Travels Over Water

Hello again friends!

So it’s been less than a week since I last posted, but with everything that’s happened between then and now it feels like forever ago.

Time is moving far too fast for my taste; We’ve already been here almost a month, We’ve got less than three months left, and it’s not nearly enough. And it’s only going to move faster, because as of last week I have almost every free day planned throughout the rest of the semester; my trips are booked, my schedule is locked, and the whirl of traveling has begun. Hello world, goodbye sleep.

Just a preview of how fast everything is going, here’s everything we’ve crammed into the span of about 4 days:

Thursday, September 10th: Rhine Cruise (water travel #1) 

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The wonderful folks at AIB gave us a break from the classroom, during which we went on a cruise on the River Rhine.. We hopped on a bus at 8am, and slept through a drive to the lovely town of Bacharach. The buildings were old and adorable (each one had the year it was established written or painted on it somewhere), the streets were cobblestone (for the most part), and most of the older houses all had a phrase painted on them explaining their history.

This house, for example, says something along the lines of
This house, for example, says something along the lines of “I saw centuries pass; By God’s goodness I remained”

We all ‘hiked’ (slight hike) up to the remains of the old city wall, which ran along the hillside protecting the town. This area (so I’ve been told) is the most northern point in Germany where you can grow grapes for wine, so, naturally, the hillsides were lined with beautiful green vineyards. The view of the town from the tower along the wall was gorgeous (shown in the previous picture), and the fresh morning hair felt amazing.

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We spent some time exploring the wall (some people climbed the stairs up toward the top, I opted to skip that),

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Then we headed back to the dock, where we waited for the first thing I’ve ever found to be late here in Germany: the boat.

We hopped on once it arrived, found some seats amongst all the elderly tourists, and embarked down the river. I saw more castles in the span of an hour than I’ve seen in my entire life (then again, that’s probably fairly easy in Europe as opposed to America). We passed the Loreley (there’s lore of a woman who sang and lured unsuspecting sailors toward treacherous rocks), saw some cute towns with random smiley faces, and enjoyed the relaxing time on the water.

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We hopped off the boat in a quaint town called Braubach, where we had grabbed a quick lunch (schnitzel, always. Because why not?).

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After that, in order to save time we hopped on the bus and rode up the hill to the Castle Marksburg, where we had a guided tour led by a somewhat robotic tour guide. She was nice. But she was interesting. I didn’t get very many pictures because I spent most of it getting video for the AIB promo, but here’s what I did get:

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After the castle tour was over, we took a short hike back down to Braubach, where we hopped on the bus and headed to the portion of the night we had all been awaiting: Dinner, with *clears throat* ‘lemonade tasting’.

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We arrived at the Winzergenossenschaft Mayschoß, (cooperative wine-growers association). Here, we took a tour through the rather old wine cellar, where our guide (who had a booming voice but still managed to crack some jokes) told us about the process, the barrels they use, and showed us some wines that were probably older than I am.

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He showed us some of the tools they use (or used to use) in harvest, like this old de-stemming machine. [I must say, it was interesting listening to what he was saying and looking at everything in the winery after having spent last summer working on a ‘how-it’s-made’ style documentary about a winery back home. Granted, back home they pull massive harvest machines behind tractors through each row of the vineyard, whereas here everything has to be hand-picked, because it’s impossible to a)fit that kind of equipment between the vines, and b) drive large machinery on a terraced hill the ledges of which are just large enough for a person. I even understood a (very) little bit of what he was saying when he talked about the wines, which pleasantly surprised me.]. Anyways.

Afterwards, we sat down for dinner (some delicious potato soup), and began our ‘lemonade tasting’ experience. We ate, we learned how to properly taste wine (with the swirling and the sniffing and the slurping), and we had a rather nice time.

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And then I went home, content and exhausted.

And that was just one day out of four.

Friday September 11th: Pützchens Markt (over the river, so water travel #2) 

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Pützchens Markt is a fair/festival sort of thing that happens in a part of Bonn called Beuel (pronounced boil); every year for a few days in September the streets turn into a mass of food stands, bars, arcade games, carnival rides, and crowds of people slowly moving forward. Naturally, we had to go.

A couple of the student workers from AIB took us there, and as soon as we arrive the smells were overwhelming; waffles, cotton candy, curryworst (which of course I had to try), beer, wine; happiness.

The crowds were absolutely crazy, and everyone was at least two feet taller than me (if not more); but thankfully I had nimble Eddie to teach me how to weave through crowds.

We had an early morning the next day, and all the rides were kind of expensive, so we got drinks, explored, and then opted for the bumper cars before deciding it was time to go home. ‘Twas a wonderful night, and last night we went back to watch the fireworks, go on some crazy rides, and have a delicious cup of vaterweiße (don’t trust me on that spelling, all I know is it’s German sparkling wine, and it tastes like grape cider).

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Saturday, September 12th: International Broadcast Convention (Amsterdam) (which is basically built on water, so, water travels #3 and #4) 

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The moment you’ve all been waiting for ladies and gents: our first excursion outside of Germany (not to say Germany isn’t exciting, because it is; it’s very exciting. And I love it. But. My brand new passport needs a little use).

Saturday morning, at about 6:45am, my class (along with Patricia, our TA Nick, and our Cinematography Professor Jens {a.k.a. Thor}) hopped on a (rather snazzy) bus headed for Amsterdam, where we all had tickets to attend IBC (the International Broadcasting Convention). (I should mention, we left Bonn without Ali. Because she overslept. And when she woke up she had to pay for a train ticket to get herself to Amsterdam. So we all quickly learned that when they say they’ll leave you behind, they MEAN they will leave you behind)

There were 14 halls in total, plus a Drone Zone outside. All the big broadcasting/film tech companies were there; Avid, Adobe, Arri, Red, Canon, Sony, Panasonic, etc. As well as countless other international companies that I had never even heard of who focused on things that went miles over my head. But it was amazing. We played with cameras that produced mouthwateringly gorgeous images, we tried virtual reality goggles, we listened to the 3d sound, saw an image in 8k, and got to listen to a talk with the editor from The Grand Budapest Hotel (awesome experience). He showed us the final timeline from the movie, and the editor in me was astounded by the sheer amount of detail compressed into that 2 hour timeline, and the edits and rendering work he put into just 2 seconds of dialogue.

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After our day at IBC, we said goodbye to Patricia and Jens, then hopped on a tram to our hostel. Which was the most hilariously and accurately advertised hostel ever (in the lobby, there’s a sign that says something along the lines of ‘Germaphobes beware’; your stay here, with all of this lovely bacteria, will give your immune system the boost it needs to survive).

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The 19 of us all split 3 rooms, and we were so hangry and tired that we all just took a key from Kim (our saintly classmate who arranged the hostel) and figured we’d find out who our roommates were when we got upstairs. The room was slightly gross, but in an amusing way; and by the end of the weekend I realized it actually wasn’t all that bad.

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After locking our things up in the room, everyone sort of bolted for food. The small group I was with went to a quaint Italian cafe. After that, we went to find some ice cream, and after a quick pit stop at the hostel to drop off our things, we headed to the canal to enjoy our ice cream.

We did, for a bit. It was actually rather beautiful. We sat on the edge of the canal and enjoyed ourselves. Then Katie chipped her tooth. And then it started sprinkling. And then it started pouring; and I mean POURING. And I, in my absentmindedness, left my rain jacket in the room.

We all ran back to the hostel, and when we arrived in the elevator we finally saw our reflection. I looked like a wet dog; Nader and Eddie’s shirts were soaked through, and Katy had her jacket draped over her head. It was actually hilarious, and I’m rather depressed that we didn’t get a picture.

It was too early to go to sleep, so we all dried off and went downstairs to the kind of cool little bar in the hostel, where we shared a pitcher and played fun games. For a bit. Then things went a little awry, and we ended up going to bed before midnight. Besides, we had an early day ahead of us.

Sunday, September 13th: Free Day in Amsterdam 

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The next day we all woke up early, grabbed a quick (and wonderfully free) breakfast at the hostel, then checked out and headed for something few people go to Amsterdam without seeing: The Anne Frank House.

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It was a very strange, surreal experience. I had read the book; I knew the story. It had been years since I read it, but it’s a story you don’t easily forget. We waited in line the same way we did for any other tourist attraction; we paid like you do for any museum; we got brochures that showed us around the museum. Except it was different. It was a brochure showing us around 2 years of someone’s life; it wasn’t a large building with white walls covered in art; it was an office; a home; a hiding place that, though the floors had been redone and the pictures on the walls had been encased and the building itself had been added onto, still held the essence of its history. I read the book, I knew the story. But seeing this place gave me an entirely new perspective. It was real. I saw the diary and her notebook pages; I saw her hand-writing, and where her bed used to be.

What would she think now? What would have happened if she could have known that someone was waiting for her?

And the craziest part was that it was just one house, that two Jewish families hid in for 2 years; two families out of thousands. One girl’s diary of her time before her family was discovered; how many other diaries were there? How much perspective can you have, when the story ends before she’s taken?

After I left I almost felt like I hadn’t been inside, but I knew I had. And that was my experience at the Anne Frank House.

But we can move on to something happier . . .

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After that experience we needed a little pick-me-up. At that point it was only noon, and we still had yet to explore the canals. Luckily, there happened to be a ticket booth right across the street, where you could get tickets for a boat that was leaving in 10 minutes. So a smaller portion of us hopped on a boat tour of the canals, and enjoyed the nice sitting break from all the walking.

To be honest, we didn’t see as much of the canals as I would have hoped. The line we were on went out into the harbor, then back into the city through a canal or two, so it was a short ride. But it was still gorgeous, and I enjoyed seeing all of the house boats.

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The interesting thing was that every boat was different; some were big, some small; some looked like old ships and some looked like floating houses; they were all different colors, with all different sorts of decorations. Each boat had its own personality, and on the occasion that you saw one of its inhabitants enjoying a nice Sunday morning out on their patio, you saw that the boat fit its owner. I saw this one boat that looked like an old steamboat; almost straight out of The African Queen. It was rusted, but tastefully so; it had an old-timey feel, that made you think of the ‘spirit of a sailor, argh’, and I saw the man who owned it standing toward the front of it. He was somewhat older, and he had a thick white beard. There was the sailor, manning his ship.

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The tour lasted about an hour, and after that we hopped off and set out to find some lunch, with a short pit stop at the largest Protestant Church in the Netherlands, where I saw a really cool organ.

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After that, we grabbed some delicious pizza (day 2 of pizza for Kayla; delicious pizza), and then decided to get more ice cream on the way to the tram that would take us to the bus that we had strict orders not to be late to, because they WOULD leave without us.

This, my friends, was a poor decision. It’s funny now, but it was a poor decision. For two reasons.

  1. In the amount of time it took us to get the ice cream, the demonstration that we didn’t think much of had moved further toward the city center, blocking all of the traffic. Including our tram.
  2. It was insanely rich ice cream, which I was not prepared for and ate way too much of, and as we were all scrambling to decide how we were going to get to the bus in time, I felt like I was going to throw up. I wanted to sit, but we couldn’t sit, and it was awful.

We had just about decided to walk all the way back to IBC (where the bus was set to pick us up), when we saw our tram pulling up. We ran to the stop, climbed on along with the rest of a crowd of people, and breathed a sigh of relief. I still felt sick, but at least we were on our way to the bus.

We made it early, everyone made it on the bus this time, and we departed for Bonn. During which time I sprawled across my seat and crashed, attempting to sleep off the ice cream during the 3 hour bus ride home.

So Amsterdam was a hilarious mix of great and bad experiences that I absolutely adore.

And that was the past 4 days (technically the past 4 days as of two days ago, because it took me two days to write this. but oh well). Yes. That was ALL in 4 days.

And this weekend we will once again be leaving Bonn for an international trip. So look out for another absurdly-long post packed full of things that are probably boring for everyone, but, oh well.

Tschüss!

P.S., if you’d like to see more pictures, I took a ridiculous amount and then posted about half of them on facebook, y’all should check it out.

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