Saturday, May 30, 2009

Signing off from Germany

Sadly but truely I am just saying hello one more time from Germany. It has been a fabulous time. I'm thinking of writing a movie script called "Way Better than Groundhog Day" so i can relive the experiences here that I have had. I will miss all of my new friends. Especially those at Rainbow.
My last Saturday in Germany - went to Rothenburg.

I have so many great memories and I have hardly begun to share them through my blog. I can't wait to get the bill when i try to develop pics. I finally filled up my 4GB camera card a few days ago. I think I totalled 3000+ pics! I'm going to have to save a whole years salary to pay for them.
Jess's last Saturday - spent in Rothenburg and Dinkelsbuhl.

I can't wait to see you all again whether you are in the U.S. or Germany. I hope I will be back soon! -- Pray that I have a simple adventure on the way home. No 6 days in airports please!!

Signing off from Germany...Hanie

Friday, May 29, 2009

Bitter Sweet

I must officially post that I have completed my adventures at Rainbow Elementary School in Ansbach, Germany. I'm speechless due to the wonderful friendships and time I have had at this school. The staff, students, parents -- all are wonderful.

I am wondering if I get "extra credit" for the last few days. Due to an unexpected turn of events I did end up in the classroom the last few days. But it wasn't your typical school day - I did my first 'international' event. Today we were able to invite German students to the school and somewhat introduce them to how our school system runs. (We were fortunate to visit their school about 2 months ago.) I hope I did a good job in making them feel welcome at our school. It is hard when you have 39 or 58 students at one time in 1 classroom (yeah don't tell the fire marshal please) and when only half of them understand you. I really didn't feel overwhelmed but it was definitely challenging.

It is hard to believe that I will be gone in less than 72 hours! Germany is FaBuLoUs!! I highly recommend traveling here. It has been a blessing to get ot know such wonderful people and get to benefit from their hospitality. Memories has been formed and cemented (Germans will like that since they are pretty proud of their cement).

That's all for now. Just wanted to give word on my day I guess. :)

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Salzburg, Austria: Home to Mozart and "The Sound of Music"

"High in the Austrian Alps lived a beautiful city,
Lay dee-o-a-lay-dee-o-a-lay-dee-whoo"

Salzburg just sings, "Beauty, peace, adventure, eccentric, traditional, entertaining, kosher, and salt!" I do have to say that Salzburg was a good way to end my travel in Europe (even though Rome or Paris could have topped it off with caramel, nuts, and a cherry!) But all in all, it was a very enjoyable trip.
The train took me a little longer than I thought it would but I arrived in Salzburg just in time to give myself a little rest (early morning train rides do wear you out) before attending a performance at the Salzburger Marionetten Theatre. But even before that I had time to walk along the Salzach River and purchase an ice cream cone that was literally melted. At this time I did encounter an odd young man. I would say he was a little topsy-turvy and did not give me a good feeling. I'll spare you the yucky details but I am lucky nothing happened.

The play that I went to at the theatre was "Die Zauberflote" - "The Magic Flute" by Salzburg's own, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. It was all in German but I was still able to follow along with the story very well since they projected the story line on the side walls of the theatre. I was overwhelmed with amazement of how well the puppets moved - they walked with better posture than I do! The costumes, the scenery - it was fabulous! I recommend a trip to the theatre on your own trip to Salzburg.

On my first full day in Salzburg I decided to just explore the city. It was a Sunday so I took it easy and enjoyed the beautiful scenery around me. The exploring started with a trip to Mirabell Park, made famous by its beauty and being featured as the scenery of the Do-Re-Mi song in the film "The Sound of Music." The Von Trapp family is originally from Salzburg and that is where the true story took place. The park was absolutely gorgeous and what other way to spend a beautiful Sunday morning but with a stroll in the park to enjoy Heavenly Father's work.

While I was taking a stroll in the park I made 27 little friends. I didn't have to clean their house or sing "Heigh-Ho" so that was great. But I did get to take a few pictures. Here is my favorite "dwarf" and I named him Harry 'cause of the glasses.

I had a second treat while at Mirabell Park - an Austria concert! I was so excited because I got to see them in their traditional costumes and not to mention their wonderful music. The concert happened in an open area in the trees. Just a beautiful environment to help eccentuate the music. The rest of the day I walked the streets and just enjoyed the beauty of the area. I pretty much walked the west side of the Salzach river. Monday I did a little less walking and more riding. To save my feet (which are still recovering from the 4 months of student teaching and walking on cobble stones), I signed up for "The Sound of Music" tour and a trip to the Salt Mines. Both of these tours where absolutely wonderful. The weather was a little roasty so I was glad to be riding in an air conditioned bus. Instead of giving all details I will just pinpoint some highlights of each tour...

"The Sound of Music" Tour
*The Gazebo - the famous pavilion that Liesl and Rolf sang "Sixteen Going On Seventeen". There was actually two separate gazebos used for the movie: larger one for the indoor shots and one for the outside shots. I got to see the 'outside' shot gazebo. I also got to skip down Maria's lane where I built up my 'confidence'!

*Palace of Leopoldskron - place where the boating and drinking pink lemonade scenes where filmed. Of course only the back of the palace was used as the 'back' of the Von Trapp's home and then another building was used for the front scenes.

*Nonnberg Abbey - This is the abbey where the real Maria was a nun and was used in the film. This was actually about 500 meters from my hostel. But man was it a CLIMB to the top!

*St. Gilgen/Lake Wolfgang - This picturesque area was featured in the opening sequence of the movie.

*Church of Mondsee - Beautiful yellow church about 20 or so kms from Salzburg where Maria and the Baron got married.

To see pics from Salzburg, click on the Smilebox picture below. A new window will open up with the pictures.

"Salt Mines" Tour

After "The Sound of Music" tour I had a 30 minute break before I headed off to Berchtesgaden (actually in German) to the Salt Mines. Salzburg is named after the Salt Mines; the mines are the reason why Salzburg was built in the area. The mines have been mined for 300+ years! The area is still mined today but in old parts of the mine you are able to go on a guided tour. I liked the tour because I got a cool wardrobe (but to tell you the truth I had no idea when the last time it was washed...).

The tour begins with a 5 minute train ride into the mine. The air drops to almost freezing (luckily I didn't go during the winter when it goes below freezing) and you are ushered to a gigantic hole in the mountain. After a small introduction on how the mining of salt begins you get to slide down a steep wooden slide. You just sit on it, hold up your feet and slide right down. I was SO afraid I was going to get a splinter or two in my buns but that wood is smoother than --okay I'll say it--a baby's bottom. It was exciting. And of course they use this slide as a tourist trap because they do take your picture. I think I had a more frightened look on my face going down that slide than I have had going down Splash Mountain at Disneyland.

The tour goes on for about an hour as you going through the steps of mining salt, getting to learn more about salt, see new and old machinery, go down a second slide, and lick the walls (so salty!). But this is not all of the tour - you even get to ride in a cable car several stories up AND boat across a mirror lake with a light show! AwE-sOmE! Inside the mountain is a small lake and it just looks like glass. What ever is shown on the ceiling is reflected on the water so a magnificent light show is played on the ceiling and reflected on the water to make a circular light show. Can I get a "WOW!"

After the tour of the salt mine the tour bus took us up a very windy road that overlooked the town of Berchtesgaden. From where we were located, we were able to spot Hitler's Eagle Nest.


So you tired yet? I am and I was when I was in Salzburg but Tuesday I had a few hours in the morning to waste before heading back to Germany so I did the most ridiculous thing --I climbed the mountain up to the Fortress! What look liked a simple climb after a few hundred steps to the Abbey ended up being a HORRIBLE climb. And once I reached the cashier to pay to get inside I still had probably 1/3 of the mountain yet to climb. (And I have to say I had a feeling that the cashier was laughing at me because I was already out of breath, ready to pass out, and he knew I still had a long way to go!) My thighs burned but I made it! Construction of the fortress started in the 11th century and continued until about the 19th century. Ran by Prince Archbishops, each added to the fortress during the 800 years of construction. I was able to climb atop the highest point of the fortress to overlook all of Salzburg and beyond.

Now I knew it would be a lot easier going down that it would be up but I for sure wanted to use the lift to go down. (Yes I knew of the lift before I headed up to the fortress but I thought I was almost to the top after climbing to the abbey okay!)

Here I ended my adventure in Salzburg. Besides the yucky dude in the beginning the trip was wonderful. I splurged on entertainment but I did not regret any of it. I went out with a bang! The train ride back was bitter sweet because I knew I was only days away from leaving "My" Europe. I would go back any day because there are a lot more things to do and see. But for now "Auf Wedersehen, Salzburg!"

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Wednesday, May 20, 2009

It's Not Over Till the Fat Plane Leaves!

I'm leaving on an airplane,

Don't know when I'll be back again.

Oh hey, I hate to go.

It's been a joy to be here,

Don't worry I didn't drink any beer,

Oh, I really hate to go.

'Cause I'm leaving on an airplane!

I may have only 2 days, YES 2 days left of student teaching; however, adventures await me around every corner. Even though I am dreading the next 48 hours because I know it is the end of my duty here it's a moment in my life to celebrate. I am no longer an undergraduate!! Yeah that's right, I'm an top now!! - I just hope that I am on top when it comes to applications, resume, and interviews :). Yep, I official submitted the first completed app today. I'll submit hopefully another one tonight.

I'm going to miss each and every one of the kids! Even those 'sweet' ones ;). All the students have made it hard the last week or two because they keep reminding of my short time left here by saying, "Why do you have to leave?" I guess this is just the beginning of all the ends I will face. (But in a way I will never see most of these kids. Just a downfall to overseas teaching - but still worth it!)

Each time I walk to the train and ride it home I cherish it because it could be my last ride. But then I tell myself that I still have some traveling to do after student teaching so I don't get all choked up.

To give you a little look into my 'daily' life here in Germany I thought I would give you a peek at the dear house that has been my home the last 4 months. That is the first picture in this posting. Second picture is a view from the front steps (but really the back steps-another contrast to German construction) overlooking the meadow as a train drives by. I think I am good to say that a train goes by every 7-10 minutes during the day and maybe 20-30 minutes at night. Duetschebahn definitely keeps those tracks hot.

The next picture is shot from in front of the Bruckencenter (mall) in Ansbach. The bridge is a pedestrian bridge that crosses the highway into old Ansbach. If you look closely you can see the steeple of a church and I have to say that my timing was perfect because I was able to also capture a smartcar. Europeans love to be eco-friendly.

To end this blog I want to just post a 'good' picture of me that also reflects the greenery of beautiful Germany. One day I was walking downtown Ansbach and made my way to the Orangerie. The Orangerie is where the house citrus plants during the winter so they could have citrus fruit year round. The grounds of the Orangerie is also home to beautiful paths with gorgeous, luscious trees and open fields of wild flowers. It was a beautiful day and so I was able to capture a beautiful moment at the Orangerie. Can you understand now why it is so hard for me to leave on that airplane?

Friday, May 8, 2009

Happy Graduation Day!


Unfortunately I do still have 2 weeks to go technically with my student teaching but officially NAU will pass me and give me a diploma. JOYOUS! AMAZING! WAHOO!!!

Just a little plug for my personal benefit so read if you want --> I want to thank some people for their support and encouragement over the last 8 years. (Sad but true eh?) In no particular order...
  • Grandma and Grandpa Rowley - I know you were always there for me and encouraged me to go forth. In my years in the valley, I know I couldn't have made it without my "Ivory Keys" and other means (I can't wait to touch a piano when I get home). Love ya and thanks SO MUCH!
  • Monique -- You are weird Moneeka! You know why? Because you hired me! I mean I hid in closets and under desks, asked "Who's coming?", and I eat meat! I do want to thank you for those understanding times when I first started out when I needed time off for family. You don't know how much I was blessed to have you as an employer AND as a friend.
  • Girls at Mesa #5 - Sara, Tara, Debbie - What can I say than thanks for listening to me and helping out when I needed help. You probably were the ones that saw me the most during my college work. It's hard to think its been 2(+) years. Thanks for the laughter!
  • The Best Siblings in the WORLD!!!!! (+ in-laws) - I know we have all been through a lot the last few years but I knew if I ever needed help or a blessing I knew you guys would be there in seconds. You would let me vent and then kick me back into gear. I only hope I was there for you. Thanks for being who you are!

  • Marmee & Daddy Roy - Okay so this one is in a particular order because I am saving the best for last. You guys are some of the toughest people I know. It has been the weirdest last few years and I know I really didn't have much to complain about considering what you guys have been through but you still let me cry and vent over 'burnt cookies'. All in all, you always point out to me to turn to my Heavenly Father. You put me on my knees when I needed to be. You always reminded me who I am and that nothing is impossible; that I should go forth and do my best. I truely hope I have made you proud. I HEART YOU!

I know there are more of all you amazing souls I know. Some I have known for months, 1 or 2 years, or my whole life. Aunts, Uncles, cousins, neighbors, friends, church leaders, teachers, and the man at the corner: Thanks! Please know that I want to list all but blogspot only allows so much MB before their site breaks down. :)


Tuesday, May 5, 2009


I must say that I was not expecting an enchanting place when I went to Nurnberg a few weekends ago. It really surprised me to find a beautiful castle (but my pics just don't do it justice) and I really didn't expect to hike up a mountain to get there. But I did and I made it. I enjoyed walking the grounds of the castle and made another climb up the Sinwell Turn.
The sinwell turn was yet another circular staircase that keeps going and going and going. And just when you think you can't make it any farther you reach the top and realize that all that hard labor of climbing was worth it. It's worth the climb because of the beautiful view of Nurnberg.

When I opened the door to go up the Sinwell Turn I was faced with this creepy view. I expected the king's soldiers to jump out and point their arrows at me. It was kind of freaky...

View "up" the sinwell turn. It keeps going and going and get the point.

I did buy tickets to tour the castle but I never found the entrance and I didn't get much help from the tourist place but I did walk the around the castle that was fantastic and peaceful. Every where you look it is a breathtaking view that you never want to forget. Of course I take pictures but I can't get a picture of everything. (And I only post so many. I know I have over 1,000 pics, maybe even close to 2,000 from my dream of being in Germany).

The view that paid off the climb. Oh how beautiful roofs can be eh?

From the top, the
slight climb up to the castle.

The castle was awesome. I was able to go into a museum there that had articles of clothing, weapons, dishes, toys, and more from the castle. Really it is amazing to see real spears and guns that are literally 6 feet or more long that take 10+ men to handle. There were also old globes, canon ball machines, and horse saddles. As I stood there in awe of these items I really could but thinking that this stuff was 400+ yrs old!! Just throughs me for a loop that there is proof of history so far back.

BIG door to the castle courtyard. Probably the biggest I have seen!

Servants quarters in side the castle gate. Very "German" wouldn't you say?
Outside the castle walls was a beautiful city full of excitement. Since it was a Saturday, the Hausmarkt Strasse was busy with farmers and buyers. The main item was the "frischer spargel" - translated fresh white aspargus. May I say that I love aspargus but there is joy also in white aspargus. If you find it, buy it, and enjoy it. In Germany it is the thing to eat during its harvest time. But more on spargel later.

This is a picture of the famous Geistspital (Holy Spirit hospital) in Nurnberg that is now a rest home. It's very enchanting considering its a hospital.

Okay so this gold shrine looking thing is really nothing but a 'good luck' charm to those you touch the ring that's in the gate. I thought it was if you just touch the gate but you have to touch a certain ring so no good luck for me...but then again I did kiss the blarney stone in Ireland so I hope I'm covered.

House of Albrecht Durer, one of Germany's most prominent artists. I do have to say that is art is absolutely amazing.

Last but not least the one gondala that I will see on this trip to Europe.

p.s. sorry the pics and everything are all skee-waddley. I was trying something now and it didn't work. I would fix it but I can't right now...

U.S. vs America

So when you are out traveling and staying in hostels you tend to get to meet new people. Some are normal, some are unique, some are creepy, and some just flat out scare you. But whether they scare you or have the possibility of becoming your new best friend you get to notice things that maybe you never gave much thought to.

One thing I have noticed in my traveling is that when you are asked where you are from if you say, "United States" most people reply with, "Oh you're from America!" I really noticed this in Berlin when I was 'rooming' with an older lady from Tazmania. I asked her if she always says America and she said yes. We kind of discussed this a little bit more but overall it was interesting that other nationalities say America instead of United States.
Now why is this so captivating to me? Well on maps, in atlas', it is listed "United States of America." I guess they could just be abbreviating it to "America" but in my conversation with my 'roomy' she said it comes from the history of our country, the free country of America. This made me think that in the books it may be United States of America but to the world we are the land of the free, America. This just makes me smile :)

Good, Bad, and AWESOME!

Hey All~

I know I always post about my *AWESOME* trips around my dear, gorgeous Germany but I thought I would let you know when and what. Plus I have started a list of the the Good, Bad, and *AWESOME* about Germany (or Europe). So here goes.

When do I return to AMAZING AMERICA?

Answer ~ Still pending. I'm trying to fit in a few extra trips (Paris, Nice, Rome, maybe Denmark). My student teaching ends May 22nd so I will at least be there until then. I plan to maybe be back between June 7th and 15th. (Depends on when the money runs out right??)

It's always best to get rid of the worst right? Then its all fab from there so here is the BAD of my travels.

  • Most public restrooms you have to PAY 50-80 cents to use the restroom. That is about $1 after exchange rate. I guess if you really need it, its worth it. Otherwise you have to pass the Brezel (pretzel) later on. So be careful with that water eh?
  • Music! - Not music in general but the music here is just the same in the U.S. That's right, Jason Mraz (I'm Yours), Britney, Kelly, Lady Gaga, and all them. I was looking forward to hearing German pop music. There are a few songs but most are U.S. artists. I do forgive in a way because I guess the reason for U.S. artists is that German words are hard to put to music. The way the language goes it is hard to sing music in German. - I guess that is why most of the famous musicians from Germany are classical composers - they didn't have to write words to their music. But then again there are a lot of famous operas in German...
  • This one is pretty obvious since I don't speak the local language but a 'bad' thing is not being able to truely communicate with the locals. I would have been able to meet lots of interesting people if only I could say more than, "Hallo" and "Tschuss." But that is nobody's fault besides my own.
  • So I thought I was so cool. I finally found a copy of December Boys with Daniel Radcliffe. Looks like a good movie. Well, a little lesson. If you buy it in Germany or Europe for that matter and is in English does not mean that it will play on a U.S. dvd player. Yep, something about "cannot play outside of country boundaries." So now I have a copy of December Boys that I cannot and will not be able to watch unless I buy a Germany dvd player. Argh!
  • I must start this in red to eccentruate my anger. Are you ready? This just might burn your britches too! ~ You have to pay for water at an restaurant! But wait. It gets worse. And its like $3-4!! I usually order water to save money when eating out but if you don't want to die from dehydration during a fabulous meal you have to pay for that natural resource that we will never run out of. And to boot - oh yes, there is more - it's carbonated mineral water. It was hard to stomach it the first few times but I am slowly getting used to it. By the time I get home, I just might be drinking like an European (drink water that is like an European).

K - now the worst is over so on to the GOOD stuff.

  • Europe is very "environment" friendly thus they recycle. As an 'careless' American I do have to be careful when throwing garbage away because every eye at the train station watches me. You can feel the lasers burn through you when you don't recycle. But I am putting this under GOOD because it is a good thing to recycle. I wish it was pushed more in the U.S. We are very 'trashy' people and we need to be more careful with what we through away and how. ~end of political, environmental plug.
  • The only 'real' fast food here are McD's and Burger King. I love that the restaurants are not chains. Locals run them all (or most) and I love that they serve you on real plates when you eat at the restaurant. "Take away" you get the paper bag but you feel important when you stay no matter who you are because you get awesome white dishes that are so "ikea". Love it! Just feels like you are spending a lot more than $2 for a croisant.
  • British TV!! Gotta love our family across the pond! Now I must say that yeah they play re-runs of American TV but they have their own versions of shows like Family Feud (1980s). Their commercials - they shut down London Central Station and EVERYONE dances. Plus who doesn't love a British accent. Oh and I should mention "House of Elliots." Good British soap!
  • Light switchs. Now I know what you are thinking, "come on Steph, you're in Germany and you fall in love with the light switchs." And I say, "Yep!" They are of simple design, located in convenient places. But another cool thing about the light switches is that if a light is on, say in the bathroom, a little red light is on saying 'occupied'. Love it!

Now for the AWESOME!

  • "Oh Schnitzel!" You much try it! Nothing like a thin, breaded piece of pork with lemon juice squeezed on top. Mmm Mmm AWESOME! Schnitzel!! ~ And I can have schnitzel almost everyday at the train station.
  • I love that the little engines "can" in Europe! I am practically connected to anyway place in Europe! Wanna go to Amsterdam - hop on the train. Wanna go to Salzburg - hop on the train. Wanna go anywhere - hop on the train! I Love it! And it usually is not too bad of a price. (Just get your tickets 3+ days before you leave and you usually get a deal). European travel is the next best thing next to having your own car! - It actually might just be better...
  • Simple and sweet - there are some GOOD, or should I say AWESOME looking Ger'mans' here!
  • Last thing I'm going to mention in this list is that everyone, and I mean EVERYONE! From day one on the trains trying to drag 4 pieces of luggage through inches of snow to yesterday buying a Doner. I've even been called a "proper woman" by an Irishman. (Great story - maybe someday I'll share it if I haven't). Seriously everyone is your friend even if you can't communicate that with them. :)


Funny Story: My last post was about the charming castle of Mespelbrunn. The tour of the castle was only in German but there was a flyer that we read in English. Of course there was a gallery in the castle of the royal family dating back to the 1500s or so. One of the daughters was Marie Antionette. When we read about this Marie Antionette we were curious whether or not this Marie Antionette was France's M.A.

The cute tour guide clarified that this is another Marie Antionette (sorry Kirsten Dunst fans, if you do exist, this is not France's Marie Antionette that was beheaded). This is Marie Antionette of Germany, who was a fan of Wilhelm and Jakob Grimm (a.k.a. Brothers Grimm, natives of Germany).

At this time our tour guide informed us that the Grimms spent lots of time at the castle visiting Marie. She was a fan of the brothers' works. In his words, "She liked the Grimm Brothers so they spent time at the castle."

Well, of course our curiosity peeked and we asked, "Liked?" You just never know what 'liked' means. We caught our guide by surprised on asking more. He blushed (he was probably only 18 or so and struggled a little with the English). Through a grin and blushing cheeks he replied, "She 'like liked' the Grimm Brothers." Based on his embarassment and hesitation on his English we got the point.

~Just another Antionette who "like liked" men she couldn't have. But it was funny how the guide got embarassed when he was asked what "liked" meant. Moral of the story...Sometimes things are not lost in translation.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Frankfurt Temple and Mespelbrunn Castle

"I love to see a temple..." and yesterday I saw Frankfurt, Germany temple. I must start with thanking Sister Gardner for taking me there. It was on my list of "castles" to see here in Germany and I am grateful that I was able to check it off my list. The peaceful feeling of being in a House of the Lord was a vacation from everday life. The pressure of this and that have been hard and it's been harder the last few days so I needed a break. But going to the temple only testified to me that I must work to do my part more. I've made a new resolution (doesn't have to be new year's right?) to attend more. I really don't have an excuse, especially when I get back to AZ. So there you have it; hold me to it!

Side view of the Frankfurt, Germany temple.

Sister Sadler, Sister Gardner, and Me (little ones are Corbin and Landen)

What temple is not complete with Nature's beauty surrouding it?

One the way home we found a jewel in the countryside: Mespelbrunn Castle. It's not Neuschwanstein but it is still a very charming castle. I might have just been on a spiritual high but I really do think that this is one of the most beautiful castles I have seen. Nothing really fancy but with the beauty of the structure and the elegance of the landscape it was very charming. (I just was waiting for Prince Charming to come out. He must have been out hunting...) The tall tower is the oldest part of the castle built in 1500 or so. The royal family that lived there had 22 children!!

Enchanting Mespelbrunn; just makes me want to dance

Photographer's Paradise
View from the courtyard towards the lake

My "College Senior" Pic