Sunday, August 30, 2009

first day waking up in germany

after not nearly enough sleep, i woke up in my sunbathed and quiet room letting in crisp mountain air from an open window. stef and i ate a breakfast in the upstairs kitchen (two kitchens!), during which i sampled pear nectar, cherry streusel cake, a german roll with homeade plum and bitter cherry marmalade. we hopped in her mom's car, picked up gideon and drove to hiedelburg for the day. this is a medium-sized city famous for its castle ruins and oldest university in the country, both of which we visited. it was my first castle experience, and it was ridiculously fantastic. it had been built in the third century but never completed, and continued random construction through the eighteenth century until they gave up. inside the castle grounds was an interesting pharmacy museum, and a barrel museum with one so large it could get literally hundreds of people tipsy on wine only emptying half of its contents. we watched a newlywed couple ride by on a horse-drawn carriage through the grounds and admired the architechture as wells as the panaoramic shot of the entire city. we headed to the old part of town, and visited another ornately designed church. we walked around and window shopped for a couple hours, and i learned gummy bears are wildly popular here (bought a cup of cappucino coffee bean shaped gummies for her parents and a mug of yellow bears and white marshmellow mice on top for michael). we hit up the old university museum, lecture hall and even the old student prison. from early 1700's to mid 1900's, the college had legal soveriegnty over its students and put them in "jail" for several weeks at a time for minor offenses like jousting between fraternities or getting caught drunk. the bleak walls were carved and painted with soot, ash and smuggled paint, and are still covered with drawings, poems, witticisms, photos and fraternity symbols. the three of us found a small cafe and i ate a bratwurst with mustard. while we were dining, some guy came by and gave us baby roses on behalf of a candidate running for chancellor in elections next month. before leaving town, we meandered around the neckar river and walked over a reconstructed bridge blown up in wwii. we drove (i napped) to her cousin martina's 40th birthday party and spent almost 4 hours with her family feasting. about 25 people, all but a seven year old much older than us, spent the evening relaxing outside under a canopy. dinner was a 4/5 course buffet of goodness. i had 11 kinds of cheese today! i drank champagne with orange juice and again with lemon sherbert, pear liqour, honeydew melon liqour, plum schnapps and wine, but the family thought i was several drinks behind the pack and was surprised i didn't have more. i'm not even a medium drinker of any kind of drink, and still barely a minor in the us, so its quite different for me here. another full day with much appreciated sleep...
hallo from deutchland! i arrived in frankfurt friday morning at 7:20, or 12:20 am texas time and met up with my lovely german friend stefanie. i was already exhausted from the flight and time difference, but riding on adrenaline and ready for my savvy tour guide to show my the city. i rode my first european taxi to avoid lugging my 20 pound backpack and two 50 pound suitcases around and dropped them off at to her friend michael's car for the day and took off to enjoy the area! we ate breakfast at one the hundreds of little sidewalk cafes, where i gobbled down a pflaumenkuchen plum tart and a quarkini sugar puffball. we wandered around a playground, the main river, a romanesque church and town hall, and then made our way to the johann wolfgang goethe house and museum. goethe is one of germany's most famous authors and poets, and incidentally the 28th was his birthday so entrance to the home he grew up in and an art gallery was free. next, we headed to the jewish museum and checked out artififacts from centuries of jewish life in frankfurt. stef had reserved a time for us to check out the frankfurt stock exchange, which is the largest in germany and fourth largest in the world. after twenty minutes of watching people just type on their computers and drink pelligrino, we met up with her boyfriend gideon for lunch and the biggest pizza i've ever eaten. we took the metro to palmengarten, a gigantic botanical garden on the edge of the city. i took a lifesaving nap on a bench and stef's lap facing a fountain, then explored its 21 acres. we met up with michael, who was sweet enough to drive us (in his sleek bmw convertible) to her teeny hometown of weiler an hour away. sitting about a mile above sea level, this town of 2,000 is where stef and her parents live in an adorably quaint home. after being shown the house and setting up camp in my own room with a terrace overlooking the green mountains, her family and i sat down to a legitimately german dinner. i had a glass of german beer with lemon juice, squished meatballs, yard grown cherry tomatoes and rice with a wine and mushroom sauce. her dad speaks no english, and her mom speaks some. after filling up, we went to nearby bingen's anuanl wine festival. all the small german towns are celebrating grape harvests this time of year, and everyone gets together for a good time. i met tons of her friends, some of whom tried out their english, bought an engraved 2 euro wine glass and tried some local wine. we came back and crashed after i had been up without more than a coupel hours of sleep in about 40 hours.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

drum roll...

ta da! my officially first blog. nothing too exciting for the first post; i'm just gearing up to go. i leave august 27th and arrive the next day in frankfurt, germany to spend a couple days with stefanie, a former unt study abroad student who was in denton for a year. then i'll hop on a train to marseille and then lyon to spend three days in each place with several girls i haven't actually met yet who are missionaries. after ten days of traipsing around playing tourist, i'll arrive in le mans and get my place set up before orientation starts! more on all this good stuff after it happens!