I want to provide you all with something entertaining and interesting at the same time (I'm a total sucker for educational things, I admit it!) so that reading this blog doesn't become a drag, and I thought that maybe something interactive would be neat.
So, I have decided to include a listing of the cool things I've seen and done since being here (primarily things that have website links so that you too can check them out and kind of experience them with me):
1. I went to Transit restaurant in Berlin for dinner (check out their menu--it was as good as Thai in NYC--I was delighted!!):
2. I participated in something in Dortmund (a festival of sorts) called 'Extra Schicht' which is actually one night where all the cultural points of interest in the entire 'Ruhr' Area stay open until the wee hours of the morning allowing everyone to visit multiple sites with public transit(buses, trains, streetcars) under one single entry price (it cost 12 Euros for adults) which covered both transit the whole night and admission to everything. I saw the following things: Jahrhunderthalle Bochum und Westpark, BOGESTRA Betrieb Engelsburg Bochum, LWL-Industriemuseum Zeche Zollern, Dortmund. Visit the website here to see what other cool things they offered:
3. I actually saw two things in the Signal-Iduna-Park (which is the home of the soccer team 'Borussia Dortmund') both of which were really fun! I will include a link to the pdf so that you can see what else they offer- and then you can see the wide range of options for residents in Dortmund in the summer. I was lucky enough to get to see the public viewing for the Fifa World Cup game of Germany vs. Serbia (which they lost, actually) on June 18th, and then I also got to see the double feature of 'Twilight' and 'New Moon' on Friday, June 25th. It's a great stadium, and a great experience- I have never seen fans get quite as disappointed, though, as here in Germany when they lost that game. Ah well, they made a comeback in the next game! Here's that pdf of their schedule:
Signal Iduna Park
4. I have driven on the Autobahn at speeds over 200km/h (don't worry- it was with an experienced driver and we were all wearing seat belts- thank goodness!) and it was amazing how slow 120km/h felt after that! But, for those of you who dream of highways without any speed limits, I do have to say that even Germany has speed limits nowadays on the Autobahn at some junctures (mostly outside of cities in heavily trafficked parts of the road, or where they are doing construction) and, unlike in the USA, the speed is controlled with electronic machines that are erected alongside the road which are basically recording the speed of everyone who drives by, so if you are going considerably over the speed limit, watch out! You will definitely get a ticket. And, this is a funny thing that just happened in the last week with these machines:
Pink Traffic Machines in Dortmund
(I guess someone got too many tickets!) :P
5. My personal favorite thus far--I have been to something the Germans call a 'Freizeit Bad' or, literally translated, a free time bath, for which there is nothing in America really similar. They are, in essence, pools which are usually partially indoors and partially outdoors (sometimes the pool even is half in and half out!) and which include things like saunas, Olympic-sized pools for lane swimming (the link of the pool I am posting had two of these with different water deepness- to accommodate younger swimmers who are just learning), pools strictly for diving, salt water pools, pools of different temperatures, water slides, tube slides, climbing walls, whirlpools, jacuzzis, and children's wading pools with play areas. Surprisingly enough, these things are open year-round (the hours vary by location but normally they are open the larger part of each day-and surprisingly most are open Sundays too) and they are really reasonably priced! I am all for Americans getting on this bandwagon--I wish we had these stateside!! We Americans do have things similar to this, you might argue, but I find that the best feature of these things in Germany is that they are indoors, so that if you would like to visit in the winter, you can--unlike water parks in the USA--which are usually open only during the summer, unless I guess you live in Arizona. :P Check out the link here:
6. I have visited the Theater Dortmund(their Opera house downtown)--definitely a tie with #5 in terms of enjoyment--and saw Falstaff on June 18th at 7:30pm--I will provide a more detailed explanation of this experience, as it does merit some more talking and description! But, here is the rest of their schedule for the season:
7. I have been now, numerous times, to the 'Flohmarkt' (Fleamarket) at the larger parking lots near the Technische Universitaet Dortmund, and a link to the nuts and bolts of the information is to be found here:
Flohmarkt TU Dortmund
(should you ever find yourself in Dortmund on a Saturday----buy your produce there--it's unbelievable how fresh and cheap it is!!)
8. I went to Cologne for an audition at the Kuenstleragentur there (basically the singer's unemployment office- run by the state govt.) and yes, I will provide a link to the Cologne tourism website for those of you who are interested- it's a beautiful city. However, I won't go into detail on this one just yet, as it too merits a longer bit of talking about- so I will post this soon!
9. I visited the Dortmund Zoo and saw tons of adorable animals! It was so funny- I'm not sure why I happened to be there on the day that the alpine goats had their baby, the sea otters were in the middle of reproducing, and the baby ducks were newly hatched, but it was definitely a cool experience- I can't actually remember the last time that I saw so much action in a zoo---normally the animals are just laying around looking bored, right? Well, that was certainly not the case on June 17th, let me tell ya! I also should mention this cool fact for anyone who loves animals as much as I do---they actually would let you be a zoo keeper for a day if you pay 200 Euros---isn't that awesome? Ah, and one other thing I should mention- the zoo also advertised in their brochure a group rate for Bachelorette parties---and I thought, "Am I missing something here?" LOL! Well anyway, here's a link to the cuddly cuties I saw:
10. Since I am certainly a city person (not that I don't love the country, but I just like to be near to things going on, you know?) I have already visited the downtown area of Dortmund twice- and have seen the library and the shopping district. Why, do you ask, have I only visited these two places if I've already been there twice? Well, the library is HUMONGOUS- and since my German is not quite native yet, I have been snapping up everything that looks even remotely interesting to read, and therefore, the library was nearly a whole day excursion for me. As for the shopping district, I went into a Chinese supermarket (simply because it was an anomaly---I mean, it was RIGHT downtown--how cool!) and bought a honeydew popsicle (definitely recommended for those of you who like honeydew!)and then strolled around and through many of the different stores: Galleria Kaufhof, C&A, H&M (what's with Germans and two letter names!?!), the Maggi Kochstudio (totally cool!--they give cooking classes and presentations there!!), Strauss (fun girly clothes), DM (their version of Duane Reade for you NY'ers, or CVS or Walgreens for you suburbanites) and an Apotheke (they have all sorts of cool things in there--and strangely not necessarily related to 'medicine' as we would term it). Though, the funniest thing that happened on that particular trip downtown was my experience at a private music studio which gave lessons for voice and instruments. I entered the establishment looking for an answer to a question, namely: do they rent out practice rooms? And boy, you'll never guess the answer that I received. I will recount the conversation in German and translate for those of you who don't speak German. Here goes: (and, please excuse my German, you who are natives or pros- I'm not perfect yet!)
Julia: Guten Tag! Ich moechte wissen gibt es hier Uebungsaale zu vermieten?
Julia: (Good day! I would like to know if there are practice rooms to rent here?)
Secretary: Hier? Wir haben nie etwas aenliches hier gemacht!
Secretary: (Here? We have NEVER done anything like that here!)
Julia: Weil ich eine Opersaengerin bin, und habe gedacht dass vielleicht denn koennen Sie mir empfehlen ein andere Platz wo kann ich meinen Gesang ueben?
Julia (Because I am an Opera singer, and I thought that maybe then you could recommend to me someplace where I can practice my singing?)
Secretary: Nein. Nein, kann ich das nie sagen.
Secretary: (No. No, I could never say [where].) -- keep in mind that this conversation lasted about 1 minute, but the entire time she looked at me as if I was from another planet and was green with horns growing out of my head, and when she responded with the last statement shook her head vigorously as if to shoo me out of the room with this gesture. What a funny experience!!! Who would have thought? Needless to say I will never do that again! ;)
The links to #10's stories are as follows:
Maggi Kochstudio Dortmund
And with that strange story, I'm signing off for today. Looking forward to having other funny happenings to relate to you all very very soon. I'll be back in the next 2-3 days, and until then, stay well and enjoy the lovely summer weather!