Goodness, I’m Bad at This. Two Months (and some change) Late. Am Samstag, 13 Juni 2015, Witten, Duisburg, Bochum, und Essen.

:Prologue:

Let me start this out with,

“Oh my gawd, I’ve only been away from Austria for almost TWO MONTHS… Can I cry now? Please? I want to.”

Fernweh Definition
On top of that, apparently I really am terrible at writing everything day. I have scribblings of notes scattered in notebooks that I took on the trip, but based on my inability to actually write them down like a normal human being… Well, this means I’m two months behind on what all I wanted to write.

I could try and blame this on work and lack of sleep and any other number of things, but if I did that I’d be mostly lying. Sometimes that is true, but more often than not, it’s become more that I don’t want to write it down because I don’t want to be internally sad that I’m not there anymore.

:End:

On the second day that Maggie and I were blessed to spend with the lovely Andrea, we went to a place I was dying to go to. A comic book shop.

Unlike at home where there are just 6 that I can name off the top of my head, I hadn’t seen any, anywhere. Andrea knew of a little place in Bochum, so that’s where we went. Now, I hope this shop doesn’t take offense to this, but good lord were they tiny. Apparently comics are not a thing like they are here — well, by no means are the mainstream here, but they really aren’t mainstream anywhere else. Granted, I saw several Simpsons and Marvel/DC comics in the various train stations I was in, but it is nothing like the shops here. Considering this was the first shop I went it, I was still impressed, and I did feel my inner nerd finally ‘at home’ as I like to call it.

It was here that I picked up the first trade of Saga in German!
[At some other time, I’ll have to rave about my love for Saga, but that’s not for here…]

IMG_20150614_071734

This hardbound book was one that I was excited to try and read, especially considering that it’s a direct, well mostly direct, translation of the English. So, I knew if I struggled with it I could cheat and look at my English copy just practice more.

It was also here that I picked up a comic from Berlin.

Kinderland - mawiL

This was exciting for me, getting a recommendation via Andrea and the shop owner.
If you’re interested in this particular book you can find information on it here >> Kinderland<<
(That’s one thing that I missed about home, was getting recommendations, thanks Destination guys and Jesse, you have officially spoiled me!)

I’ve not been able to read all of this one, or really any of the ones I’ve bought since I’ve been home, outside of a handful, just due to time and wanting to actually enjoy them. This is me with books in general, I cannot force myself to read anymore, it takes the joy out of it. The same applies to these comic books and mine from home.

After we stopped at this store and Andrea let me get my comic-fix we headed through town a little more to this, odd, looking place. We got out of the car, oops, I wasn’t supposed to tell we you rode in a car, eep, and walked down the sidewalk and this odd structure was looming over us. I didn’t quite know what it was, and I relied on Andrea that we weren’t going somewhere totally unnatural. Come to find out, we were headed to a mine museum.

Now, most people when they go on an International Trip might want to see the things that everyone else is going to see, much like we did initially in Salzburg by going on The Sound of Music Tour. However, this is stuff that my dear friend enjoyed and wanted to show me, so I trusted her. Plus, to me, the things that are off the beaten track are almost more interesting to me.

Deutsches Bergbau-Museum

This place, the Deutsches Bergbau Museum, was not exactly something I could see many of my friends wanting to go do. However, Maggie, bless her, was totally up for it.

Apparently we odd apples find each other — always. 

This place was unique. This Museum is situated right in the Ruhr district of Germany, and for those who don’t know what that area is, let me just tl;dr this because I don’t know enough about it’s history and I feel like it’s cheating if I use Wikipedia information. tl;dr – Lots of coal and steel mines. Lots of people. Now, not so much on the coal and steel industry — it’s not as profitable. Mines were abandoned after being exhausted for coal, and some of them have been turned into museums.

If you want more info check this awesome timeline of the Ruhr Area and it’s Specific History, the page specific to Deutsches Bergbau-Museum in Bochum, or the otherwise generic history of the Ruhr region.
I’m getting really good at this linky magic. Someone should give me a gold star for links. 

So, the nifty part for me about this particular museum was that you were actually able to go in part of the old mine. Not super far down, because that can get dangerous. Before we made it down anywhere, we were greeted by things I don’t much care for in this world, Wax Figures. I don’t know why, but these things give me the heeby jeebes.

Wax Figures Creep Me Out

I’ve never likes wax figures, and there’s got to be a good reason buried in my memory as to why I will never go to Madame Tussauds. Eep. These things are beyond weird. The ‘men’ were watching over us as we piled into the freight elevator that took us down into the mine.

Introduction to the MineFrom there, we wandered through a dimly lit space, and it was marginally eerie, but nothign like the night before in Landschaftspark-Duisburg.

This little section was right near the beginning, and the walkway ran over a pit of water. That made the eerie factor rise a little, but I was almost left behind because I was trying to peer into the water and see if there was anything there. Oh well, next time I’ll figure it out.

See that Andrea, I said next time! We’ll hangout again! 

After walking over this little area we waited to ‘go down another elevator’ and that was actually kind of cool. The elevator didn’t go anywhere but it simulated going down in the old mine with video screens on all four sides. The car itself shook, air rushed along the sides and it felt almost like you were actually going down. This kind of stuff still amazes me because our bodies are so easily fooled — Universal Studios is one of my favorite places to go because they really trip your body out in several of their rides.

However, without further ado, here is the best photos that both myself and Andrea took. She has the fancy camera, and I just had my phone. Oh well, the photos are pretty awesome anyways.

Andrea Being Fab

The mine was separated into multiple displays, and this one was one of the first we came to. This machine is a tunnel boring machine, or a mole, and man was this thing huge. Seriously it was huge. So, of course, what do we do, we took some pretty great photos in the start of a tunnel that had been bored (ahahahahah) away. Andrea looking right fine and somewhere in there I got the genius idea to pretend I was scared of the thing, Maggie just looked excited. Maybe this states something about our mental disposition, who knows?
EHRMEHGERD GONNA DIEThere were several of the mine-trains around, so we hopped in one and took a picture together. Thanks to the gentleman who took this for us. It was hard to get all three of us in one photo, because I left the selfie stick at Andrea’s.
I bought a selfie stick for my trip and I ended up forgetting it most places, or only using it for dumb things. Figures. 

Three Peas in a Car

I Did the ThingSomewhere else in the mine was a section that was roped off, and well, me being me I can’t resist a good challenge.

PLUS, there were totally other people who walked over the barrier to sneak down this passage.
…. that other guy was probably a worker.

I know, I know, that doesn’t justify breaking the rules.

Cue Parentals: “What if all your friends jumped off a cliff, would you follow them?” “I don’t know, maybe if they all had parachutes or something…”
Case in point, I was a terrible child to rationalize these things with.Uh oh, We're Calling the Director

I only went right over the rope, to pose for this picture, but then Maggie said she’d call Dr. Z if, jokingly, if I wouldn’t behave. So, when we later found a telephone she threatened to do just that.

Can you blame us? The photos are gold. Maggie being all proper and motherly, and I’m just being me who probably shouldn’t be allowed out my own without some kind of supervision.

It made it fun though.

We did run into a school group, they were kind of adorable. They totally weren’t like the kids I’ve seen at home on field trips where they lose their minds and run about causing havoc everywhere, these 15-20 kids were exceptionally well behaved, and answered questions when their teacher asked.
Oh and if you’re wondering they were somewhere in the Elementary School age. 
That’s the one age group I give a break to at home about misbehaving when they’re out… Although, I’ve experienced Middle Schoolers, and they’re the worst lot, they like to think they’re the best of the best…. The High Schoolers are just apathetic and rude. 

I was shocked that they weren’t doing anything silly or inappropriate, or maybe that was just the one group — although I’d seen a similar age group in Bregenz and they seemed the same way.

All throughout the mine were other machines like the tunnel boring machine, and some of them were odd, and I didn’t understand their purpose, and I didn’t know who to ask because there weren’t always little sign that Andrea could translate, or places where there was an audio tour option.

SO, without cheating and looking it up on their website here’s some more photos.

Longwall Face - High Tech MineThis area here was part of the newer high-tech part of the mine. Is it just me or does this scream 1970’s Spaceship Guy from the Lego Movie? The answer is yes. It’s always yes.
Unless it’s no. 

I mean, come on, it totally would rock Spaceship Guy’s world. He would feel right at home.

The visitor mine took several years to construct, and this area was designed to reflect a current, state-of-the-art, longwall face that one would see in a mine today.

Longwall Face - From Behind Look at that, awkward selfie in the background.
Aren’t Maggie and I the cutest?

Remember, the answer is yes, it’s always yes,… unless it’s no.
And if it’s no then you can kindly see yourself out of this post. 

The rest of the photos from the mine I’ll keep to a minimum because honestly they’re mostly still of us somewhat goofing off.
I should say of me goofing off… 

DSC01032

Hey guys, I’m a minecart. Wooooooooo! :pretends to slide away:

Awkward Prom Pose with a giant drilling jumbo.
So awkward there’s not even a hoverhand going on.

DSC01018 Okay, okay, I’m almost done, I swear.

Outside the museum you could go up to the top of the headframe, and look out over Bochum and the surrounding cities.

The website here describes the headframe better than I ever will, so I’ll let them do the explaining.

“Our green headframe is a well-known sight far beyond the borders of Bochum, and shapes the city’s silhouette. And yet our biggest exhibit did not arrive in Bochum until 1973. Until then, the headframe stood in its original location, above the main shaft of the Germania mining complex in Dortmund-Marten.

Designed by the well-known industrial architects Fritz Schupp and Martin Kremmer, the solid-walled double headframe was erected in 1943/44. In its time it was considered to be the largest headframe in the world, with a weight of 650 t, a height of 71.4 m, and a head wheel diameter of 8.00 m. It was also one of the most modern and powerful hoisting devices in the German coal-mining industry, and remained in operation until 1971.”

Looking Up

Basically it’s huge, and it’s green, and it’s really awesome looking. Oh, and that part about it being an actual headframe from another mine is pretty awesome.

It was warmer outside than it’d been anywhere in the mine, especially since the visitors mine averages a temperature of 12 C, but it was rather windy. So, up we went. Thankfully this time there was an elevator to take us to the top, because after the day before in Köln and walking up all those stairs, I was pretty content with not having to stairs for awhile. Low and behold, the life doesn’t take you all the way to the top,… but i made it up those last few steps anyways!

The view was worth it.

Looking out from the Headframe

This is looking out from the first viewing platform over the top of the museum. On each of the four ‘walls’ of the viewing platform were these signs, these ‘Point of Interest’ maps were pretty cool to get a better impression of which way you were facing and what was off in the distance. Unlike here, I had no real base to understand where I was exactly, so having this was pretty rad.

This weekend several people from our Study Abroad group went to Vienna, so I waved in their general direction. We also tried to find the frame of Landschaftspark Duisburg while we were up there, I think we might have found it but it was a little hazy and it was kind of hard to make out some of the things in the distance.

One of the Point of Interest Maps in the Headframe

We sat outside the museum for a little, but while doing this there was either a bachelorette party going on, or about to start, and they were taking pictures in front of the museum. They all had little heart shaped balloons,

Someone lost a heart balloon so @maggiebremmer saved it. Silly bachelorrtte parties and their weird favors. Heh.

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Maggie got one. It flew away as they all ran down the lawn, so we caught it and kept it for awhile.
You can see the group of women in the background, looking all cute with their matchy-matchy outfits.
I’m glad we’re not the only place that has odd/weird pre-wedding events.

After all this we headed back to Witten to clean up, get fancy, because we were going to go to a party in Essen.
But first food! ❤

Before and after. #yumfood #foodisgut #nomnomnom

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DO YOU KNOW THAT THIS WAS ONE OF THE BEST THINGS I’VE EVER HAD TO EAT.
No, seriously, the best.
Nothing beats Döner.

Döner Explanation

Original Photo

Well, at least not in it’s price range. 

I told Jesse that it the one thing I really do miss food wise that was quick and easy to get, and you could find it almost anywhere.

After food-time we headed up to Andrea’s to get cute, because party, dancy thing. And being cute at those things is always important. Because duh, cute.

Note: I don’t go out, like ever. I don’t party. I don’t do a lot of ‘normal’ college kid things — if I’m going to hangout with friends I’m perfectly fine doing such over dinner and board games. Or binge watching a TV show with my best friend Rachael. Or you know, reading a book, in my house, in the semi-quiet. I don’t go out — hardly at all. When I have in the past I just get really anxious because there’s always so many people and they’re so close to you, and it just makes me uncomfortable. 

Maggie can attest to all of the things that I just said about my reasons for not going out happened at some point that night. 

However, we got cute, and went to this outside dance-club place, that I can’t remember the name of to save my life right now — I do remember that it had a monkey in it’s logo though — and we headed in.

Since being in Köln I had a rather icky stuffy nose problem, that decided to rear its ugly head while at the party. I knew that I couldn’t be around smokers much, just like I can’t at home, and wherever I was it seemed that I was followed by those who were smoking. Now usually one or two people doesn’t bother me, but this was like a cloud and a half. That, made a cough I had acquired become worse.

You know what though, the music was good. It really was — and even though Maggie wanted to dance I was enjoying people watching at first. I did go hangout on the dance floor with her and Andrea, but I really wasn’t feeling it.
Stupid body, making the fun I was having non-existent.  

But, in lieu of that, I did get a decent video of Paji playing his violin. Seriously, you can watch it here.

I left Andrea and Maggie to have fun on the dance floor, and I wandered off to the side of everything and just watched, and of course listened to the music. Oh, don’t mind me, I’m just casually sipping a water over here because I can’t breathe. Andrea was a wonderful host, and seriously is an amazing friend. She and Maggie came up to me a little later and suggested we leave because I wasn’t feeling well. I told them to not worry about me and go have fun that I was perfectly content off to the side, but that logic failed the second time and we did go back to Andrea’s home.

Sleep was wonderful — minus the fact that we had to get up in just a few hours to go back to Bregenz.

It felt like the weekend had flown right on by, and that I would all to soon be leaving one of my dearest friends. I know, I know, getting sappy is never good, and I know I’ll see Andrea again and hopefully get to spend more time with her next time around.

Eventually this post has to end, but I’ll do so with my photos from the train(s).
I miss trains.

Am Fritag, 12 Juni 2015, Köln, Witten, und Landschaftspark Duisburg-Nord.

Technically this starts on Thursday night, because Maggie and I boarded a train for Köln (Cologne – I’ll use both interchangeably!) and started our weekend journey.

The first of our two trains was pretty interesting. If by interesting you mean that I’m pretty sure we had the same conductor on our last train to München, and that the door to our train and the next train refused to stay closed, and Maggie knitted while I read Paper Towns again, and that I’m pretty sure the guy in the seats across the aisle from us though we were slightly insane or something … Then yeah,… interesting is the right word.

"Guh. Europe. You're so boring, why am I even here." – @maggiebremmer #studyabroad #knitting #meowforever

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If you are worried that Maggie hates her time in Europe, fear not, it’s just become fun and games to take ‘I hate my trip’ photos. 

We made our switch from the München Hbf to the train that would bring us to Köln after about 30 minutes of waiting. This next train ride would be just over 7 hours long though, that was the bummer. While the seats were moderately comfortable [read: not a rock], there was initially a group of the loudest, most obnoxious guys, I have ever heard in my entire life. Put them on a train two seats from very-tired-Caitlyn and things get a little worrisome. Maggie was sweet enough to let me try and nod off, but almost every time that I’d get comfortable enough to fall asleep, they’d get loud again. Jerks.

Eventually, they got off our train and all was peaceful again. Wonderful. Sleep could …. well, sort of come. Instead of calling it sleep, we’ll call it flat out exhaustion. I ended up in one pair of seats behind Maggie and she stretched out in one, and I stretched out in the other, and we made the best of it. Grand total hours of sleep between both of us, maybe 3. Because, when I finally almost got to sleep-sleep, around 4 am, ANOTHER loud group of guys got on the train. Those jerks and their loudness. Ugh. That whole situation meant that we might have had something like 2.5 hours of total sleep. Between both of us…

I know I moved seats a few times on the train because after the last loud group got off the train it was relatively empty in our car. Maggie and I took over one of the 4-people tables and it made the rest of the ride pretty comfy. I know it’s probably terrible to put my feet up, but I just couldn’t be all scrunched up anymore.

Through the Hbf WindowsWe finally arrived in Köln and after getting off the train, finding and fighting with the automatic luggage holder, and then following the arrows that said ‘Dom’ I was amazed. I snapped this picture right inside the Hbf looking to the Dom. I knew it was this close, but I didn’t know it was THIS close.

I was just awestruck. I don’t have words to describe how I felt when I finally saw what I’d only seen pictures of forever.

Awe. Struck.
Absolutely.

Couple that with the fact that I was exhausted and I hit a whole new level of excitement. Follow all that up with the chance to go inside it, and up into one of the towers, I was ready to take on the day regardless of lack of sleep.

The Dom!

The Dom is huge. It’s just … yeah.

Did you know that the cathedral was hit 14 times during the bombings in Köln during World War II? The only thing that likely saved the building, according to one of the priests inside, was the fact that it was needed to help the pilots dropping the bombs for navigation purposes. Via little blurbs given during our wander-around-by-yourself tour I saw some information that stated that initial repairs from the bombings were completed in 1956, however, some parts weren’t actually completed until 2005.

These pictures don’t really do it any justice whatsoever.

Then, oh then, Maggie and I decided we were going to hoof it up the 533 stairs to the top of the Dom’s South Tower. Five Hundred and Thirty Three Steps.

I hope this is halfway. #walkallthestairs #theviewbetterbeworthit #bellsbellsbells

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“WHY?! WHY DID I DECIDE TO DO THIS?!” kept running through my brain as the spiral staircase turned ever tighter and farther up. I felt like it was never going to end, and then, just when I thought it would end, it didn’t.

We made it up to where the bells were and Maggie wondered aloud what it would sound like if we were in the tower when the bells chimed. They chimed the 15 minutes of the hour almost right after she said that.

Thankfully, it was only one CLANG of a bell. It still vibrated in my soul.

FINALLY, FINALLY WE MADE IT TO THE TOP.

Looking out at the Rhine River from way up in the Dom

From the Top of the TowerIt was worth every single terrible, horrible, very bad step. Seriously. It really was. I don’t regret it now, although you might not believe it based on the way I write about it.

SO MANY STAIRS

Seeing the whole city of Cologne stretched out underneath us, the sun up high, and seeing all the way off into the horizon… it was so beautiful. Seeing the world from far away makes you feel so very small.

After coming down from the top of the tower, I got to meet up with the most wonderful of ladies, Andrea. I’ve known Andrea for what feels like forever, and she was so sweet as to let us stay with her, and to show us around her gorgeous city.

The first place we went was along the bridge, the Hohenzollern Bridge, which is adorned with padlocks from one end to the other. Thousands upon thousands of padlocks.

Köln Love LocksOne website states this about this particular bridge,

“It is thought that the romantic custom originated in Italy. Over time, tens of thousands of couples and friends in Cologne have sworn their loyalty to one another in this way. Along with padlocks in all colours and shapes, there are also combination padlocks and bicycle chains on the bridge. Many of them have been elaborately designed; often engraved, painted, adorned, or decorated with home-made stickers.

Experts estimate that the padlocks weigh over two tonnes.

This time around we didn’t add a lock to the bridge like we did in Salzburg, but it was really great seeing, and feeling, all of the love that was put into these locks. Granted, odds must state that several of these people are no longer together, but I can dream. The romantic in me prefers that.

Here’s just some of the locks along the bridge. They’re so clumped together, locked one to another to another to another…

After taking a ‘short’ detour onto the bridge and then along the waterfront at the Rhine, I was so blessed to be with my friend Andrea. She’s a beautiful lady, and so strong, and smart, and kind…

She took us to one of her favorite places, the Roman Praetorium. Per their rules I’m not supposed to post photos of the archaeological site, and I’m not supposed to use any of theirs from the website without  So, instead, here’s the link to their website.

Andrea und ich!The artifacts in this rather small area, is quite impressive. One of the things that my history-side forgot was just how large the Roman Empire was — I shouldn’t have forgot, but I did. The other part of this museum was that of the Roman Sewer. No, seriously, it was a sewer. An old, tiny, and now mostly-clean (actually it was rather clean considering it’s older uses!), sewer. I didn’t see any rats at all! Instead, Andrea and I took a really great selfie together.

Aren’t we the cutest?!

My dear Andrea was the best of the best tour guides that Maggie and I could have had, and the fun didn’t stop there! How could it, when we were totally sleep deprived and walking through a city that we were stoked to be in?!

From there we wandered towards the shopping strip in Köln and stopped in a few different places. There was a Lush there and I spent more time than I should have playing with the pretty colors for my face. After walking around for a bit and dropping into a few stores here and there, we decided we were hungry.

Andrea had us try this Köln specific beer, Kölsch.

Trying Kölsch for the first time.

I’m still not sure how I feel about it. It wasn’t terrible, it just wasn’t the most delicious of all the beers I’ve had while in Austria and Germany.

Mittagessen in KölnWe had an excellent lunch, and once again I’m going to share beautiful food photos

I can’t help it.
The food is just pretty.

And delicious. 

This was … interesting.

Leberkäse is something I don’t have a good way to describe, it kind of reminds me of the consistency of Spam, but it has a flavor all it’s own.

I only had it the one time, and this plate of food was more than enough to feed me for the rest of the day.

I felt so full that I could just pass out, seriously!

… but I knew better than to do that.
We had more things on the schedule for the daylight hours in Köln!

Next up in the list of things to do was to find the Köln Zoo, the irony was that it was getting so hot, and there weren’t enough clouds to give a break from the heat. But, if you know anything about me, you know I love zoos, in this weird little way, because I also kind of hate them. I dislike seeing the animals trapped up, but, it’s also one of the only ways I’m probably ever going to get to see these animals.

Lion Fishes are my Favorite FishesThe cool thing about the zoo in Köln is it is also coupled with a really nifty aquarium, and reptile house! I liked the aquarium and it was probably because they had one of my favorite fishes — a lion fish!

So graceful and beautiful… and deadly.

[Dun, dun, duuunnnn]

The galaxy was in this gorgeous snakes eyesAfter spending about an hour in the aquarium, and finding the upstairs butterfly enclosure we wandered into the actual zoo. I was a little sad when I saw some of these beautiful butterflies outside where they belonged because someone left the door to their enclosure open. I hope that all the lovely little Schmetterlinge are okay now. 

This snake had my mind blown. I stared at him (or her) for several minutes and was trying to figure out if it had recently shed, or if its eyes were just the crazy on purpose. I couldn’t tell and I still don’t know.
(the more I look at it now the more I think they’re just eyecaps from a recent shed)

All the little creepy-crawlies and slithery animals we saw there had nothing on what the rest of the zoo held.

I’m just going to picture vomit the rest of the time Andrea, Maggie and I spent in the Zoo.
It’s easier that way, trust me.

This little chameleon and I attempted to have a staring contest, it didn’t go so well. He lost, but I was awfully distracted too. So many shiny things.

The chameleon and I had a staring contest - I won. He moved his eyes too much.

These gorgeous birds were extremely talkative and playful, but it took me sneaking behind a semi cut-down bush and cooing at them to get them to keep playing while I snapped a few photos of them.
They were so cute.
Cawcaw Macaw!

20150612_150144-ANIMATION

This monkey was eating his own poo.
Hardcore nomming away on it.

Like it was the most delicious thing that this monkey had ever tasted.

Ironically enough there was food that had just been placed in the enclosure.

But naaaaah, the poop was better.
I guess.

Ick. 

This monkey was much better suited to being photographed. Less poo-eating to be had.

hurrdurr, I look like you!

Then there was this little guy, a capybara! He was headed for the water on this blistering day.
Smart little critter.

Capybara!

The flamingos were relaxing under one of the few trees that offered a lot of shade,
they were also making an awful lot of flamingo-y noise.

A

20150612_145421There were elephants in this really cool indoor enclosure. Their outside one wasn’t complete yet and it was probably better for them to be inside anyways.

They had two little babies and one of them was after the apple slices that were being thrown into the pond so fast that he submerged himself.

He was adorable. Really adorable.

And then, then there were these little orangutans.
When we were first walking through the orangutan area we only saw one, super zonked out orangutan.

Then we realized there was a whole outside section. And that there were several other orangutans! Even some little ones, and they were super playful. It made the long day in the hot sun worth it.

20150612_150906

We found a nice little shaded area to sit in and we just watched them play. While it couldn’t have been that long sitting down made me realize just how tired I was.

If you’ve never watched orangutans play, you’re seriously missing out.

They climbed on the fences, they grabbed for branches, they had a whole tumble around in the grass fighting each other. They jumped on one another and then the adults got involved and the two mothers had to split up the tussling children. It was funny watching them.

Finally the mothers took them to different parts of the area and then little bit here decided she wanted to check us all out. She made faces in the glass at us and was exceptionally playful.

20150612_152311I mean, look at that cute little faaace! How could you ignore it?!

— Fritag, 12. Juni
— Abend

After our trip to the Kölner Zoo we headed to Andrea’s house, and Maggie and I were so tired we napped on the way there. Andrea offered to take us to this mysterious place later in the evening, with the promise of a real nap at her house before we went anywhere.

Andrea can be quite mysterious, and this time was no less. She only told us that it was another of her favorite places to go, and that we could only really go after dark otherwise it wouldn’t be as cool.

This right here was probably one of my absolute favorite parts of this entire trip. The mysteriousness of it all had me … exceptionally curious. I’m usually not that curious, but she won me over, and I’m pretty sure she won Maggie over too.

We took a little drive up past Essen to Duisburg.
As we came closer to our destination, that still had no name, Andrea pointed out that the reason we had to come in the dark was because that’s when the park we were going to was ‘all lit up.’
Boy was she right.

Landschaftspark DuisburgI’m not even sure I have any real photos of the entrance to Landschaftspark, but I was impressed from the get go.
I was also terrified.

This place had a vibe of just enough creepy, dark, and somewhat dank spaces that I was honestly concerned that I might die somewhere in this park. The space, a former ironworks site, had been left desolate and allowed Mother Nature to reclaim what was once her’s.

The website states the following about the Landschaftspark history, and it’s current uses.
“The north of Duisburg was one of those areas in the Ruhr District which was torn from its bucolic idyll at a time of intense industrialisation. With the migration of industry northwards from the Ruhr valley the landscape began to change such that nothing of its original form is recognisable today.

In Meiderich in 1901 August Thyssen had his ironworks company start work on the construction of a blast furnace complex, immediately adjacent to the coal fields he had acquired previously, thus creating the  prerequisites for the necessary link between coal and iron. Until the closure of the works in 1985, when overcapacity in the European steel market had to be reduced, the works produced pig iron – as a rule as a primary product for further processing in Thyssen’s steel works.

The demise of iron production left an industrial wasteland of more than 200 hectares waiting for a new use.”

This new usage of the ironworks land that I got to experience was that of the lights installation.
It was rather beautiful, and somewhat terrifying. I don’t much like scary places, or dark things, so this was a whole different level of weird for me. This site was beautiful,

“The whole idea of the Landscape Park Duisburg Nord shows that a so-called brownfield site can elevate itself far beyond these prejudices. And to start with the park wasn’t very much more than just an idea. Born out of a citizens’ action group, protesting against the demolition of the old Duisburg Meiderich Ironworks, and the projects of the International Building Exhibition Emscher Park, the idea then had to prove itself.”

Some of our photos are in the same places that this video highlights.

Up Into the Rafters Into Apeture

This is probably one of my favorite photos, I walked towards the door and I made sure I moved somewhat slowly enough that Andrea was able to capture a few pictures of me moving along. I felt like a Walking Dead extra, and I don’t even watch the show because I don’t do creepy (remember!). Just Because

“Over a period of more than ten years, a culture, nature and leisure park has been created around the old ironworks which is unique in terms of its multi-faceted combination of uses. […] And at night Jonathan Park’s light installation shines over the houses of the city – a Duisburg landmark visible from a distance.”

Just 'Playing' Around?

Andrea climbed up into the bars, and so did I.
I cannot hold on for nearly as long as she can — My upper body strength is terrible! Obviously.

DSC00957The Colors Change Up the Wall

I loved the way this side of the building looked. The picture isn’t the greatest as it’s a little blurry, but it was just beautiful. I liked the way the colors worked against each other and then they seemed to work with one another to illuminate different portions of the same building.

Easily One of My Favorite Photos of the Entire Park

The inside of this structure was probably my favorite. I loved the way it was lit up to accent the different portions of the interior. This was also the only time I saw this color used as it’s own piece. Most everything else in the park was showing in shades of green and blue, and it worked together well. It accented the differences found here.

The Old Railroad Tracks

Oooo. Composition.
Both of these photos are ones that I quite like just from the composition alone.

The clouds were low enough in the sky to reflect some of the city-ish lights surrounding the park.
I wanted to walk to the top of this, and then realized that after walking to the top of the Dom in Köln earlier was enough stairs for me.

Landschaftspark Is Beautiful

We wandered around for a little longer in the park. And, of course, found a few more places to take some goofy pictures.
This one was completely Andrea’s idea.

Maggie and I

Then, my stupidity took over. It was late and I was still sleepy, and I decided to hug a poll because why not.
I mean, seriously… why not.

Then There is This One

Now, the other element I really liked was that this park felt a lot like one of my favorite games. Portal 2.

I felt like I was dropped right inside the old portions of Aperture Sciences and was somewhat lost without my Portal Gun. Curse you travelling overseas … I have one that was gifted to me from a long time ago and if I’d have known I’d have brought it with me.

This picture captured perfectly what I felt like.
This, this made me feel like I was staring into Wheatley’s eye… and seeing the reflection that was Aperture through him. It was mind blowing, and completely weird.

Now, if only I could have had a voicebox like GLaDOS set up somewhere saying

“Oh,.. it’s you.”
“It’s been a long time. How have you been?
I’ve been really busy being dead….

You know, after you MURDERED ME.

Looking Into Wheatley's EyeThis wasn’t the end of Maggie and I’s time in Köln…

However, this is the end of this post.

Oh thank god, you’re alright. You know, being Caroline taught me a valuable lesson.
I thought you were my greatest enemy.

When all along you were my best friend.

The surge of emotion that shot through me when I
saved your life taught me an even more
valuable lesson: where Caroline lives in my brain. 

Goodbye, Caroline.

Einen Tag zu spät! Dienstag 2 Juni, Mittwoch 3 Juni, und Donnerstag 4 Juni. Unterricht in Bregenz, Österreich und Freizeit in Lindau, Deutschland.

I’m one day behind on my updates about Bregenz, but hopefully this makes up for it.
[read: less pictures, more words – maybe] 

Dienstag, (Tuesday) was interesting. It was the first time we had short classes for this trip — and possibly the last. It was on Tuesday that we spent the last half of the day in Lindau, Germany. I can see Lindau from my window, although before Tuesday I don’t think I knew that it was Lindau.

Classes went well, and I couldn’t ask for better teachers here. Laurie lets me struggle through things in German, and I will continue to assume that it is helpful, and Dr. J lets us ask all kinds of interesting questions and actually is kind enough to answer us. I’ve had professors before that I’ve hated because they wouldn’t answer you, or just make you guess if you were right or not. That is absolutely, the worst.

Outside of prepping for my upcoming German exam and the paper for my Leadership class, these last two days were relatively uneventful. Outside of our excursion to Lindau, Germany!

The excursion was started by train, and we took off for a short little 10 minute ride only to get off on the island of Lindau. No, seriously, it’s an island.
Mostly.
The city is on a little island in Lake Constance.

It’s so cuuuuuuteeee. See!

Lindau Insel

According to Mr. Tour Guide, also known as, Dr. Jeff Zimmerman, stated that we couldn’t get lost on the island. I feel like I could get lost, but I probably shouldn’t have tried. I mean, I failed, so I guess he was right that we couldn’t get lost.

Rapunzel, Rapunzel, Let Down Your Hair!

Rapunzel, Rapunzel, let down your hair! 

We wandered around on the island together and saw some really beautiful houses, churches, and a really glorious Rathaus. It’s so decorative and bright. I kind of wanted to walk around the inside of this building, but I’m not sure I would have been allowed in. I might have to go back one afternoon to Lindau and explore.

Rathaus in Lindau

—–

The group of friends that I wandered around with let me take a really silly picture, but hopefully they like it as much as I do.

Group Shot at the Fountain in Lindau

The Lion of Lindau

It was shortly after we got there that Dr. J told us about the fact that this Lion Statue was not owned by the city. It’s a really pretty lion, and supposedly extremely well known. It’s also right next to the only lighthouse in Bavaria.

It’s so pretty. :3

—–

I want to go back to Lindau.
Just by writing this I’ve decided I have to go back.

The Lion and the Lighthouse

Leaving Lindau

Wednesday was rather uneventful, mostly school and homework… and dinner.

I tried to go to the Jazz Festival in Bregenz, but then my body worked against me and I started not feeling so great. It was the worst. So, instead of fighting through it I just gave up and went to bed. Today has been a rough day, I don’t know if I just didn’t sleep well or what, but it’s been a really under-the-weather type day.

I guess I lied to you about having more words this time around, it’s hard to write when I’ve been writing (albeit poorly) all day.

Hopefully this weekend I can come up with something better.

2 – Montag, 1 Juni. Abendessen und Freizeit in Bregenz, Österreich.

Oh. My.

So, I promised something for the second half of today, and to knock it out of the park I’ll start with the lovely dinner we were served today. These aren’t all my pictures this time, some of them are Julia’s. She’s one of the other students here.

Dinner was fantastic. I picked something I wasn’t one hundred percent sure of, but I gave it a fair go.
Gebackener Camembert mit Preiselbeeren und Salat!

DINNER. :D :D :D

I had zero idea what Camembert was, so I caved and Googled it. It’s a cheese, I mean, I should have guessed,… but I didn’t. Oh well, I ordered it anyways and it was delicious too. At this point I shouldn’t question my food choices for dinner, but sometimes I just don’t know.

After dinner Julia, Shane, and I went to the Supermarket for one thing — and one thing only. KINDER EGGS.

Seriously, we shouldn’t have wandered around the entire supermarket because they were RIGHT THERE AT THE CASHWRAP, but whatever. We found our eggs, paid, and went outside to eat them. None of us had ever had one before, so we chose to experience them together.

There will eventually be a really hilarious YouTube video of the opening, eating, and prize-putting-togetherness. It just might be a few days before that gets posted.

INSTEAD, HAVE SOME PICTURES OF AFTER.

What is this, a toy for children?! Finally, we got them together! Showing off our Kinder Eggs

Shortly after a firetruck drove by and I did the ‘dumb tourist’ thing and recorded it. The engineer, or driver, made a funny face because Julia asked, kind of loudly, if I was recording them and I of course answered ‘Yup.’
I mean, I just wanted to know what I firetruck was like here — for those curious, they’re quite tiny compared to the ones I’m used to from home.

It finally rained in Bregenz.
That meant I got to tromp up the hill, barefoot, because I did not wear waterproof shoes to dinner.
But hey, this time I made it all the way to the top of the first half without stopping. That’s an accomplishment to say the least.

I spent some time with my Host-mother, she’s like the sweetest lady ever. I’m so blessed to be in a house with someone like her. We took pictures together out her window of the sunset.

Sunset from the House.

Now, time for the rest of my homework. 

1 – Montag, 1 Juni. Unterricht in Bregenz, Österreich.

Ah, homework — my forever nemesis! Oh how I hate you.

CURSE YOU HOMEWORK!

Today has been sehr gut (very good) so far. Outside of getting made fun of once today everything else is going well.
I’m pretty sure for the rest of the trip my mental image will be ^^ Tennant ^^ shaking his fist when someone does something irritating. I mean, it’s a really good use of a .gif. 😀

Heute Morgen (This morning)  in my German class we went over the Hausaufgabe (homework) from yesterday. That homework was harder than I expected, but that’s only because I a) didn’t really want to do it — I mean, seriously, I’m in Austria, I don’t want to do any homework —  and b) didn’t remember as much as I thought I would. Granted, I finished it, and it was okay, but for sure not my best work ever.

After that, we had a quiz that I managed to forget about in less than 24 hours — YAY, GO ME — and I’m pretty sure I just gave up mentally in there somewhere.
If you read this, Laurie, Es tut mir leid.
Out of the ten questions we were supposed to answer, I think I might have answered eight. Casual reminder to self, memorize the different separable prefix words. Now.

My sentence structure is terrible, at least when writing it out I feel like nothing is right, at least not really. I’m going to have to just struggle right through that and figure it out, but I hope by the end of this week it will be better. More practice will help I imagine.

During our class though we got to do something really interesting and I hope it’s something we can find a way to repeat during our stay here. We partnered up, there are only four of us, and we had to go find someone in Bregenz who would talk to us — my partner Kevin and I walked down to Bodensee and after an initially failed attempt, we found a really sweet little old lady who was more than willing to talk to us. It took her maybe all of three seconds to realize we aren’t from here, and that our German is only okay, and started to talk to us in English. Kevin asked her, politely, to only speak to us auf Deutsch, and she happily did so! The conversation was a bit hard to follow because I was trying to write it down as she was saying everything, but I got the gist of the conversation. I even got to ask her a really silly question — Ihre Meinung mach was ist das beste Eis in Bregenz? — and while she mimicked not liking ice cream, she did try and tell us of a really popular place and said that if everyone goes there it must be the best.

After we got back to class and shared what we talked about with our other classmates, and given our homework for today (!!!) we ended our second day together.

For me, I have a second block class so I left from there to go straight to my Leadership course.

Dr. Jeff Zimmerman is an interesting professor, and I’m kind of bummed that I can’t take any of his classes because that means I’d have to go to NKU — nah man, I’m planning on graduating in a year and some change.He says things to make you really think about what all leadership really means and how that applies to different cultures. One thing that really stood out today for me came from how he explained personal bias — He stated that everyone has a personal bias and assumptions regardless of if we think we don’t. —  I pride myself on really trying to be biased towards or against something, because that really closes you off from the rest of humanity, but this struck home. We can’t walk into an unknown situation and just pretend that we don’t think something is strange or weird or … an number of things that directly relate to our personal bias.

Dr. J 'Drawing'

Then, it got fun.
Dr. J tried to draw.

Dr. J's Wheelbarrow

While he’s not the next Monet or Picasso, one could wager he’s further into Picasso’s style than Monet, his drawing made a point.

He told the class,
‘This is a wheel-barrow’
and asked us to write down what we thought about it in the next minute.

Needless to say most of the class wasn’t as nice as I was. Most people gave him only negative responses.

It was through this exercise that we were able to see that most people when greeted with something new and unusual often time the reaction is negative. It makes sense if you think about it from something new that you see with little to no understanding of, we like to project our past understandings of the ‘thing’ we’re experiencing currently, and if it doesn’t line up it’s often a negative reaction.

After discussing the glorious wheelbarrow by Dr. J, he gave us our next assignment — to go out into Bregenz and people watch. That was strange, at least here. Don’t get me wrong, I people watch all the time at home because it’s super easy with my job and whatnot. But here people outright know we don’t ‘belong’ because we don’t quite fit in and it’s really not that hard to spot the roaming Americans. Just trust me, they know we’re note from here.

We were all put in a different place in Bregenz and asked to watch people as they watched us and interacted while we wrote things down about the place, people, sights, smells, and sounds! I have three and a half pages of notes… we were supposed to only have like 3/4 of a page. So, either I write really big, or am just wordy. Based on this post, I’m going to go with wordy. Oh well!

We did that for just about thirty minutes, and during my time sitting on the bench waiting I was interrupted by one lady who asked what I was doing, and I just simply said homework, she said she was sorry she bothered me and walked on as I was saying it was okay. A group of about 8-9 of guys walked past and were being loud and making fun, at least in what words and phrases I could catch they weren’t very nice — therefore, I will call them jerkyjerks. I feigned ‘Extra Stupid American Who Knows Zero German,’ in that instance because it was easier. And then, right before I left, I had one older guy come up to me and ask if I was from the government. Me, the one with pink hair, a Game of Thrones t-shirt, and acid wash red shorts on, from the government?! Ja, genau… (Yeah, exactly…)

I smiled and told him no, I’m just a student studying here in Bregenz, and he puffed up, said ‘OH, OKAY,’ and walked on. His lady-friend who looked to be younger than him just stared at me for a second and walked away too.

Now, for real, homework time.
No more being lazy about homework.
Later is our dinner and I imagine it will be delicious, again.

Sonntag, 31 Mai. Unterricht und Freizeit in Bregenz, Österreich.

Sunday, May 31, Classes and free-time in Bregenz. 

Today, Sunday of all days, we started classes.
While I haven’t completely adjusted to the time here, I’m pretty dang close. Especially considering that I’m still up at 23:10 and just now starting to write. I don’t know if it’s all that common to stay up this late — when I look out my window down towards the city all has been quiet for at least the last hour.

My first class is German 210 — Intermediate German. Oh man was I in for a rough wake-up call as it’s been at least 9 months since I’ve had an real practice in German. And that’s kind of generous. Outside of a few phrases here and there I really haven’t used any of my German in ‘real-life’ for a long time.

That was painful.
But, after I got going, I feel like I got better.
That could be a complete lie, but for now I’m going to believe it. 

All the FountainsMy second class is a Leadership course, specifically Leadership in Diverse and Global Environments. That class is fun, weird to rationalize, but fun nonetheless. I’ll have to expand on this class more when it starts to make more sense.

After my two classes were over myself and four other students walked down to this little Pizzeria place called LuSt and oh snap was it good. Fantastic place with excellent prices, and to top it off I asked the waiter we worked with to speak to me only in German. He made me, and he let me screw up, and he made sure to help me when I screwed up. I could have hugged the guy. Seriously.

This is where I felt as thought I started to succeed for the day. 

After lunch I had all the free time, so I came back up to my host-family’s Haus (home) and started on homework for my classes. Shocker, homework on the first day of classes! The best part of it was sitting outside and doing it in the sunshine.

Erdbeere Eis mit Maggie

My host mother came out her door and let me know that it was getting late, and that I should open the umbrella to shadow the table, AND that she was going to go swim down at the public pool near Bodensee (Lake Constance) and she took off on her bike. She’s an impressive lady!

We went to dinner, and while I didn’t make the best choice for my meal this evening, it was something interesting. Creamed spinach and potatoes!

After dinner Maggie and I walked down to the lake and spent about an hour, or more, just sitting and talking about life and things while enjoying the sunshine. The lake is just gorgeous at all times of the day — and it’s always full of people later in the day.

While on our way back I decided I wanted some Eis (Ice Cream) and Maggie was nice enough to go with me. This was my second attempt at conversing in only German with someone else, and I nailed it. WHATWHAT?!

The rest of the day was marginally uneventful. I was a mostly good student today and knocked out most of my homework.

I’m going to bed now. I am truly tired. 

 

Samstag, 30 Mai, in Feldkirch und Bregenz, Österreich

Saturday in Austria

Our group was almost all here and we had finally rested, and even though our luggage wasn’t with us — yet — it was supposed to arrive today. So, we made the best of the situation and went to Feldkirch anyways. Why should we waste time here in Austria?! Pffht, never.

We made our way to die Bahnhof (train station) of which I have zero photos for now, and took our first journey together. One thing of note, almost everything is clean here — even the train stations! When I’ve been to places like New York and Chicago and rode the trains/subways, or been in Louisville and around on the TARC buses, everything is just gross. Here, it seems, they take such pride in how beautiful every thing should be.

After we exit the train at Feldkirch we wander through to the ‘old-town’ and through this absolutely beautiful Marktplatz (market place). So many sights, smells, sounds,… and the flowers! There were flowers for sale at almost every booth that wasn’t selling some sort of Fleisch oder Käse (meats or cheeses). I wanted to buy some to bring home to my Gastfamilie (host family), but I really didn’t want them to die while I was in Feldkirch. Knowing my luck they would have been trampled, squashed, or otherwise forgotten. Maybe I’ll get some in the next few days to bring to Frau Bridgette.

We meandered through the Marktplatz and ended up at this rather old church. While this is not uncommon, especially in this area, most people from the US find old to be more like the late 1700’s to the early 1800’s … thArt Inside the Kircheat’s not the case here. The church we were allowed to enter is not just a church, but a working art exhibit.

The current artwork is made to represent Joseph and Mary, and the connection that is found between them. I didn’t get it, I don’t often understand modern art, but it’s very beautiful nonetheless. This sculpture is being moved out of the church on 31 May.

This church was also the first place I got to play with the whole Photosphere part of my camera. I like it, it’s nice. When it works right, which is about 80% of the time.

After visiting this little church and standing outside listening to a street group try and sing ‘Wild Thing’, we realized our director was missing — he was on the phone with two different people, one of the other students who hadn’t arrived yet, and the airline with information about our missing bags. He gave us the good news, and for once, no bad news, our bags were on their way to Bregenz from Zürich! Gott sie Dank!

Kaiserschmarrn

Following that announcement, we were allowed to roam Feldkirch to eat and to later meet up to actually go visit the castle itself.

Maggie and I found this great cafe that was shockingly well priced and had absolutely delicious food. I had this << and it’s name does not translate well. Kaiserschmarrn!

Sooooooo delicious.

To top that off I had a friend give me a simple recipe with which to make this when I get home. You better believe it’s happening. OMNOMNOMNOMNOM.

From here on out, I’m going to just share all the photos from Feldkirch. I can’t help it, it’s so pretty and I can’t find a good way to share my thoughts about the place. The view, was absolutely inspiring. I’m pretty sure I’m living in a postcard.

From Feldkirche

Most of the group

These two are from the entrance to the castle in Feldkirch.
One is just of the town below, and another with a majority of our group studying here.
Aren’t we adorable?! Don’t answer that … no really, don’t. 

Feldkirche Courtyard

This courtyard and cafe from inside the castle are so dang pretty. I told one of my classmates I want to live here, well, in a castle … it won’t happen, but a girl can dream!

Inside Feldkirche    Looking over the City

SEE?! RIGHT THERE?! THAT’S A POSTCARD IF I’VE EVER SEEN ONE!

I’m so jealous that people just get to live here all the time… T_T

—–

Upon returning to Bregenz, via the ‘fast train’, we were given a few moments to freshen up and then come down for dinner at Gasthof Goldener Hirschen. Mmmmm. Dinner.

Still delicious. Still amazing.
Can I have more Suppe (soup)?

After dinner I actually headed to the house I’m staying at and gave my host family their gift. That raised a lot of questions, because there was a rather complicated miscommunication in there. That was hard to work around — but we managed it. I also had my first real conversation auf Deutsch with my host-mother, and she complimented my pronunciation! That’s literally the best compliment I could have received from anyone!

When her son came over for dinner I decided to wander down to Bodensee (Lake Constance) and watch the sunset. It had been threatening rain all day, or it at least looked like it would at home, so I took my jacket and walked along the shoreline. It was absolutely peaceful — mostly. There were swans that were quite loud, but that’s swans for you.

The sunset was perfect.

Sonnenuntergang am Bodensee

The colors shifted slowly as the sun sank into the water ending Day 2 in Austria.