Well, we made it. Nine hours of travel to get to Milan, but we're here. The reservations were, in fact, for the correct year, thank you very much, and we got to the correct airport at the correct time. Already this trip is a complete success.
Funny conversation with Amanda on the plane. Ryanair advertises all throughout the cabin for alcohol and whatnot. It's why the flights are so cheap.
Me: Did you know that Bourbon is only Bourbon if it comes from Kentucky?
Amanda: Yeah, I think Eric or Troy told me that.
Me: I wonder what Kentucky had to do to get that distinction.
Amanda: I think that it has something to do with the twigs that are involved.
Me: ... Because most alcohols intimately involve twigs.
We giggled. The timing was spot on.
So our hotel room is awesome and has free wifi! Milan is pretty nice. We started the morning by going to the Doumo, which is the massive cathedral that you see in the pictures. We then climbed up and walked on the roof (246 steps... I counted). It was absolutely amazing.
I wish that I could say the same for the Museum of Science and Technology. It's supposed to be really interactive, but you have to book it with a big group. So the interactive stuff was off limits and the layout was rather confusing. Tonight we walked and window-shopped in a large shopping district. Haven't bought anything yet though. Tomorrow morning we're planning on going to a huge marketplace.
The food is amazing. I love Italian pizza and gelati! I did try a cocktail. It was a passion 51, which involves rum, pineapple, lime and sugar. Not liking rum or pineapple, this was perhas not the best drink for me, but I don't speak Italian, so I didn't really know what was in it until it appeared in front of me. It was okay. I'll try to do another blog tomorrow! Ciao!
One of the things that I love about Germany is that when I go into a
store, I'm never quite sure what I'm going to find. For the most
part, I have a general idea and maybe a few specific things in mind,
but there are always interesting things to find. For example:
Last night I went to Aldi, which is a grocery store near my apartment,
for milk and peanuts. Peanuts are very cheap here. Well, i
found the milk and I found the peanuts and I also found BOOTS! I
got a pair of purple suede high-heeled boots for only €8. Buying
more shoes was bound to happen at some point, but I do love it when the
shoes are not only absolutely adorable, but also extremely
affordable. And maybe I'll be less inclined to look at shoes in
Milan on Thursday.
Beyond that, there hasn't been too much excitement in the last few
days. In my language class we are learning about the
Dative. If you don't know what that is, I wouldn't worry, you and
I are probably on just about the same page. I understand how to
use it, but I'm not really sure what it is. And having what it is
explained to me in German hasn't been as helpful as I might have
hoped. When I'm done with this, I think I'll go on Google and see
what it says.
Well, the European Central Bank was so much fun. Security rivaled
most of the major airports I've been in - they even made us take off
any silver jewelry that we had. I set off the alarm, so I got to
spend around 10 minutes trying to convince this nice lady that I had
not acually sewed a bomb into my pants. It was great fun.
Then we got refreshments and little pads of paper and pencils and an
hour and a half lecture on monetary policy in the European Union.
I thought that it was quite interesting. Most of the other people
were clearly struggling to stay awake, but oh well. I liked
it. Afterwards we had half an hour to wander back to the
bus. So what did we do? Well, Nick, Erica and I took
pictures with the giant Euro symbol (this thing was at least three
stories tall) and then got lost on the way back to the bus. That
was fairly predictable. We did eventually manage to find it
though, so I suppose that all's well that ends well.
Yesterday I went to see my first German movie. Amanda and I saw
an evening showing of Hairspray! It was so much fun - easily my
favorite John Trovolta movie. The dubbing wasn't too bad,
thankfully, but a lot of the sexual innuendo got lost in
translation. The songs were kept in English, so that made the
movie a lot easier to follow. Needless to say, I've listened to
the entire soundtrack a whole bunch of times since last evening.
And now I must research fun things to do in Milan next weekend!
I know it's been a while since I last blogged, but it's been very busy
here. Every day I have a language class from 9:00 to 12:45 and
then a culture class for two or three hours in the afternoon.
Since the culture class is scheduled to go until at least 5:00 three or
four nights a week, I have to balance blogging time with say, grocery
shopping. But, fear not loyal readers, I have a (now) funny story.
Two nights ago, Amanda and I decided that we could conceivably take
another four day trip next weekend, as long as we left in the afternoon
or evening on Thursday and didn't have to skip th morning class.
Well, she had a the next day, so she put everything in my
hands (including picking the destination). After the learning
experiences of the last trip, I was very, very careful. And
here's what I came up with. We're flying out of Frankfurt to
Milan next Thursday evening. I don't even have to skip my culture
course. There's a shuttle that takes us directly from the airport
to the center of town, and our hotel provides a map of where it is with
regard to where the bus drops us off. I triple-checked the dates,
and the hotel is booked for the right nights. So lets talk prices.
Two Round-trip plane tickets: €130
Two Round-trip Shuttle passes from the Airport to Downtown: €29
Three Nights in a highly-rated Hotel: €195
The peace of mind of knowing that I checked all these things so many freaking times that I memorized all of this: Priceless
So I go home and I'm all excited to tell Amanda about all of this, and
she's all excited too, because this is a really good deal. And
then sh says the magic (and hateful) words. "You know that there
are two Frankfurt's in Germany, right? The airport we're flying
out of is the right one, right?" !!!??? Well, you can guess what
There were, perhaps, a few curses and a little bit of shared-panic,
until we pulled out Amanda's gigantic map and tracked down all th
airports near either one. And it turns out that I did not screw
this up. We do not have to first travel to the border of Poland
before flying to Milan. Yay for not screwing up! And yay
Then, as it turns out, Ryanair is offering a travel special in
October. Flights to and from Spain are around a dollar, and then
all on has to pay are the fees. So we're thinking that we will
definitely be taking advantage of that. Barcelona, here we come.
That is... less than happy, if I do say so myself. Oh well, maybe they'll improve in the next few weeks.
Hello. Sorry that it's been so long since I last blogged, but the
new hotel in Sweden didn't have internet access and I just started the
German culture class, which severely limits my available internet
time. First: Sweden.
Absolutely loved it. On Friday we found the new hotel and then
went to the Nationalmusseum, which was mostly an art
museum. They had an excellent collection (I was just generally
impressed, but Amanda, who has taken classes on such things, was really
impressed with the diversity of the collection). It was pretty
exciting. Then we got lasagne for dinner and walked around for a
while. The new hotel was much, much nicer than the Hostel, even
though it was not on a boat. It even had a television, which was
good because I have very limited access to that as well. We
watched BBC a lot.
On Saturday we went to the Nobel Prize Museum, which I thought was
amazing because one of the laureates that they did a video portrait of
was Barbara McClintock, who we read about in my Women in Biology
class. She won the Nobel Prize in 1983 for her work with 'Jumping
Genes' in Maize. That made me happy. Random Trivia.
Fewer than 40 women have won the Nobel Prize, and only one of them won
twice. Guess who, and which prize? Marie Curie for Physics
and then for Chemistry. Did you guess that? Bet not...
After that we went to the Royal Palace to see the crowned jewels and
the antiqities etc. Very cool. I got carded for the first
time ever and had to show my passport. It was very
exciting. Sadly, the computers here are going to shut down in
about three minutes, so I have to get off, and can't relay much more
now. We did manage to get home though.
Hello, hello. We have made it to Sweden. A few valuable tips for future travelers (particularly if any of you are planning on traveling with either of us). First: When you buy train tickets to the airport, make sure that you are going to the correct airport. Strike one for us. Second, when you book rooms in a hostel, make sure that you're booking them for the correct year. Strike two for us. Hey, we're learning, and these are easy mistakes to make.
So, we ended up taking a cab from one airport to the other in Dusseldorf. Not a huge deal, a little expensive, but we saved a lot on the plane tickets, so it could have been worse. We were able to stay at the Hostel for one night (it's very cool... I like boats). Then, we were able to find a hotel not too far away that is actually cheaper than the hostel, by about $10 per night. Success has been ours, clearly, though it was a tad stressful. I'll write more later (like after we find the new hotel).
Alright. It ended up raining just about all weekend, so I wasn't especially sad about not going to Nuremburg. We'll get there, have no fear. I finally met a few of the people in the IUSP program, which is what I'm in. They all seem nice enough. It's all Americans and Canadians. The only other person I've found from the East Coast actually goes to Bridgewater, which is kinda cool. Today is orientation, so we haven't done very much so far. Although they did finally give me a schedule, which I didn't get before because I didn't arrive with everyone else. Schedules are helpful things. We're going to call that a 'First-Movers Disadvantage.' Amanda has run into quite a bit of that as well.
Now I know that everyone is eagerly awaiting details on our upcoming trip to Switzerland. Well, we have had a minor change of plans regarding that. Nothing really huge, we're just not going to Switzerland any more. Instead, we're going to Sweden. They both start with the same two letters-small change. As it turns out, going to Switzerland right now would cost us €275 each for plane tickets and about €35 per night in a hostel. This would be in addition to the train tickets to get from Marburg to Frankfurt. Now that we're going to Stockholm, the plane tickets are €126 each for a round trip, and the hostels are €22 per night. And the hostel is on a ship. It's like a bonus cruise! Well, we weighed the marginal benefits of each, and decided that we like being fiscally responsible people. We will reconsider Switzerland at a later date. As in, when the tickets are cheaper.
So. Before I tell you loyal readers about the exchange rates, I'd like to wish my Dad a happy birthday. Happy Birthday Dad!