Hello. Today was a good day. After getting up early to meet Justin before breakfast, we ran out of time to do what we planned, instead scarfing down breakfast only to walk back and forth waiting for the bus driver, who missed his appointment. After meeting up with the bus, we went first to a half-finished Nazi building converted to a museum. The building was a sort of amphitheater, but the Nazis got interrupted in building it. Then we went to the Nazi parade grounds, which was a huge open area where they used to have their conventions. Then we drove by the courthouse where they held the Nuernberg war crimes trials after the war.
When we broke for lunch, Justin and I went shopping briefly (something stained some of my pants, leaving me with even fewer pairs from my already overused and boring selection). Then we went to the post office and bought postcard stamps, finally. Then we ate lunch--doner kebabs and durum, which was good and filling. Conveniently located right next door was a gelateria, with, as Justin says, some of the best ice cream we've had in Europe. Our favorite flavors were "bacio" something or other (that means kiss), which was chocolate with hazelnuts and cherries; and tiramisu. We've had several tiramisu ice creams, but this one was the best so far. Also, hazelnuts are very very popular in Europe. Fine with me.
Then we met the group, went around in Albrecht Durer's home, converted to a museum, then walked around Nuernberg to see some churches, then we disbanded. Justin and I shopped again (I found a pair of pants! Hurrah!!) and then went up for dinner. Now I'm heading out with some girlies. See you later!
Sunday heading back from Nice
This morning we got up early to watch the sun rise. It was pretty, and pretty warm. The sun rose over the cliff I described a few blogs ago. There were little one-man fishing operations in the water near the beach. Around 8, we went up the many flights of stairs hairpinning around the sides of the cliff to get to the top. There had been a Celtic fortress there at one time (cool ruins) and there were really neat mosaics in some stairs there. Also, there was a play area with a fantastic huge jungle gym made of coated cables. So you could climb up in it like a huge 3D spider web and bounce around. We had to hurry with all this, though, because while we watched the sun rise we decided to take the 10 am train back to Riva instead of the 2 pm, and we had to hustle back to the hostel to get packed up before eating breakfast. It worked out fine, though, and we got our meal in before heading to the train station. We spent most of the rest of the day on the train, and got in to Riva in the late afternoon.
Tonight's feature: Italian train mentality. The Swiss mentality and Italian mentality are directly opposite of each other, and you can see this in how they run their trains. In general, you can set your watch by a Swiss train. Ride them long enough and you'll encounter a problem now and then, but in general they're very timely. Italian trains, however, can be counted upon to be late. This matters when you have a connection to make. Today we sat at a stop for about 30 minutes, for no apparent reason. We did actually make up the time by the end of the trip, however, and had enough minutes to catch our connection, so it actually worked out fine. Today was particularly cultural, as we were sitting by three very chatty Italian ladies for almost the entire seven hours. They talked loudly and also slowly enough that I could catch some things now and then. Justin marveled at their ability to continue talking for such a long period.
Saturday in Cannes
Saturday we got up a little early to head out with Chris and Megan to go beaching at nearby Cannes because the beach there is sand. When we got to Cannes, we walked down by the yachts docked and then around for a while at an outdoor market that had lots of antique china and art and some artsy-craftsy stuff. For lunch, we tried these "croque" sandwiches, which are like two pieces of white bread with gooey cheese sprinkled on top, and we tried a crepe for the first time, which is a huge very thin tortilla-like bread heated up on a griddle with the sweet gooey stuff of your choice smeared inside. Then it's folded a little and served to you warm, oozing whatever (we got chocolate, duh :) you chose. They were all very good. Then we spent some time in the sand and sun. It wasn't as warm as the day before, so we gave up early and went back to Nice. Justin and I went down to the "Old Town" area and eventually found an oasis for our evening meal--a cheap pizza place. Because the Old Town is famous and right on the water, every restaurant there is expensive. But just after Justin mentioned the 6 euro pizza place on the other side of town, we saw a huge orange sign: Pizza 6 euro. The menu had kind of an exotic flair--some sample pizza names were "Cannibale," "Tribale," and "Exotik." Also, my limited knowledge of French didn't give me any clue what the salty, raw-looking meat was on my pizza... Still, it was great. The place was a little shop leading back into the building--it was like a garage (completely open to the air) with bright graffiti. The pizza was huge, cheap, fantastic, and very hot, and we got such great service--the guy cleaned our table off thoroughly, opened our water bottle, and even put a napkin under our tipping table. :)
Tonight's feature: Traffic in Nice. Justin and I determined that the point of traffic signals in Nice was simply to keep the tourists from feeling uncomfortable. That is to say, people considered them suggestions, and driving is really more of an art form than transportation. :) They are pretty good about not running over pedestrians, though. People drive cars and mopeds really fast there. Also, there were SO MANY people on rollerblades and bikes, mostly along the beach, because there was a long, wide paved area running all the way along the beachfront.
Friday in Nice
Hello all. Friday in Nice was nice. Justin and I headed out and explored Nice a little (not the touristy areas... we bought our sandwiches on a street with several car repair shops and across the street from a dried-up man-made river) before meeting the other couples and heading down to the beach for a nice dry, sunny afternoon of sleeping in the sun. :) The beach at Nice is made of rocks--smooth gray rocks that are like large pebbles all one color. They're pretty hard to walk in. Later Justin and I went for Chinese for dinner, to satisfy a craving we had developed on Sunday when we were in Spain. The food wasn't very good, but the conversation and company were :) and then we met Pat and Rachel, Chris and Megan at ten to go out. We wandered around a really long time without finding anything suitable, though, and eventually walked up the big road running above the beach and admired a huge monument to those who died in the world wars that was cut into a cliff. It was really neat and lit up with lots of Mediterranean foliage sprouting out all around it on the cliff and on the ground. Then we were pooped and all went back to our respective sleeping establishments.
Tonight's feature: European canines. Europeans love their dogs. Dogs in Europe get treated as members of the family: they are much more likely to wear jackets, get rides on trains, shop with their owners, and maybe even be included in restaurant dining. As a rule (listen up American dogs!), European dogs exhibit much more restraint in their personal conduct, making them pleasant to have along. They generally mind their own business and avoid dragging their owners around by their leashes. While there are of course many large dogs, there are many more small dogs here, which means it's easy for people to take them shopping or on trains, because they just pick them up. Most of the small dogs are the longhaired lapdog type, not as many Jack Russells. Europeans also have really cool dog leashes. Instead of just being one long strap with a loop at the end for a handle and one snap for the collar, the whole thing is often one big loop starting at the dog's collar (or maybe it's just really long and doubled over), which gives the owner more flexibility for holding or tethering the dog. Also, there are a couple more rings along the leash, so you can tether the dog to a fence or whatever more easily. Rating on this aspect of European society: very positive
First night in Nice (but blogging for Thursday)
Hi there. Here I am at the hostel in Nice, France. Nice is nice. I like it a lot. Also, the weather here is beautiful, which always makes me like a place better. Well, I'm blogging for yesterday, Thursday, March 17. I woke up rarin' to go and had everything ready to pack up with Justin for our trip. We had a day of poliscience class, and then we ate an early lunch of risotto with strange but good green vegetables in with the rice, before heading off with Patrick and Rachel, Megan and Chris to Nice. I slept some on the train and we tried working on some homework and we talked a little. Then we got to Nice and wandered around for a while because the French do not believe in putting signs on all the streets... so anyway, finally found our hostel and then went over to everybody else's hotel for a late dinner of pasta at their place, which was great. They had waited on us to get there! We really enjoyed that, then headed by the beach on our way back to our hostel for a good night's rest. Bye!
Hiya, and goodbye again!
Hey everyone! Well, I've meant to keep up with blogging this week, but I guess being out of town for so long got me out of the habit. Well, anyway, I'm headed back out of town in a little while. This time Justin and I are going to Nice, France, with two other couples on our trip. It's supposed to be about 75 degrees and we'll be right near the beach. Woohoo! :)
Well, it's time for me to go eat lunch now. This past week was really really good in a lot of ways. I've worked on some new habits that help me have a better perspective. Yay!
Well, bye then. I'll blog more later. Sorry about that peeps! Love you rents and sibs! Happy trails everyone.
Update, for all you faithful blog readers
Hey there. I'm working on updating for spring break (about eleven days or something like that). I understand that not all of you have the time to read everything... I wouldn't either, really--hardly have time to write... :) Anyway, they'll probably be long entries, but they'll start with the title "Spring Break: ...." so you can at least know where to start reading if you do have time. So anyway, hang tight and I'll update more before too long. :) Thanks for hanging with me! Bye.
Spring Break is Over: Getting back to town
Hey everybody. Well, this morning we rolled into Riva at 11 am. We had been on the train from Girona, Spain since 9:45 last night. We were on our way to Milan. The train ride went pretty smoothly, after pushing through six cars of high schoolers in their sleeper couch cabins on our way to our car. For $52, we had "superreclinable" seats in a car devoted to those seats, and we were able to get some decent rest--more hours than we would have gotten if we'd done our regular thing! In the morning, I woke up repeatedly between probably 6 something and when we left to train officials going through the stuff of some people behind me. They also eventually brought a happy little red dog on board to sniff people's baggage. Weird. I was so glad they left us alone. When we got into Riva about 11 am, wewent to the second half of class, then I did my Italian homework and ate lunch. Then Justin and I had a quick little Bible study, I had Italian, and I headed up to the Pab to get my stuff to do internet and homework. Then I came back down and emailed and tried to get my life back in order for a while. Then we ate dinner and here I am again, blogging. Good night, all. :)
Spring Break: Walking in England
Hiya. Today I rambled in the Cotswolds, fulfilling a lifelong dream. :) Not to ramble in the Cotswolds specifically, but rambling in the English countryside.
Justin and I were pooped from walking all around Cheltenham yesterday--don't know how many miles it was, but we really covered some territory. So we didn't meet for breakfast till nine. We finally headed out and eventually found the tourist info office, bought a trails book, and decided on our plan for the day, which we put into motion about 11:35.
So we headed to the bus stop, stopping quickly at a smashing cafe I wish we'd visited earlier, where a rotund but extremely caring friendly man (must've been the owner) served us up some great egg sandwiches for cheap. This was lunch. I ordered mine with "black pudding"... which I still don't know what it is, but it started as round slices which he put on the griddle with the eggs and meat stuff. So he fried it for a while and then slapped it on my sandwich. The thing it is most like to me is corned beef hash--it was just a little thicker consistency and really dark blackish-maroon.
We ate on the bus on our twenty-minute way to Winchcombe, our destination for the day. When we got there, it was the most perfect little English town--just where I've always wanted so much to go. I was so excited. :) We took lots of pictures of the town and houses. They are so quaint and tidy. We found our walking path then, which headed out from the town through stiles in fences and across fields. The English don't mind people they don't know walking across their fields with their sheep, because the people who come want to be able to use it again and act accordingly, and the owners know the people aren't going to do anything stupid. It was really nice to have that trust going on--it gave us much more freedom than it seems there is in America, at least anymore. People might not have a problem with it, but here there are public walking paths across the fields--it's expected.
Well. It was beautiful. I think it must get warmer more quickly in England than anywhere else, because of all the places we've seen, it's the most springy. The grass was a most intense green--just an explosion of verdure. :) There were some daffodils, and tons of crocus, and some trees had buds. The hills and fields and trees were just like in the pictures. That's the fastest way to explain what it looked like.
So we walked a long time. We walked through a lot of mud (since it IS a public walking path) and wet ground. Sometimes for a while we were on roads, which were between one- and two-lane width, and sometimes a truck or cars came by. At one point, we stopped at a little abandoned shed thing with a dam and shallow pond behind it and lots of snow-drop looking flowers around. Justin accidentally put his hand down on a strange weed that had lots of small prickles on it and they hurt a lot and swelled up slightly in those spots. It eventually went away. We took lots of pictures and walked up hills and by the rare house. Everything around here is built with stone--not just the houses,but even the sheds, barns, and fences.
Justin and I were concerned about the time, because we had to be back in Winchcombe to catch the 5:43 bus back into Cheltenham (the last one). We're not sure how far we went before heading back, but a farmer we talked to said it was about a 4 or 4.5 mile walk back to Winchcombe from where we talked to him, which was our farthest point on the trip. At that point we decided we shouldn't take the time to go see the medieval town (ruins?) that were pretty much in sight, but should just hoof it back for Winchcombe. Instead of retracing our steps, we took a different trail back and then took the road for part of the way. It worked out great and we had time to wander around Winchcombe a little more before catching the bus.
Then Justin and I were pretty hungry, him especially, and we finally settled on a nice looking Indian restaurant. Neither of us had ever eaten Indian before, but also it was the only thing that suited our budget and atmosphere tastes. For being a decent-sized town, Cheltenham really doesn't have too much in mid-range restaurants. There are a bunch of take-out Chinese and pizza places, and a bunch of upscale Thai and Italian restaurants. Oh, and pubs. So we ate there, and really liked it! It was nice. We had good food and talked for a while, before heading back to the hostel, which is actually the Cheltenham YMCA. Now I need to shower and go to bed. Goodnight.
Spring break: Friday and Windsor Castle
Friday morning we arrived in London via the Chunnel. The Chunnel is... a large tunnel. Really, it's no different from other tunnels, at least for the people going through them. The train we were on was really cool, though, and we got to ride business class.
Friday was a day of futility, to large degree. The interesting part is that once we got to London, we got some pounds from the ATM as fast as possible in order to make our next connection. We made it, and several others, and the result was that we eventually ended up on a very cool red double decker bus heading out of London to a stop called "Carshalton Windsor Castle." We were stoked about this bus because for one, it was really cheap, and for two, it was really cool to ride in the top. Well, we missed our stop because it wasn't clearly labelled, and had to backtrack after we reached the end of the line with no Windsor Castle. As you can imagine, we were very confused as to why there was no signage indicating the residence of the royal family. I mean, how weird. So we paid another fare and got back on a bus headed the opposite way on the same route. We got off close to our stop we thought, and found out we weren't so close. About that time, the SAME driver from the first bus came by and had compassion on us and explained how we could walk to Windsor Castle. We were pleased with this. So we started walking, all the while carrying each a backpack and a small duffel/suitcase thing. Well, it started to rain. Then it even hailed very small hailstones. It was interesting. Then, having followed the directions, we found ourselves at a pub called Windsor Castle. We figured the castle had to be somewhere close. Well, we finally talked to a guy in a gas station... and it turns out, the pub is all there is! The bus stop was named after a PUB. The real castle is in Windsor (which we kind of realized, but we thought maybe Windsor was another suburb of London like Carshalton, where we seemed to be). So, feeling really stupid but amused at that point, we walked up the hill and shared a fantastic lunch of Cumberland sausage with Yorkshire pudding and onions and gravy. Yorkshire pudding is not what Americans think of as pudding at all, but kind of like a little bowl made out of bread. The meat and onions and gravy were inside the bowl. It was great. Then we made our way back to London to start again. We kind of had to get to Windsor anyway (nevermind the castle) because our train reservations for getting to Oxford were from Windsor, not London. So we took a bus there finally in the evening and got there in time to walk around and see the neat little town of Windsor and the castle from the outside and hop on our train to Oxford. When we finally got to Oxford we were so exhausted and briefly ate a dinner of peanuts and water in the hallway outside my room before heading each to bed in our cushy hostel bunks. What a day.
Spring Break: Heading toward Paris to take the train to London
quick click: Today I was sick with a sore throat and acheyness, but I made it through the day. We had poliscience, lunch, I took care of business on the computer and stuff, Justin planned and took care of business right up until we left, we packed, we ate dinner, and we left with Cory (the girl Cory on our trip) for the Capolago train station.
Tonight's feature: European lightswitches. Lightswitches here are so different from each other. Pretty nearly every place we've stayed has had different switches (or at least every other, and that's still a lot!). Here are some of them. In several places they are square white buttons that sometimes have a little light inside them so you can see them in a dark room (very good idea!). Other times, at least in the Pabiana, they are weird little switches that don't stick out from the wall far enough to flip them from just anywhere--you kind of have to stand in front of them and touch it right on the side you want. Also, they're amazingly low on the wall--well below door handles. In public areas in hostels like the hallways, the lights are often on timers so you have to push the button several times if you're having a conversation in the hallway. In France, the hostel hallway lightswitches were small round lit buttons--like a doorbell. Another thing I've noticed is how the lightswitches are rarely centralized (at least in the Pabiana). You never know how many different ones there might be in the room! And they are often OUTside of the room they pertain to! How strange.
Now, for the blog. Today I felt bad all day. I slept really badly the first part of the night--I'm thankful because I haven't slept that badly any other time since I got to Europe! My throat was so dry it felt like breaking something to swallow, and I was freezing until I put on my recently washed pajama pants that were nearly dry. I drank a ton of water and felt much better and slept better. I slept in but made it to class on time. Then, God did something great for me, which was give me time and mental capability to skim vital parts of some articles on the European Union which I printed out the other day IN TIME to actually say something intelligent in front of the class! I meant to be more prepared, but I kept putting it off the past few days until my brain was utterly incapable of understanding them. So that came off rather well, considering. Then I tried to get a bunch of stuff done before the trip, and actually did pretty well with that too. Got some important stuff done, including packing and some emailing and taking care of credit card business. I'm so excited about this trip. I'm exhausted inside and out and really can use the break. I hope it's a great trip and we both get rested up inside and out. Well, goodnight all!
I'm so excited about all the comments!!!! Thank you everyone! It's so exhilerating to get on and find that someone has truly visited and proven it by their comment! And yes, everyone, the old interface was rather difficult (I hardly understood it myself) and so I don't blame you for not before. Also, Anonymous, I recently replied to you at your last comment. Well, must go. Bye!
And another short blog
Hello, everyone. I'm sorry, I'm a little behind. Quickly:
Last weekend we were in Munich. Friday we took a train to see Neuschwanstein, that famous Disneyland castle. We saw another castle too. I liked them. Saturday we walked around Munich and saw the Glockenspiel, which is a massive-size cuckoo clock idea, except instead of a bird, it's a bunch of people on a track. Sunday we went to an art museum and saw some really pretty stuff and came home. I get the feeling I already said all this.
This past week,.... I hardly remember it. It's been full of planning and not really getting schoolwork done before deadlines, though it all turned out remarkably well. Lots of it was reading, so it didn't matter too much, but I'm really glad Dr. Taylor is really flexible on paper deadlines, because the one due today I plan to turn in after spring break. About the planning, Justin has been trying to plan spring break. It's been pretty stressful because transportation information isn't as centralized in the UK or in Spain as here, so he's worked on the internet all the time to find stuff out and reserve tickets and hostels and stuff. I think it's finally worked out, mostly, which is good since we're leaving tonight!
Also, I'm sick--some sore throat, achey body, little congestion, and weak, so please pray for me.
A quick itinerary:
Thursday (tonight): train around 7 to Lugano to Zurich to Paris to London, arriving Friday morning around 9.
Friday: head immediately to Windsor by bus to see Windsor castle, take bus to Oxford to spend the night.
Saturday: see Oxford, spend the night in Oxford
Sunday: head to the Cotswolds, an area westish of Oxford, where there are cute little towns and pretty countryside. Spend the night in Cheltenham.
Monday: more Cotswolds, night in Cheltenham.
Tuesday: bus back to London, spend day in London, spend night in London
Wednesday: fly out to Reus, take bus to Barcelona and then to Tossa (neat little city slightly more northeast), spend day and night in Tossa.
Thursday: Tossa day and night
Friday: Tossa day and night
Saturday: Tossa day and night
Sunday: bus to Girona, spend day in Girona, catch train to Figueres, train from Figueres to Milan to Capolago to the Casa Monday morning for class! (class will have already started).
I really hope we get rested up. We tried to plan this trip so it's more restful than the others have been, and even though we are moving around a lot, we're actually staying in a couple of more restful places for a few days. Yay. I can't wait. I'm so tired.
Alright, well, better go. I'll write stuff when I come back. Sorry it's been so brief lately with little interesting details... though that makes it easier to read too.