Sunday, July 31, 2011

Last train to Dresden

Was that a song? No no it was Clarksville, never the less we were traveling on the train for about 7 hours with changes. Okay, I stink at packing, far too heavy for stairs and overhead compartments. Thankfully we have gentlemen on this trip who are very gracious and ask to assist us ladies, okay old ladies! But hey why not, I can do it but with help I don't need to throw my back out!

The hotel is beautiful, very funky, artsy. We settled in, for 15 minutes :( and had a walking tour of Dresden. The rain was horizontal and the wind chill kicked in, this town must really be beautiful in the summer, oh wait???? Never the less we endured and learned a lot about the buildings art and architecture. The city was 90% destroyed in the war and then remained in rubble as an eastern block nation until well past unification. The plans were drawn and building began around 1993. The architects followed the pictures and plan of the old city, so you really get the feel of the old Dresden. But it is totally reconstructed. After a chilly tour we ate a delicious dinner a typical Saxon restaurant. My salmon was amazing!

Tomorrow we have an opportunity to travel to Prague but the weather will be very rainy, only 2 participant are choosing to go, and I am not one of them. The day will be free to explore Dresden, the museums and historic buildings. The old masters museum holds some of the greatest collections in the world, so I am excited!

Friday, July 29, 2011

Last day Stutgart

The day began with yet another delicious breakfast from the hotel. Breakfasts are included with the rooms through out Germany. We boarded the bus and took a short bus tour of the city. We then traveled to another Teacher Academy and discussed the idea of dual education. Within this system students are trained in their profession with an arrangement within the company and given schooling 1to 2 days a week. Hmmm... Why can't we embrace this model? Not all students want to or should go to college. This system values all professions and the pay can be substantial. Really an eye opener!

We the traveled to the Bosh villa, yes Villa, for a lovely three course meal. The funding for our trip comes from private sources. The Germans have a belief in social responsibility, giving back, and that is why we are here. The purpose of the meeting was to have a discussion on trends in education and share ideas about economic policy and globalization, oh and eat... Delicious meal, wonderful discussion and great connection between the industrial Germany and German educational system.

Then we traveled to the Mercedes Bends museum for a tour. Wow! What a great architectural statement. The plan and execution of the museum is awe inspiring. The history, and artifacts (cars), were amazing. Again, I can not wait to upload photos as they will blow your mind! Sadly, we were not given a gift of a New car as we left, we did however get a lanyard!

Day 5 Stutgart

Today we borded the bus for Stutgart at 8:15 and we were off. The ride was long. We stopped in Comburg for a visit to the professional development academy for teachers. We learned that this castle was used by the Benedictine Monks and developed as a Monastary in the 11th century. It was then used by the Catholic church during the counter reformation. I can not wait to upload the photos. They are amazing. We then heard about the professional development opportunities for teachers. Yes it is too good to be true!

The teachers choosing to become principals are given the opportunity to study there. All expenses paid for 5 courses , each 2 and half days. Once again the perks come at the top! But what a beautiful place to stay and study. We continued to Stutgart and arrived at the hotel, only to find it changed from our itinerary, and no free Internet as promised. We explored the area, really a business area and I got toothpaste. We had a great dinner, complete with traditional German wine from the region surrounding the area. Tomorrow we will visit training school for dual training, after the haupshula, or realshule,. Then we will greet the funders of our trip at the bosh foundation and have a 3course lunch. Our day will end with a visit to the Mercedes Benz Museum. I am not sure if we get to choose the color of our car....

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Day 4 Bavaria

This is the quintessential Germany everyone thinks of. The rolling hills and small villages all framed by the alps. Today we traveled south to the Austrian border to visit the castle of Ludwig the second at Neuswanstein. This is the castle that Walt Disney fashioned his sleeping beauty castle from. Ludwig is known as the fairy tale king and you can tell why. The treck up was long, and rainy but the views were amazing. The tour inside gave us a glimpse into the madness of Ludwig. It is very dark and the walls are covered with paintings depicting Wagners operas. He did have running water, lighting and the first flush toilet, literally it was designed as the royal throne.

When were emerged the day was sunny. We travelled down to the baseband had a nice salad for lunch. I had a beer, as it is the same cost as water. We then boarded our bus to the church in the meadow. This is an unesco world heritage site. Catholics take pilgrimages to this church in hopes of asking the Lord to heal them. The statute of Christ is believed to have wept and bled. I lite candles for my family. The church is deigned in the baroque style and I have many pictures.

The church was holding a Handle concert but we voted and chose to return to Munich for the last night. We ate at the Augustiner brewery, the only brewery still privately owned in Munich. We had a nice dinner in the beir garden. We are leaving for Stutgart tomorrow morning at 8:30. So we need to be packed and checked out by then.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Day 3 Munich

A little later start today, so I am more well rested. Breakfast at the hotel is delicious. The coffee is plentiful and the selections are very European. They have a delicious selection of fresh yogurts and grains. Additionally they have fresh rolls, croissants, and lovely cheeses. They have a plentiful amount of smoked salmon, and fresh meats. They even have. Baked tomato with parmesan cheese. Needless to say, I am not going hungry.

We traveled by bus to the Gymnasium, an school the prepares students for the University. This tracking system is accepted as an appropriate way to prepare students for the best fit career for their individual learning. While the hapshula and realshule track into apprenticeships, the gymnasium tracks in to the abitur, the entrance exam for university. This concept is very foreign to us as we learn toward total inclusion in the US.

We had an opportunity to meet teachers, the principal, and your the school. Unfortunately the students were out of the building, on a special day of excursions. Were examined the text books, and found some graffiti in the bathroom. Here is the poem: no boys no love, no love no children, no children no school, no school no teachers, no teachers no problems! Ha!

We then had time to catch a quick bite in Munich and then it was off to the Department of Ministry for a presentation on education in Bavaria. It was very interesting , the controversy arose when a participant asked how the question of bystanders was delt with when studying the Holocaust. After the meeting we traveled back to the hotel for a final presentation on the question of the drop outs, the environment, and immigration. Quite an eclectic group of topics.

Dinner was great. Italian food is popular with the locals, so we went to an lovely restaurant and at outside. My sea bass was delicious. Tomorrow we will travel to Neuswanstein castle, the famed

Day 2 Munich

This trip is amazing!

Today we began at 8:30 am and were off to a realshule, a secondary school in Munich. It was an early start and we were all very tired but it was a great experience. We were met by Victoria, Teacher of English at the school. After an introduction we were greated by the principal and then set off to various class to meet with teachers and students. Our first class was with a small group of students who introduced themselves and then asked us questions. They made 2 cakes for us, delicious, and we learned more about their school. Really, they are just like students in the US. The class was working on a music production and invited us to come and listen. I video taped it and will upload it when I get home. The next class was an English class and were anxious to speak in English. They asked me how old I was and I had to to do the math as my birthday was 2 days ago, they sang happy birthday to me: awesome! They could not believe students could text message in their pockets!

We finished the day with a musical presentation in the schools Celtic temple. It was wonderful!

We then traveled to Weltenburg brewery, the oldest monastic brewery in Germany. We had a wonderful lunch and tour of the monastary. We were treated to a beer tasting and learned all about the techniques and varieties of the beer. We all slept on the ride home, and then explored Munich a little more when we arrived back.

Sunday, July 24, 2011


What a wonderful trip!

The flight was great, except for the screaming baby. Luftansa is a delightful airline to fly. The food was appetizing and the amenities were free. I watched the lincoln lawyer and rested a bit. Even with earplugs however I could still hear the baby screaming.

The retrieval of our luggage was quick, as was customs. We were treated by our tour guides, Alexander and Annette an boarded a bus to the hotel. I was glad not to have to shlep the bags on the metro as is usual. The rain here in Munich changed our plans a bit. We stored our luggage and took a bus and walking tour of Munich. We saw the Olympic park, the golkenspeil, many beautiful statues and fountains, and toured the palace of Ludwig the first, a tribute to his son crown prince Maximillian. Many commented on the similarities to Versailles in granduar and design. I have no frame of reference but it was beautiful. The gardens were amazing as well.

We then returned to check in to the hotel, thoroughly exhausted, showered and were off to a beer garden for dinner. I had a delicious vegetable strudel, and tasted the cultural drink of choice! We took a leisurely walk back to the hotel through old Munich and returned by 9 30. We need to be up and ready to leave by 730 tomorrow and it is off to experience a typical German classroom and tour a monastic brewery.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Washington Day 2 and flight

Happy birthday, I am not proud, but am a year older!

Great day, meetings at the institut and lots of information about German schools and government. I already feel as if I have learned so much. Check in and boarding were painless and soon we will be airborn.

Washington day 1

Hot, hot, hot, from the minute we stood on the platform waiting for the train until we arrived in the hotel. The trip was uneventful but these temps are horrible. I meet one of my fellow top travelers at Penn station and we talked the time away. We had a mere 20min to freshen up and make it to the orientation. Very organized and it was a great first night. We had a language lesson, I am not that good at German!

We then had a great Mediterranean meal with some German beer. Some travelers have never been to Washington and chose to go see the monuments. As this is really my backyard I decided to walk back to the hotel with a small group and check in to the plane. Our itinerary for today begins at 11:30. We will be leaving for the airport by 4. I am really looking forward to the veggie meal on the plane ( not). No worries, I have protein bars galore.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Tomorrow we roll

I think everything is ready. I have ironed, packed, shopped and left countless notes for family.

Ceci and I went out to dinner, Viva! Unlimited pasta tower, yum. Now I just await the morning to finish the last items. You all know I will forget something! Then it will be off to 30th street station with a quick stop off in Valley Forge. They have a few donations for me to bring to Germany. While I am extremely grateful, I was hoping to hear from them before today, but beggars can't be choosers!

12:58 train to Washington, then a 4:30 orientation.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Monday... Planning and Packing

I have been planning and packing for my amazing voyage to Germany beginning Friday! I stopped by Valley Forge today to finish buying my gifts. I love this place! The history, the nature, the people, it is all so wonderful.

Tomorrow I will start ironing and really packing, I can't stand to be wrinkled.