Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Takeoffs and Landings

Hello once again,

We have just commenced our second day with our German friends here in Darmstadt. It has already been a great amount of fun. The flight was long, as is expected. Detroit's new airport is quite something. Very new, modern looking, with an elevated train that can take you the whole distance of the airport, in the event your gate is far away. They also have moving sidewalks.
These things are amazing! If you walk on them, I think you literally walk at like 7-8 miles per hour.

8 hours, 4,000 miles later, We landed in Frankfurt, Germany. We then retrieved our luggage, and met up with our hosts, who had a nice breakfast waiting for us. It was very tasty, and necessary, as airplane food is "like a box of chocolates... You never know what you are gonna get."

No, Thank you, Mr. Gump

We then went to a beer garden (biergarten) and we had some of the delicious products that Germany is known for. I personally was thrilled to see an old friend from the last exchange there. After that we went home and unpacked, then returned to go to a local fair, finishing with some fireworks.

36 hours for me without sleep, I sat in the car on the way home from the fair/carnival, and my host began to talk to me. Apparently I answered about halfway and then he heard 'ZZZZZzzzzZZZZ' coming from my passenger seat. I literally fell asleep mid-sentence.

Then today, we took a tour of Corinna's school. She is a teacher there, and she had us meet her class, and we got a tour of their new and old kitchen areas. The school is being rebuilt, pretty much totally renovated for the past five years.

We then had a great presentation by the mayor of Darmstadt. We learned some pretty cool facts about the city. It has around 140,000 inhabitants. During the second world war, it was pretty much leveled to the ground with nearly 300,000 bombs. Coincidentally, this air bombing took place on September 11. It left 13,000 dead, and approximately 70,000 people homeless.

Because of this raid, there are no inhabitable buildings in Darmstadt that are more than 70 years old. Help came on March 25th, 1945, when American soldiers arrived. They shared provisions with the people. As a matter of fact, they adopted Peter Schmitz as their home away from home baseball team. Baseball, it turned out also was a great help to the German refugees. Inside a baseball is about 941 feet of yarn. When baseballs came in, the refugees would take the covers off of the baseballs, and make clothing for themselves by knitting it together. They also built up the buildings in the post-war era, often times using the same bricks that were smashed apart during the war.
(photo of Peter Schmitz, who got it from one of the American soldiers that made him their mascot.)
Some more interesting things about Darmstadt in 1952, the first 'American House' opened up. These were basically places to show off Hollywood films and other American things, as the public were not satisfied with the films and media that was being produced in Europe. One such movie is 12 UHR, which literally means 12th Hour, and you may know it as High Noon, starring Grace Kelly and Gary Cooper. Also, in the late 50's Bufallo Bill was in the city of Darmstadt, on a world tour, demonstrating Western games and culture. It was apparently very successful, especially in Darmstadt.

After the meeting with the mayor, we then took a tour of all the buildings. I took first place, and received a nice book about Darmstadt, written in both English and German. Hopefully, this could help me in my upcoming semesters of school, where I hope to study the German language. We then went out for dinner, and then I returned to my host house. My bed is calling me over, and I am losing the ability to resist.

Until next time,

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