Monday, September 17, 2007

Paris Photos are up

Hey there everyone,

Yeah, its been a while, but I finally put my 400+ photos of Paris up. Its going to be slightly different this time though. Because instead of sorting through the photos like I normally do using the camera utility to sort the days, I sorted them after I downloaded them off the camera. However, not sorting them through the camera changed the numbers on the pictures themselves. So the numbering will go from 1 to 400+, so I wanted to warn you now, so when I eventually write up Day 1, 2 & 3 of Paris, you won't get confused when I say see #253 on Day 2 for example.

Well, back to writing up the Paris trip.

Garmisch Day 3 (Finale) - Birthday Trip

Camera's were restricted on the interior of Linderhof, so I could take any pictures. No pictures of the painted vaulted ceilings, the gold plated walls, or the ivory or 100 piece crystal chandeliers. No pictures of the exquisite furniture, the carpeting, or the paintings themselves. It was a small tour, going through the second floor of the palace, which had fairly small rooms overall, but the size didn't diminish the exquisite style of the rooms themselves. If Neuschwanstein was anything like Linderhof, then I probably would have collapsed right at the entrance just by the sheer marvels. I would recommend visiting Linderhof if you have the chance. (if not Neuschwanstein)

Well, after going through a back passageway (which I think was for more servants than anything else, because it was fairly plain overall) to go back outside, it was still sprinkling, plus we were running out of time. I had wanted to see this one canyon in Garmisch before I left. But before we left, I wanted to get pictures of the gardens that were around Linderhof. (#83 - 119) Got a couple of double shots in the group, some just turned out to be too dark. What do you expect with cloudy skies. Well, you'll have to thank Inigo for the shots of me. He's a little camera shy so I didn't get too much of him, but thats okay, I didn't want to upset him too much. :-) Well, I'll let the pictures speak for themselves for the garden. :-)

Well, after that, we had about an hour and a half to see the canyon and board the train, so we practically ran back to the van (not really, but it was a quick walk). Snapped off a picture of an inn (I believe) that was right next to the gift shop. It was around this time that I found out that the umbrella had a leak. So seeing that Dan had used his money to buy the umbrella I handed it over to him, telling him that he could try to get his money back. But seeing that we were in a hurry, he skipped going back to the gift shop and just threw the umbrella away. The leak, by the way, was from the center down one of the joints, so I had felt it on the back of my neck.

Well, we got back into the van, and headed on back to Garmisch. Unfortunately, whatever was happening at the Ettal Monastery had finished at the same time. So EVERYONE was on the road. :-( We had a traffic jam for a couple of miles. Which delayed our arrival back at Garmisch. So much of a delay, that I wasn't able to see Partnach Gorge. Basically there was supposed to be this one path that went along this one stream. This path was supposed to have wonderful views of waterfalls, going underneath the waterfalls, and all that. It would have been wonderful to see, but I just ran out of time (stupid traffic!). So we stopped off at this one tiny restaurant to have some chicken, and went to the Garmisch Station so that I could board the train. (I had packed my bags and put them in the van before we left, so we didn't have to go back to Adelweiss.

Well, after getting on the train and snapping off a couple of photos, trying to get Inigo and his parents (#121 - 122), my train left for Munich. Or at least I thought that I was heading back to Munich...

Well, folks, I got myself into trouble again. The ticket actually said Munich-Pasing for my stop, but my mind registered the Munich, not the Pasing. Well, I dozed a little bit on the train ride, but I did see Pasing, (thinking that we had just gotten to Munich) so I jumped off, saw a sign that just said "Pasing" and thought "oh crap, not Munich". So I hopped back on. Wish the train had gone right before I got back on... because as we were leaving Pasing, I finally saw another sign "Munich-Pasing". "CRAP! I did it again!" I thought. So, seeing that my train was an ICE, I hoped that it would still be at Munich by the time I got there. So the train stopped, and I ran (as much as I could) looking for my train number, and I found it. I had one minute before it left... I was outside at track 29 or so, and I had to get to track 13 or so. I ran as much as I could, but got to the gate just as it had closed its doors and started to leave. *sigh* It happened again.

So I head to the ticket office to purchase a new ticket. Unfortunately, the train that I just missed was the last one to get to Bremen at night, so I had to take a night train to get to Bremen in the early morning. Unfortunately, with no available alarm, and no one speaking up as to which station we were coming to, I had to stay up to keep an eye out for Bremen (just so I didn't miss it either). Well, I got back to Bremen around 5am in the morning or so, went home, and went to bed to sleep. Got to work late, but they understood, so there wasn't any problems there. And that was my Birthday Weekend!

Garmisch Day 3 (Part 2) - Birthday Trip

So Inigo and I decided to skip the castle and see what else I could see. So we dodged around the crowds, and went back to the castle map. We saw that folks were walking up from a walkway to the right of the map, so we took that path to see what else we could find. Well, I snapped off another couple of pictures of the castle itself, including the exit and the east (I guess) face of the castle. (#52 - 55). As we continued walking down the path that was to the right, we noticed that the path that we were taking would take us to the bus stop for the castle itself. Well, we were about to head back when I noticed that there was a path that was heading down the "southern" side of the castle (towards the mountains). So Inigo and I went down the path to see where it went. It was great that we did head down. It was a two person wide dirt path with steps edged out in stone. The steps themselves were fairly large in side. Could almost high step the stairs if you don't have the long legs that I have. :-)

Well, we got to a landing, with stairs continuing down, that had a fantastic sight! Inigo and I took a couple of pictures from off that landing (#56 - 62), and continued on down. Well, we finally got to the "bottom" of the path (it actually continued down into the forest itself) and snapped off a couple more pictures of the river itself (#63 & 64), as well as the "southern" side of the castle (#65). I'm putting "southern" in quotes because I didn't have a compass handy to find out the layout of the castle itself, so I'm taking an education guess. :-)

Well, after taking those last couple of photos, I saw that I was losing time, so we headed back up the path (which was quite a workout! There was probably around 100 steps) in head back home. Once we got to the top of the path, we noticed that there was a steep path (paved) going down, so we figured that we wanted to save time so went down the steep path. When I mean steep, I mean, "straining the brakes on a bike to slow down" kind of steep. :-) And it took us right down to the gift shop. Well, after the hike that we did, (up the steps) we figured that our legs could use a rest. So we paid 5 euros total to take the carriage ride back down the hill.(#66)

Well, on our ride down, Inigo called his parents so that they would be ready for us, and they had parked the van and were sitting at a cafe that was built into an inn. They said that they were close by the carriage ticket window, or at least, that's what Inigo said. So after getting off the carriage at the very bottom, both Inigo and I started to search for his parents. Well, we went down the main street with no success, so we started back up the main street again, with a dead battery on the cell phone (just died right there.), looking left and right searching for his parents. We finally found them (or maybe Inigo's parents found Inigo...), and we headed down to the van. Inigo's Mom went to use the restroom, before we headed off, while Inigo, his father and I went down to a nearby lake, and snapped off a few photos (#67 - 70), and took one last photo of the King Ludwig II's parents "house" (#71). Well, after telling Inigo's parents of the failure to see the Neuschwanstein Castle from the inside, they kind of insisted that I at least see one of his three creations. So we took off to another one of his palaces.

Well, after stopping off to get something to drink, we get to the King's Linderhof Palace/Castle. Well, at this moment in time, the clouds had rolled in with rain in the forecast, and it was already drizzling when we got to Linderhof. So Inigo and I purchased a small umbrella (to protect the digital camera) from the nearby gift shop, and continued down through the gardens (#72 - 75) till we got to the Linderhof itself (#76). Well, before getting in line to get into Linderhof itself, Inigo and I took a couple of photos of the Linderhof's front yard. :-) (#77 - 82) Well, by that point our tour line was about to go into Linderhof (15 minute wait, we had bought the tickets around the gift shop area), so we packed up the camera, got in line and headed inside. I tried to shake off as much water I could off the umbrella before we went inside, it was still sprinkling, but I didn't want to damage anything.

Garmisch Day 3 (Part 1) - Birthday Trip

Well, seeing that I wasn't able to do much the night before, other than sight-seeing the town itself, there was still plenty to do before I had to leave around 5:25pm. So I woke up fairly early (around 7am) got washed up, took a few pictures of the view outside, (#1 - 6), and went down for breakfast. (#7) Well, right before we left the hotel, we saw some folks parachuting down nearby the resort. (#8 & 9) Well, Inigo, Inigo's Parents and I, piled into their van, and off we went Neuschwanstein Castle. We left around 9am or so. As we were traveling down the road to Neuschwanstein Castle, we went through one village (Ettal) with the famous Ettal Monastery located within the village. There was something going on at the Monastery because there were plenty of folks there, traffic was fairly bad. But we got through it all, and continued on the way. Inigo's Parents asked if I wanted to get out of the van to take better pictures of the Monastery, but seeing that it wasn't a major destination for me, I opted to continue going onto the Neuschwanstein Castle. (#10 - 12)

Well, after getting lost a little bit (or at least finding traveling a path less traveled), we eventually got to our destination. Took a few pictures leading up to Neuschwanstein Castle. (#13 - 18) Well, we got to the chaos that is Neuschwanstein Castle, but we figured we would head up to the castle anyway. Took a few pictures of the shops, restaurants, and the inns that were around the base of the hill (#19 - 21). Inigo's parents decided that seeing that they had already been in the castle itself, they were going to stay down near the bottom of the hill, while Inigo and I went up to see the castle. There were a few options to go up the hill, either bus or carriage ride, but Inigo and I walked it. Took a couple of pictures of the King's parents castle (#22 - 25). Well, Inigo and I passed all of the the shops and continued up the hill (#26 - 27), passing by a few brooks (#28 & 29), and enjoying the peaceful tranquility of the path... till we got ran over by one of the carriages. (#32) :-)

Well, as we continued on up, we saw another path that we figured came from the shops below, but we weren't sure (we said that we were going to check it out later, but never did, #33). Well, after taking another picture of tranquility (I guess, #34), we finally made it to a gift shop located right below the castle itself. (#35) Well, just slightly up the path from the gift shop, there was a pretty good view of the castle itself, but the sun wasn't at the right angle for great shots, but I still took a couple anyway. (#36 & 37) Well, as we continued up the path (getting closer to the castle), I snapped off a picture of the nearby mountain (#38) and I could hear a river nearby, and tried to get a picture of it from the main path (#39), but the trees were a little too dense. But we finally got to the castle!

After snapping off a picture (#40) of the castle itself, we continued on up taking a picture of the "map" of the interior (#41) walking towards the front gate of the castle. (which was to the left of the map, #42). Took a quick snap shot of the view from the walkway that is next to the front gate (#43) as well as the front gate itself. (#44) Well, we both went through the front gate, taking a picture of the entry way (with the few hundred people there, #45), not to mention the tower that was connected to the entry way. Well, after looking around the courtyard seeing how they went about tours, we saw two ways (I thought) of getting into the castle, the guided tour and the unguided tour (or so I thought). So I wanted to check out the guided tour, so Inigo and I went to the ticket window that was off to the right of the courtyard, to check on the price. It was around 11:30am by this point, when we checked out the next available tour. It started around 1:15pm. Oof. Close to two hours wait for the guided tour. So I thought, let's just go with the unguided tour. Haha, unguided tour, yeah right, so such thing. Inigo and I went up some stairs (snapping off some pictures along the way #47 & 48) on the left side of the courtyard thinking that was a way to get into the castle. I was wrong. It led to another courtyard that was roped off, with no way to get into the castle. (#49 - 51) Grump. Oh well, I thought, let's just go with the guided tour. So Inigo and I went back down to the ticket counter to find out that the 1:15pm tour had been sold out, and the next available tour was around 1:45pm. I just couldn't do it. I mean, I was already struggling with the idea of going on the 1:15pm tour, paying 8 euros (if I remember correctly), and waiting close to two hours to see some wonderful sights. I figured that I could see more for the 2 to 3 hours that the Neuschwanstein Castle would take. Besides, even if I did get inside the castle, I wouldn't be able to take any photos of the interior anyway.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Garmisch Day 1-2ish - Birthday Trip

Well, the plan for the weekend was to meet my friend, who I know from Cal Poly, (Hmmm... how shall I call him? haha I know... oh, I can see the rolling eyes now.) Inigo in Munich on Friday Night, then travel onto Garmisch Saturday morning.

Inigo had just finished his finals on Friday, at the university in Munich, and was ready for a vacation. (So was I... ^_^) Well, we were discussing heading off to a night club in Munich, but it didn't happen. I got into Munich around 11:45pm, was already tired, and he told me that the one that he knew of was about 40 minutes away (by metro). Oof... That with the fact that the metro closed down around 2:30am put a damper on the trip. So we bypassed the night club for just a little dinner before heading to his dorm. Oh almost forgot, we also purchased our tickets for garmisch while still in the main train station.

Well, after crashing at his dorm for the night, we get up to clean room. You see, seeing that Inigo finished his finals on Friday, he didn't need to stay at Munich anymore. So he had to vacate his dorm, which required a little packing and cleaning. Well, while he packed I helped clean his dirty dishes, it was the least that I could do for the weekend that he helped me with. Well, as you can see pictures #1 through #7 was basically a look into Inigo's dorm/apartment. Well, supposedly, all he needed to do was to clean the dishes to get his deposit back. Would have figured that he would have needed to scrub down the bathroom and sweep the bedroom, but no, maids are going to take care of it.

Well, after having a little breakfast (#8) at a bakery around the corner... (practically), we headed back down to the main station so that we could offload some of our baggage before doing a little tour of Munich. So after dropping off our bags at the main station (#9 & 10), we headed off to a nearby museum that wasn't fair from Munich Bahnomhoft. Well, getting to the subway location for the museums, took a couple of pictures of the pictures that were at the subway stop. (#11-#13, I guess I retook picture #11, thinking that it was too dark, eh oh well) So I followed Inigo from the subway stop, down the street (#14-17), till we came to the entrance of the courtyard that had the two museums. (There were other paths that you could take, but the columned building had more of an "entrance" feel to it) (#18)

At first glance, I tried remembering why I snapped off #19, because I couldn't really see anything. But I zoomed in more, and noticed that I had tried taking a picture of a couple of statues that were across the street. (Obviously, I didn't do a good job, well, I was in a little bit of a rush, only had about an hour or two to spare.) Well, Inigo informed me that these museums were focused on Greek history, and it was interesting to see some Greek lettering in the "entrance hall". (#20 - 26) Well, after coming out of "entrance hall", we saw one of the museums on the left, (#27) and one on the right (#28). Well, Inigo asked me if I wanted to have my picture taken in front of the mock "Trojan Horse", so I said sure, and handed over the camera. I should had made sure the flash was off. :-/ But Inigo toke pictures #29 through 32. Well, I snapped off another picture of museum #27 (#33), and headed into the other museum (the one with the trojan horse in front). It was fairly small overall, with only about 4 rooms, but it was still filled with ancient pots, statues, and vases. Was about to smack Inigo around this point, because he said that it would be cool to eat something from the bowls that we saw. He hasn't gotten to the point of appreciating the work, history, and beauty of the artifacts. Took a couple of pictures of the museum (#34 - 41), and it was a bit of a rush through it all. But it got to the point where we needed to leave to catch the train. So we started to head back towards the train station. Snapping off #42, 43, and 44.

Well, Inigo and I got to the train station on time, with a few minutes to spare. We pulled out our bags, and I checked out the times for our train trip. Unfortunately, the ticket itself didn't give a gate number for us, but we still knew what time we needed to leave. But I couldn't find our train on the billboard so I went to information. Well, when I got the gate from the worker at the information desk, Inigo finds our gate on the billboard itself. I had missed it on my brief look. So we get the same gate at the same time. It was kind of funny. :-) Well, the station at Munich was as interesting layout. It had about 30 gates or so, with about 15 or so on the inside of the station that focused on ICE and IC trains, while tracks on both sides of the station focused on the Regional and City trains. For those that don't know, ICE and IC trains focused on major cities. So Inigo and I ran for the tracks outside of the station to catch the train to Garmisch. We got to the train just in time. With the time that it took getting from the metro, getting a little lost within the main station, getting the bags and finding out which gate took a little more time than planned, but it was still enough. :-)

So we were on our way. Inigo and I talked about quite a few subjects on our way to Garmisch. We had time to spare so what else would be do... take pictures? You know like #45 and 46? Naaahhhh... :-) We basically talking about businesses, stock markets and the connection between the two. I'm not an expert in any way, but I think I know a little, more than what Inigo did. Kind of opened his eyes about business ownership and the pros and cons of business ownership. It was a bit of overcast as you can see from those two photos, so I was hoping that rain wouldn't be in the forecast for the weekend. (I had enough rain to last a lifetime) hehehe :-)

Well, once we got to Garmisch we put our bags in a locker seeing that we had gotten to Garmisch couple of hours prior to Inigo's parents getting there. So seeing that Inigo and I were there early, we went ahead and explored the town. We basically walked around in a circle, eventually heading back to the train station. Took a couple of photos along the way (#47-57), and during our touring of the city we saw a few cows (#49, 53, & 57) and those were just the few that I took pictures of. :-) We stopped off for something to eat, but the place that we stopped off at was just an ice cream cafe. Which was fine with the dinner that I had. :-) What I had (#52) was an interesting creation. In was Vanilla Ice Cream put into these little spaghetti strings shapes, and topped off with Strawberry topping. :-) Very tasty. :-)

Well, after we had done a full circle, we gave a call to Inigo's parents and found that they had just gotten to the hotel. So we grabbed our bags, and Inigo hailed a cab. Well, after going through a military checkpoint (the hotel/resort was sponsored by the US Forces), Inigo signing me in (No, Inigo isn't in the military but his father is), we get to the hotel. The resort was pretty big from what I saw. (#58 & 59) I didn't really take too many pictures of the place, was pretty busy by that point. But I did take a few pictures of the view from the room patio (#60-62).

Well, after having a buffet dinner (roast beef w/ mashed potatoes), and relaxing at the spa that was at the resort, I did a little bit of reading and enjoyed a VERY GOOD sleep. (The spa was heaven for me!) :-)

On the homefront

Hey there everyone,

Well, I got home okay, but I'm still behind on my updates here on the blog. I still have my Garmisch trip to write about and then my Paris weekend.

I'm currently working out the Garmisch trip right now, and I should be done with that soon. Possibly even by tomorrow. Well, here's part of the Garmisch trip, Day 3 should be coming soon. Talk to you all later.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Versailles or the Louvre

Seeing that I had such a great time with Fat Tire Bike Tours in Berlin, they have a location in Paris offering a number of tours...

Fat Tire Bike Tours

I was originally planning on taking their combo, both a Day and Night tour of Paris on Saturday. But then I saw their tour for Versailles...

So I'm kind of torn. I mean, I've heard that if there is one museum to go to, the Louvre is it. But then again, Versailles would be absolutely stunning as well. It doesn't look like I'll be having a whole lot of time for all of it.

I mean, as it stands, it looks like the tour of Versailles would have to be pushed to Sunday, which could get me into trouble once again with the trains. You see, my train leaves Paris at 5:55pm (17:55) on Sunday. And the tour for Versailles leaves at 9am and is "approximately" 8 hours. That means, I get back at "approximately" 5pm. Oof, lots of risk there. Lots of "ifs" and "maybes". Whereas I could stay in Paris, see the Louvre at a relaxing pace (if I get in that is, who knows how long of a line I would have to face).

Anyone have any opinions? Could use some before I leave tomorrow...

Baumholder Day 3 (Finale) - Revisiting Memories

It wasn't till around 12:30 when the festival started going. So the first thing that I wanted to do, was get on the Ferris Wheel! :-) Hmmm...not sure if I can even by a ticket, I mean, speaking German is one thing... hehehe (#22). Took a picture of a small protion of the Ferris Wheel #23, and got on board. Snapped off photos 24 through 35, while on board. Well, after the trip on the Ferris wheel, I started to get hungry, so I start looking amount the booths for some food. Saw one booth that was selling Reignwurst. So I got myself some reignwurst and some fries. (#36). Well, when I sat down to have some lunch, I started to hear some drums. Not the kind that you hear in bands, but the big bassdrum/American Indian drum. So I take a look and there were about two boats (row boats) that had a person beating on a drum to I guess keep the rowers in time. I don't know if this was a particular group that does this kind of thing, or if some kind of tour group wanted to add some flavor. Not sure, tried getting a picture of them, but it didn't come out well. (#37) Well, the festival was quite similar to a carnival of sorts. It had plenty of rides (#38), which included bumper cars, not to mention some games like what you see at a carnival as well. You know the ones...the shooting range, the pop the balloons with darts, the soccer kick??? Yeah, they love their futball (aka soccer) here. They had a game where you kicked a soccer ball into a net. You get a certain score from this which may or may not get a prize from it. Not sure how they calculated the score, but it was interesting none the less. :-)

Well, after getting to the end of the festival along the river, I noticed that it continued into the city as well. So I followed the crowd (#39 & 40). Snapped off a couple of pictures of the landmarks in the area, such as #41 & 42, and got a nice picture of a fountain that was along the way. Along with the plack that was within it (#43 & 44). Well, next to the fountain was a chinese gentleman that was doing a balancing act with various items. It was great to see the gentleman work. :-) Took a couple of pictures of the man at work. (#45 - 49). On #49, if you look closely, you'll notice that not only is he balancing 3 trays of drinks, but he was also playing a clarinet (Playing "Saints Go Marching In").

Well, I continued walking, leaving the festival behind as I went further into the city, looking at the sites as I went along. (#50 - 51) Came around to what I think was a fairly old tower (unless they built it that way), but they had turned it into a cafe. (#52 - 54) As I kept walking, I noticed that there were some places that had little pockets of celebration. Started hearing some music as I was walking around, so I followed the sound till I came across this small square with a small concert going on at one end. Snapped off a couple of photographs of the listeners. (#55, 58, & 59) A little bit of the place they were listening from. (#56) And the concert itself. (#57) The band was speaking in German during their break, but it sounded more like a Latin rythem when they played. I stayed only for a little bit listening to the music, but I quickly moved on. Came up to a building that had a blend of both an old feel to the building, and a more modern feel. It was interesting seeing a blending of the two. (#60 & 61) And after the blended building, I found what looked like an old house that was changed into a cafe. (#62)

Well, after leaving the cafe, I was heading back towards the festival on the river. I felt that I saw quite a bit of the inner city, and wanted to check out a little more, maybe from across the river. Well, when I got back to the festival area, the balancing gentleman had moved to another location under the shade. And I noticed when I got to the river that there was a gathering around the river. So I head up to the nearest pedestrain bridge, that wasn't too far, and tried to see what everyone else was looking at. Well, it was battle royale on the river. Basically, three men would get into each of the boats in question, and would try to push the other off. It was quite amusing for a little bit. There was an announcer there that I guess did a whole "blow by blow" via a loudspeaker, but it was in German (obviously), and I couldn't understand him. Maybe he was announcing something historical. Maybe it was a little "sporting" event, who can say. But it was amusing. No one got hurt from what I saw. There was a lifeguard boat that was monitoring the situation, so nothing to really worry about. (#63 - 67)

Well, after watching the fight for a little bit, I got a little bored of it, and continued on my way. Well, as I got to the other side, and snapped two more pictures of the water fight, I continued down the coast of the river till I saw some ducks and geese. Well, I remembered that I still had a roll or two from the day before and well, I gave them to the ducks, geese, swans, and pigeons. :-) (#68)

Well, after feeding the fowl, I went back up to the street to seeing more of the city. Snapped off a picture of the sidewalk that I was going down (#69), and came up to another church. Figured I would check it out, see what I could see. (#70 - 72) From every church I've seen, it seems as though mold and churches go hand in hand almost. (Obviously, that's not the case, but wow) (#73) Well, I get to the front entrance to see that it was closed for the day, so I snapped off a couple of photos of the historic background of the church (#74-77) to the front of the church itself (#78 & 79).

Well, after that I start roaming a little more, I didn't really find anything else. I tried looking for a general store to get some water, but didn't find anything. So I headed back towards the train station a little early, and got a drink nearby. While having my drink, I continued reading my book till it was time to go. I had snapped off the photos of #80 through 85 while going to the train station. Not sure why I snapped off #86 & 87. Maybe to show the size of the station. Eh, maybe not. :-/ Oh well. There's Frankfurt station for you all. :-)

And that was my trip to revisit Memories. :-)

Baumholder Day 3 (Part 1) - Revisiting Memories

Well, I got through the night at the hostel okay. Didn't get woken up (big surprise), so it was a good night. Oh I forgot to mention that for a cheap price I had to basically bunk with 7 other people. But it was okay, I think one of them was a lite snorer, so I got off easy. Well, couple of folks tooks showers prior to me, which was fine. But I wasn't the last. Couple of the guys there had hit the bars pretty good. Got a couple of hangovers. :-) Ah the JOY's of drinking. hehehe :-) So I get into the shower, (ooooh, almost forgot, before I went to bed I wanted to take a shower then (I was pretty grungy hehehe)) and I knew that I didn't really need to wash that much, so I get done with my hair when I noticed that the water was close to overflowing from the shower itself! I quickly shut off the shower, and noticed that the water was draining REALLY slowly. So much for the body wash, but eh, I had taken a shower the night before so I knew I wasn't THAT bad.

So come to find out, that there were about 3 Americans in the room, 1 guy from France, a couple from Australia, and one other that I didn't meet. I think I heard that he was American too. Well, I told the guys that the shower overflows fairly quickly, and they said that the shower ALWAYS overflows quickly. :-/ Wonderful! I'm thankful that I had the shower the night before! Well, I pack up my things, and head back up to the reception desk to check out. Come to find out, I needed to have brought up my bed sheets to the checkout counter, (which I didn't have) but the guy at the counter didn't really care. Said it was fine.

So, I head out to explore Frankfurt. First place I go to? Back to the train station, because I had noticed the night before that they had a tourist booth within the station. So I go there and ask if there was any bike tours that they knew of. Unfortunately, they didn't know of any but suggested that I could rent a bike from the train company itself. All I would have to do is use the pay phone to call...wait a second! Pay-phone!? Nope, not doing that again. So I asked for a map of Frankfurt. They did inform me when handing over the map that there was a festival down near the river. So, seeing that its around 10am, I figured I'd head down in the general direction, but first...I wanted to get a closer look at some of the skyscrapers. :-)

So I head on of the train station, and snap off #97 from Day 2. Then I keep going straight ahead, till I reach this one park. It wasn't very wide, but the length was pretty significant. You could see a little bit of the park in #5 and 6. Snapped off pictures #1 through 4 of the surrounding skyscrapers. Well, there was one building if I kept going straight that would be right on my path. So I figured if the building was open, it would be kind of cool if I could go up to the top. Well, I get there and it was all locked up. I guess seeing that this IS the financial district, they don't want uninvited guests. ;-) It was fine, I figured getting into #7 would be a long shot, especially going up to the top. :-)

Well, at this point, I turn right and start heading down to the River (I believe it was the River Mainz). Well, if you don't think that the pictures I showed didn't really show that I was walking around the Financial district, then #8 should convince you. :-) Saw #9 (and obviously 10) right by #8. So I go past the fountain, and continue walking towards the river. Finally get to a street that parallels the river (#11), and I saw that there was a park right next to the river, but I wasn't having a hard time getting down to it. So I continued walking, till I saw some stairs down. It was a fairly nice park snapped off a couple of photos as I was walking down the path. (#12 - 15) When I passed by the bridge (#16 & 17), I saw the festival in the distance, but I figured I'd snap off a photo or two of the scenery that I saw (#18 & 19). Well, its around 10:30am or so when I get to the festival. It hasn't started yet. (#20 & 21) :-/ So, I wait. I find a spot where I could park myself, and read my book.

Baumholder Rant

Oh, almost forgot about my rant... ehem. With what I saw that day, gave me the final impression that the terrorists have won. We are a Nation with Fear. Has it finally come to the point where every single building in the United States and elsewhere is considered a target, and therefore MUST be protected? I mean, some places, sure, I can expect that, like the White House for instance. Having tight security around a President is sometimes necessary. But barbed wire around a High School, Cement blocks blocking up the road leading into NOT only a GOLF COURSE, but an APARTMENT COMPLEX??? What is going on??? Not only that, but now we have Metal Detectors in schools, Junior (Middle) schools on up. We have CHEMICAL detection in airports. You basically have to strip down at an airport security checkpoint. It feels as though we have gotten to the point where those in charge, whether its the president, CEO, etc considers that everyone is a suspected terrorist. No one is considered a citizen anymore. We are a potential gun wielding, bomb making, car crashing terrorists, who seeks nothing more but to bring down the "Evil" United States, or any other institution.

How did we get this way? Some people might say 9/11. I say, okay, sure, that had quite a bit to do with it, but our fear started prior to that. Take Columbine for example. Because of that, we have more and more students thinking its cool to bring guns to school, and because of that Metal detectors are moving in. I could blame the news for glorifying the event, showing the videos of the two kids, over and over and over again. But they aren't the only ones that can be blamed. I've been seeing a lot of parents that don't participate with their children anymore. I mean, you can see it in your electronics section at a department store. DVD's for babies. At first I thought, neat little idea there, give them quite a bit more visual. But then I thought, wait, this could be used more as a babysitter than anything else. "Watch this DVD while I talk on the phone, watch TV/movie, go on the internet, play games, etc"

Whoa, didn't I get off track there... but I guess it all stems from the same thing really. Evil succeeds when Good people do nothing. It is soooo true. I'm not saying to join up with the Red Cross just to go to another country to feed the homeless or something. (Might be interesting to hear about later...but not the point) Focus on the small things you can do. You can take down the fences, the barbed wire, the metal detectors because they INSPIRE fear. Parents should focus on their children more, because they need the guidance from us, adults, not some movie or TV show. And Parents, don't think that you are all wise and powerful either, because you can still learn from your children. Hate and intolerance is learned, mostly from the parents.

I wish this could be read by those that wish to do harm to others, and think about what you are about to do. To bring potential heartache to so many people just by your actions alone. Using violence should be a LAST resort, PERIOD! (Unless you act in self-defense) Maybe at that point the fear can be reduced... all it takes is just a small effort. Maybe then we don't have to be afraid to shake hands. :-)

Baumholder Day 1-2ish (Finale) - Revisiting Memories

Well, I get back to "downtown", and look to see if anything was open. Most of the shops had already closed. It was 1:30pm at that point, and all the shops had closed by 1pm. Whatever happened to weekend shopping? ;-) Well, I was looking around anyway, and I come across an antique shop who's door was still open. So I went in. Apparently they were still "open" because they were moving antiques out to one of their trucks, but the gentleman said that I could look around some if I wanted. So I did and I found something for my brother's wife. She might actually have one already, but I figured wasn't that bad of a price, although shipping was kind of high... but then again, I'm not sure what shipping is yet. He said that 50 euros should cover the cost to send it to the states. I need to check if he overpriced me or not, but the guy looked like he wasn't trying to swindle me out of money. He just wasn't sure about the price himself. I hope that it wasn't more than that, or I would be short-changing the guy. :-/

Well, hope you like the gift. :-) Still have to mail out the others... I'll get to that soon. :-) So after the purchase, I grab something to eat from one of the few bars that were still open, and I waited for the bus to come on back. I came to see what I wanted to see, so I figured that I would just head back to Idar-Oberstein to do a little sight-seeing there before my train left for Frankfurt.

Right before I boarded the bus, however, I dropped my camera. It was scary for a little bit, because I dropped the camera onto concrete, and the power wasn't turning on. I was getting upset at this point, because all of the photos I feared couldn't be retrieved. So I figured, lets try a fresh set of batteries. And it worked. It started back up. The zoom button had been tweaked, but I could live with it. But the good thing was, was that the camera worked. Which allowed me to take #92 and 93, right before getting on the train to Frankfurt. :-) But before I boarded the train to Frankfurt I took a look around Idar-Oberstein. Small town obviously, but its community center was of decent size. Much like a typical mall or so. The path that I took to get there could be seen in picture #5. But I guess I was pretty tired by that point, because I didn't really take any more pictures of Idar-Oberstein.

Well, once again, I boarded the train to Frankfurt. We were actually going to Mainz first to switch trains. Well, as well going along, I was beginning to nod off. So I asked the guy across from me to give me a shake if we came up to Mainz before I woke (didn't want to sleep through the station). We were a couple of hours out, but still, I wanted to make sure. Well, at one point in time I woke to find this one young lady (with a couple of her friends (around 8)) with a bridal headdress on selling cookies to help pay for the wedding from what she was telling everyone. Well, I had my choice of a penis cookie or a nipples cookie. Well, if you don't know my answer by now, then you can look at #94. :-)

Well, after the cookie snack, I nod off again. I come awake when I saw the guy across from me stand up and get off the train at a depot that WASN'T Mainz. This worried me extremely, because from what I could understand from the man, he was going to Mainz as well. Or at least I thought. Did we pass Mainz? Did he not shake me when we got there. I double checked my watch and saw that the time that we were supposed to get to Mainz was past. This REALLY got me worried. So I looked for the bride and her friends. I thought I heard that they were going to Mainz as well, and there were a couple (including the bride) that spoke english. Thankfully the train wasn't that long, so I didn't have to search for long to find them. Well, I asked them if we had passed Mainz and they told me that Mainz was another two stops ahead. It was a great sigh of relief that I didn't have another "Berlin" to worry about. I guess the train got delayed somewhere. Couldn't say.

Well, we get to Mainz, the ladies continue selling their cookies at the train station, and I had about another hour or so before the train to Frankfurt came in. So I check out the station. It had a full bookstore which had some English books as well (which I needed additional reading so I bought one), and wanted something cheap and quick food wise. Well, not exact authentic German food, but McDonalds was quick and cheap. I heard from the professors that McDonalds was no longer able to combine pork with beef in the hamburgers anymore (Mom got sick when she had the burgers from McDonalds when we were out here last time), but I didn't want to risk it. Got myself some chicken nuggets. :-)

Well, I get on-board the train to Frankfurt, and after about an hour, I get there. (#95) Frankfurt train station was actually fairly huge. I think there was about 14 or so tracks coming into the station, and the station overhang covered all of them. It was quite impressive. Well, the hostel that I was going to was right down the way from the station. So I got outside the station, snapped off #96, and headed towards the hostel. Sorry folks #97 was actually supposed to go towards Day 3. Oops. Well, I get to the hostel, ring the buzzer to be let in. Walk up to the third story, where the "front" desk was, and check in.

It was buzzing with people. Well, I get down to my room (which was on the 2nd floor), saw a gentleman from France getting ready to head out to party. I probably might have joined him, if it wasn't for the fact that I had stayed up for about 36 hours straight, with a couple of cat naps here and there. So I arrange my stuff as much as I could, read a little bit more, and basically fell asleep with the book in hand.

That was my day 1-2ish. :-)

Baumholder Day 1-2ish (Part 4) - Revisiting Memories

Well, after checking to see if I had an blisters yet (which I didn't), I continued my walk towards #90. Different security guards, but same song and dance. They couldn't let me in without military id or signed in by someone there. I tried telling them that I was an Army Brat, and that I would just like to see my old home. Heck, I was willing to be stripped down just to go in. But no dice. Well, I have to admire that they kept the gate closed. But it still sucks. And if I wasn't getting anywhere with these guys, the security supervisor I knew wouldn't help me out either. So backed off. Well, I had a good shot anyway of the apartment from #90's stand point, so I snapped off #91. Now, I think that was the apartment building that I lived at, and the playground furthest away (that is close by the building itself) use to be where a little sand lot and merry-go-around was... if I remember correctly. Definitely not the modern set that you see there. :-)

Well, if you notice, the area is fenced off quite a distance away from the buildings. When we lived there, there wasn't a fence, and the forest was all the way up to the buildings themselves. I would swear that the branches from the trees themselves was touching the apartment (can't remember exactly, brother could probably confirm that statement). So that entire "backyard" was all forest. Which begs the question, did the army cut down the forest in order to put up the fence? It had to a little I'm sure, but were they fully responsible? Hard to say again, still no answers. :-/

Well, there wasn't anything else I could do there, so I hiked back into town. Apparently, with my hike I had bypassed another checkpoint, which was I guess down the road from #44, but I'm not sure. Well, I went back out, the same way I came in. As I was walking down the path, however, I noticed a golf ball, and asked some golfers if they wanted their ball back. And I threw it towards them. It was a fairly light golf ball because it didn't fly very far. :-/ Or maybe I'm just a weakling. ;-) Well, ball returned and I went back to "downtown".

Well, I was thinking to myself, there was only one other way that I could think off to get where I wanted to go, and that would be to go to the army barracks themselves and ask to see the officer in charge. I mean, its the weekend, so I wouldn't expect to see the head of the facility. But there is ALWAYS a supervisor. But I started thinking about it... I mean, I don't remember which apartment number I was at, so asking to see one of the apartments is kind of silly. Not too mention that the only other thing that I would want to see would be the hallway that was filled with washers and dryers that I used for my personal raceway with my big wheel. :-) Yeah, doubtful that I would have had my request granted on just a small matter of seeing some hallway. So I didn't bother.

I can rant about this, but I'll wait till the end of this particular day to give my rant.

Baumholder Day 1-2ish (Part 3) - Revisiting Memories

Okay, folks, at this point you're going to be seeing a LOT of green, because I TOOK A HIKE. (Not mentally, just physically) :-P Well, I got to a point that there was a dirt path that led around the golf course, so I followed it. Taking some shots along the way (#34 - 37). At this point, nature called... and well, do you see a bathroom around? So I did what any guy would do. And I continued along. :-) Came upon #38, and I've been seeing these kind of things all around Germany, but they are typically put at the edge of forests, like this one. And I've been wondering what they are. I mean, they look like old WWII scout posts or something, but it also gave me the whole image of the movie "The Village" too. I'll have to find out at some point...

So I continue my trek around the golf course, when I get to a road (#44). Took a couple of pictures around the place (#39 - 43), so took a look down #44 and then looked the other way and saw #45, #46 and #47. Well... I wasn't that sure what to make of it. I wanted to continue on... but yet, at the same time, I'm not that sure I wasn't breaking onto government property at that point anyway. Well, #46 was the way to go, so I continued heading on up the path. I get to #46, but no guards. I could see that they had a laser checker there counting the number of objects go by, but the gate was open... so I continued on through, getting myself counted. :-)

Well, you can't really see in number 39's picture that there is a small gap in the trees on the right side of the picture. Well, that led straight towards the golf course, but there was another path to the left. Sorry I didn't get a better picture, but there was a road that skirted the trees heading off to the left. Basically it looked like a small camping ground, although not a whole lot of campers. Well, the path to the left gets me to ANOTHER gate. (#48) So I thought, eh, I've passed one gate, what's another? So I go around and continue down the path (yup, that's me! I'm a bad man for going around gates.) ;-) Well, I continue down the path, seeing other paths as I go along, but I keep to the one that I'm on, heading in the general direction that I wanted to go in, snapping off pictures as I go (#49 - 60). Well, I get to around #61, when I see the apartments off in the distance. I'm getting closer. :-)

Well, if you can't tell from the photos, let me tell you that the grass in the area was pretty high, and still a little soggy (my shoes and lower pant legs were soaked by the end of this "little" hike). Well, I continue down the path (#62 - 64), when I get to the forest. I knew I was in the right spot, because I was right behind the apartments (#66), but the forest had changed...

You see I remember very LARGE tree, with dirt all around, the tree canopy left hardly any light into the forest interior last I remembered. It was a great place, because you could climb the trees (as my brother did) or had little forts which I imagined at that age. It was a wonderful experience. This forest however, was changed. I mean, I understand, that time does have a way of changing things, but I was hoping for a little bit... There was a lot of shrubs and small bushes. Not a whole lot of trees to be see, so I take a closer look. As I started to head in, I actually found a path that was very familiar. (#69) If I remember correctly this path was actually at the base of the forest... but I'm not sure. There could have been two paths... that were similar. Not sure, can't really remember.

Well, as I was going further I saw a few number 76's. The large trees were no longer there, and the forest was regrowing. So as I continued down the path, getting more and more into the brush, I was thinking, "What happened?" Was there a natural forest fire that destroyed the forest? Did idiots (#72) do something stupid and caught the forest on fire? Or was it something that the Army did? You'll see what I mean in a sec. But I had no answers. Well, I was getting farther and farther into the forest, and it was getting to the point where there wasn't a path anymore, just a lot of branches (some with thorns). So I thought... Hmmm... let me see if I can get up to the apartments, but once again, I was getting to a point where there wasn't a good path up to the apartments either. So I back out of the forest. I find the path that I used to get in, and I head back out.

I was thinking of taking another path around (#88 and 89) but decided against it. I was already tired, sweaty, hot, and hungry by this point. So I head back to the camp ground. I sat down at the campground (in the grass) to have one of the rolls that I had bought earlier, and planned my next course of action. I figured, if the standard labor at the checkpoints wouldn't let me in, I figured I would try to step it up to their supervisors. So I take the path to the right this time, between the gap, past the driving range to where I could see checkpoint #3 (#90). I didn't go up right away. There was a little area past the driving range that had picnic tables under some shade. So I stop by there to take off my soaking shoes for a sec. Plus to give myself an extended breather. That hike wasn't exactly easy. :-)

Baumholder Day 1-2ish (Part 2) - Revisiting Memories

But we FINALLY started to come into Baumholder. Passed by an Army Barracks #20 & 21, as we continued into "downtown" Baumholder. Hahaha "Downtown". Psssh. #22 was a shot of "Downtown" Baumholder. :-) So, right next to the bus stop was a bakery, so I needed a little breakfast, so I go inside to get some freshly baked "Berliners" and a couple of rolls. Figured I'd hold onto the rolls, if I got hungry later. Then I saw the sign (#23). I thought, well, THAT'S interesting. It's not that often that you see something like that.

So, I kind of knew where I was, but just to make sure, I asked the lady who was working at the bakery, how to get to the apartment complex that I wanted to get to. She gave me directions there, but warned me that there were a few "changes" ever since 9/11. Ah oh, not doesn't sound very good. She also mentioned that some of the buildings out in the area were empty. Plenty of space if anyone wants to move in, according to her.

So I start walking. I came by a large pond, and park next door (#24 - 26), but I don't remember that, so I continued on, thinking that it would be a great place for a swim... just not now. :-) So I get to a main intersection (#28), cross the street and continue heading down #27. When I spot the apartments... I could see them in the distance. (#29) I was getting closer. So I continue on going, when I came up to a security checkpoint. (#30 & 31) This is where I was stopped by a security detail that wasn't associated with the Army MP's. It was a local security detail from what I could see. I asked them where (street name) was but they weren't sure, so they pulled out a map. And I said that I wanted to get to the apartment complexes. I noticed that those apartments were circled in a way. The guards told me, that yeah, the road that I was going up would take me to them, but I couldn't go up to them because I needed proper identification. Okay, I have my passport, my drivers license, even my college id with me, but of course, the identification that they were looking for was military identification. :-/ They asked if there was anyone up in the apartments that could have signed for me, but I didn't know anyone that was up there, last I knew. So they wouldn't let me pass.

Okay, I thought. I'm not going to be defeated by this, I came all this way, I'm going to see my old complex and forest. While looking over the map, I noticed that the line that had circled the complex didn't really go into the forest that was behind the apartments, so I figured I'd go around. I didn't feel like getting arrested, so I didn't want to step on too many toes. So I left the security checkpoint, went around the southern side of the checkpoint, to come up to a different street. Saw that it bordered the golf course (that was also circled), so followed that till I knew that I was outside of the "area". As I was walking along, I came upon a priso... I mean, a high school. (#32) Did you ever see a High school with BARBED WIRE FENCES!!!??? (#33) You can't really see the barbed wire from the picture, but trust me, they're there. Okay, so I'm really not liking what I'm seeing at this point. But I continue going up the road. Pass by another checkpoint that led into the golf course, but instead of heading up that road into the golf course, I continued up the main road, bypassing the checkpoint.

Baumholder Day 1-2ish (Part 1) - Revisiting Memories

Well, folks, if you haven't already heard, this WAS an old home of mine. Granted it was only for 6 months, but home is where the heart lives, so it was home for 6 months. :-)

Dad, being the Master Sergeant that he was, had already been shipped out to the Army base there, or I should say near there. And the family soon followed. That's where Dad had his accident and had an "honorable" medical discharge. Hence, only 6 months. Nothing honorable about it in my opinion, but that's a rant that my family already knows about, agrees with, and something that doesn't need to repeated here.

So, back to the trip, it was one of the main reasons for taking on this internship in a way (not too mention the fun stuff I've been doing...but no need to bore you ^.^), you see the old stomping grounds for tiny Jimmy running around the forest. Or at least...some of it. Word of warning, my opinion of the United States Government and its Armed Forces took a hit on this visit. You'll see why.

Well, Day 1... like most of my trips, I get home after work, pack my bags, and head off to the train station. This time, however, I'm only taking my backpack. You see, the train route that was given to me took me the LOOOOONG way around. Silly me, I should have jumped to Frankfurt, then to Idar-Oberstein, then a Bus to Baumholder. What did Die Bahn suggested and I bought into?

Bremen to Koblenz to Trier to Saarbrucken to Idar-Oberstein AND THEN bus to Baumholder. Ugh. Okay, travel agent I am not. Especially with this many mistakes. :-) Maybe there wasn't a train from Frankfurt to Idar-Oberstein? Psssh, yeah, right. Oh well, well, I get to Trier, and there was a 3 hr wait for the next train. As you can see, when I got to #4 Trier, it was already 1:20am #2. And not a soul in sight, #3. So I wait, and wait... checking out the sign (#5) and the clock/watch for the time to pass. One guy was sleeping on one of the benches (or at least I think he was), I tried doing that, but with it being slightly cold and the wind creating a wind chill factor, I quickly got too cold to even consider sleeping. So I stayed up and waited.

Well, this is where I go from Day 1 to Day 2, because I was on the train when the sun started coming back up again. I tried taking a few shots of the countryside as we went along, but each one was either too blurry or obstructed. Was able to get off #1 from Day 2. If I'm mistaken, the route that I was on took me through the Black forest, I'll have to confirm that, but it wouldn't be a surprise if I was. You see, as we were going along, we passed by quite a "few" trees, and what was really interesting was that there was fog everywhere! I mean, a forest with fog could be a little creepy. :-) Not sure if that's why they called it Black Forest, but it would surely seem that way to me. :-)

Well, I finally get to Idar-Oberstein, and it was EARLY morning. Got in around 6:48am. Okay, so that's not THAT early, but it is for me. ;-) hehehe So with hardly anything open, and the bus coming soon, (was supposed to have arrived at 7:15am) I didn't really want to wander off too much. But I did snap off a couple of photos before leaving. (#2 - 9) So the bus comes, I hop on and we are off, not quite that quickly but whatever. :-) As we were going along, I snapped off some houses in the hills (#10), and tried (TRIED) to get a picture of this long bridge that we went over (#11 - 13), but most of the pictures were blocked. :-/ Oh well, going on, tried to get a few pictures of the countryside (that were tucked into the hills), and they came out... okay. (#14 - 17, 19) Tried to get a snap shot of one of the signs saying how far we were to Baumholder, but the angle wasn't right. (#18)

Sorry for the wait...

Been a little busy these past few days/week(s). Frank's father is here in town. They are going to be spending a week here in Europe after tomorrow, so they are going to have a good time. But seeing that he is here Frank's father has been taking a few pictures and video. Mainly video of the presentation that I did today. I can't say that my presentation went all that well, but then again, I had faced quite a bit of hardware difficulties over the last couple of weeks. Not sure if Photobucket can handle video, but I'll check on that and put it in, if I have the chance.

Well, without further ado, let me get my time in Baumholder up.

Oh, couple of other details that I need to mention. Birthday trip to Garmisch went extremely well, till I tripped at the end (Black Flagged on the Last Lap). Think Beginning of Berlin trip, and well, same kind of thing...just slightly different. Hey, if you take trains all the time, there are bound to be errors. I just wish I didn't have so many! hehehe :-)

Second thing is that I'm going to head off to Paris this weekend (weekend before I come home). I know that a few of you said that Amsterdam would be a good place to go, but I wasn't really seeing all that much to it. It felt like a town where you sit by a canal, having a drink, watching the boats go by. A few folks that I work with asked if I was into alcohol and/or drug, which I said neither, and they were like "Hmmmm...yeah, Paris might be better." I mean, sure it might be a good place to relax and not worry about anything, but there are so many things to see...

Oh well, time for lunch. I'll get Baumholder up shortly.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

When I get home...

I figured I'd let everyone know when I'll be getting back to the states, just in case anyone wants to see me outside of the baggage claim.

I leave from Dusseldorf Airport at 10:55A on LTU International.

I arrive to Las Vegas at 1:10pm, and transfer over to US Airways Flight 110 and leave at 219pm.

I will be arriving in LAX at 3:30pm on US Airways Flight 110.

Not sure which gate, but seeing that Security is tight, I guess that doesn't really matter huh? :-/

Well, I'll be seeing you all soon.

Edit---> Yeah, it would be helpful if I did include the date wouldn't it! :-/ So, its August 27th.

Bits of News...

Well, today has turned out to be an "interesting" day. I got a few bits of information to hand out, before I get back to work.

Yesterday's Birthday was a decent one. After having lunch, I brought out the Birthday Cake and Ice cream for a little at work celebration. There isn't too much of a tradition here in Germany for Cake and Ice cream for birthdays. There might be a little bit of celebration, but on the whole not so much. I also heard from one of my advisors that the cake is typically bought by the person having the birthday themselves and brought into work. So I figured, what the hell, when in Rome (or in this case Bremen). So I went down to the bakery that was right down the street from where I live, and tried ordering a cake the day before. Boy THAT was fun! Being the patient man that I am, plus the fact that one of the ladies there used my translation guide as well, I was able to get across that I wanted a birthday cake, although I think we repeated the information over and over again. :-) The problem was, was that they didn't really have a list of topping that I could look over and translate. The most that the one lady showed me was raspberry and plum. Well, being not a big fan of either, I went with the raspberry.

Had a little bit of trouble picking up the cake, (I had forgotten my translation book at home) but thankfully someone was there that knew English. :-) Good times! So I went to work with the cake under my arm and ice cream in my backpack. Thankfully the University isn't too far, plus it wasn't that hot out, or I would have had ice cream all over. :-) (Not really, because I put the ice cream in a bag, but anyway...)

Well, after cleaning up the cake and ice cream (there was a slice left, so I had it later on in the evening), I got back to work. There are some problems with my code that I had/have to fix, so I stayed till around 7:30pm or so before I left. Well, when I was going home, I didn't really want to stay there. So, I get home drop my stuff off, ask if Frank (who has already had dinner) wanted to join me in heading out somewhere, and we went riding. I didn't feel like heading downtown, I wanted to go elsewhere. Well, Mrs. C had told us once about this one location along the river that was pretty good. So we went exploring. Well, I followed Frank who knew some back roads, and we get to the river Weser. Well, come to find out that there was a soccer game going on at Weser Stadium. Bummer! Wish I had known about it sooner, or I might have bought a ticket for it. It was already close to 9pm, so it was kind of pointless to get into a game that was almost over (come to find out, that it really WAS close to being over), so we continued down the river, till we saw a restaurant on the other side of the river, that we had to use a ferry to cross. Why not! So we head on over to the Sand Cafe.

Well, there menu was small, and come to find out that everything they cook, they use pork to cook with, whether its the meat or the oils. So the only thing I could have was... spaghetti. Boy, I went from not having spaghetti at home to well, having spaghetti for dinner anyway! lol Oh well. Frank and I had a good time anyway. Well, we saw that the restaurant was starting to close down, so we pack up, and catch the ferry back across the river. By this point, it started to sprinkle again. :-/ Well, I was thinking of looking for something more, but then again, I didn't feel like being soaking wet when I got home. So we called it a night. Got home around 10:30pm, had my last slice of raspberry cake (which was pretty good by the way), and hit the sack.

Now to get to my more "interesting" news. Yesterday was also the day that I could register for classes. However, it wouldn't let me register for classes. There was a hold on my account. Well, I knew that I got an AP last quarter, so I figured that they want me to turn in some signed form, but I'm nowhere near turning in the document to the desk, so I sent an email asking for them to lift the hold till I was able to get back into town. Well, I got a reply back from them today.

Supposedly I've been "dismissed from Cal Poly".

SUPPOSEDLY because I've been on AP for THREE quarters, I'm no longer able to register for classes. This REALLY infuriated me. Okay, first off, I was on AP TWICE. I know I know, you're asking why did I let this happen? Well, unfortunately, my first AP was a quarter that I got a bit of a burn out, so I didn't hold my grades up. The second quarter I had the toughest teacher at Cal Poly, HANDS DOWN! Granted I signed up for the class, because I also know that even though he was the toughest, he was also the best. You could learn quite a lot from his classes. And I did! But in order to pass his class, you had to pass two out of four lab tests, pass the midterm and final, AND have the programs that we had to write up for the class pass his automatic tester "Bender". There were no exceptions. Any failure of the above would mean that you get an F. Period. I stayed with the class, but I couldn't get one of the programs to work correctly. I even did a couple of all nighters to try to get it done on time. But no dice. So I got an F, and well, that brought down the rest of my grades below the 2.0.

Where the hell they got the third AP from I have no clue. I've already sent an email back to them asking for them to review there records because I KNOW I didn't have three in a row. If I was in Jeopardy of a third AP in the Spring, then I wouldn't have taken the tough teacher, Mr S. BUT I WASN'T!!! I'm sooo mad right at the moment that I could chew BRICKS right at the moment! They better have a GOOD REASON for blocking me for registering for classes, because if I can't get into the three classes that I need this quarter, then there isn't a point in me staying there for the Fall. I need to sign up for CPE 357 again because that was the F that I got, plus its the prereq for all the rest of the classes that I need.

Well, I need to get back to work, I got quite a few bugs to try fixing before presentation next week. I'll talk to you all later.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Birthday Tomorrow

Well, there it is. The big 3-0. Its kind of funny really. I never imagined that I would be in a foreign country thousands of miles away from home on such a big event (at least for me. ). :-)

Before I even considered this internship, I was looking for ways to celebrate my birthday. I mean 30 could be considered a big deal. I mean, now if I do something totally outrageous, people could think that I'm just going through a mid-life crisis. lol Instead of thinking that I'm just plain crazy. hehehe ;-)

It's kind of a sad point too. I mean, its a time for reflection in a way. A time where I look back at the past 10 years and say, what have I done with my life? And whats really bad, is that I don't like a bit of it. I didn't do much during my past ten years. Let's see, I've been in college non-stop for these past 10 years, which is just...sad. I found love and lost it just as quickly. Been on a few dates, but the opportunities could have been so much more, but I wasn't brave enough to speak up. I've had a total of basically 4 dead-end jobs, had another that I had a great time with, till I was let go (they updated their systems, which no longer required a programmer on their staff). I've had a total of 3 cars, yeah, I think that's correct. Two I ran into the ground, the suburu station wagon, and the Honda Accord. But the third I'm trying to keep as much as I can. :-) (It's a GREAT car!)

I've gotten a total of one degree, an Associates in Liberal Arts. Probably could have gotten a couple more, but didn't really look into it. And I'm STILL working on my degree for Computer Science.

Such an American dream huh? I mean, I'm 30 (almost), I'm still single, no children, no house of my own, no wife, no 3.5 kids, no pets, no bachelors degree, and no career.

God, how depressing huh? :-/

Okay, enough with the downers...what about the bright side? I've gotten more friends these past 10 years than my 20 years prior. I'm working hard towards a degree that I know will keep my interests up and be able to provide for me and my family. My family loves me, which is ALWAYS a joy! Let not forget about all my friends who will always stand by me, even through the times of great grief. I have hobbies that I enjoy (most of which are indoor, which I think I'll have to change), good music, good movies, and good books.

One could say that I'm almost whole spiritually. But I'm not there, not yet. I have to break my shell a little more. Get out of this comfort zone that I've fallen into, and step out a little more. Its scary, most good things are, but necessary. I don't want to be a bachelor for the rest of my life. If it turns out that way, then its just something that I'll have to live with, but its not going to take me without a fight. :-) I'm going to be most stubborn about that! ;-)

Don't get me wrong, its going to be hard. I mean, for a shy, non-drinker like me, its really hard to get out there to find someone. I think I'm going to have to give up looking at Cal Poly. I've tried a little and failed, mostly because of age difference, kind of sad, but its the truth. It's going to be interesting. I mean, I've tried the online scene. Twice actually, and both ended up in disaster. Not really willing to go back to it... not unless I run out of other options. There is the whole bar scene, but once again, I don't drink and well, not sure if I want to pick up someone that does that scene every week. So what does that leave me? Parties? Most of the parties in San Luis are a younger generation. Where else? Not sure. Matchmaker??!! hahaha's time for lunch here, so I'm going to go.

I still need to think of what I want to do tomorrow. I guess a dinner is about all I can really do, seeing that it does fall on a Wednesday. Well, talk to you all later.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Bonn Day 3 (Finale) - Credit Card should be good enough, right?

Unfortunately, most of the museum was all German. No English translation, nor was there anything for me to use (other than my translation book, but I wasn't going to flip through that through the ENTIRE museum) to translate the material, no auditory translation or something along those lines. Well, they did have a special exhibit that they had off to the side (which did have English translation), which was about Jews in Germany during WWII. Yeah, I know what you'd probably say, and that would be "What? Again?". And well, yep, went through another round of Jewish History, not that I don't mind. This time, I saw items used by individuals, you know, tickets, books, photos, etc. They even had a short film in the small section, about Jewish Actors who went to Hollywood. They pointed out that most of the German Jewish Actors that fled Germany, wound up to play German "soldiers" aka Nazi's, in the American Films. :-/ A little ironic, I would say.

Well, I continued looking through the museum, not understanding a word that I saw, when an announcement came up over the loudspeakers in the museum. It was all in German, but I took a look at my watch, and saw that there was about 15 minutes till the hour. I think it was around 5:45pm at that point, museum was closing up by 6pm (I think). And I was only half way through looking through the museum. :-/ Guess the special exhibit took longer than I had thought. Well, it didn't really matter all that much any way, because I couldn't really read anything. So I sped up my walking speed, and did a quick walk through the museum. Took a brief delay when I saw a video on the Berlin Wall coming down, but other than that, there's not much to say. Great visuals for a museum, I just wish the translation was there. I shouldn't complain too much, its not their fault that I can't speak/read/write a lick of German. I'll have to change that at some point.

Well, I had about two hours left before my train leaves, so I head back to downtown to check for another restaurant. Lounge Lizard was closed, which was okay, I wanted to find another location anyway. :-) Unfortunately, once again, I was plagued by the credit card not being excepted. Well, on my search for a restaurant, I came by a toy store with a very FIERCE security system. (#36) It was closed for the day, obviously, it was just funny to see. :-)

Well, I kept getting closer and closer to the station without any luck with the credit card. Until I came to #38. They didn't take credit cards, but the guy inside (who spoke a little English (spent some time in Chicago)) told me that I could go down to the bank which was right around the corner to pull out some cash. I figured, I'd try about anything at this point just so I could get some dinner. So I head on down to the bank, and there were two on either side. So I take the one on the right, and BINGO! Cash! Yeaaaaaah! Kind of wish I had known about it prior, but oh well. So, to the thank the guy for pointing me out to the bank, I went back to give him some business. Got #37, which was... okay. I think the cook microwaved the food prior to getting to me, but I didn't care. The guy really did help me out. So after finishing up the chicken, I gave my thanks to the three guys that were there (the cook, the counterman, and the good friend from Chicago) and eventually got on the train to go home (got to the station a little early).

Bonn Day 3 (Part 2) - Credit Card should be good enough, right?

Well, after leaving Beethoven's birthplace, I wanted to take a boat ride on the Rhine. Well, come to find out, that all of the long distance boat trips had already set sail. :-/ They gave me the option of only sailing up to Konigswinter. I think there might have been an option to go a little bit further... I think... ah, well. I took a trip back out to Konigswinter. I figured, if I did anything in Germany, I HAVE to take a trip down (up as the case may be) the river Rhein. Even if its a short trip. :-) (Which reminds me, the Rhein river is a fast moving river folks, not a good river for a leisurely swim. Unless you can find some breakers that they put on the side of the river itself) :-)

So I hop on board the Godesia (#19), and head to the top deck, just so I can get the best pictures. Passed by a couple of ex-government officials houses. The building that once housed the West German Government, and oh, yeah, got to see a few familiar faces. :-) (#20-31)

Well, as I got off in Konigswinter, I was thinking there isn't that much more HERE to do. Although they do have an Aquarium, so I figured I had some spare time before the boat gets back, so I head on up to Sea-Life (#33), stand in line and wait to get to the ticket counter. It was a fairly long line. So when I get up to the counter, finally, I ask if they take credit cards. Once again, shot down. What is with this town??? Gah!

Well, I head back down to the boat stop, snap off photo #32. And I wait. The boat supposedly doesn't get back till about an hour, so I wait. And wait...and wait. :-/ I think it took longer than an hour. :-/ Well, as I waited, the gentleman in #34 came walked down the street playing music from his rolling cart. What was really funny was that at one point he played "Numa Numa", and the mental image of that one kid who chair danced to the song came back into mind. >.< If you don't know the reference, let me know, I got the link handy, if necessary.

Well, the boat FINALLY gets into port, and we all board the Petersberg (#35) and head back to Bonn. When I get back to Bonn, I still had a few more hours left, so there was a chance for me to go see a museum. So I hop on the tram and head off to "museum mile". The art museum I wasn't all the thrilled about (modern art is a little too odd, for my tastes), so I figured I'd go to the History museum that they had. Unfortunately, I forgot to take any shots of the place, or the interior, but then again, it was the history of Germany from WWII up to modern day.

Bonn Day 3 (Part 1) - Credit Card should be good enough, right?

Well, after getting up, having myself another continental breakfast (I also got the same on Day 2, just forgot to put it down), and checking out, I headed over to the Beethoven Museum. Now seeing that I had one of those Bonn Welcome cards, I was able to get in free, which was nice. #1 and 2 were at the front entrance, right before the ticket purchase. Well, seeing that I had all of my bags with me, they asked me to put the big bag that I had into one of the storage lockers. I just didn't have enough on me to rent one out (it was a deposit of 1 euro), but the lady in the gift shop was nice enough to loan me the euro. (Which I gave back afterwards, of course)

Well, after dropping off my bag, I started out my tour. It had a small little courtyard, #3, with #4's statue off to the side. Kind of a strange statue, but hey, who's to judge. :-) Well, there wasn't anything very clear about where to start from, so I went into this one room with various musical charts, documents, and portraits. Heck, the entire museum was filled with musical charts, documents, and portraits. :-)

So I got a few photos from the first room that I was in (#5 - 14). I didn't take that many more photos, there were quite few portraits of those that influenced Beethoven's life. From close friends and mentors, to possible lovers (Its said that there was even a mystery lover out there, but Beethoven took her name to the grave). Basically, as I went from room to room, it gave a chronological time line of Beethoven's life. Got a couple of pictures of the instruments that Beethoven used in his lifetime (#15 & 17), not to mention his hearing aids that he used before becoming completely deaf (#16). The picture of Beethoven's Bust (#18), was supposedly the actual room that he was born in. I had wanted to get a picture of myself outside the room with the bust as a backdrop, but one of the ladies that works for the museum was in that vicinity, and she told me that no photographs inside the museum. Whoops. Wish I had known that earlier... Well, the secondary reason I wanted to take a picture right there, because the hallway that I was standing in was about 6'2" in height. Yeah, I couldn't stand up straight. :-/

Well, after the bust, was basically the end of the museum. The tour actually ended in the first room that I went into. :-) Oh well. They had one room that some computers set up to play clips from Beethoven's work, look at portraits, and get additional info from their database that they had. Well, as I was poking my nose around their database, I missed their graphics show that they put on. Basically, its a visual representation of Beethoven's music. They only put it on once an hour, and seeing that I was done there, I figured I might as well take off, and see other sights. So I go back into the gift shop, collect my bag, gave the euro back, and what else... oh yeah, bought myself a gift. I figured you only turn 30 once, right? (Although, there are some that have anniversaries. ^.^) And well, they had the COMPLETE works of Beethoven on CD. Granted in was around 90 euros and it had a total of 60 CD's, but I think I deserve it. :-)

So, if anyone wants to listen to some Beethoven, let me know. :-) Oh, which reminds me, I don't think I really need the 25 greatest Beethoven's hits CD anymore. It's up for grabs if anyone wants it. :-)

Bonn Day 2 (Finale) - Credit Card should be good enough, right?

Downtown, wasn't all that impressive, large plaza's, and plenty of shops (which most of them were closed), but overall, didn't take that many pictures of the area. (#117 - 122) Well, after looking around trying to find where Beethoven's place of birth was (which the museum was already closed), it was getting later on in the day by this point, and I figured, I'd better get some dinner before its too late. So as I was walking around, I kept my eyes open, and saw #123. Okay, so the name of the place got my attention. :-) Well, come to find out its a restaurant/bar, limited menu, but that was okay, because they had other entree's other than pork (boy did they ever).

This place my friends was 5 stars in my opinion (out of 5 stars). The food was EXCELLENT, the service was terrific, and the price wasn't that bad overall. If this place was in the States, I would recommend that everyone stop here, but its not. :-( Well, if any of you are ever in Bonn. ;-)

Let me start you out with #124. At first glance, you think bread and tomato chunks for topping. But its not exactly that per say. Yes, it is bread (fresh baked from the taste of it), but its the tomato chunks that got my attention. Now, typically, my brother and I never really liked tomatoes all that much, not sure way, probably because of the texture. But that wasn't the case here, I finished it off, and asked for seconds! They called it tomato jam. I mean, it had the look and texture of tomatoes, but the taste was all jam. I was quite pleasantly surprised. :-)

#125 wasn't all that impressive, matter of fact, it didn't taste good for me at all. It was like a cream, in a way, with looked like a cranberry string on the very top of it. I took a small bite and that was it for me. Just did not have the taste there for me.

Now we get to the main course, #126. It was chicken cooked in a red wine sause, with onion cloves (I guess you might call them), and little, ummmm..., potato balls. It wasn't boneless, but it didn't really matter because it was the skin that was holding the chicken together. The meat literally slipped off the bone. But lets not forget the taste of it all. The sause might have been a little overpowering in just the vast quantity of it on the plate, but it didn't really matter because the chicken itself came off quite nicely with the sause. Overall, as I stated about the meal was DEFINATELY worth the price, if not under priced. :-)

I asked the waiter about the Tomato Jam, whether or not they were going to market it out at all, and he said that they were just looking for the right kind of jar. Now, I doubt that it would make it to the states... but you never know. ;-)

Well, after savoring my dinner, I continued to explore the downtown area. Came past #127 & 128, which to me was a little freakish if you ask me. Took a picture of some fountains that were near Bonn University (#129), as well as, a small grassy area in front of a church (#130 & 131). Well, I was getting closer to Bonn University, I wanted to try to get a picture of how big the field was between the University #134 and another building that I have no clue about #133, by taking the picture #132. It just didn't work out very well. :-/

Well, at this point I was getting a little tired. But I figured that I would take a look at the Rhine before I went to sleep. So I went onto the bridge that was right next to the hotel that I was staying and took a few pictures. #135 - 137. I then went back to the hotel to get some sleep for the next day.

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Battle at Kruger & Raining Men

Just saw an amazing video on YouTube called "Battle at Kruger"

Bit of violence (obviously), but no blood, you'll be amazed trust me. :-)


Oh and Frank showed me another video on YouTube called "It's raining 300 men", it is quite funny, for me at least. The women on the other hand...

Bonn Day 2 (Part 3) - Credit Card should be good enough, right?

Well, at this point I was a little tired and hungry, it was getting around 11:30 to 12pm, so I figured that I would stop by the restaurant that was right there. It was a fairly big restaurant, so I figured they wouldn't have a problem with my credit card. I was wrong, I asked for a Coke, and then I remembered that I should ask them about the credit card. So just as they opened up the coke, I got to them to ask, and well, they didn't expect any credit cards, just cash. So I apologized for the mistake and left. :-/

So I started my hike back down the hill, keeping well aware of the falling rocks (#60). Well, seeing that there wasn't any restaurants between Drachenfel Castle and Drachenfel Manor (Need to make sure this is correct), I figured that I would at least tour the manor seeing that I was already there. Well, needless to say there folks, the manor was BEAUTIFUL! And that would still be an understatement. :-) While still keeping off the grass (#68), I took the pictures from #61 to 115. Well, the history of the manor has quite a few ups and downs. It was created by a middle class man who made it rich, and commissioned its construction. However, he was never set foot in the manor, because by the time of its completion, he had gotten too sick to really leave his current house. So, after that it was a training ground for an equivalent of the Boy Scouts (I believe), a Christian Boy's School, then a military training school for the Nazi's when they took over. Then WWII and the Allies shelled the location, there was quite a bit of damage, not as bad as Berlin, mind you, but quite a few rooms were damaged, to the point where some stained glass windows where shattered beyond recognition, for instance. After WWII, no one claimed ownership of the manor, so it basically went into disrepair. It because a house to go to for the homeless or for those that used drugs. The city eventually wanted to demolish it, till someone stepped in and bought the house. I forget his name right at the moment, but he was fairly wealthy at the time (I think it was 1990's), and he started getting together a commission to restore the house.

Note that even though they are still allowing people to go onto the estate, they still want everyone to do what they can to help, such as the picture #84, where you don't ruin the wood flooring, or you know, the typical #68 keeping off the grass! hehehe :-) They put another museum into #71, all about nature conservation. They had an audio headset that would respond to whatever location you were standing at, and give you certain information. The museum was all in German, but at least I had the headset. Although it had a few "bugs" in the system. But oh well, I'm not going to worry about it. The "museum" was ... okay. Nothing like Smithsonian quality, but it was adequate. Went up into one of the towers of the manor, and started taking a few pictures starting with #102. Unfortunately, my slight fear of heights (yeah, I know, my height and all), thanks to my Dad, made my palms sweat a little. But thankfully the tower was stable. :-) Well, after the tower I went into the basement. They showed a few schematics of the place shown on #108 and 111, couple of other items like #109, 112, and 113, and they also had a video on the construction that's been going on. Unfortunately, it was in German, so I couldn't really understand a word that it was saying, but it was kind of cool to see anyway. :-)

Well, down in the basement, I also saw #115 and #114. Basically if anyone has some free cash that they wish to donate (hehe yeah, I know, free cash, let me get out my OTHER wallet...), I photographed the info, just in case. :-)

Well, after the basement, I went into #71's museum, and I had wanted to put up some souvenirs but once again, they didn't take credit cards (are you sensing a theme?), so I went through the museum, and continued on my way after that. I was feeling quite hungry by this point, and knew that I should stop someplace to get something to eat. So as I was going down the hill, you know all those restaurants that I passed coming up? Well, not a single one took credit cards. :-/ So I get to the base of the hill, right where the trains start up the hill, and I was figuring, I'm getting back into town, I shouldn't have a problem with my credit card now. (I was figuring that the places on the hill didn't really have any form of connection to establish a credit line, so I figured the opposite would be true in the town itself).

Well, I checked out this one ice cream parlor/sandwich shop, that was next to the Drachenfel train, but no dice. So I continue, and find an antique shop. So wanting to get a few gifts, I went in (asked the lady if they excepted the credit cards, and they did ^.^), and got Mom a nice gift. I'm going to have to start all of this stuff out. :-)

Well, after the purchase, I continue in search of finding food. Unfortunately, not many places advertise that they except credit cards (unlike in the US, where you could find the labels on practically every door...not quite, but close to it), so I had to go one restaurant at a time just to see if they took credit cards or not. I think I went into about 4 maybe 5 different restaurants, before I FINALLY found one. Order myself some pasta, and got #116. It wasn't too bad. Basically it was spaghetti noodles with butter melted over.

Well, after finishing off the pasta, and having about 3 glasses of soda (it was a warm day), I looked at the time to see that most of the museums were already closed by this point, either that or had about an hour left. Not much for anything along the lines of museum hopping, so I figured I could just go downtown to check out the sights there. So I hop back onto the tram and ride back into town.

Bonn Day 2 (Part 2) - Credit Card should be good enough, right?

Well, lo and behold, it came upon the right location. It showed off an old tram that it used (#9 & 10), as well as, some donkeys, for what looks to be about 11.15 an hour. Yeah, not riding a donkey, not sure where I would place my legs anyway. :-) And well, the train ride itself was 7 euros up and 9 euros back! Ouch! My Bonn "WelcomeCard" only gave a 20 cent reduction, but I wasn't going to pay THAT much when I could just walk it.

WORD OF WARNING: For those that have heart conditions, trouble walking, or just don't feel like taking a hike (no pun intended), I would HIGHLY recommend the train. :-)

Why you ask? Well, I hiked (#13), hiked (#14), hiked (#15), and yes, hiked even more (#16) and that was just a quarter of the way up. Got to a reptile house by that point (#17 & 18), so I continued walking on up. Saw some rustic houses (turned restaurants, #19), some activities for the kids (#20 & 21), and some just off the wall. (#22 & 23) But finally folks I made it (#24)... to the halfway point!

Basically, its the castle/mansion that you can see in picture #32 fairly well. I'll be coming back to that, because I haven't gotten to Drachenfel yet. So I continue following the path leading up into basically a nature reserve. Hmmm... Didn't get a picture of that sign, but oh well. Don't really need it I guess. Oh, as I was traveling up the hillside, I was trying to get a drink with my credit card, but the small shops that I stopped off at didn't except credit cards. I pulled out what change I had to get a drink, but I didn't have enough for two, so the trip down would be a little interesting.

Well, as I continued on up, the path would come to little clearings that was on the edge of the hillside, which offered GREAT views of the countryside. You can see what I mean with (#30 - 34, 36, 37, 41 - 45, 59). I saw some curious sights when I was heading up the hillside, such as #35. I was thinking that those were actually gun placements put in during WWII, but I'm not sure. There was nothing that I could see that would say otherwise. There was also #38 & 39, which I didn't think was part of Drachenfel itself, but it was still pretty to see. Saw #40 put into the side of the hill at one point. If I remember correctly, it was RIGHT after I passed #39. Well, I finally get to the top of the hill where Drachenfel is, and there was a restaurant RIGHT there, with a GREAT view of the countryside (#59). Well, when I got there I snapped off 41 - 45, as well as, #46 & 47. Not sure of the historical significance of #47, figured I'd at least take a picture of the writings on the side of the spire. I'll have to translate them later.

Well, I pass by the restaurant when I start hearing some sounds coming from around the side of the restaurant, I was heading it that general direction anyway. So I come around the corner and I see a few adults and several children standing around where the sounds were coming from. Well, the sounds, come to find, was actually speech, German, to be precise. And it eventually ended, to where I could get a better view of what they were standing around looking at. And I saw #48. "Vorsicht!!! Sprechender Drache" basically means... ummm... ah man, can't believe I forgot it. Hold on... Okay, it means "Caution!!! Speaking(??? Translation guide didn't have the full translation) Dragon". Well, it had a motion sensor built in where if anyone got close to it, it would make snoring noises as though the Dragon itself was asleep. It was priceless. :-)

Well, I continued a little bit more of a climb to get to Drachenfel proper, #49 and 50. Well, I get to another smaller spire #52 with the plate on #51. Once again, unable to translate at this time. But I get to the Castle Drachenfel, or at least, what was left of it. #53 through 56 showed the damage that the castle suffered, not sure if it was by direct result of artillery shelling from allies, or it just burnt down? As you can see on #56, the castle got a little blackened. I would like to know if what I saw in #35, was linked in some way to the castle itself. But I'm not sure. I'll have to see if I can find some history about Drachenfel at some point. Well, after climbing around the ruins of Drachenfel, I started my way back down (#57), taking another route down to the restaurant. Found a sign (#58) that contains the history of Drachenfel (I would assume), but I haven't been able to translate it yet, plus the overgrowth is blocking a bit of it. I tried to do what I could.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Not traveling for a while

Well, I just got some news the other day which could potentially cancel my out-of-country trip AND my birthday trip if its not resolved in time. Could also put some problems for me if they don't get it resolved by the 27th too, seeing that my flight out of Germany is in Dusseldorf.

Come to find out that tomorrow will start a union strike of Train conductors for the Deutsche Bahn. That means that train travel just might be impossible. Which means that I'm not sure if I can even leave Bremen at this rate, much less the country itself.

Hopefully it will be the shortest strike possible and I'll be able to get back on... ehem... track (sorry didn't mean for that to be a pun). :-)

Here is the link if you want to read up on it...,2144,2722345,00.html

Friday, August 3, 2007

Off to Baumholder

Well, I'm going back to the one location that I can vaguely remember when I was here when I was a little lad! I just hope that I got it right.

I believe I got the right location, because I remember that it was a circular street, they were apartments, there was a forest right behind it, with a golf course not too far away. I was hoping that my brother could have given me the information that I had requested prior, but he is a busy man, so I understand. I just hope that it is the right location. Well, I'll find out when I get there. :-) I'm going to be in for a little hike! That's for sure! :-)

Well, I leave for Baumholder at 6:44pm tonight (18:44), and I won't be getting there till around 7:44am (07:44). Stupid me, I let Die Bahn do the scheduling for me, which from the looks of it decided that I should take the LONG way around. Should have just ordered a ticket to Frankfurt and go from there. But no, I hit 3 other cities before getting to Odar-Oberstein where I can take a Bus to Baumholder from the looks of it.

The ticket however doesn't cover for all of the expenses from what I found out. I don't think it covered for the Regional Express nor the Bus (Line #320) itself. So its going to be interesting finding where I can pick up the ticket. Plus, I'm going to have to talk to a few people that may or may not know English. I hope that the closer I get to the American base, the more I'll be finding American speaking folks? Yeah, not too sure about that. Well, I have to get back to my search for the bus line. Got 15 minutes till 5pm, and I want to head out at that time to get to the train station without any problems.

Talk to you all later. :-)

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Bonn Day 2 (Part 1) - Credit Card should be good enough, right?

Well, when I got up the next day, I knew that I needed to find a bank so that I could have cash on hand. So I started looking around. Found two banks, both had bank card locks on there doors (the ATMs were in a small lobby inside the bank itself), but lucky at the second bank that I stopped off at (citibank) someone went inside right after I tried opening the door, so I slipped inside. Yeah, the Bonn authorities are probably looking for me right now. hehehe ;-)

So I tried using my credit card (thinking citibank, and mastercard) but it wouldn't give me any cash... WTF? It said that I needed to talk to the bank. Well, I figured that I would be fine with just my credit card, so I didn't sweat it at the time. (Boy, I wish I would have been right...) :-/

So, after purchasing what they call a Bonn Card which for 48 hours I could get on the trams for free, get free admission for most of the museums and a few discounts here and there. The discounts weren't all that much concerning the initial prices, but hey, 20 cents is 20 cents. So I figured if I can get into any museum in Bonn for free, and most of them were open weekends, I could see most on Sunday. What I wanted to see was an actual castle! Supposedly they have/had one that overlooks the Rhine... you'll see that soon. :-)

Well, off I go on the tram to Konigswinter. I get off at the one location where the local ferry also comes along, see on #1. Well, the guide said that I had to get off the tram at this one location to get to the castle, but it didn't give any directions from there. And I looked around the tram stop for some kind of indicator of which path to take to get to the castle, but didn't find anything. So I thought, okay, I'll start heading towards the hills, and see if I find anything along the way! Well, I go through a scenic part of the town #2, trying to find my way to Drachenfels. So I keep on walking, and I see this one guy walking in the same I thought, maybe he's going to the same location. And well, it surely seemed like it.

I finally come to the sign #8, but I was thinking, the Drachenfels train had a 20 cent reduction, and I figured I could just walk my way up. So I didn't want to go with the train itself, so I walked the other way, thinking that the pathway up to the castle was to the right. It was going up into the hills more, I figured it was the path to take...

Yeah, sometimes you should follow me from the looks of things. #3 through 7 were pictures I took along multiple paths that I tried. I mean, I saw #5 and figured it was the wall for the castle itself, right? Nope, private residence. Number 6 basically showed the paths that I was kind of taking. So, I sucked it back up, and followed the sign. Silly me, it took me to the right path. Who would have known? Can someone give me a snap for good measure? ;-)