Archive for October, 2009

This one’s for mommy…

October 30, 2009

…and for my former employers and colleagues at Garden Gate.  I took an interest in some of the trees lining the streets on my way to school, and I snapped a few pictures of them this morning.  One looks like a Bradford-type pear (an ornamental tree), but it has tiny little pears about 1 1/2 inches long under it!  I didn’t think ornamental pear trees bore fruit.  Am I wrong, or is this a totally different type of pear tree?

There are also a bunch of really tall trees lining Lindwurmstrasse that have been pruned and trained to grow very straight and tall.  I think they’re Linden trees, but I’m not sure.  Am I right?

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My Apartment

October 30, 2009

Several people have asked me about my apartment, so last night I took a few pictures of it.  It’s pretty basic, but certainly adequate.  The only problem is noise.  The building echos no matter where you are, and I’m right by the entrance, so I hear everything.

A Few Observations

October 30, 2009

Boy, if you ever want to know how much you’re loved, go to a foreign country for a while.  I’ve had more email in the last four days than I had in the last four weeks.  But that’s not a complaint; I love it, because it keeps me connected with home, so keep ’em coming!  Please!  🙂

I walked home yesterday without using my sheet of directions.  I was ridiculously pleased with myself, because I’d spent the previous two days clutching it like it was a life-preserver.   I’ve mostly been walking to and from school, because my car’s in Indiana, and I need the exercise.  People don’t drive as much here anyway.  They have an extensive public transportation system, and they also walk and ride their bikes more than we do in the states.  It’s great, but the sidewalks are always very busy, and I have to watch out for dog poop.  It reminds me of my trip to New York, in that sense.  The biggest downside (for me) is that sometimes I’ll be stuck walking behind a smoker.  If any of you are hacked off about the anti-smoking laws being enacted in certain parts of the USA right now, move to Europe.  Everyone smokes everywhere.  Fortunately, smoking in my apartment building is verboten (forbidden).

The bakeries here are unbelievable.   They are everywhere, and there is always a large selection of fresh breads and pastries to choose from.  The closest thing I can compare them to in the states is Panera, but it’s not as good.  On Wednesday I had a chocolate cream croissant.  I’d had those when I was here before; they’re so delicious.  Imagine the chocolate pastry at Panera (if you haven’t had one, you should), only softer and more flaky, with soft chocolate filling and a hint of hazelnut.  Sooooo good.  And yesterday I had a cherry pastry that was similar to an American turnover.  It was also excellent.  I could get used to this.

I was tickled to death to find something resembling an ice tray in the cabinet of my kitchenette.  That might not sound like a big deal, but ice is usually not to be found over here.  Only once in a blue moon will you get a cube or two in your drink, and then only in very touristy places when they know you’re American.  I love to crunch ice, so I was very happy to find that tray.  I think it might actually be meant for eggs though.  The 10 depressions in it are round, and it resembles the bottom half of an egg carton.  Eggs are sold in tens here, not by the dozen.  So I’m pretty sure it’s an egg tray, but I don’t need an egg tray; I leave them in the carton.  So I’m using it to make ice.  It works great!

Yesterday I saw a man walking down the sidewalk with a sack of Jelly Belly brand jelly beans.  It’s a small world after all.

Ich habe eine Frage.

October 27, 2009

For those of you who are unfamiliar with German or Google, that means “I have a question.”  Hopefully some of you veteran WordPressers can answer it.  Is there a way to set up the blog so that anyone can comment and I won’t have to approve them all manually?  And if there is, should I do it, or is that an open invitation for spammers?

So I’m in Germany now…

October 26, 2009

…and the keyboards here reverse the z and y, in case you were wondering.  So if you see a z or y in this post that looks out of place, in the words of Willy Wonka, “Strike that.  Reverse it.”

The last couple days have been completely crazy.  I had a layover in Paris, and figured that an hour and 20 minutes would be plenty of time to find my gate, grab a bite to eat, and maybe find out if you can see the Eiffel Tower from the airport windows.  I was mistaken.  The only way the gates I arrived at and departed from could have been any further apart was if they had been in different cities.  So I had to hoof it across half of Paris as fast as I could.  10 miles and two security checkpoints later, I arrived at my gate breathless and red-faced with a brand-new stamp in my passport.  The plane was already boarding.  I asked the two German ladies in line in front of me if we were going to Munich, and they smiled kindly at my red face and flying hair and assured me that we were.

My arrival in Munich went smoothly.  My luggage made it with me all the way, and my concerns about getting the packaged foods I brought through customs were moot.  The customs booth where you were supposed to go if you had items to declare was closed and locked, and when I tried to ask the airport employee where I should go, he just motioned me through the “nothing to declare” line, and no one even glanced at me after that.  Oh well.  My cab driver couldn’t have been nicer.  He picked up my key for me, and helped me carry my luggage up to my apartment, where I promptly collapsed on the bed in a pool of exhaustion, fear and self-pity upon realizing that I was now completely alone in a strange place with no phone, internet or toilet paper.

Eventually I forced myself to get up, and I walked to Aldi to see if I could buy some toilet paper and a few other basics.  Unfortunately, I arrived on a Sunday, and pretty much everything here is closed on Sunday.  So I went back to the apartment.  I made some ramen noodles and forced myself to eat them even though I was sick to my stomach from nerves.  It was a good thing I brought instant food.  I only wish I’d thought to bring toilet paper.  Thank goodness for Kleenex pocket packs.  I felt a little better after I showered, and then I read for a while and went to bed.

Today went well, once I finally located my school.  I had to get help from locals to find some of the streets in my directions, and I took a couple of wrong turns, but I made it on time.  I only understood about half of what my teacher was saying in class, but she’s very nice and helpful, and I met a girl in class who is staying in the same building I am.  We’re going to go do a little bit of shopping and walk home together.  So to sum up, I’m not feeling quite as miserable and alone as I was yesterday, and I’m a little more confident that this whole trip wasn’t such a bad idea after all.  Keep praying for me.

A longtime fear realized…

October 24, 2009

You know how so many places (particularly airports) now have automatic flush toilets which (supposedly) sense when you stand up and then do the flushing for you?  I’ve always been afraid one would go off prematurely while I was still seated.  My fears were justified.  Thank you so much, Indianapolis International Airport.  Fortunately, I heard it coming and jumped up quickly, but after I sat back down, the dang thing did it again! At least the experience taught me that I still have fairly quick reflexes.  Here’s hoping Europe isn’t using auto-toilets yet.

Learn something new every day…

October 24, 2009

This evening while playing Trivial Pursuit, I learned that I am a librocubicularist.  I had no idea that I was, but I am.  How about the rest of you?  Librocubicularists of the world, unite!