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German course trip

Speyer, Germany

Today was the day that every German course went on a separate trip. The basic course went to Heidelberg (which is gorgeous!) and the intermediate to Lake Konstanz. My class went to Speyer. It was a very nice break from the traveling we've already been doing, simply because, including my professor, there were only 9 of us. When you travel around in a group of 30 or 60 and go out at night with a group 0f 20, even when you only start with 4, having only 9 and no possibilities to add people is very refreshing.

Speyer is a fantastic city. From what I can tell it's fairly small, and not a lot of people have heard of it. It was originally founded by the Romans in 10 b.c. (ish), then became a seat for the bishop. It was originally built on the Rhein River, but the Rhein's course has changed so it's now on a little tributary thing.

The main cathedral is gorgeous. It's a catholic romanesque Dom. Oddly enough, it's part of the reason I think Speyer has an interesting approach to religion. This Dom was also refreshing - after visiting so many amazingly elaborate cathedrals that took hundreds of years to build because they were so beautifully intricate, seeing a nice, aesthetically-pleasing, block with a dome on top was kind of cool. And it was gorgeous in its own way (and I am, by no means, hating on the cathedrals I've been visiting). Interestingly enough, because Speyer is still the bishops seat, and the cathedral is the center of this, the tour guide was not allowed into the cathedral. The territory of the city and of the church are so separated that, simply by being an employee of the city, she could not cross the threshold of the cathedral. So she had to tell us all about it outside and then wait for us. Apparently some stipulations have been removed, but the church used to be a refuge from the authorities because they were not allowed to cross that very threshold in pursuit of people.

We also visited an Episcopalian church, which was in more of a baroque style. It was odd to see a protestant

church that looked more like a catholic one, while the catholic one could have easily been a protestant one. It was a little bizarre.

The tour also took us though the old Jewish quarter (which I thought was going to be a ghetto, but wasn't). There was a certain part of town that was the center of the Speyer Jewish community, which had a synogogue and a ritual bathhouse. In the general burning of Speyer (I don't remember when) the synnogogue was destroyed and partially rebuilt, then destroyed again in WWII. I think. So the synogogue only has a few walls still standing, but they're the same walls that have been around for hundreds of years. Even cooler was the bathhouse. It was underground, so it wasn't destroyed with everything else and pretty much remained in its original form from the middle ages. Being rather poorly lit, and having the eerie air of centuries of ritual, it was a little creepy. But also really cool.

After the tour, we just walked around. If it wasn't so cold and rainy (and if I hadn't forgotten a jacket) it would have been okay. And I was in the worst part of my cold from Strasbourg. I still had a blast - I enjoyed being with my class and only my class so much that I hardly noticed how aweful I felt until the train ride back. We decided on the ride back that Mexican food sounded awesome, and Christiane (our professor) directed us to a Mexican place.

Upon arrival in Freiburg, we set out in pursuit of said Mexican restaurant. Most of us were there (I think two students did not come), so it was a nice compact group. The key to the directions, however, is that there are multiple Müller stores. So, after wandering around, soaking wet, with a cold, in the rain when it was in the 50s for half an hour, we finally found a place, but they only had seating outside. It was decided that I was going to sit in the driest place and in the middle (I'm not sure if it really helped me or not) and I was given the candle to keep my hands warm. We had an absolute blast. The margaritas were basically straight tequilla with a piece of lime (I couldn't finish mine) and the nachos had real jalapenos. MMMM. It was so worth the cold just to be with these people at this place.

We then went to Schlappen, which is a bar that sells beer by the two-liter boot. It has become popular enough with the IES crowd that "schlappen" has now become a verb participle/adjective. As in, "we're about to get schlappened" or "are we going schlappening tonight?" or "he's so schlappened that..." Again, I probably should have gone home and gotten dry clothing, but I didn't. I did get kind of spacey, though part of it was that we met 15 other people and I got stuck at the boy's table. Joe and I did manage to establish that we've probably met each other before through Liz and the Holiday House crew, which was really bizarre. FInally Aymi decided to go back to get ready to go out to a club (it was a Saturday night, after all) and I decided to go back with her and probably go back to bed.

Outside Schlappen, Aymi disappeared for a minute to go try to get a cigarette from a group of men. She was gone for a while, but I could hear her talking and laughing, so I didn't go after her or anything. Next thing I know, German men are coming up to me going "you want to come to our Bachelor Party with us?" I had to politely refrain many times, explain I was sick, cough, show my pile of kleenexes that had accumulated in my pocket, and pretend to be unbearably sleepy (as well as endure many hand-kisses) before they finally let me go. Aymi and Meghan went out that night, I slept.

permalink written by  lost_red_balloon on September 13, 2008 from Speyer, Germany
from the travel blog: The European Union
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Way to go Episcopalians! Woot Woot!! We ourselves our often confused...you know that line that divides Catholics and Protestants...well we're basically straddling it. :)

Ok...um...so you go all the way to Germany to have...Mexican food?? I guess you can take the girl out of Texas...but can't take the Texas out of the girl...tsk tsk...

Schlappen?? hahaha...gotta say....that's pretty funny...

I'm sorry about my Skype...I don't know what's up with that. I'll try to keep an eye on it from now on.

Thank you for the pictures! Love them!! :) Miss you bunches!

permalink written by  Heather on September 25, 2008

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