auf Deutsch

I must say it is quite exciting (and brings about a smidgen of pride ... okay, more than a smidgen) when I am mistaken for a German by a German ... or ein Auslӓnder (foreigner) for that matter. While wandering about in Ulm, DE, a guy stopped me and started talking to me auf Deutsch (in German). From what I could understand, he wanted to persuade me to sign up with the Democratic Party in Germany. After he did his spiel, ich hat gesagt, "Ich bin eine Auslӓnderin. Es tut mir leid aber ich kann dir nicht helfen." (I had said, "I am a foreigner. Sorry, but I cannot help you.") I must admit, once I caught on to what he was asking of me, I stopped listening fully so that I could formulate my German response.

I also had a street evangelist come up to me as I was eating lunch in front of the Ulmer Münster. She was speaking more quickly and with German words that I don't know yet, but she fully thought I could understand her. My last example of pretending to be German is while paying for anything - like a book or "dreihundert Gramms Rauchkӓse, shnitt, bitte" ("300g smoked cheese, cut, please.").

Just don't expect me to be able to hold a flowing conversation in German (though I was never really good at that in English either) because there is preparation that goes into sentences that aren't a part of my now nature vocabulary. Although my German edifice is ruined when I mis-interpret what the other person is saying.



I feel like a small child on Christmas Eve- waiting, dreaming, drifting. The first snowfall of the season is supposed to happen very soon in these early a.m. hours. I want to be excited about it now because soon I know I will frown the icy crispness as I am forced to leave the warmth of my covers and head for morning classes.

To say that I am unaccustomed to a Winter season would be an easy answer, however nearly 3 years ago I lived for a spell in the Himalayan mountains of India. I arrived at the brutal end of winter (mid-late January), experienced near frostbite, and then enjoyed the loveliness of Spring and Summer (then, oh the joys of Monssoon) in the mountains. So I know that this coming winter will arrive and will leave in a similar non-dramatic fashion. One day, I'll look up and realize that the sun seems wonderfully bright today and wonder how long it's been there.

I would like to go into this with that awe, that level of expectation. I will be able to make a snowman and have a snowball fight with fellow classmates from South America, India, Mexico, Russia, China ... okay, well my Russian friends might think we are all a bit odd for being so enthralled with this cold, white, fluffy substance that though falls from the sky, will actually stay on the ground.

I would much rather find myself sitting on the floor, in front of the window, gazing blankly, waiting for little white particles to become visible (while listening to Christmas music, of course; it seems only natural). Otherwise, it's far too easy to find bits of misery to focus on.

My first potential White Christmas, I eagerly await thee. Please don't disappoint.


travels 2 (Ulm, DE)

Ulm, Deutschland: Quite a small city. When I got off the train at the Bahnhof (train station), I found a map of the city and decided to snap a quick picture of it just in case I needed to refer to it later on. I over-exaggerated the scale. To those playing at home, what this means is when wandering (which I am apt to do), the appropriate distance that I thought I needed to walk in a certain direction was FAR greater than the distance I actually needed to walk to get to where I was trying to go. It simply boils down to: I saw more of Ulm than I had anticipated, which I am not complaining about. And really, when in Ulm, all one has to do to get back on track is either look up and find Ulmer Münster steeple standing high above anything else in existence or find your way to the Donau Fluss (Danube River).

From the Bahnhof (Train station) towards Ulmer Münster.

These are all of Ulmer Münster.

Ah, the Danube River (Donau Fluss). Very tranquil.
While walking along the river, I went up into a Rose garden park along the water. There I happened upon this hidden little gate at the end of the park. I just had to see what mysteries lie within. It turns out, it was just a workman's shed to tend to the plants.

After doing the river thing, I decided I wanted to make my way north to the city's old cemetery. I read something about it on the internet when I was figuring out what I might want to see. It turns out, I was further west than I had thought ... which was fine enough because I explored a bit of Ulm's business district and Congress area. I walked thru green areas and cute residential streets.

(Just really enjoy this pic with the colors, et.al.)

Well, as it happens, I walked too far north (right off my map) because I was too far West. I found the Alter Friedhof (old city cemetery, which happens to also be a park with walking/biking paths and kids' play areas) flanked be two churches.

I then knew that I wanted to go into Neu-Ulm directly south of Ulm across the Donau (and in the state of Bayern instead of the state that Ulm is in: Baden-Württemberg.) There should have been many clues along the way that I was indeed not walking South but instead walking East, but alas. There seems to be quite a bit more of Ulm to the East of the Bahnhof than I though ... especially since my map stopped at the train station. But I found it. I'm also pretty certain I would have continued walking in this fabulously wrong direction if it hadn't been for a road sign pointing a different direction than the one I was traveling to get to Neu-Ulm. I always thought I was actually pretty good with directions; this obviously doesn't put a vote of confidence in my favor.
(From the South Bank of the Donau in Neu-Ulm)

Then I headed back across the river to explore some more and kill time until I needed to check into the hostel. I went to Marktplatz which has the old Rathaus (government building) and the Stadtbibliothek (city library - a glass pyramid of 5 levels and a reading cafe on the top). I sat in the library reading eine Zeitung (newspaper) von Stuttgart for about 1/2 an hour.
(Alt Rathaus - detail work)

Fischerviertel (Fisherman's Quarter) - quaint & historic part of town with the Blau Fluss (Blue River) running thru it.

Then I wandered through Fisherman's quarter, on my way to Neu-Ulm to find dinner and check into the hostel. 'Tis all for Ulm. I "slept" horribly. Had a minor headache - just enough to be a bother, and the guy in the bed across the room had a cold so intermingled within his snoring, he coughed. Hearing my watch beep every hour away became very frustrating. When the sun came up, I decided to get on my way out and catch an early train onto Lindau am Bodensee (on the Boden Sea), the next destination ... which I will post those pics soon.


travels 1b

(Heidelberg pics from 18Sept 2010)

Heildelberg, old town.
The international student affairs office set up tour guides for our group. So we walked through the old part of the city getting history and humorous German biases. I don't remember which church this is (I'm thinking Catholic). There are 3 in the the old city, each a different religious affiliation. Apparently, this part of Germany did not choose to follow the reformation and remained Catholic. Much later in the timeline, the governor of this city-state gave people the option ... hence the other 2 churches.
I think this is the Jesuit church. There is a partition in the front of the nave because there is another denomination that uses this church ... at the same time. So instead of becoming one body or alternating worship times, they put up a divider. Now, isn't that nice.
From across the Neckar looking out on the old city. A couple of friends and I decided in our free time that we would climb up to the "Poets Walk". Climbing the never-ending stairs reminded me of India (in Hardiwar, climbing up to Chandidevi Temple). I think we did 8 min. on the stair climber before we reached the top. And it was a lovely view and contemplative walk (Mark Twain did a stint here, among other thinkers). So lovely, in fact, that we kept walking - all the way into new town.

I like Europe for this. Different styles, different colors, even the horizontals don't align - and it's all good. In the U.S., we try to have everything neat & tidy. I like this.

Thus concludes excursion #1. Hopefully I'll be posting Ulm and Lindau/Bregenz/Boden Sea before classes start up.

travels 1

Tonight I have returned from "ein Ausflug" (short excursion). As my German final exam on Thursday of last week began to approach and knowing that my full course load of graduate classes begins on the flip side of that Thursday (in one more day), I decided I wanted to get away for the weekend. How did I choose where to go? Looked at a map and said "uhh, there! oh! And I can go there too, just so that I can say I've been to Austria." So Friday morning I hopped on a train and was in Ulm in 1 hour. I walked ALL OVER the city (quite literally walked off my map in the East, North, and West directions. Then explored a bit in Neu-Ulm (which is technically in the state of Bayern and not Baden-Württemberg ... I didn't know that). I reserved a hostel several days before, stayed there over night (notice I didn't say sleep ... had a horrible headache and didn't sleep but 2 hrs). Next destination Lindau, Germany on the Boden Sea and Bregenz, Ӧsterreich (Austria) also on the water's edge. Then back to Lindau to catch my train home to Stuttgart.

I'm breezing through this weekend because it wasn't my intent to post stories or pics about my most current adventure because I haven't even looked at my pics yet ... I've been home maybe an hour.

I wanted to post about an excursion I did back in the middle of September (hosted by the international student affairs office) to Neckarsteinach and Heildelberg, both of which are just a small drive away.

Neckarsteinach sits on the Neckar river and is known for it's castles, one of which a ruin. Heildelberg, also on the Neckar, is a much larger city, has a university, medical research facilities, and use to be the King's homestead until early 1900s. Anyway, pictures can speak louder.

Ruine Hinterburg (literally "castle ruin in back"), looking out on the Neckar River & the town of Neckarsteinach.
Vordeburg (built in 1200s) ... literally means Castle in front. They named the 4 castles based on their position on the hill from the town. Ingenious, I know.
Altar area & stained glass of the church just a couple blocks from the water & city center.

Neckarsteinach downtown.
We took a boat from Neckarsteinach to Heildelberg. Yes, I'm a whimp. But he's from Russian and she's from the Ukraine, so I'm not doing so bad.