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!

Sunday, July 5, 2009

über dem Atlantik

I'm here!!! Finally! There was a lot of turbulence, so it was a little scary, but there was lots to take my mind of it! I watched 'He's Just Not That Into You' and 'I Love You, Man' and then a few episodes of 'Big Bang Theory.' We made it though! The dorms are nice and really comfortable, my roommate is super sweet, I've made tons of friends, and I'm in the most gorgeous place in the world... Life is good!

The first thing we did was unpack, obviously. Then I got my phone! The number is 011436763606937. What a ballin number!? After that Caitlin and I went on a walk on all of the little streets around the dorm. We are literally on the mountain, and everywhere you look are more mountains! They are so huge.. it really puts everything into perspective. I feel like this place is so inspirational and I am just in awe of all that God has created!
That night we had an orientation and then we went to a lot of the local pubs. One is called Hoftgarten and it is literally in the middle of a park. Its was crazy. It reminded me of a bar like in Panama City. Apparently its beach week, but I'm not going to lie, I was a little disappointed at how Americanized it was. We did go to one beer garden that we super chill and really relaxing!
The next day we were able to sleep in and get over our jet lag. We had a really relaxing day and were able to explore the city a little bit more. We kinda of got our bearings and figured out where to get like the basics. We climbed up into the Zum Turm tower which was absolutely beautiful! We had this amazing view of the city and the mountains. We also were able to see the ski jump from the Olympics which looked awesome!
That night we had the Opening Ceremony. It was really shawnky and fancy. We all got dressed up and listened to speeches from the Academic Director, the mayor of Innsbruck, and a representative from the government of Tirol (the state we are living in). It was very cool. I think the highlight of the night though was meeting President Mike Adams, UGA's president. He was so personable and was very willing to just have a normal conversation.
After the ceremony, we had dinner where we ran into a very nice Austrian who studied abroad at UNO during his undergrad. After dinner he showed us around to the pubs where the REAL locals go! It was much, MUCH cooler than the pubs we went to the first night!

This morning we had our walking tour of campus and figured out how to get to our classes. We have had a pretty chill day and everyone seems to be resting up for classes to start tomorrow. There is a get together tonight that is up the mountain that we are taking cable cars to, so that should be lots of fun!

I will try to keep y'all posted as best as possible, but computers and internet are hard to come by! I don't think that I will have a chance to post any pictures until I get home so yall are just going to have to watch 'The Sound of Music' and imagine how beautiful Innsbruck is!