… which means “foreign adventures,” namely because I’ve been visiting lots of places since I last posted here. In total I’ve been to Germany (duh), Austria, Italy, and Spain so far and intend to at least go to Ireland before I leave, though hopefully I’ll also have the opportunity to visit Switzerland and the Czech Republic. Let’s go chronologically.
So, around the end of April I went to visit two of my very good friends (Emily Shirley and Rachel Kimbrough, who also happen to be Transy study abroad students) in Italy. Zoë Snider (another of Transy’s study abroad students and my girlfriend) flew over from Spain to meet us all there. I took a night train and stupidly asked for a Sitzplatz (normal seat) instead of a Liegeplatz (basically a bunk) on this 11-ish hour train ride.
I was amazed at how hot and humid it was in comparison to Germany; it was like being in the middle of a Kentucky summer all over again! I’ve also decided that Italy is exactly as pastel (and yellow) as I’ve seen in pictures, though I’m told that’s a Tuscan thing. And of course much gelato was consumed (Nutella-flavored gelato specifically combines two of the most wonderful things this world has to offer, in case you didn’t know).
This is a cathedral near Emily and Rachel’s apartment, though I’ve unfortunately forgotten the name. Emily pointed out to me that this pretty part you see here is actually a facade that was just kind of stuck onto the front of the gothic building, and the rest was left alone.
Over the river!
A rather nice view of the city from the top of a hill we climbed.
PALMA DE MALLORCA, SPAIN
A couple weeks after I’d gotten back from Italy, I flew to Spain to spend the weekend with Zoë. It also happened to be my birthday weekend (20 years old now, woo?). It was also rather hot and humid, though more bearable due to the constant sea breeze (it being an island and all).
Me, standing on one of Palma’s rocky shores
Palma’s cathedral. It almost looks silly to have that sort of a building in a place so tropical.
We passed some guys making enormous bubbles, and I managed to catch one of the more impressive ones with my camera right before it popped. It’s all one big bubble, in case you can’t tell.
A view of the coast from the cathedral
Shortly after I arrived, one of the two dogs belonging to the family Zoë lives with was getting very upset with me for being a stranger in his home. Less than half an hour later, this is what happened. His name is Whisky, and the other dog’s name is Gato (Spanish for cat). It’s quite the special family.
The family sang happy birthday to me the evening before I left Spain (I left early in the morning on my birthday), which was both adorable and hilarious. None of them speak very much English, but they tried to sing it in English anyway, which turned out… interesting (one of them kept singing “happy happy to you!”). That’s a delicious carrot cake with the 1 candle in it, in case you were wondering. This was also the first of two birthday celebrations I had this year, which took place across two countries (Spain and Germany).
The delicious pasta two friends and I made for my birthday dinner back in Germany. Between dinner and dessert we watched a movie called Joyeux Noël (that’s the English title; the German title is Merry Christmas), which has become one of my favorites. It’s about the unofficial “Christmas treaties” during World War I,\; in the movie it’s specifically between the Scottish, French, and German troops.
The Hello Kitty cake my friend baked for me that turned out a little bit… sad. It was, however, full of cherries and wonder.
Later I received a book of poetry by the German author Joachim Ringelnatz from my program coordinator. I’d never heard the name before, but the bits of it I’ve read so far I really enjoy.
REGENSBURGER MAIDULT (REGENSBURG, GERMANY)
For almost two-and-a-half weeks during the month of May, Regensburg hosts an event they call the Maidult (or, as all the Regensburgers refer to it, the Dult), which is basically just a Regensburg-sized Oktoberfest. It’s also got some state-fair-type stuff going on too, like rides and food stands and whatnot, so it was pretty entertaining to go a couple times. Of course, though, the main attraction is the very expensive beer (that, seemingly without exception, comes in one-liter mugs).
Some of the rides and other attractions. I think the bumper cars were immediately to the right from where this picture was taken.
Inside the Hahnzelt (“chicken tent;” one of the beer tents on site). It was extremely crowded and remained so the entire time I was there. This picture was taken from the far back of the tent, and at the front there’s a stage with a band that plays a variety of music, mostly different German tunes that everyone seems to know. I’m fairly certain a couple of them were in the Bavarian dialect, since I couldn’t understand a word. Also that big pole in the middle has a bell at the top, and people can try to climb up the pole (with nothing but the safety harness) to ring the bell. I saw a little girl manage to do it, and the man that tried right after her didn’t even get a third as far.
I rode this with a few friends despite my fear of heights, and though I was still kind of scared, it was quite fun.
GROSSER ARBER, GERMANY
Three friends and I decided that we’d go climb a mountain over the weekend, since we had a couple extra days off. It was Memorial Day weekend in the US, but here it was a holiday called Pfingsten. I have no classes on Fridays normally, Monday is the actual holiday, and the university gives everyone the following Tuesday off too, so I had a five-day weekend on my hands. We had our adventure on Sunday, and I really needed the next two days for recovery. We walked/hiked approximately 9 – 10km (5.6 – 6.2 miles) in total that day, and we were all completely worn out afterward, not to mention a bit sunburned.
On our way up the mountain. This was almost at the base.
Literally “nature protection area,” which I think we’d call a “nature reserve” in the US
I still haven’t quite figured out what this sign is supposed to be telling people, but I assume it’s asking you not to cut off the treetops with your skis by being too awesome for your forest.
From the top of the mountain. That lake is the Großer-Arbersee (the Big Arber Lake, as opposed to the Small Arber Lake which is on the other side of the mountain).
The four of us atop the mountain, finally!
On our way back down the other side, we happened across some type of spruce tree that is apparently 250 years old. Way to go, tree.
Almost at the bottom on the other side of the mountain, we found this pile of logs. Did you find the special one?
This is the Kleiner-Abersee (Small Arber Lake) that I mentioned before. There’s a nice, touristy cafe right there too, where we stopped and had some cake while we waited for some of the those little paddleboats to come back in so we could rent one.