Saturday, October 20, 2007
This is going to be a nice little post about my extra time in Regensburg.
I know this is going to be my mom's favorite section - don't worry Mom, I haven't gotten drunk and all of my clothing has remained on my person. With that disclaimer... I haven't really been big into going to pubs because of the smoking policies. This Spring they'll be enacting a smoking ban in public places so that might help. Also not helping is the fact that mostly the drink of choice for a nice long night at the pub is beer. I've not acquired a taste for it and really, I don't see the point of it. Strongbow, however, has acquired a new fan. It's a dry cider that is close to the alcohol content of beer but with a much milder, pleasant taste. As for clubs, I've only been to several and I find them slightly comic. I don't know if Germans are chronically shy around dance floors or if it's a taboo of theirs, but they never start dancing until about 12:30. This means, in the case of the first one we (me, and a group of Americans from Colorado) we danced in the floor with an ever-growing ring of Germans pressing in watching. Finally, it seemed as though the club had no more room and people were forced onto the dance floor. Now, I don't really dance...at all, so this wasn't the most comfortable of experiences but it was a lot more fun than sitting around staring at other people. It eventually got uber crowded and we kept getting elbowed and pushed around so we left. So, I would have to say that the night scene here is definitely happening, but just not my thing.
For those lucky enough to know me well (assuredly everyone reading this blog) knows I took Shorin-ryu karate in High School and then Kong Su Do (Korean) karate in College my freshman year. So, I decided that I should join a club here - since it's recommended and meeting people at bars isn't as easy for those already with a significant other. So while flipping through the Sport center's activities I saw they listed Shotokan Karate - a sister form to Shorin-ryu. So I trekked over to the Sport center (a LONG walk from the center of campus), determined to find the gymnasium. Well, after 45 minutes I had to admit defeat - even (or especially) after asking a little man in a booth for directions. Later I would find out the secret - that one must go through the changing rooms to get to the gymnasiums.
So I returned later that night, extremely nervous. First, because I hadn't practiced for almost 3 years and secondly because of the language barrier. I was fixated on the question of whether or not to leave my shoes in the locker room - not that it mattered at all. There was only a small group and brown belt leading us quickly ascertained that I had done some form of Karate (he couldn't understand my pronunciation of shorin-ryu) and that my German level was barely functional. I was put in a group of all new guys who had a bit of an ego going because they thought Karate would be similar to their military training stint. The evening flew by, however, and I was thoroughly exhausted and happy at the end of it. It was easier to go back on Thursday, where we were led by a black belt who talked very quickly. Luckily we just went over basics again and he demonstrated everything. This form is very close, although it's kind of funny because one, they have all the colors of the rainbow for belts (so it looked like a bunch of skittles) and secondly, we were sharing the gym with a bunch of rock climbers because that wall was the climbing wall. So while I've been rusty and exhausted, it's definitely been nice to get back into the swing of things.
It was a pleasant surprise to find out that I would be able to go on the trip to Neuschwanstein (The Fairy Tale Castle) today. The list filled up very quickly, but Siobhain (Shivonne in English) got a nasty bug and was unable to go. Rather than lose her 25 Euro deposit, she wanted to find a replacement so I jumped at the chance. Due to a rather bad sleep schedule I've developed (I can't seem to fall asleep before 3) it was particularly brutal to get up at 5:55 to leave at 7 from the bahnhof (train station) on a stagecoach bus. Nevertheless, we made it there on time (Sara and Jake from my floor also went) and soon I was napping on the bus. I woke at a rest stop (it's about a 3 hour trip) and found out I missed out on seeing the first snowflakes in Germany. This turned out not to be a total loss, because by the time we got to Neuschwanstein, there was about 3 inches of snow on the ground. Oh, beautiful....oh frigid. This was not my brightest moment, I'll admit, but when I got up this morning there was only a slight chill in the air and so all I wore was my warm orange zip-up fleece sweatshirt. It was damn cold. But I'm getting ahead of myself.
One event of note that I was awake for happened on the way to the castles (we toured the hunting castle and Neuschwanstein). Our bus suddenly slowed down and we all craned our necks to see what was happening. I would assume that the snow had something to do with it, but we had come across two men trotting after a small group of loose cattle along side the road. Unfortunately, the bus startled the cattle into a lope, causing the father and son duo chasing them to start having to run after then as well. The father lost his footing, and went down. The son looked torn (I was told, I was on the wrong side of the bus to see) but chose to run frantically after the cattle. The bus driver yanked the bus over to the shoulder and we all piled out to help with wrangling the cattle. We formed a huge circle and managed to get the cattle back under control of the father and son.
Sure, it makes a good story. And it's way better than what really happened. We actually just drove by and gawked. I was all up for wrangling the cattle - but I'm afraid I was deprived of this potentially culturally-enriching event. I have no idea if the they caught the cattle, but I figure they caught them when the cattle got hungry or tired enough to stop to go home. Had you going there for a minute though, right?
Anyhow, it was truly magical weather (albeit freeeezing) for the tours. The sun eventually broke through the clouds, hence the lovely picture for the post. The tours were in German this time, so I missed a lot of it (it's really hard to gawk and listen, in my defense) but it was cool to tour the hunting castle this time. Anyhow, the trip home was uneventful and I decided to post a nice blog about it for you all to enjoy. Feel free to leave comments or questions and I'll try to answer by e-mail or in the blog.