It’s Picture time!

the Blechsmitt family

Pelicans!!!

flash back to 73!

So I am going to attempt to integrate pictures and texts into one post. We’ll see how that works out.

 

Alexa

Alexa playing in the woods

I

 

Trier- It used to be Roman:

My favorite matching hikers

The city park

Sally and Liz being Swedish

 

Alexa and Coralie on fake Halloween

Parental Pasttimes

HI all, it looks like I may be able to actually keep my promise and deliver the second blog post on time! Like I said I would talk about my parent’s visit last week in this post. Keep in mind that my parents will probably also read this post… JK! Love my folks and we had a great time.

I meet them in Frankfurt, directly off the plane from Sweden and we three sleep deprived souls wandered back to St. Ingbert, where Albert was nice enough to pick us up with a last minute warning. After meeting the girls and Nanette we went to the playground with Coralie and Alexa and tried to keep the parents from falling asleep. We had a great dinner that night and collapsed into bed. The following day was Halloween! At least for us, we decided to celebrate a little early so my parents could take part in the festivities. Halloween pictures will be featured on this blog, much to everyone’s embarrassment.  We had a great time with the crazy candy Mom and Dad brought over and Karin’s amazing cupcakes.  Despite some language barriers everyone seemed to enjoy themselves and there was lots and lots of laughter.

We also spent a spent some time wandering around St. Ingbert and the towns nearby. We spent one day in the Saars(bruecken and Louis). And another day in village with a medieval market, followed by touring a sandstone mine in the next town over. My count of caves is getting pretty high at this point and I am starting to sympathize with moles. In reality it was a very interesting and particularly beautiful cave as the layers of sand and water left remarkable rings over time. Hilde and Albert took us to Heidelberg and Speyer, some of the most beautiful towns in all of Germany. Despite the extreme cold,so cold Dad felt compelled to buy a coat, we really enjoyed the day which ended with a remarkable dinner at Hilde’s house.  Christoph, Nanette, the girls and the three of us also went to Trier and Luxemburg, (check it off the list). We were able to see some of the famous sights and enjoyed being able just to enjoy walking around  the towns, as well as some excellent food. Once again, we finished the day with Hilde’s fabulous cooking. My Mom has even started writing a list of all the things Hilde has to teach me to make before Christmas!

We were supposed to move on to Paris at the end of the week, but with the strikes only increasing in intensity, we thought it best to change plans. So instead we headed off to Cologne! We rented a cute little apartment and spent the first two days absorbing the city. We took a tour and a one hour boat trip, as well as did some shopping and lots of good eating. On the third day we went to the Zoo, and enjoyed ourselves immensely watching some Pelicans eating leaves off the ground(pictures are coming). Later in the afternoon Christoph, Nanette and the girls drove up to meet us and we toured the Chocolate museum and had a great dinner with some of their friends.  We finished our trip off with a visit to a museum that featured artifacts from back when Cologne belonged to the Roman’s. Very cool for us history nerds.  Finally we said our good-byes and parted ways at the train station.

Overall I think it was a splendid success, as they say on BBC. Trips like this make me realize how lucky I am to have parents that I genuinely enjoy being around and hanging out with.

Sweden

Hi everyone I’m finally back with lots and lots of updates! I feel like I can hardly begin to fill you in on the last couple of weeks in one post, so I’m not going to. Tonight I will tell you about Adventures in Sweden and hopefully Wednesdayish I will tell you about adventures with parents, and pictures of both will follow by the weekend. That is if all goes as planned.

So Sweden is…wonderful! No seriously Fiona, I am down for moving there when you go to school, of course I’ll be leaving before winter hits…  Liz(A friend from college), Sally(A Fulbrighter and now friend) and I headed into the great Northern wonder that is Sweden immediately once fall break began.(Or almost immediately first we drank large quantities of beer in celebration of the beginning of fall break and then we left immediately after said celebration). We flew Ryanair practically in the middle of the night, as is the custom among poor people traveling in Europe, and arrived exhausted and hungry. Luckily we had found a wonderful Thai restraint which revived us and reminded us of the existence of spices, something sorely lacking in Germany. After that we purchased a large quantity of ice cream and spent the remaining evening in our delightfully cozy apartment watching American crime shows and eating ice cream. Clearly day one in Sweden was a huge success.

Day two mainly involved walking the entire city, which in case you didn’t know(we didn’t) is entirely composed of islands, fourteen to be exact. So needless to say there are lots of very pretty views over the water. The city is oldish, but still has a modern feel and is very relaxed and down to earth.(at least as far as cities are able to relax) The highlights of day two included gawking at the oversized scarves and glasses on Swedish women, and well the men in general. We spent the evening at a bar people watching and enjoying overpriced beer.

Day three’s highlight and primary focus, was The Blue Man Group! The theater was only a couple if blocks from the apartment we rented and we were able to get tickets to the Sunday Matinee. It was fabulous and slightly indescribable, so I won’t try. But if you get the chance you should go and then let me know and we’ll talk about how cool it was.

Day four involved seeing a 600 year old boat that sunk in the Swedish harbor, under very embarrassing circumstances. Since I know that most people are only mildly interested in Sweden’s Maritime history I will refrain from giving you a a lecture on how freakishly cool this boat was and all the history behind it and its restoration. Suffice to say, freakishly cool.

Day five was spent sailing out to an Island and wandering around for the day. There the three of us procured awesome Wooden Swedish horses, just what everyone needs and we ate many wonderful pastries.

Finally day six was spent walking the town and taking a tour of the Palace. The Palace was very cool, but most impressing was the difference in the security level between the Swedish Palace and well, any other Palace in the world. Since our flight once again left at an unholy hour we spent the entire night watching crime dramas trying to stay awake until we got on the plane. We waved goodbye to our apartment around 2am and I flew off to meet the folks. (next post)

Finally some general observations and stereotypes of Sweden that I formed while in Stockholm:

It’s cold.

The people are beautiful.

Swedes like everything with Shrimp paste. Yes shrimp paste.

Swedish Pastries could conquer the world.

There are more types of bread in Sweden than in Germany(this is actually true).

It’s cold.

Swedish women could be eaten by their scarves if they became animated.

Swedish glasses are only for show.

Maxi (fast food joint) is a good example of why McDonald’s has been successful around the world.

There are a surprising number of immigrants in Sweden(seriously who wakes up and says hey I think I want to move from by really warm home in Asia to a place that the sun has abandoned, Sweden should do the trick.)

Swedes could pass as Americans their English is so good.

And finally…it’s cold.

 

And I thought UP was a model of efficiency…

Of course any of you who went to UP know this could not be farther from the truth, but today I am tempted to say that the University of Saarland may take the cake in frustrating students.  I have spent the last two afternoons trying to enroll in the University, a process I was assured would be quick and painless. How naive I was…

I wrote the university to ask what I needed to do, they sent me a form and told me I just needed to fill it out and bring it to their office, so far so good.  After some miscommunication regarding the bus to the University and a spontaneous train trip I arrived at the University campus. Still on track. However I then consult my instruction they say that I need to go to building A4, 4. Ok it takes a few minutes but I find the A4 buildings, now I just need A4, 4. Seems easy enough, there is a A4, 3 and there is A4,5. So A4,4 is between them right? Wrong. There is nothing between them, I circle both buildings, still no A4, 4. Ok I find a map, to my dismay I discover that A4,4 does not exist on the map, and apparently not in reality either.

The search continues, Ah ha a directory. I consult said directory and discover that it is fine that the building does not exist because indeed the office I need is really in A2,2. Ok now to find A2,2…A2,2 does exist, but is under construction and the detour to get to the entrance is ridiculously long, but I make it. In A2,2 I am sent upstairs, but some well meaning German, Upstairs I encounter more well meaning Germany who gladly explain to me that the office I need is now in A4,4!

Two hours after arrival I arrive at A4, 4(which is new and unlabeled and also not on the maps).  After waiting another half hour or so at the office I finally get into to see the man I need. He was extremely helpful and almost made up for everything, until he told me that to finish I needed to have brought a passport photo! So many hours later I returned, without having enrolled and most importantly without the card that allows me to travel for free in the region.

So attempt number two:

I get a passport photo taken. I take the train I take the bus, I arrive at the university I even find the correct office and arrive before the strange closing time of 3:30pm. I wait patiently for the girl ahead of me to finish with her super quick question(which took half an hour) I make small talk with people from Poland and finally I go into the office, with everything including my passport photo.  It’s looking good until she goes to enter my information into the computer and it freezes completely. .. Her response, come back tomorrow. Now this seems logical until you learn that the card she is supposed to make on the computer is my bus pass, train ticket and so forth. Without it I have to pay  11Euros(14 dollars) each time I travel to the University. I have already spent 22 Euros to get the card that in theory is free! So no I am not going to come back tomorrow because the computer is frozen. After much discussion it is decided that she will mail the card to me as soon as it is ready.  Finally progress. Of course, I still don’t have my car and, I am still not officially enrolled in the University…