the night in a very bare-bones one star hotel. For dinner, we went to a delicious place that had gyros. Getting back to the airport was an easy subway ride.

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🙂

 

Berliner Weekend

DAY 1

Last weekend, I flew to Berlin. We got in around mid morning and just walked around the city for a bit, not looking for anything in particular. We spend some rime in Alexander Platz. There was a festival going on with food and beer stands. I packed a sandwich but my friends got potato latkes, curry wurst, and schnitzel so I just bummed food off of them. There was a beer stand selling banana hefferwisen and Ned went over to order one. The vendors were chucking as they poured the drink and laughed out loud as Ned walked away. The same thing happened when Ben. He decided to go back and ask what was so funny, and apparently he told Ben that it’s a ‘girly’ drink. I thought it tasted gross. But I think all beer is gross. It was hot and muggy and I wished I had shorts on instead of jeans. After sightseeing, we took the train to our lovely Air BnB, settled in, then walked to the Rewe for groceries. Dinner was a feast of baked chicken, rice, and vegetables with cake for dessert. (Thank you to our head chef and sous chef, Logan and Ben respectively).

DAY 2

The next day, we headed out after a delicious breakfast to the center of Berlin. First we stopped at the Petersburg Gate, crossing over in to western Germany.

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Then we walked along an allee to a sculpture. I don’t know what it was called.

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We went to a design exhibit about the future of food which had a mix of real projects and satirical future solutions that mocked the current state of the food industry. Particularly funny was a theoretical project proposing VR (virtual reality) glasses for chickens so it looks to them like they are free range when they actually packed together in a dark warehouse.

After lunch. Well, I think we had lunch. We went to the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe. Experiencing this memorial was surreal because we discussed this memorial a lot in class (the design intentions and such) so it was interesting to see how successful the memorial was. It is supposed to be an immersive, isolating, and somber experience. Unfortunately, the memorial – to those who are unaware – looks like a very fun places to play and run around.

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DAY 3

Our plane didn’t leave until 9:25 PM on Sunday so we had plenty of time to see more things. We started with some Berlin Wall exhibits.

The East-Side Gallery
We walked down a portion of the wall that had murals done by artists after the wall had fallen.

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The Berlin Wall Museum
I honestly knew relatively little about the Berlin Wall and there was a lot of interesting information about the history here. There was  a portion of the wall sectioned off to show what it originally looked like with the inner and outer wall and the death strip in between.

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After learning all the depressing stuff about the Berlin Wall, we went to an exhibit called “The Topography of Terror” which detailed the events of World War II and Hitler’s rise to power because we wanted to be even more depressed. But honestly, it was quite interesting, although hard to swallow.

After being sad all day, we got dinner at an Irish Pub, then headed to the airport. Check in was a breeze and we set up camp at a little table near our gate. We played the card game Saboteur for a while and waited for the information for our gate. Finally, we got our gate and had to run all the way down the terminal to get to it. But right as we arrived, they announced that our gate changed to one that all the way back where we had just been sitting. Then our plane got delayed. And delayed again. We didn’t end up boarding until 11:30 pm.