Sunday, March 31, 2013

Day Sixty-Six

I had some wonderful pancakes for breakfast this morning. They had bananas on them and they were nice and crispy. After breakfast we walked to an area filled with souvenir shops to find some gifts for our families. From there we walked to this large stone gate that I can't recall the name of, but I guess it has become a sort of symbol of the Berlin wall.

We walked through a large park today where we visited quite a few buildings. One had a roof that looked like a Pringle. We ended up walking to a church that looked pretty plain on the outside, but as soon as we walked inside the whole thing changed. From the outside you aren't able to tell, but all of the walls are covered in beautiful blue stained glass. It was really awesome to see such a difference from outside to inside.

I didn't really do a whole lot today other than just walk all over Berlin and see the outsides of a lot of buildings. My leg still hurt today, but at least for the first half of the day I wasn't limping. We had a late dinner and then we went back to our hotel to just relax. It has been pretty nice after being on my feet all day.

The Pringle-roof building

Exterior of the awesome church

The beautiful stained glass interior of the church

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Day Sixty-Five

This morning we walked to the Jewish Museum in Berlin. Along the way we stopped at a couple shops and saw some really sweet cars. Way out of my price range though.

The Jewish Museum was really interesting. Well, the building was more interesting to me than the stuff that was in it. I'm not big on history and all that. The museum had a couple spaces that are meant to provoke emotions of sadness and isolation. The Holocaust Tower was a tall concrete room with only a sliver of light at the top. There was also the Memory Void that was a three or four story space that had metal faces covering the floor and when you walk on them they make loud clanking noises. The overall design of the museum was pretty awesome.

After the museum we walked to see a couple more buildings and then we walked to the Holocaust Memorial. The memorial is a plaza filled with large concrete slabs that you can walk through. It was kind of eerie when you get into the really tall parts. We had a little fun with all of the different pathways that go throughout the plaza and made some videos for the overall trip compilation.

For dinner we went to a restaurant called Vapiano. We had already gone to one once when we went to Rotterdam and I fell in love with their pesto pasta so I was ecstatic when I found out that Berlin had one. Of course I had the pesto pasta again. I really want to start growing basil when I get back to Fargo so that i can make some of my own pesto.

Walking has been terrible today. I am still in pain from the Insanity workout I did on Thursday. My leg was in so much pain today that I had to limp around everywhere. I'm hoping its not as bad tomorrow because it really sucked to walk like that all day.

Yes please!!!

The Holocaust Tower

The Memory Void

The Holocaust Memorial

Friday, March 29, 2013

Day Sixty-Four

I had to get up at six again this morning to catch another train. It sucks that I'm not really able to sleep in any sort of vehicle. We are spending this weekend in Berlin and it took us around eight hours to get here. It was a struggle to keep myself entertained that long, but luckily at one point I had access to an outlet so I watched The Avengers on my laptop.

When we got to Berlin it was snowing and a bit chilly. I am hoping that the snow quits overnight because I don't want to have to walk around in it tomorrow. For dinner we went to a small Italian restaurant near our hotel and I had a creamy potato soup that was pretty amazing although I was hoping to have actual chunks of potato in the soup rather than a straight up puree-type soup.

After dinner we went back to the hotel for a bit and then the boys left for a rap concert that is going on tonight. I'm not big into rap so I stayed back at the hotel and I have been making good use of the awesome internet they have here. I have been watching YouTube videos and streaming music as well as just surfing random pages on the internet. I have also been playing a bit of Minecraft (of course). I'm not sure how late their concert is supposed to go, but I really enjoying just hanging out by myself right now.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Day Sixty-Three

We traveled to a city called Kortrijk in Belgium today with our professor. When we walked out of the train station we were surprised to find a carnival roller coaster set up right in front of us. Apparently there was a city-wide carnival going on while we were there and there are rides, games, and food vendors set up all over the city. It was really weird seeing carnival things all over because I am more used to the American way of just having everything in one place.

We met up with a Kortrijk city architect who started off our visit with coffee and a presentation. All of these meetings with architects are going to get me to actually like coffee if they keep offering it at the beginning of every visit. He showed us some pictures of various projects around the city that we weren't going to be able to visit during the day because they were too far out of the way.

After the presentation we walked around for a while looking at all sorts of buildings and pedestrian areas. We walked into a shopping mall in the middle of the city that from the outside you may not have even known it was there. It was really awesome how well it blended in. We also walked through a small section of the city that used to be a small monastery-like community and is still used in a similar way today. It was strange how when you walked through the archway into the central area all of the noise from the city just seemed to disappear.

We walked to the town hall and picked up some bikes for the second half of our tour. We stopped at a small cafe for lunch where they served your food in these weird glass bowl/jar type things. I had some sort of chicken and spinach pasta that was pretty good other than the hidden mushrooms in it.

Biking around Kortrijk was really fun. I'm tempted to get a bike rental pass for Antwerp just so that I can ride bike more often. We went to a few different places by bike. One of my favorite places was a new youth center that was being built. Inside the main building they were re-purposing and old bus and an old train into rooms for offices as well as music production. I wish we could see it when it gets finished because it seems like it would be a really nice space to hang out in.

Back in Antwerp I had dinner at a fast food place because none of us felt like cooking anything. After letting my dinner settle for a while I tried the "Insanity" workout with two of the girls that I am here with. I couldn't keep up with it very well and I felt like I was going to die the entire time. I feel fine now, but tomorrow will be a different story.

The monastery-ish comunity

I climbed those wooden stairs. They were the worst stairs I have ever been on. There are no risers, only treads, so you can see the whole way down

Day Sixty-Two

I forgot to post a blog last night so that's why I am posting this late.

When I went to the architecture school this morning we met up with our professor and discussed our latest ideas for our studio project. For me, that meeting was more about getting caught back up with what my group members had been doing for the past couple days. We don't have a lot of time left to finish this project so we split up the work a bit so that everything can get done in time. I will be focusing more on the public plazas the run the entire length of our site.

After studio I went back to my apartment and watched YouTube videos for a while as well as played some more Minecraft. I also signed up for my fall semester classes. I'm taking more than the minimum number of credits this time so that I won't have too big of a load for my final semester of college when I am completing my thesis. I am also completely on track to graduate with my undergraduate degree after this semester so that makes me pretty happy. I did not want to have to take summer classes again.

We had a group dinner again. This time we invited our professor to come to our apartments and eat with us. We had chicken alfredo with salad and garlic bread. It was really delicious. Our professor also brought a strawberry shortcake dessert with him which was also really good. It was a little difficult to get all ten of us around one table in one of our apartments, but we managed to make it work.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Day Sixty-One

I was too exhausted last night to post this, so I am posting it now.

This morning I woke up at six to catch a train to Salmunster. When I got there I was supposed to catch a bus to get to Mernes, but after waiting for half an hour it never showed up. I ended up taking a taxi to get to Mernes. When I got there the taxi pulled up in front of a restaurant and some of my German family was standing there waiting for me. There was Jennifer Eich my second cousin, her brother Florian, Kerstin Bachmann their aunt, and their Oma who I apparently can't remember the name of.

The first thing we did was walk to the site where Oma's house used to be. It is now a garden with a trampoline in it and from what I understand it has only been that way for around five years. After that we walked around Mernes for a little bit and then went to the house of Margot Schmidt, Oma's niece. We sat around her dining table and tried to communicate, but only Jennifer could speak a bit of English. Luckily Florian, had a translator on his phone. We also looked at some pictures of my American family that Margot had in an envelope from Dave.

After chatting and looking at pictures, we walked to the cemetery. I find it really nice that the people of Mernes keep little gardens on the graves of their loved ones. We also went into St. Peter's church and I took a couple pictures.

We walked to Kerstin house where I met my great-uncle Heinz who is also my Oma's brother. Jennifer told him I was American and couldn't really speak German, but he continued to try and talk to me in German anyway. Apparently Kerstin has a dog named Sammy as well, although hers it way bigger than the cute, little, white fluffy Sammy I am used to.

For lunch we went to Burgoss and I had some chicken schnitzel. It was delicious, but it was a lot of food and I wasn't able to finish it all. Since I wasn't able to finish all of my schnitzel Jennifer and Florian's Oma wrapped it up in a napkin to give to her "hund".

After lunch we drove to Salmunster to walk around. We went into a couple little stores and Kerstin bought a gift for me that was from her, Jennifer, and Florian. It was a little teddy bear with a "good luck" sweater on because I had told them I was going to Berlin this weekend. We then walked around the town some more before driving over to Bad Soden. In Bad Soden we climbed a hill where there was a castle-type tower. The stairs to get to the top of the tower were horrible. They were just grates and you could see all the way up and all the way down when you were walking on them. I really hate walking over grates and I avoid walking on them whenever I can, but I really wanted to climb to the top of this tower to see the view. From the top I could see both Salmunster and Bad Soden and it was a really amazing view.

When we got down from the tower it was nearly time for me to catch my train back to Frankfurt, so they took me the train station and they waited with me until the train showed up.

I had a really great day in Mernes and I am really glad I got to meet some of my German family. They were all so nice and the area around Mernes was beautiful. I hope that I get to back some day.

The site where Oma's house used to be

The small river in Mernes

A street in Mernes

The garden on what I believe is Oma's sister's grave

Inside St. Peter's church

A street in Burgoss

Jennifer's Oma, Jennifer, Me, Heinz, and Kerstin

A church in Salmunster

Inside the church in Salmunster

There were so many trees everywhere!

The river in Bad Soden

The tower on Bad Soden

The view from the tower

Monday, March 25, 2013

Day Sixty

This morning I got on a train to Frankfurt at eight thirty. Through transfers and waiting for trains it took me just under five hours to get there. I worked on my alligator needlepoint for most of the ride.

When I got to Frankfurt I acquired a map from the tourist office and then headed to the hotel I made a reservation at. It seems like a pretty new place. Everything is really nice. There's even power blinds where you just press a button and they go up or down! The place I am staying is part of a hotel chain and we stayed in one when we were in Munich.

I ended up getting into contact with a couple of my German relatives today. One of them is my age and the other is her aunt. Their names are Jennifer Eich and Kerstin Bachmann. Jennifer speaks pretty good English, but Kerstin sent me messages in German and according to the translator on my phone she doesn't speak English very well. I am meeting up with both of them tomorrow as well as Jennifer's brother so that will be really nice. Apparently Jennifer's father is my dad'd cousin. I had no idea I was that closely related to people in Germany.

I walked to a pizza place for dinner. Im really happy that a lot of European pizza places have salami pizza rather than pepperoni because that's actually the kind I prefer to get in the states, after tater tot hot dish pizza of course.

Other than going to get dinner I haven't done anything else here in Frankfurt since I am here by myself. I've been trying to watch tv, but there isn't a single channel that isn't in German. It would be nice to be able to speak German. Maybe I will get a book about it when I get back to Fargo.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Day Fifty-Nine

I haven't really done much of anything today. I slept in for a while and just bummed around the apartment all day. I did some crafting. I am currently working on a needlepoint of a an alligator in a bow tie, sunglasses, and a hat. I also played some computer games, but when I updated the game it caused some problems and now I had to start all over. My save must have become corrupted or something.

I went to the laundromat with with a couple others to wash my sweaters. There were quite a few people there, but luckily I was able to get a machine. After doing laundry I hung out with my classmates and played even more video games.

I just got done packing for my trip to Mernes, Germany tomorrow. It is going to be very interesting going there and seeing what that town is like. My professor got in contact with a guy from the historical society there who I am going to meet with and hear a bit about Mernes. I am really excited to go there and I am interested to see what they have to tell me.

Day Fifty-Eight

Didn't get a chance to blog last night so I am posting this late.

I woke up this morning and walked to the shopping area of Antwerp. There were a couple things I needed to get and I also just wanted to wander around and peruse the shops. I bought some scissors to trim my hair. I think they may be for trimming nose hairs, but they are the only scissors they has that would work for trimming so whatever.

I watched a few movies throughout the day and finished up some matching friendship anklets that I had been working on for all of my classmates and myself. Everyone was so excited to get them.

I ended up cooking dinner for some of my classmates. The whole thing was mainly am experiment because I made couscous which I have only ever made once before, but I only left it plain and it wasn't very good. This time I made the couscous with chicken broth rather than water and mixed in some cooked vegetables. It ended up being really good, but it could still use some improvement.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Day Fifty-Seven

We took a trip to a town called Gent today with our professor. He didn't really have a plan for us, but he had a couple things he wanted to show us there. Two people forgot their rail passes at the apartment so they ran back quickly to get them. They got to the train platform right after the doors to the train closed, and once they close they do not open until the train reaches the next stop. They had to just watch us all ride away on the train and wait for the next one to leave. When we got to Gent we sat in the station until they finally caught up with us.

It was pretty cold and windy in Gent today. I should have brought my mittens, but the slight sunshine this morning was deceiving and I didn't think I would need them. Luckily, we did a few indoor things today so it wasn't as bad as it could have been.

In Gent we went to a design museum that had some really neat old furniture and things as well as modern creations that were equally as interesting. We also visited a small castle which was pretty awesome. They had a room inside that had a whole bunch of torture devices as well as a guillotine on display that I didn't like very much. I'm not big on morbid things.

When we got back to Antwerp, some of us walked to the school to use the internet, but it turned out the school closes early on Fridays. On the way back to our apartments we stopped at our professor's apartment because he wanted to show me what he found out about getting to Mernes, Germany. I have a train schedule figured out and he even emailed a guy who is a member of the historical society there. If the house that Oma grew up in happens to still be in existence, I think I may be able to find it. There is a good chance though that it had either been demolished or stuccoed over, but there is also a chance that it is still there and has been restored. I will find out when I travel there.

I went to another movie tonight. It was called "Oz the Great and Powerful." It was an okay movie, but I don't know if I would want to see it again. One of my classmates actually fell asleep during the movie.

Awesome chandelier in the design museum

The castle

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Day Fifty-Six

Today I got pretty frustrated trying to work on my studio project. My group members really seemed to like my fountain design that I came up with yesterday. I realized that if we were going to have this fountain in our design we would have to model it with computer programs so that it would show up in our final images. Last semester I updated my version of Revit and things are different from what I was used to. The buttons are rearranged and some of the old functions have been moved into new categories. It took my quite a while to even figure out how to start modeling the fountain, but once I found a tutorial online it went a lot smoother. I ended up getting it to work almost exactly as I had envisioned it.

After class I went to the local movie theater and saw "This is 40" with another girl from my group. It was a pretty funny movie and the theater had really comfortable seats. I might go back in the next couple weeks to see another movie or two because there are some others there I wouldn't mind seeing.

I watched a few YouTube videos that I had downloaded as well as did some crafting for the rest of the afternoon. I am currently in the middle of watching the movie "Due Date" on my laptop and soon I will be getting ready for bed.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Day Fifty-Five

I worked on the layout for an apartment unit today for my studio project. It is a lot more difficult to design an apartment for a Belgian project than for an American project. We are required to work in meters for this project because that's the units they use here. We were also given guidelines for room size minimums and maximums for apartments and they are quite a bit smaller than apartments in the states. It's herd to get everything to fit into such a small amount of space. I ended up figuring out one layout that seemed to work decently well, but a couple of the spaces might be a little under the minimum requirement.

After class I re-dyed some parts of my hair. The last time I tried it didn't really take to my hair which may have been because I tried to use very little dye and I was too impatient to leave it on very long. Today I used a bit more dye and I left it on for two hours while watching videos on my laptop. When I washed it out it kind of looked like it didn't work again and I was a bit annoyed, but when I dried my hair I realized that it actually worked. Now my part on top of my head is no longer blonde and weird, and the ends of my hair are bright red and not some weird pink.

I fried my first ever pork chop for dinner and it actually turned out pretty well. I think I still prefer the baked ones though, but there isn't an oven in our apartment so I can't have those. I need to find more creative dinners because I am getting sick of having pasta with sauce from a jar all the time. It may be quite convenient, but it is pretty tiresome.

I worked some more on my studio project after dinner. I came up with a possible fountain design to help draw people into our site. I brought some of the maritime/nautical theme of the area into the design. It's hard to describe, but looking down at it from above it looks like a spiral shell. The center of the spiral is the tallest point and it slopes downward in the spiral to the outside end where it meets the ground. I intended for water to flow down and around the spiral from the top. I think it would be a great addition to the public spaces in my group's design.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Day Fifty-Four

It's hard to know what to do next for our studio project when we aren't given small things to turn in slog the way. We tried to work on the project a bit this morning at the school, but my group isn't really sure what step to take next to move along with the design. Hopefully it will go smoother tomorrow.

I spent a part of my afternoon playing my favorite computer game, Minecraft, and just relaxing. I think tomorrow if I have free time again I might work more on my Europe photo book that I want to print when I get back to the states. I forgot about it for a while after I initially put it together, but I thought about it again while I was playing my game.

I went back to the school this evening with some of my classmates and I spent most of the time downloading videos from YouTube so that I can watch them when I I'm bored at my apartment. The Internet at the apartment sucks horribly so if I ever want to watch videos I have to watch hem at the school or download them for later.

I have gotten really into tomato, basil, mozzarella, pesto sandwiches lately. I went to the store today and bought some ingredients and made one of this sandwiches myself. It wasn't as good as it could have been though. I thought I could get by with the cherry tomatoes I bought yesterday, but apparently those dot slice very well with a crappy knife. So I only had a mozzarella pesto sandwich. It was still decently good, but I will have to buy regular tomatoes for next time.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Day Fifty-Three

I had to wake up at four-thirty this morning so that I could catch a can to the airport. I don't know why we scheduled out flight so early. It wouldn't have been so bad if I was actually able to sleep on planes and trains, but I can't.

I haven't really done a whole lot today since I got back to Antwerp. I uploaded photos from spring break to the blog and then went to the grocery store. I found pesto in a jar at the store and had some for dinner. It was pretty good, but I need to find some sort of nut to mix in other than pine nuts because apparently those are pretty expensive.

I watched a movie and did a little crafting after dinner. I also chatted with Darin on Facebook for a while since there wasn't a time when we were both on over spring break.

Overall, I had a really awesome and unforgettable spring break. I saw a few major Italian cities, was at Vatican City for the papal election, saw the Sagrada Familia, sat on a beach, and saw a whole bunch of neat architecture, all within a matter of ten days.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Day Fifty-Two

We took it easy again this morning. We figured that at least part of our spring break should be relaxing. We left the apartment around eleven and then walked to see some more of Gaudi's work. We didn't go inside them because there were long lines.

Afterwards we went to the market area again because some of my classmates wanted to buy tickets for the FCBarcelona soccer game. We took a scenic route back home walking along the beach for a bit which was nice.

I had lunch at a place that served paella. It was delicious! I wish I could eat it all the time. Good thing I bought the saffron to make it when I get back to Fargo.

To celebrate St. Patrick's Day we went to an Irish pub for a little bit. We came back shortly after getting there though because we had to pack for our early flight tomorrow.

House designed by Gaudi

Apartments designed by Gaudi

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Day Fifty-One

We slept in for a bit today. There isn't a whole lot in Barcelona that we know of so we just took our time this morning.

We went to Park Guell for a while today. It was designed by Gaudi and is quite neat. It was a huge park and I'm pretty sure we didn't even see half of it. There were a lot of people in the park playing music.

After the park we made our way to the large market that's in Barcelona. I bought some saffron so that I can make paella when I get back to the states. They had some really cheap fruit juices as well that were really tasty. At the market we also got some things to make dinner since the place we are staying has a full kitchen. We ended up having chicken fajitas for dinner and now we are watching a movie called Eurotrip because we thought it would be great to watch since we are on Europe.

Entry stairs at Park Guell

View of Barcelona from Park Guell

Friday, March 15, 2013

Day Fifty

We went to the Sagrada Familia this morning. It was extremely awesome. It's my favorite building that I have been to so far. I did not expect it to look as refined as it did and as surreal. It felt like a fairy tale to be in that basilica.

After we were done at the basilica we had lunch at our hotel/apartment and then went to the beach. It wasn't the greatest beach day. It was a bit windy which made it almost too cold to be at the beach. We hung out there for a while anyway and then went for a walk along the shore and ended up finding two of our group members along the way.

We all had dinner together which was pretty awesome and then we went to an Irish pub for a bit.

The Sagrada Familia. It's always under construction and probably won't be finished until 2040

The interior of the Sagrada Familia is so unexpected

Coolest spiral staircase ever

The stained glass in the Sagrada Familia was so awesome

View of Barcelona from one of the Sagrada Familia's towers

The beach in Barcelona

Inside of another neat cathedral in Barcelona

Day Forty-Nine

Apparently this didn't publish last night.

I had a really great breakfast again this morning. I had another fruit salad, but I also had a fresh waffle with berries and whipped cream. It was awesome.

We went back to the Vatican today to see if we could go into the Sistine Chapel since the pope has been chosen, but it was still closed. We went to some souvenir shops and then went to an outdoor cafe for a snack to kill time before we had to head to the airport.

It was really nice out the whole time we were in Rome today. The sun was out and I was even in a t-shirt for a bit today.

We made it to Barcelona after a quite a bit if traveling. The plane was a bit scary because there was a lot of turbulence. When we got to the place we are staying for the rest of spring break we had a little confusion as to what we were suppose to do, but we figured it out. The place we are staying is really awesome. It's actually an apartment type place with a full kitchen and everything. Sadly, it's nicer than our apartments in Antwerp and we are only here for four nights.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Day Forty-Nine

I had a really great breakfast again this morning. I had another fruit salad, but I also had a fresh waffle with berries and whipped cream. It was awesome.

We went back to the Vatican today to see if we could go into the Sistine Chapel since the pope has been chosen, but it was still closed. We went to some souvenir shops and then went to an outdoor cafe for a snack to kill time before we had to head to the airport.

It was really nice out the whole time we were in Rome today. The sun was out and I was even in a t-shirt for a bit today.

We made it to Barcelona after a quite a bit if traveling. The plane was a bit scary because there was a lot of turbulence. When we got to the place we are staying for the rest of spring break we had a little confusion as to what we were suppose to do, but we figured it out. The place we are staying is really awesome. It's actually an apartment type place with a full kitchen and everything. Sadly, it's nicer than our apartments in Antwerp and we are only here for four nights.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Day Forty-Eight

No deceiving weather this morning. It was raining when we got up and it continued I rain for a majority of the day. There is still hope for sunshine in Barcelona on Friday though.

We spent the whole day sightseeing again. We walked by quite a few monuments, plazas, and buildings that were marked on our map and that I can't remember the names of. We also went to the Pantheon which we had learned a bit about back at NDSU.

For dinner we went to a restaurant where we got a four course meal for only ten euro which was pretty awesome. There were a couple mix-ups though because the waiter didn't speak English, but it was still really delicious.

The highlight of the day though was going to the Vatican again. We got there right before seven when the smoke is released. To our surprise the smoke that came out tonight was white meaning they had chosen a pope. As soon as you could see the smoke people were cheering and started rushing closer to the cathedral to get a better view of the balcony the new pope stands on. We had to wait a while for him to actually come out, but we listened to his speech even though it was in Italian. I think it's really awesome that w happened to chose Rome as one of our spring break places and that we also happened to be there when the new pope was chosen.

The Pantheon

There is an ocolus at the top of the Pantheon that is open to the elements

The white smoke!

So many people were in Vatican city for the pope being chosen

The new pope!