Monday, October 27, 2008

I Have Moved!!!

Hey! I have moved this blog over to the new, much more clean, and exciting blog Andrew's Breakfast!!! All new posts about my trip in Cologne will be here, and I will continue to post there once I am back in the US!

Bookmark it!!!

Monday, October 6, 2008

A Short Trip Back to Baden-Württemberg

A few months ago, while on the phone with a friend of mine's mother, she and the family had invited me down for a visit to celebrate Michael's father's 50th birthday. A large party was planned, and of course I said I would definitely be there. As time got closer, and the birthday nearing, I started to look for a way to get back down to Berlichingen again. The last time that I went, I found a ride on a ride sharing website called mitfahrgelegenheit. The guy driving me, Dennis, was very friendly, and the cost of gas was quite cheap, however, this time I had no luck finding a ride that way. My next option was to look at trains. Most train tickets were pretty expensive going that way, but the Deutsche Bahn does offer a “Schönes Wochenende” ticket, or “Have a Nice Weekend” ticket. Honestly, they should be more careful with what they call this ticket, because even though it is relatively cheap, it is only good for one day, and only good on the slowest possible trains that stop at every known train station along the way to your destination, and even some stops not so along the way. Anyways, I bought two schönes wochenende tickets, one for Saturday, and one for the return journey on Sunday. Michael had arranged for me to meet up with his cousin, and her boyfriend in Frankfurt, and after I took a train there, got on a city tram, I met up with them, and they drove me the rest of the way to Berlichingen.

As soon as we arrived in Berlichingen, we went directly to find the party. After some directions from some villages folks, and after a humorous parking spot search we finally walked down the steps into the cellar of what is the village community hall. The cellar was actually what appeared to be a converted wine cellar, well over a hundred years old. I spent time with Michael, his family, and all of their friends (about 50 people were there). They had a great dinner of schnitzel, spätzle (soft, thick noodles popular in Baden Wuerttemberg), and a plethora of cakes made for dessert. I ate a piece of Schwarzwälder Kirschtorte (black forest cherry torte) cake made by Michael’s grandmother, and was rather delicious.

The night went on until about five the next morning. It was a night full of old German singing, eating, drinking, and happy people- an experience that I am sure is not typical for a foreigner.

The following day, Sunday, I woke up a little bit late since we were awake for so long. We ate breakfast, and before I knew it, after spending some time with the Haak family, it was already time for me to leave back to Cologne. This time I would take a train from the nearby town of Möckmühl all the way back to Cologne. The car ride from Michael’s place to Cologne is generally only about three to four hours long depending on traffic, however, it took me about seven hours to get there by train, and I had to switch to different trains four times! Oh well, the important thing is that I was able to be there for the party, and have some relaxation time outside of the big city with Michael and his family.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Fußball Brötchen mit Nutella!

Sometimes it really is the small things that excite me about being in a different country.  I went to the grocery store yesterday, a store called Real that is really great, because it is huge, and they have everything that you could imagine.  I was there with my roommate Melli, and we were getting our usual shopping done, when I went to the bakery section, because baked goods in Germany are absolutely the best, and I couldn't believe my eyes when I saw bread called Fußball Brötchen!  Now, I know that most people are aware that outside of the US, the rest of the world is soccer crazy, but this was bread that was shaped like a soccer ball, which pretty much amazed me, and of course I bought a pack of 3 freshly baked "soccer breads".  
My favorite bread here in Germany is of course Pretzels . . . the big soft kind.  The fußball brötchen was great because it is the same kind of bread that a pretzel is made out of but just a big fluffy piece of it.  What makes it even better is a bit of Nutella.  If you don't know what Nutella is, it is a nutty chocolate spread.  It is pretty expensive in the US, but here in Germany it is the staple for any snack.  Nutella on waffles, on apples, and of course on my fußball brötchen.  As you can tell, I am having an exciting week, and I just wanted to share my good find!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Warszawa, Part 3: Day Two and the Departure

Saturday was a much more relaxing day in Poland. After the late night out in downtown Warsaw, I slept comfortably on my huge air mattress so wonderfully provided by Anna and her sister. I had slept in until almost 11:00, and was greatly needed. Between an uncomfortable night on the train, walking around Warsaw the day before, and dancing in the cellar of who knows where, I needed the extra hours of sleep. Anna again played the role of the good host, and made a delicious breakfast of breads, cheeses, meats, and jellies. We then got ready to go out to do some more sightseeing.

Our main event for the day was a visit to the Muzeum Powstania Warszawskiego, or the Warsaw Uprising Museum. The museum is a tribute to the uprising that took place in 1944 of the civilians and military in Warsaw defending their town against the Nazi invasion. At the heart of the museum was a large wall that emanated a loud heartbeat and sounds of the uprising as a tribute to those involved. The museum also contained several moving exhibits that gave lots of information on all aspects of the Uprising. It was a really good experience, as in the US, Polish history is not generally taught in normal studies. It was a good opportunity for me to learn more about the place that I was visiting.

After the museum, Anna and I went off to a restaurant, one of her favorites, called the Greenway. It was actually a vegetarian restaurant, and even though she is not a vegetarian, she is quite the health nut. The food was a lot to eat, not too expensive, and my vegetarian enchilada was actually quite tasty. I didn’t know what to order, but that is what the cook said that most people from “England” order. Anna did me the favor of correcting him, but I ordered the enchilada anyways! 

Our next stop for our sightseeing was the Łazienki Park, which is said to be Warsaw’s most beautiful, and I am definitely not one to argue. Although Łazienki actually means “bathroom” making it the “Bathroom Park”, it was one of the most odd, yet pleasing parks I have ever been in. It was established in the 17th century and lies in the middle of the city. The park is absolutely huge with winding trails, old trees, and several old fashioned, beautiful buildings nestled into green corners. We walked through the park, and actually got a little bit lost because it is so ginormous (not a real word, I know), and then went home because it was raining, and a bit chilly.

Speaking of the weather- I suppose it is a stereotype of Poland to imagine it as a constantly cold place. Summers are apparently quite nice there, but I brought the cold weather with me, or actually Hanna did. That’s right, what was left from Hurricane Hanna in the US, had floated it’s way across the ocean, and brought with it cold weather and rain. The weather in Germany and Poland was surprisingly abnormal, and not so pleasant. Although the weather was not perfect during my trip, it didn’t keep us from having fun.

After taking a rest back again at Anna’s apartment, we went out with some of her friends again to a restaurant called Tam Tam in the Old Town for a drink and talking. After that, we went early back home once more, to wake up for my departure home.
Although the night train seemed quick because I could sleep the whole way, the train back was twelve hours of absolutely nothing special. It was just a long trip home, and took up the entire day. 

It was definitely a great trip to Poland, and I am really glad that I got to see Anna again, which was the most important part of my trip. Even though I hadn’t seen her in over two years, it was just like our friendship had never parted. I am really looking forward to the next time that I can visit again.

Thanks for reading! That is the end of my Warsaw posts, and I hope that it wasn’t too long. As always, comments are appreciated, and welcome! More posts coming soon!