Sorry that it's been so long since my last post! It's been a little busy over here in Germany. I had an experiment that lasted the entirety of last week, so this week's just data analysis. I'm grateful for the little bit of extra free time--10 hour days in the lab can be a little stressful, but each day was so rewarding.
This past weekend was probably the most amazing weekend I've had here. There were so many random and amazing things that we just started saying "That just happened" to each other when something happened. One of the guys in the program and I flew to a town called Friedrichshafen, which is on the southern border of Germany, and we stayed on the Bodensee (a huge lake that's bordered by Germany, Switzerland and Austria). We arrived there at around 7:45 on Saturday morning, after getting up at 4:00 to bike to the bus station at 4:30 (riding a Mary Poppins-style bicycle at 4:30 in the morning with a large and very full hiking backpack on was an adventure in itself), and we decided to a) save some money and b) kill some time by walking from the airport to the city center, which took about an hour and a half, through a rather shady part of the city. It was interesting, to say the least. Once we got to the city center, we walked around a bit to see the highlights. Friedrichshafen's main attraction is the Bodensee, but it also has the Zeppelin Museum (the city is where zeppelins were invented and manufactured) and a nice palace. And we stopped to have breakfast at one of the lakeshore restaurants--we both had Weisswurst, which is traditional Bavarian white sausage, and it was delicious.
After breakfast, we decided that we were exhausted, so we found some park benches near a fountain and took naps until our hotel allowed us to check in. Right after we checked in, we headed back out to a Biergarten all decked out in our gear for the Germany-Argentina game--one of the most awesome games yet. The only disappointing thing is that Friedrichshafen doesn't celebrate quite like Bonn does. But I'll be here for tomorrow's game and the successive riots (knock on wood). And then we hopped a ferry across the lake to go have dinner in Switzerland, which was both delicious and involved free ketchup (I've missed that so much). I also got booed by a small Swiss girl hanging out of a window for about a hundred yards as I walked down the street (I didn't have time to change out of my Klose jersey), and encountered two Lamborghinis on the ferry. A Beamer tried to show them up after they roared off; it didn't exactly work.
On Sunday morning, we woke up at 5:00, all ready to go hiking--we'd looked at the schedule and planned out which ferries and trains to take to get to the trail and back to the airport, we'd checked out the night before, and we had all of our things packed. Then we got to the harbor. Our ferry didn't leave until 7:41 (not 5:41) because it was Sunday.
Whoopsies. But it ended up working out in the end, because we went back to our hotel and ate breakfast there--it was the most amazing continental breakfast I've ever had (I had something like four plates of food), and I was definitely ready to go hiking by the time the 7:41 ferry came.
From Romanshorn, we took another train to Rorschach, Switzerland, where our trail started.
The various trail markings.
It was literally marked from the train station, but we didn't know that and couldn't imagine a hiking trail going through backyards, so we wandered for a bit. Once we got the hang of the signs, though, we started heading up at a pretty fast clip and started seeing some pretty incredible views within a half-hour.
We summited one of the smaller mountains (so I can officially say I've hiked up one of the Alps), after walking through small towns and cow fields. Actually through cow fields, as in we had to unhook the electric fence and walk through the herd of cows to the other side, and unhook the fence on that side. It was bizarre, but at the same time very cool. Unfortunately, almost as soon as we made it to the top, we had to turn around and hike back down to catch our train from Rorschach to Romanshorn, our ferry from Romanshorn to Friedrichshafen, our train from Friedrichshafen Hafen to Friedrichshafen Flughafen, our plane back to Koeln, and our bus back to Bonn. Holy transportation.
And yesterday the International Office threw a Fourth of July barbecue/football tournament for all of the international students. My team took first place in the second tournament. No big deal. We got laminated medals and a pineapple for our trophy. It was pretty awesome.
Today also marks the one-month-to-go point. I think I'll be ready to head back to the States (I miss everyone so much, as well as free water, refills, and ketchup) but I am going to miss it terribly here. It's been such an awesome experience being immersed in a different culture (it's different in small and unexpected ways, which in a way makes it seem far more foreign than it is) and being surrounded by people speaking a different language. A group of Americans speaking English walked past me at the bus stop the other day, and it startled me a bit.
That just happened.