Sunday, June 21, 2009

Europa ist sehr wunderbar!

Well another week has passed and I have some more awesome adventures to report! Starting at the beginning of the week: Monday Daniel invited us to free salsa dancing lessons so Darcy, Alex, and Ivan (with some convincing) all went. It was a blast! There were a lot of international students there and we got to meet some new people. Darcy and I will for sure be going every week from now on. Tuesday, we had our first German lesson. Our teacher is very peppy! Our first assignment was to go out into the nearby park and ask random people a list of questions that she gave us. It was scary and embarrassing. I would not do that in English let alone in German!!! I did end up talking to some friendly girls for a while though which was cool. We had a good conversation. I could understand everything and gradually more confidentely was able to respond. These lessons should be great and we don't even have to pay for them! Darcy is not allowing me to speak English at all on our travels and says I have to be fluent by the time I'm done. We'll see! Wednesday, our group got invited to a German frat house for a cookout by some random American who's living here for the summer. It was interesting... In some ways similar to an American frat but a little nerdy and weird too. We spent a little too long for my liking talking about fluid dynamics. Wednesday night, Darcy and I attempted to meet up with Daniel and Ivan at a party in the Schloss (castle) here which was unsuccessful because it was so crowded. Interesting nonetheless.

Originally, our plans for this weekend were to bike along the Rhein stay in a castle hostel in Bacharach then stay see Köln for the rest of the weekend. We weren't able to book the hostel so on Thursday we randomly changed our plans and decided to head to Rotterdam, Netherlands for Friday/Saturday then Köln for Sunday. This weekend turned out being the best trip by far partially because Darcy and I just make our own separate plans now. We got into Rotterdam on Friday night and stayed in a four star hotel for only €54 a night!!!! It was awesome!!! We got the best breakfast ever! Full out spread: every kind of cheese, every kind of bread, nutella, every kind of jam, fruit, eggs, yogurt, etc. We stocked up on food for lunch then headed to a bike rental shop and rented bikes for only €6.50 for the day. We first biked to Delft (where the Delft pottery is made) which was a super cute Dutch town. We walked around the flea markets, went shopping, ate our lunch from our hotel, then figured we'd hop back on our bikes and head to the Haag because it only another 10km away. We biked through the Haag stopped at a gay rights festival which was interesting, then noticed that the coast was only another 8 km away so we just kept biking. We reached the coast then turned around came back, ate pancakes in Delft, and biked through the dutch countryside to Rotterdam. AWESOME day!! I am in love with Holland! In the course of a day we biked through four Dutch cities. It's definitely a different culture than Germany. Everyone was really friendly and more than willing to speak English yet none of the cities we visited felt touristy. Dutch is similar to German so I was able to understand a lot of the signs but not really any of the speaking. We got back to Rotterdam at 10:30 pm and dropped our bikes off (it was still light out!). At the bike shop the address we used was our Germany address so the owner just spoke in German to me and thought we were German. It's awesome having a German address and trying to get away with not being American. The rest of the night we walked around Rotterdam at night which was pretty.

Sunday we enjoyed another awesome breakfast, hopped on another train and headed to Köln. We spent about four hours in Köln and climbed to the top of the Dom, got some Kölsch beer which is only allowed to be brewed in Köln, walked along the Rhein to the chocolate factory and browsed through a flea market where they had awesome GIANT pickles. I also bought the first Harry Potter book in German which I'm pumped to read. Darcy and I are incredibly efficient travelers. It was an awesome weekend! Overall I think we biked about 40 or so miles, climbed 533 steps to the top of Dom, and walked all over five cities. Next weekend is Madrid, Toledo, and Seguvia (spelling?) and visiting Lily.

I also came to the conclusion with Darcy that if I ever settle down in life (after Africa and seeing the rest of the world) Europe is the place to be. I think it would be almost impossible to get bored here. Take Germany for example: just within the country the big cities are clustered much closer together so you can be in a new big city within no time at all. Also, Germany borders eight countries!! A short train or drive away and you are in a new country and new culture and those are only the bordering countries. It's funny how much Germany feels like home to me now after just over three weeks of being here. Coming back from the Netherlands it was a relief to hear a language I could understand and read.

Another interesting observation: with the exception of Prague which was basically just tourist central, all the places I've visited in Europe so far have seemed to have a much larger percentage of guys than girls. I haven't quite figured it out. Maybe guys are just the only ones who know how to have fun around here. Either way the odds are good! Oh and Happy Father's day to anyone that applies to!!

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