Tag Archives: tourism

Where In The World Is Agnes Irvine Scott?: Episode 7

27 Apr

Flat Agnes did spring break Europe-style! She spent 2 weeks doing 9 cities in 4 countries. Check out her updated map below, as well as some of her selfies!

Map of Flat Agnes's travels

Map of Flat Agnes’s travels

France

Luxembourg

Flat Agnes's travels in Luxembourg

Flat Agnes’s travels in Luxembourg

Belgium

Italy

For a more detailed map of where Agnes has traveled so far, go to think link!

https://mapsengine.google.com/map/edit?mid=zzJvgL802O74.kHDO49BIkIng

Tips for Travel: Italy

27 Apr

I know it has been absolutely forever since I’ve posted, but between travel, school, and my internship, things have been crazy! However, I just returned from a fantastic trip to Italy. I spent 6 days exploring Vatican City, Rome, Florence, and Venice. I saw and experienced so much, but I also learned some good lessons. In honor of the four weeks I have left in Europe, I will give four helpful hints for traveling to each of these cities.

 

Vatican City

Sign leading to the Vatican Museum

Sign leading to the Vatican Museum

1. You cannot get to St. Peter’s Square and St. Peter’s Basilica from the Vatican Museum and Sistine Chapel. They have separate lines and both are crazy long (2-3 hours).

2. Definitely get tickets to get into the Vatican Museum before you get there. It is definitely worth the price to get in (8 euro for the Vatican Museum and Sistine Chapel for students), but the line can get a little tedious. You can order your tickets online though before you go and get to skip the line.

3. Ignore the people walking by offering to let you get in early with their “skip the line” tours. If this tour is legitimate (some of them don’t seem to be real) the groups are incredibly large and get very crowded. Better to save your money. The cheapest tour of this kind that we were offered was 25 euro a person.

4. Remember that this is a religious place. It doesn’t matter if you are Catholic or not; it is a sacred place and should be treated as such. People will get angry if you don’t treat it with respect (me included).

Rome

At the Trevi Fountain

At the Trevi Fountain

1. If you buy a ticket for the Colosseum, you are also buying a ticket for the Palatine Hill and Roman Forum. Therefore, your best option is to go to the Palatine Hill and Roman Forum first and buy your tickets there. The cost is the same and your wait time will be cut in half. Then you will feel magic when you get to the Colosseum and get to skip the hour-long line to get it (I know I did).

2. Go to the Trevi Fountain at night! It is less crowded and the lighting around it is fantastic!

3. There is a place right on the Trevi Fountain square that is fantastic for cheap dinner. They have pizza that you purchase by the weight and they have fantastic (and inexpensive) gelato!

With the Gladiator

With the Gladiator

4. There are men walking around the city dressed as gladiators and are willing to take a picture with you. Just remember that this will cost you! They may try to tell you that it is a ridiculous price after the picture is taken (ours tried to get 20 euro from each of us), but don’t pay any more than a couple euro a piece. When in doubt, negotiate a price beforehand.

Florence

Room at the B&B Guelfi e Ghibellini

Room at the B&B Guelfi e Ghibellini

1. Stay at the B&B Guelfi e Ghibellini. It is about a 15 minute walk from the center of the city, but it is in a nice area that has a grocery store and good restaurants. The rooms were fantastic, the people who worked there were so warm and helpful, and the breakfast was wonderful and consisted of breads, jams, cereal, meats, cheeses, quiche, and pastries, as well as coffee and tea. It also wasn’t any more expensive than any of the hostels would have been.

2.If you want to go see The David at the Academy Gallery, book tickets in advance. That is what everybody suggested and even though we didn’t want to go inside to see it (not enough time), we saw that the line was crazy to get in. Should you really want to see it though, I’ve heard to it worth it. If you don’t really care about seeing the real one, there is a reproduction of it right outside of the museum with a number of really cool other status.

Reproduction of The David outside of the Academy Gallery

Reproduction of The David outside of the Academy Gallery

3. Florence is a good city to just walk around. However, wear good walking shoes. The cobblestone streets aren’t the most even to talk on and the sidewalk tends to break up or slope at random places.

4. Check out the Galileo Museum. Though it isn’t advertised as much in the tourist information online, it is supposed to be fantastic!

Venice

1. Spend a day just walking around Venice. We only have 1 full day in Venice and we didn’t plan anything out. We started at the main square next to the train station and just started wondering throughout the city. We went through little alleyways, over bridges, and found some very pretty gardens. I honestly felt like I got more out of Venice from just walking around than I would have from visiting a bunch of museums and churches.

2. Invest either time or money in the masks of Venice. At least spend some time wondering through the mask shops of Venice. You can find some pretty masks at the tourist shops and stalls, but the real art is in the handmade masks that can be found in shops all over the city. They really are an art in themselves. Zach (once of my friends I travel with) invested in a beautiful, handmade mask, while I invested in an inexpensive plastic one from a tourist stall. Both are very pretty.

3. Gondola rides run around 80 euro. We just couldn’t justify the price for one. Therefore, if you’re trying to travel thrifty, try not to get your heart set on a ride. If there are more inexpensive options, I definitely did not see them.

4. Sit and relax at a cafe on the canal. Have some lemoncello, or a spritz (Italian alcoholic beverage), or just a pop (soda for those of you not from the Midwest). Just sit, relax, and take in the beauty of the city!

 

I hope those hints are a little helpful in your planning. If you have any more questions, just comment here and I’ll get back to you. Here are some more pictures from our adventures below.

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Where In The World Is Agnes Irvine Scott?: Episode 1

23 Dec

In honor of its 125 Anniversary, Agnes Scott College has started a “Flat Agnes” campaign. What this campaign has done is sent little cut-outs of our school’s namesake, Agnes Irvine Scott, so that students and alums can take pictures with her around the world. That being said, I will not be taking Flat Agnes around with me in my study abroad travels.

Agnes’s first introduction was to–surprise–Brussels! However, we were lucky to be joined on this trip by the wonderful Agnes student Alex McLellen, who is currently studying abroad in Northern Ireland. Below are the pictures of our trip, as well as the map of Agnes’s first step abroad!

Agnes's First Stop: Brussels, Belgium

Agnes’s First Stop: Brussels, Belgium

 

 

 

 

Playing Tourist (Fall Break Day 8)

9 Nov

I know that I am skipping a day again, but on day 7 my friend and I both woke up pretty sick. We spent most of the day in bed at the hostel until that night when we went to the movies and saw Thor 2 (which was exciting because it came out in Europe before it came out in the US and because it takes place in London).

On Saturday, our last day in London, we got to play tourists and just try and get up-close to the sights that we hadn’t had a chance to see yet. We got off the Tube at the Westminster stop and went out the exit toward the river. After taking pictures of Big Ben, we walked over to Westminster Abbey. I really wanted to go inside, but it was unfortunately closed for a special service when we got there. However, we got to explore the grounds around the abbey itself, and it was beautiful! After exploring the abbey for a while we started our walk over to Buckingham Palace (it should have been a short walk but there is a lot of construction in London right now that cut off our route a couple times). We grabbed lunch next to the Victoria Station at a restaurant called Shakespeare (had the Big Ben Burgers). After lunch we continued our journey and stopped along the way for some much-needed souvenir shopping (some of the best shops are the ones next to Buckingham Palace). We got our photo shoot in at Buckingham Palace right before it started raining again. Since neither of us wanted to get more sick, we decided that that was our cue to head indoors and wait for our bus home. We found a Starbucks back at the Victoria Station and enjoyed their free wifi for a while. In my opinion, it was a nice, relaxing end to our trip in London!

Below are some of the pictures from our last day!

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Don’t worry, I didn’t forget about the last day of Abroad With Amy Trivia! This is your last chance to receive a special prize from London! First person to answer the question below will get the prize.

Here is the answer from the last post: (Congrats to Jodi Seybert for being the first to give the correct answer!)  The original Crown Jewels of England, some most then likely dating back to Edward the Confessor in the 11th century, were destroyed after the Civil War in 1649. During the Civil War, the Tower fell into the hands of the Parliamentarians. After King Charles I was overthrown and executed, Oliver Cromwell ordered that the Crown Jewels be taken to the Tower and destroyed and used for purposes to benefit the Commonwealth. The gold objects were melted down and made into coins. The gemstones were removed from their settings and sold. When King Charles II reestablished the monarchy in 1660, he commissioned new Crown Jewels to be made and modeled after those that belonged to his father. These Crown Jewels were completed by his coronation on St. George’s Day in 1661. The only piece that remains is the 12th century gold Anointing Spoon, which is used to anoint the Sovereign with holy oil during the coronation.

Today’s Trivia Question: Westminster Abbey was first used for a coronation in 1066 with the coronation of William the Conqueror, King William I. Since then, Westminster Abbey has been the uninterrupted sight for coronations and has held 38 coronations. However, two monarchs since then were never crowned. Who were these two monarchs? 

Historian Heart: Halloween at the Tower (Fall Break Day 6)

8 Nov

Most people can pinpoint the exact moment when they knew what their passion was. Though I had always been interested in history, I know the exact moment that I fell in love with history. That moment was when my dad gave me the book The Six Wives of Henry VIII by Alison Weir. Though I bought this book for him for his birthday and I read it after him, I absolutely loved it! I became obsessed with Tudor and Reformation English history. Therefore, it can be understood that going to The Tower of London was an absolute dream come true. For those of you who do not know much about the history of the Tower, here is a brief description.

The Tower of London

The Tower of London

The Tower of London

On the sight of former Roman ruins, the Tower of London has a history of being a fortress, a prison, a castle, a palace, and now a museum. It is also the home of the ravens. The ravens that are housed at the Tower have their wings clipped, so they cannot fly away. The presence of these ravens at the Tower are traditionally thought to protect the monarchy. It is said that “If the Tower of London ravens are lost or fly away, the Crown will fall and Britain with it.”

The Norman Beginnings

Remains of the Roman city wall

Remains of the Roman city wall

Edward the Confessor died in 1066 without any direct heirs, which left many people attempting to claim the throne. Though Edward’s brother-in-law Harold Godwinson was crowned, William, Duke of Normandy, claimed that he was the rightful king of England. William eventually defeated King Harold at the Battle of Hastings. After William’s coronation at Westminster Abbey on Christmas Day 1066, he travel to Barking in Essex, ‘while several strongholds were made ready in the City to safeguard against the fickleness of the huge and fierce population, for he saw that his first task was to bring the Londoners completely to heel’.(1) The location of this fortification was on the sight of the former Roman city walls. Those fortifications were eventually replaced by the White Tower, which was completed by 1100.

Medieval Times

The medieval kings built on to the original White Tower to make the Tower of London the fortress that is famous today. Additions were added by Richard the Lionheart, John Lackland, Henry III, and Edward I. By the reign of Edward I, the Tower was already being used for military purposes, as a residence, and as a prison. However, Edward saw the Tower as a safe place to store valuables and papers. The Royal Mint was established an the institution played a significant part in the Tower’s history. The Tower became of great importance after the Wars of the Roses. It saw the tournaments of Henry VI, the coronation celebration of Edward IV, and victory parties for Henry VII. However, it also saw the executions of Henry VI, Edward V, and his brother.

Tudors and Reformation

Armor of Henry VIII

Armor of Henry VIII

The reign of Henry VIII saw the end of the Tower’s role as a royal residence. His break with the Catholic Church caused the number of prisoners held at the Tower to increase. Some of these prisoners included Sir Thomas More, Bishop Fisher of Rochester, and his wives, Anne Boleyn and Catherine Howard. All four of these prisoners were eventually executed.(2) After the death of Henry VIII and his son Edward VI, Lady Jane Grey was crowned queen. Unfortunately, she only held the throne for nine days before she was overthrown and Mary I ordered her execution. Lady Jane Grey was executed at the Tower. Mary I also had her half sister, Princess Elizabeth (future Elizabeth I) imprisoned there. When Elizabeth finally became queen, she continued the trend of imprisoning large numbers of people in the Tower.

Civil War

Along with Charles I’s reign came a devastating civil war that saw the fall of the English monarchy. During the war, the Tower fell into the hands of the Parliamentarians. The first permanent garrison was added to the Tower by Lord Protector Oliver Cromwell in 1653. After the monarchy was reestablished with Charles II in 1660, the Tower became less of a prison and became the headquarters of the Office of Ordnance.

Tourist Attraction

Though the Tower had guided tours as early as the 1590s, the amount of visitors to London who visited the Tower increased dramatically in the 19th century. By the end of Queen Victoria’s reign in 1901, over half a million people were visiting the Tower each year.(3)

The Tower of London

The Tower of London

Famous Prisoners of the Tower (4)

  1. Anne Bolyen- The second wife of King Henry VIII, Anne Boleyn resided in the Tower twice, once while as queen-in-waiting before her coronation and again as a prisoner. After three years of being married to Henry VIII and her continued inability to give birth to a male heir, she was arrested and charged with adultery, treason, and an alleged incestuous affair with her brother. She was executed on May 19, 1536. Her cousin and fifth wife of Henry VIII, Catherine Howard, was also executed at the Tower in 1542.

    Room of Sir Walter Raleigh in the Bloody Tower

    Room of Sir Walter Raleigh in the Bloody Tower

  2. Sir Walter Raleigh This prisoner is known as the longest-serving prisoner of the Tower with his confinment of 13 years, though not always at the same time. He engineered the failed English colony at Roanoke Island, but was a favorite of Elizabeth I. His first imprisonment was in 1592 when he secretly married one of the queen’s maids of honor. His second imprisonment was in 1603 when he was accused of plotting against King James I. He was housed in the Bloody Tower, but lived in relative comfort because of his high social status. Sir Walter Raleigh was eventually released and sent to Central America to look for El Dorado, but was eventually executed for attacking a Spanish outpost without the King’s orders.
  3. The Princes of the Tower- The Princes of the Tower included Prince Edward V (12) and Prince Richard of Shrewsbury (10) who were the children of King Edward IV. They were housed in the Tower after their father’s death in 1483. They were placed there by their uncle Richard, Duke of Gloucester, and had their titled stripped from them so that he could take the throne and become King Richard III. These two boys disappeared and were never seen again after mid-1483. Though the bodies of two small boys were eventually found, it has never been proven that they were the bodies of the Princes of the Tower. (At the Tower, there is an interactive voting system where visitors can cast their vote on who they think killed the children: Richard III or Henry VII.)
  4. Guy Fawkes- Guy Fawkes was imprisoned in the Tower after the failure of the Gunpowder Plot that was meant to kill King James I and other members of the British government by blowing up the House of Lords. This plot was meant to be taken out on November 5, 1605 (November 5 is now a holiday in Britan known as Guy Fawkes Day). Due to an annonymous tip, Guy Fawkes was caught, tortured, and condemed to be hanged, drawn and guartered. He escaped this fate by jumping off of the gallows and breaking his own neck.
  5. Lady Jane Grey- Edward VI, son of King Henry VIII, died without a male heir. He did not want the throne to fall into the hands of his Catholic half-sister, Mary, so he chose tennager Lady Jane Grey to take the throne so that it would remain in Protestant hands. Lady Jane only held the crown for 9 days before Mary raised a rebellion and caused Jane’s downfall. She was taken prisoner in the Tower and was found guilty of treason in 1553, but was pardoned by Queen Mary I. Unfortunately, her father took part in a Protestant rebellion that led to their execusions, her’s being on the Tower Green on February 12, 1554.
  6. Rudolf Hess- Though the Tower became a tourist attraction by the 20th century, it was briefly reinstated as a state prison during World War II. Rudolf Hess was one of two Nazis captured on British soil and were held as prisoners in the Tower. Hess was known as “Deputy to the Fuher” and served as second-in-command to Hitler. He was capturedafter her parachuted into Scotland in 1941 in a renegade attempt to negotiate peace with the British. Churchill did not trust that he really wanted peace, and imprisoned his in the Tower. He only remained there for a few days, but he was the last state prisoner held at the Tower. He was eventually put on trial at Nuremberg and served a life sentence. (Added note for Agnes Scott students: During the 1930s, Rudolf Hess’s niece was a study abroad student at Agnes Scott. Another Agnes alumae, who was a translator at the Nuremburg Trials, actually met up with her again and asked her opinion of the war, in which she apologized for the role of her family in the war).

I hope you enjoyed that little history of the Tower of London! Now it is time for Abroad With Amy Trivia!!

Answer from last post: Congrats to Lesa Ward in correctly guessing the last trivia question! The first Ferris Wheel was introduced in 1893 at the Chicago Worlds Fair, also known as the World’s Columbian Exposition to celebrate 400 years since Columbus found the new world. The World Fair committee wanted to find a centerpiece to their fair that would outshine the centerpiece of the last world fair, the Eiffel Tower from the Paris Worlds Fair. The Ferris Wheel is named after its designer and constructor, George Washington Gale Ferris, Jr.

Entrance to the Crown Jewels

Entrance to the Crown Jewels

This post’s trivia question: One of the highlights of visiting the Tower of London is getting to visit the Crown Jewels. However, these are not the original Crown Jewels. What happened to the originals?

Works Cited

  1.   “The Normans,” Historic Royal Palaces, http://www.hrp.org.uk/TowerOfLondon/sightsandstories/ buildinghistory/normanbeginnings.
  2. “The Tudors,” Historic Royal Palaceshttp://www.hrp.org.uk/TowerOfLondon/sightsandstories/buildinghistory/tudors.
  3. “19th-Century Tower,” Historic Royal Palaceshttp://www.hrp.org.uk/TowerOfLondon/sightsandstories/buildinghistory/theTowerinthe19thcentury.
  4. “6 Famous Prisoners of the Tower of London,” History Channelhttp://www.history.com/news/history-lists/6-famous-prisoners-of-the-tower-of-london.

Historian Heart: A Day at the Citadelle de Namur (Fall Break Day 1)

27 Oct

I officially started my week of fall break! Since it is a full week and I will be traveling around a great deal, I will be updating my blog almost every day to make sure that I get as much information in as possible (plus, I’m really enjoying writing all of this down!).

On the train from Brussels to Namur

On the train from Brussels to Namur

Today marked my first day trip to somewhere in Belgium. I don’t know what took me so long, but it finally happened! Though my friend Hannah and I were originally going to go to Paris for the weekend, we decided it would be easier and more economically sound to just do two day trips here in Belgium. Today’s adventure was to the historic town of Namur, Belgium in the Namur province of Wallonia. We had a blast walking through the vendor-filled streets as soon as we got into the city (even when my purse strap ripped and I had to buy a new bag) but we spent most of our day enjoying the amazing weather trekking to and visiting the Citadelle! There are three main parts to the Citadelle (The Castle of the Counts, Médiane, and Terra-nova) and the some of the most extensive underground passages in the heart of a citadel in Europe. I’ll go into a little bit of the history of the different parts of the castle, because we had an amazing tour guide and we learned so much!

The Castle of the Counts

The tower is left from the original medieval structure. The bridge next to it was added by the Dutch, and the connecting structure was added later by the Belgian army.

The tower is left from the original medieval structure. The bridge next to it was added by the Dutch, and the connecting structure was added later by the Belgian army.

 

The Castle of the Counts is the original, medieval portion of the Citadelle. It was built between the 10th and 15th century. It is located between the Sambre and Meuse river, in between the county of Namur and the beginning of the Liege province. The Citadelle was originally the home of the earls of Namur. There are very few pieces of this original castle left. Some of the doorways and arches in the underground passages were taken from the original structure. There are also a few towers and pieces of foundation left. Hannah and I realized we were really meant to be friends when we both got way too excited about touching an archway from the Middle Ages. It was like we were kids in a candy store. It is also interesting to see how these original pieces have been mixed in with other structures throughout time. The Country of Namur and the castle were sold to the Duke of Burgundy in 1421.

 

 

The Médiane

A window for soldiers to put their guns out of to shoot. Three soldiers would be assigned to each of the windows along this wall. There was also a set of ventilation shafts to get rid of the smoke from firing their weapons.

A window for soldiers to put their guns out of to shoot.

 

The Médiane was added in the 16th century. The location of the Castle of Counts at the junction of the rivers and important trade routes made it important strategically, but also made it vulnerable. It was because of this vulnerability that Charles V ordered the Médiane to be built. This area was more equipped to the use of cannons, which was becoming more and more prevalent, as well as have better resistance to bombings. This is also the area where the underground galleries were started. Most of these galleries were used for storage of supplies.  Today, the general outline of the Médiane and a casemate still stands.

There was a specific room in the underground passages that was designed for soldiers to be able to shoot out of to the oncoming enemy. Three soldiers would be assigned to each of these windows and they would take turns shooting. There was also a ventilation system built into the hallway to take the smoke from shooting out of the room.

 

 

Terra-nova

The highest point of the bluff in Terra Nova.

The highest point of the bluff in Terra Nova.

Terra-nova is the newest portion of the Citadelle. The work to establish this new defensive system was started in 1631. There were numerous improvements and modifications to the site after that time. When Louis XIV came through this area, it took him 3-4 days to take over the county of Namur, but 4-5 weeks to take over the Citadelle. When he did, he asked his military architect (Vauban) to review the Citadelle and improve upon the weaknesses. One of the main areas that Vauban changed is the underground passageways. Not only did they expand them, but they changed the way in which they were formed. Where they were originally formed with limestone, Vauban constructed the new tunnels with double-fired bricks, which was meant to try to keep out the water and moisture that the limestone did not. At the end of the 18th century, the Citadelle was dismantled and abandoned by Napoléon Bonaparte. The area then saw a revival under Dutch rule from 1816 to 1825. The Citadelle eventually lost its military necessity in 1891 and was progressively opened to the general public.

Underground Passages

Officer's barracks (with creepy wooden soldier)

Officer’s barracks (with creepy wooden soldier)

The underground passages, also known as the Termite Nest, are the most well-known part of the Citadelle. They go below the the Médiane and Terra Nova. They range from limestone, brick, and stone covered in concrete (to keep the moisture out). It is clear to see the different impacts each of the previous owners of the Citadelle have had on the construction of these passages. As stated before, you can see the efforts the French made in improving upon the construction of the tunnels. You can also see the specific influence the Dutch made on also waterproofing the tunnels, especially in their specific construction of the stairs with trenches running down the sides to easily rid the stairs of water.

These tunnels were also used by the Belgian army during World War II. Starting in 1939, the Belgian army spent 8 months improving the tunnels to be functional for large amounts of soldiers, as well as their officers. Two different barracks areas were established in the tunnels under Terra Nova and Médiane. The officer’s area was built to hold 20-30 officers and had 3 restrooms available for them. The enlisted men’s area was built to hold 200-300 soldiers and also had 3 restrooms available for them. They also worked hard to design a special ventilation system to support extended stays below ground. Unfortunately, Belgium fell to Germany in only 18 days when the war finally started for them.

 

All in all, we had a fantastic day in Namur! Here are a few more pictures of our day, and I look forward to writing about my next fall bread adventure!

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Things I Learned While in Amsterdam!

6 Oct

At the end of last month, I returned to the Netherlands after 3 years! It was a quick weekend trip to Amsterdam, filled with two missed trains, free lodging (thanks to a friend!), and tons of laughs!

After being in Amsterdam twice now, I can say pretty comfortably what the most important thing to do for tourists is to do. That is taking a canal tour! Amsterdam loves their canal, and rightfully so because they are historical and absolutely beautiful! There are also lots of options. For us, we wanted a great experience for a reasonable price. Though there were other cheaper options, we ended up taking the Eco Tours Canal Tours which was 18 euros for 75 minutes. It was an open top boat that only took about 12-15 people max. Lucky for us, there  were only 9 people on ours, including our captain/tour guide. It was a very personalized tour, and our captain was obviously very knowledgeable about the history of the city and the canals. Along with some of my favorite pictures, I wanted to give everyone some of the tidbits of information that he bestowed on us. Enjoy!

FUN FACTS OF THE AMSTERDAM AND THE CANALS!

  • Approximately 15,000-16,000 bikes are pulled out of the canals every year by the city of Amsterdam.
  • The houseboats on the canals are at least temporarily attached to the seawalls. They are required to be moved for cleaning and maintenance every few years.
  • You can no longer buy a new slot on the canals for a houseboat. If you want to live in a houseboat, you have to purchase one that is already there. Though the price is extremely expensive, it includes the price of the boat and the slot itself.
  • Back at the beginning of the city, streets did not have street numbers on them. Instead, each of the houses had a name and symbol. A good amount of those symbols are still on the houses today (in my pictures, there is a house that was the “Red Lion”).
  • A good number of the houses around the canals are leaning. Some are leaning because the ground under them have shifted through time. Others were built intentionally leaning to make getting shipments in and out of the buildings easier.
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