11 June 2009

OH HI-delberg

Two days ago. I wanted to go on a long hike through the German woods. A week ago I wanted the same thing. A month ago I wanted the same thing as well. Today I finally got my wish.

After we finished breakfast we took off with a goal of seeing three things. First was the Thingstatte. This was a Nazi built amphitheater for their numerous propaganda event. To get there we took off and began hiking to the top of the mountain which Heidelberg is surrounded by. The hike up was amazing. The weather was cool and beautiful so it was very relaxing and just what I had wanted. After about two hours we reached our goal. The Thingstatte was very interesting. It was difficult to think that we were standing in the same place that Joseph Goebbels was spewing his nonsense. Also on the top were a few old churches and a great view of the entire city of Heidelberg.

Once down we took of to check off our second site-seeing destination. The philosopher's walk. The walk was a completion of our hike up the hill. It was worthwhile because in snakes along the side of the valley so you can see the entire city as you walk by.

After was lunch. For me it was a fish sandwich from Nordsee and for Kristen a brie sandwich from Kamps.

Once finished we took off looking for the student prison, our third goal. Back in the early 19th century Heidelberg University had a prison for students who committed such atrocities as yelling while drunk or chasing the townsfolk's pigs AND piglets. While these students were dealing with their sentence, they took time to mark the wall with graffiti. What is left now is a museum of some pretty amazing 20th century artwork. Very worthwhile to see.

Once finished there we had some hazelnut and chocolate ice cream and took a long break to rest our weary legs.

Afterward, we hiked up the other side of the valley to see the schloss gartens once more. Like yesterday it was very beautiful. On the way down we had the luck of finding a slide down the hill. Never before have I been on a two story slide. Now I have.

To cap off the day we had a grocery dinner again. Ingredients as follows:

- 2 cans delicious soup
- 2 yoghurt
- 2 1.5 litre bottles of soda
- 1 Ritter Sport bar

Mix together and have one full belly.

It was a very good dinner to finish a very good day. Tomorrow off to Rothenburg ob der Tauber.

See you there!

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Understanding India... Like Whoa!

The GangesAs I'm sitting here right now, less than 24 hours have passed since Kristen and I were in India. Now is probably a good time to write down some of my thoughts regarding my visit there.

Before I went I had heard many things about India. Dirty was the main adjective used to describe India as a whole. Sure, it's a little dirtier than the U.S. but maybe we're just over-clean. Truthfully, the dirtiness that did exist didn't really bother me. In fact it wasn't too much different than Thailand in some regards. The unfortunate part of the dirtiness is that it creeps into the food preparation. Countless times Kristen and I saw things that were done to food that would cause a restaurant to close back home. The result of this was that we were tentative when it came to deciding on a restaurant.

The next difficulty was with some of the people. Kristen got groped in Varanasi. Anywhere else that guy would be in trouble. In India, he just slinks off into the crowd like a coward. Plus, there are countless of times when you have no personal space whatsoever. Through a combination of staring, people begging or trying to sell you something it can get quite tiresome.

A great example and experience for me was right when we got to Delhi. Kristen and I went to go get some food at a very modern train food court. To order you have to pick what you want, pay for it and give the receipt to the person with the food. Easy right? Wrong. To pay for the receipt you have to shove, push, jostle your way to the front of a line with a single cashier who could care less about what you want. All the while everyone behind you has the exact same goal in mind. Get to the front of the line. Doesn't matter if you were the last person there. Shove your way to the front. No lines, no queues, just chaos.

On the plus side, there are many beautiful aspects of India. Most of the people are very nice and will go out of their way to help you out. Also, for me the photography there was excellent. In no other place will you see opportunities for captivating photos (I just need to upload some more). Since India was and is such an important crossroad, there is an enormous amount of history in the area. From the Taj Mahal, to the Red Fort, to the Ganges and so on there is a story behind each one. Those are stories in conquest, deception, elation and much more. What India lacks in modern convenience of most U.S. cities is more than made up for in the history surrounding you.

Overall, it was an enjoyable trip looking back. If and when I go back to India I'll make sure of a few things. First, I'll go in the cold season there. There is so much to take in while you are there and adding the pressure of dealing with the heat isn't a smart decision to make. Next, I would book a tour. I'm not a tour person, however in India there is so much planning which has to be done from a health standpoint that adding the pressure of dealing with hotels, transportation and the like can be very difficult and overwhelming. I think with those changes I would be a lot more satisfied with my trip. To sum it up basically, I'm glad I went I've always wanted to go. I saw a lot, sometimes things I didn't necessarily wish to see. I did a lot, something things I didn't necessarily want to do. It wasn't life changing, but it certainly was enjoyable.

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