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Monday, May 30, 2011

Cobbers in Europe!!!

The JOYS of having Kelly Pflaum and Taryn Brown and Emma Then all be in Germany and able to meet with Braden, April and me!!

Saturday, May 28, 2011

A Return to Praha

Well, back it was to one of the major European capitals for Braden and I.  We went from Jena to Prague and the train was mostly uneventful.  This time, however, we knew exactly where to go as the women were staying where we had stayed in September (and would recommend to anyone going to Prague: Aparthotel City 5).  It was an easy trip from the train station to the hotel and we dropped our stuff in the room after saying hi to Gastone and Christina (the keepers of the inn) and found them over at a restaurant.  We had some amazing food and then went out on a walk around Prague. It was Friday and we knew that we had to see the Jewish stuff that day if we ever wanted to, so we immediately went there.

The Tyn Church in the main square.

We walked through the Jewish Quarter that perhaps ironically has all of the high-end shops like Gucci and Prada and Versace and got into the Old-New Synagogue.  It was a pretty interesting time trying to buy the tickets as no one is used to the money and they all thought they were paying like $200 for admission, but it wasn't that much...it was like $25 though...fail.

So, we walked through the cemetery and it was filled with some pretty old graves and they were everywhere. They had stones on them which is the Jewish way of putting flowers on the graves, it was really cool.  No photos allowed, so of course I took like 10.

From there we walked around to the Philharmonic and a great view of Prague.  There was a magnolia tree in bloom, so we had to stop for a photo op, of course :) :)

This is also where Grandma tried to convince a random Czech man she wasn't crazy and none of us would help her...she was proving herself wrong pretty convincingly on her own.

Then we walked along the Charles Bridge and took the tram home, they had had a really early morning leaving from Vienna, so they wanted to hit the sack.  But, before they could do that, I made them some dinner.  Chicken Parmigiana.  It was kinda delicious.   

Now, Braden and I were staying in a different and more centrally located hostel, so we had to get home, but the conversation was really good and we ended up staying and drinking and being merry into the wee hours of the morning.  Then, Braden and I had to brave the tough streets of Prague by night.  We had to walk about a mile and I was trashed, but it wasn't a big deal, we got home just fine and all was well.

The next morning we go to have breakfast a la Christina including toasties and all other things wonderful.  From there, we just kinda walked all around Prague seeing all of the souvenir shops and stopping to take a picture with Sherry's Ristorante and buying all kinds of general items.  It was a good day overall and I got to spend a lot of time with the family.

It was coming up on Easter

There was a FIRE!!!

Power cooking by Margaret..."WHERE'S MY WINE?!!"

That night we went to "Aida" an opera in the State Theatre and there was English subtitles and that made me so very happy.  Our view wasn't perfect and we were hot, but that wasn't as bad as Grandma and co because they were behind a woman who had just recently bathed in some sort of awful perfume and Sherry and Margaret were dying, so they came and sat with us for the second half and that was much better for them.

After the opera, we left and we saw a camera crew and a couple out in traffic trying to hail a taxi and Sherry and I knew right away...THE AMAZING RACE!!!

Dream #3 Come True

They were right there and it was so obvious and I was so happy.

The next morning was my last time on the Charles Bridge unless I ever return to Prague (which I wouldn't mind doing) and I had to take one more picture of my favorite view in the city.

We had breakfast with the family one more time and said a sad goodbye, but not before we got a picture with Christina, who called Braden and I "the babies".  It is so wonderful there.

At the train stop we said goodbye to them and Braden and I went on our way to slowly make it to the train station for our trip back home and they went up to the castle and St. Vitus's that I LOVE.  We saw the Spanish Synagogue and we saw the Amazing Race People again, check the clue in his pocket.

We sat outside of the train station for a while and just relaxed and enjoyed Prague.  It really is a great place, one of my favorites in Europe.  I'm really going to miss being able to just go and travel wherever next year, but I'll try to fill the void with speech.  It's been about a month since we were in Prague now and I really miss family and am starting to get the itch to go home.  45 more days!!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

A Wondrous Morning in Salzburg

Me and Tanja in Salzburg w/ our new sunglasses.

This is going to be yet another photo heavy and word light blog, so just enjoy the views.  On my last day with Tanja in Bavaria, we decided to drive the 15 minutes into Salzburg.  I was really excited to see another Austrian city because I loved Vienna so much when I went with Braden in 2009 (WOW SO LONG AGO).  We got up and had a quick breakfast and we were on our way.  I had my stuff with me just in case we got to the train station in time for me to take the earlier train back home and I said goodbye to her wonderful family as well.  We got into town and it looked just like any other to me and then, I turned around and was greeted with this view:

(in case you're not sure, this is absolutely beautiful)

We started walking into the main area of town and I needed to take a picture with the Salzach in the background because it was immaculate.  It was so clean and there were swans and a cute church and it was just so European.

We got into town and we walked along the Getreidegasse (a famous street with tons of shops).  We saw one of five unique McDonald's signs in the world.  I guess there are only five anywhere that are not the traditional Golden Arches, and this is one of them.  So, it's kinda really cool.

A little further along I bought my new glasses shown above and then we walked past Mozart's Birth House and I took a picture with that, too.

This is a very interesting story that I'm not sure I'm allowed to share...about the real place of Mozart's birth...

From there we walked into a square and could see the church.  It looked like just any other church in Europe on the outside, but it was really quite lovely inside, one of the best ones that I had been to I think.  We also saw some really cute art, Tanja tried to read Latin and we saw a woman wearing actually nothing and going into the church.  It was the skimppiest thing possible without just being called a bikini, I wonder how they reacted since mass was in session...

From the church we walked into a bigger square that had a huge gold ball in the middle with a man standing on top of it.  I was like "OH MY!" thinking he was going to fall and then I realized it was a statue.  So that was a fail.  I bought my classic souvenirs and we moved on. 

Salzburg Castle overlooking the city.

We went back the way we came and we saw the Mozart statue and Tanja had to strike a pose.  We also saw this weird little tent thing filled with pictures from the set of "The Sound of Music".  For those of you unaware, that movie takes place in Salzburg and some of the scenes show the real city!  It was cool to see that kind of stuff, although we didn't take a Sound of Music Tour.

I bought some more souvenirs and Tanja made me try some Mozart chocolate thing that had a lot of marzipan and I didn't really like it.  We went back to the Getreidegasse and walked to the other side.  Tanja showed me the cafe she took Hannah Sohre (Kittok) when she visited her, but it was closed.

We saw a building that was built into the side of a mountain and a horse washing station that was really cool and historic-y.  We then walked over to the other side of the river to see the gardens.

After crossing the bridge we saw that a musical was playing that we could have gone to, but we had fun the night before so it was fine.  Then we got into the gardens and walked around there.  It was really pretty being in Europe when things were in bloom and I'm glad that I didn't just have my Feb-March trips that had a lot of dead looking trees in it.  This made up for it and helped me think of what places like Versailles and Park Guell looked like when it was summer.  This is also my favorite view of Salzburg with the castle and the church and the gardens all in one shot.  Be sure and click on this photo for a bigger view.

After lounging around in the garden for a while and listening to a brass band we decided to go and sit at a cafe and have a little snack.  Before we could do that, though, Tanja had to pretend she was American and ask an old man if she could take a picture with him.  She didn't want to embarrass herself by asking in German... loser.

We left the park after taking some cute pictures with each other and sat at the cafe for a while.  I got a little mini cake thing that was mango blueberry or something like that...it was...interesting?  I guess it wasn't that bad.  I also had a second apple strudel and loved that.  It was just a really great trip to Salzburg and a great way to say goodbye to Austria for a while.

These tulips were like up to Tanja's waist...

When we got back to Tanja's I looked up the next train, we had some lunch and off I went back home.  I had to buy a little bit of an extra ticket because I rode through Saxony a little bit, but overall it was worth it because I got to visit Landshut, the home to the largest brick tower in the entire world.  I tried to get there and back in the time I had (30 mins) but was unable to do so. 

The one in the background is the super tall building: St. Martin's

I BARELY made it back to the train in time.  And then I sat in the wrong section and almost went to Prague instead of Hof which is where I wanted to be.  All was well, though, and Braden met me at the train station and it was great!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

The Most Beautiful Castle in the World

We got up after the terrible night in the hostel and made our way over to ArtHotel for breakfast.  We all got ready and went to the trains.  We were a little early, but we got to sit on the train and a lot of people had to stand, so that was nice.  We were sharing our train compartment with a tour group and they offered to add us to their group so that we could get a reduced price on admission to the castle and we said yes!  So, then, naturally, grandma was hounding him making sure that he didn't steal our money, but when we got to Füssen all was well and we even got to take the bus to the starting point with them.  We then walked over to a little place and had some snacks (I had fries) and then up we went.

From where we were dropped off we could just see the castle nestled in the mountains.

We decided to wait for a bus and an entire Canadian tour group also chose to do the same, they were kinda annoying, but whatevs.  We got onto the bus and up we went on a VERY steep and twisty path.  I wasn't feelin' looking out the window, so I just kinda closed my eyes.  We got to the top and as the signs had said the bridge was closed, which is kinda sad, but, later I got a picture of the bridge.  Just now, I made it purple, why, because I can.

So, we walked down the path and there was this beautiful outlook area over the countryside with a lake and stuff.  We had to take a few pictures.

While we were standing there, an Asian tour group walked by and started grabbing Braden and handing their cameras to other people...I was unaware what was going on, but in the end, they started posing with him and taking pictures of him like he was an animal in a zoo.  I, of course, thought this was hilarious.

And later, when we got inside the castle, I also had to get a picture with them.  My favorite is the girl with the red sunglasses that are missing their (what's it called) stem.  They just have one and are resting on her nose.

Well, after that hilarity (and really we were laughing for a good long while) we walked up to the castle.  We still had about 20 minutes until it was our turn to tour the castle, so we took some pictures of the countryside.

We took a tour and it was our tour guide's first day.  She forgot a lot of stuff, but that didn't matter because most of it spoke for itself.  It really was exceedingly beautiful and everything was so intricate and outside every window was such a perfect view, I just loved it so much.  I had a great time walking up all of the stairs, too.

We finished the tour and bought all of our souvenirs and off we were back to Munich.  We took a horse and buggy back down to the buses and were lucky enough to meet up with the same group and take their free bus back instead of waiting in the long line and paying for the public bus that makes stops and because of that we were way ahead of the group and got good spots on the train. In Buchloe, grandma and Margaret made another friend.  

When we got back it was already pretty late, so we just relaxed, drank some more and ate.  It was a really good day!

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Meeting w/ Some Fam in Munich

After a relaxing break of a few nights in Jena, Braden and I were once again on the trains going to Munich!  I was so so excited to see family and hoped that we wouldn't miss them somewhere.  We hadn't had the best communication the past day because they had all been flying, so it was kinda hit or miss if we would actually run into one another.  So, Braden and I walked off of the train and went to our hostel (Wombat's City Hostel) and asked them where ArtHotel was, because that is where the Ladies were staying.  He showed us the way and off we were.  We asked at reception if they could call up to a room for us and Sherry answered!  I was so excited!!  Up we went and there they were, all of them (Sherry, Margaret, Whinney and Grandma) dead tired.  They'd all been up for like 30-40 hours and needed some sleep.  Braden and I, of course, were not going to let that happen, so we were very chatty.  I guess they had just gotten back from Dachau and said that it was really moving and sad.  I can't do Holocaust stuff anymore, it's too real and I can't handle it.  Well, after snapping a quick picture of the four of us, Sherry, Margaret, Braden and I went to check-in at our hotel and get some food.

We let them rest a bit and get ready while we settled in to our hostel.  We were in a room for six and it looked like we were the only ones there, so that was good.  We were hoping that our luck would hold.  We met up with them in their room and when we got there it turns out that Whinney had burned off her hair on the super charged curling iron.  So, that was exciting.  And off we went to the Hofbräuhaus!!  We had a great time filled with lost of good food and conversation and of course lots of drinking as well.

This would have been my profile picture if I didn't have to watch it for Orientation stuff...

Well, we were all on our way out and the older ladies and Braden had to use the facilities, so Sherry and I went outside to wait, and while we did that a man threw up in front of us.  It was fantastic.  We all got onto a train and got back to the hotel and drank some more (I switched to Rose) and talked some more.  My favorite topics were grandma and Margaret's stories of growing up on the reservation and me telling the story of how Braden and I met.  Grandma, unfortunately, did not at all hold her liquor well and was sick.  Braden and Whinney had to help her.  Well, it was time to call it a night and in the morning we went to Neuschwanstein. (Which will be my next blog post, so I'm going to skip that for now and talk about the day after that in Munich).

Before I get to that, though, Braden and I have just one more hostel story to tell.  We got into our hostel at almost 2 and were very drunk and went right to bed.  Well, at about 3-3:30, three guys came in and were VERY loud and smoking and drinking in the room and were incredibly drunk.  They kicked their shoes at me and they hit the bed in front of my face, they grabbed Braden because they thought he was a friend of theirs and they played really loud music until like 5am.  Well, the next morning while I was in the shower, Braden went down to the front desk and we changed rooms.  The management went up and yelled at them and I guess they felt really bad and apologized and they didn't kick them out.  If they had, they would have just checked into the hostel next door, so it's not a big deal.  We got a ton of free drink tickets, but we never used them.

---Insert day in Neuschwanstein---

The last morning in Munich we went to breakfast at ArtHotel once again and were able to use the internet and etc.  We didn't have a lot planned for the day, it was much more just a walk around the city and see what we see.  We slowly lounged along the main shopping street that led from the train station to the main square and stopped in at C&A and H&M.  I also bought some frosting and ranch from Galleria Kaufhof (things I miss from home).  It was pretty exciting.  I also was on the lookout for my postcard and shot glass. We got to the square a little early to see the famous Glockenspiel, but we waited it out.  While we waited, someone (me) found Margaret the cutest possible Germany bag and she made the purchase.  I was really excited about it.  Come 12, the clock started playing its little game and we watched and I, obviously, took a video.

From there we walked to the antique shop grandma had spotted the first night and then over to the Hard Rock Cafe that I had been unable to get into at night because it was so full.  We stopped and had a few drinks.  The Hurricane really hit Margaret if I remember correctly.  From there we had fantastic ice cream and then saw some more of the city.  I really like Munich, it's a great city to visit!  We got onto the subway and when the first one came by it was filled to the brim and workers were telling people where they could and couldn't get on!  There was a soccer game (Bayern-München) going on in a few minutes and they were all on their way.  They were singing songs and jumping up and down and the subway was bouncing...it all looked very unsafe...and fun.

We got on the first subway that was not going to the stadium and got off in a few stops and went to a wonderful Italian place our hostel had recommened.  Before we could sit down, Whinney took a nasty fall and scratched her glasses and cut her lip.  Thank God that was all that happened.  Overall, it was a really good lunch, but I think I got sunburned.  On the way to the Englischer Garten (c'mon you can figure that one out) we saw a lion statue, and since that is Munich's thing, I got a picture.

We got into the English Gardens and....IT WAS SPRING!!!

See all those white things past the tree?  There were thousands of people in the park. Thousands. 

This park is larger than Central Park in New York and it was so great walking through it on one of the first nice days of the year.  People were out in full force.  We even walked through the nude part (kinda on accident, kinda not) much to the surprise of Grandma....Margaret, I think, liked it :)

We had to back track a little, but soon we found the Chinesischer Türm. This Chinese Pagoda was the pit stop for this leg of the Amazing Race.  Sorry, I had to.  

We sat down first on the grass and then on the picnic tables and had some drink.  I wasn't in the mood for beer, so Braden graciously got me a Fanta.  We met some Germans sharing the table with us, and (as Grandma always seemed to do) we heard their life story.  I told them that I study in Jena and the girl said, "I would never want to study in Jena."  I kinda knew where she was coming from, not a ton to do there.  After spending time in Munich, I was really wishing I went to school nearer a large city. But, that's moot now.  I stole some glasses to give to people and off we were back to the hotel.

Braden is not just doing this cuz it's cute, girls were actually doing this...for like....real.

On the walk back, we passed the memorial to Sophie Scholl of the White Rose, a Nazi resistance group.  A friend of mine, Jessie Roelofs did a piece about her for speech my freshman year of high school.

After that, we went back to the hostel for a while and we had little snacks (the pizza we ate was HUGE and filled us for most the rest of the day).  We left them to take the train back and Braden and I walked through Munich at night and just spent the night seeing the sights.  It was really great seeing them!

Quote of the Munich trip:
Grandma to Margaret, "Now, you gotta that not do."