Russia and Spring in Germany

Trip Start Aug 11, 2007
Trip End Jul 29, 2009

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Flag of Russian Federation  , Central Russia,
Saturday, May 16, 2009


These are my email updates from Germany. If you want to be removed from this list, or know someone else who would like to be added, please let me know.

Hope that this email is finding you in good spirits.  Spring will soon be here if it has not already arrived and that at least is cause for celebration, or?  I've been up to my usual travel shenanigans so I feel the need to update you on my life despite the fact that I think I just wrote a few weeks ago.  Rest assured that this regularity won’t last…

The month of March involved the basics at school, but we are starting to feel the pressure of the end of the school year.  I’m behind in most of my classes, so we are trying to catch up as well as determine the most critical subjects that deserve the most time.  Of course this is not the most serious of issues, I don’t think I ever took a class where we finished everything planned.  Nevertheless I am a bit disappointed that my plans took longer than I had hoped.  The end of the year will of course be chaotic so this time is critical to use wisely.  We also have parent teacher conferences which go pretty well and it is nice to meet with the parents of the great students as well as the struggling ones.  We talk about strategies for studying, test taking, taking class notes, etc.  It is amazing how important of a role the teacher has in these situations, practically advising some of these parents how to guide their children…so yeah even after two years I am still unaccustomed to this role!  Feeling some sort of new inspiration, instead of the usual conducting of conferences in English and students translating (for non-speaking parents) I conducted 4 of the conferences in German.  I had hoped of course to accomplish this last year, but better late than never right?  Now there are things I couldn’t say, but we were able to communicate the important points!

I also had a few couchsurfers visit me in the last month which is always fun.  With one group from Germany I spoke nearly exclusively German with them.  While I’m still not satisfied, at least I can genuinely claim to have a small conversational ability in this language.  I continue to enjoy showing Weimar to guests….hint: there is still time for you to come visit!!!

Unfortunately not all of the last month has been happy.  In the beginning of April my Grandpa Boyd passed away.  It is a sad time for all of us despite the fact that he lived a long healthy life.  He was a model person, so selfless and caring for his entire family including his grandkids and I feel very fortunate to have had him around for so long.  I also felt very guilty for not making the trip to Michigan for the funeral, but I hope that everyone understands the difficulty of it.  It is difficult as always to be far away from home, but many times more when things like this happen.  I miss everyone terribly and can’t help feeling a little bit alone and sad over here.  Sometimes July looms ahead on my calendar, other times it cannot arrive fast enough.

Despite the sad news, I pressed on with my travel plans.  So with a heavy heart I boarded an evening train to Berlin and then in the middle of the night was off to Moscow for a week and a half of Russian adventures.  Of course arriving in Moscow at 5:30 in the morning with a lot of things on my mind and little sleep was not the ideal way to begin the trip.  Russian passport control is also slightly intimidating.  I had to apply for the visa to enter about a month in advance, paid nearly 200 dollars, had to get a letter of invitation, send my passport to Washington DC, and then count down the days until it was safely back in my hands.  All in all a bit of a nerve wracking experience that all came down to the moment when роберт коннор attempts to enter the Russian Federation.  Thankfully after a brief staredown with the official, the stamps were placed and I was in!!!  Luckily everything else at the airport went ok.  I had to ask a few people where to catch a bus and luckily they spoke enough English to point me in the right direction.  The busride at sunrise was surreal…driving through the suburbs of Moscow on no sleep and just a couple hour plane ride from Berlin...also there was snow on the ground where in Germany it had been 70 and sunny.  You may be asking right about now….why Russia?

Well, I guess we’ve always heard so much about this big country, in school, in sports, in politics, and movies… Mother Russia is sort of a legendary place that was begging to be explored.  Ever since learning about the cold Russian winter that defeated two of history’s greatest armies, the natural fascination with the Kremlin and Red Square from the Cold War…communism…the Hermitage, etc.  In short this is an extremely important place that is also a mystery.  Or maybe I just wanted to go somewhere crazy!

Upon arriving from the bus to the metro line, I pay my 40 cents to get on and enjoy the fast, clean, and beautiful Moscow metro.  Of course it is a challenge to figure out where to go based on listening to Russian and trying to read the station names, but eventually I figure out where to get off for my station.  Outside I begin looking for the hostel I had booked, but sadly the directions were not so great.  I spent an hour walking around in the cold before finally finding the right general location of the place but I still didn’t know where to ring the bell or whatever.  I ended up asking a policeman (which most Russians would cringe to hear) but I was lucky and he was extremely helpful although he didn’t know the area much better than I did!  Eventually I saw another group of obvious tourists looking around with a map in their hands.  Turns out they were from Taiwan and also looking for the same hostel.  Together we gathered the courage to ring the bell and to our relief they answered and rang us in.  After dropping off my stuff I then immediately went back out into the city to enjoy a few hours without rain.  I took the metro to the Kremlin and upon exiting found myself face to face with one of the world’s most iconic places.  I walked around the towering red brick Kremlin walls and reached the Moscow River before continuing on to see none other than St. Basil’s.  Wow, there are places in this world that through fame and beauty can simply take away words and your breath.  Seeing the iconic colorful domes of St. Basil’s next to the walls of the Kremlin has to be one such place.  I snapped picture after picture (in total I took about 40 pictures of St. Basil’s…oops)

Next to St. Basils is the famous Red Square.  Bordered by St. Basils, the Kremlin and Lenin’s mausoleum on one side, and the Russian Historical Museum and the GUM on the other side this has to be one of the world’s most famous plazas!  The square of course is most known for the big soviet parades with the tanks, missile launchers and troops.  After running around making tank noises like a little kid, I went in to the GUM to escape the cold.  This building was used as a big soviet market but is really a beautiful old building from the 1800s and has now been converted into a huge symbol of capitalism.  It contains some of the most ritzy, expensive stores in the whole city (whew and that’s saying something!) and there are beautiful fountains, trees, and many levels with restaurants and nice skylights.  After warming up, its back out into the cold and towards St. Basils.

After taking a tour through the famous church and walking around the area the cold wind and snow chased me back towards the hostel, where I took a nap, asked questions about the city, and cooked some food from the local store.  In the evening the snow/rain picked up and so we didn’t venture far from the hostel.  Instead I talked to some of the other neat people there and registered my visa with the hostel (another ridiculous bureaucratic requirement!)  The next day I get going early, and head to the Kremlin, pay an exorbitant fee to go inside and spend a few hours walking around the fortress.  While the whole area is not open, certain parts of it are, including the cathedral square and the park along the wall.  There are Russian guards that blow whistles at you if you venture out of these zones…you would think they’d just make a fence or something…  It is amazing to see the quantity of diplomats and special police driving around in quick little cars.  Of course the Kremlin is still the active heart of Russian parliament and everything, so you can understand the security.  I only got a whistle blown at me once! (I’m sure you all are disappointed…everyone wanted to hear about Russian jails right?)  Among the tourist highlights are the Tsar’s Cannon….the world’s largest cannon…complete with the accompanying cannonballs (a gift from St. Petersburg…intentionally too large to fit in the cannon HA!)  This thing is beyond huge, and I’m pretty sure you would need around 20 horses to pull it anywhere!

Next to the cannon is the Tsar’s Bell, the world’s largest bell (Russia likes to be number 1 J )  Unfortunately, it was never rung because it was damaged in a fire and a huge section broke off.  Gigantic bells have such a sad history (see: Liberty Bell)  The true tourist destination is the Cathedral Square, a plaza with 5-6 churches, complete with the typical onion domes.  On one end is the church where the Tsars were crowned emperor, and on the other side, where they were buried.  I don’t know enough Russian history to get the most out of this visit, especially since the tombs are all in Cyrillic and it is hard to figure out which Tsar is which.  It is still fascinating to stand in the heart of the Kremlin and imagine all the history and power of the place. 

In the afternoon I met up with some others from the hostel and we went together to the train station to purchase tickets to St. Petersburg for later in the week.  The hostel guy that helped us out with his Russian was a major lifesaver.  There are lots of people that speak a little English in Moscow, but in some places, like the train, I never heard a word of English.  Later on I met up with my couchsurfing host Marina at one of the beautifully decorated subway stations and we then rode the train out to her apartment (a little bit out in the suburbs)

A note about the Russian subways: probably the most efficient and cheap subway ever.  You can get basically everywhere in the city for 40 cents a ride on a fast and clean system.  (albeit a little old)  The stations themselves are one of the biggest highlights of the city.  The stations are decorated like the lobbies to an opera house!  Spectacular murals, stain glass panels, statues of leaders and communist figures, as well as beautiful tile work everywhere makes you appreciate the strength and works of the early days of the Russian system.  While they are most famous for the huge 60s and 70s soviet block buildings, they were certainly capable of some spectacular art.

My host Marina and her boyfriend Sergei are jazz musicians and students at the local university and live in a small apartment about 20 minutes by metro from the center.  They are really nice to me and hook my up with a nice couch and their cute cat is very friendly with me!  Marina is from a closed 'science city’ and when she found out I was a physics teacher she said that her parents were nuclear physicists for the government.  She said that where she is from you have to cross a guarded fence to enter the city complete with retina scans!  She was never allowed to have friends visit her home, her parents are never allowed to leave the city, and one time when she was younger on a hike in the woods they came across a secret hidden nuclear reactor.  Talk about a different world!  The Russian people seem to have it pretty rough, especially considering the past.  Of course nowadays a lot of Russians are doing pretty well and you hear about Moscow having the world’s most billionaires but the normal people kind of go on suffering.

The following morning I meet up with an acquaintance of mine that I met in Estonia last year.  He is an Australian guy who teaches English in Moscow.  We have breakfast in a café on the main shopping street in town, called the Stary Arbat.  He tells me a lot of cool things about the city, the adventures he has experienced and then we make plans to meet again.  The rest of the day I walk around the city including a visit to the All Saints Cathedral which was built about 10 years ago for about 300 million.  Apparently it was just a replacement for the cathedral that had once been there in the past which was destroyed and replaced by a public swimming pool.  Unfortunately the moisture from the pool then damaged paintings in a nearby museum so they nixed that and rebuilt the church.  Oh Russia.

Amazingly the sun comes out again and so I run around for the afternoon trying to take as many photos with the landmarks and sun as possible.  In the evening I meet Marina, Sergei, and a friend of theirs for some borsch (a Russian soup-stew dish) at their favorite little jazz club place.  Unfortunately there is no band playing this time, but the atmosphere is really cool and they are such nice people so we just have fun conversation.  Later in the evening they have a rehearsal for their band, so I head off to meet my friend for a drink at a local bar.  Then later I take the subway back to the apartment, hang out with the cat, and go to bed exhausted!

Wednesday starts with a beautiful morning and I enjoy checking out some of the other interesting churches in Moscow not too far from Red Square.  I also walk by the old KGB headquarters and take a stealthy photo (since apparently you aren’t permitted to take pictures, and there are lots of police hanging out to enforce this rule…or at least you think twice.)  Of course that has never stopped me, I just leaned up against a light pole, shielding the police with a news kiosk and a parked SUV before snapping a couple of quick pictures.  Closest I’ve ever been to a Tom Clancy novel!! 

Later in the afternoon I head towards the river and follow it to this weird sculpture park place where they have all sorts of soviet area sculptures of Stalin, Lenin, etc. and also some other pretty cool stuff from various artists.  I walk around here for a while checking out the different works before continuing along towards the Gorky park, an old run down theme park.  In the winter they make it into a huge skating rink and today they are in the process of cleaning this up with big snow plows and stuff.  Kinds of reminds me a movie or something where some kind of horror thing goes on at a theme park.  Or if that’s just a personal nightmare of mine, maybe I need to get filming soon...and Gorky park would be the perfect place.

Next I buy a subway ticket and ride around the metro stopping in all the beautiful stations and taking some pictures and just checking out all the different artwork that adorns each station.  Magnificent!  In the evening I had made plans to meet my Estonian friend at an English club meeting, so we meet up at this university where all kinds of Russians and a few foreigners have gathered to speak English and have a nice time!  There are many Russians excited to speak with an American and practice English, though there are some other regular Americans in the club as well.  It is fun to hang out with them, and afterwards a few of us head out to dinner around the corner at a nice Italian place.  Kind of as I imagine a lot of stuff in Moscow is about money and making money, and the conversation at dinner even sort of follows this trend.  Everyone just talks about how to make money and ways to get around the various systems, etc.  I can’t say that’s really what I look for in life, but it is interesting to take part in these sorts of conversations, but I’m a little relieved that I can go back to my couchsurfing hosts and talk about music and travel!!

On Thurs, my last day, I take my bag in the morning and check it at the train station.  For the rest of the day I tour around a couple of places on the outskirts of town including this really beautiful park that looks out over Moscow and has some excellent examples of old Russian architecture, including the first church in the style of St. Basils.  The weather being beautiful, it is great to just walk around and enjoy the park.  By the time evening rolls I am back at the train station.  While waiting for the train I get to see a police officer beat up a drunk guy and kick him out of the station literally…wow talk about abuse of power, but what is also amazing is that no one else does anything or says anything.  I think if that happened in the states people would have their camera phones out recording the abuse and the officer would lose his job.  All I was concerned about was staying out of the way of this incident!  Scary stuff.

The night train starts to fill up about half hour before departure, so I find my seat/bed and they hand out the linens and after a little bit of reading (I was reading Anna Karenin by Tolstoy) the train gets dark and quiet.  After a decent sleep we arrive in St. Petersburg at 5:30 am.  Not a bad deal for 11 euros or so!!  Upon arrival it is very cold but clear, and I use the internet for an hour until it starts to get light.  I walk around taking pictures of some of the beautiful architecture and famous places before meeting my next couchsurfing host in the late morning.  Seva shows me to his apartment not too far from the center of all the action before he heads off to work.  I am happy to just drink some tea and take a shower.  Then I meet him for lunch later in the day and we go out with some of his work colleagues that also speak English.  They are really funny cool people, and remind me of some of my friends back home.

Unfortunately the weather gets overcast again and the cold is wonderfully shown by the ice flows in the canals.  Brr.  Despite the weather I head out to the St. Peter and Paul fortress which stands out on the other side of the Neva.  The fortress was the first point settled by Peter the Great when he first took this section of the Gulf of Finland for Russia.  Now the church there is the burial place for the recent Tsars, from Peter the Great on.  While inside the church there were many tour groups, and they all happened to be from Germany or Spain.  So I browsed around listening to them to hear all the interesting tidbits, until at one point I got trapped between a guide speaking Spanish and one speaking German about the same stuff.  This made my head hurt, so I snuck out towards the back and made a comment about it to this friendly German guy I then proceeded to chat with for a few minutes.  He said my German was good.  YAY!  (though he was probably just joking)

Actually on the entire trip, German was quite useful.  In the hostel in Moscow I met some polish girls that were studying in southern Germany and they didn’t really speak English but we could speak in German.  I met a couple of nice German guys near the Kremlin when I asked if they could take my picture and the said they didn’t really speak too much English.  Then once in St. Petersburg the German connections wouldn’t go away.  I kind of always had this impression that German was useless outside of Germany (hence why I wondered why people would choose to study it in University)…but now I get it!!  Of course I think Spanish is way more useful, but its fun to actually find German helping me in all kinds of situations!!!

In the evening I visit the Kazan Cathedral during a Russian Orthodox mass which is interesting, lots of incense and people kissing icons.  Then I meet up for dinner with the couple from Taiwan that I had met in Moscow.  They are fun to hang out with and we have an interesting conversation.  They have been traveling all around the world, including to Chile and are about to return back to Taiwan.  Of course sometimes I consider that last 2 years to be travel for me, but that’s not really true at all.  Sometime maybe I’ll check out Taiwan, since these people are actually engineers looking to start their own firm someday in environmental and energy engineering, who knows maybe someday I’ll go out there to work J

After dinner I walk a block to where the St. Petersburg couchsurfing group is having a gathering.  They are immediately so friendly and they know Seva (who had yet to arrive) and it reminds me of how much couchsurfing has become a part of my life.  I continue to be amazed at the hospitality of people all over the world to perfect strangers…it really gives you some faith in humanity.  I hope I can find a way to continue once I have settled somewhere back in the states.

The following day I wake up early and head to the Hermitage.  This museum is in the Winter Palace of Catherine the Great.  This spectacular and huge building is built to accommodate the world’s largest art collection.  There are millions of pieces in the collection but only some of them can be displayed at a time.  Some of the highlights include two Da Vinci paintings, lots of Rembrandt, Matisse, and Picasso.  They also have some nice old Lucas Cranach the Elder paintings, one of which is highlighted as a prize of the museum.  I mention this because he is buried here in Weimar and lived here for a while.  You can’t escape WE!

The biggest highlight of the museum is, well, the museum!  The building itself is absolutely spectacular.  I’ve been to the Louvre in Paris, and I have to say that this place absolutely puts that to shame.  It is more like a combination of Versailles and the Louvre… some of the rooms literally take your breath away and you don’t know whether to look at the art or the walls or what.  I think you could spend weeks in this place and still be entertained.  Also cool was the basement, which was still really beautifully decorated but in one section they had just received a shipment from Egypt.  They had all these big packing crates stamped with the seal of Egyptian antiquities and directed to the Hermitage Collection.  Amazing to think about priceless artwork being sent around the world all the time!!!

After about five hours I left the museum and met up with one of the couchsurfers I had met the evening before and we went up to the top of the St. Isaacs Cathedral promenade to enjoy the view of the city.  While it was kind of cold and glum, it is still a view of St. Petersburg!  She was helpful in pointing out a lot of the interesting sites as well as where other stuff was beyond the foggy clouds.  In the evening Seva invited me to go out with him to a party with his friends from work.  It was at his friend’s house which was really nice.  There was just a few of us in the beginning and then a whole bunch of people arrived and it was a party!  I met some of the most entertaining Russians that day, and about half of them spoke some English and German mix, so again I was using German…wow.  They also thought it was incredible that I could speak Spanish.  The one girl had a little too much vodka and just kept asking me to tell her things in Spanish.  Weird but funny too!  Middle of the night we headed back home but first stopped to have some Russian pancakes which are similar to crepes but filled with cheese, mushrooms, meat, or lots of other things.  They were quite tasty and make for a good quick sort of food, similar to the Doner!!

Sunday morning I wake up and go to the Dostoyevski museum with another group of couchsurfers.  This is the house where he wrote Brothers Karamazov and also died.  It is a nice small museum with a nice grouping of artifacts at the end.  After the museum we go to a café and then walk around the city.  Along the way we come across a Russian couple bending over the hood of their car.  We stop and the Russians offer assistance.  Turns out there is a cat that is hiding up in the engine of the car, so we take about a half an hour trying to coax out the cat with food and stuff, and finally this Russian guy reaches down into the engine area and pulls out the tiny shivering kitten.  Happy Easter to it!  They then call the numbers of people living in the area, and actually find that one of the girls living in a nearby apartment building is willing to adopt the kitten.  So, hooray for happy endings!

In the evening Seva and I go to a jazz concert in town which was really nice.  The first group was improvisational jazz from France, and the second was a fusion style band from italy…which was funny because the guy kept speaking Italian, which compared to Russian is easy!!

Monday I just walk around the city a little more and do a little bit of reading too, as I have a bit of a sinus headache developing.  Tues I fly back to Germany in the morning.

When I arrive in Berlin midday the weather is absolutely spectacular, 70 and sunny.  I meet up with a former colleague that moved to Berlin and together with a friend of his we wait in line to go to the top of the Reichstag (parliament building)  While waiting on the steps we have a beer which is lovely and then enjoy the views from the top of the glass dome overlooking the city.  Only in Germany can you get away with sitting on the steps of the capital and drink beer.  Awesome!

Later in the evening it is back to Weimar.  Luckily I still have a bit of time until school starts up again and my sinuses are really out of wack so I need to time to sleep and take it easy.  Of course there are tons of papers to grade as well, but once I get down to work on that, they go fairly painlessly.  (ya know just giving 100% to my pet students…saves time J )

Now that spring is here, it seems that there are always fun things going on.  Whether it is celebrating cinco de mayo at the school with my colleagues (and a pińata!) or birthdays, the weather seems to cooperate and life is really nice.  I’m trying to put off the future, enjoying every minute of Weimar and even enjoying work a little bit too.

The week after spring break is the last one for our seniors, so they play a bunch of pranks on the last day including TPing our staff room, reorganizing the schools desks and furniture, and other funny stuff.  All in good fun though, and we wish them all the best of luck on their IB exams.  Obviously it is also a little bit stressful for the teachers, because like it or not it is somewhat a reflection of us when the students don’t do well!

After being back to work for a couple of weeks I get an exciting email from my parents, and they found a brilliant fare to fly over to Germany for a weekend, so I tell them to jump on it!  So, the 30th of april I hop in a car south to Erlangen (AGAIN…I know!) and hang out with a bunch of Kalamazoo people there, speaking denglish (Deutsch-English mix) and having a nice time.  It is amazing how small the world is, especially with the advent of technology like skype, facebook, email, and mobile phones that allows me to not completely lose touch with everyone.  In fact I’m even able to watch my favorite team, the Red Wings, play hockey on the internet!!  (although this requires waking up in the middle of the night…)  But there is nothing like actually seeing friends and family.  So, Friday morning (I have the day off for May Day) I take the train over to Wurzburg to meet my mom and dad!

It is wonderful to see them pull up in their little cute rental Mercedes after driving over from Frankfurt and their overnight flight.  They haven’t slept, but are in great spirits, and it doesn’t hurt that the weather is absolutely spectacular as we stroll around Wurzburg, have a bite to eat, and enjoy catching up.  The plan is for a whirlwind weekend, but that is how the Connors roll…in fact compared to the traveling my parents have done, my life is quite boring.  After a couple hours in Wurzburg it is on southward to Rothenburg ob der Tauber, one of Germany’s biggest tourist destinations (I hestitate to say tourist trap because tho it is a completely walled city that ‘traps’ many tourists, it is stunningly beautiful and I would say a must see destination)  We find a parking spot here and then spend the afternoon here, visiting the old city walls, the beautiful streets lined with half-timbered houses, and quaint old hotels.  We climb the city hall for a great view of the city, which shows how amazingly well contained it is within the city walls.  Also visible are the forests beyond as well as the gorgeous yellow fields of Rapseed blooming in the spring.

We spend a bit more time strolling around before planting ourselves down in a nice biergarten and drinking some wonderful German bier and eating some pretzels.  Watching my parents be enthusiastic about some of these small German things, makes me realized again how accustomed I have become to these luxuries.  I’m going to be really grouchy back in the USA when a terrible beer costs 5 dollars, when you get top quality here for 3, and throw in a huge pretzel for another euro.  Live it up!

In the evening we drive all the way down to the border with Austria and the small city of Fussen, which is the base for the castles of Crazy Ludwig of Bavaria.  We have a nice meal a short walk from our hotel (and then have to run back to our hotel through the rain!)  I think the old folks were run into the ground having not slept for a couple of days, jetlagged, and also tired from sightseeing and driving all day.  Of course I’m a local so I enjoy just sitting and reading listening to the rain.  The hotel balcony looking out on the Alps is really tempting, but unfortunately it doesn’t seem like spring temperatures have arrived yet here!

Saturday we get a nice early start and see both the Hohenschwangau castle (where Ludwig’s parents lived) as well as the Neuschwanstein.  The latter is probably the sole inspiration for Disney’s Cinderella castle and strongly influenced the model for all of Disney castles.  The setting is absolutely spectacular.  From the Bavarian plain and hills the Alps rise almost instantly.  The lack of foothills really gives a formidable appearance to these legendary slopes, and allows amazing views and photos.  The castle is located on a shorter mountain peak, and the views of the surrounding lakes, mountains, and plains are spectacular.  The castle itself is also gorgeous, and it is another must see for Bavaria visitors!

After touring the castle we head up a nearby trail towards the top of a mountain for some views back down at the castle.  After reaching a great ridge with a great view of the castle, a sudden thunder cell comes from the other side of the mountain threatening with wind, rain, and perhaps most disturbing: lightning.  We quickly high tail it back down the trail to some shelter just past the Marienbruecke that crosses a big gorge above the castle.  While we wait here the cell passes bringing with it very strong winds and intense hail.  I don’t know that you could cross the bridge while this was going on…it was very intense, but behind our rock shelter it was just a bit of dampness to deal with.  After the storm passes over, we pay a few euros to ride the bus back down the mountain instead of walking (we hiked up anyway, so don’t give us a hard time!!)  The weather clears up towards the evening and we have a lovely, but chilly, walk through Fussen and eat a nice dinner in a small little German restaurant.

Sunday morning we check out and hit the road for the north since I have to be back in Weimar to work on Monday.  Along the way we stop in Munich for lunch and do the mandatory stops at the Frauenkirche, the neuesrathaus, and the main streets.  Lovely city that I feel I have neglected a bit, but all the same theres no desire to explore museums and things when the weather is spectacular!

In the evening we hit the road north to Weimar, when we arrive we go out to eat at a nice Italian place with my housemate Julia, and then my parents hit their hotel and I think about another week of work.  So, for a 4 day trip, we squeeze in a lot and knowing I will be back in the states in only another few months makes the goodbye a little bit easier.

Well, this email has reached gigantic proportions, probably because I don’t do a good job of keeping up with them anymore.  Hopefully you have a chance to read over some of the more interesting sections.  If something really catches your idea, drop me a note and I’d love to tell you more.  Or save it for the summer when I hope to see as many of you as possible!  In the meantime, you can get an idea of what I was talking about by checking out the photo albums:


Bavaria trip with parents:

I’ve added some more misc. pictures to this album:

I hope that you are all well, and are enjoying the arrival of spring (as opposed to March 22nd…we all know that that is a joke in Michigan J)  And of course I must add a big Go Wings! to this message.  Wishing y’all the best from Germany.

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starlagurl on

Really great blog Robert.

I noticed that you are publishing your photos on Facebook instead of in your blog. It doesn't look like you had any troubles uploading photos to your blog, but maybe you had other difficulties?

Just wondering because we are always trying to make the site easier to use for you guys.

Louise Brown
TravelPod Community Manager

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