Giddy Up Europe

Germany, Netherlands, France, Switzerland, Austria, Hungary, Greece, Italy, Vatican, Monaco, Spain...

Monday, May 30, 2005


So I went to Schwarzwald (the Black Forest) this weekend on the program with 41 other people and it was pretty awesome. We stayed at a hostel in Titisee and visited Gutach to check out 400 year old farm houses, Triberg to see Germany's highest waterfalls, Freiburg to see Germany's hottest city, and Alpirsbach to see a 1000 year old monastery and the beer brewery that was right next to it. The weather was so nice and hot for pretty much the entire trip. We went to a biergarten and a cafe and made a bonfire one night; the next night we grilled on a bonfire and had some drinks, then hit a small disco in the basement of a restaurant in Titisee; and the last day we went on some paddleboats around the lake. I would write more, but pictures are better than words.

This is a part of the waterfall in Triberg, where we had lunch on the first day. It's the highest in Germany.

After that, we hit Gutach to check out how the German's farmed 400 years ago. They were super short and the floors were about five feet high, but they used a water-powered mill to collect bran. Do you Germanically mechanically engineer?

In downtown Freiburg on the main street. The straße-bahn runs right on the street and there are small water canals to separate the sidewalk. It was like Disneyworld! Check out the McDonald's by the clocktower.

Coo coo clocks! Schwarzwald is famous for them.

We hiked up a mountain in Freiburg to an observation tower that was 30 meters tall. It was intense.

From there, you could see everything including wind farms! Holla if you're a mechanical engineer.

But even better was the view of Freiburg itself. Four of us hiked up about three km each way in Freiburg, Germany's hottest city (because of the hot air it receives), and on an usually hot day in Schwarzwald. I was drenched in sweat with my pack, but it was worth it.

Bus buddies! We didn't have assigned seats, but Allison and I sat together and talked on all the bus rides to the different sites for the whole weekend. You'll see why in a moment.

Random German bear in Freiburg.

That was the night we grilled up some sausages, chicken, vegetables, and made smores.

I saw Yoshi walking around the forest, so I asked him if he wanted a German sausage.

Our student helper, Matthias, was chowing down as well.

The last day we rode around in paddleboats for a little bit at the lake in Titisee. Still really hot, but the water was nice and cool.

This is why Allison and I were such good bus buddies. The heat! My god the heat! I haven't actually seen Bos running around Germany, but he's apparantly been practicing his peacing powers.

Evangelist symbols at the monastery in Alpirsbach. Check out my Art History 348 retention!

Brad and I rubbing the beer belly of some statue outside the brewery in Alpirsbach.

We were bored because we had to wait around before the tour. That's Jake, me, Brad, and Allison. Jump!

This is the mixing chamber at the brewery company. This one is historic and no longer in use, but 74 couples have gotten their civil marriage in this room since 1998. 71 are still together today. Talk about bad ass.

Beer cooling sytems from back in the early 1900's. The local brewery currently has 94 workers who each receive 100 liters of free Alpirsbach beer per month. I tried a free glass of the light, then of the dark and it was pretty good, I must say. The company produces 11 types throughout the year and before 1970 workers could drink on the job. But this is not so anymore. Take care! By the way, the tour guide at the brewery was amazing.

Schwarzwald is one of the most beautiful forests and it's super clean with trees that shoot straight up to hundreds of feet. Once in a lifetime. But hopefully not. How is your neck of the woods?

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Lost Baggage? Danke

So Stuttgart is a really beautiful city and you come in on the tarmac and the baggage comes out right as you get through customs. That's if you have your baggage which was forwarded on time from London Heathrow, unlike mine, which had to be flown on the next flight in that night. I got it about ten hours later, but I did have to race through London to my connecting flight because we landed 30 minutes late.

My host family is really nice and there are two daughters and two sons. All speak very good English and have hosted students before. I'm with another student from Rose-Hulman of Indiana and we've been getting along swell. I've been exploring the city and going out about half of the time so far. German class just started and my cross-cultural class is about to start in 45 minutes. It's going well so far, pronounciation is a bit rough, but it's been two days. By the way, on German keyboards, the z and y are switched, the @ symbol is alt-q and the ' is shift-#, which really messes with my game. The students are from the USA, Canada, and Singapore and are pretty cool and I've been getting to meet some of them, going on tours and stuff.

Here's the good stuff:

This is a typical German ad. Translation: I like it pure. And there are many good looking girls walking around. Stuttgart is a really young city. The downside?

This can be seen on nice days as well.

We went to the Rathaus, which I think is like their city hall and they had a sweet elevator that constantly went up and you had to step inside it as it was moving, but there was no door. The other side constantly went down. Pretty tight. Stuttgart is the state capital and has Porche and Mercedes-Benz headquaters stationed here.

This is a music school called the Staatliche Hochschule für Musik and I believe it's a museum as well. Check out the maize and blue.

The view from the top. My gear is pretty useful so far.

Green roofs!

This is the Schlossplatz or Castle Square, which is located in the center of the city by the main street, called the Königstraße or King's street. It's the shopping center basically like 5th Ave.

We're going to the Black Forest on Friday to Sunday as a group and staying at a youth hostel, which should be awesome. Thursday is a German holiday, so we have a day off, but we're going to a heated outdoor pool because Stuttgart has amazing water resources compared to the rest of the world. It should be around 30°C. Hollaz. That's like 86°F if you're a dumbass. I'm really busy, but will try to keep updating. Tschüs.


Me and another student already got smoked by the U Bahn (local train) security guards for having the wrong tickets in Stuttgart. It happened on our first day meeting with the program director and really the only one-way trip during my stay when this could really have possibly happened, as we got our unlimited passes that day, in fact, only minutes later. The fine was 10 euros. It was some bad mojo. I just got internet on Monday at the computer lab, so I will try to update a little bit. Stuttgart is really a beautiful city and I've already seen and learned a lot. Not so much German, though, but I'm working on it. Hopefully you will know more and have pictures in 18 or so hours. Ciao.

Sunday, May 15, 2005

Gearing Up

I leave for my 75 day excursion to Europe on Thursday, so in the meantime I have been collecting appropriate equipment for the trip and general electronic upgrades. So far I have compiled:
• Flight tickets
o JFK to Stuttgart, via London on May 19
o Madrid to JFK, via London on August 2
• Eurailpass flexi
o Any 10 days through 17 countries
• International Student ID card
• Travel backpack
• IPOD mini with some accessories
• 1.0 GB flash drive
• 512 MB digital camera memory card
• Portable camera memory card reader/writer
• Spare camera battery
• Universal German phrasebook
• General European phrasebook
• German travel guide
• European travel guide
• Birkenstocks
• Keen hiking sandals
• Wallet
• Caribiners
I already have a Northface asspack (which I will probably just wear around my shoulder), but I will also need:
• Light duffle bag
• Gifts for my host family and international coordinator
• Nalgene
• Blue jeans
• Power converter
• Travel alarm clock
• Binder and paper
Aside from my six weeks at the University of Stuttgart, Germany, I haven't really created my itinerary yet. I do, however, have a basic idea of where I want to go. Apparantly the MTV Hip Hop Open 2005 will be hosted in Stuttgart the day the program is done, so I might stick around for that, since the city has become a European hip hop center. After that, I will have four weeks to go to:
• Berlin, for the 1.5 million person, techno Love Parade (if it is still on this year)
• Amsterdam, because it's Amsterdam
• France, to hit a check-point or two on the Tour de France
• Rome, Venice, Italian beaches, etc., though I was there when I was really young
• Athens, on a quest to find Bos' relatives
• Ibiza, to party with outrageous Spaniards off the Spanish coast
• Madrid, to eat tapas and hit clubs like Joy and Kapital before coming home
If I have time, I might try to hit some other countries, but I think this will keep me well occupied. Unfortunately, I will not be able to check out:
• Running of the bulls in Pamplona
• La Tomatina in Bunol (a 30000 person tomato fight with 125000 kg of tomatoes)
The best way to contact me overseas is via email at, especially if you:
• Will be in Europe between May 20 and August 2
• Want me to send you a postcard (post or email me your address)
• Have any suggestions or comments for my trip
• Want to say hi
My pictures will be linked from my
Michigan web site. As a pre-departure photo, here's an NYC subway billboard. Apparantly you might want to take a Kaplan class to get into my high school. Hit me up with suggestions or comments. Ciao.