Monday, May 29

My wet and wild weekend

a little bit of wild and a whole heck-uva-lotta wet.

Lindsay and Nic arrived in Munich on Thursday, which was Assension and a bank holiday here in good old catholic Bavaria. I gave them my oft-rehersed tour and then we came back here to hit up the Dorffest that has been going on accross the street from my building. "Dorffest" simply means town festival. When I first saw the signs I was expecting something like a county fair, animals, rides, giant vegatables... all that. But no, in true Bavarian style the Dorf fest is simply a large beer tent in a small field. I went last weekend with Katie one night and it was pretty crazy. Something like Oktoberfest only withouth the tourists and with lots and lots of high schoolers. Last Thursday was a bit more of an older crowd and the band was four middle aged men in leather pants. hot. After a couple liters of beer it seemed way less lame and really really exciting. There was even a fight near our table. And the band played alpenhorns which makes me kind of giddy, they are huge long horns from the alpine region of Germany. We started dancing with a few random Germans and stayed and until the ungodly hour of 10:30pm when the tent closed and they kicked us out. The next morning was a bit rough for all three of us, plus the weather was crappy so we weren't in any hurry to get to the mountains. We finally left around lunch time and hopped on a train.

We arrived in Berchtesgaden in the afternoon and decided to walk the 20min to the hostel. A tip for any travelers out there: Do NOT stay at the Berchtesgaden International Youth Hostel. Although it is fairly cheap, relatively clean, and has a nice view, the service sucks and it's weird and impersonal. They lock the doors at midnight, quiet time is at 10, girls and boys have to stay in separate sections, no smoking drinking dancing laughing or fun of any kind is allowed on the premesis, or so it seemed. There were a lot of random old people and families there as well as school groups. Weird. Not the kind of hostel I'm accustomed to.

But we didn't let the hostel get us down because, after all, we came to spend time outside, not inside. So we went to bed early and woke up bright and early- because we had to, although a rather nice breakfast comes with the rooms you have to be downstairs by 8am to get it. We woke up to lots of rain and fog so we decided to postpone hiking for a little while in the hopes that it would clear up despite dour weather forcasts. We popped over to a sporting goods store next door that happened to be having a basement clearence sale. I was in the market for a rain coat as my windbreaker was sadly less water proof than I had hoped. It turned out to be one of the highlights of our trip. Lindsay and I found super snazzy bright pink rain jackets ON SALE and each bought one. The cheery color and the fact that we were walking around in matching neon pink coats helped us keep a positive spin on things for the whole trip.

After making our purchases we had ample opportunity to test them out as it was still raining. We decided to go to the salt mines which is one of the big tourist attractions in the little town. Apparently we were not the only people to think of heading underground in the rain because we ended up waiting a few hours. But, it was worth it. The salt mine was pretty darn nifty. We got to wear real minors clothes, ride a little train through dark scary tunnels and slide down wooden slides in the caves. I aslo got to see where the salt I've been buying in Germany comes from and how they get it out, which was pretty cool. After the mines we walked into the city centre, saw the church and castle and had some coffee and cake. It kind of almost started clearing up by early evening and we did a short hike in the area around our hostel. It's quite pretty down there and I perpetuately felt like I was in a kitchy bavarian postcard and/or beer comercial.

After another early night we woke up with renewed energy, intent on making it to the Konigsee and hiking even if we had to do it in the rain. The morning was actually almost nice outside and we walked the whole way to the lake, which took about two hours on a picturesque path along a river. Pretty much as soon as we got to the lake it started pouring. Hapily, the boat tours are in covered boats and despite the rain, the clouds were high enough that we still had a pretty good view of the mountains. Konigsee is very beatiful, nestled between some of Germany's largest mountains which are part of a national park. There is a little church on it which can be reached only by boat. It's not a terribly exciting little church, but we saw it and there is a fisherman there and a fish smokery, or whatever you would call that, and I bought a smoked fish which I just now ate for dinner and it was tasty. It was still raining pretty hard when we got to the other end of the lake, so we didn't get to do the longer hike we had been hoping to, but we saw the smaller Obersee lake and some cows and forests and a waterfall. Not too shabby. By this point our snazzy pink jackets were no longer keeping out all the rain or the gloomyness and it was getting chilly. The boat, bus, and train ride back was long and soggy.

Sunday evening was spent showering, eating and not leaving my room. It was perfect. Lindsay and Nic left this morning and I slept late before I had to go tutor. I would be posting pictures of my weekend right now except that I am an idiot and I lost my camera, BUT at least I'm an incredibly lucky idiot because when I realized my camera was gone today I caled Deutsche Bahn and it turns out they actually found my camera at the little train station where we had to switch trains! AND , I happen to be going back in that direction on Saturday because katie and I are flying out of Salzburg. So I can pick up my camera then and all will be right with the world. Whew.

Overall despite the rain I had a fun weekend, it was nice to see Lindsay again and I'm exited to have another minnesota friend to hang out with this summer. And although you might think that a wet and cold weekend may have put me off to more hiking, I am am now even more determined to do more outdoorsy things in the future. Maybe even a real bacpacking camping trip sometime. There is certainly no shortage of outdoors in Minnesota, so I think I will make it my goal for the summer.

Five days at home before I'm off again, jetsetting around north-central Europe. Better get something done!

Tuesday, May 23

How's life?

Sigh sigh and sigh again. Mommy dearest left Europe this morning, but she forgot to pack something.... me! I think there's a clock in body that tells me it's time to go home every year around this time. It's nearly summer! And school is boring and I'm sleepy. Yawn.

Although I do have a few fun things left to do here. This weekend Lindsay is coming and we're going to Koenigsee in the Alps, I'm crossing my fingers and pressing my thumbs (German idiom) hoping that it won't be as rainy as it is now. Then after next week I have my two week June break. The plan thus far is to fly to Ireland for the first weekend with Katie. Weee! To Dublin and then to see Waterford (of crystal fame) where she lives, Then I'll fly back to Colonge, see Lindsay breifly and then go meet Chris in either Copenhagen or Stockholm for the next weekend, we havn't quite figured it out yet. After that I'm just going to hang out in Germany staying with people, visiting Caroline again, whatever I feel like. I think it's a good plan. After that break I just have a week and a half to pack up my life and fly home. And then I'm going to stay in one place for as long as I can manage. Maybe some day I'll even get an apartment and own my own furniture. I feel like owning a bed and a couch would be a real mark of permanacy.

I have recently had several outlines in my head for some intelligent and stimulating posts about relavant current issues. Like all the new immigration legislature in the US, especially the national language issue. And one on working mothers in the US and Germany. And one on nutrition in schools. I have talked about these things recently with my classes. But I haven't quite gotten around to it yet and it will probably no longer be relevant or current by the time I do. I've been busy pretending to write the motivational essay I need to write for an application. I hate motivational essays and personal statements and all things of that variety. I think I've said that before. I've already spent a few afternoons stairing at the ambiguous question at the top of a blank word document, but have yet to write the stupid thing. Today I will finally crank out some impressivly sincere and personal prose. After I take a nap. Just you wait.

So how are all of you? I haven't heard from anyone in a while...

Friday, May 19

I'm at school again on a Friday. blah. Working five days a week is rough, I don't know how people do it :-P

I just taught an awesome lesson on Chicago- we played Mafia. Brilliant.

Yesturday I got caught in the rain on my bike on the way home, it was like my entire study abroad semester in Muenster all over again. There was a big thunderstorm later. No tornados in Germany though, and not one single weather man interrupting my regularily scheduled programing. sigh. I miss Minnesota!

I've been excessivly lazy this week, more so than usual even. I blame the rain. But Mommy dearest is coming back this weekend! With even more Minnesotans! I get to go to the super Kitchy Bavarian Evening at the HB haus again! And give another tour of the city! Good times with tourists.

I'm ready for another vaction. Can I go back to Greece? Actually I'm just ready to go home. I think I've mentioned that already... hmm.

Wednesday, May 17

Oh Brother(s)

My brothers' birthdays are/were today and this past Monday and since I am too lazy and too cheap to have planned ahead and actually mailed them something I've decided instead to write a blog tribute for them. So, here we go...

Bob, or Bobby as I believe he still goes by (For a while I tried to call him Bert, but somehow it didn't stick), turns 20 today. No longer a teenager! Ha! Welcome to almost adulthood, it's all downhill from here ;) I wanted to post a picture of him in a lovely floral gown and strand of pearls from when he was still a cute, impressionable little kid and let me do things like that to him, but alas I don't have it saved on my computer anymore. So instead here is a picture of him driving our tractor to high school, I think on the last day of his senior year.

Bob came along in 1986 and put and end to my all too short two and a half year reign as only-child, and as punishment he endured all sorts of torture from me during our early years together, most of which involved me sitting on him for extended periods of time. However, he usually came out as the victor when he turned on the crocodile tears and the big bad big sister got sent to her room to bemoan her pitiful unloved existence to her stuffed friends. And on the rare occasions that we both got a spanking, life was still unfair- he still wore diapers! Despite our incessant bickering I have many fond childhood memories with little Bobby. Like throwing every single one of my stuffed animals down the laundry shoot (and then threatening to throw him after), the twelve hour drives to Cincinnati when we would build elaborate pillow barriers to mark of "my side" and "your side" of the back seat, and devising our own version of the Morse code so we could communicate to each other after bedtime (or when we were both being punished) by knocking on the wall between our rooms.

In high school Bob and I certainly followed different crowds. And by that I mean that he was infinitely cooler than I could ever hope to be. On my last day of high school me and four of my best girl friends wrote novelles in each others year books in my basement and cried about leaving each other forever. On Bob's last day of high school he and 200 or so of his "closest" friends had a concert in our back yard featuring his friend's Weezer coverband, cleverly named "Meezer". Bob's huge bon fire parties were somewhat infamous, and for years after I graduated whenever I went home and ran into someone from my high school they would inevitably ask, "Are you Bobby Schwaby's sister?"

Academically Bob had a hard act to follow in high school, nary a classroom in that building was left untracked by my goody-two-shoes, but he more than held his own. One would never guess by his too cool extreme sport loving appearance and lack of adult vocabulary, but Bob is something of a math wiz. He took university level math through high school and now constantly tells me that his graduate level courses in college are boring him. pfft.

Like me, Bob felt the pull of the ocean when choosing a college, only he opted for the Pacific over the Atlantic because it has better surfing (or because he couldn't get far enough away from me, who knows). He's now a sophomore at USC where he seems to spend little time studying and lots of time surfing. Why a Minnesota boy became so suddenly smitten with surfing is beyond me (perhaps something to do with the blond hair?), but he seems to have picked up the sport along with the culture fairly quickly. He has a knack for being sickeningly good at any sport he tries, much to my uncoordinated and unathletic dismay.

When not surfing he is working on his website (see side bar) where he is always coming up with new ways to scam the system and make money. He's been obsessed with money for as long as I can remember and will undoubtedly be rich and retired on his own private island by the time I put down my first mortgage payment.

Bob has never had a problem marching to the beat of his own drummer, in fact he insists that the human body is meant to be on a 25 rather than 24 hour cycle and so even when we're both home I rarely see him because of his unconventional sleep schedule. Hopefully I'll see a bit more of him this summer and if I'm lucky he'll even let me attend an exclusive fire party :)

Happy Birthday Bobby! I love you!

Just when my parents thought they were done with teenagers... Scott turned 13 on Monday!!! ah!! This birthday is a bit harder for me to deal with because Scotty is my baby brother and he's supposed to stay that way gosh darn it! I'm pretty sure I get more emotional about these things than my mom even, she's been through this before. I well recall fighting back tears at Scott's Kindergarten graduation not long ago. What happened to my snuggly sweet little baby doll? Well, here's was happened, he's turned into an adolescent, rock-and-roll included:

I remember my mom telling me she and dad had decided to have another baby. At the time I figured nothing could be worse than Bob and I crossed my fingers and hoped for a little sister who I would name Elizabeth. Mom said that if it was a girl I got to name her and if it was a boy Bob got to name him. A few months later at the ultrasound my hopes were dashed but I was so excited about bringing the ultrasound pictures in for show and tell that I didn't dwell on my wished-for sister for long. As the due date neared my classmates asked in unison every morning, "Did your mom have the baby yet?" No, no, and no. Scott was late. My memories from the night he finally came are pretty hazy. Bob and I were whisked away to my grandparents farm and found out the next day that we had a little brother. As promised, Bob got to pick the name and decided on Scott, after our elementary school bus driver.

I was ten years old when Scott was born and so I became something of a built-in babysitter/ second mommy right away. Scott was always easy to watch. He started sitting through entire movies when he was just one year old. His favorite being the Lion King, I will never forget his adorable belly laugh every time we watched the beginning of the film and the sun burst out over the horizon, "NAH! CHIBUNYA!" oh man, that got him every time :) He was pretty much the cutest baby ever. His thick dark hair stood strait up on end and his big blue eyes never dulled. Scott was the ridiculously spoiled younger child from day one. I have never seen my dad's face get more red then when Bob and I would make any loud noises while Scott was napping. But I loved my little brother all the same, and babied him just as much as anyone else. He was pretty attached to me as well. One summer while my parents were on a trip my poor unsuspecting Aunt Julie came to stay with us. Well, Scott would have nothing to do with her and made it his job to scream as loud as possible whenever she was around and cling to me like a life preserver. My role as protector only continued as Scott grew up and Bob saw his opportunity to make up for seven years as the youngest child. One might think that seven years would be enough distance to keep two brothers from fighting all the time, but one would be wrong. Bob to this day enjoys torturing Scott to no end and when I came home from college for the first time Scott begged me to not leave him again!

Since I've been away Scott has shot up like a tree and will be taller than me in a few years I'm sure. Despite my efforts to turn him into an avid reader by giving him books as presents every birthday and Christmas, which he dutifully smiled and thanked me politely for before throwing them in his closet, Scott has turned out to be the musical genius of the family (could have been me if anyone had gotten me piano lessons cough cough!) and is quite talented with a guitar. He's already taken on the typical teenager qualities of sulking and being generally disinterested in absolutely everything except for talking on IM with his friends in gangster like IMspeak, but luckily for me he's still ok with with hugging his big sister (at least he better be!). He's a quiet guy and not big on large social situations (Sound like anyone? For those of you who didn't know me in Jr. High: awkward, quiet, alone... would all be good words to describe me) and I think, like me, it may take him a while to come out of his over protected shell, but when he does, watch out world! He's a hottie ;)

One of the biggest reasons I'm looking forward to going home and hopefully sticking around Minneapolis for a while is to have the time to hang out with Scott while I still have some influence as the cool older sister with a car.

Happy Birthday Scott!! I love you!

(I promise I'll bring you real presents when I come home!)

Saturday, May 13

Wide Open Spaces

I baby sat for 12 hours today. woo. I'm rich beyond my wildest dreams...

There was some kind of parade/street party going on down town for the Munich soccer team which just won the national tournament. German Football fans are obnoxious, a guy puked right in front of me on the U-bahn, it was delightful....I'm not especially looking forward to Wold Cup time. But I'll be gone for the first week of it at least for my June break, the opening game is in Munich June 9th (FYI).

Walking back to my building from the U-bahn I stopped and looked up at the sky as I have a habbit of doing and was reminded of driving home on almost empty streets late on summer nights in Minnesota, usually coming back from Alexis or Chelsea's house, getting out of my car, the sound of the car door slamming in the otherwise quiet night... stairing up at the stars for a few minutes, finding the big dipper and Orion and just breathing and feeling peacful and alone but not lonely for a moment before going inside. You can't really see many stars here, just a general orange city glow. I've had enough of this big city stuff for a while. Sometimes I think about our house at home and it seems so unbelievable that we have six acres of land, most of which is just unused fields. Everything in Germany is so compact and densly populated, every tiny little bit of land is used. Even forests are filled with paths and busy with walkers and runners and bikers, there is no getting away from people. I want wide open spaces!!! my own space, that I own (Ok, that my parents own) that no one else can come on. I realize this is a bit territorial and that city life is in many ways more environment friendly than the sprawl of suburbia, and there are lots of things that I like about city life which I'm sure I will soon miss. It is also true that our six acres will some day in the not too distant future be divided into quarter acre (if not smaller) plots and developed with ugly beige houses, but for the time being it's still ours and I still love it and miss it.

On a related note, the Hamel Rodeo is the weekend after I get back so mark your calendars! I need my fix of over the top patriotism, hot cowboys, and steer wrastlin'!

Friday, May 12


Hello Hello. I'm back again. Seems I'm always just getting back or getting ready to leave these days. Never a dull moment. Anyway, I was in Paris with my mom for an extended weekend. She got in last friday, we flew out saturday morning and then flew back wednesday evening. It was a very fun trip. I'm glad I got to go back to Paris again, the last trip I took there was also fun but very rushed. We saw a lot more of the city in between the sights this time, and it is a very cool city indeed. So much history, so many important people, artists and writers and such, so many important movements and ideas started there. I liked walking around some of the nieghborhoods, the latin quarter and St. Germain and the Jewish quarter was really neat. Of course we also went to the Louvre and Orsay and the Pompidu, but half of it was closed :( We also made it to Versailles and Chartres. I really liked Chartres, an amazing Cathedral in a quaint little town. But then, I'm kind of a big nerd when it comes to Gothic cathedrals. I just think it's so amazing to ponder what people were thinking when they built these huge structures and how the hundreds of pilgrims who came through would have felt when they saw it. Like I said, big nerd :-P

I'm glad Mom decided to come and travel with me. It was nice spending so much time with her. I admit I had my concerns, especially at the begining when she was saying how she missed her car and her hot tub at home ten times a day. She may look younger than she is, but she complains like an old woman ;) She also took millions of pictures of me looking like a dork in front of every site in Paris, and then made me take one of her, all availible here for your viewing pleasure. But other than the obvious american touristyness... she's pretty cool for a mom and I'm very glad to have a good relationship with my mother and to be able to have fun together and talk about everything. This week she's in Karlsruhe teaching a week long class, she'll be back here in Munich next weekend for a trip with her Augsburg students.

I was dreading going back to school yesturday, but it was a pretty good day. My cowboy poetry lesson is always a hit and I did it twice. I'm in school today as well, I'm coming today and next friday to make up for the two days I missed. I taught the worlds worst lesson on New York in the last class... I was pretty much completely unprepared and it turned out they have already been learning about NYC and I didn't really have any new information or interesting activities for them. Oh well. I'll do a better job with Chicago next week.

This weekend I plan on doing a whole lot of nothing. Lots of sleeping, babysitting saturday, planning my June travels, maybe some more applying for jobs, figuring out what I'm going to do with my life two months from now... Seven weeks until I go home!!!! I'm so excited. I can't believe I've been in Europe for so long, it's time to get out of here. Who's throwing me a welcome home party?

Monday, May 1

Spring Break Part II: Ein Prosit der Gemuehtlichkeit

It's not over yet!!! Tuesday afternoon Marissa and I finally arrived back at my room. Two hours later we were joined by Chris who flew into Munich from Athens. The three of us gathered up some food and beer and and rented a movie and a few hours later were joined by my friend Elena, who you may remember from my Muenster blogs. She is currently teaching for Teach for America in NYC and came to Germany for her spring break. So we had quite a party in my kitchen/bedroom and for the first time ever my nieghbors had to tell me to keep it down! ha! We somehow all managed to get to sleep on the sea of air matresses in my room at some point. Marissa took off in the morning and Chris tagged along while I gave Elena my well rehersed tour of the major sites in Munich including a beer garden and later on the Hofbrauhaus. It was great to see Elena again and I definitely want to go visit her in New York. I was so lucky to have her in Muenster, I wish she were still just downstairs, Munich would be way more fun.

Sadly, Elena had to leave for home on Thursday. Chris and I got some much needed rest before a friend of his studying in Switzerland showed up with a couple more friends in tow (don't worry, they got a hotel and didn't have to squish into my room!) I let Chris take over the tour giving and met up with them later to hit up the beer garden and the hofbrauhaus for the second time in two days. We went to a few bars and then I took them to my favorite little dive of a place in the wee hours of the morning where the bartender in a russian army hat gave me a sucker and a kiss and gave us all a free glass of house champain. We ended up talking with some germans who invited us back to their apartment for an after party. We didn't leave until the sun was coming up and then we wandered the city until 8am when the resturants opened and we got ourselves a traditional Weisswurst Fruhstuck (white sausage breakfast) with Weissbier and all. It was possibly the most fun night i have had in Munich yet (with the obvious exception of Eric's last night here). I'm not sure how we managed it, but we somehow got a grill party together in the park near me on Friday afternoon, and I'm very glad we did. The weather was beautiful and the sausages were mighty tasty.

Friday night I went to bed very early and slept for a good long time before waking up, cleaning my room and meeting Chris for lunch (at another beer garden) before riding with him to see him off at the airport because his flight left right before Shannon's got in. That's right, it's STILL not over!! Shannon visited me!! I heart Shannon :) We did a lot of chit chatting about boyfriends and jobs and weddings and 401K's, Yikes we're old. Her German friend, Connie, who she studied with in Spain, also came to visit for a day. We went to the Hofbrauhaus yet again, but this time I went to the dinner show upstairs and it was all the Kitsch I could have hoped for. We also did some shopping and wandering and jogging and beer garden going, it was nice. Shannon left Thursday so I've been all alone in my room since then. But my niehbor Katie is back, so I've got someone to pop in every so often and share her boyfriend drama (which occurs entirely over SMS to Ireland) with me :-P

I had to go back to school this week. blah. I'm so ready to be done with this whole assisatnt teacher thing. although I'm not sure I'm ready to be done with my year of playing around in Erope, but I am ready to go home and see my friends, but I'm not, but I am! ah! I applied for some more jobs in DC and Minneapolis this weekend. I don't want to grow up :-( And yet I do... I'm torn. Two months left to be young and crazy and responsibility free in Europe. Not too crazy though, my mom is coming next weekend! And we're going to Paris! Yay for trips with Mom and real hotels and fancy resturants! I'm excited to go to some great museums and I have to see Versailles and Chartres, and generally soak in as much culture as possible.

It has finally stopped raining and the sun is out so I think it's time for a run! Ciao!

Spring Break Part I: Abenteuer in Griechenland

Happy May Day! It's a national holiday here, which means no school and a four day weekend for me! weeee. It's been an incredibly boring one, but probably much needed after all the exitement of the last few weeks. Anyway, now that I've got some time I think it's about time I filled you all in.

Greece was AMAZING. I wish I could go back and do it all over again right now. It was the crazy beachy spring break I never had. I went with four other Fulbright TAs; Lindsay, Matt, Chris and Marissa, who are spread out all over Germany. We all flew into Bari, Italy where we met up and hopped on the overnight ferry to Greece. The ferry ride was pretty crazy, I think we were all a little too exited to be on vacation and ready to let loose and have fun, and an overnight ferry with a bunch of your friends is a pretty darn good place to have some fun. It was something of a miracle that we made it off the boat at our stop at 6am, and we even managed to pick up an extra friend on the way.

After one more short ferry ride we made it to the Pink Palace on Corfu at 9am or so and crashed out on the beach for the afternoon where I got a nice sun burn. The Pink Palace Hostel is like an oasis of American and Canadian college students in the middle of a Greek island. Everything is in english, the staff takes care of you, everything is pink -- including the Uzo, happy hour is from 6-11 and they throw weekly toga parties. It's probably not the kind of hostel I would have picked out on my own, but it was definitely a good time. We attended a pink toga party and got to meet lots of people. I'm glad I did it now because we were already just about the oldest guests there. Corfu itself is absolutely gorgeous and once I had recovered from the ferry ride I did lots of hiking around soaking things in. I met a very friendly donkey, found a privatle little chapel on a mountain, and picked some fresh lemons and orages off the trees. Lindsay Marissa and I even found our own little private lagoon one day and it was definitely the most beautiful place I've ever been swimming (and the only place I've ever been skinny dipping ;) )! The water was crystal clear and bright bright blue, if a tad bit on the chilly side.

We all rented four wheelers our third day there and whith the help of Matt's guide map did a big long tour of the island. We went up the Kaiser's Throne where King Wilhelm used to hang out, drove through countless quaint Greek towns, and hiked around the ruins of an old castle set up on a cliff. It was a great trip until we had a minor incident on the way back. I was right behind Marissa and I watched as she swerved out of control and off the road flipping her bike into a ditch. Chris and I both jumped off our bikes after her, but she was luckily not injured. I however, must not have thouroughly pushed down the parking break beacause as soon as we saw that Marissa was ok Chris turned around and started shouting, Anne! Stop the bike! But I was seconds too late and my four weeler had already bumped into the bumper of a Greek man who had just pulled over to help us. I grabbed the bike and apologized, but he would have none of it, "Sorry?? No Sorry! Problem! Problem!" He shouted at me pointing to the minute indent in his bumper. Oh lord. He didn't speak much english, just a little bit of German and he kept saying, "Polizei, Polizei, Zuzammen ins Buro, Zuzammen ins Buro" indicating that he wanted us to come to the police station with him. Luckily, another nicer Greek man had also pulled over to help us and the two yelled at each other for quite a while in Greek while he tried to convince him to give the poor American kids a break. Finally we gave him 50 euros cash and he left. Whew. So the five of us were left freezing cold on the side of the road, Marissa's bike suspended by vines five yards above a dirt side road. We called the hostel to come get Marissa and her bike and the four of us left so that we could make the 40 min ride home before dark.

By the end of our stay we were all a bit worse for the wear, especially Marissa, but it was well worth it. Thursday night we all got on an overnight ferry and then bus to Athens, but Marissa and I got off at Patras, which is on Mainland Greece in the Poloponese around 3am. After staying in the Pink Palace for so long it was kind of a shock to realize that we were actually in Greece and didn't know a single word of the language (Other than Cheers) and can't even read the leters. But the two of us managed to make it to a nice hostel and get lots and lots of sleep. We didn't actually have any plans for the rest of our trip except some vauge idea of maybe going to Olympia or another beach somewhere. The next day we found a very tasty greece resturant where I ate lots of hummos and cheese and then we headed out into Patras to find a tourist office. We decided we didn't really have any desire to do educational and cultural things like looking at old ruins and would rather go to another island. Unfortunatley, the only information they had on the nearby islands at the tourist information office was in French. So, between Marissa's two week course in Frence and just looking at the pretty pictures we decided on Zante island, which also happend to be the southernmost island we could get to. The woman at the office gave us a map and circled the intersection where the bus station where buses to Zante was. It wasn't far, so Marissa and I got our bags and set off. We found the intersection but there was no station or busses to be seen. We asked a series of random Greek people who told us in broken english, right here, left there, each sending us to a diferent spot around and around in circles. Over an hour later we finally found the place which turned out to be more of an office than a station with no busses in site at all and the only indication that there were busses headed to Zante was written in Greek. But, we found it, so all was well and we drank Frappe's which are delicious sugary foamy cold Greek coffe drinks.

After ferry ride #4 we arrived on Zante island Friday night. We wanted to stay in one of the small beach towns, but alas, we were two weeks to early and it was completely deserted and closed, so we ended up at a very fancy schmancy hotel in the main city of Zakynthos. The nice thing about the off season was that the hotel was quite cheap as were the resturants. Saturday we found out that no busses were running on the weekends and after an attempt to walk along the coast until we ran into a beach, we finally just got in a taxi and took it to the largest beach on the island and asked the driver to pretty please come pick us up in four hours. The beaches we went to on Zante island were amazing and almost completely deserted. I definitely want to go back there, only next time I'm bringing my boyfriend and renting a car :) Saturday night we were awoken by a small earthquake. Yes, that's right, I looked it up later and it registered at about 5.4 on the ricter scale and was actually centered right on our island which is aparently on an active fault line! So, I've now lived through two earthquakes! Sunday was Easter Sunday in the Catholic church, but Palm Sunday in the Greek Orthodox calendar and I convinced Marissa to come with me to a Greek Orthodox mass at the very pretty church at 8am. It was very cool, there were palms hung all over the church and at some point in the sermon (I don't know what point, it was in Greek obviously) everyone started jumping up and taking the palms, which I thought was a fun game because I was on average a good six inches taller than everyone in there :) The service seemed to go on forever and we finally snuck out after 2 and a half hours, but I'm glad we went. I like the Greek Orthodox chuch, it's kind of like Catholocism, but more ornate and with more kissing of things.

Sunday night we went back to Patras and Monday we had some time to walk around and see the city, which, it turned out, I really liked. The first time we were there there were massive amounts of garbage on the streets, but it had been picked up by the time we came back, so walking around was more pleastant. Patras is a very cool city, apparetntly it's a big college town and there were tons of cafes, bars, resturants, and lots of shopping. And I don't think I saw a single McDonals or Starbucks or American chain resurant of any kind -- Except for one random TGIFridays. There is also a big beautiful Cathedral with the remains of St. Andrew, and an ancient Greek theather and castle on the hill with spectacular views of the mountains. I would definitely go back to Patras. I've decided it would be a great place to start a study abroad program. It's a big, but not overwhelming city, four hours from Athens, a hop skip and a jump from loads of Greek islands, and it's a cool city in it's own right.

Monday night we had our very last ferry ride (#6 if you are keeping track), and it was the longest yet at about 10 hours. We met a few other americans and I uncharictoristically played the role of the outgoing one and got us all together for some card games. We crashed pretty early on some very uncomfortable theater style seating and woke up back in Bari, back where it all began and in plenty of time to catch our flight back to Munich!