After an exhilarating and exhausting first day (see previous post) the next four days were a lot more relaxed but no less exciting. We were invited to Christina’s grandparents’ house for a lunch of one of the most delicious foods I have ever tasted: Danphnoodle (I have absolutely no idea how to spell this). Think of it as a giant dumpling only much much tastier with a crispy outside and a warm, doughy middle. Just thinking about this makes my mouth water. These “noodles” are served first with a potato soup using vegetables picked at 6 a.m. by her grandpa in their garden in the backyard. I had two dumplings with the soup and followed that up with a heaping helping of peaches, also eaten with the dumpling. At this point I was stuffed to the point where the belt was sitting uncomfortably and needed to be loosened up a notch. So what did I do? Of course I ate another one and some more peaches. It was probably the only time I would ever get to eat this regional specialty so I figured one more wouldn’t hurt. Many many thanks go out to Christina’s grandparents for hosting us and providing us with a meal I know I will never forget.
After a much needed nap we took a train to Mannheim, a very large city about 45 minutes away. In Mannheim we walked around exploring the city, looking at shops and learning how amazing going to college in Germany is. First off, many of the universities are housed in what used to be palaces, enormous buildings with gorgeous architecture. Take a look for yourself right below.
Yup, that’s Mannheim University. You want to know how much a semester at this bad boy will set you back? Nothing. Absolutely nothing. If you get in to this school, tuition is free! So while the average cost of tuition in the U.S. rises to 5 figures per semester, German students have their studies subsidized. And people question why the world is surpassing the American education system. Not all schools are free though. It varies on a state by state basis. Christina’s school in Stuttgart cost 500 Euros a semester. In other words, what most Americans spend on books every semester. (End Rant)
After seeing a movie (The Adjustment Bureau with Matt Damo) in English with all of two other people in the audience, we grabbed some very German food: tapas. Okay it’s not German at all but that doesn’t stop it from being delicious. Jalapeno poppers, chorizo, meatballs and something I positively did not order, tuna salad. I also munched on some of Amanda’s microscope thin pizza, also delicious.
The following day we drove to Stuttgart to spend a few days at Christina’s school. The picture above is of Christina’s dorm for next semester. Yes, that is a dorm. Instead of being a high rise though, it is built into the hill so all the rooms are underground. It was actually really cool although I’m not sure if they have windows in the rooms or not. The dorms are well thought out though, they have fairly small rooms but each floor has a kitchen/ common room shared by 5 or 6 students. After touring the dorms we went around her campus, a ginormous one by European standards. And, much like the school in Mannheim, it had palaces there too. We went into two of them. The first was the business library where it was dead silent because it was exam time and Germans really take their studying seriously. Unfortunately I didn’t take any pictures because I had forgotten my camera in my jacket, which we were forced to place in a locker. Take my word for it though, studying in a palace is about 32 times cooler than studying in a normal library.
The second palace wasn’t quite as ornate but was impressive nonetheless. It is used for graduation ceremonies (see above) and meetings of all sorts. It also has a balcony out of which the King used to address his subjects. Not too shabby.
After touring her school we toured Stuttgart, taking a tram all the way up a hill where her school is situated into the basin where the heart of the city is at. Stuttgart looked a lot like Mannheim with its many shops and malls and in all fairness, the weather wasn’t cooperating. It was pretty frigid and was threatening to rain most of the day. I still enjoyed the city. It seems like all of the German cities have gorgeous architecture and plenty of green space. We were on a mission though, for most of the day and after about an hour of searching, we succeeded. Amanda had told me about a type of German ice cream called Spaghetti Ice that she adored and we looked everywhere to find it. When we did locate it and I was able to try it, I realized what the big fuss was about. It was extraordinary and the visual representation was intriguing as well. Take a look for yourself. The ice cream is molded to look like spaghetti and topped with a strawberry sauce that sends this yummy dish into another stratosphere. I’m not one for ice cream or strawberries but even I couldn’t deny the brilliance of the dish. Simply outstanding. (Part 3 to come.)