Bonjour mes amis! Oui, je parle francais. Or…. I wish I could ;). But it’s improving!
Anyway, it’s been a while since I have posted. And with good reason – I have been doing NOTHING exciting since my last post! In Bad Aussee, I’ve still just been sitting around, and I was so bored, that I watched the MTV Video Music Awards. If you know me, I don’t really do that. Soo… yeah. One day, though, my landlords invited me to the lake, Grundlsee, with them. It was a nice day, and we walked around the lake a little. But now, I’m in the middle of my trip around Germany/Switzerland/Austria, so I have some updates!
As reported, I was supposed to leave Friday to go to Bad Neustadt, but as it turned out, Kerstin’s family couldn’t accomodate me that weekend, so I had to change my travel plans a bit. But it ended up working out really well, because when I thought about it, I didn’t want to take the train all the way up to Bad Neustadt. And! On Monday night, as I was walking in my door, there was a woman walking in in front of me and she goes, “Are you Alaina?” And I’m like “….yeah…” “Oh, I’m Eva Speilmann!” – she is my main English teacher at the school! She had to give an interview or something for the TV station based in my apartment building, and then she knocked on my door so we could get to know each other. She spoke English to me, which set my nerves a bit at ease. She is very nice and very excited/exciting, and reassured me that the students are really nice and I have nothing to worry about! It was fun to talk to her. Anyway…so, I left Tuesday for Innsbruck for 2 days, 2 nights.
Innsbruck is a very nice city, but actually not that big. There are Alps all around the city, which is probably the best part. I met a girl from Berlin, which was cool. We hung out the first night I was there and went to an Irish pub (always a good time!) and then hung out in the park a little the next day before she left. We exchanged numbers and emails and she invited me to Berlin, and I her to Bad Aussee. So, I guess she’s my first, new, German friend haha. And probably sometime in November, I’ll go to Berlin!
The day she left, Wednesday, I spent walking around the city. There is not too much to see in Innsbruck but the Altstadt is very pretty cobbled streets. I went into a pretty church and walked along the river. Then I bought dinner and read in the park. While I was buying a beer at the grocery store, a German asked me if there was any specialty beer from Innsbruck. Of course, I didn’t know the answer. And it turns out this dude was staying in the same hostel as me…weird.
So, I went back to the hostel around 8 pm and was checking my email in the common room. All of a sudden, an old German guy starts talking to me. He’s got a bunch of bags and a heavy accent and at first I’m just smiling and kind of laughing, not really talking to him since I was checking my email. He changed the channel on the TV to The Gladiator (in German) and then starts commenting on what happens in the film to me, which is something I find annoying. Then, he feels the need to start speaking with some Japanese people who don’t understand German and hardly English. The old German guy opens his bags, and what is in there? But a bunch of seemingly worthless historical collectibles, such as newspaper cuttings, postcards, stamps, coins, pictures, etc. He starts trying to talk to the Japanese people about this and I, of course, become the translator. Meanwhile, The Gladiator is still on, I’m trying to watch, and he’s still commenting on everything. Cool. Eventually, the Japanese people escape and I am left to watch the movie in peace. (The Gladiator is a very good, very sad movie – I cried!) Anyway, the old guy had fallen asleep, so I wake him up before I leave, and then he somehow gets me to sit and listen to him talk about his artifacts for a good hour. He actually gave me a few coins, which I thought was very nice and friendly of him, but I’m not sure what I’m supposed to do with them. Then, he wanted to send me stuff about Bad Aussee, so I gave him my address and he gave me his and I’m supposed to send him a postcard. In the end, he was a very nice old man and I was happy I sat and talked to him but it was just a little tiring….
Anyway, the next day I woke early and made my way to the train station to go to Freiburg!!! The ticket ended up being cheaper than I thought it would be, which was a relief. I took the train to Munich and then I was supposed to take a train to Karlsruhe but the train to Munich was late, so I took a train to Mannheim, then to Freiburg. And I was on ICE trains the whole way, which was lovely! I got to Freiburg around 6 pm and tried calling Maude, but apparently she had given me her house phone number, so that didn’t work too well haha. I decided, then, to just show up at the Guesthouse because I didn’t have anyone else’s number. As chance would have it, I ran into Mary Catherine (friend from high school and college, who is now at Goethe) on the way to the Guesthouse! She is now living in Sarah’s old room, which is pretty funny. We went straight to Nassim’s room and everyone was there, just like normal! I gave everyone a big hug, even Alex who I think actually hates me, and I was immediately poured a drink! Apparently, everyone had been partying all day, so I had to play catch-up. It was so nice to see everyone and hang out just like normal! 🙂
Eventually, Maude and Marilyne got there and we went to get some pizza. Then we all got ready to go out and Maude, Marilyne, Pac-Man and I went to Shooter’s before Kagan (everyone else went straight to Kagan). We stayed until 3:30 am and then went back to Nassim’s room…just like usual :). Maude, Marilyne, Ice, Nassim and I all slept in Nassim’s room and it was hot and crowded, but fun. Ice said he had to take the train back to Heidelberg at 5 am, and it was 4:30 am when he said this, just as we were going to sleep. He said “oh shit!” and then decided to go to the train station right then. Instead, he decided to sleep for a half hour and when I woke up 3 hours later, he was still there haha.
Marilyne woke up and was feeling sick, so she went to sit on the balcony. Eventually, I went to join her because I just couldn’t sleep anymore. When we try to communicate, it’s really funny because she doesn’t speak English and hardly German and I not-even-hardly speak French, so yeah. Then Mary Catherine got up and let me use her shower. Maude and I then decided to have Schnitzel for breakfast (!!!) at about noon. We went out and it was so awesome to be in Freiburg. Really, I love that city. I didn’t realize how much until being away from it for a while. It felt so good to just walk around with Maude as we did all summer. Sooo nice!
Marilyne met up with us and we did a little shopping. We started to head back to the Guesthouse around 2:30 and luckily saw Nassim, Ice, Mary Catherine and some new girl Stephanie, who were all heading out to lunch. We said bye to them and all made promises to meet up in Vienna or Heidelberg or Freiburg and then we parted ways. Us girls packed up and then headed for Neuchatel and la “Fête des Vendanges” (after Alex tried to convince us to stay for the weekend haha). La Fête des Vendanges is the festival of the harvest and, apparently, the biggest/best party in Neuchatel!
The drive was easy/nice and it was fun to drive yet again in Europe. When we arrived, Maude’s mother made some delicious spaghetti and we ate a lot before going out drinking. It was planned that I would sleep at Marilyne’s apartment on her spare couch, so I brought a bag over there, after Maude and I bought some drinks at “la gare” (Hauptbonhof –> train station). The city was crazy alive because of the festival….music everywhere, people everywhere, people drinking everywhere…it was like a fantasy world. They have a lot of parades and people shoot confetti out of big air guns so the ground and the people were covered with paper. It was insane and was a really cool effect at night, it looked like snow on the ground. I got to see one of the parades and all of the marching bands were wearing crazy masks and I thought about what Ferden would have said if we wanted to wear masks while marching and I laughed. There were even families out, with little kids, and all the kids had bags of confetti and would throw handfuls at people walking by.
Maude and I sat by the lake for a little bit and watched drunk people then we headed to this one bar, Fun I think it was called, and we met up with all of her friends that I know. Maude’s brother was really quite drunk and could barely stand, so it was kind of funny….but also annoying haha. He left at some point and then Maude decided it would be better for me to sleep at her house instead of Marilyne’s so we went to Marilyne’s to get my bag and then we left with the bus. Suddenly, Maude cried out “Shit!” and pushed the button to stop the bus as she explained that he brother was passed out on the sidewalk. So we get out, haul his ass up, and he runs away from us, up the hill, home to his house. We get home, change and pass out in Maude’s teeny-tiny bed.
The next morning, we gave her brother a lot of shit but he laughed it off and said he didn’t remember anything. His mom said, “So now you have a great impression of my son” but in French and Maude translated. There was another parade on Saturday, so Maude and I got ready to go. It was totally different during the day, with more families and little kids and less really drunk people. We saw the parade and I got to see Maude’s old marching band, which her little brother is now in. So cool!! There was still confetti everywhere and the sun was shining! Maude and I met up with Marilyne and we got some food (I ate duck for the first time!) and some drinks and sat by the lake, which we could see now because it was daylight. It was a really nice day, and we went back to Maude’s house so I could pack.
At 7, Maude and Felix drove me to the train station and I got some food for my 12 hour jounrey to Graz, Austria. I very nearly left my glasses at Maude’s house, but her father drove them to the train station for me. I found my track, said my goodbyes and got on the train to Zuerich. It was a quick, stressfree ride. I ate my sandwich in the Zuerich train station (it was tuna and didn’t want to eat it on the train near anyone because I’m nice) and then the train pulled up 20 minutes early and I got on and got settled. I shared a compartment with a Swiss-German grandmother and daughter and another man got on in a different city. I actually slept a little but sleeping on a train is really weird. The train switched travel directions a few times, so I was sometimes forced to roll into the wall. The pillow was really crappy, but I managed to get a couple of hours.
I arrived in Graz at 7:40 am and it was actually a pretty nice, crisp morning so I decided to walk to the hostel instead of wait for the bus. My original plan was to check-in and sleep for a couple of more hours, but I can’t get my room until 2 pm, which was depressing. I decided to eat their breakfast, which was good, and thank God they have free-wireless internet, so that is how I’m spending some time right now.
So, I’ve arrived in Graz one day early for my orientation. There are three (I think) other people already here at the hostel, too, so I have to go into the city and buy some credits for my phone so that I can contact them. This hostel is actually really nice and one of the livliest I’ve ever stayed in – people are everywhere, which is a good feeling.
Anyway, in general, I’m really happy with my traveling. It felt so so so good to get back to Freiburg and see everyone. It was the same as it was all summer and it made me really happy. Everyone was happy to see everyone and we had a great time together. Plus, the city is just perfect – not too big, not too small, can walk everywhere, has everything you need, etc. It’s like Ann Arbor, but German. So, a group of friends want to visit me in Austria, in Vienna, and that would be so fun! Ice, who is studying in Heidelberg, invited me (and everyone else) to go to Heidelberg, and I definitely will next time I’m in Germany (probably November). Then, I actually want to make it to Bad Neustadt, Freiburg, Heidelberg and Duesseldorf, because I now know someone there.
Neuchatel was so great, too! I had such a wonderful time at the festival. It was such a different experience than anything I’ve ever done in the US, and it’s something that Maude has done every year since she was born! I wish I could have stayed for last night, too, but oh well!
So now I have today to explore Graz a little and then tomorrow begins my week-long orientation. I’m excited to meet the other people in my program and I know we’ll have a fun week here in the 2nd biggest Austrian city :). Then early Friday, I go back to Bad Aussee to prepare for Monday, my first day!!!! I’m a little nervous, but it shouldn’t be bad.
Anyway, not much else to say, except that I could really go for a nap……..but time to explore a little, I guess. Hope all is well with everyone! Miss you all!!!