Skjern and the Fjord

August 17th-20th, 2017

For most Germans catching a glimpse of coastal waters is something that can commonly be realized after taking a Nickerchen or being teased by the local Schwimmbad unless you come from the North. Therefore spending a holiday by the North or Baltic Sea has become quite a popular past time for this inland country that sits in the heart of Europe. Unfortunately, every adventure going tourist seemed to have the desire to hit the road during some of the most critical months for road maintenance and construction on the Autobahn making for one long journey even by car.

Joining this trend I miraculously made my way to Herning, a city located on the west side of Jutland after taking enough bus and train connections to exceed counting by hand. Thankfully, the taste of Germany I brought along for the journey arrived safe and sound in Skjern that was soon devoured by my hungry hosts.

Feeling guilty of our decisions we decided to make our way over to the Fjord, a narrow, steep-sided inlet connected to the sea formed after the last Ice Age from melting glaciers.

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To my surprise, we discovered an observation tower at the end of the trail overlooking a lagoon and all of its wildlife but no submarine was to be found.

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However, on our the way back to the farmhouse we did find wild rose hips but I was left with a mouth full of seeds after biting too deep into it’s surface.

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Despite the isolation in these quiet plains, my ears were made attuned to the familiar sound of Deutsch after meeting a German family crossing a stream on what seemed to be a self-serving bridge powered by a rope tow.

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At home, the fun continued after a neighbor stopped by with a freshly cut organically raised and fed pig for the family. No effort was spared in saving every part for the firey heat of the grill.

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Yes, even the heart too…

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To make matters more interesting another pig seemed to make its way to our dinner plate served as what the Danes call Stegt flaesk.

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Just down the road from my cousins old stomping grounds is home to the oldest whiskey distillery in the country. To the delight of the locals, they also have received a prize for being the best European rye whisky below seven years in the Whisky magazine awards and the best European single malt.

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More locally grown in the backyard was a plentiful source of blueberries, plums, apples, beans and more that were freshly picked for another meal we prepared for a family who was making their way over to the homestead for dinner.

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Not to mention more pork…

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Just down the road, I had the opportunity the visit an organic farm of the gentleman who claims the fame of being the one responsible for persuading my host to stay in Europe after making a similar exchange at my age, as if his pig delivery wasn’t convincing enough.

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Fortunately, a few little guys somehow seemed to make it by.

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No matter where I traveled I couldn’t seem to get these animals off of my mind. Despite not having any to-go stands in the area it wasn’t hard to get a taste of a few Rød pølse served with a cold glass of chocolate milk.

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Cleansing myself of this massive feast of pork, I made my way over to Lønborg Church where my host tends to maintain the beauty of the grounds.

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Thank you for making my birthday so special!

Indtil næste gang…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Die Wandertour

August 13th, 2017

Even abroad my passion for the exploring the great outdoors somehow found a way into the hearts and minds of my newly acquainted colleagues at Merck.

To my surprise, they took the liberty to arrange a hike in the Odenwald.

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With our backpacks secured and stroller on board, we made our way through the neighboring village and up some pretty treacherous terrain.

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Despite being off the job, Merck seemed to always be in view even on our day of rest.

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As we approached our destination the differences between a Wanderung and a Klettern started to become very clear to me as we passed through a local winery. Clearly, this was something I was going to have to write home about after teasing my White Mountain torn boots.

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What hessisch-excursion wouldn’t be complete without a Bembel of Apfelwine and a plate of Schnitzel?

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Burg Frankenstein

August 6th, 2017

Overlooking the Heiners of Darmstadt is a historical castle perched over the Odenwald found on the southern outskirts of the city in a town called Eberstadt.

On a Sunday afternoon, a friend and I decided to spontaneously take our bicycles to the town and explore the hilltop where Mary Shelley found her inspiration to write her Gothic novel, Frankenstein.

Through the forest and onto the road we rode up the mountain just to find ourselves being passed by every single Audi, BMW, and Volkswagen.

To our relief after a few hours, we arrived at our destination greeted by the familiar feeling of hiking Mt. Washington to find many tourists waiting also waiting in line to take some photos too.

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Nevertheless, we were able to kill some time taking in the breathtaking view from the summit and enjoy the fruits of our labor.

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Fischerfestlauf

August 5th, 2017

Just down the road in Gernsheim from Merck was where the 69th annual ,,Fischerfest” was held.

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To my excitement, it was also where their 14th annual 10k or ,,Fischerfestlauf” or city run was heating up.

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Being my first competitive race I ran since running cross-country in high school felt exhilarating as I almost forgot the thrill of what it felt like to be toe to heal with hundreds of runners surrounded by a crowd of cheering fans.

To my amazement, I exceeded my own expectations finding a second wind in the last few km and was able to shift gears to a finish I was proud of.

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To my relief, there was plenty of room to take a rest a Merck’s station after the race.

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Till next year Gernsheim…

 

 

Salzkammergut

July 27th -30th, 2017

Despite being thousands of miles away from home, the world felt just a little smaller traveling to see a childhood friend who was visiting his Grandparents in one of the other few German speaking countries, Österreich

To my delight, the 2am FlixBus connection from Darmstadt was surprisingly pünktlich and before I knew it I woke up in what seemed to be a dream driving through the Alps.

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In Bad Ischl, I was greeted by a familiar face and one that I had not seen since I was too young to even remember. Nevertheless, I was joyful to see them both as we packed up the car and headed over to Mitterweißenbach.

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Fortunately, with all of his youth, my friend was kind enough to take my belongings inside as I indecently captured the moment for my blog.

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Before I had the chance to unpack my things I was insisted to sit down and try a taste of the Austrian food as if traveling from Germany was too uncultured. To my satisfaction, I was NOT displeased.

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Despite speaking a foreign tongue, seeing a familiar face never felt so refreshing as we walked through the weekly farmer’s market in Bad Ischl. Hanging above our heads were fresh cuts of pork, lamb and a warm smell of freshly baked bread.

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Now a museum to annoying tourists like myself, in the days of the Austrian Empire the Kaiservilla was the summer residence of Emperor Franz Joseph I and Empress Elisabeth who used the residence as a hunting and recreational ground.

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My friend and I found all the history to be quite inspirational for some unintentional photo opportunities.

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Not too far from the luxuries of Bad Ischl is Attersee, home to where more common-folks relax and enjoy the hot summer sun.

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Nevertheless, like all good things, an end must come but despite the reality, we were all happy to bask in the warmth of our company.

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Vielen Dank für die Erinnerungen.

A pleasant reunion

July 15th, 2017

Just under 60km from Darmstadt resides one of Germany’s most reputable and oldest university, Heidelberg University.

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There I found myself standing in front of the Institut für Deutsch als Fremdsprachenphilologie, or IDF for short, waiting to meet a very enthusiastic and insightful man who made a big contribution in preparing my language skills before I traveled abroad.

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Just a few months ago saying goodbye felt very bitter sweet, however, in German Auf Wiedersehen means till we see each other again.

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From the summer class my professor was lecturing, we walked hastily to the Uni’s Mensa where we were greeted with a friendly Mahlzeit from his Italian family he had brought along with him for the trip. It felt quite surreal to be chatting with everyone from where my professor’s academic journey began that eventually led him to Lil Rhody listening to all the stories about how much the city has changed and how student life was 30 years ago during the midst of the Cold War and the Berlin Wall. Nevertheless, I was ecstatic to tell him about my time in Germany and how thankful I was for his help.

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Luckily, I saved just enough room for ice cream, where I found myself fress’n down on a bowl of Spaghettieis with another familiar face.

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It felt just like yesterday we were cooling off from the hot summer sun but over three years had gone by since I spent a summer with this boy from Walldorf who changed my world when I had the pleasure of meeting him just as an exchange student at my high school. More relief was also found in the forest parallelling the city where we explored medieval ruins left by people of was once called Bergheim.

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Many steps later our exhausted breath was taken away by this outlook over looking the city through the trees adjacent to the Heidelberger Schloss.

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It was safe to say the ice cream didn’t win this day as we discovered more steps along our adventure.

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German Engineering: Part Two

June 6th – 16th, 2017

From the cliffs of Lorelei to the murals of St. Stephan’s Cathedral, chowing down on a Bratwurst simply made for an appetizer to this melting pot of culture found along my tour of southern Germany.

Rüdesheim am Rhein, a winemaking town known for it’s Rieslings is home to many shops, taverns, and restaurants and is just a quick stop along the Rhein River’s many day cruises.  

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Nürnberg, a thriving modern Bavarian city located inside an imperial castle is home to an enormous archive of German history from the heart of was once the Holy Roman Empire to the international tribunal that brought members of the Nazi Party to justice. 

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Passau, also known as the Dreiflüssestadt or the City of Three Rivers can never seem to stay above water. Luckily enough, the city’s highest point is where the world’s largest organ pipe can be heard at St. Stephen’s Cathedral. Despite these hazards, located on the Austrian border this city has also has become a major migrant entry point into Germany for refugees from the Middle East, Asia, and Africa who have entered Europe through Greece. This situation has pressured the local government to divert funds from flood prevention to provide housing and food for migrants.

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Fortunately, higher ground was also found behind the youth hostel in which I resided in. Just outside the city, I discovered rolling farmland overlooking the Bavarian Alps which made for some breathtaking runs in the morning.

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Regensburg, home to the world’s first medival ,,fast-food” restaurant is the largest medieval old town north of the Alps.

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Known as the Historische Wurstküche, over 870 years ago this kitchen used to serve the builders of a 12th century stone bridge adjacent to the site. Today over 6,000 sausages are served to local guests and hungry tourists that come around the world to discover the taste of this age old cuisine.

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Certainly, a tour of southern Germany couldn’t be complete without visiting the renowned Bavarian city of Munich or more commonly known in Germany as, München. Although I was far too early for Oktoberfest, the world’s largest Volksfest, drinking a Maß of Bavarian beer was certainly not out of style.

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As I prepared to take the next step along this journey, reflecting on this opening chapter has made me very thankful for what I have learned from others and about myself. This program has been an amazing opportunity that has encouraged me to become more dynamic as a student and has been a very insightful look into the German working culture as I embraced to start my internship with the Merck Group later that summer.