A week ago, we went down to Switzerland for a visit. Zürich was an exciting city with lots of things gong on. We got to meet René, and also successfully deliver him a new bike wheel (he is an avid cyclist). Sarah took us on a tour of her school, ETH (Zürich Polytech), which is a high end engineering/science school. Einstein went to this school (which now offers classes on relativity). Among some of the things we did were, visits to Peterskirche, Fraumünster, and Großmünster (three famous churches, Fraumünster has pretty windows by Chagall), the Swiss national museum, Palentological museum, Zoological museum, Medicinal museum, Art Museum of Zürich, ETH, and Zürich University. There was a device called the Polybahn that was similar to San Fran's cable cars that allowed quick travel up this hill to the university area. We also got to ride a boat (sort of like a lake tram) all around lake Zürich while simultaneously enjoying ice cream despite it being rather cold on the lake. The boat passed by a freestyle snowboarding competition complete with rock bands and a large snowboarding track. On one of the evenings we went out to a science night event where many booths were set up along the riverside to demonstrate projects and scientific concepts to the public. Among some of the things I learned about are the preservation of over 400 different varieties of corn in order to keep track of the biodiversity of corn in Switzerland that resulted after its introduction from America, a device that tracks and records where the human eye is looking, and the properties and physics of superconductors (I got to play with magnets and liquid nitrogen to create floating superconductors). Apparently the Swiss government pumps lots of money into scientific research and development. The Zürich train station one evening had a large market setup inside where we got to try free samples of olives and cheeses.
Prior to our week trip to Switzerland we took a trip to the castle Schlossburg, here in town. This was an adventurous medieval place with lots of sword fighting, black smithing, and food. There were all sorts of rooms, towers, and dungeons to explore.
Back to proper chronological order, after Switzerland we took off on a train to a rad city called Berlin. After checking into our hostel/hotel room, we wondered around the city for the evening before crashing relatively early so that Mandy could get to her job interviews the next day. She managed to book three for the same day! We found a place to grab some falafel to eat and then a bar to try out Berlin's white beer. I just don't seem to like beer all that much. The following day, I tried talking to lots of people along the way to my school. There was this soldier character selling visas to enter into West Berlin. Touristy, but fascinating nonetheless. All these political nuts stopped me and exclaimed that I should heed the warnings of some economic crisis prophet character. I met this girl and went into this place since we were both trying to find the same office, but the people inside were on strike so she could not register as a new citizen. I asked this Asian florist girl directions and she could not speak English or German so it did not work very well. I found my way however in this cool bookstore/coffee shop where this guy spoke perfect English. The School that I am going to attend rocks! I stopped in and said hello and got a copy of my acceptance letter and then made my way to the German foreign Office. Of course they were on strike too so no luck on applying for that visa yet. We ate at this Thai place that had cheap cocktails and really cool swings to sit and eat in on the sidewalk, but I have to say, it was not as good as the Thai place in Boone. I miss it so very much! Berlin was so much fun to walk around. I met lots of cool people, found cool hangout places, figured out the transit system, and to top it off, it is a rather inexpensive city. Everything tends to be relatively cheap. The city is old and there is random evidence everywhere of the war and the socio/political division that once existed. I walked by one old building and noticed machine gun marks etched out on its walls. I'm sure that lots more photos will pop up from Berlin after we move there. For now we are still in Solingen until we get visas.
On a side note, Sarah told us a funny story. In German, the word korn means wheat and the word maize means corn. After WWII, America asked Germany what they needed more than anything and they said korn. Unknowingly, America sent Germany large shipments of corn. The German people were a bit confused wondering what they would do with so much maize, and why it was that After having made clear what they needed they received something else entirely. I suppose that the humor lies in the fact that even simple words can lead to huge misunderstandings. Sarah calls these words, false cognates, false friends. The picture here is of a corn plant I found growing out of the sidewalk next to Großmünster.
New Addition! It should be noted that Mandie has created an online photo album that has various collections of all the snapshots from along the way that are not posted on either of our blogs. Anyone who is interested can check them out. More will be posted as time goes on. Keep in mind that both of us tend to get so caught up in things that we usually forget that we even have a camera with us. This is why sometimes there are not as many photos as one would expect (for example the first Berlin album)
I'm not sure if this link will take you to the German version or redirect to the English version. If anyone has problems, try replacing the .de with .com and see what happens. Otherwise just post a comment or shoot me an email. Also if anyone has questions along the way regarding our trip or anything else, feel free to post a comment or send an email and get an answer to your inquiry. I know we don't always explain everything and sometimes skip over important details. It's all just so exciting!