Friday, April 22, 2011

FINALLY there is time to upload pics

Hello to all!
So I finally have a little bit of time where I can upload all the pictures I've been meaning to upload, and show you all what I have been up to so far. Here we go!

I started my trip by landing in Munich and heading straight to Regensburg, where my friend Albi lives. I arrived to super-sunny weather, a welcome change from the Seattle grey. We spent most of the time walking around and eating breakfast, which was fine by me.
Albi on the Donau in Regensburg
Albi and I on the day of my arrival

The big church in the middle of Regensburg

More walks on the Donau (Danube in English)

 We decided to take a bike ride to a nearby city on Saturday. I was up for any length of bike ride, as I had built up some strong leg muscles biking in Seattle and I didn't want to lose them. Albi suggested we ride to Passau, which sounded fine to me until I learned that it was 180 km away (about 90 miles!). His friends ridiculed us about that for for the rest of the day, especially since the trip we ended up taking was 60 km roundtrip, and we were definitely glad we hadn't chosen a longer one.
Jan and Manina planning our route

Manina's dog Dolly, who rode leisurely in a backpack for most of the trip. That's the life.

A hunter's seat in the middle of the woods


My old heavy bike, lent to me by Albi's roommate. Good for city riding but not for a 60 km bike tour.
The bike I rode was heavy and slow, and I had to work really hard to keep up with the others, who all had really sporty mountain bikes. Good thing I am in good biking shape or it never would have worked out. I thought for sure I would be sore for at least 5 days. Oddly, I was sore for the rest of the evening, and then the next morning I was fine, as if I hadn't ridden a grandma bike 30 miles the day before. Our goal was the little town of Kelheim, where there is a Befreiungshalle on a hill. I would translate that word as 'liberation hall'. It commemorates an incident involving Napoleon, from what I understand.
View from the Befreiungshalle

Albi in the shadow of the Befreiungshalle

A picture of the Befreiungshalle from further away

Headed home in the dusk

Last walk in the woods along the Danube
After Regensburg, I headed toDresden to meet up with my friend Travis and his friend Faith's band Mamiffer, who were playing a show there.  Here are some pictures from that show. I have to say, it was extremely surreal to step off a tram, walk into a random German music club, and suddenly there's Travis on stage, huddled over a suitcase filled with strange metal objects, and clashing things together and rattling shovelfuls of bells and stuff like that. But it was GREAT. Then we goofed around backstage and ate hazelnut wafers and made videos like the one here.

video


Travis straight chillin in the green room
We cannot believe we are both in Germany at the same time. Madness.

 After Dresden, the next show was in Jena the next night. I really, really liked Jena. It is a small town with a big university and I had never been there before. There are lots of places in the old city to meet up with friends and drink coffee and watch people walk by, which makes me happy. And the turnout for the show was pretty good, and there were lots of Germans to talk to, and a weird run-in with the house cook that turned out surprisingly positive. The tour bus driver, Tomask, said that he would like to settle down and raise a family in this town, and I have to say that I would agree with that statement.
Poster for the show in Jena
The business that unfortunately was right next to the venue

I know the one on the right is Marx, but who's the other hard boy?

Faith and Travis drinking coffee at the only place we could find that would make soy lattes

Caleb and Tyler from the band Mare, playing with Faith's band for this tour

Faith and her husband Aaron

The venue in Jena, called Rosenkeller, where they played

Decending into the cavern


After the show, outside of Rosenkeller

Jens!

Jens was at the show specifically for the headliner, but he did say he thought Travis' role in Mamiffer was... interesting.

Travis in the basement at Rosenkeller

Next stop: Berlin. Up until this point, I'd been traveling exclusively by ride share. The one I had arranged to take me from Jena to Berlin was going to be in a German fire truck. No joke. But it was leaving very late in the day and it would be expensive to share the gas (20 Euro). Travis offered me a spot in the van for this leg of the journey, which I was happy to accept. It worked out for the fire truck guy too, because he had a friend he wanted to take and now it would be possible. We stopped at a McDonalds on the way to use the bathroom and order drinks which we couldn't keep in the bottle for whatever reason, and we irritated the lady working behind the counter with our ignorant American ways, which was fun. After some exercise in the grass behind the McDonalds, we got back in the tour bus and headed to Berlin. The show was in Kreuzberg, but I ended up staying with a friend of a friend on the other side of town. Not many people came to show, unfortunately, but then Travis and I went to the longest remaining portion of the Berlin Wall and took some pictures, so that was cool.


New best friend

Chillin with James Franco

Eyyyyyyh

Eskimos of the dead??

Justin Bieber's father and me
Vegan cupcakes the next day

I did not know they made Ampelmann beer! I will have to try it.
 Travis and the band continued on their tour, and I broke off from them at this point and headed to Tübingen on the train. Tübingen is where I spent my exchange year from 2005-2006, and it is always nice to come back and see what has changed and to visit old friends. I stayed with my good friend Niko, and also got to meet up with Tula, who is finishing up her medical degree there. Niko's roommate Lena had her birthday celebration that evening, so I was welcomed into Niko's home by means of cake and prosecco. An excellent start to a stay in Tübingen.

Me at the Würmlinger Kappelle
Niko at Würmlinger Kappelle
Bike riding through the woods back to Tübingen

'Freedom dies with security'. Good old Epplehaus, being all punk n' stuff.

The town hall in Tübingen

Fachwerkhäuser. I went to a party with Niko in the yellow one back in 2008.
 Niko and I took a bike ride to Würmlinger Kappelle, a chapel on a hill overlooking all of the valleys. From up there you can see the beginning of the Schwarzwald and the Schwäbischer Alb. On the way back to town, I got a Spaghetti Eis from my favorite ice cream cafe, San Marco. We also got to hang out with Der Chris and another friend of theirs from Ethiopia later on in the evening.

Ice cream from San Marco Cafe with Niko

Der Chris, Niko, and their friend whose name I unfortunately can't remember

The view of Tübingen from the Tübingen castle

 After Tübingen, it was time to visit my cousin Jessica and her husband Ralf, along with their daughter Vivienne, in their neck of the woods. I can't remember the name of the region but it is close to Schwäbisch Hall, which is where they picked me up from the train station. We stayed in town and hung out there for the afternoon, along with Ralf's mother and sister, who were there for a visit.

Schwäbisch Hall

Jessica and Viv

Coffee time

Exploring in Schwäbisch Hall

British telephone booth??!?
Vivienne and Jessica exploring in Schwäbisch Hall
 We visited the city museum. I found a torture chair that was pretty cool.

Have a seat.

Vivienne plays in the museum
Wigs!

We are so 18th century.
'My ladies!'
Not in the museum.
An unusually excited mannekin.
 After the museum, we ate at a very good Vietnamese restaurant. Vivienne hung out with me.





Walking back to the car
 Jessica and her family live in Brettachhöhe, where a bunch of people live together and work the land. It is a village for people with handicaps of varying degrees, and Ralf works with them a lot. They also have a garden and 15 chickens, and a rooster named Gunther.

Looking at the garden

Jess and Viv feeding the chickens

Collecting the eggs


Walking through Brettachhöhe
Enjoying the outdoors and the sunny weather

We ate at a fantastic local organic restaurant close to the house, and had a fun day in the sunshine. Then Ralf's mother and sister headed back to Westerwald, and we got ready to pack up for our trip to Berlin. Jessica had never been to Berlin before, and was excited to explore the city. She had the idea of bringing along the bikes, which turned out to be fabulous in terms of getting around Berlin.

Packing up the Twingo for Berlin


My view from the front seat

A. Dor. A. Ble.
 We had a 5 hour trip to go, and Viv was good the whole way. The sun was out and there were no traffic jams. All in all, a very good trip.

Lederhose? on the Autobahn?

Perfect blue sky
 Jess looked up some couch surfers, and a young couple invited us into their apartment for the week. They are both students, Elizabeth and Clemens, both originally from Münich but in Berlin to study.

View from the Templehofer Ufer
 Since I am planning on staying in Berlin for a few months, I had to spend a lot of time figuring out housing. I finally found a place that I am renting for two weeks, from yesterday until May 3rd, at which point I will move again. I am glad that the search for housing is over and I have a place to stay.
This is what moving by bike looks like.

It is so nice that (almost) everything I have here fits into a backpack!
My temporary apartment

Bigger than my room in Seattle, and for less money. Berlin is cheap.
It is weird living with other people's stuff, but kinda fun too.
I met up in the evening for dinner last night with Jessica, Ralf, Vivienne, Elizabeth, Clemens, and two friends of Elizabeth's from one of her classes. We ate very good Korean food and had a good time. Of course we biked there and I took a zillion pictures.
Happy on Mama's back
Family photo
video


Clemens and Elizabeth leading the way to the Korean restaurant

Clemens is always hungry!

Vivienne wants the camera

And that is it, up until today! I am in the process of looking for jobs and things to do in Berlin so if anyone has any leads, please please let me know! I would be glad to follow any and every lead. Also, I am getting my internet connection at my temporary place up so I can call y'all late into the night (for me; daytime for you guys). So be on the lookout for that. Alright, hope you enjoyed! Bye and Happy Easter!