Wow. I don't think i've been so impressed with so much at one time in my life! In our German intensive unit (4 hours a day M-F), we pretty much review a bit of grammar and then learn the history of Freiburg the rest of the time. It is pretty fascinating when you realize that this city has been around since 1200... maybe not the same stones, or street patterns, or even buildings, but it definitely has been a populated city since that time.
On weekends, IES has planned a few small day trips for us. Last weekend we went to the Schwarzwald, and this weekend we went to Alsace, France. It was the most stomach-churning bus ride i have ever been on (because of the silly traffic circles), but i don't regret going one bit. We first came to Strasbourg, which has gone over the borders of France and Germany for hundreds of years. Though it was once a Germanic city, it is now in France and therefore everyone there speaks french. So naturally, when we went to a small cafe in the part of town called "Petit France", the girl who waited on us didn't speak any English, and none of the 3 of us spoke French! Lucky us, there was a man sitting at the next table who saw we were confused, and he happened to speak a little German, so he was translating for us. I felt stupid, but it was kind of cool being in a foreign country where I DON'T know the language, but i knew a language of Europe so they didn't automatically know we were Americans. I have found a few friends who love to speak German, so i've been trying to hang with them as much as possible since we are not embarrassed to ask each other for help with certain words.
I am still annoyed with being a tourist. I know that no matter where i go here, since i am not FROM Europe, i will always BE a tourist, especially with camera in hand, but I just hate the idea of being in a group of 40+ people and getting in the way of the locals who just want to walk past us. Strasbourg is notorious for tourists, so i didn't feel SO bad there. (This is also the reason we went to a little cafe rather than one in the tourist strip... the ones on Munsterplatz were SUPER expensive. 3,50 for a coffee? I don't think so. Also, their Munster was different than ours. They only had one path you could follow, and there were no pews, just individual wooden chairs. It wasn't quite as big as Freiburg's Munster, but it sure was more ornate.
Of course, then we had an hour and a half bus ride (another tumultuous one) with EPIC scenery of castle-topped green mountains and small villages at the feet of them. It was breathtaking... if only my pictures could do its justice.... we got to this small wine town surrounded by countless acres of grape fields and went directly to dinner. We ate Flammkuchen, a Bayerish (Bayern is the state in Germany that Freiburg is in) specialty. It's basically a really thin pizza crust with this cream- spice sauce, bacon, and oninons. They have 4 pieces each, and i think as a table of 3 we ate at least 5 or 6 of them. ;) Most of the group ordered wine, too... the Riesling. SO good. I tell you, they really think of food and drink here very carefully. Everything is AMAZING. like my coffee this morning. I have fallen in love with German coffee-- and Milchkaffees. Everyone makes them the same-- coffee (not too black... it almost looks like it has milk in it already) with milk foam on top. I usually just get the regular, but today as i was finishing Dan Brown's The Lost Symbol (which made my brain hurt by the way), i ordered it with Hazelnut. AMAZING. omg.
I am quite enjoying how relaxed the atmosphere is here, and i'm still wondering how the Europeans train their dogs so well. I wish there were a book... i bet there is secret to it.
Well, go ahead and check out my pics-- i hope you enjoy! Oh and i am not done with my pictures of the Munster in Freiburg. We only went in for a tour, and i was never able to really stop and take tons of pictures.