Hang-en cave

Hang-en cave
(credit: National Geographic)

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Hi friends,
Sorry that it's been so long...AGAIN. I'm pretty bad at keeping up with this. Anyway, it has, as usual, been a pretty busy past few weeks. Last time I posted, I was looking forward to a somewhat laidback week in lab. That didn't happen: it turns out that the data for my controls didn't save, so I spent a few more days in the S2 lab preparing more controls. And THEN I was finally able to do the analysis, and work on my presentation and paper. So that's pretty much been what I've been up to during the week.

The weekends, however, have been beyond crazy. My parents and grandpa arrived in town the weekend before last, and we spent literally the entire weekend traveling. We drove to Trier (Germany's oldest Roman city), Luxembourg City (the capital of Luxembourg), and Baden-Baden (in the Black Forest, and where Dostoevsky, Tolstoy, and Twain made their homes for some part of their lives) in the space of two days. Granted, the Autobahn made things a tiny bit quicker (it would have made them much quicker, had we not gotten lost so many times); it's pretty disconcerting to see the speedometer at 140km/hr, and then see another car cruise by like you're a snail.

Last weekend, the International Office took all of the international students on a river cruise down the Rhein. We sailed past Koenigswinter, where the Siebengebirge are, and had a grand old time hanging out on the boat and talking.

Saturday morning, we got up at an ungodly hour of the morning to take a bus to Brussels. I left my dorm at 4:30am with another girl who lives here, and we walked to the central bus station past where the ladies of the night hang out. It was definitely one of the more...interesting walks I've taken in my life. Then we took the train to Koeln, where we all hopped on the bus to Brussels and promptly fell asleep. Upon arriving in Brussels, we found a place to eat breakfast--I had an omelette that was bigger than my head--and then proceeded to explore the city. We found the main city square (Grand Place) almost immediately, and we spent a good half-hour/forty-five minutes in La Maison des Maitres Chocolatiers alone (we only had about 6 hours left in Brussels, so this was a big chunk of time). Fear not: I have chocolate.
Then we wandered off to go find the famous Brussels flea market (which we may or may not have found--we never figured it out) and the comic book museum. The comic book museum was, despite being almost entirely in French and Dutch, a ton of fun and very interesting--it went through the making and the history of the more famous French and Dutch comics, and there was a huge exhibit on Tintin.
We also went to the financial district and walked around there for a bit, then ended up in a park eating waffles by the Army museum. It was grand. And then we went to find a restaurant called A La Mort Subite that boasted fruit-flavored beer (reportedly amazing) and steak tartare. By the time we finished our awesome dinner, though, it was about 6:30, and our bus left from the north of Brussels at 7:30. So we left to go find the subway to take us back to the bus station. On the way, we stopped to buy more Belgian waffles and some of the group went to go find some bottles of traditional Belgian beer, which put us at about 6:55. We ended up on the subway at 7:10, at which time one member of the group decided to point out that "we've never missed a bus or a train or a plane. We're awesome, guys." THIS IS A BAD LIFE DECISION--DON'T DO IT. Our subway promptly turned off and sat in the station for 7 minutes we didn't have. So, we ended up sprinting for our lives to the bus and making it on board with one minute to spare. It was awesome. And then we pulled into Koeln around 11:15, missed our train back to Bonn by about 20 minutes, decided not to wait the forty minutes for the next train, and hopped on a different train, then on a subway (which ended up not going to the central station, as advertised, but booted us off in a random neighborhood in Bonn), then on a bus, and then on a nightbus. So much traveling. So worth it.

On Sunday, we went on a three-river tour around Germany; the three rivers were the Rhein, the Mosel, and the Ahr. First we visited a castle called Burg Eltz, which is a private castle and still partly in use today (the family has rooms separate from the ones we toured), then had lunch and hiked to the next town, where the bus picked us up and took us to Deutsches Eck in Koblenz. (Deutsches Eck is the place where the Rhein and the Mosel meet.) We climbed around the monument with Wilhelm I on top for a while, and then left for wine-tasting, where things got really interesting. First, wine-tasting at this place was not actually tasting; it was wine-drinking. We each had six full glasses of wine. They were all very good, except for one which was not to my liking at all. The combination of all the alcohol and dehydration and exhaustion for the day made for some pretty hysterical happenings. For some reason, I didn't feel the wine at all, but a lot of people did, and it ended with a bus ride I couldn't even begin to explain to you. There was also an incident involving a napkin and a candle, but that wasn't due to the wine.

So that was the past few weeks or so. Coming up, I've got one more week in Bonn (sehr schade), and I have so much left to do! I still need to go to the Haribo factory and back to the Siebengebirge one more time, not to mention the work for lab that I still need to get done. I have a presentation on the 29th and a paper due by the 31st--those are coming along well, though. And this weekend is out of the question for doing that sort of thing; I'm going to Paris to meet a friend who's nannying on the northern coast of France. So much craziness. Then we leave for Berlin on the 31st to spend a few days traveling around there.

Two weeks, friends. It's coming up fast.

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