Tuesday, October 28, 2008


October 27, 2008 Mittenwald is a cute little town about half an hour away from Garmisch. Courtney and I were in the area one afternoon and decided to get a hot chocolate in town. It's essentially a one-street town with the mountains as a backdrop. With the painted buildings it is a very good example of a typical Bavarian town. (Bavaria is the region I live in)

Sunday, October 26, 2008


Here are some more photos of the town I live in! enjoy :)

Loisach River

House by the river!

Marienplatz, main "square" in town - it's a pedestrian street with cafes, shops, etc.

Traditional Bavarian paintings on the building -- and Marienplatz sign


St. Martin's Church

Cafeteria by the water -- they sell cheap chicken :) aka 1/2 a chicken for 2 euros (around $2.50)

Sign for the Kurpark and the lovely Bavarian paintings

St. Martin's Church in the background

Wednesday, October 15, 2008


October 10-14, 2008 Yes, you're reading the dates right -- 3 full days in Egypt for Courtney and I! We left Munich Friday night at 10pm, arrived in Cairo at 2am where we struggled to figure out which line we needed to be in and where/how we needed to obtain our visa. We went through 2 wrong lines before finally being told we needed to buy our visa at the bank ($15!). As we walked through the baggage claim area there were people everywhere -- lots of locals just sitting on the floor with their luggage...not sure what they were waiting for? As we walked out of the baggage claim area there was a shorter, older man in the middle of what looked like an endless crowd holding a sign up high with my name on it!!! As Courtney and I worked our way through the "gauntlet" to get out the main door - we were stared at, grabbed at, offered taxis, etc. We then hopped on a shuttle bus that the locals were throwing sac after sac onto...yes, we were the only tourists on this bus! After a short and very crammed ride we followed our driver off the bus and wandered around a parking lot looking for his car. At this point Courtney and I looked at each other and said please let it be one of the few nice cars in the parking lot -- we wandered for maybe 5 minutes because he couldn't quite remember where his car was. Then, there it was! A black, boxy car that didn't look like it would even start up...Courtney and I climbed into the back, exchanged a look and then realized there weren't even seatbelts! We then endured a crazy ride to our hostel -- it was around 3 or 3:30am at this point! The entrance to our hostel was between two store window displays and then a big door that we had to wait for a door man to open for us -- he had a bed in the "foyer" of the apartment building and watched the door 24/7 to let people in/keep people out. Our hostel owner was still up but very grogy (we tried telling him what we wanted to accomplish the next day and he told us we'd take care of it in the morning...not what a type A person wants to hear!) so he showed us our room - very plain, simple with leopard print bedspreads. The next morning we began our planning with our hostel owner. We showed him our rough agenda -- day 1: Cairo; day 2: luxor; day 3: cairo. He arranged for a driver to pick us up at 9:30 for a day full of pyramids in Giza, step pyramid in Sakkarah, and Ramses II and a calcite sphinx in Memphis. *Did I mention that our driver was driving a pretty brand new mitsubishi!! yay! seatbelts, a/c and everything! We later found out that he was renting the car for the day - crazy, huh?! Our driver, Salem used to be in the Egyptian Army* Our first, and most important stop of the trip, was the Giza Complex! 9 pyramids and the spinx! Yes, there are actually 9 pyramids -- 6 small ones and 3 larger, more famous pyramids. Our driver took us to a stable where we told the men to saddle us up 2 camels! We decided to do the "big tour" the one that takes you up the "mountain" to get good shots of the pyramids, close to the pyramids, and then over to the sphinx. We rode around the camels for almost 4 hours -- just soaking in the magesticness of the pyramids! It was so unreal -- there seemed to be a distinct line where the city ended and the desert began. We got our first taste of the real Egypt -- empty water bottles and trash everywhere...we even saw a dead horse in the desert -- surely our tour guide knew it was there, why would he take us past it...he did make a joke that it was a good thing we were on camels! After seeing every corner of the pyramids and gathering several bags of desert sand and limestone rock we were off to see the step pyramid in Sakkarah and then the statues in Memphis. Nothing compared to our morning. We stopped at a papryus (first form of paper) store along the way, saw how papyrus is made, then bargained like none other to get a great deal on a papyrus print -- we each bought the traditional Egyptian calendar. Around 4:30/5:00 we finally ate "lunch!" Needless to say we were starving! Our driver took us to a restaurant in the middle of nowhere on the side of the road -- seemed sketchy but it ended up looking ok as we walked down the stairs into the restaurant. We watched a few women sit around a stove, making aish bread, and ate a sample of the bread. I took a picture of one of the women by the stove and then was begged for money....Our lunch was pre-ordered by our driver -- aish bread with 6 different dips -- tahini, eggplant, taziki, cheese, pickled cucumber, and baba ganoush! All this followed by chicken, rice, and french fries with Heinz57 Ketchup! That pretty much raps up our first day in Egypt! We spent the rest of the evening driving around in crazy, crazy Egyptian traffic - talk about a traffic jam! We were going to go to the Egyptian museum or the Khan-al-khalil bazaar but traffic was horrible and we made a few circles thanks to some miscommunications between our driver and the camel guys...long story! We made it back to our hostel with about an hour or so to spare before we had to go to the train station to catch our overnight train. Courtney and I opted to ride first class rather than overnight sleeper cars because we saved over $90! The train seemed nice enough -- we were in a train car with 2 seats on one side of the aisle and 1 seat on the other side of the aisle for about 30 rows. We had big, blue seats that reclined, had a foot rest, place to rest your head, etc. Despite these comforts I didn't sleep much because I was by the aisle and was paranoid all night as men walked past, stared, brushed past my shoulder, etc. At one point during the night I woke up and saw a man sitting on the man's lap across the aisle from Courtney and I, just staring at us! There wasn't much to see because we had on long pants, jackets, and scarves over our heads...but he still felt compelled to sit on this man's lap and stare at us for over an hour! and of course play his music at 3 am! After a long train ride, about 11 hours or so (oh, did I mention that our train was about an hour late...the train before it on the same track didn't have an engine so we had to wait...) we finally arrived in Luxor. A man was outside our train car with three signs -- one of which had my name on it or something that was close enough haha. This man picked up Courtney and I, the Thai girl who sat in front of us on the train and seemed kind of lost, and an Egyptian couple. He piled four of us into a taxi and then directed the Thai girl (with her big bag and several small bags) to hop on the back of his motorcycle!! We drove around Luxor and dropped off one couple then went to a hotel where we met up with the original guy and the Thai girl, she made it! This is where we finally met up with our driver for the day. We continued our random stops and dropped off the Egyptian couple at a boat! Then, went to meet our tour guide! Many of these transactions took place in random back allies...weird and slightly scary! At this point, we could already tell that Luxor was not as busy and crowded as Cairo. So after about an hour of running around and dropping people off and picking people up, we had our tour guide (a woman!) and were headed towards the west bank to see the Valley of the Kings, Queens, etc. First on today's agenda, Valley of the Kings, featuring King Tut's tomb! We also saw the tombs of Rameses I, III, and IV. Then, we went to a limestone factory and saw the men make bowls, glasses, etc. out of limestone. Then, the hatshetsup temple -- a temple cut into the face of the cliff for one of the most famous female pharaohs whose reign lasted longer than any other female's reign. Next, a quick visit to valley of the queens...much smaller, less crowded, etc. than Valley of the Kings -- we saw QueenNefertari's (Rameses II favorite wife) tomb here! On our way to the east bank to see the Karnak temple before 4:00pm we saw the tombs of the nobles, Ramesseum, and Colossi of Memnon. Once again, we still hadn't eaten all day, well, with the exception of the ice cream we bought at the hatshetsup temple. So we stopped to grab some falafals (fried chickpea patties in a pita bread shell) on our way to the Karnak Temple. We had about 10 minutes to eat our falafels and make it inside the temple before they closed but once inside we could have as much time as we wanted. After exploring the Karnak temple and hearing all the history from our tour guide we were off to the Nile for a sunset ride on a felucca! I was super nervous when we first got on our boat because our 3 hosts couldn't seem to get the boat out into the middle of the Nile! We coasted along the bank, pushing ourselves along side bigger cruise ships...trying to not crash! Finally, we made it out to the middle of the Nile, sails flapping in the wind, enjoying the beautiful sunset! After some hot tea we were headed back in to dock. It seemed like such a short ride but I guess it's because we spent so much time trying to get the felucca in the middle of the Nile to sail. Next, Luxor Temple -- our last stop of the day. It was beautiful at night and also very crowded! I guess because everyone knew they could save it until last because it's open so late. So we saw the temple lit up at night as we meandered in and out of the statues and obelsiks. At this point we had ran our tour guide ragged all day -- almost 12 hours! After the luxor temple, she dropped us off in front of a hotel and told us the guy from the morning would come pick us up and take us to the train station. Well, this was around 8:00pm...we didn't know when Mohammad was coming, when our night train left, etc. After several questions from the front desk attendant we called Mufthasa, our hostel guy in Cairo who arranged everything in Luxor for us. Turns out we were just supposed to hang out until 10 or so at which Mohammad was going to come pick us up and take us to the night train/give us our tickets. I looked outside at one point, only to be beckoned by horse carriage taxis...so Courtney and I just stayed inside the hotel exhausted, tired of being harassed, etc. Our first class overnight train from Luxor back to Cairo was considerably different than the night before. Our "first class" train looked like second or third class -- we were in a car with 6 seats this time -- old, brown, straight chairs. There was a family in our car so we ended up having 8 people in our car throughout the night -- the mother and child sprawled out in the middle of the floor in our car to sleep -- leaving us no leg room in addition to the incredibly uncomfortable seats! So, two nights in a row, no sleep for Jessi! We arrived in Cairo and this time there was nobody waiting for us. I'm sure if we had been expecting this it would have been fine but there had always been somebody just waiting for us all the previous times. We wandered the length of the train track and didn't see any familiar faces waiting for us. I then started texting our hostel guy who told us he was there, waiting for us. He said he had been there waiting for 5 minutes, so I texted him back to see where he was and in the mean time Courtney and I started walking towards the front entrance (the only other familiar place in the train station). While we were in the underground tunnel walking from the train to the main train station we found ourselves caught up in a mob of locals -- all males! We were swarmed and very intimidated! We stepped to the side and let them all pass by us, staring, gawking, etc. This was probably one of the single most intimidating, overwhelming, scary moments of the trip. I felt like bait waiting for the lion in the mazes below the Colosseum....we quickly got ourselves out of that situation and went back to the train platform and waited to find out where Mufthasa was waiting for us -- turns out he lied and hadn't been at the train station, he was stuck in traffic, and had just arrived, he was also not in the front of the train station, but rather in the back of the train station (somewhere Courtney and I hadn't been!). So, now we're down to our last day in Egypt!! On our agenda: Egyptian Museum, mosque, bazaar, Nile dinner cruise. We took today into our own hands -- we walked to the Egyptian Museum from our hostel (5-10 min walk) and spent a good 3 or 4 hours in the museum, which by the way we thought for sure would only take an hour or so but there were soooo many cool artifacts, including rooms full of mummies!! Then, we got ourselves a taxi and went to the Mosque of Sultan Hasan. Walking through the mosque was not like what I was expecting -- I had no idea what a mosque was like inside -- the majority of it was open, no roof, with several large rooms with no furniture, just floor space for praying. Then, our taxi driver took us to the Khan-al-khalili bazaar, the world's largest bazaar! Large it was! There was stand after stand, store after store, egyptian after egyptian grabbing at us and wanting us to look at what he was selling and making us "good deals." We knew what we wanted and only looked on our own conditions. I bought a few scarves, a box with fake mother-of-pearl, and two turquoise eggs for mine and my sister's egg baskets at Easter time! That night we went on the famous Nile dinner cruise. It just so happens that there was a mother and son staying at our hostel who were also going to the dinner cruise. So the four of us hopped in the car and were driven to the Nile! The dinner cruise was pretty nice -- buffet full of "Egyptian" food -- pita bread, dips, chicken and rice, noodles, veggies, etc. plus a spread of deserts large enough to feed an army! Throughout the dinner we were entertained by the band and then the bellydancer and sophi (male dancer) performances! The male dancer was much more entertaining than the female bellydancer. His stamina and strength was impressive! He twirled himself and these "plates" around and around and around then he swung his way around the room and paid a visit to each table! Our flight that night/morning was at 2:00am. The same mother and son that went with us to the dinner cruise were on our flight. So we had different drivers to the airport but then we worked our way through customs and check in together. The airport was run down, dirty, bare, lacked abundant seating, etc. -- not International standards by our standard but they seemed to think so (according to a booklet Courtney picked up). I slept through our entire wait from sheer exhaustion! Luckily, Courtney was awake enough to tell us when to go board our plane! Then, it was back to the motherland, Deutschland! So, there you have it -- our fastpaced, highlights of Cairo and Luxor tour! We had a great time but I can honestly say I'm in no hurry to go back. We've both also been a little sick since we got back - we're not sure what from because we only drank bottled water that was sealed. Hope my stories didn't put you to sleep. Enjoy the pictures! more pictures

sitting on one of the pyramids

Valley of the Kings

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Fall in Garmisch

Just a few pictures of the beautiful fall leaves in Garmisch. These pictures were all taken within 1/2 mile from the Abrams, where I live.

the Abrams, where I live

outside of the cemetery behind the Abrams

pedestrian path close to the Abrams

Back road in Garmisch

Cow field

Trees by the Loisach river

Bridge over the Loisach

path by the Loisach and cow field

bridge again


view right outside of the Abrams

view from my balcony

Wednesday, October 8, 2008


October 2 and 5, 2008 Oktoberfest was a blast! Courtney, Lisa Marie, and I went on the last Thursday, October 2nd, on the 5:04pm train. As we were getting on the train it started to rain...we still hopped on the train with our fingers crossed that it was not raining in Munich. Our wishing and hoping didn't change anything so our evening was cold and damp. We did not even get into a tent so we were left to wander around outside sans beer. We ate some fest food and rode a ride and decided to call it an early night because we couldn't get into a tent to get a beer and we couldn't feel our fingers or toes!!

check out those 1/2 meter wursts! yum

Me in a drindl!

Courtney and I decided that we should go back to Oktoberfest in hopes of having a better experience since we may not be here next year! So we went on closing day of Oktoberfest, October 5th. We went several friends - Laura, Bailey, John, Natalie, Sunshine, Shelley, and Katie. A German man was selling maB tickets on the train so each bought one -- a maB in the Spatenbrau tent for 5 euros instead of 8.30!! The first thing we did when we made it to the Oktoberfest grounds was go to our tent and drink a maB! Then it was time for a few rides and fest food! The last day was prety crowded and we weren't able to ride the swings because there were soooo many people pushing and shoving to get tickets and get on the swings...not worth fighting Germans to the front of the line!

inside the Spatenbrau tent

Sunshine, Shelley, and Katie with their MaB

Courtney and I prosting

"The Hill" where everyone goes to pass out after drinking too much

Germans in the traditional lederhosen and drindls