October 27, 2010

The woman checking tickets has a mullet...

Heidelberg's Castle
These past few days I got to spend my 'vacation' (we had 3 days off from practice) with a friend in Heidelberg, Germany. First of all I have to say that being around another American was incredibly comforting, especially another American who is playing basketball and having similar experiences as me. We talked about home, the differences we recognize between Europe and America, what we miss from The States, the first thing we'll both buy when we get home (which happened to be Dunkin' Donuts for BOTH of us), and what an incredible opportunity it is to be here even though it can be really difficult and trying at times. I got to watch one of her practices and took a lot of comfort in knowing that professional basketball in Germany is similar to professional basketball in Switzerland.
Me @ Old Town Bridge
My friend stays with a host family, who were incredibly nice and also pretty good at speaking English :). It was interesting to see what I would like about staying with a family and what might irritate me. It was really nice to be in an actual house with people around and a fully stocked fridge ;). It takes me a while to warm up to people I suppose, and I would think figuring out how to function within the family system of a new family might take me a while. Also, I feel kind of awkward around people I don't know very well, especially when I'm in their home and trying not to break their 'rules' so to speak. As my friend said, "there's so many awkward moments over here, by the time you get home nothing will seem awkward." I definitely see what she means and also hope that's true.

I got to see Old Town Heidelberg, walk across Old Town Bridge over the Neckar River, see the Heidelberg Castle, and Thingstätte. You can see the attached pictures, but honestly unless you're there in person it's kind of hard to describe the beauty in some of the European architecture. I did wonder about the castle though... it sits about 1/3 of the way up a 'small mountain' (there was debate as to whether the mountain was a 'hill' or a 'mountain,' so I thought I'd settle with 'small mountain'). I thought castles were supposed to sit higher up on 'small mountains' so they could see when armies were coming to attack. If I were to attack this castle, according to the way this castle sat I'd come from the back side of the 'small mountain' and fire down at it. Position-wise, I did not like this castle (these are the kinds of thoughts I have time to think about over here).

Thingstätte was probably the most interesting thing I got to see in Heidelberg. Thingstätte is an amphitheater that was built during WW2 and sat 8,000 people who came to listen to Nazi speeches. It was a hike to get to from where we parked (which happened to be maybe 100 meters (?) away); I can't imagine climbing all the way up the 'small mountain' to hear Nazi propaganda. For an old structure it was amazing how well you could hear someone 'on stage' from one of the highest seats (we tested it out). As I sat in one of the seats I wondered who had sat in that seat 75 years ago, and really what kind of person they might have been. Did they REALLY believe the things they heard there and TRULY buy into what was happening? I think it's a good thing these types of structures still exist, they serve as a reminder to be skeptical of what propaganda we receive today, and personally reminded me of my own free will to be the kind of person I strive to be daily.

We got to do a couple other fun things, I carved a pumpkin (which I hadn't done since I was twelve, and you can tell - I also bet you can guess which one was mine without me telling you), watched NFL football on - get this - A TELEVISION!, roasted pumpkin seeds (yummy!), I had a Radler (beer with German lemonade/soda), watched a scary movie in the spirit of Halloween, and sat down at a dinner table with other people and a spread of cheese and meat.

One more thing I saw that caught my attention: on the train on the way back to Nyon three uniformed men were walking up and down the aisles (I don't know why authority figures make me nervous, but I always take notice of them). They were looking around at the people and stopped in front of two men who honestly, looked like maybe they could have been Turkish (point blank: they didn't look like the other Germans I'd been around all week). Anyways, the uniformed men asked them, and only them, for their passports. Hell, I'm not even really sure if I'm supposed to be travelling outside Switzerland, but as we would say in the Race Relations class I took in Fall '08, I can 'pass' as a European. I'm not trying to paint Germany in a bad light, because I've seen racial profiling more times than I can count at home and in more disrespectful ways, I just think it's important to recognize these kinds of things.
I almost had a successful, mistake-free trip travel-wise, except once again I jumped the gun on the way here and got off one stop early. Of course getting off one stop early and having to wait for another train added an hour to my trip. I really wish they wouldn't prematurely change the 'next stop' sign while I'm still on the train. This has happened to me a NUMBER of times now and I get off one stop early because the stupid sign tells me the next stop (which I think is the one I'm at) is my stop. It'd be easier if everything was in English, but alas, it's not. One of these days I'll figure out how to travel...


  1. "if I were to attack this castle..." hahahahaha

  2. you're really good at carving pumpkins. the one on the left is sick! ... this post is for dani lol