Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Yer Up.

What better way to celebrate graduating college than to go spend two weeks in Europe with one of your best friends and her so-cute baby? I submit there isn't one. At least not for me. It was seriously an amazing two weeks. Here-- let me tell you a little about it.

Kusel Castle
One of the first days I was in Germany, Bonnie, Asher and I visited a castle. It was a view I could get used to... and did get used to. Guys, I want a castle. The above picture was taken from the top of this cool tower... it's a pretty good representation of what southern Germany looks like at a glance. There are hundreds of green, rolling hills spattered with trees and lined with tons of fields. The fields are all neatly cut and of many colors, so it looks really cool (especially during particular growing seasons, apparently). In the lower valleys, usually snuggled in patches of trees, are villages. Bonnie's house is in one of those little snuggly villages. It was super cute, but we're not to that part yet.
Asher and I were wary of each other at first. Mostly him of me, but we sat down at the castle and worked some things out. We've been great double-chin buddies ever since.

Um... this was the only picture taken while we were in Kaiserslautern. But it was pretty cool--my first encounter with a German city (as opposed to a village, and not including Frankfurt since I was only in the airport there). I also had my first Kebab there. Oh man. Delicious. Oh, and some ice cream! Delicious-er.

I remember Rudesheim a little better than Kaiserslautern since we took some pictures... it was way cool, too. I loved walking down all the little cobblestone streets, lined with stores and their signs hanging out over the walkway. It felt very... European. It was also cool that you could turn a corner and bam! All of a sudden there was a church there. And you were like "oh." And then you went and looked inside and were like "ohh." Haha... anyway. It was just a really cool atmosphere. There were a lot of people, but it wasn't loud and it was quite clean. With the great weather we had and the beautiful sunshine it was an overall delightful experience. Oh, and we got some brats. Mmm...


After we got back home from Rudesheim we went on a walk through Bonnie's village. It's so little! The streets are so small that the parking spots painted on the sides of the street go halfway onto the sidewalks! Otherwise you'd be blocking, like, half the street. Instead, you're only blocking, like, a third of it. It's also really small area-wise. There weren't so many houses, but they were all really cool. I especially like how everyone had cool doors. There were farms surrounding the village... I'm not sure if they were technically part of the village... all I know is they made really great scenery looking out Bonnie's windows. The view from her backyard is so awesome we actually sat on her porch and painted there one day.

Did I mention she has cows in her backyard?

TrierAsher's middle name is Trier, so he was particularly excited to be there, can't you tell? Actually, I think he was hoping his first trip there would be with his mom and dad, not Mom and Aunt Nikki. Eh. Oh well. He ate some Peach flavored puffs and got over it.Man. Everyone looks really excited to be at Trier... haha. It actually was a lot of fun and we were all happy. I'm just not so great at pictures, and that one of Asher was unusually serious. But yeah. I did let Bonnie take this picture of me in front of the Porta Nigra. Trier is the oldest city in Germany, and has a really cool history. You should go look it up sometime if you're ever bored.

RamsteinWe went to Ramstein one day to check out their "Flohmarkt," or flea market. My dad was hoping I could bring back some German coins for him (from the pre-Euro days). We thought we might have some luck there, and we did. Bonnie even bartered for me... in German!

Phew. That's a lot for one post. Let's take a break.

Yer Up. Part 2.

I was chatting with Bonnie a day or two after we got to Germany when she told me that everyone who goes to Europe wants to go to Paris, and that if I didn't go I'd regret it. "Sooo... I think you should buy a train ticket and go." Oh. Um. Ok. So I did. Good thing I went to New York semi-recently, so I knew how to use the Metro. That wouldn't have been easy to learn in a foreign language speaking country.
I started at the Arc de Triomphe...

Then I visited the Royal Palace, the Louvre and the Orsay...

I got lost several times, but it's REALLY hard to get lost in Paris and NOT run into something cool. Take this bridge for example! It was covered, both sides, end to end, top to bottom in all sorts of locks. Cool, huh? I also ran into the Basilica, the Justice Building, Latin Quarter (wow... how do you stumble upon the Latin Quarter??), and other cool things.

I saw Notre Dame, too... but the Hunchback had a day off.

My last stop before heading back to the train station was the Eiffel Tower. Pretty freakin' sweet. Paris again sometime? Yes, please.

On our way to Luzern, Switzerland we stopped by the Natzweiler-Struthof concentration camp in France.
The camp is located on the side of a beautiful hill, overlooking a gorgeous scene of mountains and valleys and millions of trees. It was especially sad that such a beautiful place has such a horrible history.
We saw the prison where they kept prisoners who misbehaved. The bigger doors led to small rooms where they would cram up to twenty prisoners at a time. The smaller doors are isolation cells. They're too small to lie down in or stand in. Many of those prisoners died after being cramped up like that with only bread and water for up to three days.
The Natzweiler-Struthof camp was especially known for the medical experiments that went on there. Needless to say, the experiments caused slow, painful deaths for many.

For our multiple-day trip I chose for us to go to Switzerland. It was awesome. :) It was just so pretty! I know I keep saying that about, like, everything in Europe. But, well... it all is really pretty. You've just gotta go there someday to see for yourself if you haven't already.
We climbed a tower on a wall (the big stone kind they build during times of war and stuff) to get this picture. It was a lot of work, but what a view!We almost went on a boat cruise... but then we didn't. But we sat on a boat for a little while. It was a nice boat.
We got to see this cool "Lion Monument." It was built as a memorial to Swiss guards who died in the line of duty during the French Revolution or something. The artist was promised a certain amount of money, and they didn't deliver in the end. To show his distaste for the poor form of his commissioners, the artist carved the hole in the wall that the lion sits in into the shape of a pig. Can you see it?

We were pretty wiped out after Luzern, but we did find time before I left to paint, hit up a chocolate factory and do some other fun things. What an adventure. :)