Hang-en cave

Hang-en cave
(credit: National Geographic)

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Today marks the end of my third week here. I've finally gotten the hang of everything, from grocery stores to the lab to navigating the bus system, and I even had multiple real conversations with strangers today. It was fantastic. For some reason, I've been mistaken for a native quite frequently, and up until now, even if I understood the question (which was rare), I couldn't give them an answer, much less say "I don't know." So, after being on German overload for three weeks, I've finally picked up enough to be somewhere in the realm of coherent. Hooray!
I haven't really been up to a whole lot since my last post. Instead of having our culture class on Friday, our teacher took us to a public viewing of the Deutschland-Serbia game at Museumsplatz (I think). It was at an outdoor stage, with three huge TV screens set up and a lot of crazy fans, most sporting German flags as clothing (mostly capes) and vuvuzelas. For those of you who don't know what a vuvuzela is, it's also known as pure evil. Here's a video, stolen from a post on my Facebook wall: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R8JGhoVybkM

Anyway, it was not the best game I've ever seen (Germany lost), but it was hysterical hearing some swear or "Mannmannmannmannmann" bellowed in my ear by my German teacher every few seconds. He's a pretty hardcore fan--when Serbia scored their goal, he disappeared for a while, and we were pretty sure that he died. And he had a bit of a mental breakdown when Podolski missed the penalty kick. (He said that if Germany doesn't make it to the next round, he's "not showing up to culture class on Friday. Or anything. Ever.") Most of us were in the same boat. We did witness a Serbian car getting chased down by several German cars afterwards, which made things slightly better. Afterward we went to an art museum, which housed paintings by local artists--one of the paintings looked like a place I run through, so that was awesome.

I didn't end up going to Amsterdam like I had planned--I started feeling pretty under the weather on Friday and knew I wasn't going to make it through the weekend, so I stayed in Bonn. I slept most of Saturday. On Sunday, though, I was feeling better, so I decided to go out to the Siebengebirge, which are some hills in Koenigswinter (a town right outside of Bonn). Here starts the list of what are generally concluded to be bad life decisions (or totally awesome ones, depending on your perspective). But, regardless of how you look at the initial decisions, they culminated in a very fun good life decision--so worth it.

So here's the thing. I decided that, since the majority of the group was in Amsterdam and the two girls who were in Bonn didn't want to go hiking, I would just go alone. Probably bad idea #1, since a) hiking alone is not the best thing to do, and b) girl, traveling alone, in a foreign country with very little command of the language. Bad idea #2: I had to take the subway to get there, and I wasn't aware that there were three stops in Koenigswinter. I also didn't remember what stop one of the German buddies had told me to get off at. So I decided to get off at the first stop in Koenigswinter--I figured that the Siebengebirge would be pretty obvious, so I would just walk in their general direction. So I did--when I got off the subway, there were hills and not-hills--and I found a lovely park and some other wonderful things in my wandering. And then I found the tourists--right place. I followed said tourists for a while up to Drachenfels (the ruins of a castle at the summit of one of the hills), and then I struck off to the less civilized actual hiking trails. Probably bad idea #3 (again, hiking alone), but at the time I thought it was a good idea, and, in retrospect, I still think it was a good idea. The only problem was the lack of a map of the area--I was completely flying by the seat of my pants. Whoops. All told, I hiked roughly ten miles and up three of the hills, and had a ton of fun, even if I was by myself. And I found several really awesome bright orange slugs and the biggest snail I've ever seen. (What? I like gastropods.) So it was a good consolation prize. I'm going back soon with some friends to finish the rest of the hills.

I like adventures.


P.S. Tomorrow, the U.S. plays against Algeria, and may or may not make it into the next round, depending on a variety of factors. Germany also plays Ghana (mortal enemies), and if they lose, they're done. Kaputt. Most stressful.

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