Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Oh the rain, falling softly on my windowsill...

It's true, it's been raining all day. I don't mind though, it's still warm enough (I may be the only who thinks this) and I like the rain anyway, especially a walk in it.

So that's what I did today. Aunt Margret and I went for a walk in the cemetery where we visited my Uncle Hans' grave.

Their cemeteries are much nicer than ours, they look like a lot of mini flower beds all side by side. Each has their own rectangular spot, which is big enough for two or more people. In these they are all done up, with little shrubs, and flowers, and each is its own garden. They're well kept and free of weeds. It really puts ours to shame.

After that, Aunt Margret and I caught the bus to Bad Sassendorf which is a little town beside Soest. It's a good place to go if you want to get healthy. They have spa's and rehabilitation type centers. It's always a nice place to go for a cup of coffee or for a walk.

The rain didn't come down too hard so we walked around, arm in arm, with an umbrella and had quite a nice leisurely stroll.

And that's the basis of my day.

Most of you have noticed I'm sure, that there are pictures up on facebook. Well that's because I found the card slot in my laptop. It was hidden by a fake card that I didn't notice when I looked last.

I hope you enjoy the pictures, and my commentary on them. I'm just going to state for the record, that I was never one to take a lot of pictures, and up until two years ago didn't really own a camera.
The one I have I got for school, so I was even taught how to properly use it, but I still barely touch it. I'm just not a camera person.
So with that being said, excuse my pictures. They're really not that great, I do know how to use my camera, but I still tend to take crooked pictures (between that and my klutziness I'm starting to wonder), and there was a few pictures where I forgot to take my sunglasses off.

In the meantime I will keep learning as I go and hopefully soon I will be taking some awesome pictures. You think with a camera as fancy as mine it could do that without my having to push a bunch of buttons.


Monday, May 30, 2011

Oh look, I'm in Soest. This just keeps happening...

Good Evening All,

To start off, I would like to state that until further notice I will not be posting pictures until I get home.
Maily because the laptop I'm using does not have a slot for my camera card. How dare it.
I will try and upload some phone photos later, but wish me luck on that one, because my phone seems to have a differing opinion.

Not a lot has gone on in my world today.

I left Berlin bright and early. Checked out of the hostel by 8, and on the train to Hamm by 9:30.
This is a pretty impressive feat considering it only took two alarms to wake me this morning. And I didn't grab coffee until the main train station. It's okay, no one was injured. :)

The train ride to Hamm was uneventful, and so was the connecting one to Soest. As far as I'm concerned, uneventful train rides are good train rides.
I would also like to mention that I had the most delicious Donair in Hamm. Really, i was quite impressed. I gobbled that thing up in no time!

Once I arrived in Soest, I met with my Aunt Margret and Aunt Suzanne at the train station and was then taken to Suzanne and Peter's house, where I am staying. It's very nice of them, and I even get my own bed in a room to myself! This will be a nice change from the rest of my trip which involves hostel dorm rooms.

(In all reality I'm actually fond of the hostel dorm rooms, until it starts smelling like boy. Because boys thus far, have proven smelly, and it's mainly all that axe crap they use. One guy literally used a whole four seconds of spraying to put his on! So I left the room, lol, silly boys.)

We enjoyed coffee and cake in the backyard/garden shortly after I got here, which made me feel very spoiled. It's much like coming home, as it's the same type of strawberry sponge cake (I'm really guessing, I have no idea what cakes are which because I can't bake. They are all yummy!), every time I am here.

Peter and Suzanne's backyard is a little haven in a fairly suburban area (European suburban, much more tightly packed in and much smaller houses). Instead of putting up a big fence to block out the neighbours, they used a variety of shrubs, bushes and planters to make a gorgeous little space for themselves.

Much of the rest of the day was spent relaxing in the garden, reading and enjoying the sun. It was thirty degrees out today, which was extremely wonderful. It may rain for a bit here tonight and tomorrow but should be gone by Wednesday.

Tomorrow promises to be filled with lots of visiting everyone, and I'm quite excited to see them all again. Most likely won't be my last time, but I still like to make sure I see everyone before I leave again.

So that is all I have for an update for you tonight. Nothing too exciting. Just that you should all be very jealous of the awesome time I'm having. Lucky for you I'm willing to share. :) (Kidding I enjoy letting you all in on my adventures!)


Sunday, May 29, 2011

Berlin: Day 3

To start this off, I would like to say, my feet hurt.

It's alright though, because there's good cause for it. Today was my day to see the city, and see the city I did.

My way of seeing cities is usually me wandering around with no plan and getting lost. So far it's worked out amazingly.

I saw some buildings towering over the city, hopped off at the closest train station and wandered in that general direction. I ended up wandering around for the better part of five hours (see why my feet hurt? and on cobblestone too!).

I started my wandering at the Brandenburg Gate. Just so happened to be my lucky day, as Green Peace was having a demonstration. Their message today was "Jeder Tag ATOMKRAFT ist einer zu viel", or "Germany says NO to Nuclear Power". They had a huge sign with protestors hanging off of it (well harnessed to it anyway), they had protestors on top of the gate, and on the ground with more signs.

After taking many pictures of that I continued on my stroll and took pictures of any architecturally cool thing I could see. Mainly old buildings. :) A lot of churches and whatnot. All in all, I love all the figurines and everything they have on them. I also saw a building that is 200 years old. It wasn't even a special building, just an everyday building. Made me smile to think that Alberta itself isn't even that old.

Brings me to one of the great reasons I keep coming back here. The history. Europe is old. America is not. It's that simple. We have no great old buildings that have seen wars, famines, victories, and everything in between. Sure Canada does have some history, the settlers, and the battles between them. But nothing compared to what has happened here.

Anyway, on with my day. So basically, I wandered around, got fairly lost, as in I had no idea the direction I was even headed anymore, and just kept on walking. Eventually though the heat got to me, (yes it's that hot, I'm sure if I look in a mirror my face will be tomato red, but I don't think I'm going to), so I turned home. Well after I figured out where I was and stumbled across a train station I went back, because that took some time.

So I had a great day. Yesterday also was a pretty wonderful time, as I got to do some shopping. The weather wasn't quite as nice so after buying myself a new shoulder bag (the strap was falling off mine) at a farmers market (Hackescher Markt) I went and did some real shopping in a big, huge mall. It had four floors, it was pretty exciting.

That was pretty much my yesterday except going back to the Hauptbahnhof (main train station) to reserve seats on some Italian trains. Apparently Italy, France, and Spain require you to reserve your seats. And because of changing timetables I had to wait until I arrived here to reserve most of them. And I still only have just over half reserved. I'm not completely sure why, but the lady working at the ticket office spoke less English than I did German. But I got three of them done so not all bad. I'll do the others in Munich I think.

Also while entering the Hauptbahnhof I may not have been paying attention and almost fallen down the stairs. Quite noticeably might have almost fallen down the stairs. But for those of you who've witnessed me walking a few times, you will realize I have A LOT of practice in stumbling, and oh so gracefully saved myself and continued on my way as if nothing happened.

Well that's about all I can tell you up until now. Tomorrow I move on to Soest bright and early. I'm not sure what my internet situation will be like there as it is a much smaller city (I do love it so), for those of you wondering where it is, it's about an hour from Dusseldorf.

(Just as a side note, since I haven't heard anyone speaking English as a first language in awhile my English is not so great anymore. I keep wanting to through in a lot of random German words, and my grammar is getting fuzzy. The good news is though, I ordered my entire lunch in German today! I'm learning. I may be screwed though when travelling elsewhere. Just saying.)

Until next time!


Friday, May 27, 2011

In Berlin!

Hey all.

So after many adentures yesterday I made it to Berlin safe and sound, and to the hostel with only slight troubles in finding the right train. It's not my fault, they make it difficult.
Yesterday I stayed outside and enjoyed the sunshine for much of it. I ended burning my arms, shoulders and face a little. Of course my legs stayed white. I don't know why I'm shocked this happened.
It happens every year.

Then while at a cafe, drinking a beer (which I ordered in German! Look at me go), reading Dracula on my ebook, I ended up talking to another journalist. Originally he's from Palestine, but has lived in Germany for thrity years. We talked about a great many thing for a few hours.

Then later that night, after a relaxing afternoon and lots of window shopping, I met some people at the hostel bar and danced, bar hopped and drank my night away.
It's quite easy to lose track of time when bars stay open all night, so I didn't make it back to the hostel until six a.m.
That's alright because I was able to enjoy a freshly backed croissant while the sun came up.
I love the bakery's over here. They are everywhere! Not even joking.

Anyway, after passing out for three whole hours, I checked out of the hostel and made my way to the main train station in Hamburg. Now that I've used it a few times it's becoming surprisingly easy to navigate.

Once comfortably seated on the train, in excellent seats that had two seats facing two seats with a table in between, I stretched a bit and was quite excited for my next bit of the journey. Everytime I get on a train or plane I become very excited, one of my favourite parts of travelling.
I was then joined by an elderly couple as they decided to sit across from me and then give me no leg room (at all, my legs were tucked under my seat the whole time) and give me stares of haughty indifference. It was like they knew I existed, didn't really care to aknowledge it though.
Oh well, they chose to sit there.

Once making it to the Berlin main station, it took some time to find a train to the hostel. The station is absolutely massive! It has five or six different floors that all lead to some mode of transportation, be it taxi's, the U lines, the S lines, or the ICE trains. Just amazing. I did get pictures for those of you wondering, and I know you are.

So after a small issue that was easily resolved after finding a map (it was hiding), I made it to the hostel with ease. And then I showered and passed out.

Anyway, tomorrow it will be time to check out Berlin, lots of wandering to be done here.
I will probably be going to check out the Brandenburg gate, I saw it last time, but I would definitely like to see it again.

I'm off to bed now, becaue it's closing in on two a.m. over here.


Thursday, May 26, 2011

Back in Germany Baby!

It has been, well, probably a month since my last update.
I'm blaming that on the fact that I've graduated :),
been working full-time (yes full-time you non-believers, I was not sitting around doing nothing all day and you know it!)
and I was planning my glorious trip of the year.

Speaking of such, here I am again back in Germany, and no ones surprised I'm back.
Already it is clear I am a foreigner. Not because of my lack of German speaking, but because I'm wearing shorts. At 8 a.m. And I'm the only one. I don't even have goosebumps!

The travelling over here was pretty easy. The only issue was the severe lack of sleep, that made me start passing out in the Brussels airport. Thanks to the volcanoe, I was stuck there for about seven hours instead of the quick 50 minute change over I thought it was going to be.
Funny, I wasn't aware until I arrived in Brussels, went through customs, and the guard told me the Hamburg airport was closed. He thought it was funny.
The guard was right, my plane was cancelled, so I switched to the next flight.
Which also was cancelled after being delayed. Good thing they have a flight to Hamburg every few hours.
Finally, after switching flights again, I boarded the plane to Hamburg. I would've cheered out loud but everyone else seemed pretty grumpy so I just cheered quietly inside my head.

Once in Hamburg it took no time to grab my backpack, hop on the train (I love taking the train, this is the only transit system I'm familiar with), and find my hostel.
And by this time I was wide awake. After almost 24 hours of travelling in which I had two short naps, I was surprisingly alert. And by that I mean ridiculously overtired. So I made myself go to bed. At eight p.m. :)

All in all, good trip though. I had the best luck of having an open seat beside me on every flight, so on the first two I was actually able to stretch out. Not that I take up a lot of room anyway so it was pretty awesome.
I noticed there seemed to be quite a few open seats on all the flights. Almost every other time I've gone, planes have been packed, so I'm wondering if flying is really starting to become too expensive, or if it's just a passing trend because of the economy, fuel prices, volcanoes, and airline issues. Either way, I enjoyed the comfort of it. (Still a little jealous of those lucky ducks with footrests in first class though. Reclining footrest chairs!)

Now it's 9 a.m., and I've already showered (which felt amazing, by the way, being clean is quite nice), and walked to get breakfast and coffee.
Everyone be shocked and amazed.
So now I think I'm going to check out the city and enjoy the nice weather, and get stared at for enjoying said nice weather. Apparently they think it's cold.
I will try to keep updating, and I will try to keep it interesting, because I know how you like to be entertained.