Friday, August 18, 2017

Day 5: School 2, City Tour, and The Wanderer

Today we began the day with a visit to a vocational school.  I'm no expert in this area, but I was impressed with what I learned about vocational schools in Germany.  It seems like a good opportunity for students who might not want to go to college/university.  This particular school was 96% male and only 4% female. Wow!  Additionally, students can earn money on the weeks they are doing their internship (they do a few weeks in the classroom, then a few weeks at their job). They make a decent pay too.  We had a lecture from the headmaster, toured the school, and got to see some students working on various projects as we toured the building.  The school provided the lunch.  It was really good (below).

After lunch, we had a bit of free time before our tour of Nuremberg so two of the other teachers and I decided to poke around some more of the shops.  I confess I purchased more gingerbread.  It wasn't on purpose, but they gave us free samples of the peach gingerbread and it was so good.  I also got a Christmas decoration--a small glass Christmas tree made in Germany.  We visited another church too.  After shopping, the three of us decided to grab a quick drink.  We ran into another guy from our group so he joined us.

Then it was off to our tour of Nuremberg.  The tour was fairly interesting.  It started at the place below and ended at a castle.

Four of us decided to stay and tour the castle.  We only had an hour and a half until it closed so we had to go quickly.  I especially enjoyed the view from the tower.

After the castle, we decided to stop at the Wanderer, a popular bar in Nuremberg.  Our tour guide described it as one of the "moodiest places" in Nuremberg so I thought we were going to see all kinds of grumpy people, but it turns out he meant mood like the atmosphere, I guess not everything translates nicely.  Two other guys from our group were there so we joined them for our drink, then the six of us walked down the street where we ran into some more people from our group and had dinner.  I tried celery schnitzel.  We hung out for a bit, then part of our group headed back to the hotel--after a gelato stop. :-)  Tonight it was strawerry and chocolate.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Day 4: School Visit 1 and The Nuremberg Trials oh, yes, and beer gardens

   Our hotel was nice and even nicer was getting a night's sleep in a bed, not attempting (unsuccessfully)  to sleep a on a plane. Hey those of you who can sleep on planes, what's your secret?  Share your wisdom.  :-)  Anyway, got ready, had a pretty good hotel breakfast and then we gathered in the lobby to head to our first stop, which was a secondary school.  We had a lecture from some of the teachers and the principal. The main focus was inclusion, but they also covered some basic information about schools in Germany as well as that particular school.  That school participates in a program "Schools without racism, schools with courage." The schools have to meet certain requirements and I believe 70% of the students and staff have to agree to participate.  Schools have various events to support this goal such as rallies for human rights, various guest speakers, etc.  They have a local sponsor and they also try to provide support/help to families as needed (i.e. that might include meeting with parents and explaining things to them in their own language).   We also got a tour of the school and had time for Q and A.  They gave us some nice snacks too.  Later, we watched an inclusion physical education class.  During some down time there, we had time to talk to teachers individually and it was very interesting to learn more about their schools and curriculums.  I enjoyed it.  The PE class was being held outdoors in a nearby park so on the walk over I was able to talk to some people in my group and get to know them a little better, which was also nice


When our school visit was over, many of us went to a beer garden for lunch.  Most of us weren't that hungry so we just had snacks and drinks (in my case a Raddler). Then it was off to the courthouse where the Nuremberg Trials were held.  We had a lecture/guided tour of the building.  Our guide was a political scientist who was soon going to be leaving to go work for The Hague.  I found the exhibits and guided tour really interesting. Could have used more time, there was so much to see.  After that, we went back to the same biergarten (beer garden) to continue our discussion with our guide--and yes, have another beverage.

We had some free time before dinner so we headed downtown and a few of us explored some of the shops together. I bought gingerbread (this part of Germany is known for it), a Christmas ornament (typical of me on a trip), and a magnet for my grandmother (she collects them).  Then we visited a church in the area and shortly after that it was time to meet for dinner.      

Our table shared some bread based appetizers, which were good (one was basically garlic bread and the other had a delicious cheese spread on it).  I had slamon and I tried some rose wine, not my fave--I'm such a picky drinker, I need to learn to like more things.  On the way back to the subway, we stopped for gelato.  I enjoyed my strawberry vanilla.  And then back to the hotel.  

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Day 3: An Enjoyable (and Tiring) First Day in Germany

Once we'd all gone through customs, gotten our luggage, and made bathroom and ATM stops we headed to the part of the airport where the trains arrive.  We'd be taking a train to Nuremberg in an hour or so.  We all mostly hung out and got coffee (or in my case water, since I do not like coffee).  I read on the train for a little while, then managed to get a little bit of sleep before we arrived in Nuremberg.  Upon arrival, we had some time to get lunch at the train station.  After that, we took cabs to our hotel where we had about an hour and a half to ourselves.  I attempted to power nap then showered, changed, and attempted to make myself look presentable--not an easy task when one is up all night.  Our first stop was the Documentation Center and the Nazi Party Rally Grounds.  Our tour guide was great, but we were so tired and I got really hungry towards the end of the tour.  Next we had some time to explore the Documentation Center on our own.  It was interesting--I enjoyed the exhibits--but also depressing to think of the sheer number of people who died during the holocaust.  

Around 6, we headed to dinner.  I had some sort of pasta dish.  It was pasta made with eggs, which I'd never had before, but apparently, isn't uncommon.  I enjoyed it very much.  It had cheese on it too.  The drink choices were soda and beer.  I forgot to mention it was a beer garden type restaurant.  Anyway, I don't like soda or beer, but when in Germany... They had a drink called a Raddler and it is basically beer mixed with lemonade.  Apparently, it's similar to what we call a shandy, which I tried for the first time at the end of February.  It wasn't bad.
   Dinner was delicious (dessert was nibbles of apple pie and cheese cake), but I confess, I was so happy to be done and go back to the hotel because I was exhausted.

Friday, August 11, 2017

Orientation Part Two and The Flight to Frankfurt

Saturday (day 2) we had breakfast at the hotel, which was pretty good.  I love breakfast food.  Then back up to my room to gather my stuff and check out.  I did somehow manage my luggage on the huge escalator, but I was beginning to understand why they said to pack light and I was glad I did NOT bring my big suitcase.  :)
   Orientation part two involved doing some work with the articles we had been required to read and a bit more information on Germany.  Before we knew it, it was time for a quick lunch as our shuttle would soon be arriving to take us to the airport.
   We took the bus to the airport, checked in, etc. and then had some time before our flight departed.  I chatted with some people in our group and in the other group and I also walked around the airport for a bit as for some reason I had it in my head that the flight was going to be over eight hours long--it wasn't.
  Soon enough, it was time to get on the plane.  I have traveled a fair amount in my life, but I have never been on a plane with an upstairs.  My seat was not upstairs, but I felt like a little kid walknig by.  I was like, what's up there?  Wow!  (Someone in my group thinks it's like ultra first class, better than regular first class seats.)  Maybe I can google image it or something. Anyway, as it turned out it is NOT an 8 hour plane ride to Frankfurt.  It's more like 6 1/2 and since our flight was ready to go on time (amazing!) we had to sit on the plane and wait because we would land too early--you aren't allowed to land before 5am at that airport.  I spent the ride watching movies (I very much enjoyed "Hidden Figures") and reading.  The food was actually decent too.  Sadly, much as I tried to sleep, it just didn't happen so I arrived in Germany happy, but TIRED.  

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Off to Germany, er Washington DC

I recently spent two weeks in Germany.  Given that I go for stretches without blogging, I'm going to predict that it'll take me two months to blog about those two weeks.  Any other bets?
  I don't know if I mentioned it in a previous blog or not (actually, remember that webinar I mentioned when I was in Vegas?), but I was accepted to a fellowship in Germany.  In typical me fashion, I was nervous and excited.   I had applied in December and found out in March that I got in.  I was SO EXCITED because I really wasn't sure if I stood a chance.  Then I panicked for a couple of days when I thought job commitments might prevent me from going, but it all worked out.  Prior to going I participated in two webinars and read an assortment of interesting required reading.  Work is pretty busy for me in June so the few days before I left were a bit of a whirlwind.  Somehow I got through them.  Finished work on a Wednesday and used that Thursday for last minute packing, having lunch with a friend, and just plain trying to catch up on non-work stuff, oh, and writing thank you notes.  Friday morning it was off to the airport.  My flight to Washington, D.C.--more on that in a minute was at noon. Traffic near the airport in the morning can be, well, let's just say less than enjoyable so I took an earlier shuttle than I maybe would have liked and go figure there wasn't much traffic.  So I got to the airport with plenty of time to spare.    The check in machine didn't like my credit card (to pay for my luggage) so I had to wait in line there for a few minutes, but somehow I ended up with a TSA Pre-check.  I've never done that before, but it was quite nice.  Anyway, I had plenty of time to read my book and play Words With Friends.
Oh, so I had orientation in Washington, DC Friday evening and Saturday morning then it was off to Germany from there.
There was one other person in my group on my flight to DC so we met up at the airport.  It was nice to meet someone ahead of time and have someone to travel with--and yes, I know I should not have just ended that sentence with a preposition.  The flight wasn't bad, but my luggage was not on the carousel so that freaked me out a bit until someone came by and said some luggage from our flight was elsewhere. I have no idea why, it was just standing in the airport and not on the carousel, it wasn't oversized or anything, but I was just glad to have it.  Traci, the girl from my flight, and I Ubered to our hotel, quickly got settled into our rooms then wandered down the street for lunch.  I had some type of vegetarian pizza at a Mediterranean restaurant.  It was good. I haven't had a lot of Mediterranean food, so I was pleasantly surprised.  Then back to the hotel for a little while until it was time to head to orientation.  I met one other person ahead of time too and then met a bunch of people in the lobby and we all took the subway to the building where our orientation was being held.
   I don't know if you've ever been  on the DC subway, but oh my goodness, those escalators are crazy.  I kind of wish I'd taken a picture.  You just go down for ages.  I can only imagine how far underground we were.  I don't know if I've ever been on an escalator that long.  I could only imagine how it would be with luggage the next day.  
  Orientation was good.  The people I met all seemed really nice.  We had orientation with our group and another group.  There were people from all over the US.  We played a funnyish game and learned a bit about our requirements on and after the Fellowhsip as well as a bit of German and met a few people who worked/interned for the program.  Then we had a nice dinner.  After dinner, it was back to the hotel to get some sleep since we'd soon be up for over 24 hours--I was not looking forward to that part, but I was definitely looking forward to going to Germany.      

Thursday, August 3, 2017


I have a love hate relationship with the month of June.  I enjoy June because there are usually a variety of fun events taking place, the weather gets warmer, and I have some time off from work.  Unfortunately, I also usually have a ton of work to do at work.  Somehow it always gets done (though at times I look at my to do list and think it'll take a miracle to get it all done; I think instead of a miracle it really usually involves a lack of sleep and spending too much time at work).  Anyway, in addition to all that work, I did enjoy dinner out with friends, a cook-out, Mama Mia (the musical--it was great and I saw it with one of the girls I went to Ireland with, it was great to see her again), a comedy show (Kevin James--he was funny as were his opening acts), my dance show--yes, I did the show this year and since I was only in one number I was also the backstage manager, which was an interesting experience.  Fun, but also a bit nervewracking--especially, when someone is supposed to be on stage and you can't find them--fear not, we did find everyone!  While the aforementioned fun events, were certainly enjoyable, my biggest news for the month of June was that I got to do a fellowship that invovled spending two weeks in Germany.  So as soon as I get those pictures all loaded onto my computer you can read all about that in future blog posts.

Friday, July 28, 2017

May Catch Up

So I'm going to quickly catch up on the month of May in one post.  Early in the month, my friend Matt was home from the Air Force.  We visited him at a welcome home/first birthday party for his son/sprinkle for his soon to be daughter party.  It was great to see him, his wife, meet his son, and catch up with his siblings and mother.  The following weekend I took my mom out for breakfast (early Mother's Day gift, I guess).  When breakfast was over, I had the joy of spending way too much money for new tires.  Oh, the joys of cars sometimes.  Did the Mother's Day thing the next day.  With all that partying and eating out, it's amazing my clothes still fit at the end of the month.  The following weekend involved more eating and drinking for a friend's birthday.  We went to a place that serves flights of beers after dinner, but they also had flights of cider so this non-beer girl enjoyed some cider.  And then Memorial Day weekend involved a day with the in-laws extended family and a trip to the city for Italian food and a visit to an art museum to celebrate a friend's birthday.  With a little luck, I'll have my blog posts about Germany about soon.  Yay!