Thursday, May 19, 2011

Right back at it.

So, I was planning on just doing touristy back packing stuff today, but it turns out that I'm still a lot weaker than I used to be, meaning that I can't just walk around a European city for eight straight hours, instead after two hours of walking I realized that I was extremely tired (probably because I've spent the last couple of days in a bed).  I'm just not used to not having as much energy, but I'm making due.  So, I thought since I need a break, I might as well blog whats been up the last couple of days.  

At the moment I'm resting in a cafe in Basel, Switzerland.  I'm happy I get to spend a day here since I was going to spend more time in Switzerland but couldn't because of the virus I came down with.  Its a nice little city and has a really nice main street that you can walk down with cafes and shops.  The River Rhine goes right through the city and it felt great just to sit next to the river for a while this morning.   

About a week ago, I left Hamburg for Freiberg, Germany to visit my friend Susie who is studying there.  It was fun visiting a smaller German town and meeting some other Americans who were studying abroad there.  The town had amazing side streets and great beer gardens.  At night many students sat out in this one court yard just drinking and hanging out.  It was pretty crazy.  The next day Susie and I went for a hike in the hills near Freiberg.  That night we went to a friend of hers in her program's birthday party and it was fun just being able to be back in a place that reminded me so much of the flats in London!  It was a really great time!
Freiberg Town Hall

Side street in Freiberg...apparently if you accidentally step in the little streets on the side of the roads you need to marry a Freiberger. 

Path of the hike "climb" we went on!

Little German house!

German Wind Mill!

Break at the German.

Climbed this!

Climbing some rocks!
So, the next morning I took the train to meet up with Katja and Dieter, two friends introduced to me by Tom and Rosalind who were willing to take me into their home for a couple of days.  They run a brewery called Waldhaus and Katja is also a teacher!  They have two kids,  Janinna and Yannik who were great to meet as well!  The night I got there, we went to a town fair and climbed the tower of an old church were there were 600 bats!  It was crazy!  I got to meet a lot of the people in their town, which was a lot of fun!  That night we all had pizza that we made ourselves!  It was great to be in a home for the first time since leaving Dorset!

The next morning Katja brought me to the school she taught at to talk to each of her classes about America.  It was the first time I had really been with a bunch of people who had never actually met an American before, since many of the students come from poor families and have never really had the chance to go to America.  It was fun talking to a lot of them, and listening to their questions.  A lot of them asked about University life, sports, American Football (which of course I know everything about), my home and more.  It was fun being able to talk about where I came from to people half way across the world.  It also made me feel really proud to be American.  You could just tell how much they adored our country and what it meant to them.  That was really cool.

Anyways, after some of the teachers heard I was in the school, I started getting pulled around all over the place to a ton of classes.  I talked to kids who were 12 all the way to 18.  After we left the school we went straight to their brewery where they gave me a tour and I got to meet some of the staff!  They even gave me beer straight out of the factory!  Next we drove into the black forest a bit so that I could see some of the classic homes and one of the largest domes in Europe at Janinna's school.

After a bit of a rest we Katja brought me to the kid's tennis practice.  While they practiced we drove across into Switzerland for gas (its cheaper there) that was my first time in Switzerland! Yay!  After that we walked along the Rhine and then we met up with the Dieter and the kids at the tennis courts.  Then I played doubles tennis with Dieter, Katja and the tennis instructor.  It was pretty awesome playing tennis on the Swiss/German boarder, I felt like Roger Federer!  Sort of.  It was great playing tennis, I hadn't played in such a long time!

Katja's school


Fresh out of the tap


So, that night I got really sick.  I don't think I've ever actually been so sick, which was a bit scary, especially because I was so far away from home.  Luckily I was with Katja and Dieter who took really good care of me and made sure I had everything I needed.  After talking with the doctor at night, Katja told me he thought I had some virus that has been going around and just knocks you out for a while, but with all of my traveling, it made it worse.  After the worst part was over, I was finally able to sleep and I passed out for an entire day almost, only waking up a couple of times.  The next day I just laid outside for a while and then slept some more.  I could easily say that that period was the most home sick I've been, I couldn't stop thinking about home, but being with a family definitely made it a lot easier.  It was a bit weird, because I can't really say I've been home sick yet this trip, but immediately once I started feeling better, I was ready to hit the road and get back to it, especially because I had ground to make up.  So, this morning, I left for Basel, Switzerland...where I am now.   Tonight, I'm getting on a night train to Berlin, staying there for a night, then headed to Riga, Latvia, via Lithuania by bus.  There I will get to see my Dad, which will be really great! 

So, I'm back at it, and feeling a lot more healthy!

The pictures below are from out the window of the room I was recovering in: I think you can see why I recovered so fast!

You could see France, Switzerland and Austria!  Not so bad.  And as you can see the Alps are amazing!  Not a bad place to recover.

Anyways, I just wanted to let you all know I'm back on my feet, I miss you all and I wish you could all be sharing this with me!  Thanks for reading, as always I really appreciate it! 



  1. Hi Stephen,
    glad to see that the intrepid traveller has recovered and that you are off on your way , after spending time with K/D and family. They are such wonderful people, , seeing your photos of them brought back such lovely memories of being with them, and of their wedding too,since the reception was held in the brewery. The photos brought back even more memories!

    We missed you at your mum`s birthday bash, but were glad to know that you were having the adventure of a lifetime and know that she will celebrate all over again upon your return, along with your birthday!!

  2. Hi Stephen,
    Wow, what beautiful pictures! I am so glad you are doing well. Katja and Dieter along with their children and friends sound like great people. I am so glad you had time to go into Katja's school and talk with students. Your time with Susie seemed great also. Susie looks great and it sounds like she is enjoying Germany. We are getting ready to ship Dad off to Latvia, don't forget to pick him up on your travels!!!
    Love, Mom