Christmas time is here

Never fear, things are still going well here in Deutschland. My not so brilliant escapades of 2 weeks ago involved running around in the freezing cold as we were walking back from a bar one night and falling down when i ran into someone. The fun ended pretty quickly when I realized I had a badly sprained ankle and did something very painful to my wrist. And neither has gotten much better because I refuse to stop walking and doing stuff I probably shouldn’t be doing. I hate being incapacitated. But hey, look on the bright side. It’s somewhat entertaining to watch the color change of the bruising all over my foot. It’s completely purple right now. Enough about injuries…Yesterday was my last day of class for the year. Yipee! Which means that I have a week and a half free, but not completely free because I actually need to do some school work.
My sister was in Frankfurt all last week, and she spent most of the week in my room sleeping. Exciting. Today she’s on her way to Hamburg, where hopefully she’ll be a little more social and do something interesting. And my dad came through Frankfurt again last week also. We spent lots of time at the Weihnachtsmarkt, which sadly closed last night. Tragic, really. I went to the Netherlands again for a few days at the beginning of the week because Elizabeth wanted to see Amsterdam and I didn’t want to send her off there by herself; it was much more enjoyable than last time. And there are hilarious stories that no one seems to think are anywhere near as funny as Dave, Liz and I do. So I’ll spare you all.
I made a big grocery shopping trip today, involving multiple stores. The Germans are all hardcore about Christmas, so the stores will be closed for 3 days or something while they celebrate. Everyone keeps giving me weird looks when I say that I have no real plans for Christmas, but I dont’ mind. I guess I kind of miss that I won’t be at home, but I’m also looking forward to a laid-back, almost non-existant, Christmas. And Dave and Jesse are around too, so I’m sure we’ll do something. It may turn out to be more along the lines of wild and crazy than lazy, but a non-traditional Christmas will be nice for a change.
Tonight’s plan: go to Mr Lin’s with Jesse, Christian, and Dave, and eat the best Thai food in the world. It’s been a week since we were last there, which means it’s time to go again.
Enjoy the pictures! 🙂
Heineken Experience, part 2
bike hanging on the bridge
Frankfurter Weihnachtsmarkt


Do you ever feel like you just need a break from life? That’s the way I felt pretty much all week. In other news, I got hit on by a man at a bus stop yesterday; that sucked. The Christmas market is open here in Frankfurt and that’s one of my favorite things about Germany. I intend to waste many an hour just walking around there, watching the people, inhaling the wonderful smells that come from every stand. The whole pedestrian zone downtown is decorated for the holidays and when I can get down there on a nice day with a camera, I will take lots of pictures. There are a few more trips in the works here, including a seminar in Mainz next weekend. But for the most part the plans are under wraps at the moment so I’ll let you all know later. My dad is coming back through town once or twice in the next couple weeks and my sister is coming over in about 2 weeks also. It will be good to see both of them.
Ok, it’s time for me to get down to work. My first assignment for any of my classes is due on Tuesday morning. All 500 words of it! I really can’t complain about the workload for classes here. Now, to the writing.

perfect day

Today really was the perfect day, so far anyhow. When I left for my class this afternoon it was sunny and lightly snowing. Where the snow came from, I don’t know, because there wasn’t a cloud in the sky. Unheard of for Germany. We ate lunch at the good cafeteria and then went to the Vietnam War class. We sat there chatting with a funny German guy for 30 minutes and when the teacher didn’t show up everybody left. That’s the second week in a row that class has been cancelled, which is pretty bad for a class that only meets once a week. Well now I have time to go for a run and then we’re going out to Sachsenhausen tonight. Cheerio!

Amsterdam, oh baby!

It’s true, the city really is layed out like the levels of hell. And that is a very fitting description of Amsterdam. We got back Monday night, and it’s taken me at least this long to recover and process the weekend to the point where I’m ready to talk about it. Let’s just say it was intense. This is going to be the extremely abreviated, PG-13 version of the weekend. giant clog
Saturday was a pretty crappy day, weather wise and we had to hike around in the rain when we arrived in the afternoon and find a hotel/youth hostel that could accomodate the 6 of us. Though we didn’t really know what we were doing at the time we lucked out and ended up on the outskirts of the red light district. After seeing the area at night that was a far better location than the first hotel we stopped at. After a strange chicken lunch next door to a bunch of hookers on the afternoon shift we went to yes, the Sex Museum. (Most of this trip was dictated by the 4 guys with us, as you can tell.) That was definately the most bizzare museum I’ve ever been to. But hey, how many cities have a sex museum? You should note, however, that we missed our opportunity that afternoon to make it to the prostitution information center before it closed. What a shame. The late afternoon and evening were spent checking out many of Amsterdam’s “coffee shops” and bars.
We went into an Irish pub with some big dude who claimed to be the bouncer and sat next to a table full of very drunk British men who ended up hitting on and harrassing this deaf woman trying to sell little trinkets. Apparently they had made a stop at the sex museum’s gift shop, or the equivalent, and they proceded to demonstrate some of their purchases.
Walking back and forth to different coffee shops we spent quite a bit of time in the heart of the Red Light district on a Saturday night which is really the definition of insanity. better part of the RLD at night Even on a rainy night with biting cold the streets were packed with thousands of loaded people walking up and down, or just standing and gawking at the girls in the windows. The streets along the canals actually almost glow red in the dark from so many lighted windows.
The next morning we started the day off with a visit to the Torture Museum. This was the most wasted 5 euros I’ve ever spent, though Justin would disagree. It’s not really a museum at all, but some hole in the wall that some man calls a museum because it is filled with lousy pictures and a few medieval torture devices and it takes about 10 minutes to walk through the entire thing. Then began my weekend’s diet of fast food and pizza. I’m usually not at all a fan of fast food, but after an extremely disturbing meal at a sketchy Chinese restaurant the night before that I just stared at in disgust I didn’t trust anything else and Burger King and KFC never sounded so good. fast food has sunk to a new low

The afternoon continued with a visit to the Heineken Experience, a well designed self-guided tour through the former Heineken brewery. The tour includes 3 beers at bars stationed along the way and they send you on your way with your very own Heineken glass. We continued on to the Anne Frank House where part of the group took the tour, but I opted to head back because I was getting fed up with walking and concentrating. I’m already regretting the decision, but I probably wouldn’t have enjoyed it all that much. Sunday night started off harmlessly enough but due to more intense recreational activities on most of our parts, ended in a downward spiral that no one intended to reach. It was definately the low point of the weekend for me, but I’ve got to say that a couple of people in our group added entertainment and comic relief to an otherwise somewhat negative evening.
Monday morning we spent some time at the impressive Van Gogh Museum. Then it was a late lunch and one last stop at a coffee shop before heading to the train station. I don’t remember the name of that place, but I wish we had found it much earlier. Monday afternoon was probably not the best representation of the atmosphere on a normal night, but the guy working there was awesome and had all sorts of advice for us. Luckily he happened to be correct in his advice and he didn’t land us in a world of trouble.
I definately crashed not long after getting home that night. It’ll be a while before I’m ready to brave Amsterdam again, and there are things I would do differently if I’m ever back there. It’s impossible to describe that city in a way that does it justice. I recommend that everyone visit and judge it for yourself. Really though, it’s just insane…
water runs through every part of Amsterdam

i’m waiting

I’m starting to think that the weather is just trying to spite me. There were big snow storms everywhere else in Germany this week, but somehow not in Frankfurt. Twice this week I woke up and the internet would say it was snowing but when I looked outside there was nothing at all falling from the sky. And waiting for a bus to get to class one day we saw a car drive by that had a few inches of snow on the convertible top. It’s a tease. We’ll get snow eventually, and until then I’m waiting (almost) patiently.
Somehow I’ve managed not to get sick this week while everyone around me looks like they’re dying. But I’m sure my turn is next. I had to skip class this morning because after several days of minimal sleep, I couldn’t sleep last night at all and I ended up with a really bad headache. But I feel much better now.
We were all supposed to go to dinner at Mr Lin last night. But Kyle says he’s sick of the one dish he’s willing to eat because it doesn’t have vegetables, and he doesn’t want to go anymore. And when it was time to go last night, Justin was nowhere to be found. So Dave and I went anyhow, had a great meal. And then walked around near the main campus in search of a new bar. We ended up in this little place on a corner in the middle of a neighborhood. We got funny looks when we walked in because we were the only people under 50 and probably the only people who don’t spend every night there. The people sitting around the bar were talking to eachother in Italian, and at one point an old man started getting really upset and yelling at this woman in Italian. It was quite a sight to watch. The bartender/waitress was just sitting there smoking and drinking all night, and taking her time about serving us. Then she left and some guy who looked like he had just woken up, but somehow managed to have downed 5 or 6 drinks already, started serving us. We tried to pay and leave but he got really confused about what we had had to drink and we probably could have gotten out for a dollar. It was entertaining, anyhow.
I must get some sleep tonight; we leave for Amsterdam in the morning. Pictures and stories when I get back next week, I’m sure.


German forecasters are notoriously bad at predicting the weather, but in this case I really hope they’re correct. They’ve predicted snow for Wednesday, and maybe Thursday also. If they’re wrong it’ll be rain, and we definately don’t need any more of that.

musings from the last week

So Kyle didn’t say anything in class on Friday. Boring. But the teacher did say something about the Soviets giving North Vietnam AK-49s. Check the history books, but I’m pretty sure that should be AK-47s. Whatever…

I’ve had many good times since I got here, but last Tuesday night is definitely way up near the top of the list. It might even win the number one spot. Through the German-American clubs I was invited to a somewhat exclusive party put on by the American consulate in Frankfurt for the election. (A slightly amusing aside: Kyle went to the place and tried to register for the party and the security guard told him he wasn’t allowed to come because he didn’t have an invitation. Rejected.) It seemed like such a bad idea: getting together lots of opinionated people for an event that’s going to leave some of them extremely disappointed. Not to mention that because of the time difference it started at 10:30 pm and went until 8 am. But I was expected to show up, so I went and Dave came along to keep me company. When we got there, there was a line around the corner of people waiting to get in, which was slowed by metal detectors and checking of IDs. Inside there were 1200 people, press everywhere, CNN showing on screens in 5 different rooms, and lots of free food and alcohol. They had an astonishingly endless supply of Samuel Adams beer, which is all but impossible to find here. After saying the obligatory hellos Dave and I escaped to the courtyard where there were Pringles and of course, CNN. There was some man out there who looked exactly like Michael Moore. Could have been his twin brother.
As sleep deprivation and alcohol set in and we were having more fun than really made sense. Dave confused a crowd of reporters and people watching a board on which they were posting results as they came in by adding the “Donat” party (hard to explain the significance of the name), with a higher percentage of seats in Congress than Republicans or Democrats. When a woman set up her camera and asked what it was he said it came right off of CNN and then he walked away. People stared at it for a few minutes talking among themselves until a woman finally erased it. We caused other mischief until about 5 when we decided it was time to call it a night. Dave was more or less out of control at that point and yelled at some poor woman we passed on the street to vote immediately and waved a little plastic flag in her face. The flag was in pretty bad shape by the time we got back- it was run over by the subway at one point; but it’s still around as a reminder of a fun-filled night. Maybe you just had to be there…

I’m definately a middle of the night kind of person, and not a morning person. And my sleeping habits for the last few years reflect that. But I’m finding it harder and harder to survive here just by sleeping when I want to. I stay up until 2 or 3 most nights, sometimes 5 or 6. And most days there’s no reason to get up so I sleep until whenever I want to. But three days a week I have early classes and to get to the campus on time I have to get up at 7. The result of all this switching is that I’m always tired and the fact that I haven’t had more than 6 hours of sleep a night in 5 days is not unusual. Maybe I’m getting old; I don’t think my body can handle this anymore.

Yesterday we found a much faster way to get to the mall, by bus rather than going way out of the way to take the subway. That makes Ritter Sport and Flagman just that much more accessible.

Next weekend I’m heading to Amsterdam with the crew. Particularly with these guys that promises to be an interesting weekend. I just hope everyone makes it back alive.

picture this

Six American students sitting in a seminar about the Vietnam War with 70 German students. It’s the first day of the class and topic is the class’ knowledge of the war. Discussion turns to the veterans who fought in Vietnam and how they are viewed now as opposed to when they first returned from the war. Though most of the Americans have the sense to stay quiet and listen, one does not… He raises his hand and says many people feel that the Vietnam war was a senseless war. Another student challenges this statement asking which war was not senseless. Rather than think before he speaks, our first student responds by saying that in the United States veterans of the Vietnam War were looked down upon when they first came home and only years later did they gain the respect that was immediately given to soldiers returning from, say, World War II, who were immediately seen as heroes. Now remember where this takes place…and picture the entire room breaking into whispers and shock on everyone’s faces.

Kyle Michelson, everyone. Applause please. He’ll be here every Friday for your entertainment, or at least until he learns to shut up.