Friday, June 29, 2007

Pay Day!

Next day, woke up to sunny day, a little. Wednesday had a few sprinkles, but today (Thursday, yesterday as I'm writing this) was looking pretty good. I didn't feel like exploring too much today, but I went in early to get some work done on the internet. So I get some of that done, I do a little bit of book reading and then Mr. W came to get Frank and I to take us to be paid. YEA! We get to the cashiers office, and were given the 620 euros to last for the month. Mr. W came with us so that we could talk with the cashier easier.

Well, I was no longer sweating for the lack of money. Only had a few coins left in my pocket that came out to be around 1 euro or so. So Mr. W went off to a meeting, so by this time it was around 1pm, so Frank and I went to the Mensa. (oh, just looked up the translation for Mensa, and it means canteen and/or cafeteria) :-) Mr. D showed up a little later saying that everyone had meetings except for him, he had just got done with a lecture.

Well, we head back, get some more research in, and everyone start filtering out. I wanted to get some more work done online, so I stayed till 8pm when they kicked me out. Supposedly the steam line blew at one point and caused some electrical damage, so the lights don't stay on. So for insurance reasons, no one can be in the office past 8pm, right before the sun sets.

So I went riding home (I had the other bike this time, so no confusion) and found that Frank was finishing off the pasta. I figured that it was okay seeing that there was only one helping of it. Plus we just got paid, so Mrs. C informed us of a Mexican Restaurant down the street, so I figured, it would be great to learn a little more. So with translation book in hand, I went to get some food. I learned quite a few things while there.

First off, no matter where you go, alcohol has the same names or at least what I could tell from the Alcohol list. I guess some restaurants allow dogs inside, because there was a dog sitting on one persons lap. And that there were a few people smoking both inside and out. Matter of fact, I noticed that quite a few people smoke in Germany. Its funny, when Mom stopped smoking I noticed fewer people were smoking as well. Well, I guess they all went to Germany. :-/ I had a gentleman waiter who spoke English, so it was a relief, but yet, at the same time, I couldn't work for my food. :-P So I paid for my bill, went home, asked Mrs. C for how to pronounce some words. The restaurant also put down some gummies (shoes???) for the typical mints (that restaurants in the USA give). It was interesting seeing gummy shoes instead of the typical mints.

Well, after getting some translations, I went upstairs and decided to finish off the blogs that I needed to write. I think tomorrow (Friday, or today as I'm writing this) I'm going to walk to work, just so that I can take some pictures of my route to work.

First Day at University of Bremen

Just some images of the room that I'm currently staying at.

Well, we woke up to Wednesday, and it was going to be a fairly interesting day. Not as inventful as Monday/Tuesday, but eventful none the less. Woke up to find that Frank had got up early, although not intentional. It seemed that he was still in a crabby mood, so I figured that it was still due to the long flight and to give him some time. So I hop in the shower, get dressed and find out that Mrs. C had gone down to the corner bakery and bought some Crouissants for breakfast. I also think that she had some homemade Strawberry Jelly waiting for us (or at least it was in an unlabeled jar), and the combination of the two were wonderful. A little lite as breakfasts go, but hey, I wasn't complaining. So after breakfast I wanted to get a little exploring in before we went to work. Supposedly everyone that works where we would be working at get in at varying times, typically around 10am. So Frank and I figured that 10am would be fine as well, but I wanted to check out the University a little bit. Frank didn't feel like exploring yet, so I hop on one of the two bikes that were provided for us, and take off. Well, the bike that I grabbed needed some work done on it prior to riding. It's back mud guard had come lose, and I had to place the "spoke" of the guard back into its holder. The tire was rubbing against the metal creating quite a bit of noise. When I finally stopped to put the "spoke" into the holder, one German came riding along and said something to me. I could only assume that it was about the noise, but I couldn't understand. That was the first lost in translation for me for the day. So with everything "fixed" I continue on my way. Mr. W had said that all I would have to do is to follow the students that ride the same path, and he was right. They took me right to the university.

Now Mr. W had said that we would be at a red building at the edge of the university, and I found it fairly easily or at least I found the 2 red bricked buildings right next to each other. But don't worry, Frank and I found the right place without too much hassle. Well, I park my bike, and once again a German lady (possible faculty) started talking to me in full German. I asked if she knew English which she didn't. I had completely forgot that I had a translation guide in my pocket. So that was the second lost in translation. So I walked around the campus. Taking a few pictures here and there. Didn't want to look too much like the "tourist". :-) Took a picture of a grassy parking lot, which is interesting. Not only do they park on the sidewalk... but they park in grass too. This will take a little adjustment (in that I have to watch out for cars in the street, on the sidewalk, AND on the grass). :-) I guess that the rail-lines are safe from cars, so there's that. ;-)

So I found what I could only assume is the University Union, and took a couple of pictures. I found the main walkway, the Boulevard, as its called. and went past the Mensa (which is the main cafeteria). There are a few spots to get something to eat, but the Mensa I guess is the cheapest with the better food (???). I'll have to explore the other eatery's around the university. Well, by this time it was getting around 10am, so I started walking back.

I went to the furthest building thinking that if I didn't find it there then I would check out the other building. That's when I spotted Frank, he was looking around the bike racks in front of the building. Come to find out, I had taken the bike that had his particular bike lock on it, and he had to walk to the University. He was in a happier mood, so I think the walk did some good. He was okay about the mistake. (Can we say whoops?) But then again, I had thought that he was handed his bike lock by Mrs. C, like I was, so figured that he had it with him. Oh well. No harm, no foul. So we get in, which we were on the fourth floor, not the third floor that Mr. W said. We actually got in before Mr. W got in, so Mr. D, (the person that I had been talking to the prior months) showed us around. We got introduced to everyone that was currently in. Then when Mr. W got in we went with him to fill out some more paperwork. After the paperwork, they told us to look at some topics for our work there, we went to the Mensa for some food. Thankful I still had enough coin for the food there. And they have pictures of cows, chickens, or pigs, to say what's in the food. I'll have to remember to take a picture. But the food was pretty good. Mr. W showed us around the cafeteria telling us what the different "queues" (lines of people) led to. There was about 5 different food areas, actually I think more than that, I'll have to recount. So Frank and I get the cheapest food that we could get (2 euros) and following Mr. W to their normal eating location. After lunch we went back to continue reading up on our work. Frank left early because he was feeling tired. I stayed till around 5pm, trying to understand what exactly were they looking for, from me.

I get back to the house, and Mrs. C was going to take a drive to the bank which is right next to downtown, and asked if Frank and I wanted to come with. Which we did. So we all piled into the car, and Mrs. C gave us the 2 cent tour of Bremen. Instead of going straight to the bank and back, we actually went all over the town practically. Seeing the Weser, the Dome, the Quarters, as well as others. It was fun having a small tour. Come to find out, downtown Bremen used to be the site of a castle. This will require further exploration. :-)

So we get back home, and Frank and I go to the corner grocery store because we needed dinner. Frank was thinking of using this one recipe that he got from the web about Pasmesean Chicken. Yeah, it might have been easy to make (mix and cook basically), but we didn't have the materials, and well, I was getting too tired to search. So we ended up getting some spagetti, some sauce, some hamburger meat, and had basically spagetti w/ meat sauce. It wasn't too bad, the sauce (once again) was interesting. Well, we put the remaining food in the refrig, we had made too much, and went to bed.

Bremen Bound Finale!

Needless to say, with the whole thing with the money problems that I had, Frank was not in a good mood. Neither of us were in a good mood at that point to be exact. We just wanted to get to where we were staying and sleep. We had been up for close to 24 hours at that point with little sleep. So we went down to the platform (Frank was informed of the platform by talking to one of the train station workers) 12A to wait for the train. Waited about 15 minutes when a train pulled up on 11A, it was heading to Bremen. So we figured it should work, even though it wasn't the train for 12A. So we hop onboard, lugging the baggage around. Thankfully there was a spot for us to throw the baggage into without taking up seat space.

After we got on the train, a gentleman sat down across from me, so I wanted to confirm with him that the tickets that we had bought were correct. He said they were, so we were good. It took us about an hour to get from Hamburg to Bremen. The countryside was glorious, I kind of figured that we would see almost constant villages or something like that when travelling, but that wasn't the case.

Well, we finally get to Bremen and get off the train. Well, we figured that we would be meeting our advisor at the platform, but we didn't see him. Actually we had no idea what he would look like actually, but I thought that seeing I had sent my photo into them, they could at least see me. Frank didn't send his whole passport in, just the number. So we waited for a few seconds, and saw that there was an elevator that went down below the tracks. So we caught a ride down the elevator, and looked for the main entrance. We found an entrance, but it turns out that it was the back entrance. We waited at the back entrance for a little bit (didn't know it was the back entrance at the time), but our advisor didn't show. So we decided to give him a call. Got his voicemail. Or at least we think we got HIS voicemail. Not sure, but didn't want to leave some random message on someones voicemail if it wasn't the right guy.

So being low on patience and sleep, Frank looked around for another entrance and found the main entrance. So we checked out the directions to get to where we were staying, headed out to the Tram/Bus stops, and waited for the right tram/bus to come along. We needed the #4 train to take us to the right spot, but we couldn't find where to buy the tickets. There was a ticket center, but it was closed. So while waiting for the train, our advisor, Mr. W, showed up. He said that he was waiting on the train platform but couldn't find us. I suspected that he might have been on the wrong platform. Well, we all piled into the #4 train, and headed for our temporary home, talking about our experiences along the way. I could actually feel my mood get better as the minutes passed. We headed down the HeerstraBe Schwachhauser to our street where our temporary home is. We followed Mr. W to the house, got introduced to Mrs. C (Could be Miss, not sure what happened with husband, she has 2 adult children), and Mr. W handed us over to her. What she has is a 4 bedroom, 1 and a half bath... condo I would give a guess. Well, Frank and I didn't even consider dinner at that point because we were so tired. We crashed. Tried adjusting my alarm clock according to the time, but found out the next day that I was two hours off. I "think" I might have slept for 10 hours straight, but I'm not sure. And that was the first day. :-)

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Bremen Bound

Oh, almost forgot, took a snapshot of "Frank" while we were waiting. hehehe

Well, the flight went okay. Nodded off here and there but no where near REM sleep. So we got off in Hamburg. Picked up our luggage, and went outside. We needed to find a bus that would take us to the train station. We were told that there was an express that goes directly to the train station and to look for the yellow bus. Well, it didn't take too long to find it because it came in just as we walked outside practically. So we hopped onboard, bought tickets and we were on our way to the train station. I snapped off a few pictures before we started moving just to show everyone the lovely weather Germany is having right about now.

Well, as we were going along, I saw that car were parked on the sidewalk, tried to take a picture of it, but it didn't come out so well.

So, we get to the train station. Both Frank and I are REALLY tired at this point. So we start searching around for the ticket booth. While searching around, Frank found the automatic ticket booth, put money in, ticket spits out. So he put in his 20 euros (the ticket costs 19.40) and got his ticket. He then waved me over. I didn't see him get his ticket, so I didn't know what he did.

Well, at this point I was able to input in that I needed a Bremen ticket (that wasn't hard), but I had some issues with the money. First off, I wasn't used to the way they would put a comma instead of a period for lower than 1 euro denominations. So it was showing 19,40. Well, I was tired, so I put in 19 euros, thinking that was enough. Well, it wasn't, and Frank ran off to catch the train, supposedly it was leaving (or had already left). (It had already left by the time Frank got out to the platform, but needless to say, he wasn't there with me)

So I started over, putting in my 15 euro bills that I had, and starting going through my coins, pulling out enough for the rest, well, at this point, the ticket machine had spit out the 15 euros that I had put in, and then sucked them back into the machine when I didn't pick them up quick enough. And then wouldn't return them to me... :-( So I went looking for someone to refund the 15 euros. Supposedly, the machine is handled by an outside company, and that I would have to fill out a form to get the 15 euros back. :-(

Well, I get the form, was told that I could turn it in whenever I wanted, borrowed money from Frank, because I didn't have anymore at that point (stupid exchange rate) got the ticket and proceeded down to the platform.

Well, time for me to go. More on this later.

First Day Continued

So we get on board without any problems. We get to out seats and prepare for the looong flight.

The onboard movies were "Eragon" and "John Tucker Must Die". The first I've seen, the second I didn't really need to see, so I went ahead and skipped the movies. So did Frank. Frank and I both debated whether or not pulling out our laptops would be a good idea. We both decided that it would be a waste, because there wasn't a power outlet anywhere on the plane (duh) and no internet which would limit us anyway. Besides, my battery is dying anyway, so I've been getting about half hour to an hour worth of power from it. (I'll have to pick up a new battery when I get home)

So we ended up reading most of the way to Germany. Frank was reading something about "Satan: fact or fiction" or something like that. Not sure of the title, I'll have to ask him for the title again. I was reading "The Dragon Revenant" by Katharine Kerr. Got halfway through the book, which wasn't to shabby. :-)

Well, by after a while we got serve dinner. There was the pasta or the pork. Yeah. Went with the pasta.

<-- Yum, Yum! Doesn't it look delicious! ;-) It was a pasta with a sauce that I never had before, (probably a German sauce?) with some brocoley. Some kind of a colesaw mixture that you can see in the upper left. Some cream swiss cheese (from the Laughing Cow) and butter in the cup on the right. A desert which was like a carrot cake almost, but not quite, I can't put my finger on it. It had some raisens and a frosting on top. It was pretty good, the only thing that I didn't really like was what was in the "Fit" package on the left. It was a rye bread that had some kind of nut mixed in. Yeah. I don't really like rye, to bland for my taste, and not even the Laughing Cow could help it out. We went through the night trying to sleep as much as possible, but there were too many people on the flight to stretch out on one of the rows, and I just couldn't fall asleep in the up-right position that I was in. I tried stretching out my legs into the aisle to get a "laydown" feel, but I actually tripped someone. Thankfully the person didn't fall all the way down (was able to catch himself), but it was enough for me not to do it again. So I stayed up and read. (Hence the reason for half the book) <-- Here is a picture of what we had for our flight over. Not quite sardines, but it got close. Well, we got served breakfast as we were flying over Ireland (The video screen that you see showed updates on our flight) It was a combo meat and cheese, bread, OJ, and yogurt. Unfortunately, I think the meat was ham, so didn't want to risk it. Frank ate it but was too tired (He didn't sleep very well himself) to really tell me what kind it was. So much for breakfast. :-/ They didn't have a secondary option for breakfast. Oh well. Well, we got off our flight, at Dusseldorf, in not the typical terminal, we got off onto the landing strip (Or close by at least) and boarded some buses that would take us to the terminal. I wondered if the bus driver was new, because he kept lurching the bus around so much that he almost made a few of the elderly, that were there, fall onto the floor.

Well, we went through customs, where several men were behind glass windows, asked what we were doing in Germany. I actually got a bit tongue tied at this point because I wasn't sure what to answer. I mean, I've heard people say "Business" or "Pleasure", but in a way this trip is both... so I ended up saying that I was doing an Internship. Not sure if he knew what I meant, but he okayed me none the less. We went to the baggage claim, thinking that we might need to pick up our baggage for our next flight, but it wasn't necessary. It was being transferred automatically. So we walked through the terminal to our next gate. Went through another security checkpoint, this time the checkpoint was actually sensitive enough to pick up the metal that was in the pants button. For them to bring out the metal scanner wand. Everything else went smoothly to get to the gate. But at this point, I was greating really hungry (plus the gate was right next to a deli of some kind), so I needed to exchange the dollars I had to euros. So I went to the exchange which was outside the security checkpoint, exchanged the money to euros and went back through the checkpoint. After the checkpoint, I saw a bookshop, and needed a translation guide, so I picked one up there with the new euros.

Went to the deli to get some food and pick up a kind of chicken sandwich. Had some tomatoes and another kind of sauce to it, and it was pretty good overall.

<---As you can see, it wasn't cheap. Especially with the Coke being just as much as the Sandwich (It was about 1 euro less) Oof.

Well, we get on the next flight without any problems, but instead of having seats next to each other like the previous flight, Frank and I were given completely different rows. Not only that but someone was sitting in my seat. :-/ Well, there were still seats available on my row so I figured that I would just take the aisle seat without issue. Well, someone came up to claim the aisle seat. Okay, whatever, I sat in another seat and didn't have any other issues. I was too tired to care. However, if I got kicked out on the next seat I would have kicked out the person in my seat. But it didn't matter.

We were on our way to Hamburg.

Boy, these are long posts, let me cut this one again.

First Day

Well, I need to catch up here seeing that its been a few days after I got to Germany.

The first day of travel, it was interesting to say the least.

Well, to start out with, we were leaving out of LAX, on Monday, around 3:10pm. Unfortunately, the person who I was going with (going to refer to him as Frank) didn't realize that I was going to be visiting family as well. He didn't get into SLO until Sunday evening, I was kind of hoping that we could have stayed at my Mom's house on Sunday night, but yeah... that didn't happen. So I went back up to SLO Sunday evening just so Frank and I could leave early morning Monday. The drive wasn't too bad, didn't really experience any form of traffic till we hit LA proper.

We picked up Mom, Brother and family and continued out to LAX (Brother was driving his own separate car, six people are hard to squeeze into one car). My brother was doing some normal blocking as we traveled, the way caravans are supposed to be done. :-)

Well, we got out to LAX, and I had a small argument with Mom about where to go (she won, of course). We stayed on the outer loop just "so we could see where to go for departure". Could have done it within the inner loop, but whatever. Almost lost my brother on that one, unfortunately, left him behind as he got stuck from pesdestrians crossing the street. Could have been a few points there, but I guess he didn't want the law chasing after him. :-)

So we get to the parking structure and parked, met up with brother and his family, and proceeded to the check out counter. Now bear in mind, when I called the airline, they said "allow for FOUR HOURS" for checkin time. YEAH RIGHT! When we got in line, there was only one other person ahead of us at the check in counter. So I thought, "okay, we'll experience some problems later".

My baggage (had two bags) made the weight limit (Frank stuffed everything into one bag, so his was over the limit). Then we had to take the check in bags for inspection. Well, this is where I thought that we would get hit. There was a mile long line for people to have baggage inspection. Then some security guards came up and said "There is another one on the other side". Needless to say we got through the inspection quite quickly (and didn't have anything confiscated either). :-)

We got at the check in counter around 11:30am, and well, by that point it was around 12:30pm or so, give or take a minute. So I grabbed some McDonalds, before going to the personal checkout. Gave some long goodbyes and hugs to Mom, brother and family, showed the boarding pass to the security guard, and continued on my way. (Was a little choked up with the goodbye, but I knew that I would be back soon).

The personal security checkpoint went fairly quickly. I set my backpack down, had my valuables in a ziplock bag that they had available at the boarding pass check in area, put the ziplock bag down, put my jacket in the personal holder box that they had, and walked on through without any problems. Although my backpack was flagged. What the heck? So I followed the security personnel to a table for the backpack. Well, come to find out, I needed to have taken my laptop out of the backpack. ??? Okay, so the person wiped down the laptop with a little cloth (I would assume to check for chemicals), opened it up to check the inside, and flagged it okay. Took the backpack over to be rescanned without any further problems. So I think to myself... why didn't she open up my CD case to check there? (Not that I was carrying anything dangerous, it just struck me as curious).

Well, Frank and I get past the security checkpoint, get to the gate and.... wait two hours because we got through the checkpoints quick enough.

Well... I'm going to continue the next bit on the next post...

Monday, June 25, 2007

More Later

Hey there Everyone,

This is a very beginning of what I hope will be a very long blog about my (and possibly my friend who is also going) experiences in the Country of Germany!

I have to go right now, because I have to wake up early in the morning to take my friend and I down to Los Angeles (LAX airport), from San Luis Obispo, before our flight at 3:10pm.

I'll post more later.

Night Night!