Sunday, July 30, 2006


My European Adventure is beginning tomorrow with a capital and most grandiose A!

I am heading off to Munich tomorrow with Sophia and hopefully Heather to see the newly released Pirates of the Caribbean, most likely in German. That night, I will be hopping on the night train via Berlin, in which Marie will be in wagon 27 waiting for me! We will both be spending a few days in Berlin before she heads off to Spain to meet her beau.

Whilst Marie begins her trek to the land of the Spaniards, I will be hopping on a bus to Chojnice, Poland, where I will meet Maciej (Polish) and Paula (Colombian - Canadian), two Canada World Youth past participants. I will only be spending about one day in Poland before the three of us, hopefully also including Jarek, drive to the intriguing and much anticipated Ukraine. I am still a little worried about Paula and I being able to enter the country only with our passports, but we were told that we did not need a visa to visit for a few days. I sure hope so. We shall soon find out.

In Ukraine awaits my lovely counterpart, Olya. She is currently working at the Ostrog Academy, so we will probably be meeting her there. I will be spending about five days with her and the others, seeing some sights and enjoying each other's company. After about five days, I will leave my fellow international friends and train to Vienna.

Vienna will find me staying with my great aunt and uncle. I have been told that my great aunt is looking forward to showing me around, especially around all of the places that Mom used to frequent. I simply cannot wait to be in Vienna, especially since this year is Mozart's birthday. I am hoping to catch a concert or opera of some sort when I am there.

And, there you have it! All of this will be compacted into fourteen short days, as it is the 14th of August that I will be landing in Montreal. I am also looking forward to being back home again, as it will be so wonderful to see everyone again. It feels good to have so many things to look forward to.

And I haven't even mentioned my upcoming Boston trip!

Friday, July 28, 2006

The grass is greener in Innsbruck

Travelling without a map can sure be fun -- although it may induce a few periods of panic for me -- but travelling without a sure destination or not knowing exactly where you'll be in a few hours is also just as fun.

Heather and I randomly went to Innsbruck on our last weekend -- we did not know the city at all, heck, we didn't even know the size, but we knew we wanted to go down to lovely Tirol, Austria, specifically Innsbruck.

I must say, it is a beautiful city. We walked for hours the first day, just exploring the city, going in and out of shops, drinking cold, yummy drinks, and walking in the Fußgängerzone. In the evening, we sat by the river eating chocolate, and then we had the great opportunity to hang out and chat with some very interesting and cool Austrians in first a funky bar and then in the Irish pub. It was simply wonderful.

The following day found us at one of the many Innsbruck museums -- this museum in particular was having an exhibit called, "100 000 years of sex", in which basically sex was researched from before the Middle Ages until the Victorian Age. It was quite interesting, although they could have done much more with it. We also viewed their modern art collection, as well as a special science exhibit. It was a sweltering hot day, so it was wise to spend much time in museums.

On the train back, Heather and I ended up running into a French-Canadian family that were from Northern Ontario, near Timmins. They were extremely friendly, and they asked us of all the cool and fun things there is to do around Füssen, which was one of their next destinations. We recommended the usual things, such as the castles, the museums, swimming in the lakes, and we also suggested that they go to Heather's restaurant for Apfel Strudel.

The train dropped us off in Reutte (still in Austria, but only about 15 km from Füssen), and no sooner had we gotten off the train that we realized that no more buses ran to Füssen that day. Simply lovely. We decided to do the ol' hitchhiking thing (since we had become practically pros at it) but because we were on a different road, not as many people were going to Füssen. It took awhile before we were picked up (two drivers before had stopped for us, but they were not going to Füssen). Heather and I ended up wandering past a town called "Pflach", which made us laugh. The heat coupled with exhaustion, feeling sticky, and us not getting a ride made us laugh, chortle, and giggle at practically anything. However, the driver that ended up picking us up (and who was going to Füssen) was a woman! I was extremely impressed, as was Heather. So, there are women who pick up hitchhikers!

As it stands now, I only have two and a half days left at the hotel! As of the 31st, my vacation commences. I can hardly wait for my travelling time, as well as arriving back in Canada. It should be an exciting next few weeks!

Friday, July 21, 2006

American Story #1

Judging by the way they drawled and dropped certain letters in words, and the fact that they spoke English, I came to the easy conclusion that we had a few Americans spending the night last night. A few of them were visiting a friend, which I assume hails from Bayern, and he had taken them all out to our restaurant for supper. At around 10:30 pm, one of the Americans, a woman, comes back down and asks our head waitress, Marlene, whom has a fairly good grasp of the English language, if she can use the Internet.

American: "Excuse me, but cuddeye use the inernet?'

Marlene: "Sorry?" (She is now completely focussed on the American -- you sometimes need all of your brain power to converse in a foreign language).

American: "The inernet. Cuddeye use it?"

Marlene: "I'm sorry, I don't understand."

Realizing the problem here, I quickly jump in, informing Marlene that the woman wishes to use the internet.

Marlene: "Ooh! In-ter-net! You want to use the In-ter-net." (She pronounces every syllable as crystal and as clear as ever, even rolling the 'r' a little).

So, the three of us go up to the computer, Marlene signs her on, and she is ready to go. I chat briefly with the American, telling her that I am Canadian, and that is why my English is so good. (American to me: "Wow, you have really good English. Where did you learn it?")

After leaving the American to do her thing online, Marlene comes up to me and asks if Internet is actually Internet in English. I tell her it is, but she is baffled why she had so much trouble understanding the American. I say that it is her accent, and she tends to drop some letters in some words.

"Schrecklich", says Marlene, as she busies herself again, which translates to horrible.

I grin. I stop myself from saying, "Well, what about this ridiculous Bayern dialect? What about your rumbly German and your different words for things? How about speaking in Hoch Deutsch for a change?"

It was a good thing I stopped myself. Not that I have built up hate against the Bayern dialect, I just found Marlene's reaction humourous, especially when they all know full well that they themselves speak a different kind of German.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Munich - two days chocked full of "Spaß"

München - A most beautiful city which I will always have fond memories of. I must say, I had the time of my life, and I can't wait to go back.

Heather and I shared a Bayern-Ticket and took the 9:52 am train to Munich, after, of course, stocking up on some of those peanut butter flavoured chips (which I have grown quite fond of).
We met up with Sophia and Marie at the Munich Bahnhof's Burger King. We all headed over to our hostel, checked in, and dumped off all of our stuff. Marie was very eager to get going. I was just so excited to be in a city again, and I couldn't wait to start exploring beautiful Munich, rich of culture, history, and, of course, beer gardens.

We decided to go and meet the guys right away. Three guys from our group work in a beer garden in Munich, and the plans were to see the sights and then go out "on the town" with them. Riding the train and then a bus, the four of us realized how far the guys were from Munich's downtown. Later on, we discovered that they in fact work in one of Munich's suburbs.

Franziskaner was the name of their beer garden. We made it there and within approximately eight seconds, realized what a crappy job they have. Sure, the beer garden looks great, and it feels like a great environment, but only only if you are a customer. The three guys -- Dave, Joel, and Nick -- work like slaves. They are bus boys, so they are the ones that clean, put away, and carry around the glasses. Naturally, they have the boss from hell, who screams after them all the time, and once even sent Dave home because apparently his work was " Scheiße" (shitty). To add to all of this, they never have days off, unless it rains. Because June has been such a beautiful month, save maybe five days at the beginning, they have had only three days off in the past month. I really don't know how they stick it out.

Sophia quickly downed her litre of beer, we told the guys we'd be back later, and then we headed to the Neue Pinakothek Museum. It is a museum of 18th and 19th century art, featuring famous impressionists, realists, and even our beloved Van Gogh. It was a great museum, and we even got to have one of those audio things, which tells you information about specific paintings. I could definitely have stayed there all day, but we wanted to get in as much as we could, so we boogied our way to the BMW Museum.

Heather was the one who suggested we go to the BMW Museum, due to her love (or her mother's love?) of the car. Unfortunately, the museum is undergoing renovations because, believe it or not, a BMW World is due to open in 2007! In order to compensate, they had a smaller museum set up, which was still pretty cool. Heather took tons of pictures, but she kept lamenting on how she wished she was here when the BMW World opens. We told her she could always come back next year, and she said that she may, unless she dies. She is an odd one, but that doesn't compare to what the four of us were going on about on the train and bus. We were absolutely crazy. Everyone in the train was stone quiet and just watching us go about in our loud and obnoxious ways. Oh, but it was loads of fun. And to quote Heather, "we are completely mental". It's been a long time since I've laughed that much.

After the BMW museum, we headed back to our hostel and ended up talking to a friendly guy from Kentucky. We made plans to meet up again the following day at the Moderne Pinakothek (modern art, from the 20th and 21st century). I would tell you this friendly guy's name, but neither of us could ever remember his name.

We arrived at the guys' beer garden at around 11 pm. They were just finishing cleaning up. After getting their hours signed by their devil of a boss, they sat down with us, each one of them carrying their litre of beer. Apparently, every day, they get a free litre (a Maß) of Helles beer. And every day, they drink their litre of beer (naturally). We met some of their co-workers (most of them from Eastern Europe), as well as a guy named David, from Scotland. The guys, us, as well as this Scottish David guy, went out after the litres of beer had been polished off. The plan was to hit the club square in one of Munich's "hip" districts. We first went back to Nick and Dave's place because Nick had to, because it's Nick, fix his hair, put on new clothes, and primp himself, all the while talking like a black man to us. The rest of us sat on the edge of Dave's balcony bedroom, smoked, drank warm beer (which I politely declined, even when Scottish David tried to make them cold), and enjoyed the cool night.

We stayed there for quite awhile and chatted. We must have lost track of time because by the time we finally got out, it was 3 am! Someone kept on saying, probably Nick, that the night was young. Heather and I got worried when I heard the birds chirping, but Scottish David told us that their chirps mean nothing here. At least, mean nothing regarding to time.
We walked around the club district for ages, met a few policemen (Joel and I took a good look at their Polizei car), met many Americans and Canadians, but we never did make it into a club. We looked into many clubs, but most of them were about to close for the night, and others were apparently "not good enough" for certain people (read: Nick) in our group. So, after walking around for ages, we parted ways and us girls took the 4:30 am tram back to our hostel.

It was 5 am by the time we got to our beds, but this didn't stop us from waking up shortly before 9 am the next day. There was much to be done! After having our breakfast of toast and jam and tea (sitting, of course, with the friendly Kentucky guy), we all went separate ways. Heather was to inquire about the fixing of her laptop, Marie went to drop her stuff off at Nick and Dave's place (she was staying the following night there), and I was left to ponder the question:

Should I stay the extra night and watch the big game of Deutschland versus Italia?

Pros: It's not every day you are in the country that holds the World Cup, and it's not every day you are in one of their major cities when a game with that country is playing. This was going to be big.

Cons: I had to work the following day at 9 am, so that meant that I had to catch a super early train back. Also, Heather and I wouldn't be able to use our Bayern-Ticket.

After inquiring at the train station and talking about it with Marie, we decided that I would use her Bahn Discount Card and would go back to Füssen at 6:52 am. Marie and Heather would travel to Füssen together, using the Bayern-Ticket. We had planned for Marie to come to Füssen to see the sights, as well to visit us, as Sophia and I had visited her in Immenstaad.

So, it was now official -- I was staying an extra night in Munich for the big game!

The four of us took the Free Tour of Munich, our tour guide being an Australian, who loved Germany. It was a really neat tour, lasting a total of 2 hours and a half, so we got to see many of the major sites. I took many pictures. Speaking of photographs, they will all be posted once I get back home, which is August 14th. It is too much of hassle to put them up on Aisle 4 now. Of course, don't obsessively start updating my blog every 15 seconds on August 14th (it's a nice thought) because I can tell you now that I will be taking it ultra easy on the 14th when I return.

After the Free Tour, Sophia bought some honey wine (which was much too odd tasting for my liking), and Marie and Heather bought some Burger King (which, apparently, Heather had been craving for over a month). We hustled our way to the Moderne Pinakothek Museum, which is a museum of modern art, showcasing weird pieces of furniture, funky appliances, avant-garde photographs, and famous artists, such as Picasso. After the museum, we came back to Munich's downtown, we explored some shops, Heather finally got her computer fixed, and Sophia bought some cherries and strawberries from one of the many fruit stands. Marie and I went into a Germany souvenir shopped (which was packed) and bought some Germany paraphernalia, in order to properly get ready for the big game at 9 pm. We bought some leis in red, black, and yellow, and we even got some Deutschland flags tattoos! It was around 6:30 pm, and already people were going crazy. Nearly everyone was sporting either a Germany flag, or a Germany t-shirt, or several Germany tattoos, or a combination! Every so often, a bunch of Italians would loudly walk by, singing "Italia! Italia!" and waving their flag.

So, the four of us went back to the guys' beer garden, in order to watch the game there. We were very giddy on the train as well as the bus. We got there an hour before the game was due to begin, but the huge beer garden was already packed. We finally found a table, and Sophia and Heather ordered some food. Marie and I ordered a Wein Schorle each.

The game passed in a sort of a haze. I didn't watch much of it. The four of us were laughing too much. Once the game went into overtime, though, the entire beer garden tensed up. Everyone's eyes were glued to the screens; they clutched their flags in their hands, hoping to God that they would soon be able to wave their flag around like maniacs.
I finally stood up to actually watch some of the game, and BAM BAM, like two swift kicks to the groin, Italia scored twice in a row. That was it -- Deustchland wouldn't win the World Cup this year. The only people in the entire beer garden, probably in the entire country, who were elated with Italia's victory of Germany were Joel, David, Nick, and Scottish David. This meant that they wouldn't have to work as long; this meant that everyone was about to go home and mope!

So, of course, they go around hooting and hollering (but not too loudly, so as to not upset the loyal fans), and then they start cleaning up. After they are finished, we all hang out at their beer garden, they enjoy their litre of beer, and we chat with some of the Eastern Europeans. At around 3 am, we all part ways. Sophia is to be dropped off at the train station, in order to take the overnight train to Frankfurt, Marie and Heather are to sleep at Nick and Dave's place, and I am to stay at Scottish Dave's house. Unfortunately, Scottish Dave cleverly forgot his keys inside his house, and his roommates are either walking their 90-year old Oma (yes, at 3 am) or drinking until 5 am (what a bunch of weirdos), so we are left to wander the streets of Munich until I need to catch my train.
Fortunately, it is a nice night, so staying up, chatting, and walking isn't so bad after all. I didn't think I would get much sleep as it is, so getting no sleep at all wasn't much of a step for me. After all, this is Munich -- I can do the sleeping thing on a later date.

So, I catch my 6:52 am train in a stupor, somehow make my connection, and I make it back to Füssen, just missing the bus going back to Roßhaupten. So, what am I to do? Ride my trusty bicycle, of course! So yes, after two days of very little sleep and much walking and partying, I get on my bike and ride the eleven kilometres back to the hotel. I work until nearly 3 pm (later than normal), tutor English, have a shower, work my night shift, and then come back home at 10 pm and chat with Marie (who is staying the night at my place) before finally, finally going to sleep. I have no idea how I did it.

So, there you are, my lovely readers -- I commend you for making it to the end of this monster of an entry. I really should have mentioned the funny Americans that I have come across since I have been here, but don't worry, I will reserve those stories for a later date.

Monday, July 03, 2006

A disconnected blurb

I, unfortunately, missed the festivites of Canada Day (a Quebecois' delight) this year. Not only that, but on the 1st of July, I managed to break my only Canada flag. Perhaps it was symbolic, in order to remind me that I am in a country that is oblivious to the fact that July 1st Canada Day.

I went to see Heather today, and she wished me a happy Canada Day. She said that she has been dying to say that to someone (who would appreciated it) ever since she woke up on Saturday.

It was another beautiful day, so we biked to Hopfen am See and went to her work -- a restaurant by the name of Fischerhütte. We went there for two reasons -- first of all, as it is the end of the month, she wanted to get paid (people at her work don't seem to tell her anything), and second of all, we wanted to indulge in their desserts. Their food is nothing to write home about, as they are more well-known for their scrumptious desserts. We shared an Apfelstrudel with vanilla ice cream, and then we had something, of which I forget the name of, which resembles cut-up pancakes, but it is sweeter and doesn't have such a mushy texture as pancakes do. The first part of the word is "Kaiser", and all you German speakers out there should be able to remind me what the heck this lovely dish is called.

Heather said she has been feeling more Canadian than ever since she has been in Deutschland. I said that I experienced similar feelings when I first went to Poland for a few months. You really get thinking about your country, what you feel, and how you relate. She said that she never thought about Canada "in that way" at all before. It was an interesting conversation.

Tomorrow, I will be spending the night in Munich, after a day of exploring the city, seeing museums, doing some shopping, and "exploring" some beer gardens!