Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Mexikanische Nahrung

Today was our last day of classes and my last actual classes as an undergrad! I have a German final tomorrow and then my WWII history final on Thursday. Its so sad that everything is ending, but I think that I’m ready to come home! There is so much that I am going to miss about Innsbruck and Europe in general!

I was trying to talk Don into bringing Dooley to the airport when they come to pick me up thinking that it would just be perfectly okay to bring a dog into the airport because people take their dogs EVERYWHERE here. Literally everywhere… inside restaurants, shopping (like in the store). But they are all so well behaved I really don’t think much of it! As if I don’t already want to take Doo everywhere!

Everyone has been compiling their lists of what they are going to do when they get home so here is mine!

  • Eat REAL American Mexican food!
  • Cuddle with Doo
  • Take a long bath
  • Get a pedicure and get my eyebrows waxed (out of control!!)
  • Steak Saturdays
  • Watch/Go to a Braves game
  • Watch ESPN, HGTV, and TLC for HOURS
  • Post pictures

Schloss Ambrass

Yesterday I went with the Modern Military History class, which is taught by my WWII history professor, up to the castle. We got to see the armoury and the Spanish hall which was beautiful! Unfortunately we didn’t have time to go in the residence, but it was really cool from the outside! There were peacocks just walking around the gardens!

The coolest thing I think I learned about was Ambras syndrome. The Hapsburgs like to collect unique, curious things and in their collection there were three portraits of Pedro Gonzalez and his two daughters who suffered from it. It is a genetic mutation that makes a persons whole body be covered with hair. Its crazy! Wikipedia will tell you more, but for some reason I just thought that it was really interesting!


Monday, August 10, 2009

drei! zwei! ein!

Finally—a relaxing weekend! At the last minute I decided that I would go to Interlaken, Switzerland this weekend. Best decision of my life! It was absolutely gorgeous and not too far away! I had my first experience staying at a hostel, but luckily Funny Farm is one of the most famous hostels in the world. There was an amazing pool with a RIDICULOUS ramp/slide. I didn't try it but some people were really good at it! We got there Thursday night and just walked around the town a bit. It was much smaller than I envisioned but it was incredibly picturesque. It was similar to Innsbruck in many ways, but I felt like we were more out in the country. Everything smelled so clean and fresh, and there were flowers everywhere!the hostel. we had a delicious breakfast on the porch!

Since I decided to go last minute I didn’t book my room with the girls I have been traveling with, so I just booked the all female dorm room which had 6 beds in it. The first night my only room companion was a really sweet Japanese girl named Kanako. Before I knew her name, we were talking about how I was friends with a girl from Japan in high school and that her name was Kanako. Without missing a beat Roomie Kanako goes...(and you have to read this with an Asian accent) ‘How you know my name?’ It was so funny! We talked for a while, and it was awesome getting to meet her!
the female dorm.. we even had a balcony!

Friday we spent by laying by the pool literally all day. It was perfect! Very restful, and I got a little sun! For lunch that day we went to this really cool local restaurant called Utopia that had amazing, healthy, fresh wraps and delicious fruit smoothies. What made my avocado, brie, and sundried tomato wrap even better was that the huge flat screen TV was on ESPN America and there was a baseball game on. It wasn't the Braves but beggars can't be choosers!
the pool.. check out that ramp!

Saturday was my friend Abby’s 21st birthday so we decided to start the day right by going canyoning. For those of y’all that don’t know. Canyoning is when you go temporarily insane and think that you WANT to repel down 200 ft cliffs, jump off of waterfalls, do zip lines where you have to let go at just the right moment so that you don’t fall on the rocks, and slide down rock faces into the glacier water below which may or may not be more than 5 feet deep. It was terrifying but one of the coolest things I have ever done!water slide.

Afterward, after a hot shower, I took a nap. After that nap we got dressed up and went to Hooters for Abby’s birthday. It was my first time at Hooters, and I have to say I was less than impressed. My ‘hot’ wings were not that spicy and not that good. Boys… your cover is blown! After Hooters we went to our friends hotel and hung out at the bar there. They had made friends with the bartender who has won tons of awards for her creative cocktails and since Abby is a cocktail girl it was perfect! Our friend Jack, who has been to bartending school, even created his own drink that was so good it is going to be the drink of the month in October! It was a really fun night!!
Sunday we slept in and then headed back to the pool! We finally had to leave to come back to school; however, I was very tempted to drop out and just stay there for the next week.

mittelalterliche Fest und Ausflug nach Salzburg

Last Tuesday one of our friend’s classes was going to a medieval feast in Hall, so, thinking it was going to be like Medieval Times, a group of us tagged along. It was not like Medieval Times but it was lots of fun in other ways! The food was amazing and I was full for like 2 days afterward. About half way through the meal the guy came in and picked Jack to be knighted. In order to be knighted he had to perform tasks such as chug a beer (success) and let out a terrifying war cry (moderately successful). He then had to pick a maiden and recite poetry to her. It was hilarious! Not going to lie… I think we all expected more from William Faulkner’s great-grandson. Just kidding! My friend, Zack, was also chosen to be a servant.
The next day Berri, Abby, and I decided to take a day trip to Salzburg. When I came to Europe in 10th grade Salzburg is was made me fall in love with Austria and why I wanted to do my study abroad here. I was so excited about going back! It was just as beautiful as I remembered, maybe more. We saw the Mirabelle gardens, Mozart’s residence and birthplace, hiked up to the fortress, and did a bit of shopping. We had a nice little dinner in a shaded courtyard and then it was time to go home! It was perfect afternoon!

Monday, August 3, 2009

J'Adore Paris

Paris was AMAZING! Once again we had train difficulties, but this time it was definitely all my fault. I misread our ticket and instead of our train leaving at 6:20pm like I thought it was going to it left at 6:02. Yay dyslexia! UGH! It was awful.. And we realized this at like 6:05. I felt absolutely awful!! But thanks to some quick investigative work we realized that there was still a way for us to get there by like 8 the next morning. After sprinting to the next train that was leaving we began our journey to Paris which took us through Stutgartt (sp?), Plochigen (sp?), and Metz. Luckily we were able to get a couchette from Plochigen to Metz so we were able to get a little bit of sleep.We made it to Paris at 7:48 that morning and after checking into the hotel and showering we were still able to make it to the bike tour on time! The bike tour was fun though we didn't see quite as much as I thought we were going to. It was really cool though because our tour guide was a 20 year old guy from Atlanta who was just living in Paris for the summer. How cool!

After the bike tour we went to the Louvre. We spent a good 5 hours there and still only saw 2 floors. It was HUGE!! It was so incredibly cool seeing all of the paintings I learned about in Art History!
As we were leaving the Louvre guess who I ran into! Chelsie!!!!! She and Austen were in Paris for the weekend also and apparently she had been trying to get in touch with me on the internet but I didn't have internet, only a phone, but she didn't have a phone. Apparently God really wanted us to get to see each other while we were in Europe! Paris is a GIGANTIC city and the Louvre is a HUGE museum.. What are the chances!?
After the Louvre, we got some coffee and sandwiches and we went and sat with our aching feet in the fountain beside the big glass pyramids. It was a truly amazing experience! After our relaxing dinner we went to the Arc de Triomphe. However to get there we first had to J-walk across the Champs Elysse. Another cool experience. Once there we couldn't resist climbing it and we got to see a beautiful sunset from atop the Arc de Triomphe! Next we headed to the Eiffel Tower where we got to watch the the twinkling light show and we of course had to climb it too!
I definitely need to go back to Paris with the boy. It is a very coupley city and I found myself being a bit bitter and missing the boy!

The next day we headed to Versailles. ABSOLUTELY BEAUTIFUL!!!! and GIGANTIC! We spent about 5 hours there also and we explored the Palace and the grounds. We ate lunch there and then took a nap by the big pond. It was perfect! After Versailles we headed back to Paris and went to Mass at Notre Dame. It was all in French but even though I couldn't understand a word of it, I definitely got the gist of it. It was a truly awesome experience. After mass we looked around the inside a bit and then decided that we needed to climb to the top of it as well. Another breathtaking view! After Notre Dame we ate dinner at Hard Rock and then ventured off to find he Moulin Rouge. It was actually really close to our hotel, so we went a took some pictures and then called it a night.
That next morning it was time to head back to Innsbruck. We got on the train at 10:30am and didn't get back to Innsbruck until 9:30pm. Needless to say we are sick of trains and need some sleep.

I think I'll sleep now!

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Bavarian Classics like Sweet Home Alabama

I have had a very exciting week in Innsbruck! On Monday we took the gondolas up to the VERY top of the mountain! I got to climb some rocks and make everyone nervous. The view was absolutely breathtaking and it was so cool getting to see what is on the other side on the mountain that we see everyday! We even got to play in the snow!!On Tuesday my German class took a field trip to Bozen/Bolzano, Italy. Bozen is in South Tirol which is a part of Italy that used to belong to Austria. All of the signs there are in both German and Italian! It was a really cool thing to get to see, not to mention, the city is absolutely beautiful! While we were there we went to the museum that has Ötzi, a man from 3000 BC that they found perfectly preserved in the mountains on the border of Austria and Italy. The museum was basically about mummification so there were lots and lots of dead bodies which was kind of creepy, but it was really neat getting to see that much history! After the museum, we went shopping in the open air fruit market that takes place everyday! It was extremely cool!

On Wednesday, most of the girls I hang out with were going to go on a hike, which wasn’t happening for me. I was talking to some people at breakfast and they mentioned that they were taking a day trip to Munich to do a bike tour. How could I pass up an opportunity to do another bike tour??! We had an AMAZING time!! We went on the Mikes Bikes tour—the same company we did the one in Amsterdam with. I am happy to report that I did not wreck which is impressive seeing as how we stopped at a beer garden! Just kidding! I got to see a completely different side of Munich, learned a lot about the history of Bavaria, saw an old, naked man in the English gardens, and met some really cool people from Denmark and California! All together… successful day!In a few minutes two of the girls I have been traveling with (Abby and Berri) and three other girls that we have been hanging out with (Lydia, Kim, and Erin) are heading off to Paris for the weekend! I am unbelievably excited! We have lots of stuff on the agenda! I’ll fill y’all in on all of it on Monday!

Au Revoir!

Zugunfall und Praha

Last weekend we set off for Prague with the intention of going to Berlin on Saturday. On our way to Munich our train breaks down and we (as in our group and all 150 of the American students in our program that were also on their way to Prague) were diverted to a new train that went to Vienna. At that point we were already going to miss our train in Munich, so hoping to still get to Prague that day, we jumped on that train (pun intended). However, our train to Vienna was slowed significantly due to weather and when we arrived all that was left to Prague were over night trains—an adventure we were not looking to have spontaneously. It looked like we would be staying in Vienna for the night.

At some point on the train to Vienna we realize that since we wouldn’t be getting to Prague until midday Friday that Berlin wasn’t happening and that we needed a place to stay in Prague on Saturday night. So begins the telephone marathon. First I call the Prague Marriott to see if we could cancel or reservation for Thursday night and to see if we could make a reservation for Saturday. Then I had to call the Berlin Marriott to cancel for Saturday and to see if we could get the number for the Vienna Marriott. Trusty ole’ Marriott! We were in luck! We were able to book the Vienna Marriott for the night, which made me SO HAPPY! When I am at home I take for granted the things that really make me feel human. I miss taking a bath everyday. Sure, we have showers, but its not the same! I really look forward to our weekends in Marriott beds with Marriott bath tubs!! Friday morning we were able to look around Vienna a bit and it is BEAUTIFUL!! I loved all of the architecture!!

We finally got to Prague at about 2 on Friday! After trying to convert our Euros to Crowns, we left the train station loaded with thousands and thousands of crowns… i.e. Monopoly money. Friday we explored the city on our own and did a lot of shopping. That night we did a Pub Crawl that ended at a 5 story disco-tec where each floor had a different theme. It was CRAZY!! However there were some very nice Canadians that we made friends with. One even had played baseball at Shorter! It’s a very small world!

After literally no sleep, the next morning we ate breakfast at the cute little restaurant that literally smelled just like my house! Cue homesickness… After that we ventured off on a bike tour which is obviously our favorite way to see a city! It was really cool! Prague had lots of interesting art and sculptures! But more about that some other time! After that we walked/hiked up to Prague Castle. The castle part had closed, but we were able to see the Cathedral which had some on the most beautiful stained glass I had ever seen!

The next day we had to catch an early train back to Innsbruck, but all and all I think it was a pretty successful weekend! It was quite stressful at times, but we got to see it all and we had a blast doing it!

Its crazy how much coming back to Innsbruck at the end of the weekend really feels like coming home! When I am on the train and I see those mountains I get really happy! Maybe its because I’m tired of being on a train, but I think its because Innsbruck is an amazing place to live and study!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Betten, Badwannen, Hard Rock Café, and Subway….

This past weekend we went to Amsterdam. I was picturing this ugly, industrial city that was full of potheads and Rastafarians, but I was pleasantly surprised! Amsterdam is absolutely beautiful! Holland is below sea level and Amsterdam is full of canals and waterways. It is also right on the water. Apparently Amsterdam has more canals than Venice does. The buildings are absolutely beautiful too! They are very old and historic and are very charming!To get there we took an overnight train from Munich (which is a 2 hour train ride from Innsbruck). We had a 6 person couchette and I was really worries that we weren’t going to be able to move at all, but I slept like a baby! Luckily there were 6 of us travelling together so we didn’t have any randos in our car. We got there and we checked in to the Marriott which, after sleeping in the Rossl and on the train, was heaven on earth. The beds were fluffy and amazing! There was also a bathtub!!!! I have truly come to appreciate the small things in life.
We walked around the city for about half the day just looking at everything and getting our bearings. We eventually found the Heineken museum and we went on the Heineken Experience. Dad, you will be proud to know that I tried the beer and I can now appreciate the taste… kinda.
After the Heineken Museum, we grabbed some dinner and went to the Anne Frank House. Having experienced Dachau last weekend, I have to say that Anne Frank impacted me so much more on a personal level. I grew up reading her diary and there it was, right in front of me—the actual pages she wrote on, where she wrote it, and where she hid. It was so much smaller and darker that I could have imagined it to be. And from the outside it is just so unsuspecting... The part that really got to me was in the museum there was a video of an interview with Otto Frank (her dad—he was the only one of the whole group that was hiding that survived the concentration camps). He was talking about how he and Anne had had a really good relationship and they talked a lot, but it wasn’t until he read her diary that he realized what deep thoughts she actually had and how self-critical she was. That was not the daughter he knew, and he made the point that how parents can never really ever know their children. For some reason, that was when I started balling…

After that we ventured to the Red Light District to have a look around. Wow, that was one of the more interesting nights of my life. Needless to say it was very uncomfortable, eye opening, and, ummm, weird… I didn’t smoke anything while I was in Amsterdam, but if I was going to it probably would have been best to do it then. I guess I’m just an uptight, prude American. Lol…

The next day we went on a bike tour of the Dutch country side! Even though it was raining we still had lots of fun!! We saw a big windmill that they use to keep the ground from being flooded. A man lives in the windmill to make sure things are always working. We also went to a small, family owned cheese and clog factory. We got to meet and feed the cows whose milk was used to make the cheese, and then he told us all about how the cheese is made! They don’t pasteurize the milk, which is a little gross, but hey, the cheese was really good!!! The guy also showed us how they make the wooden clogs! I got a small pair that they made there. Too bad I didn’t get some to wear… I feel like I could start a wooden clog trend! After the factory we rode through a big park and just around the city!

Since the intense shock I had the night before didn’t kill me, the universe thought it necessary for me to have two near death experience on the bike tour. (I’m exaggerating but just go with it…) The first… I mentioned it was raining and I was wearing flip flops… My foot slipped from the peddle and hit the ground basically making me crash to the ground and thoroughly scraping my leg from my ankle to my knee. Its looking a lot better now, but it hurt really bad then! The second… There aren’t buses in Amsterdam, but trams that run on railway tracks throughout the city. We were waiting to cross the street and I literally can 2 inches from being flattened on the front of one! SCARY!!!After the bike tour we went on a canal cruise on a boat. Thomas, one of the guys in our group, was dead set on getting on a boat while we were there… and he succeeded! It was lots of fun. Our tour guide told us all about the city and the water ways. Maybe even more entertaining was the bachelor party going on in the back of the boat! They would holler at people on the sides of the canal as we passed, as we were passing through the Red Light District, a very large, old woman decided to respond to the hollering by flashing the whole boat… Oh Amsterdam..

After the boat ride the group was going to head back to the Red Light District, but I decided that a veggie burger from Hard Rock, a long bath, and sleeping in those huge beds was much more attractive to me!

There was a casualty of the trip though. My camera case went missing on the way back, and the general consensus is that I was pickpocketed. The irony is that I thought my camera case was safer than my wallet against pickpocketers, so I had put my driver’s license and credit card in there. Great… But everything has been remedied… It is just stressful!

I am back in Innsbruck now. This week is midterms so every one is trying to be a little more studious. We went to a lake yesterday and tried to get some studying done there, but we failed!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

alles fuhr fort

Alright.. I didnt get to finish the update yesterday..

Eagles Nest:
Sunday we went to Eagles Nest, which despite the amazing views, did not warrant a second trip. It was cool though, because we got to see what remains of Hitlers actual house as well as where Gorring and Grubel's houses were too.. However spending 12 of 48 hours on a bus is a little too much!
On Tuesday we went TOBOGGANING!! It is basically a one man roller coaster. There are these little carts on a narrow little track that winds all the way down this HUGE mountain. You have to take a cable car up to the top and then they strap you into the little cart and off you go! There is a joy stick kind of thing that lets you brake or accelerate. It was terrifying, rickity, and probably the most fun thing ever!!!
(everyone minus Rebecca who I'm pretty sure was taking the picture)(Alpha Gams!)(getting ready to go!)

On our final trip down, apparently someone had gotten too scared and had actually gotten off and walked down the rest of the mountain. We had a HUGE traffic jam and had to get out and move to the front cars so that we could get down the mountain!!
Hall in Tirol:
Yesterday my German class took a field trip to a little village near Innsbruck. It was sooo picturesque! Our tour guide Janine took us to lots of historical places there, but most interestingly to the church where they have this huge collection of relics (aka human bones) on display. It was the weirdest church I have ever seen!!

Alright.. y'all have been debriefed.. now on to AMSTERDAM!!!!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009


I am a horrible, no, good, very bad blogger.. It has been over a week since I updated this thing and for this I am sorry.. but I'm updating it now so you should be happy..

A whole freaking lot has happened this week.. so bear with me..

The BBQ on top of the mountain that I mentioned in my last blog was super fun but super sketch at first. When the guys showed up with their vans we were kind of freaked out. Mama always told us not to get in the car with strangers.. but we did anyway and it was way worth it! Caitlin coined our group's name.. 'Capital T's.' 'T' of course standing for THRILL!! We saw some amazing views and met some really cool Austrians who are also kind of sketch but that might just be an Austrian thing.Classes:
Classes started last Monday! My classes are really interesting! I dropped Food and Culture (but before you think I'm crazy, believe me, it was tons of work and went way too in depth. Besides.. there was going to be very little sampling.. LAME..) German is a heck of a lot of work, but I have already learned so much!! I think it will end up being a good experience. History is AWESOME! My teacher has had a really interesting life, and his lectures are really fun!
(University of Innsbruck)
Tour with Manfred:
After class last Monday, our activites director Manfred took us on an impromptu little tour of Innsbruck. We learned how to Prost! (Cheers!) correctly-- You have to make eye contact or it is 7 years bad sex-- and we learned a little history about the building in Olde Towne that we walk by everyday!

After class last Tuesday, we had to go to a hiking lecture so that we didn't underestimate hiking in the Alps. Apparently the weather can go from perfectly sunny to snowing in a matter of 30 minutes up on the mountain!! On Monday of this week, we went on our first hike up to Rumer Alm which is like 1250 meters up the mountain. It kicked my hiney!! I am still sore!! We also learned that Manfred is a dirty, rotten liar. He said that this was the easy hike...but it wasn't. He also said that it would last about 2 hours.. It lasted FIVE HOURS! I kind of wanted to die...
Last Tuesday night we went to a soccer game! SO EXCITING! The Wackers (that would be us), which is apparently German for Braves, were playing Hamburg is a preseason game. Hamburg was supposed to beat our hineys, but WE WON!! We were sitting in what would be the equivilant of the student section with a whole bunch of soccer hooligans! It was AMAZING!! They were all doing chants in German, few of which I am pretty sure was their versions of 'Who's That Coming Down the Track' and 'If You're Happy and You Know It.'
We had our railpass orientation last Wednesday and got our Eurail passes! Afterwards we made the trek to the train station to get our passes validated and to book our cabin on the overnight train to AMSTERDAM!!

Friday night we went to a revolving sushi bar. It was probably the funniest meal I have ever had. Our waitress spoke German with a Japanese accent and very little English. We asked her to take our picture and judging by the product she was also half blind. She also felt very strongly that we clean our plates and would pick up our food and put it on other plates.. HILARIOUS!Dachau/Munich:
Last Thursday we went to a rather graphic lecture about Dachau, the concentration camp we went to on Saturday. The Dauchau trip was extremely emotional and really horrifying. We learned about the human experiments in Barracks 2 and about the prisoners living conditions.
I feel like it say so much about the human will to survive that anyone survived those conditions. I will now personally punch anyone in the face who says that the Holocaust didn't happen. Its just ridiculous. I think the thing that horrified me the most was the lack of remorse on the Nazi side. Even after the war, instead of begging for forgiveness at their trials, they were beging for time to write up their scientific reports on their human experiments. It is just disgusting..

Alright, I know that was a downer..I'm sorry

After Dachau we went to Munich where we spent the afternoon. We stumbled upon a gay festival what was quite, well, a cultural experience.
Through the rainbows we found the Hard Rock Cafe where I had the best veggie burger I have EVER HAD. We eventually made our way to the Hofbräuhaus, which is a really big, famous beer garden. We spent the afternoon playing drinking games we HUGE mugs of beer (or a little beer mixed with a lot of Sprite in my case!).
(my friend Berri at Hofbräuhaus)

I have to go to lunch now, but I will do better about keeping this thing updates and I will try to figure out where I can upload pictures!

Bye for now!