Many of my faithful readers* may be wondering why I have been silent for so long. My silence can only be explained by two weeks in Germany, moving across the ocean, unpacking, repacking, moving again, going to Virginia, lack of internet, starting school...the excuses are endless.
Despite the reasons for my absence, I apologize. So get excited, because I'm back!
Let me catch you up to speed:
Just under a month ago, I visited my Spanish Starbucks for the last time.
That morning I met up with my friends Paola and Rosi in an attempt to see the Sorolla exhibit at the Prado museum. We were unsuccessful. So we saw the Matisse exhibit instead. After a cup of coffee we parted ways. It's always so hard to say goodbye!!
I then walked down the street to Starbucks for the last time, and they surprised me with my very own apron! They each signed it for me before I left for church.
Church was filled with many more hugs, goodbyes, and see-you-laters. But it was such a blessing!
The next morning I woke up at dark-30 to hop on a plane to Frankfurt with my friend Emily. Long before I knew I would be leaving Spain we bought tickets to go on vacation in Germany. Our first stop was the train station, where they had....Starbucks!!
It was not my intent to buy a drink that day, but we decided to stop and see what sandwiches they had for our picnic the next day. We were just looking, and then...the check-out boy asked if I wanted a free drink.
Fo' realz, yo.
So I got a free drink. :)
We spent the rest of the day wandering around town, walking by the river, attempting to enter closed museums, seeing the cathedral, exploring downtown, talking to strangers...the typical Emily-Laura vacation combo. I had heard that there wasn't much to see in Frankfurt, but we really enjoyed it and I wished we could have stayed another day to see some of the museums (they are all closed on Mondays).
One of our favorite parts of the day was wandering through the massive greenbelt that passes through the city. It's full of businessmen and women leaving work, soft green grass, fun statues, and bunny rabbits.
We attempted to get close to the rabbits, but they were a bit scared of us. I can't imagine why. but as we were reclining near our naked friend, a baby rabbit who had not yet learned to be afraid of humans came out looking for something to eat. He/she came and sniffed my hand, and gave Emily a little kiss on the elbow.
The next day we went hiking outside of Frankfurt, somewhere with some old Celtic ruins. The ruins turned out to be not very exciting, but what was exciting were the wild blueberries on the top of the hike. Emily and I picked blueberries for about an hour and snacked on them the whole way home. By the end of the day our fingers and tongues were bright purple.
The next day we hopped a train to Munich where we met up with our friend Darby. Munich was a GORGEOUS city and I would recommend it to anybody. The architecture was beautiful, the people were friendly, and there were plenty of museums to choose from.
We only went to one museum, but we had plenty of fun wandering around, having a picnic in the grass, playing frisbee, eating some weinerschnitzel (is that how you spell it??) and enjoying each other's company.
One of the coolest things they have in Munich is a surf river. In the middle of the city there's a river with machines that create a wake to practice surfing. Surfers take turns riding the waves while onlookers watch from a bridge above. I was inspired by a new passion to learn how to surf. The only problem is the lack of a nearby ocean...
We also went to Dachau, the first Nazi concentration camp that became the blueprint for the camps to follow. Dachau was a work-camp where they were worked until they died, as opposed to an extermination camp where they were mass-murdered. It was heart breaking to see. The gate entrance says "Work Makes Free" in German. It was a Nazi joke because they knew that the only way anybody left Dachau was through the chimney.
It's heartbreaking to see the horrors that mankind can commit when we give in to the darkness of our hearts. The Nazis who worked at the camp had normal lives outside of the camp walls - wives, children, hobbies - just as those inside the walls once had before it was taken away from them. The townspeople nearby knew all about the camp but chose to live in ignorance and deny the atrocities of what was going on inside. They may not have beaten and killed any prisoners, but their inaction against injustice revealed the same darkness within their hearts. The camp was a reminder that when apart from God, anybody is capable of committing any sort of atrocity. Even you and me, and it is only by the grace of God that I have done any good thing.
We also went to the Neuschwanstein castle a few hours outside of Munich. Many say that this is where Walt Disney got his inspiration for Sleeping Beauty's castle (however some say it was Segovia, in Spain). I can see where they would have got the idea. The castle is amazingly similar and fairy-tale-esque.
After Germany I had one more night in Spain. I went out with my friends Sebas, Rocío, Fede, and Del (who is actually an American and was staying with some of my friends that night). We ate dinner at the place where I had my first Spanish dinner. It was fabulous. Then we walked around downtown enjoying the beauty of the city at night. We walked past Sol, the palace, the opera...it was beautiful.
The next morning some friends took me to the airport to say farewell. While I didn't cry at the airport, I couldn't hold in the tears once the plane took off. I cried from Madrid to Dublin, all through the airport (I think scared the customs agent!), and from Dublin to Chicago. Chicago to Dallas I was able to calm myself down, but when I hugged my brother at the baggage claim, the tears began to flow again. I finally got to hold my nephew for the first time! Hayden Charles was born January 5th, 2009. On August 8th, I finally got to hold and kiss my little nephew.
The next day (Sunday) we went to none other than Jason's Deli for lunch. Oh how I missed their salad bar!!
Later I met my best friend Julie for coffee. It was so good to catch up! And now that we're finally in the same time zone, hopefully it will be much easier to keep up with each others lives!
And at that, my dear readers, I shall leave you. This update is already too long. Later I'll update about Mineola, my new car, Virginia, moving to Ft. Worth and beginning seminary.
Until then, ¡hasta luego!
*Do I even have any faithful readers?