Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Crazies....everywhere...


Hi all,
Now, I'm beginning to think you're spoiled...2 posts in as many days. Ridiculous. However, I got a little help from my apt mates on this one - and I hope it makes you smile!

Introduction
In bigger towns, it seems like there are "crazies" everywhere. Yes, some of them are unfortunately homeless and probably have mental problems, but there are also quite a few eccentric people out there. I would like to say that I don't think that these people are to be laughed at, but I hope you can laugh with the people who experienced these stories.

Jake
I think Jake started out telling his story tonight. At first it sounded like one of his crazy dreams - we often swap crazy-dream stories the next morning/day when we see each other. Anyways, it wasn't!
Jake was waiting at a crowded bus stop at the university, wearing a green t-shirt and jeans. He was approached by a man dressed in a nice outfit, including a vest, and was carrying a briefcase. He started talking to Jake, who could tell immediately that the guy was more than a little off. He was talking in Bavarian, and when it became very clear to Jake that the guy wasn't going to go away Jake very politely said in German that he didn't understand the guy. The guy had become very excited, and in the process of talking to Jake had ripped off his vest and thrown in down onto the ground. Even more excited he exclaimed "Englander! Englander!", until Jake corrected him and told him he was American. While this was going on, Jake was too embarrassed to look around to see if anyone was watching.

Next, the guy starts relating the story (Jake assumes it was the same one as in Bavarian) and it had to do with people wearing shirts in the Czech Republic. Jake heard him out, and was baffled by the fact that the guy seemed to speak perfect English...with an Irish accent. This is very odd for Germany, as most schools teach in British or American English and no one had ever heard of someone learning Irish English. Next the guy started telling Jake a riddle, although Jake was completely confused and didn't know how to respond. Finally, Jake was able to escape to his bus, but not without a few hearty claps on the back and a goodbye of "Good man! Good man!"
Jake still is not quite sure to make of all this, but was glad to hear of other's experiences...

Charlotte
Charlotte has a running-joke (horrible pun...sorry) about when she goes jogging that she ALWAYS sees the same homeless man wherever she runs. Like on an almost day-to-day basis and she doesn't seem to keep her route or necessarily even time of her run consistent. Moreover, he always is on the bench she was looking forward to taking a rest at. Tonight was a whole new experience, as he happened to show up to buy a doener at the same place she did! Her tandem partner was with and says he has a habit of coming to her bakery and checking to see who's working every day, so Charlotte was relieved to find out he had other pursuits to merely hogging benches.

However, Charlotte is far too special of an individual to have just one special crazy in her life. She said that one day as she was running (again, with the running?) she was approached very politely by a clearly-homeless man and asked if she'd like to go drink coffee (in German of course). She equally politely turned him down, and after she told this story, the following conversation took place at the table tonight:

Charlotte: "He was really a polite crazy...but still crazy"
Sara: "Crazy people need love too...but not from us"

It doesn't look as funny in type, but give Charlotte a lovely British accent (with a twinge of Welsh) and a deadpanned reaction from Sara, and you can't help but to smile!

To Be Fair...
To be utterly fair, I'm sure everyone has made their fair share of word/grammar/usage language mistakes that leaves others rubbing their heads or stifling (sometimes completely unsuccessfully) giggles. Sara and Vaso both recently had such incidences.

Sara
Sara was spending a long weekend in Berlin with some family this past weekend. As their sole German-connection, she was questioning a friendly waitress one night to find out where the nearest grocery store was. Unfortunately, she had a bit of a brainfreeze and asked where the closest "Lebensmittel einladen" was. The word she was looking for was "Supermarkt" - German cognates can be deceptively tricky... While Lebensmittel (literally food) was an all right choice, her unfortunate choice of sticking the separable prefix of "ein" in front of "laden" turned laden from "shop" into "invitation". (I know, I know....I don't know either!). Apparently the waitress got a rather confused look on her face for a moment, but quelled any reaction and very helpfully pointed Sara on her way. So Sara just did a mental-slap a few minutes later when she inwardly ran through the conversation. It happens...all the time to all of us!

Vaso
Now, it's been a few weeks since I've heard this story, so I might be summarizing - but it's just as hilarious as when I heard it!
Vaso is from Greece and is a good friend of mine who often comes to our Sunday dinner (and when she cooks...it's divine!) and since it's with mainly native English-speakers, converses in English with us. The other night she was nudged into sharing a story by one of the other girls.
Apparently a few weeks ago, a few girls went to Munich to buy dirndls, because they'd heard there was a shop where you could get a good-looking one for under 100 euros. They found the shop and were soon trying on dresses and getting opinions. Apparently Siobhain (Ireland) came out of the dressing room and was asking for opinions. Vaso said "I really like the turkey one!"

Vaso, unfortunately, had made the mistake of substituting the word turkey for a color not far from sounding the same - turquoise. To make matters worse, she got flustered and forgot the word for "apron" and "apricot" came out. She endured the laughter good-naturedly, and was laughing the loudest as she bashfully retold the tale. This beat the "inky-fish" tale by miles...another situation where she adamantly denied that "inky-fish" were octopi and was absolutely correct - the fish she was referring to is related too the octopus but is actually a "cuttle-fish".
However, considering that Vaso is very near fluent in English (not to mention quite good at German) I would be proud to know enough of a third language to be able to make such mix-ups!

Anyhow, I also went to castles today, but this post is quite long enough as it is. I want to thank everyone who allowed me to steal a little bit of their experiences

Also, I was just looking for a random picture to post for this (as the topic conversation is limited, I just chose Siobhain in her "turkey" dirndl) and found a blog of someone else who came to Regensburg on about exactly the same day. Weird no?
Anyhow, I hope all is well,
Steph

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Bamberg and Dult Action


Hi all,

Time for another mini-update with pictures. Well, for part of it anyways...

Bamberg and Kevin
This Thursday, Kevin, a friend of Eric and mine from UND came to visit. Eric lived with him last year, but I knew him through German class. He'd flown into Frankfurt and had spent a few days in Fulda, a town north-east of Frankfurt. We'd looked into going to Salzburg, but decided we didn't want to go overnight, so Bamberg was chosen. Bamberg is about a 2 hour regional train ride from Regensburg. We ended up taking an 11:20am train with Eric, Vaso, Kevin and myself. Eric is having some allergy/sinus crap, so he wasn't the happiest camper. A trip to the local drugstore helped though. We really didn't have a plan - just to walk around and take in the sights.

We saw some amazing churches - including their Cathedral. It was very unusual since it had been reconstructed after being bombed and so had an interesting mixture of modern(ish) art. Also interesting was that there was a lot of woodwork and unusual organ placement (shown in slideshow). The Old Rathaus (meeting place for the town council/mayor) was suspended over the river on a bridge and was quite gorgeous on the outside. Also interesting was the rose garden, although only one tiny section was flowering, so that might warrant a trip back in a month or so -whenever roses bloom in Germany!

It was kind of funny though. We went into this courtyard that used to be where the Kaiser other important people had a quarter to stay in. A mother positioned her daughter - who was about 7, I'd guess - up a flight of stairs in front of a Gothic-style door (pointy at the top, remember?). She kept telling her daughter
"Spitz Marian, Spitz!"
She was trying to get her daughter to keep her hands up over head in the shape of a Gothic structure. She went at this for a full 3 minutes trying to get her daughter in the perfect position, yelling at her to spitz the whole time. This made me ponder aloud if she might regret that choice of language in about 7 years or so - have to be careful what you ask for!

The last cool thing that we saw before we left Bamberg was on display in a small restaurant. As we were walking by we noticed a book filled with pictures of the Dalai Lama and a note. Apparently he'd been in Bamberg less than a week before we had! Though Angela Merkel (the Bundeskanzlerin) and the Bundespraisident were both gone because they can't show too open of support for Tibet. But that was pretty cool.

Dult
Since Kevin had no idea what the Dult was, and since it's the last night (since it ends early tonight and people have class/work tomorrow) we went again. We sat in a different tent and found a new source of entertainment. In the middle of the tent the supporting pole is about 25 feet high and very polished. They'd attached a bell to the top of the pole and a rope hung down about 3 feet. This left about 20 feet from the ground to the bell, maybe slightly less. The object was to put on a climbing harness and scale the pole and ring the bell - resulting in a mass of beer - a whole liter. We were first sitting at a table directly under the pole and it was soon made clear that the guys in lederhosen had a clear advantage. Most would also go up barefoot. However, a girl with a dirndl gave it a try (and the guys are nicer to the girls, giving them a huge boost up) and actually made it! Those with the highest success rate were kids under the age of 12 (both boys and girls) who shimmied right up the pole. Rob, a British friend also gave it a try. Apparently he'd tried early on in the Dult and hadn't made it (although who knows the level of sobriety that was present) but redeemed himself with a hard-won ascent. All in good fun

I also took the plunge and ordered my first mass of beer - and surprised myself by managing to drink it! It took 9 months, but I think I finally did my German heritage proud!

Anyhow, I should probably go and find some way to be productive...
Hope all is well,
Steph

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

One Day at a Time


Hi all,
I'm discovering that habits help keep me going, so I now present you with my latest on-goings and adventures.

Castles!
Castles do indeed deserve an exclamation mark. This Tuesday I had my first fieldtrip in my castle class (which is exactly what it sounds like). We went to two castles...one in Kallmunz and one in Wolfsegg. This would sound more impressive if they hadn't been more than 10 km from one another and less than 50 km away from Regensburg. We went to Wolfsegg first (which was still pretty much intact), but since I am lazy I let Eric take pictures. The castle had a lot of history, beyond warfare. In the basement they discovered cave paintings and also the remains of prehistoric bears and other animals. It was also home to one of the acclaimed "Weisse Frauen" - which literally means "white women". In other words, it was haunted. There are several versions, but the most popular is that the Lord's wife took on a lover and her discretion left something to be desired...so they both felt the blade. Another version was that she killed her children, but that's somewhat lacking in romanticism.

Wolfsegg was a little bit of a hike, but absolutely NOTHING in comparison to the long, tortuous, switch-back laden route we got to take for Kallmunz. Then we got to go down the easy way. Apparently it would have been stupid to take the easy way up, walk 20 meters down the long/hard route to see the earth wall fortification. Obviously.
At any rate, Kallmunz was more of a ruin, as you can see. It was a lot more gorgeous to walk around in and is, as I unfortunately found out, home to "brennnessel" (hurrah for 3 n's) - or "stinging nettle" as we refer to it in English. Surprisingly, it stung. And then I got a nice little crop of welts for 45 minutes. On the other hand, I did get a rather cute (?) picture of a snail. Better than poison ivy! Which, yes, they do indeed have.

Korean...Spicy
On Sunday Kim (South Korea) made dinner. He warned us it would spicier than we were used to, and said he cooked the food to a level 2. I found it on the very edge of my edible spectrum - a first since Nate's first attempt at making curry (which WAS inedible, by my standards - even after a quarter cup of sour cream!). However, the food was all excellent and a nice change from the ordinary. I made the mistake of asking Kim what level he usually ate at, and he said a 6. The highest level is 10, and apparently the chefs have to wear face masks to prevent bodily harm from accidental inhalations. Yikes.

Numa Numa!
I certainly seem to be on an exclamation kick, but seem to be doing better with my ellipses. At any rate, I'm sure that almost everyone has heard the "Numa Numa" song - it's the techno hit with the "Wally wah-hee, Wally wah-hi" (phonetically...) introduction. At any rate, we even rode to it in the partner drill team at Special Olympics last year. But to my point. I always assumed the song was nonsense words, until I discovered an article somewhere that explained it was in Romanian. My fixation might of ended there - except for the fact that I now know someone who SPEAKS Romanian! One of girls on my floor, the one who took Russell's spot for this Summer semester is Romanian. Her family won the green card lottery when she was about 8 (so old enough to remember it) and so she's fluent in Romanian and English, and pretty darn good at German. Sure enough, Stefana (yes, there are 2 Steph(f)s on the floor...) was able to tell me all about the song (typical girl-leaves-boy so boy pines poetically through techno music lyrics set-up). If you aren't as excited about this as I was, don't worry, it probably just means you're closer to normal!

Ahoy!
For whatever reason, a conversation came up about the Czech Republic and what the Czech word for "hello" is. I knew that it was "Ahoy", because we'd played a game in our Phonetics course first semester. However, various friends (including 2 who were in the class with me) denied having heard that. It was ridiculous (or at least highly ironic) they claimed, that a land-locked country should have helped establish sailor lingo. Tonight though, I happened to be riding the bus home with 2 girls in my theater class who are Czech. So I asked them...and I was right. I knew that the Germans spell Ahoy, "Ahoi" and I wondered how the Czechs spell it. Turns out it's "Ahoj". Makes me glad I'm not learning Czech, as I think I'd fail miserably. Still, one does wonder...land-locked!

At any rate, that's about all I've got right now...I'll be uploading some pictures of Kallmunz shortly to play on the slide show. If you missed the birthday pics - they are accessible through the link I added last time.
Hope all is well,
Steph

Sunday, May 18, 2008

I Got Older - Because the Alternative isn't that Great...



Hi all,
So yes, it is true...I may now legally drink! Oh, wait...I've been doing that for the past 9 months...However, when I now go back home I will continue to be able to. Phew. Anyhow...onwards!

In which Steph was Chided
I had decided ahead of time not to organize a party on my birthday - deciding that I didn't want to have to make my own cake. I decided to have a stress free day and do whatever I pretty much wanted. This means I had no firm plans whatsoever, but I knew it SHOULD involve lots and lots of ice cream. However, the night before my Birthday (which was the 15th), Molly cornered me and politely "bullied" me into having a dinner. Thank goodness for Facebook...
So the next morning I made a dinner reservation for 14 people at Rive Doite, going off a rough estimate. It's a smallish French restaurant with a whole menu of asparagus dishes. (Germany is actually experiencing a dearth of asparagus, especially the exotic white asparagus, but as the majority of it is grown in Bavaria - they've been simply hoarding it!) I was also told by Molly (and several other people) that I should host a party with Jake - my birthday twin.
However, he was in Prague until Friday night, so I decided to do it last night...the 17th.

The "Big" Day
My day didn't start out very differently from any other Thursday. So, I namely slept in until 10. I didn't have my English conversation class, as they're on vacation for 2 weeks before their last "semester". I went online and read the 8 (yes, 8...) e-cards my mom sent me. There was even one from the dog, which was pretty funny. Then I made the reservation (mentioned before) and embarked on my favorite pastime...shopping. Yes, I'm sure you'll have noted the sarcasm. However, I was in a buoyant mood and I really need some more summer clothes. So the saga continues...I kept a positive mood and after my second store (and WAY too many trips to the changing room...) I found a cute top and a sundress-thing. I considered this to be a great achievement, and rewarded myself with ice cream. Yay. Next I met Sara at Kevin's apartment (he and his girlfriend (French and German, respectively) are in our theater group) to help him with an English essay that had something to do with both equating humans with animals and not eating whales...However, he also had window cling paint, and so now I have a purple elephant drying at his apartment to go pick up. I then scrammed back to my apartment to change and walked to the meeting point for dinner.

Dinner went very well, about 16 people showed up and dinner conveniently coincided with happy hour. However, moderation was observed by all and it was a great dinner. Afterwards, someone made the brilliant suggestion of having ice cream (this someone's very modest as well...) and so that was also accomplished. As fate would have it, it was also the night for the Vor der Grieb dorm party, which one of my dinner guests was bar tending. The dorm is only a 3 minute walk from mine, and the Irish girls roped me into coming. They also made it their mission (along with Suvi, the bar keep and her "Suvi special") to make my birthday a proper 21 celebration. I'll let you read between the lines...

Saturday: Jake and Steph's B-day Bash!
So, after a Friday to recover and grocery shop for yesterday, I got up Saturday morning and baked a cake. Since it wasn't actually my birthday, I was ok with this. I made my ever-popular Black Forrest Cake. Sara made an absolutely amazing chocolate cake and Charlotte made "Welsh Cakes" - which are actually cookies.
While we were in the kitchen, Sara brought out a bag of miniature Reese's Peanutbutter Cups - which Charlotte had never had before. Sara offered her one, and we all had one. However, as Sara unwrapped hers...Charlotte's eyes got very wide. We had just asked her how she liked it and she had said it was ok - but apparently got better as she realized she had to take off the INNER wrapping as well...How do you eat YOUR Reeses?
Much laughter ensued, and continued as Flo (Jake's friend), a German, almost made the same mistake a few minutes later.
I helped Jake make guacamole later, and we winged the party pretty much. We hadn't reserved the room, but it all worked out in the the end. The cakes lasted, plenty of people showed up, there was white wine and beer (and only one bottle of red, which was kind of funny) and it just the perfect amount - only one of each was leftover. Probably helping to keep the mess/spill factor down (as the floor slants quite noticeably in the room), is the fact that we didn't have any hard alcohol present. As I was hostessing, I didn't actually drink, which helped me to stay up until sometime past 3, when the last guests were ushered out.
Even though it was last minute, at least 25 people showed up - so we called the joint bash a large success.

So, now I've been up for several hours and finished washing/cleaning up the kitchen (we cleaned the room last night - a rather easy task) and decided to blog about it. There should be a few pictures up.

Hope everything is well,
Steph

PS. A few night ago there were what sounded like 20 German men robustly singing out my window. I missed their loudest song, but I think I have a clip I'll download...just to give you a taste of my unintended night-life!

video

Monday, May 12, 2008

Vienna Adventures

Hi all,
I got home from Vienna last night and was completely exhausted. However, after catching up on some sleep (and homework), I'm ready to impart my tale of Vienna.

Panda Hostel
So, as Eric was the one who schemed up a trip to Vienna the weekend I was at the theater retreat, he was the one to make the hostel arrangements. We got into Vienna around 9:30 and successfully found our way to the Panda Hostel. Our keys had been left pinned to a bulletin board outside the room, and there was no staff in sight - although it was full of helpful signs... This would become a common theme. We let ourselves in, went to the correct room, and found a note attached to the ladder leading to our bed - yes, a ladder leading to our bed...as in a lofted singular. This was slightly awkward, to say the least. It was a full-sized bed, but not the kind of story you particularly want to tell your significant other about. Seriously peeved, but with no staff to discuss this issue with, we decided to go out and eat dinner. Striking off in a random direction, Eric joked that a sign with red neon lights in the distance was the "red light district" - he was wrong, however, as it was actually on the street just around the corner that we walked on to. After about 6 blocks, we abandoned the well-lit streets in hopes of finding a cafe or restaurant tucked behind them. Finally, as we had almost made a full circle (well, square...) we found ourselves outside "Pizzeria Casanova". It looked a little dodgy at first, but as we walked by and noticed a Catholic priest eating inside, we decided to chance it. The rest of the night passed inconsequentially, except I (well, Eric) discovered that I now sleep talk in German...

Friday in Vienna
The next morning we got up at 8, because the staff is only around from 8-10 (with a 10-2, unobserved, lock-out time) to settle our bill - cash only- and ask if we could get separate beds. Unfortunately they were booked full for the rest of our trip, and we already knew there were no other hostels available. So we set off to explore Vienna. We stopped at a bakery, where I ate my first man-pastry. I still don't understand it...
Next we wandered around and found the National Library and then the Natural Museum of History...so that's where some of the pics are from.
Next we wandered through Mozart's Garden (well, it had a statue of him, at any rate) and were immediately approached by a be-wigged man. He sold us tickets to the Vienna Mozart Orchestra...and Eric was ridiculously excited. More excited than he gets about American Ketchup, and that's saying something...
The tickets were a little steep at 19 euros, but Eric swore left and right that we had to. We also impressed the costumed guy that we knew German...apparently most Americans who visit/live in Vienna don't know any. The rest of the afternoon was mostly spent at the Schoenbrunner palace. It was the summer seat of the Hapsburg empire, starting with Maria Theresa. We checked out the EXTENSIVE grounds (including the fountain with the cute ducks) and wandered through the labyrinth and mazes. Apparently the world's oldest Zoo is there, but we didn't check that out. We did, however, make the very steep hike up the hill with a monument overlooking the palace, but didn't spend the euros to go up on top of it.
The Vienna Mozart Orchestra tickets were for that evening...and it was absolutely terrific!
The concert was held in the Golden Room, which is rumored to have the best acoustics in the world. Our seats were up in the balcony behind/directly besides the orchestra, but as there were lots of empty seats, we moved down to the corner directly behind them. At one point my burning eyes reminded me that blinking was mandatory...I was that enraptured. The high-light for me was the soloist who played two sections from The Magic Flute...he was truly amazing.
I didn't take any pictures of the costumed actors playing (I was too busy listening), but there are a few photos of the empty stage.

Saturday
We woke up relatively late on Saturday, rushing out the door before lock-out. We wandered through a few of the large parks (I was hoping to find the nameless cemetery for the drowned that was featured in the film Before Sunrise.
video
..but it wasn't in our guidebook and we never managed to stumble across it) and then headed back to the palace. We took the Imperial Tour (the shortest) and wandered through about 30 rooms, about 2/3 of the palace. It was gorgeous, and the Hapsburg have an incredibly interesting and tragic history. Afterwards we tried to get standing room tickets for Carmen - but they were sold out within 5 minutes - much to Eric's non-dismay. So we went to the "Volkstheater" instead. If you ever have the chance to see "Geschichten aus dem Wiener Wald" (Tales from the Vienna Woods)...don't. If I were to categorize it in one word, Disturbing would be it. Afterwards, we met up with an Australian named Shane, who we'd met the night before briefly. He went with us to pick up pizza for dinner and he decided he'd come with us to see the Vienna Boy's Choir at mass the next morning.

Adventures with Shane
The guidebook said to be at the Hofburg Chapel by 8 am for the 9:15 mass if we wanted free standing room. However, we decided to leave at 8, and were actually all out the door by 7:45. After shortly stopping for breakfast and asking for directions, we successfully found the chapel. We decided to chance the standing room, and were soon in line. Directly behind us was a group of UCLA medical students who had just finished their rotations and were graduating and going on to their residencies within the next few weeks. Eric drifted off and discovered a couple from the Netherlands who were very impressed with his German, and reminded him "You are the Future". For some reason, we found this funny.
We stood in the main aisle of the church, halfway to the front. At first we thought we'd been misinformed, as the choir that lumbered in had the median age of 30 for it's members. Soon, however, the small orchestra above us began to play and we were rewarded with the sweet voices of the Vienna Boys Choir. The whole mass was quite a shock for Shane, as he 1. Didn't know German and 2. Is Anglican. The mass was about Pentecost and tradition, although they threw a lot of Latin in there as well. At the end of the mass, they brought the choir down...and here's a quick video clip...

video
After mass, Eric caught sight of the man who played the father figure in the play from the night before. We found this hysterical.

After mass, we went to the Donau park (but first made photo history at the Natural Science Museum...in photos...). We wandered around and ate at a restaurant in it for lunch. Eric caught sight of the mini-golf sign...and so of course we had to go. It was quite possibly the most ghetto course I've ever seen. It was also quite a challenge...
video
Ok...last movie...I promise...

Afterwards we got some ice cream and then parted ways, as Shane had 5 hours of Sigfried to sit through that evening. We went to the Danube Island (Between the Danube, New Danube and Old Danube), which was pretty much a theme park.

Going Home
We made our 4:40 train with ease and both napped on the way home. Claudia met us at the station and they came to my place to pick up Eric's bike. My back ached from my heavy backpack (we were thoughtless - we could've left them in a locker...sigh), my feet were worn to stubs and I was incredibly hungry. I tried calling my mom for mother's day, but it took about 5 tries to connect to the calling card hub, and another 3 to make it to my parent's voice mail. Due to the heavy operating load, the message was incomprehensible. But it was the thought that mattered, right?

Anyhow, I hope all is well in the land of free toilets and cool whip,
Steph

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Storming the Tower


Hi all,
Just a quickie about yesterday's adventure.

The Tower, for which my Dorm is Named...
Now, when I told Chris about my ultra-cool adventure of getting to tour the tower that's attached to my dorm, he asked me which tower I was talking about. Apparently during his 10 day visit he somehow missed it. However, there is indeed a tower attached to my dorm...as it literally means "Golden Tower" because, well, there's a giant yellow tower! As it is extremely old (700+ years) they don't like us or tourists traipsing about in it. However, as a perk to putting up with having to hear drunk German men singing at all hours of the night, they let us into tour the tower once or twice a semester. The first semester the tour was at 8 in the morning on a Saturday. So Steph missed that one. The next tour date(s) got posted 3 days ago. The choices were 3 o'clock Monday, or 7:30 AM Wednesday morning...gee, decisions decisions.

So naturally I went with the 3 pm and met up in the kitchen nearest the tower. The best part was that I hadn't realized that WHOLE wing even existed. They're directly across from our kitchen. The guy who does all the utility work unlocked the door (teeny...watch the pics) for us and we started the ascent. I counted approximately six long flights of stairs, each one ending on a very small and completely empty landing. At the top, our huffing and puffing was rewarded by a 4-sided view of the city. Also inside (along with a good deal of graffiti) was some original art...hopefully they don't come out too faded. After 20 minutes of snapping photos and oohing, we climbed back done. I'm not that great with heights (and I hate ladders), and going down was a little difficult. All the stairs were so old that they were slanted downwards...something I hadn't noticed going up. So it felt like one little slip and you'd keep going...and going...and going.
I made it down without problems, but about 3 minutes later my adrenaline rush caught up with me and I had wobbly legs. Pathetic, I know.

At any rate, it was really cool...
Enjoy the pics!
Steph

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Happy May Day! (Late...)


Hi everyone,
Here's a quick run-down on my lovely Sunday I had today.

Tea Party
A few days ago I received an invitation to a tea party / meet and greet with the woman who organizes the English Conversation course that I and 3 other people teach. (Different kids, different days). We had been told that the family was deeply religious, and in fact, the bottom of her e-mail contained religious service information. Nevertheless, Eric, Emma, Miles (new, Vanderbilt/Wheaton/Wesleyan) and I trekked out to meet the family, taking an unfamiliar bus route. We were met by one of her sons (she has 4) and his girlfriend. Once we got there, introductions were made and she had us eating cake, drinking coffee and conversing. Eric was particularly nervous and said on the bus (not quite jokingly) that he'd love a beer. It was funny because the father of the family offered beer and Eric and Emma took him up on his offer. Of course, he later offered everyone snuff, but that was declined. It was a perfectly lovely afternoon, and I even wore a dress and my new shoes (but only for 10 minutes, because I now have a new hole in the back of my ankle...sigh). So it was a very nice time.

At one point in the conversation, I apologized to the mother for not being able to find her son the first day. She looked confused, and I reminded her I'd sent her an e-mail. She then told me that all the e-mails she's received from me (about 5) had been completely blank! She somehow managed to think that was normal...lol. What had really happened is, without fail, every time I send her an e-mail it bounces back. It does so because it says I have invalid characters - because the e-mail address line has a title with umlauts...so I'd been clearing it out and clicking send again...after it'd erased my message. Whoops. So I'm glad THAT got cleared up.

Maibaum
On our way back to the bus stop about an hour and a half later (and the bus only comes once per hour on Sundays), we were astounded to see a very large may pole coming our way. It was being carried by a whole fleet of firemen (decked out in full uniform...on a hot day...), part of a soccer team in uniform, and various other stragglers. The guy in front yelled at us to help, and although I first thought he was joking, he definitely wasn't. We yelled we had to take the bus, and we got a little crap for it, but they soon rallied themselves with a song. Honestly, Germans and their singing...

Anyhow, there's a game night happening out in my kitchen, so I'm going to run along (gingerly) and join in the fun.
Hope all is well,
Steph
PS The picture is to show the size of the may pole, and I would've given some left body part to have had my camera along!