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Monthly Archives: July 2012

Road Trip! Post from July 16

Hey Everybody!

Sorry for the delay in writing…as you may recall, Sebastien and I were headed on an epic road trip last time I wrote a post. While I had hoped to write a new post after phase one (which consisted of five days) of this road trip, we spent our one night at home frantically doing laundry and getting new groceries to get back on the road again the next day. So, on our first day of driving in phase two, I wrote a rough draft summarizing everything I wanted to mention in this blog, in the pages of my diary. Sebastien figured that technically, that means that I’m sharing my diary with the world, but in reality I wrote this particular entry with the intention of seeing it published. Plus I should mention that you’re lucky you’re seeing the typed entry here, instead of what is written in my diary, considering my horrendous hand-writing. So what is written below is what I wrote on July 16th 2012.

The first half of our road trip was a great success! The whole plan for this trip began with the idea to go to Denmark for the weekend, to join Sebastien’s family where they were on holiday. Back when I had the waitressing job, we figured we could only have a trip that lasted for a few days; I didn’t know if I would have the time to take the trip to Austria I had been planning on ever since I made friends from there that were on exchange at my university. In a way, quitting the waitressing job was great since it allowed me to travel as much as I want, especially once Sebastien finished his semester. And really, isn’t the reason I’m over here in Europe to enjoy all that it has to offer? As soon as we knew I wouldn’t be working for most of July, we began to plan the trip to Austria, which would take place right after we arrived home from our weekend in Denmark.

A few weeks before we were due to leave for Denmark, I noticed that a friend from the UVic German Club, Marina, had recently arrived in Lübeck. When I mentioned this to Sebastien, he suggested we find out where she would be when we were heading to Denmark, since they are fairly near to each other and he has always wanted to see the city. When I emailed Marina, she informed me that when we were heading to Denmark she would be in Mölln, which is a small town quite close to Lübeck. Sebastien and I decided to leave a day early on our road trip so that we could meet up with her, and check out Mölln and Lübeck.

Then, two days before our trip, Sebastien called his grandparents for a chat. By the end of their conversation, they had suggested that Sebastian and I should visit them on our way to Mölln and spend the night, since it was so close. So by that point, we were leaving the next day, Tuesday, instead of on Thursday as we had planned a month before.

Tuesday evening with Sebastien’s grandparents was a lot of fun, and very relaxed. We had delicious venison with pasta, and mushrooms that his grandfather had freshly picked from the forest. I appreciated the calm pace of conversation, since that way I could understand a lot of what was being said. The next morning, we ate eggs that had been purchased fresh from a farm down the street. Apparently, while Sebastien’s grandfather was buying the eggs, he told the farmer’s wife that I would be bagpiping and she should try to see if she could hear me playing…she said that she didn’t have a great sense of hearing, but later on she told Sebastien’s grandfather that she could hear me loud and clear! After I practiced for a little while, we said our goodbyes and got back on the road. We only got lost once on the way to Mölln, and were able to find Marina easily. She had previously lived in Mölln during High School; she said how hardly anyone there speaks English, so she was forced to improve her German very quickly while she was there. Very different from Berlin, where store vendors switch instantly to English after hearing me speak, and almost everyone I know here loves to practice their English on me! We checked out the old parts of the town, including the Cathedral and Till Eulenspiegel’s grave. He was a famous Court Jester, and while I had never heard of him before, he is apparently very well known in German history.

The Grave…apparently he requested it to be put upside-down, so he could continue to annoy all those people left after he died!

Here is a statue of Till Eulenspiegel – I rubbed his thumb for good luck!

Marina and I in front of an old building…one of the many that was there years before America was discovered!

After we walked through parts of the town, we all went to an ice cream parlour. I had ‘Spaghetti Eis’ for the first time, which consists of spaghetti-shaped vanilla ice cream over whipped cream, with strawberry sauce.

After our ice cream, we parted ways and Sebastien and I continued on to Lübeck. I had no idea that it would be so gorgeous there! It’s apparently famous for having seven large peaks, and each one was connected to an amazing cathedral or other form of architecture. We had a tourist map with a recommended route of the city, and it led us past all of the impressive buildings, and down various narrow streets. In both Mölln and Lübeck, we noticed that the weather was capable of changing drastically over a matter of an hour or so…while some of the pictures I took were under a grey sky, some were in bright sunshine!

Where our tour began!

One of the impressive cathedrals from the back

At one point, Sebastien and I wondered why in the world there were so many churches built in such a small area…the fact that the city has seven peaks is very impressive, but I can understand why no other cities have that! It’s almost a bit silly to have five or so cathedrals within a 15 minute walk of each other. But either way, we had a great time walking through the city, and then grabbed some snacks at a grocery store on the way out of town. We drove for another while, and spent the night on the side of the road by a wheat field. It was a good place to pull over, except that we could hear wild boars rooting around in the field beside us; Sebastien tells me they’re harmless, but I still didn’t get out of the car for the rest of the night. The next morning, I played my pipes for a while in the field, and we then continued on our way.

Next stop was the ferry terminal, where we parked the car and waited for the ferry that would take us to Bornholm, Denmark. The ferry ride took about three hours, and we could see the chalk cliffs in the distance as we were leaving the mainland. I hadn’t known this before, but the difference in value of the Euro and Danish currency, the kronor, is rather large. I saw some cosmetics for 113,00 DK, and first thought that the decimal must be in the wrong place. In the end, I bought a coke; I paid 5 euros for it, and received 9 kronor in change! 9 kronor isn’t enough tor eally buy anything in Denmark though, so I got to keep the pretty coins.

Once we got off the ferry, we met up with Sebastien’s family. They were staying at a small house in Bornholm, and had been there for nearly two weeks by the time we arrived. We went for a swim in the ocean shortly after, and spent the rest of the evening relaxing and playing uno. During uno I learned my new favourite German word, which is ‘fuffi’…it’s a word for fifty, in the same way Canadians say they have a toonie. Personally, the fact that it is pronounced ‘foofie’ makes me think more of a tiny poodle than money. Our next day in Bornholm was absolutely gorgeous, and we lay around in the sun for most of it. It all reminded me a lot of when I used to go camping in BC at Koocanusa Lake – the only significant difference to me was the fact that, while camping in Bornholm involved wholesome meals with fruits and vegetables, camping in BC had always meant sausages, cheese buns, and coco-puffs! Unfortunately, the next day was rather rainy, but we went for a jog and another swim. Due to the wind and rain, there was a lot of seaweed floating around in the water…it actually reminded me a lot of the scene from the movie ‘Airplane,’ where the couple are trying to be romantic as they’re lying on the beach, but there are slugs everywhere and pieces of seaweed hanging off of them. However, it was still a lot of fun! We later went for a leisurely drive, and tried some of the smoked fish that the island is known for.

On Sunday we headed back home – Sebastien and his dad biked to the ferry, since we couldn’t fit everyone in the family car. The ferry ride went smoothly, and Sebastien and I returned to our own car afterwards (which actually belongs to his parents, but was used by us for our epic road trip). Once back in Berlin, we dropped by Seb’s parents’ house. I said my final goodbye to Seb’s sister, since she will soon be in China for three weeks and won’t be back until I’ve already returned to Canada. After that we headed back to the house, spent one night there, and are now on the road again. We are now heading in the direction of Switzerland; the countryside has begun to get a lot more hilly, and there are gorgeous towns tucked in amongst the green landscape. We have been through several tunnels, one of which was nearly 8km long. We passed one road sign that said we were passing Eisenach, which I thought was really cool since I had spent a lot of time there when I was on tour in grade 11. We will spend tonight in Würzburg, Germany, and tomorrow we shall continue on to Switzerland.

We have now reached the end of my diary-blog entry…Sebastien and I are about to head out for Friday night fun though, so I shall write more later! Thanks so much for reading!

Auf Wiedersehen!

Robyn

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Posted by on July 27, 2012 in Travel and Working Abroad

 

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A Trip to the Zoo, and More!

Hello All!

Sorry that it’s been so long since I’ve written…after I wrote last, there weren’t a lot of exciting things going on that I felt were worth writing about. Of course, as soon as exciting things started happening, I no longer had the time to write about them. How ironic!

So, as the title suggests, I took a trip to the Zoo! Berlin has two zoos, and while I went to the ‘Berlin Zoo’ last year, I went to Berlin’s ‘Tierpark’ this year. It was a little bit more difficult to get to than the Zoo had been last year, but I am officially so skilled at taking trains that it was no problem. Sebastien had classes all day, so I had to go alone – I wasn’t sure how much I would enjoy that, but it was actually rather fun! I learned a little bit more of the German language; when I reached the owls cage, a bunch of kids started pointing and saying ‘oohoo! oohoo!’ so I now know that owls are Eule in German. I’m not sure how to properly spell ‘oohoo’ but apparently it’s the sound an owl makes in German – I asked Sebastien when I came home. For those of you that didn’t know, a rooster in German actually says ‘kikeriki’ as opposed to ‘cock-a-doodle-do’. You can’t really tell when you hear them, but apparently it’s different!

Anyways, I had a great day at the Zoo. There were very cute baby elephants, and a baby giraffe that was no taller than me!

Kind of difficult to see, but there were two baby elephants!

The other thing I found interesting about the Zoo was the fact that there were animals there that are considered ‘foreign’ in Germany, but which I’ve seen a fair amount of times at home. They had one enclosure with a lot of various gulls in it – primarily seagulls. I didn’t really enjoy that, seeing as I just find seagulls noisy, and I see them everywhere in BC, but apparently they really don’t have them here. They also had a cougar enclosed right beside a jaguar…while a jaguar is something I consider extremely exotic, I happen to have a friend that hit a cougar with her car. Not that that’s a good thing by any means, but it shows that I am much more familiar with cougars than a lot of Berliners would be.

Here’s a few more photos from the Zoo…

Lady and the Tramp, gopher style!

A giant turtle staying in the shade…and he’s yawning!

The only problem with my trip to the Zoo was the heat…it felt absolutely glorious, and it was amazing to finally be getting some weather appropriate for summer, but I really should have worn shorts. The heat wore me out fairly early, so I only stayed at the Zoo for a few hours. I was silly enough to leave from a different entrance than the one I had entered from, which unfortunately led to my being unable to locate the train station…but I went back to the Zoo and asked for directions (in German!) and was soon on my way back home. I had a blonde moment on the way home though, and got on the wrong bus for getting back to Sebastien’s house. It wasn’t tooooo far off though – it just meant I had to walk for another half an hour in the insane heat! Sebastien was very impressed that I was able to find the house from where that wrong bus had dropped me off, but I’ve done the walk before.

Besides that, another interesting thing I did was go to an Anne Frank exhibit. It was basically two rooms – in one room, there were pictures lining one wall of Anne Frank growing up, and on the other wall, pictures of how World War II was progressing at that point in her life. In the other room, there were quotes by Anne Frank along with quotes from kids today at the same age she had been when she died, to compare their lifestyles. I didn’t really find the quotes by other kids that interesting, but I was amazed by a lot of the quotes by her.

One of the things that, unexpectedly, affected me the most about that exhibit was the countries involved. Up until this point in my life, whenever I’ve studied the World Wars, the various countries were all just random names to memorize. So-and-so invaded so-and-so, and this bombed that. But now that I have seen some of the countries, and met people from several of them, ‘Austria’ and ‘England’ and ‘France’ have taken on a new meaning for me. I won’t turn this into a big war-blog, but it is interesting to put the countries into perspective as being places where people live their lives, and one country ‘invading’ another is more than just a move on a chess board. All in all, I was very pleased that I made the trip to the Anne Frank exhibit!

Sebastien had his last big exam last week, which has meant a lot more time for us to go out and about together! We went to a Chinese restaurant near his parents’ house the other day, since we’ve driven by it several times but have never eaten there (and he’s driven by it many many times before I came here). It’s an absolutely amazing building, with three levels and a fountain inside, as well as statues and carvings everywhere.

That’s about all that I’ve done that’s remotely exciting within the past while though. But, the main reason Sebastien and I were by the Chinese restaurant in the first place was to pick up a car from his parents’ house…since we begin our roadtrip tomorrow!

Our travel plan has actually grown exponentially since we first made it a month ago. Originally it began with our meeting Sebastien’s parents in Denmark on Thursday, where we would stay until Sunday and then return to the house before leaving again. But now, we are leaving tomorrow to spend an evening with Sebastien’s grandparents in Lenzen, and then spending Wednesday in Lübeck and Mülln with a friend from University who also happens to be in Germany right now. After we return from Denmark, we will take off for Switzerland and Austria, to meet up with a few other friends. It’s all very exciting!

At this point, I have six weeks left in Europe – I find that slightly ironic, since that’s how long I had here in total last summer. It’s hard to believe that the summer is going by so fast, considering that after our return from Austria I only have a week left in Berlin. But I’ve been having an absolutely amazing summer, and there are still so many great things coming up!

I shall now end this blog, and try to update you soon with exciting stories 🙂

Auf Wiedersehen!

Robyn

 
 

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All About Soccer Music; From the viewpoint of a tourist

Hello Everybody!

I apoligize for how long I have gone without posting a new blog! I suppose I could blame my lack of writing on my mourning Germany’s loss of the semi-final in the EU Championships to Italy, but it was really more laziness than anything else. This blog is actually not really about me though, but more about a taste of the soccer hype that revolves around the games.

Germany’s losing the semi-final was unfortunate, and it was crazy how fast the entire event was over after that. Spain beat Italy 4-0; it was actually Spain’s third year in a row winning, and that score set a new record for the most extreme defeat in a final game. While in some cases I would have wished for the ‘underdog’ team to win, I was rather pleased that Italy lost after being poopy-heads and beating Germany. In particular, there was one player on the Italian team, who had scored both of Italy’s goals against Germany, and it was a lot of fun to see how upset he was after losing to Spain. Personally, I refer to this player as mayo-head, as you can probably understand after seeing the following photo I found on Facebook:

Yes, that really is what his hair looks like. When mayo-head scored the second goal in the Italy-Germany game, he took off his shirt and took a rather random menacing pose. I found the following photoshopped images fairly entertaining as a result.

Anyways! I shall now continue onto a bit more about some of the songs that go along with the Soccer Championships. For those of you who don’t know, there is a strictly European Championship every four years, which is what happened this year, and then a FIFA World Championships every four years…kind of like the Olympics in regards to their alternating every two years. I’m only going to cover a few of the songs in this post, but there are so many…and it seems that everyone here knows all the words to every one! Unfortunately I have very limited access to youtube videos here due to strict copyright laws, but feel free to look up the songs if you so desire 🙂 I’ll try to see if I can connect a few links.

Sebastien showed me a music video on youtube called ‘Carnaval de Paris’ by Dario G – it was made for when the Fifa World Cup was hosted in Paris in 1998. It’s a really well known melody, and I’ve discovered that I can in fact play it on my bagpipes, the way that they do in the youtube video. For those of you who don’t know, bagpipes have an extremely limited scale, so that is fairly impressive!

One that I found to be of particular interest is ‘Wavin Flag’ by K’naan. This song was used for the World Cup Championships in 2010, and here is my attempt at connecting a video link:

I recommend looking up the World Cup version specifically if you’re checking it out on your own (or if my link happens to be a complete dud). The main reason I say that is that there is another version extremely well known in Canada, and I didn’t even know this one existed until I came to Germany this year. The other version was made by ‘Young Artists for Haiti’ in support of Haiti after the earthquake that happened in 2010. This group consists of many famous Canadian artists, and as far as I know, all the proceeds from this song went towards working to help rebuild Haiti. For those interested, I shall attempt to connect another link:

You can youtube ‘Wavin’ Flag – Young Artists for Haiti’ since it appears I can’t find a great video. But for those of you who don’t really know which famous artists came from Canada (since so many of them come from the States) the song features Nelly Furtado, Avril Lavigne, Justin Bieber (yuck, didn’t know that until I looked it up…apparently he’s the voice at the end, which I thought was a girl), Fefe Dobson and Lights. It also features the lead singers from Simple Plan, Theory of a Deadman, Sum 41, and Hedley. Also, I just discovered Michael Buble is Canadian (he’s in the chorus of the song).

Anyhow, enough about that…I’ve had a lot of Germans ask me about famous Canadian singers, so that’s a small sample!

The bass line from The White Stripes’s ‘Seven Nation Army’ is sung a lot at soccer games…before, I had thought it was just the thing people play on bass when they don’t know anything else. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0J2QdDbelmY. The other big songs I know about that are associated with soccer are Shakira’s ‘Waka Waka’ which is a great song, and was released in 2010, but is not well known in Canada at all. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e98z4cGSlhw. There’s also ‘Feel the Rush’ by Shaggy, which was used in 2008 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ibvT3tWWpOU and ‘Allez, Ola, Ole’ by Jessy Matador, which was used in 2010 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4acm3gcWhAE. The title ‘Allez, Ola, Ole’ apparently refers to the title of the album ‘Music of the World Cup: Allez! Ola! Ole!’ which was released in 1998 to coincide with the European Championships hosted in France that year.

Yay for new discoveries…I just found out that Ricky Martin’s ‘Cup of Life’ was actually the official song for the FIFA World Championships in 1998. I never knew that, although I have known the song since my line-dancing days in Junior High.

Anyhow, I am sure there are tons and tons of songs that I have left out. I shall end off with the most recent ones though…the song ‘Endless Summer’ by Oceana was written for the European Championships 2012, and the melody from it (‘whoa oh oh oh oh’) was played every time that the soccer was being broadcast on TV or advertised for http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5EVhiBGvVFc&feature=related. Culcha Candela also released a song advertising for the EU, called ‘Von Allein’ which I find pretty catchy http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8dPbOvFjSxU

So there you go! Not my usual typical blog, but I found all of this really interesting…I hardly knew about the Soccer Championships before last summer, but there’s so much great music revolved around it! I hope you enjoyed the read!

Auf Wiedersehen!

-Robyn

 
 

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