March 5, 2014: Paradise Comes in a Dome Shaped Package

So not this past week, but the week before that was insanely busy.  I’ll try and sum up everything I remember, but to be honest everything has run together during what I would like to call this past week of potato, I might miss a couple of details.  We will see I suppose.

Tuesday evening I went to celebrate the end of exams with two of my girl friends (i.e. an excuse for us to go out drinking and dancing).  We ended up going to the student night at a local bar and we ordered a meter long special of gin and tonics, which despite being 10 drinks and what we thought would be a huge mistake was pretty manageable between 3 people and not too hard on the wallet.  I think I got out of there spending around €6 and I had 3 1/3 drinks.  We then made our way to Zirkel, which is a club and talked and did what girls do best, dance.  It was nice to get to hang out and do a whole mess of girl talk for an evening.  I was pretty glad I decided not to drink anything else after the meter long gin and tonics though.

The next day I decided to get up and go for a walk/hike with one of the girls from the night before (the other wasn’t really feeling it at that point I suppose).  So we walked north essentially and then found some awesome trails to explore for awhile.  I had been craving a bit of nature for a bit, especially with the trip to Kaiserslautern and seeing all of the pretty wooded mountains from the train.  After thoroughly exhausting ourselves we decided to have some dinner together.  I really feel like I am learning a lot of new and interesting ways to combine food over here, which is awesome.  Something to try if you love cheese: get some Camembert cheese and throw it on a grill or on the stove top (coated with a bit of oil and wrapped in aluminum foil).  Then once it has cooked on both sides (and hopefully melted in the middle) put it on a plate with some cranberry sauce (yes, you eat them at the same time) and enjoy.  Absolutely delicious!

Thursday was pretty awesome as well because instead of celebrating Fat Tuesday (or Mardi Gras) we celebrated Fat Thursday, which essentially means you go eat a bunch of dough nuts.  From what I heard the more dough nuts you eat, the luckier you will be.  If that’s the case, well I will be one lucky girl this year.  We started out by going to a bakery and getting 6 dough nuts to split between 3 people (our 4th still wasn’t feeling well from Tuesday’s night of drinking and fun).  These were probably some of the best dough nuts I have ever had.  I am not even sure what all the different kinds were that we got, but there was quite a variety in our mix.  Later Donald got several more dough nuts to share, which I think I had two of.  Okay, so it felt like more dough nuts than it actually was, but that is probably because we cut each one into fourths so everyone could try a bit.  Then at the end we picked through the last of the pieces in order to finish them off.

After all of that dough nut eating I went to belly dancing.  Nothing much to report there other than I got my veil for dancing! It’s pretty nice but was a bit expensive sadly.  I still love it though and now I get to practice our dance at home, so that’s awesome!  Then I met up with everyone again and we made our way to Fürth to go to a swimming pool.  Actually, swimming pool is not quite the right word for what that was.  There was about a dozen different pools there, some indoor and some outdoor (but almost all were heated).  Some were for sport, some were for fun, and some were purely for relaxing.  There were even some water slides, and no I don’t mean dinky little ones which look like they have been taken from a children’s playground, these were pretty legit.  We must have gone in every pool at least once.  And at the end we went into an extremely salty pool which you essentially can’t not float in to just lie there and relax.  When you put your head underwater you heard music playing and there was a projector which played a soothing animation while you relaxed.  Ela said it looked like a Sex Ed. video where it shows sperm fertilizing an egg.  My only complaint was that it was a bit itchy because of the massive amount of salt in the water.  We stayed for about 5 minutes and then decided to get out.  It was about that time we decided to try the sauna, which was my first time.  I decided I didn’t really like it.  It just felt like Alabama on a summer day.  Maybe a bit hotter, but definitely still not something I want to sit around in.  So that was pretty amazing and I recommend that to anyone staying in Erlangen.

Going home after the Schwimmbad.

Going home after the Schwimmbad.

This brings us to the weekend, which I must say was pretty amazing as well.  Donald, Lucia, and I got up pretty early Friday for the 8 1/2 hour train ride to the Tropical Islands Resort near Berlin for what can only be described as a juggling invasion.  There were still plenty of normal vacationers there, we just sort of decided to juggle there as well.  The train ride was long and a bit tedious considering how many times we had to change trains, especially since we could only take a certain kind of train (Regional trains for those who car) but it only cost €20 per person (which is why it took over 8 hours instead of 5).  It was worth it though, especially since I got to spend it traveling with two pretty awesome people.  Highlight of the trip there would have to be the massive pile of sandwiches we made on the train to eat while we were at the convention (maybe 25 total).  We had a bit of an assembly line going with someone cutting the cling wrap, someone laying down the bread, someone buttering the bread, someone laying down salami, ham, cheese, someone putting on the mayo, and finally someone wrapping the sandwich.  It got pretty efficient.  Then we had to pack them in Donald’s guitar bag very carefully with the other food he brought so as not to be caught entering with our weekend’s worth of food.  It turns out that didn’t matter at the gate.  They were rather busy and did not take care to check our bags.  It was pretty awesome though.  Considering how expensive food was inside, we saved a bunch of money and didn’t even have to switch our car insurance!

Donald with the massive pile of sandwiches.

Donald with the massive pile of sandwiches.

 

Once we got there with two more members to our traveling group, who we met up with in Leipzig, we claimed some beach chairs and started juggling and hooping.  It was pretty cool, but a lot more difficult to hoop in the sand than I would have thought.  I constantly had to wash the sand off of my hoop so as not to feel like I was dancing with a hoop made of broken glass.  I also got to do some juggling, mostly with clubs.  I even got to do some passing with Lucia who gave me some tips to work on.  I managed to do passing 5 with her pretty decently and then started working on 6, which for those of you who don’t know passing 5 isn’t continuous while 6 is.  Essentially with 5 you have 2 clubs in your hand and start juggling when the club is passed to you.  Then after you finish juggling one time through you pass a club off to your partner and wait for it to come back to you.  With six you throw and catch essentially at the same time, so you are juggling 3 clubs constantly and throwing every fourth time to your partner.  I have a video but I don’t actually have it on my computer to post for you.  If I manage to acquire it I will definitely share though.  I also got to attend a hooping workshop, which I think was actually done by the resort itself.  They have a show every night with acrobatics and hooping which we deemed a bit too pricey to justify seeing, but it was cool to learn some more hooping tricks.  Well I say learn, but more like get some theoretical knowledge which I’ll have to work a bit harder to actually be able to apply with any sort of skill.

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Juggling at night.

There was also a decent amount of swimming involved, especially considering the air and water temperature was around a constant 80 degrees F (26-30C).  They had two very awesome pools which were huge!  While there were a lot of people around it never really got too crowded, even while swimming.  And when not hooping, juggling, or swimming we were walking around the dome.  In the middle there was a part deemed the “rain forest”, which had all sorts of plants and birds which sort of wandered around on their own.  There were all sorts of winding trails to explore and things to see.  And when it came time to sleep we just grabbed a beach chair and our sleeping gear and crashed right there on the “beach”.  I felt a bit like a vagrant the entire weekend, although a clean one.  I did take a shower every day in the big open shower room, despite how uncomfortable random naked strangers in a big room make me.  The only complaint about the stay was the fact that the roof was a bit leaky at times.  So at night there were all these random drops of water splashing you.  Oh, I guess that and this as well.  There was also a group of American tourists there who were very loudly.  I use loudly as an adverb here only because everything they did was done in a loud and somewhat obnoxious manner.  Now I understand that they were in a group together and had probably had a bit to drink, but it sort of made me a little embarrassed by association.  Another weird step in this culture shock I suppose.  It may just be a precursor to how I will feel once I get back to the states.

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So that was about it for the actual stay there.  Words can’t actually describe how awesome of a trip it was.  Let me pause here to talk a bit about the derelict train station we arrived and subsequently departed from.  I kind of felt like I was in a horror movie at this point and that we would soon be shoved into a windowless van and shipped to the nearest warehouse where they would harvest our organs and never be heard from again.  There were just a lot of half demolished houses with the windows broken out of it.  The train station was boarded up with graffiti all over it and this wouldn’t have been an issue for a normal person who wasn’t on the cusp of her monthly cycle, but I was not that sane person that Sunday morning when we were catching our first train to leave.  We did not buy our return ticket in advance and I had just assumed that every little train station in Germany had a place to buy tickets, namely a ticket machine.  Behold my surprise when we got there and there was no ticket machine to be found.  Cue my overreaction, which Donald could only describe later as this.  Only later when we were successfully able to purchase our ticket on the train did he feel safe enough to chide me about my slight overreaction.

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Outside of that the journey home was long and uneventful.  It was again nice to travel in good company, but there was a bit more sleeping this time around considering the excitement from the beginning of the weekend had passed.  And I think that is about enough for this post.  I am slowly starting to catch up on them.  Maybe sometime this week I will succeed in that mission.  We shall see.

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