Europe: Day 5
Today we woke up early for our last continental breakfast at hotel ibis, pack up our stuff, and headed off to Bacharach to hop on a boat and do a 2.5 hour Rhine River Cruise. Personally, I love just looking at scenery and relaxing, so I could have done this cruise all day because the Rhine Valley is absolutely gorgeous. I don’t know the actual name of the type of architecture of all the houses and shops, but it reminds me of the typical old farm house buildings like you would see in Beauty and the Beast. The valley is actually a legit valley too. You look to your right and your left and all you see are sloping hills, covered in shrubbery, lines and lines of grapes, old farm houses, and the occasional German castle. I have no idea how these people work these vineyards because they are all on just a steep incline. I also don’t know they manage to climb/drive up to their homes in the winter time. Straight ahead and behind is the Rhine River stretching for miles. I could have sat and relaxed on that boat all day and just taken everything in.
I had the chance to talk to Anna’s mom, Sarah, for a lot of the ride. She is an RN and used to work in OR and is currently working in IT updating and modifying the charting system her hospital uses. It was interesting to hear about that side of nursing. We also talked about how I also want to do OR nursing and how I am also interested in doing work with health prevention. We got to talking about some of the different policies we have in the US and how some of those might be changing as well as some of the other health related things. She was talking about how the doctors are paid based on the time they spend working and how many different patients they help, but now they are looking to change it so they will be paid based on the health of the population. So now, if someone is sick, gets quick treatment, and then comes back in the next 30 days with the same problem, the hospital won’t pay the doctor for that patient’s visit. In theory, it’s a good idea (treat the patient completely and correctly the first time and don’t have to deal with it again), but I can see people getting annoyed with the system and losing a lot of doctors that way. Healthcare is never perfect, but there are so many ways to improve it…the more I think about it, the more I would rather get into that side of healthcare– figuring out what the problem is, figuring out realistic ways to fix it, doing some trial and error, and figuring out what works and what doesn’t. Or maybe not. I really don’t know. That’s the beauty of nursing though, there are so many different things you can do with the career.
We got of the cruise in a town called Boppard and had about an hour to shop around. We found this little art shop where this man was painting away. His name was Uwe (YOU-vee). He was telling us all about how he’s traveled all around the world and all of the different people who have come into his shop and about how you can get really good deals on cruises around easter time (which did not sound too bad to me). He was seriously the coolest person I’ve met on this trip so far. He reminded me why I love to travel so much. He used to be a federal lawyer (which is why he got to travel so much) and now he’s retired (and doing pretty well because he had a nice pension), and is just doing art for fun. He was so pleasant to talk to. I asked him where we could get a good bratworst in town (since we are in Germany, it’s only customary that we try a bratworst), and he pointed us down the street to a meat market that also had street-side service. He asked us how long we would be in town, which unfortunately at that time, it was only about a half hour. He loved to just talk with us, so we could tell he was disappointed and wanted to keep us there. When we were on the street, I asked if we could get a picture with him and he had us all go back into the store with all of his artwork and he got his special 1800’s style painter’s cloak out just to take a picture with us. haha. I will admit though, he was right about the bratworst. I typically like Brats, but they are usually a little greasy to me, but this place was the best I had ever tasted. They served it on a fresh, crispy roll, I put a little mustard and ketchup on it, and I was a very happy girl! We checked out a ring shop on the way back and I got this cute, but simple, ring with an amber ball on it.
When we all got back together, I started thinking more about Uwe and about this trip and comparing it to my trips to Australia and New Zealand. During this trip, it hasn’t really hit me that we are in Germany, and I couldn’t really figure out why. Once I had the chance to chat with Uwe and hear about his life and get his advice about what was good locally, it really hit me that we haven’t really had the chance to settle down at all this trip and learn about the culture of Germany. If you asked me to generally describe the people of Australia in one sentence, I could do it fairly easily because I actually had the chance to sit down and take the time and get to know the people. This trip, I have learned a lot about the facts and history of specific German cities, but I haven’t had the chance to settle in, get the feel for the lifestyle, and get to know the people. That was kind of how New Zealand was too. We were on the go so much that we didn’t really get much of a chance to experience the true culture there, but the scenery made me not mind so much because it was that beautiful. It’s been really cool to go and see all of the different cities and castles and stuff here in Germany, but honestly, I could have learned most of that information on my own from the internet if I really wanted to (not that I actually would ever have the patience/interest to actually do anything like that), but culture is something that you have to experience on your own to truly understand. Traveling in a big group of Americans where everything is pre-planned and scheduled for us and we have X number of minutes until we have to meet at location Z and we have to travel in groups of 3 or more, it’s really hard to break away and truly understand what the culture is all about here. Oh well, I guess this just gives me another reason to come back 🙂 (Not like I hadn’t already planned to do a European tour of my own some day).
We took the bus (which smells really bad now because of the bathroom) to The Netherlands after that (apparently they don’t like it when you call it Holland) to a town in the middle of nowhere called Sittard. The hotel we’re staying at is kinda cool because it’s basically a hotel for sports teams. There is a team from Japan, some USA team, and a D3 school from Maine–all soccer. We had dinner at the hotel and it was a buffet. This is the first time I have had any vegetables since the second day of the trip at lunch. Everyone in Germany eats so much meat and so much heavy food! Literally, every meal is primarily made up of meat. So I took advantage at dinner.
After that, we took the bus over to Kerkrade to go to our first pro match. It was Rota JC (home team) vs SC Combuur. These teams don’t play internationally or anything, they are pretty much the equivalent of Columbus Crew or LA Galaxy for the Netherlands. The game was so much fun though! Even the first part of the game when they were announcing all the players, they had the whole cheering section behind the goal waving their flags, doing the chants, and just being loud and then they had fireworks going off on the field. It was so crazy. OH! Before the game, some of us walked around outside the building (because you can’t walk a full loop within the building without getting stopped by metal goals and security) and we ran into people from the ONU men’s soccer team! They are here in Holland/Germany too, except they left a few days earlier than us/leave a few days earlier than us and they are doing some different stuff than us. The game was a lot of fun though. These people are so passionate about their teams which is really cool to see, because people aren’t really like that in the US (unless your sports team is really good). The fans are classic European soccer fans where if someone on their team keeps messing up, they will stand up, get their attention, and just rip him a new one, like they are the player’s parents or coaches or something. It was nice because we had some people around us who spoke English, so we were able to ask them what the fans were saying and what some of the different chants meant.
After the game, we just went back to the hotel, had a snack party, and went to bed. I’m excited for the rest of the trip. Tomorrow we get to go through some caves and do a team-bonding activity and then go to another pro game, the next day we get to do mountain biking and play a game, the day after that we are going to Aachen, Holland, going to the Lindt Factory, and going to the place where Holland, Germany, and Belgium meet, we have games the next 2 days after that, and then we are done. It will be active and fun packed 🙂
Kristina: soccer fan