Saturday, August 31, 2013

On To Africa!

Wow, I can't believe it is already the end of August! Over the past few weeks I finished up my time in Karlsruhe. I said goodbye to the new friends I made and had last meals at my favorite restaurants in town. I packed up my dorm room and then finally I checked out and headed back to the Frankfurt area with Carolin. I was so glad that she came down to Karlsruhe to get my things and help me finish moving out of my dorm. During the past few days I have just been relaxing at her house with her and her family and finally today I am heading off for another adventure...Africa! My time in Germany has been quite the experience. I was able to travel so many places and meet so many new people; it was really wonderful! I will always cherish the friends I have met during the past six months and the memories I have made! Hopefully Africa will also prove to be an amazing experience! After Africa, I am looking forward to coming back to Germany for a few short days and seeing friends one last time before I finally return home! Can't wait!!! My plane leaves in just a few hours, so this will have to do for now. Three weeks in Africa here I come! And so, until then...!

My farewell coffee and cake at Cafe Brenner in Karlsruhe! Yum!

Monday, August 19, 2013

...And I'm countin' down the days!

Oh my, just where has the time gone!? It seems like just a few days ago I was finishing up school and finally taking a break, but in reality, it has been nearly a month. During the last month I have been relatively busy with a special visitor, traveling, seeing friends here before I leave and a birthday party. I can't believe it, but in just under two weeks I will be leaving Germany and headed to Africa with a family friend! 

After school was finished, my break began with a most welcome visitor. My boyfriend, Bobby, finally came to visit me in Germany! It only took the past three years of me spending my summers in Germany for him to come visit, but, better late than never I guess! We spent most of our time in Frankfurt, as that is where he flew into, but we also got to visit a few smaller towns during the nine days that he was here. On the second day he was in Germany with me, we visited a castle along the Rhine River called Marksburg. It is situated in the little town of Braubach and even though it was a Sunday and mostly everything was closed, we enjoyed walking around this little, German town and having lunch. Lunch was great, especially for Bobby, as we had Döner, my favorite Turkish style food, and we enjoyed a beer sitting in the middle of town. Needless to say, I think Bobby is fond of Germany's open bottle policy! After a quiet, two hour train ride back along the Rhine River, we made it back to Frankfurt and continued on with our sightseeing. Over the next few days, we were able to visit the Frankfurt Zoo and many other interesting areas around Frankfurt including the Historical Museum and the Altstadt (Old Town), the shopping streets (the Ziel and Goethestrasse), the beautiful Cathedral (Dom) and Lock Bridge and of course, we had to visit as many authentic, German restaurants as we could! We also went to the movies and enjoyed beer and popcorn during my third viewing of The Great Gatsby, which I have now seen in three different counties! We also visited the Main Tower and looked out over all of Frankfurt; it was such an amazing view! All of these sights were amazing to visit and see and the food we enjoyed during the week was spectacular. On one of his last days being in Germany, Bobby and I visited a town near where my host sister, Carolin, and her family are from. There we had a wonderful time walking around the beautiful sculpture and fountain parks, the beautiful church and the old castle. We had a wonderful lunch at a quiet little cafe and completed our afternoon with some delicious ice cream! Afterwards we enjoyed a BBQ with Carolin's parents, as she was visiting Colorado at the time, and then finally, made our way back to Frankfurt. Of course, his visit went by too quickly, but it was great to have a visitor and someone to travel with! 
Bobby and I at Marksburg on the Rhine River

Enjoying some Döner and beer for lunch

Beer time!

Altstadt Frankfut

More German food!

Bobby and I on the Lock Bridge with our lock

On top of the Main Tower

Church in Bad Homburg

After Bobby returned to the States, I spent an afternoon more in Frankfurt seeing a friend from Greeley before she left for Bangkok to begin a masters degree. It was great getting to spend time with her and her sister in town. We walked around the city and went to a carnival along the Main River and of course, enjoyed more amazing German food! Once all of us were done hanging out in Frankfurt, I finally headed back to Karlsruhe and to my dorm. 

My friend, Donna, her sister and I enjoying our time in Frankfurt

Arriving back to Karlsruhe, and to my dorm, after spending so much time with friends traveling and such really seemed to be a downer, but I was also glad to get back, relax a bit and see all of my friends here before they left back for the States as well. Also during this time, the Broncos played their first preseason game and of course, I needed to watch it! So, I had my parents set up the computer in front of the TV and I skype called them with my webcam; it was great, I got to watch the game with my parents sitting along side of the TV--it was almost like I was home! Yet, day by day another friend left Karlsruhe and headed home; as this happened, it began to get more lonely here. Finally, I decided I needed to get out of Karlsruhe once more and I decided to visit a city that I have been wanting to see for the past three summers that I have spent in Germany---Trier, Germany's old city which was founded by the Romans in 17 B.C.

Watching the Broncos game from home!

I had decided not to spend the night in Trier, as I was traveling alone, so instead I had to get up early and leave at six in the morning. The train ride from Karlsruhe to Trier is about four hours long one-way, so I knew it was going to be a long day...but it was worth it! I arrived around 10 am and walked to the city center where the tourist office is located. Then, I managed to get the last ticket for the city walking tour at 10:30 am. This worked out perfectly as our guide was very knowledgeable and lead the group around town to all of the major sights. Afterwards, I walked back through town and all of these sights and spent a little more time in each and took as many pictures as I could! First I visited the Porta Nigra, the ancient city gate that was built by the Romans in the 2nd century along with a four mile long city wall. The Porta Nigra was just absolutely amazing; to see a structure as bold as this one which had stood for more than 1,900 years really went to show the power of the Romans during their time. Among the other sights I saw was the old Roman baths, the Altstadt, the Dom, the house Karl Marx was born in and the old Roman Amphitheater. The Amphitheater was very interesting as one can still see the cells where wild animals and prisoners were kept before they were to fight in the center of the arena. All of these sights were spectacular to see, but after such a long day and so much walking around the city, I was very tired and needed refueling. I enjoyed coffee and cake at a wonderful little cafe called Cafe 1900 and then later, I had a wonderful dinner of homemade pesto spaghetti with sun-dried tomatoes and Parmesan cheese, complete with German white wine of course. The restaurant where I enjoyed this fabulous meal was a part of the famous Red House in Trier. The Red House, also constructed in ancient times, bares the Latin motto of the city. In English it reads: "Thirteen hundred years before Rome, Trier stood. May it stand on and enjoy eternal peace, amen." Another interesting bit about my visit to Trier was that there were many elephant structures all around the city for the 2013 Elephant Parade; of course, I found this marvelous and took pictures of all the ones that I saw; I managed to find 28 out of 50 of them! The weather was perfect for my day in Trier and after I enjoyed my time there to the fullest, I relaxed during the long train ride back to Karlsruhe and took in the beautiful country side of Germany. By the time I arrived back in Karlsruhe and to my dorm, it was already the wee hours of the morning, but the long day was definitely worth it! 

Time for Trier

The Porta Nigra

The Dom

Old Roman Baths

Old Roman Baths

Altstadt Trier

The Red House

Birth place of Karl Marx

Quackers and I at the Old Roman Amphitheater 

Old Roman Amphitheater 

Beautiful German countryside 

After such a tiring day in Trier, I spent the next few days relaxing and such around Karlsruhe. I also went out with a few friends from class for dinner, ice cream and drinks. We went for drinks at a beach bar located on the 10th floor of a parking garage in the middle of the city. The beach bar was complete with sand, lounge chairs and of course, great drinks! As our night came to an end, we said our goodbyes; I will really miss all of the friends I have made during my time here, but I know I'll see them all again someday!  

Beach Bar Time!

New Friends, Jana, myself and Nina
The past month has been packed full of great memories with so many different people and I am so lucky to have had all of the wonderful experiences that I have had! I arrived back to my dorm once again yesterday afternoon after spending the weekend at Carolin's house celebrating her dad's 50th birthday; I am proud to say I survived the party with 60+ German speaking guests and managed to do pretty well with my German (I hope)!!! Overall, it was a good time with great food and lots of laughs! Now, once again I am back in Karlsruhe and countin' down the days until I go to Africa! This whole experience has been the 'once in a lifetime' kind and I am so thankful for all of the people I have met along the way and all of the amazing memories I will hold on to forever, but still, I am ready to go home and move on in my life. I am so excited to see what will come next!