23 August 2011.

Gelato: Praline + Tiramisu

Today, Tante Elk and I left Bavaria to stay with my Uncle Mich. Uncle Mich lives outside Stuttgart in a sustainable house (more later). Stuttgart is the capital of the state of Baden-Württemberg.

After an easy morning of trying to fit everything back into my suitcase, Uncle Mich and my cousin Peti came for lunch at Tanta Git’s. I was sad to leave, On the way to Uncle Mich’s house, we stopped at the Blautopfbut hopefully we will be able to return for Christmas! Tanta Git is so nice and made sure I was well fed! I don’t think I ever stopped eating while in Germany!

On the way to Uncle Mich’s house, we stopped at the Blautopf (Bowl of Blue) Lake. This lake is very unique. The Blau river sinks beneath the earth some 1200m to the north-west and resurfaces at the Blautopf. Uncle Mich told me that the scientists do not know how deep into the earth the river actually goes because strange things happen to the divers and instruments that go in too deep. Some blame this on a “water ghost” or mermaid creature. There is even a statue of said mermaid sitting on the edge of the lake. Water is very clear and becomes a beautiful and deep blue. A monastery was built next to this beautiful lake and houses some great fresco and one of the most extravagant iconic altars I have ever seen. The altar has several panels that can move, all depicting the story of Christ.

Once home, I met my Tante Gert and was given a tour of the house. Uncle Mich and Tanta Gert own a packaging and binding company and Uncle Mich was so proud to show me how the machines work. For dinner we ate Raclette (this involves layering meat and potatoes with cheese. The cheese becomes melted when your personal cooking pan is placed on this fancy heating surface. So Good!)

**Architecture Nerd Info**
Uncle Mich’s house is very unique for Germany. It has no heating or air conditioning and is very sustainable. Many of the surfaces are unfinished, giving the house a comfortable, yet modern feel. The windows all face to the west to allow the house to be heated in the cold winters. The windows also have shades to keep the house cool in the summer. The floor to ceiling windows gave us a great view of the sunset and the amazing lightning storm that took place that night.

24 August 2011.

Today was the day of being a tourist. We all met up with Uncle Mich and Tante Elk’s half sister Nel.
She was so friendly to me and so excited to show me around Stuttgart. We began by taking the train into the city center. We took a very long walk through the Rathaus, a fabulous department store (it could give Galeries Lafayette in Paris a run for it’s money), past an indoor market, wine festival, Modern Art museum, and two palaces! I was very surprised by this city! It is so beautiful, has a great and extensive history, and is home to some of the largest German brands! These brands include: Mercedes Benz, Ritter Sport Chocolate, Hugo Boss, and Porsche. Stuttgart is also home to the tallest TV tower in Germany and the next largest beer festival after Oktoberfest in München!

**For my “Top Gear” boys: K1 + K4**

The best part for me was visiting the Mercedes Benz Museum! Not only was the architecture of this building amazing, but so were the cars! The museum took us through the history of the automobile and the many, many models of cars produced by the Benz Company. Did you know that Mr. Benz was the first man to patent the automobile? I thought is was very interesting how the museum showed how Mercedes Benz rules over almost every class of car; from luxury, to working, to racing! I would defiantly recommend a visit!

25 August 2011

An early car ride to the Stuttgart airport. Tante Elk just left me to fly home to America. I sit here, waiting, for my flight to Firenze, Italia!

Arriving + Ulm, Germany

16 August 2011.
Gelato: Cappuccino + Tiramisu

My Aunt and I have made it to Germany! We flew with Swiss Air form LAX to Zurich, Switzerland and then to Stuttgart, Germany. We had a very nice time relaxing on the plane and the flight seemed much shorter then 11 hours it actually took! I don’t know why my mom and I have never visited Germany before, but I know I will return many more times! I feel very comfortable with these family members I have never met before!

Germany is made up of many counties. My family is from an area of Bavaria that borders Baden-Württemberg. Schwabia (southern Germany) is culturally different from northern Germany and they speak Swabish, a softer form of German, compared to the High-German spoken in the North.

I am staying in a small town that is located south of Ulm. My Great Aunt (Großtante) lives in the house that was built behind the house where she and my Grandma (Oma) were born. She lives downstairs while her son and his family live upstairs. Her son’s children (I will call them cousins) are a little bit younger then me and speak wonderful English! It has been so much fun comparing our cultures! There are so many stereotypes that they learn from American Television and wonder if they are true.

18 August 2011. Ulm.
Gelato: Ananas (Pineapple) + Banane (Banana)

Today my cousins, Tab and Mel, took me to the town of Ulm. Ulm is not in the state of Bavaria, but in Baden-Württemberg. The towns of Ulm and Neu-Ulm sit of either side of the Danube River and stretches about the size of San Luis Obispo. It has many great shops and a wonderful history. We walked through much of old Ulm, seeing the beautifully painted Rathaus (City Hall), a new public library, the Schiefeshaus, and soaked our feet in the Danube River. In the center of Ulm is a great Lutheran church called the Ulmer Münster. There is a plaza in front of the Ulmer Münster that is now home to a new civic center designed by the Architect Richard Meier. If you know Richard Meier, he designed the Getty Musium, you know that he usually creates large, modern, white structures. However, I think that this new building fits in very nicely with the gothic style of the Ulmer Münster because it uses many of the same forms.

Atop the roof of the Ulmer Münster is a sparrow holding a piece of straw. This bird has now become a symbol for the city of Ulm. The story goes, while the people of Ulm were building the city, they were trying to bring a log into the city, however, the log was too wide to fit through the main gate. So the builders watched the sparrow, or Ulmer Spatz, carry some straw to the home he was building. To bring the straw through the door of his home, the sparrow turned the straw sideways so that it could fit the short way through the door! Amazing!

The Ulmer Münster is known for being the tallest church in the world because it has a tall spire measuring over 500 feet, so my cousin Tab and I had to climb up. We finally made it up the 768 steps to the top step and watched the people below! The climb to the top gave such a great view of Ulm and the red-tile roofs that radiate from the city center. Such a wonderful day getting to know my family!

**Also, My class and I all made it safely to Florence, Italy on the 25 August. It has been such a busy two weeks, but more posts will be coming soon. We have found a great apartment between Santa Croce Cathedral and The Duomo in the old center of Florence. Language classes start tomorrow! We are all slowly finding our way through the narrow streets and having lots of fun. Ciao!**