Monday, June 15, 2009

Munich, Darmstadt breweries, Nürnberg, and Prague

So like I anticipated I'm pretty bad at this whole blogging thing. Here's an update from the past two weekends:
Two weekends ago 5 of us headed to Munich for two days. Saturday was rainy and cold which made things not as fun but we saw the Glockenspiel, which I thought was incredibly lame (sorry to anyone who thinks it's cool). I was expecting a great show, especially with all the people standing around watching. We were going to take a free tour of the city but we missed it because our train was late. Next we got lunch then headed to the Deutsches Museum which I also thought was lame. It's supposed to be this great science museum but it wasn't interactive at all so none of the exhibits kept my attention. Luckily it didn't cost too much to get in so I wasn't horribly disappointed. After the museum we walked to the very crowded and somewhat Hofbrauhaus. I wasn't too excited about it because I heard it's more of a tourist trap then traditional German. It was a fun experience though. Everyone was dressed in Lederhosen, and they had a Bavarian band playing. I got a Maß of Radler (sprite and beer mixed together). After the Hofbräuhaus we split up. Darcy and I wandered around some more then we all met up at an Irish pub to watch the Bulgaria versus Ireland soccer game (Ivan didn't want to miss the game). This is where I had the most delicious veggie burger in the world!!! Darcy and I have really managed to eat quite well as vegetarians here.
We spent the night in a nice hostel then navigated (all without paying too) Munich public transportation and walked all over the Olympic park, Englischer Gartens, and for a short while the Nymphanberger Palace. In short we managed to atleat briefly cover ever part of the city. The weather on sunday was much better: sunny and warm!
Last week on Wednesday, our PhD advisers took Ivan, Darcy, Mandy, and I (the FZD crew) on a tour of the Darmstadt breweries and bars. It started off with the most intense game of Fussball I've ever seen in my life! The Germans do not mess around when it comes to Fussball. I thought they were going to break the table. We ate dinner at the Darmstadt brewery and Darcy and I shared the "kleine Bierprobe" which was a sampling of all their different varieties of brew. Next we headed to the Ratskeller for a Maß of beer. We finished up the night at a bar with another traditional drink called Laternsche. It was a great night! We spoke lots of German, learned more about the culture and had a great time. Darcy and I didn't get to bed until 3 am then had a train at 7:43 to Nürnberg for a long weekend (thursday was another random German holiday).
Nürnberg was awesome!! My favorite city so far hands down! They have a beautiful castle and the entire city is very old. It's also where the Nazi party rallying grounds are so we visited the place were Hitler addressed 100,000 people! It was incredible and rather chilling to think that he spoke there with so many people supporting him. There was also a great interactive museum wth lots of information on Nürnberg's part in the war. On our way we got hit on by our creepy bus driver. I can't decide if in cases like this knowing German is better or worse. Later Darcy and I took a tour of cellers and passageways under the city in German. I understood about half of what they said simply because it started getting exhausting listening so closely. It was really interesting though and afterward we ate dinner at a microbrewery. We decided to order something we had no idea about from the menu and were pleasently surprised. They were called baggers which were kind of like a potatoe pancake. Later we stopped for dessert at this really quaint restuarant inside part of the underground cellers. We again ordered something that I didn't know the translation for and again we happily surprised. It's really a great way to try new food!
The next day we had a train connection at 5:40 in the morning to Prague. Darcy and I had a hotel but the rest of our group came from Mainz and didn't get to Nürnberg until midnight and we felt bad making them sleep in the train station when we had a hotel so all seven of us crammed in the hotel for the night. Friday, Saturday, and Sunday were all Prague and overall I was not super happy about the trip. Prague is a beautiful and very old city but incredibly touristy especially at this time of year. I heard about the same amount of German spoken around me (just from the tourists) that I do in Germany. It was really, really annoying!! Friday Darcy and I took a free tour from this absolutely hilarious tour guide from LA. Saturday, we explored the castle which was pretty but a complete scam! You had to pay for everything. Sunday was a slightly better day. Orignially Darcy and I planned on taking a bus to a concentration camp about an hour outside Prague. Unfortunately the bus wouldn't get back in time for our train so instead we just bought day passes for the tram system, hopped on a random tram, got off at the last stop and ended up at these really pretty hiking trails around some rock cliffs/hills. We spent most of the day there. The rest of the day was rather hectic. To make a long story short it consisted of almost missing trains, missing trains, people being extremely difficult and not going with the flow, and getting back to Darmstadt at 3 in the morning. I concluded after this weekend that my travels with the rest of the group are done. Darcy and I have planned out travels for the rest of our time here. I can't handle traveling with certain members of our group and considering the fact we had originally planned on going to Berlin for the long weekend but got convinced to go to Prague against our wishes I'm not allowing something like that to happen again.
On a cheerier note Darcy is an awesome travel buddy. She is all about saving money like me, walks fast, is vegan, and can have fun doing just about anything. Our diet this weekend primarily consisted of bread and peanut butter (that I brought from the states) and dried fruit. We were able to save a lot of money this way because eating out all the time really starts to add up!
Some other notes outside of my adventures these past couple of weeks:
I have decided the only thing I actually miss about the states right now is free water and drinking fountains! I hate spending money on water but unless you want to get dehydrated you pretty much have to buy bottled water because I have yet to see a single drinking fountain anywhere. Also, in restuarants, water is almost the same price as beer or pop. Last note, while my research should be better than last summer I am currently going through the same frustrations as last summer with regards to ording parts. Our data logging system was ordered over a week ago and still hasn't arrived even though they said it would come in two days. So frustrating, because everything I could do in the meantime I've already done now. Hopefully it comes tomorrow and we can get started driving some more sweet cars. If anyone wants to hear more in depth stories feel free to e-mail or skype me. I've decided writing on this gets really frustrating so I don't know how often I'm going to want to write. As for the picture situation I'm attempting to slowly upload pictures on facebook but my patience is running short so we'll see if they ever get up. Hope all is well stateside!

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