Monday, April 28, 2008

More Spain photos

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Spain Photos

My first day in Spain, the bus breaks down on the way to Granada

The Alhambra, Granada

Plaza de San Maria

The Albacin, a whitewashed neighborhood in Granada

Granada's cathedral

House in the Sierra Nevada mountains near Granada

Little fitness in Granada


Sabrina and I in Plaza Mayor in Salamanca

Best cooks in Salmanca

Astronaut on the Salamancan cathedral

The Gran Via in Madrid

Cruising like a Beatle nearby the Madrid cathedral


Sabrina and I headed off to Salamanca early Friday morning after spending the night in Madrid. Salamanca is famous for its cathedral and buildings that look like they were made out of golden sand. It's fun to walk around and explore a different type of city compared to a German city. Sure there are churches and museums, connected with cobblestones, but the architecture, geography and history is completely different.

We explored Salamanca for the day, chilling in a park to take a break and watch Portuguese boy scouts play leap frog. That night we couch surfed at a 5 person apartment, going out with a couple of them to see the city at night. The Plaza Mayor was full of people in the day, including two large women sunbathing which attracted lots of attention and laughs from everyone. At night it was also full of people, eating at cafes, relaxing and dancing. We had hamburgers from a take away place which were out of this world. My first real hamburger since coming to Europe, and it was unbelievable.

Saturday we were back on the bus back to Madrid, to go back to our friend's place there, shower and explore Madrid. The architecture in Madrid was on the bland side, with the main buildings other than the Plaza Mayor not having anything special to them. Really hot, over 30 degrees, cruising the streets, tons of people, saw a mugging happen on a street corner and paid way too much for sangria at a sidewalk cafe.

I left Spain via the subway, and then taking a taxi to the aiport, getting there at 2am, waiting for my 6 am flight by sleeping a little bit before and after check-in. Once in Germany again, I luckily avoided an earlier bus that would've put me on an earlier train that had an accident in a tunnel. So after the later bus, train and then by foot, I arrived back home in Erfurt, tanned and very happy from a great trip.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Granada, Spain

I'm in Granada right now having the time of my life. The best weather, mountains to hike in, a Moorish fortress and lots of small streets to walk through, getting lost amongst the white washed houses. The city is amazing, having been the last city of the Moors who moved everything here and made their last stand before Queen Isabella and King Ferdinand came in and reconquered Granada. Yep, that's the same two who sent Columbus off on his journeys.

Today the weather was in the high 80s, and I spent the time hiking through the Sierra Nevada mountains. Yesterday we hiked up past the gypsy caves to an abandoned abbey high up on a hill with views of everything. Everywhere you go, you can see the Alhambra, the Moorish fortress, quite different from what I see in Germany.

Later today we're off to Madrid to explore more of Spain, then off to Salamanca tomorrow morning to couch surf and see the golden city. Sabrina leaves for Africa in a week, so we're making it a great last week throughout Spain.

Pictures coming soon, but you can google any of the cities and see pics.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Ducks, thousands of plastic ducks

yep, it's that time again. Time for the 15th annual Erfurt Duck Race! Around 5000 plastic ducks were raced this morning in our lovely river, the Gera. My roomate and some friends bought some ducks, painted and decked them out, and entered the competition, hoping to win the grand prize of a trip to Disneyland Paris. But alas, some other duck beat us. Of our group, mine reached the finish first, after about an hour of travel through the city. Here are some pictures of the race:

Our ducks. Mine is the red doctor with sunglasses and blue jeans. I called him Herr Doktor Spass (spass means fun)

And they're off. 5,000 ducks coming at you

Tons of ducks, including the crew team of ducks (click on the pic to see it bigger)
Making over several waterfalls, the ducks floated on

My duck decided to take a nap while floating towards victory

Jack Sparrow

Going under a bridge full of spectators, the ducks barely broke a sweat
The finish line at our Merhants Bridge (longest housed bridge in Europe)

What to do with all the ducks? Give them back to the people of course.

Saturday, April 19, 2008


One thing I've noticed is that Germans will wait. And not just wait, but formally, in place where they should be. At the crosswalk, in the doctor's office, outside doors, all over.

One of my pet peeves is at crosswalks. In America when there are no cars coming, I go across. In Germany, this is frowned upon. People will stand there with no cars around waiting for the light to change. I understand that if cars are coming, one should not cross, but with absolutely no way of getting hit, they still will not go. The cars are similar when dealing with crosswalks: if a car is going to be turning right and there are people in the crosswalk, they of course wait. But they will wait even if someone is about 5 feet from entering the crosswalk. Cars and pedestrians are always far apart.

At the doctors office, there is a room where the reception is, that is separate from the hallway. People have to wait outside the room until the person before is done. Of course I just went inside, and stood behind the person, not understanding why I got a few dirty looks from other patients until later.

Germany has lots of rules, and most are followed. I'd say that waiting is definitley one that is followed.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Bavarian Photos

Nazi Rallygrounds

Me eating an Americaner, a pastry named after me, that tastes like a thick pancake with lots of sugar

Lorenzkirche - St. Lorenz Church

Frauenkirche with some international friends, Wah and Jennie

Wurzburg fortress with vineyards

Main bridge to the old town of Wurzburg from the fortress side of town

Entrance to the fortress


Nuremberg, the city famous for an impenetrable fortress, a great downtown full of churches, and of course it's Nazi history, ranging from the rally grounds to the Nuremberg trials. I spent the weekend learning more about the city and it's history, learning a bunch of new things on a city tour and learning about the Nazi past at the Documentation Center which is located at the Nazi rally grounds.

Hitler chose Nuremberg to show off the Nazi power to the world and set about building a a huge stadium for the Olympics to be held every year, a congress hall to seat 50,000 people, a zeplin field, marching grounds, a huge street pointed directly at the Kaiser's castle and more. Not much was fully completed, with the main goal to be a weeklong rally once a year to show the strength of the Nazis. Nuremberg was chosen as the city was the first to let Hitler speak after his 5 years in prison where he wrote Mein Kampf.

It was interesting being back in Bavaria, where things are more expensive, the dialect is different and there are more beer halls. It's a different atmosphere. People say there is west Germany, east Germany and Bavaria. I have to agree, and although it's fun to travel to, I'm quite happy living in the east, in Erfurt.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Shoulder update

My shoulder is still bothering me from a snowboarding accident so I went to a specialist doctor today. The trip provided more entertainment with German doctors. First off I learned that X-Ray is Roentgen in German, which happens to be the name of the street I live on: Roentgenstrasse. So I live on X-Ray street.

The doctor I went to see was Dr. Schade. Schade in German means bummer, as in when someone loses their keys, you say "schade" A good sign. But it turned out he was on vacation, so I saw another doctor. I had a couple X-Rays done as well as an ultra-sound. Pretty fun stuff seeing my muscles and tendons function. The office was more efficient than the last couple. Sit on the orange chairs to wait for the X-Ray, sit in the other chairs in the hall to wait for the examination room and no one sits in the waiting room. And I had nurses walking through the room to go to other rooms while the doctor examined the arm, but you can't argue about a free audience.

Basically my arm is getting better, although slower than I would like. Just need to take it easy and all will be good. Off to Nuremberg this weekend on a cultural outing to do some touring with my program. Lots of walking, and no lifting, sounds perfect for the doctors orders.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Rothenburg ob der Tauber Pictures

Group marching into Rothenburg

View from the Tauber Valley of the city up above

Medieval Crimes Museum with my roomate Stefan

City wall in all its glory

South gate to the city

Rothenburg ob der Tauber Trip

This past weekend, my roomate Stefan and I traveled to Rothenburg ob der Tauber to meet up with a bunch of other participants in my program. We took the cheap, adventurous route of regional trains, making it a 5 hour trip with 5 different trains. A fun and cost effective way to travel, but didn't allow for much sleep along the way to a great weekend.

There were 10 of us all together, from Stuttgart, Munich, Karlsruhe and Erfurt. Great to catch up with everyone again, learn about their experiences in the program and what they've been up to. Everyone is in their internship now, from engineering, to marketing, to bio-chemistry to soccer. I'm the only cook in the program.

We spent the weekend exploring the city, walking around the huge city walls, hiking in the valley below, eating some tradtional Schneeballen (balls of strips of dough with different toppings), hearing some great organ music, eating tasty German food and living it up with good friends. It was awesome to catch up with everyone, seeing many of my favorite participants in the program.

We spent the night at a hostel, 5 guys in a room and 5 girls in another wing. The hostel was part of the castle complex, with a huge roof and a good view of the city. Pretty impressive views of the red roofs and city wall, as well as the Tauber valley, where the Tauber river is. We also checked out the awesome Mediveal Crime Museum, seeing some great displays on everything from shame treatment to signed confessions to the executioners axes.