Michael P. Cutter

Graduate Student Researcher



During my research internship, I traveled to the countries marked in green on the map above; a country is colored if I have visited at least one of its cities.

Slide shows of a few of my favorite places



My home away from home. Kaiserslautern is semi famous in Europe for its football club FCK. This image is taken from inside the Fritz Walter stadium, which was built for the 2006 world cup. The town is beutifually located in middle of the Pfälzerwald (Palatinate Forest) and is blessed with countless bike trails and hiking paths.

ManarolaCinque Terre


Cinque Terre is a national park in Italy, about one and a half hours north of Pisa. There are five small villages on the coast, that are connected to one another by trails and train track. I took this picture on a trail adjacent to Monarola; which is my favorite village because of the excellent swimming cove and gelato.


I was fortunate to live within a short high speed train trip to the German speaking part of Switzerland. I visited Interlaken, Basel, Zurich, Schaffhausen, and Bern. Words can not describe the natural beauty of Switzerland...



The city of Hamburg old harbor district is filled with historic warehouses and is well worth a visit. While I was there I also visited “The Miniatur Wunderland”, which is the worlds largest model railway layout. This picture is of the Rauthaus (Town Hall) of Hamburg.

Carcassonne.png France


I am lucky to have had the chance to thoroughly explore some parts of France. Kaiserslautern is well connected to Paris by high speed rail. Five times a day there is a train that takes only 2 and a half hours to reach Paris. Once in Paris one can go anywhere since it is the hub of their amazing high speed train system. A word of caution, Paris has four main train stations so if you are catching a connecting train in Paris leave plenty of time for Metro connections.

Copenhagen Scandinavia


I took a 12 hour train trip from Kaiserslautern to Copenhagen. I was most surprised that my train boarded a ferry to cross over to Denmark. From Copenhagen I took another train to Lund, Sweden to visit my grandmother's side of the family.

Travel tips:

Destination planning

I use wikitravel for figuring out what to do in a major city. Wikitravel is generally not very informative for smaller destinations; so don't count out a place just because its wikitravel entry is sparse or non-existent. In fact you can always help everyone by "plunging forward" and adding information about wherever you are knowledgeable about.

Searching for accommodation

For hotels or hostels with private rooms I use eurocheapo.com. For hostels I use both hostelbookers.com and hostelworld.com at the same time to find the best price. Hostelbookers doesn't charge any fees but its prices are sometimes higher. Also sometimes a hostel will only be on one of the sites. Remember that many hostels are not listed on either of those sites; you will sometimes have to do your own leg work to find a cheap place. One hostel I found out about when our couch surfing contact fell through was an excellent place in Freiberg called, Black Forest Hostel.

Trains in Germany

When buying a ticket in Germany it pays to plan ahead. You can purchase a sale ticket online if you make your purchase minimum of 72 hours before your journey. However, the sale tickets are limited and under the policy of first come first serve, so it is best practice to purchase a sale ticket as soon as you know your travel dates. For domestic routes seat reservations are optional. In Germany, unlike France, more passengers are allowed on high speed trains then there is seat capacity. It will cost about 5 euros to guarantee a seat. If you are traveling during the summer or rush hour times and require a seat, it is best to pay the reservation fee In Germany it is possible to buy two types of bahncards, the bahncard 50 and the bahn card 25. These bahn cards reduce the rate of a normal price ticket by either 50 or 25 percent, bahncard 50 and 25 respectively. The bahncard 25 can be used to take an additional 25 percent of a sale ticket while a bahncard 50 has no effect on sale ticket's price.

Should you get a bahncard 25 or 50?

If you are the type of person who travels spontaneously and does not want to plan weeks or months ahead of time to get the sale price then get the bahncard 50. It is worth its cost of 115 euros (for people under 26 or 230 euros for adults) if you purchase more than twice the cost within the validity year (not difficult to do). However, if you are on a budget and plan your trips out in advance then get the bahncard 25. It's cheaper than a bahncard 50, only 59 euros (for people under 26 or 120 euros for adults). Additionally, you can take 25% off the cost of sale tickets (except for certain sale ticket that are already discounted to 29 euros e.g. sale ticket Kaiserslautern to Paris).


In Germany, almost all memberships automatically renew themselves annually. If you do not want your bahncard to be renewed you must go to your train station's Reisezentrum (ticket desk) and fill out a form at least six weeks before your bahncard is set to expire. You can also fill out this form ahead of time once you have received your plastic card in the mail (about 3 weeks after purchase).