Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Guten Tag

Hi everyone! I made it back from Germany and still don't know any more German than when I started ha. Friday morning I caught the early flight into Munich and my friend Dave was there to pick me up. Dave, as you might remember from an earlier blog, was a Kelso friend who came and visited me last month so I was returning the favor and went to see him in Germany, since I have never been.

When he picked me up it was cold and rainy, but I was still excited about the new country. We were planning on going to the Neuschwanstein Castle, which is about 2 hours south of Munich for our first sidetrip. This is the castle that inspired Cinderella's castle and ever since I did a report on Germany in 6th grade I have always wanted to see it. Unfortunatley, the rain got worse and worse and when we started hydroplaning on the freeway (aka Autobahn) we decided that from the looks of the black clouds ahead, it was probably not going to be a good idea. So we decided to head to the town he lives in, Amberg.

Amberg was founded in 1034 and was part of the Bavarian dynasty - which is now basically the German state of Bavaria. It is about 1 and a half hours north of Munich and pretty close to Nuremberg. When we entered the town, you could just FEEL how different it was from Spain. Everything in Germany seems so orderly and spotless. I am so used to Spain, seeing mixes of people, different houses, different cars, but in Germany although the houses were different shades of pastel colors, the houses were perfect little homes, the roads were wide and easy to figure out, the cars were all the same shades of greys and blacks and even the garbage was perfectly organized - paper, cardboard, food, glass, plastic and more. It was definitley a different dynamic!

Most random thing of the whole trip was this box of chicken fingers we saw in the grocery store in Amberg. They aren't called Chicken Fingers, as you would expect, but Obama Fingers. Horrible but very funny at the same time.

Dave showed me around his town, which is actually still in the center of a wall that surrounds the whole city! There were a lot of little shops and lots of restaurants. Later we met up with some of his military friends and went out to dinner at an Italian restaurant that they like in town. After dinner we poked around in a few bars, but I was terribly tired since I had woken up at 4am that day so we called it an early night. It was actually good that we headed home early because at 4am Saturday morning, Dave got a call from his commander and was told that everyone his troop had to come in for a special formation. I went back to sleep and when he came back home at 10am, he was super tired so slept a lot of the day. I guess when you are in the military, you never really have a 'day off'. After a long succession of naps, we headed up to an old Baroque monastary that sits at the top of a huge hill. It is called Hill of Our Lady Help of Christians (in German - Mariahilfberg). Next to the Monastary is a little restaurant where we stopped off for lunch. Dave ordered me some traditional Bavarian food, of which I cannot remember what it is called because it was all in German. He speaks pretty good German, so I don't even bother with the words. Turns out we had some deer medallions and some other deer patties of some sort. Delicious. From the restaurant you can gaze over all of Amberg, which is a pretty big town it turns out. One of my favorite shots of the buildings is this one - the yellowish brick in front is the church, the tower in the back is the high-point of the Baroque church and the building to the right is where the monks live. While we were having our lunch, some monks actually walked in and had lunch - in thier outfits and all - something I had never seen!

We ended the day with a BBQ and some more German beer drinking. I am usually not a beer fan, but found a few German beers that I actually really liked. The next day we slept in and then headed off to the military base. The base Dave is on actually used to be a Nazi internment camp, so it was kind of eery to step on base. The buildings are still from that time but everything else has been updated. I was excited because Dave told me he was taking me to the biggest commissary and Px in all of Europe. Happy American Amanda. We walked into the Px and I was SO overwhelmed. It was like walking into Target or something. It was somewhat surreal to step from an old Nazi camp straight into America in one second. Once my heart stopped pounding so quickly we did some shopping and then headed to the commissary where I was like a little kid on Christmas morning. Mac and Cheese, Chili, Cake mix, Crest toothpaste - these are the things I miss hahaha. After shopping and shopping we even went to Taco Bell - somewhere I NEVER want to go when I am home, but I figured I should complete the American experience. I actually got kind of choked up (I know, I know, who gets choked up about Taco Bell?) but being on base was just like being in the US and it kind of made me USA-sick (a temporary illness I diagnose myself with when I miss the States haha).
Once I was fully American-stocked, we headed back to pack my bags and then sped off to Munich. As soon as we arrived we dropped off our bags and headed straight for the Hofbrauhaus - a German beer hall, and supposedly one of the most famous. Supposedly, before the Nazis came to power, this is where Hitler used to meet up with his guys. It is said that some of the first violence against Jews took place in the Hofbrauhaus. Now it is one of most popular tourist spots in Munich. It is basically a HUGE building full of tables where you order traditional German food (I had the suckling pig) and liters and liters of beer. They have a German band playing and waiters and waitresses dressed up in traditional costume. The only beer they serve is in liter mugs full of thier own brew. Regulars can pay a fee and actually keep thier own special mug at the restaurant and use it when they come ha. I saw a grandma chugging beer out of her own special mug and couldn't help but laugh. Overall, it was a beer-filled and fun night and a great way to end the trip. We came back to the hotel at 2am, I woke up at 6am for my flight, took the bus straight to work from the airport and ta-daaaaaa went to sleep!

This weekend, we have a four-day weekend and have been planning to go to Paris but found out today that there is a national strike day tomorrow in France so our tickets were cancelled. SAD! We seized the opportunity and are now going to Lisbon, Portugal and are leaving in 2 hours, so I must rush off! More to come from my next country soon!


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