Monday, April 14, 2008

The Last Leg...

Hello Everyone,
I'm going to insert the last bit of the trip now -from Innsbruck to Regensburg - and then add a few miscellaneous tidbits at the end. Enjoy!

Wednesday, March 26th

We woke up after sleeping in a bit and headed down to a sumptuous breakfast. After filling up, we set out to explore Innsbruck. After rambling around the downtown touristy area, we had visited the Swarovski outlet (very pretty…and expensive), a very interesting rock shop, seen the Goldens Dachl (Golden Roof) and set out for a little hike across the bridge – hoping to find lunch. As we climbed and climbed the steep streets, we found ourselves passing by churches and schools. Pausing to take a break, Steph launched an impromptu snowball fight with Dave. We ended up trekking back down to the tourist area to have lunch, enjoying wiener schnitzel with potato salad and apple strudel for dessert at the Elferhaus Restaurant. Afterwards we searched out the Triumphpforte (triumphal gate) and the Dom zu St. Jakob (which is, oddly enough, the church of St. James in English). After a quick poke into the local market, we took up our bags and proceeded back to the train station. After a cold wait (after picking up some provisions) while flipping through Sandy’s pictures and seeing the Oriental Express train make a stop, we were on our way to Munich and Regensburg. It was a bit after 10 pm when we arrived in Regensburg and Steph led the march to her apartment. After the 3 flights of stairs and setting up in her tiny room, we were all ready to head to bed.

18,702 steps (6.19 miles)

Thursday, March 27th

After a night’s sleep on the airbed, a request for breakfast was made. As Steph had no food in the kitchen, she ran to the nearest grocery store and even brought back coffee for Dave. After a filling Bavarian breakfast of bread, cheese and yogurt with muesli, a load of laundry was done and we set out to explore. As Steph led us throughout the city, we got to see a great many churches. The first one Steph led us to was the Cathedral, which is a copy of Köln’s. The Cathedral was in Gothic style – a first for our trip. It’s rumored that the Pope wants to be (or that Regensburg wants him to be) buried there when he dies. Those Germans, always planning ahead… After a rather roundabout trip, Steph got us to the Roman arch that has been carefully preserved. Next we saw the giant fresco of David and Goliath – a status symbol painted on the largest building in the city at the time. Next we went on the stone bridge, which gave us a good view of the town and river. Our next destination was the Thurn and Taxis palace/brewery for a palace tour. Steph got a little lost trying to find the entrance (as she’d only been to the church there before) but we made it with 5 minutes to spare before the 2 o’clock tour. Unfortunately, the tour was completely sold out. So we went to Ganesha – an Indian restaurant with a lunch special that Steph loves. We had tandoori oven bread and Steph and Dave had the lamb in almond curry sauce and Sandy a chicken dish with grilled vegetables and the same sauce. Afterwards, we caught the bus back and walked to the palace. We couldn’t take any pictures, but the tour group was very small – just 6 people including the guide and us! Since it isn’t peak tourist season, the tour was only given in German and we were given the audio headsets. Steph tried to switch back and forth initially, but as the tape players had no fast forward she soon found herself committed to the German guide. She surprisingly did very well – catching up to 70 percent total, she thinks. The audio tours were ok, but the guide seemed much more animated and in depth. The Thurn and Taxis family was quite the group we discovered, thick with independent women (two sisters swapped who they were suppose to marry!) and interesting stories of heirs marrying the gardener’s daughter, for example. Afterwards, we spent some time packing up the extra suitcase and resting our feet. (Steph is trying to make her trip back home a bit less bulky!) We played some cards and after a traditional Bavarian dinner (weisswurst, pretzels, sauerkraut, potato salad and bier) we got to meet some of Steph’s friends, including Eric. We ended up going to Steph’s favorite pub, Murphy’s Law, where Dave tried Strongbow. However, it wasn’t too late a night and we were all tired after another long day.

14,986 steps (4.96 miles)

Friday, March 28th

We slept in a little but got moving in time to make a trip to Steph’s University. It was pretty much as she said it was – gray and utilitarian. Apparently Regensburg University has the distinction of being named the ugliest university campus in Germany! We got to meet her leaders from her intensive language class group and enjoyed the spring weather and sunshine. We then had Döner (this is a Turkish sandwich of pork or mutton with veggies and a yogurt sauce in a pita-type bread) for lunch at Lara’s – the neighborhood place that’s widely acknowledged (at least by students) to be the best place for Döner in the altstadt city center. Afterwards Steph treated us to ice cream at her favorite gelato place. We had a few hours to burn before we took our train back, so after we were all packed we played a few rounds of cribbage. (Sandy didn’t win, as usual!) We got to the train station plenty early and talked until we boarded the train. It was tough to say goodbye to Steph but good to know that 4 months isn’t that far away. The trip to Frankfurt was uneventful, though Dave and Sandy did miss their translator Steph. They managed to get off at the right train station and navigated to the ground transportation to catch the shuttle to the Intercity Airport Hotel.

8583 steps (2.84 miles)

Saturday, March 29th

Dave and Sandy were up early enough to have a nice breakfast at the hotel and then catch the 7:45 shuttle to the airport – plenty of time!! Wrong! The lines and several checkpoints along the way caused them to arrive at their gate area only about 15 minutes before the plane started boarding for the 10:20am flight. The flight to Detroit was again smooth with no napping. Upon arrival in Detroit, it was off to US Customs. Dave realized that his passport was not with him and that he’d probably left it somewhere on the plane. A NWA person went back to the plane and retrieved the passport from the overhead bin and we were in a slow-moving line once again. Next stop was to collect the checked luggage and bring it over to be rechecked. Just one final checkpoint! This was when Sandy realized that she had in her carryon bag a 200 ml bottle of Grappa which she had neglected to inform anyone of all day long. It apparently was no problem here either because we were soon through that checkpoint and ready to move to our gate for the final leg of the trip from Detroit to MSP. The aromas coming from a Jose Cuervo restaurant enticed them in for beer and nachos before the flight. The arrival in MSP was without incident and they caught the shuttle to the Ramada Mall of America Hotel which is conveniently located a short walk away from IKEA. The NCAA basketball tournaments were on TV and they lasted less than 30 minutes before falling asleep, only to awaken bright-eyed at 4:30am. They had breakfast at the hotel as soon as the restaurant opened at 7am and, in Steph’s honor, Dave and Sandy walked to IKEA and browsed the whole store. Then they hung out and waited for Jamie and Jennie to arrive around noon. After a quick drop-off at Carleton and lunch at Sweet Lou’s Waffle Bar, Sandy and Dave concluded the European journey with the drive back to Walker.

5787 steps (1.92 miles)

The Weather

So, as the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence, so too is the weather always nicer on the other side of the globe. I'm pretty sure it hit in the 70's here today and yesterday - with plenty of sunshine. This is a rather sharp contrast to the 30 inches of snow or so that recently hit Walker, so I thought I'd gloat a little.

First Day of Classes

Well, today was in fact my first day of class for my Summer Semester. I managed to drag myself out of bed (with the "help" of two alarms) at the lovely hour of 6:45AM...a time not known to me for at least...4 months? A LONG TIME, at any rate. I even showered. I met the other 3 girls in my German Culture class after 1945 and we found the first lecture hall without many problems. Unfortunately, it took Eric 45 minutes to find the room - sauntering in at 8:30, for the 8 o'clock class. As he came in he mouthed that I'm dead to him, but I gave him a chunk of banana bread, so I think all was forgiven. Class wasn't all that exciting really, as the teacher never showed up. Well, if he/she showed up, it was after the 50 minutes of waiting we did. We thought perhaps we'd mis-read the schedule and that class started next week, although the internet confirmed that we were correct. So that was a great start of the day.

I came back to my apt and napped for a few hours and was back on campus shortly before two. I had a grammatic class...and that was a little bit rough. Komparativ...almost impossible for me to say, and it kept popping up whenever he asked me to read. The teacher's very engaging, but I'm not sure if I can keep up with the class - and since I have to drop one or two (I'm drastically over-committed and I'm in 8 classes..) that may be a candidate. The next class followed immediately and that was my translation English/German class. That also seems to be potentially challenging, but I may stick it out. We'll see, I guess.

Anyhow, I'm exhausted and have to be up at that same ungodly hour tomorrow...I know, you're all laughing at me...


PS...will load pictures sometime tomorrow for the last leg...

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