Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Bullfights in Spain, sleeping in airports, and seeing old friends!

So I should probably be working right now but I know I won't write in this if I don't do it soon and there's lots to write about this time.

So the highlight of last week was Darcy and I buying bikes! They aren't the most high quality but it was a good deal and we can sell them back at the end of the summer so we aren't losing much. Now the two mile walk to work (because I refused to buy a bus pass) takes no time at all and I'm considering biking to France in August if my bike will hold up (yeah in Germany rather than biking to another state you can simply bike to another country, no big deal). The rest of the week I spent figuring out how the data logging system being used for my research works so that this week I can start driving!!

On friday I flew out of Frankfurt to Madrid to visit Lily! The flight there was smooth and Lily and I just spent the night walking around Madrid. She's living with a young Spanish couple, so we talked with them for a while. They are super cool, and funny and laid back. Saturday we took a train to Cercidilla for some hard core hiking in the mountains. I consider myself a pretty active person and pretty hardcore when it comes to exercising, but this hike was intense. We hiked for 5 hours 2.5 of which were steady steep uphill with loose rocks. It was gorgeous!!! The only problem with Spain is that the Spanish don't seem to like making nice signs all over with distances to places like in Germany. Our only guide on the hike were random red dots on trees and I believe we ended up taking a very long way back because this was the only signage we could find. Fortunately I always seem to have a good sense of direction and was able to get us back. Back in Madrid we went out to enjoy some of Madrid's night life (this city seriously never sleeps and apparently Spain is also the least productive of all the EU countries). Jorge and Miriam, Lily's host family, bought us drinks and we hung out at a cool Brazilian bar. It was nice having locals to show me around and then I got a better taste of the culture too which is completely different than German culture! I asked Miriam what she thought of Germans and she said "they are very straight, I don't have much interest in Germans". Haha! The Spanish people are SO friendly! Anytime you pass someone in the street it's standard to say Hola! whereas in Germany everyone just minds their own business and does their own thing.

On Sunday Lily and I headed to Segovia for the day to see Roman aqueducts! It was a very cool, old city. We also went out to lunch there and Lily tried to order me a vegetarian dish but she didn't understand what she was ordering so I ended up getting whole shrimp! They were good but very messy to eat. The way you eat shrimp is first pull off the head the suck out the meat (pretty much the brains) from the head, then you peel off the shell and eat the rest of the meat. Interesting experience! I love not having a clue what I'm going to be eating. The rest of Sunday was spent at a bull fight!! This was like nothing else I've ever seen. I definitely did not realize that they actually kill the bulls at the fight. I do not understand how people are entertained by this. They fought and killed 6 bulls at the fight and it was essentially the same procedure everytime. The last fight I almost had a heart attack because the head matador (who finishes off the fight) slipped and fell and the bull just rushed at him. I closed my eyes thinking I was going to look up and see a bloody dead mess for the matador but somehow he got up (had lost his shoes) and kept fighting!!! It was crazy!

Monday Lily and I just did some shopping and then I headed off to the airport for my 3:15 flight atleast that's when it was supposed to leave. I ended up being in the Madrid airport or on the airplane from about 2 in the afternoon until 11 pm at night!!!! So awful and this is when I decided that as fun as Spanish people are they can be incredibly annoying and I would prefer to stick around in Germany. There is a bus that runs from Frankfurt to Darmstadt as well as trains, and the subway, however, none of these option run at 2 in the morning so I hung out in the Frankfurt airport until 5 so I could take the bus back since I didn't want to pay 100 euros for a taxi. Technically the airline should have reimbursed me but 100 euros is a lot of money and I didn't feel like waiting for a unguaranteed reimbursement all summer. I got back to Darmstadt at about 6:30 went to bed until 8 then headed to work. Somehow I didn't feel tired but I think if I ever slow down at any point I'm just going to crash and die.

Yesterday, I finally hung out with David, a friend from Ann Arbor who's going to be here for the summer. I gave him a tour of Darmstadt and we walked around for a while. We live super close which is crazy and exciting and the house he's staying has an extra room so maybe I won't be homeless in August!! I'm so happy he's finally here because he somehow has connections with a bunch of Germans in Darmstadt so hopefully the days of being stuck in our little American bubble are over. I am seriously going to go crazy if I spend anymore time with our lame group, except Darcy of course!

The rest of the week I am test driving a BMW with our new system by myself at the test track. This weekend Darcy, David and I are headed along the Rhein for a bike trip, then Bonn for a huge free concert, then Mainz on the way back and Heinerfest in Darmstadt for the rest of the week. Heinerfest is a huge festival in Darmstadt that apparentely is the second largest in Germany, second only to Oktoberfest!

Other notes: for the second time on my travels I tried to get away with being German. Lily would introduce me as her friend from Germany so people just thought I was German. Although, maybe in Spain that's not necessarily a good thing because the Spanish seem to like Americans better since they're friendlier apparently. But really the Spanish just love everyone and love to talk. This was another interesting observation in Spain: comparing the Spanish and the German trains. In Germany, with exception of some large groups that will bring their beer and have a party on the train, trains are very silent. In Spain on the other hand, there was nonstop chatter the whole way. I don't think there was a single person not engaged in conversation. We got little old ladies blabbering away to us in Spanish randomly and for some reason they always spoke to me even though I understand very little of what they were saying. I also decided to try and learn Spanish again. It is really quite a simple language and I was surprised by how much of my Spanish came back to me in one short weekend. I also decided that maybe I should try slowing down a bit. Between traveling every weekend, trying to do as much as I can during the week in Darmstadt, doing my Stats homework completely last minute every Sunday, and trying to fit in some running in, and of course doing research, I've pretty much been going full speed ahead 24 seven. I'm still waiting for my body to crash from this weekend but likely I just won't give it a chance. Anyway, as usual I'm cramming as much in as possible and when it comes down to it loving every minute of it! Bis sp├Ąter! Alles gut in Deutschland!

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