I have just graduated from Sonoma State University with a BA in Sociology. I have absolutely loved my time in wine country- it really doesn't get more beautiful than vineyards and endless green, but I am ready for the next adventure!

I am from the Bay Area and as much as I want to travel, I want to end up here later in life. I love that someone can go out for a different kind of ethnic food everyday of the week and still have endless options!

In July/August, I will be visiting one of my great friends in England where we will tour multiple castles, London, Paris, Paris Disneyland (we did meet at the Disney College Program anyway), and will be attending the 2012 LONDON OLYMPICS!

Click here for the official website for Edelweiss Lodge and Resort

In September, I will be working as a civilian employee for an American military base in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany. I will be in the hotel indusutry working for Edelweiss Lodge and Resort. They say my backyard will be the Alps. I have my hiking boots packed already.

Click here for the official website for the Disney College Program and Professional Internships

About two years ago I participated in the Disney College Program, working and living at Walt Disney World, Florida. It really started my love for traveling and throwing myself outside of my comfort zone. I highly recommend it to anyone who respects the Disney Company and wants to get their foot in the door or just wants a break from life- it was definitely both for me.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

OktoberFEST


So pretty much on everyone's bucket list for life is the world-famous Oktoberfest in Munich, Germany. Apparently I joined the Edelweiss team at the perfect time since I will be here for 13 months- I will experience Oktoberfest twice...that my friends is the defnition of awesome. Anyways, I have to admit that I have heard amazing things about this fest, but really did not know what to expect. For those of you who are in the same boat as I was- imagine a carnival for adults with basically no rules attached. By a carnival I mean lots and lots of (expensive) rides and by no rules attached I mean drink as much as you want.

Now as a rookie to Oktoberfest I was unaware that the train ride to Munich was the pregame, preparty to the actual event. Life rule: beer and charades go greatly with one another, espcially when you get the locals to join in. However, embaressing when the locals (whose second language is English) can guess more words than you....embaressing indeed.

Moving on, stepping off that platform everyone is already out of their minds. I highly suggest one day getting a milkshake or donner, sitting on a bench with a friend or someone that you can laugh with, and just people watch. Whether at the train station or at Oktoberfest- you will see and hear things that will make you just laugh for days. So we walk to where Oktoberfest is held and let me just say that even after Walt Disney World (so I have absolutely no excuse) I still feel myself getting claustraphobic. You can tell that I had only gone through the pregame cause my arms were brought close to my body, so I could easily people dodge. However by the end of the night I'm pretty sure I was linked in arms and skipping down the Oktoberfest roads bumping into anyone and everyone. Before and after, before and after.

But seriously this is one tent... out of many. Tell me you don't feel claustrophobic right now. 

Let me just say Oktoberfest rides are some that will never pass American borders. These rides will make you fear your life.. and not in an exhilerating way, but in a real "I'm about to die if a screw is loose" kind of way. My suggestion is to walk around for a little while, take in the atmosphere, try a "spin and puke" ride (one that I will not suggest later on in the day after your share of mass'), and then go drink! We went on a haunted ride, which was a complete joke- seriously made Disney's Snow White ride look scary UNTIL a real employee grabs you at the end. Seriously feared my life.

Anyways, after that we did one spin and puke ride and then decided to get on with the drinking. Oktoberfest drinking assortments is set up in a way of tents- there are these huge tents with great amounts of wooden picnic benches where you can order your beer and food (I highly recommend the humgous pretzels). You really have to be sitting to be served, so finding a seat is the "fun" part. Luckily we found one, ordered the mass, and started drinking. Lesson- if you hand hurts between your thumb and pointer finger the day after, dont fear its just from holding that heavy beer. I swear my hand was bruised- the word is not weak, but rather dainty.



After you drink a mass (or two) suddenly those rides are looking pretty fun. Actually heaven on earth is the phrase I would use. Oktoberfest is VERY expensive. For my fellow Californian's its like Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk where every ride costs a different amount- all amounts too expensive. However, if your gonna do Oktoberfest you might as well do it right- ride the rides. Shut your eyes as you pay for your rides and just enjoy it.

                                       

                                  

Also, your going to lose people. If you go with a large group, look at everyone, mentally split that group into three or four groups and thats probably the amount you will end up with. Drunk adults with a plan never works out very well. Last lesson, day drinking is a whole other adventure, but in this case I highly recomend it. Once about 4 or so hits there will twice the amount of people than there was at 12, so drink early cause you will never find a spot after. And if you do- buy that lottery ticket. Drink early and enough to where if you can't find a spot later your still buzzing. I have to say that my favorite moment was later in the day trying to find a seat (epic fail) and walking into this one tent and everyone standing up singing "We Are the Champions." Well even if one is trying to find a seat, you must stop, pay your respects, and sing along. Favorite moment.


                                    

 I have to admit that I am such a little kid in that I thought drinking part was great, but after that ALL I wanted to do was ride rides, so if you go make sure you go with someone who does what you want to do. I wanted to drink, but not for the whole day (again its called dainty not weak) and I surrounded myself with people who also wanted to ride rides, so I got my Oktoberfest experience. And for the train or commute ride home get a donner on the way, cause that solves life's problems and tomorrow's hangover.  It was great day, I filled my thrill count, emptied my wallet, got my Queen and 80's song fix, and I cant wait for Oktoberfest 2013.

I have no skills comparable to this man

And sometimes you just gotta sum it up with a little bit of David Bowie:


                                    

Saturday, October 20, 2012

The Treasure Chest of Germany



 





With only two days off and going crazy in a small city, the reasonable decision is to get on that train and take a mini trip. We decided on Nurnberg, Germany. Lets just start with this. In America it has become obvious to me how much we change around other country's names of cities and so forth. For example, Munich is in no way Munich in Germany (or shall I say Deutschland), but instead Munchen. As I am sure you can guess this was all very confusing on my first day (or week). Going on, in America we call it Nuremberg (this is where I am sure seventh grade's history of the Nuremberg trials, rallies, and laws comes to mind). This city is absolutely beautiful (I apologize I realize I have been saying that about every city, annoying and descriptive I know), and can definitely be done in 2 days.

We took the four hour train and stayed at the A&O hostel. It is so close to the train station (banhof) that I highly recomend it! Free wifi downstairs, clean bed, and in a secure location- not much more you can ask for when it costs 17 euros. We decided to split up our days into doing all of the World War II and Nazi history on the first and the second explore the churches, Old Town, and go on our walking tour.





 

The first day was a drizzly, dreary day (which sort of fit with what us tourists were doing). We decided to go to the Nazi documentation center. This is currently in unfinished part of the Congress Hall held for the Nazi rallies (not going to lie that line is straight from wikipedia). They decided to split the north wing (the museum) right in half where the tourists would walk through to begin their tour to symbolize the breaking apart of the Nazi regime but an "open to the public" feel for the education on their past in hopes of it never happening again. I know what your thinking and no that sentence was not from wikipedia, but of my own production thank you very much. Moving forward, this museum is about 3 euros and it is so dense with information it was hard to concentrate after a while- sorry old history professors for letting you down on that. It doesn't tell as much about the holocaust and the direct fighting in WWII, but how it started. Neat part was them mentioning the protest in Munich and if you read before you know that I was on that very road- knocking things off the bucket list left and right.




Next we headed down the Great Road (Grosse Strasse) which is 200 feet wide and was used by the allies for a runway during the war and used as a "rally street" for the Nazi party before. We then headed to Zeppelin Fields, where the rallies were held. This fascinates me about European history, this field was a huge part of WWII history and it was a large stadium type seating and it was simply behind a fence with a small walkway for tourists. So here we were just walking all over the stands and stood directly where Hitler addressed the people during the biggest Nazi rallies. I'm not gonna lie we did take photos at that very place, but its so awkward- do you smile or not? I did, but I definitely second guessed that one.


Just a hint and piece of advice for life. When the clock's little hand is almost to the seven, its 6:45, not 5:45. Now to be fair my watch only had 3,6,9,12 written and it was dark... but I am sure everyone can tell where this is going. We were running to take the bus to where the actual Nurnberg Trials where held. I took a Sociology: Holocaust and Genocide class that changed my life and these trials were definitely on the midterm, every test, and final so I was sprinting. We just barely missed the bus, cursed many times, thought we werent gonna make it- jumped on the next one, sprinted some more, and just barely made it with 15 minutes to spare. The guard looks at us, tilts his head, and points to the clock....we walked home with our heads down needless to say. We then toured around Old Town in the evening and headed for bed.

Day Two




We decided to try again for the Nurnberg Trials courthouse. Turns out they are closed on tuesdays, epic fail. I guess you will always have an excuse to revisit a city- thats it. But I did take a photo in front of the Justice Center- again do you smile or not? There was some second guessing, but I did.



Next we just walked around which is always my favorite part of traaveling. Really not knowing what any of the castles, churches, roads, buildings, etc mean, but walking around anyways. We visited the Frauenkirche Church for their glockenspiel presentation at 12. It was lovely, but after Munich's with a drunken feast dance and a bird chirping this one would be considered "cute" or "quaint." Then we headed over to the St. Lawrence Church, which reminded me of the Notre Dame church. Maybe every church reminds me of the Notre Dame, but it is still my absolute favorite! We just sat and looked around before our three hour walking tour. That was a great idea.



Walking tour- we visited the Beautiful Fountain and turned the magic ring. There is a bronze ring that you must spin three times for good luck and your wish will come true. Tourist trap, tourist trap, tourist trap! However, did I do it? Of course. Was I so focused on trying to be tall to reach the ring that I forgot to make a wish? Thats besides the point. We then walked by a lovely house that turned out to be the executioner's house. No big deal its just still there today. We then passed by Die Fleischbrucke (The meat bridge) that was based off of the Rialto bridge in Venice. Is it weird that the executioner's house and the meat market were so close? That joke was over the line I am very aware, but it made me laugh.


We then headed to the castle for our last stop, the Nuremberg Castle ( I have come to realize that if you don't remember the name of the castle just put the city's name in front and 9/10 times you will be right). This is indeed one of those 9 out of 10 times. There was one out of (I beleive 8, but please no quoting cause I couldn't find it in wikipedia) two story church services. There was a square hole in the center of the ceiling (for the first floor people, but of course the ground for the noblemen upstairs) and the building was created in a way so the acoustics of the mass would be heard on both stories. Pretty clever, pretty clever. We then visited this Well that was over 45 meters deep so when our trusty tour guide poured the water it would take 4 seconds to hit the bottom. She then lowered a candle to the very bottom, I mean it wasn't any Cirque Du Soleil act, but I thought it was really cool.


To end the trip, as one should always end a trip, I got the food famous in Nurnberg. I got Nurnbergers (its obvious the people who create the food and architecture's strengths were not in creating titles and names for their creations). Moving on-what is a nurnberger you may ask? Well it is three little sausages put into a bread roll. Sounds so simple and yes it is but oh so very delicious. For dessert we got their famous gingerbread- definitely scrounged around at the bottom of my purse to come up with that euro. Very tasty and I cannot wait to go again for the Christmas Markets!!

As if you couldn't picture Nurnbergers for yourself

Quote of the day: Lets all say it together: Bueller Bueller? The real question is did anyone hold hands and form a chain while going through an important museum. The answer should be yes.




Saturday, October 13, 2012

Adventures Around Garmisch

So working for a hotel will always have it's ups and downs, but lets talk about the ups this time around. With our job we are allowed to go on any of the tours for free (if there is an admissions fee we have to pay that, but not the transportation and what not) that are given available to the guests. Why? I have no idea,but its awesome since I am on a very severe budget. The first one we did was to the Ettal Monastery with a cheese tasting at the Shaukaserei (please don't look it up cause the spelling is not at its finest), wonderful beer, and some blue sky (I'm tellingyou, I'm using up all my good weather luck in the very begining).

A  "simple" monastery?! Looks like the White House to me!

 





Lets be honest- a blue sky makes everything look better!


The Ettal Monastery was built in 1330, but was then rebuilt in the 1700's (still before America was born- it continues to blow my mind how old everything is here). The Monastery owns most of the town land and actually uses its monastery as a boarding school. They make most of their own food and provides some of their herbs for the local liquer and cheese making.  Let me just say that in America (or at least California) if they say you are going into a church or monastery I am expecting to be impressed, but this monastery had me "wowed!" Absolutely beautiful, so extravagant, and all these other adjectives that don't mean anything until you look at the pictures so lets just do that:

Again had me wowed!


Most amazing Dunkel ever!




The cheese in action

We then went to the cheese factory where we tried about five different cheeses and had a proper Bavarian meal of wurst, beer (a Dunkel- my new favorite kind of beer, but do I remember the specific maker? Absolutely not- took notes on the history and not the beer- shameful!), and a pretzel. Next time I will forgo the meal and just stuff my face even more with cheese- so so so good! Apparently because we are tourists, we had locals coming up and taking our cheeses. The first one I was so surprised, but apparently it is the thing to do. The hazing of the tourists so to speak. The best part was when a guest looked at me and said, "You look a lot different without your hat and apron." Ouch.We then decided to get cheesecake (this is where the phrase "when in Rome" popped into my head when debating to spend that extra two euros). However, as a piece of advice- the cheesecake is in no way like Americans cheesecake. It is fluffier, in no way sweet, and sometimes has a weird jello fixture of rasberrys. I myself would never get it again, but again- when in rome. So that was our first tour- on to the next one....

Linderhof Palace



The Linderhof Palace was one of the three castles crazy King Ludwig created, but was the only one that he saw completed. The one that everyone has heard of is the Disney inspiried castle, Neuschwanstein- but we are talking about Linderhof. It is a rather smaller castle (but a castle nontheless). He used more than 25 pounds of Gold Leaf throughout the place, so it was very very expensive. He had a magic table that included a table that would rest on an elevator and rise with the dinner already set and he would send it back down when he was finished. Working in food and beverage I cannot tell you how much I want in our hotel. But seriously, brilliant man. Apparently he lost all of his teeth at a young age and forever felt self-concious. We weren't allowed to take pictures inside, but I will put a couple up from the ever trusty google, so you can all see the extravagance of this place.

Again, over 25 pounds of Gold Leaf
The magic table!
California king put to shame


If that doesn't convince you he also made his very own man-made cave. Thats right, completely artificial. He never even married or was social, but can you imagine that pick up line at a bar? Moving on- yes his very own cave to get away from everyone (even though he never had anyone stay at his very own castle). This man was part genius part crazy.

 






To try and top that (which you can't its his own damn cave) he was known as the Moon Prince (he was literally nocturnal), so he made his own party room. And by that I mean its really a party house and by party I mean invites to himself and himself only (remember he didn't like people). It was a Moroccan themed house/room and decorated to it's finest. Check it out...
 


We then toured the grounds, checked out the waterfall, and continued onto Oberammergau- where they hold the famous Passion Play every 10 years. Next we hit up the woodcarver's shop (I don't have that much talent in anything like this guy had for woodcarving), and then got stuck in traffic on the mountain pass. All in all a great day. Linderhof castle- done.

And now for something completely different:

And can I just say that I had the funniest moment at work the other day. We put people's trays onto a cart. Simply enough. There is a cart with only one spot open at the very bottom, so I see a nice grandpa who is struggling with his tray. I ask him if he would like me to take from him to put it on the bottom spot. He looks at me and says, "Yes please, I think you are much betting at getting low than I am." I got the weirdest look when I tried really hard to not laugh right in his face. I should have told him I solely stick to the Y-M-C-A.

And now for the motivational/traveling quote- this one fits because I am trying to adjust to this new life. There are definitely some frustrating times, some lonely times, many great times, laughing times, but its definitely an adjusting time. Its trying, but a simple bike ride through Garmisch, a day trip to wherever, etc. reminds me why I am on this adventure and I really truly love it... most of the time :) And with that being said:

Friday, October 5, 2012

Munich in Oktober, but not for the fest



So it seems silly to go to Munich while Oktoberfest is going on and not go to Oktoberfest.... believe me I know, but after you've spent 90 euros, still haven't burned off the calories from all that beer, and feeling as if you've spent all your luck on the rides not crashing on you, actually touring the city of Munich is looking pretty great. There is a GREAT GREAT GREAT company that gives free walking tours (not just some 30 min pathetic excuse of a tour) that last about three hours just walking around the beautiful city. Now in no means will it show you everything (you may think that from the holes in your walking shoes), but it is a great free way to start. Here is the link if you are ever in Prague, Munich, Amsterdam, etc. and want this (I'll say it again to express the awesomeness) FREE tour- http://www.newmunichtours.com/

The two best facts about Munich (this is a history blog entry due to a heavily history based tour, so if you don't like the sound of that skip this blog entry EXCEPT for what I am about to say).

- 87% of Munich was destroyed in World War II. It was the third most destoryed city in Germany. Of course, (I say that but I didn't know this) the big impressive buildings stayed so when war planes flew through those buildings acted as markers.

- They knew that Munich would be destroyed in the war, so before any of the fighting affected the city, they had tons of architects, artists, etc. who basically made blue prints of the entire city. Down to the cuilding colors, the design of the pavement, etc. So what you see is exactly how Munich was before WWII destroyed it all. Many cities did not do that, so when you think that much of the city is hundreds if not thousands of years old.... maybe think again.


We met our guide in the Merienplatz and met people on the same tour from Australia, Korea, U.S., all over- definitely part of the adventure.  The Merienplatz has a statue of the Virgin Mary (again, heads up this was a history tour, so if you aren't a history buff just skip this blog entry). You will look at the statue and think what a great person is for creating it. Turns out the man in charge lied to his people about running from a war (sounds vaguely familiar with previous history), convinced them about his reasoning, they wanted to create a statue of him, he realized his city was broke and didn't want to personally pay for it, decided to act saintly and say that they should instead put up a statue of the Virgin Mary, took the actual statue from a local church, and saved himself from going into financial ruin. A great guy indeed.


Then there is the Glockenspiel on the New Town Hall where it is basically a gigantic cuckoo clock. Three times a day there is an almost merry go round of jousting (of course Bavaria wins), a merry feast, and a giant bird that chirps at the end. Incredibly entertaining I can assure you.. never I repeat never do I ever have to see that again but if I ever feel like I need to, rest assured I'm sure its on youtube.





We then walked to Frauenkirch (Cathedral of our blessed lady) where you can go and look for a footstep. This footstep is rumored to be the devil himself's footprint.....or the architect- there are many different versions. But since I am going for the "wow factor" we will go with the first.




There are only eight maps of cities created in this way. This is a map for people who are hard of sight- a 3D map to say. There is braille throughout the map and displays the whole of Munich. I found it to be tucked away in the city and I can't believe its very easy to find.... anyways think about that and tell me the logic.



We continued to walk through parts of the town that were heavily affected by Kristallnacht (Night of the Broken Glass) on November 9,1938. This was the night that 1,000 Jewish synagogues, 7,000 Jewish businesses, and 30,000 Jewish people were rounded up and sent to the concentration camps. This was no ice cream and butterflies tour, but still extremely informative and effective. 


As we continued our stroll and started the talk of beer we ended up at the HofBräuhaus- the first beer house (in Germany, Munich, or the world not totally sure, but again for the wow factor we will go with the world). There is so much history and fun facts,but the one that stuck in my head is "the vominator." Thats right I said it- the vominator. In the boys bathroom there is literally a bucket or permanent sink that has handles for you to hold and ummm..."make room for more alcohol and carbs," we will call it. Ladies there is not one in the women's, however if you make the universal sign to a guard they will round up the troops, escort you to the mens, form a half circle to give you your privacy, and let you "make room for more."


One of the last, most interesting parts of the tour is this street shown below.There are parts in our history that you may wonder "what if that didn't happen- where would we be now?" What happened on this street leaves you with an important part of history and that exact thought of "what if?" I'm really sorry if I don't have this totally correct, but I am writing from what I remember and jump in if you have more info.  On this street there was a national revolution going on with Hitler being the leader. He was marching his supporters down a street where there were protestors on the other side waiting for him. There is a blind turn that you can see from that arch. There was battle tanks and guns waiting for him. Now as he knew what was going on, what was waiting him, and trying to hold back 3,000 people (tell me if you can ever successfully do that I'd like some tips) they got closer and closer. She then stopped with the story and made us walk impatiently to the end of the road. Alfred Hitchock may know suspense, but not as much as this lady! We got to the end and heard that Hitler's bodyguard came to the "rescue" and took 11 bullet shots for him, of course Hitler survived, was sent to prison, wrote the Mein Kempf, and well we all know what happened after that. It is one of those moments where you wonder if the guy who started it all died before it all- would we still have experienced such horrific tragedies of millions of people?



We then ended the tour and just walked along the city for a bit before going home. We  stopped by this place where we were told to go. I was still working off the calories, like I said before, from my Oktoberfest beer, but I was told I had to have this beer at this place by the farmer's market. Now, do I remember this place to tell all of you? No, real informative I know. But anyways, we had the Pope's beer. What does that mean you may ask, it is literally the Pope's beer. Before our current Pope became Pope, he was archbishop of the space of Munich. He loved this kind of beer so much that once he moved to Vatican city he now has two barells of this beer shipped to him however many times a year. It was GOOD and something I never thought I would do. Drank the Pope's beer.Check it off the bucket list.

 My absolute favorite moment was walking through their farmer's market. The food provided was picked from the farm that morning, there was everything and anything you can imagine, and it was my first real sight of fresh seafood. I already know what my Christmas splurge meal is going to be- Munich's farmers market! We got some Turkish delights, which my only experience is from C.S. Lewis' Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. They were so good- definitely try some if you have the chance!

Again, I thought I saw everything on that tour but it looks like I only scratched the surface. Good thing its to easy to go back... I feel like I have and will be saying that about every city I go to but you gotta start somewhere!


Now for the travel quote of the adventure: