Thursday, April 30, 2009

Scroll down to see new updates!!!

bullet point updates...

Even though all my germany posts are out of order, make sure you read them!! I'll eventually get them into chronological order in the next couple days, but the posting has been so sporadic that I figured I wouldn't hide the newly posted posts down at the bottom :)

But to bring you up to speed since Sunday's fainting spell - I'm totally fine. It was just dehydration... I have a tiny sore throat, but I think that's due to a cancker sore... if this is too much information, I apologize :)

Here we go...
* I have been studying for exams and this morning finally finished outlining the topics... now I just have to memorize the outlines in order to write 2 AWESOME essays... and by "awesome" I mean "essays that will at least allow me to pass."
* My baggy jeans are now too small for me... sad day - it's all the muscle in my legs... stupid Europe and it's stairs and uphill-ness.
* because of the above, I have now began doing yoga and stretching a couple times a day for a few minutes in my room :)
* I love the raisin bread they sell in the college shop
* I missed the fruit market on tuesday and now have to wait until NEXT tuesday for my delicious fresh fruits
* Phoebe and I got 3 clusters of bananas EACH from a fruit market in Staines yesterday for ONLY A POUND!!! They are amazingly delicious!
* Phoebe, Leonore, and I saw Wolverine yesterday and I LOVE Hugh Jackman... he's SO awesome!! The movie overall was amazing - not perfect, but very very cool!
* I finished Firefly the series and will be watching Serenity the movie this afternoon
* I will be starting the Band of Brothers series tomorrow :)
* For those of you who didn't read on my mom's blog - my Grandpa (her dad) went to Dachau Concentration Camp after it was liberated immediately following the war on orders from General Eisenhower. Finding that out made my visit there all the more special... I am only sad I won't be able to talk to him about it because he won't remember because of Alzheimer's.
* I finished Phoebe and mine's plan for traveling around Europe (both arcs)!!!! I am SO excited!!! we leave 2 weeks from tomorrow!!!!!!!
* I have been waking up ready for the day for the past few days at 7:30am - 8am!!!!! This is SO odd, and yet SO awesome! I am not tired or feeling like I'm up too early - the sun is blazing through my window, so I feel like it's later... but this means I have SO much more of the day to live :)
* I have been wearing my glasses for the entire week... not put a contact in since Sunday.
* Leonore, Phoebe and I are going to Hampshire on saturday to tour Jane Austen country... her home, her grave, and probably a tea room - it'll be lovely!!

okay - I'm now going to run down to the college shop for a sandwich and water bottle :) later!

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

waiting for and then fainting on the plane...

And I sit here waiting again… they don’t have free Internet in the Frankfurt Airport and I refuse to pay 8 euro for an hour. So by the time you read this I’ll no longer be waiting in the airport but more than likely sleeping in my room back at RoHo. Knowing this information, however, does not stop me from talking about my waiting process.
(*Oh and FYI I am sick… and on Sudafed - recreation drug of choice - and therefore this post could at times shift into incoherency)

Did you know that Jude Law advertises Dior Cologne? I am currently surrounded by 3 advertisements for said cologne… one thing I am not surrounded by is other passengers. I of course again arrived early for check-in because stupid me actually heeded the request from the Frankfurt Airport to arrive 2 hours early, only to get through security with alarming ease. Highlight of the 30-second security process – the obviously bored guards checking my bags. Conversation went as follows:

Security Guard: (*Something in German*)
Me: Spreckin’ Ze English bita?
SG: haha… (teasing tone) oh miss this is the German check in, English check-in is over there. Haha
Me: you’re funny, haha
SG: do you have liquids or a computer in your bag?
Me: I have no liquids, but my computer is in my backpack
SG: (Teasing tone) oh this is Sunday miss, on Sundays and Saturdays there are no computers allowed at the Frankfurt Airport. Hehe
Me: Germany is SO weird, hehe.
Second SG: (*translates that*) haha… oh and on Sundays we require passengers to undress and hand over their email and phone number… (teasing tone)
Me: Ah… cheeky!
All 3: (*laughter*)
Me: (*grab my bags*) Goodbye. Danka Shoen.

(*End scene*)

Like I said I was tired and hopped up on Sudafed… and the guards were bored… and there was no one else here. Seriously… no one. I am sitting by my lonesome 2 hours before my flight leaves.

Time elapse 3 hours….

I got on the plane and immediately felt incredibly yucky and just plane tired, so I sat in my window seat (chosen because I wanted to sleep) and took a snooze… awoke as the plane was taking off…. Awoke again as the people were coming around with snacks… and then it hit me!! I sat up to be ready to get come sprite and a biscuit and my stomach lurched… Oh no, why did I pick a window seat?? I lay my head back against the window… don’t throw up, you’re gonna be okay, is there a bag by your seat? DON’T THROW UP!!! The flight attendant man then asks me, “would you like any refreshments?” and all I can get out is, “bathroom.” So sad Miranda, he probably thinks you’re on drugs. “So you don’t want refreshment?” “no.” Then the cold and clammy-ness hits me. The people in the middle an aisle seat next to me immediately scramble to get out of my way. I proceed to head down the aisle and the room begins to twirl… don’t faint, don’t faint, don’t faint, don’t faint… and as I reach the back of the plane, just in front of the bathroom, a tiny little voice from far away whispers, “Miranda, sit down.” Oh thank you… so I vaguely remember sliding along the wall after everything went black, and I vaguely remember hear the flight attendant – seemingly far away say, “Oh no!” and then I woke up. A nice man from a near by seat had caught me on the way down and was till holding my hand, the flight attendant was helping prop my feet up. I didn’t even try to pretend to be capable of anything… I just lay there and answered their questions, “have you eaten anything today? Have you been to Mexico recently? (There’s that swine flu again) Are you traveling alone? Are you headed back to the stated today?” Miranda, this is so lame, seriously? You fainted on the plane?... After a few more questions and determining that I was infinitely dehydrated, they sat me in the back room with a water bottle and delicious chocolate biscuits. They took down an incident report and then moved me up to first class with more chocolate biscuits and water. I even had a wheelchair meet me at the gate. There was another old lady there who needed a wheelchair too and she didn’t speak English and she was yelling at the driver that he had her passport… she was crazy. By the time I got to baggage claim I was okay, just weak and tired. I miraculously made it back to royal Holloway, got my bags from Phoebe’s room, was so excited to see Phoebe after almost 3 weeks, and then I slept for 13 hours. I woke up feeling much better at 7am!
It’s not the swine flu… and I never threw up, so I’m thinking it was just dehydration coupled his a righteous cold and slight fever. But man it was a memorable experience. Something that makes me laugh is that something all too similar happened to me when I was in massage school… I was sick and felt nauseous so I headed to the bathroom and got to the bathroom door, opened it and slid down the wall to faint. Priceless.

Okay… I will now take this opportunity to post about my trip. Scroll down.

P.S. I figure since both my mother and Amy are currently posting about their trips to visit me, I can hold off on posting about those for now…

Mom’s Blog
Amy’s Blog

Friday, April 24, 2009

So that you don't think I'm dead...

I'm in Germany!!! Just got back from 4 days in one of the most breath-takingly beautiful places in the whole world - Bavaria, Germany!!!! I can not tell you how gorgeous the scenery was... or how amazing Neuschwanstein Castle is... or how gut wrenching Dachau Concentration Camp was... but I'll post in more detail later!

Germany (Day 8)...

And my little girl dreams came true on this day - I saw Neuschwanstein Castle!!! For those of you who are unaware, Neuschwanstein is nicknamed "The Disney Castle" because it is the inspiration behind Sleeping Beauty's Castle in the film as well as the Disney parks. It is SO pretty in person.

Sylvia and I checked out of the room at Edelweiss Resort and then along with Elijah headed to Neuschwanstein. It was foggy when we left, but the forecast was sunny, so I was hopeful the weather would change. Sure enough when we finally reached the castle, the sky was a brilliant blue and the sunny was warm and shining! We were SO happy!!

The little town of Schwangau boasts two of King Ludwug's Castles... his family home Honeschwangau and his masterpiece Neuwschwanstein (if you notice everything has 'schwan' in it, which is the German word for 'swan'... I am figuring this is their family bird or something, cause it's everywhere!! and yet there are no live swans to be seen). We knew that Elijah wouldn't be able to handle both castles, so we skipped Honeschwangau in favor of Neuschwanstein.

The hike up to the castle from the little town is about 40 minutes on foot, so we paid for the horse-drawn carriage ride up instead... then we walked about 10 minutes to the top (it was VERY steep).

And then we reached the top and there through the trees, with walls a blazing white, was my dream home!!!

When you buy a ticket, you have a specific tour time that you must wait for... so we had time to look around the 2-tears courtyard and catch a glimpse of the nearby waterfall!!

cool door -
Oh... funny Elijah story - he insisted on wearing both his swim trunks (cause he loved the swimming from the night before SO much) AND his jeans... but the trunk needed to be on the outside so he could see Nemo on them... I love this kid because seriously, who doesn't look cool wearing swim trunks on the outside of his jeans??

Sad to say, but photography inside Neuschwanstein was strictly forbodden. So I downloaded some shots to show you the COMPLETE magnificence of the throne room!!!

and the Singer's Hall

King Ludwig was no fool when he picked the location for his beloved castle... the view is SPECTACULAR!!

Sadly King Ludwig didn't live to see it completed and when he passed away the castle building process died with him. The castle was never completed and was opened to the public instead shortly after the King's death... the third floor for instance was never completed and so on the tour we skipped that floor and walked the narrow spiral staircase right passed it onto the 4th floor.

And now we interrupt this wonderful post for a tirade from Miranda about the complete disrespect teenagers have for wonderful historic places!!! We'll first talk about Neuschwanstien - Sylvia and I took the English language tour because... well because it's in English of course, so why was it that there was a HUGE group of Italian 15 year olds with us on the tour??? But the confusion there was nothing to the frustration at their CONSTANT TALKING!!!! I mean I don't understand the language, but I think I pretty much know which on the guys all the girls had a crush on... and got to witness all the flirting and general stupidity of youth. Okay I will admit, I understand that when your young, that's the kind of stuff you care about... BUT SERIOUSLY on a tour of something that I have been waiting 20 years to see (well pretty much since I first saw Disney's Sleeping Beauty) it is just SO ANGERING!!!
But some of you may still find my frustration a little harsh... well if you'd have been at Dachau the couple days before and witness THE EXACT SAME BEHAVIOR from a group of German teenagers IN THE CREMATORIUM!!!!! You'd understand why I had no patience. I was SO angry!! SO angry!!! I wanted to scream and shout at them how retarded they were all being and how little respect they had for the people who died there... were MURDERED there... but I couldn't and instead had to watch while a group of teenage boys kicked dirt at each other and messed around out in front of the memorial. UGH!!!

okay the tirade is over and as an apology for making you read that, I'll give you some more shots of the castle.

there is Sleeping Beauty's tower where she lies in slumber awaiting Prince Phillipe's kiss of true love -
After our tour, I was famished (the spiral staircase in the castle had more stairs that St Paul's Cathedral, and THAT'S A LOT!! So Sylvia, Elijah and I walked down the hill and along the way picked up a hot pretzel from the Pretzel stand - Germany is the birthplace of this delicacy and so I was not about to pass up a chance for a treat - plus I LOVE soft pretzels.

Elijah had one too, which of course he shared with Sylvia
I even learned how to order one in Germany - "brezen mit salz" (pretzel with salt). Did I tell you I did so little preparation for this trip in terms of the language... but I picked up the phrases that I needed - "Sprechen Sie Englisch?" (Do you speak English?) "Danke!" (thank you) "Verzeihung bitte!" (excuse me) "Auf Wiedersehen!" (goodbye) "Gruess gott" (welcome)... etc. (really there is no ect... that's it.

After Neuschwanstein we drove to Oberammergau for a little taste of a small Bavarian town... Oberammergau (over-ammergau) is right next to Unterammergau (under-ammergau)... and yet I saw no signs for just Ammergau. I figure it's just a small little farm house all by itself... hehe.

Oberammergau has store after store of GORGEOUS wood carvings and other ornate crafts. It also has 2 Katie Wolfhardt Christmas stores. So if you didn't know already, pretty much a lot of what we know as Christmas originated with Germany - St Nicholas, the christmas tree and ornaments, etc all came from Germany... so I wasn't about to pass up a chance to get a little souvenir. I got a Christmas pyramid (okay so I just google imaged for a picture of a Christmas Pyramid cause I didn't want to get mine out, set it up and take a picture... and the first one to come up is a larger version of the exact one I got - cool!!!)

So why did I choose this Christmas souvenir... well years and years and years ago my Uncle Don and Aunt Carol gave my parents a large Christmas Pyramid from Germany... the kind with the candles in it that you light and the top spins. Well it was always one of my very favorite Christmas decorations! But it takes so much set up and the Christmas Season has gotten so busy, so it is rarely set up anymore, but it's gorgeous. So I decided I should get one of my own actually FROM Germany to decorate my house with. :)
I wish I would have gotten a picture inside the store because it may be my new FAVORITE store... I love all things Christmas decor. But here is a picture from the internet

But here is a very cool door I saw in Oberammergau!! (okay, if you haven't noticed already - the doors here are holding my fascination QUITE a bit... it's weird, I know)

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Germany (Day 7)...

This day began unexpectedly cloudy and dreary. We had planned on going to Neuschwanstein this day, but we refused to see the fairytale castle in such dismal weather... so instead we decided a roadtrip away from Garmisch was the ticket. Where should we go that is close by? Oh that's right - Italy! Why not just pop over to Italy for the day - sounds great (I love Europe!!). So Sylvia's friend had told her about a charming town just on the other side of the Italian border that was worth visiting called Vipiteno. So Sylvia and I thought, "great!! Italy should be sunny... I mean it's Italy after all." So Elijah, Sylvia and I packed up and headed out -

As we drove out of town it poured rain...

So as we kept driving, we waited for the sun to break through... but to our incredible surprise, it began to snow... and then snow harder

And then without warning... we were in a blizzard

What the heck Italy?? Where is this famous Tuscan sun everyone keeps talking about?
But we rode through the blizzard and on the other side lay Vipiteno... in the sunshine - thank you Italy, I appreciate your coooperation. Unfortunately it was still frigid!! like snow jacket frigid, and all I had was a hoodie - Elijah came prepared with his snow jacket - he's always thinkin', that one.

Sylvia and I were very proud that we made it through the blizzard

As we walked through the streets of Vipiteno (or should I say, "street") we started to become keenly aware that this little town, although picturesque, actually was super lame!

So we grabbed an italian lunch (mushroom ravioli - IN ITALY!!!) and then headed back home. Along the side of the road (which we could see now that there wasn't a blizzard anymore) we came upon this charming castle... Don't you just love how Germany has Castles on the side of the road.

When we arrived back in Garmisch we decided that the best way to spend the evening before dinner would be to go swimming in the indoor pool!! yay!! expect upon donning my swim suit I realized how physically UNREADY I am for swimsuit season... ugh! Luckily there were only small children and old retired military men... the perfect crowd. Elijah LOVED swimming!!

After swimming we were all quite famished and so we were ready for dinner... to our dismay the two cheaper restaurants were closed for the night and the front desk refused to give us any ideas for local restaurants... we were so hungry and the only places available were the nice restaurant (the steakhouse - which we didn't think would even let us in cause we were in our PJs already) and the buffet place which charged $15 for a meal!!!!!!!! We finally conceded (which was the resorts plan all along - the evil conniving lot of them) and eat at the buffet. I was in a "stick it to the man" kind of mood by this point so I vowed to eat my weight in something to get more than my money's worth. I felt like I did that in the end. It was Texas night - so they had fried chicked, baked beans, potato salad, every type of cake you could desire, an ice cream bar, soup, cat fish, a salad bar, bread, and delicious raspberry lemonaide - I had it all!!! or at least small portions of it all!!
So with tummies full and tired from blizzards, walking, swimming, and eating - we headed to bed.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Germany (Day 6)...

The two main things I wanted to see while I was down there were Dachau Concentration Camp and Neuschwanstein Castle. Today was Dachau. Sylvia and Elijah couldn't come with me to the Concentration Camp, well because Elijah is 2 years old and it would probably be inappropriate... but they happily dropped me off for 2 hours to roam around.


Where do I even begin... I can't write much here because quite frankly it would make sense unless you were there. As Sylvia and I were driving there, we missed the entrance to the car park and so we turned a corner and along the side of the road was the fence and guard towers... It took a deep breath to keep me from bursting into tears right then. It was powerful and painful and horrible. You could feel it.
When you first walk in you walk through a gate which in English reads "Work makes you free"...

Then you enter a huge yard which is where they would line the prisoners up for hours in the rain or sun to take role call...

I then headed toward the bunker, which is where they kept political prisoners and people of interest. So many well-known people in the holocaust were killed at Dachau.

I then walked through the museum... there they explained how it was the first concentration camp opened in Germany, how the prisoners were treated - the experiments, executions, etc... and the eventual liberation of the camp on April 29, 1945. (If any of you have seen Band of Brothers, this is the Camp they liberate.

After the museum, I had avoided it long enough... I walked across the camp and across a tiny stream, into a wooded area where the Crematorium was...

It was at this point that I needed time to myself... to cry. So I went off into this little path into the woods, ahead of me I saw a bench and sat down for a moment. When I finally looked up, there in front of me was a cross and a small garden designating the spot where the ashes were buried... then on a little ways where the execution grounds were... then were bodies were discarded... again you have no idea the devastation I felt.. man even remembering it is hard...

In the back of the camp there are 3 large buildings dedicated to Protestants, Catholics, and Jews as memorial to the victims of Dachau.

Then walking back you walk through the rows and rows of bunk houses, or at least the foundations of the bunk houses, only 2 remain standing...

I can't tell you how thankful I am for the opportunity to have seen it, been there, and seen with my own eyes the site of such suffering. It is truly horrifying, powerful, angering, and amazing.

Sylvia came and picked me up and since it was still early in the day we decided to stop in Munich and have a look around on our way home. I had not counted on getting into Munich, but I knew exactly what I wanted to see... the Marienplatz and the Glochenspiel clock in the city center.

Sylvia and I took full advantage of the souvenir shops and stands while we waited for the top of the hour for the clock to ring out and the Glochenspiel to move. Well the top of the hour came and went and no Glochenspiel movement... turns out it only rings out at 11am, 12pm and 5pm... we had gotten to the square at 5:30pm... 30 MINUTES LATE!!!
So we just walked around and took pictures... my camera battery had died right after Dachau and since my parents had accidentally packed my charger, I was in desperate need of a battery (I have since received the charger in the mail:)) Luckily the Marienplatz has a Kodak store, so I got a new battery YAY!!!