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Freiburg: More from the Green City

tuna on saladLately I’ve been cooking up a storm, so I’m adding some pictures below of a few meals I’ve had. I unfortunately do not have a picture of the Shepherd’s Pie I made, but the general consensus was that it was delicious. “Super Lecker” as they might say in German. Below there is a picture of my friend Maggie holding a burrito, a salad with tuna, and spaghetti and stuffed meatballs made by yours truly. I’ve never made stuffed meatballs and it was quite an interesting experience. In the future instead of stuffing them with meat and cheese, I think i’ll just put in cheese.

stuffed meatballs  maggie burrito

Freiburg also has lots of street musicians in the old city all the time. Saw a great duo playing instruments that made me think of lap harps and hammer dulcimers. Not sure exactly what they were. If you happen to recognize them, let me know what they are called. I’m very curious. duo musicians

I also passed this adorable looking Asian restaurant with a garden. I think I might convince my friends we should go here sometime even if just to sit and enjoy the garden and fountain.


Post-Hohenzollern Trip


Tübingen w: boatsAfter visiting the castle, we took the train back to the city of Tübingen which we walked around for a while looking for somewhere to eat dinner. There was a dance show going on near the city hall so the old city was quite busy and loud, but it was also beautiful. The buildings are so old that they almost looked crooked and sagging in some places which gives them character in my opinion. Eventually we found a place called the Trout at which I ordered… trout. When we walked passed I asked a server if they do gluten free food and when she said yes right away and seemed to be familiar with the concept, I was all set. That’s where we were eating. Dining out can be quite difficult because gluten free food is not as common in Germany, and I also have a bit of trouble explaining exactly what I need in German. Fortunately here I didn’t have any problem. I asked the waitress with dishes could be cooked gluten free, and I said yes to the first thing she pointed at which was the trout. It came in four small fillets covered with a few crispy pieces of parsley. I have no idea how they got the parsley crispy but the texture was exquisite. The dish also had round potatoes and salad greens for decoration. There was also a side salad. After a long day, a quite delicious meal was perfect. After dinner we sat by the river eating tangerines and grapes while watching the gondolas go by. The city was so beautiful, and even though I did not get to see much of it, I would definitely recommend it as a place to visit in this region. The bus ride there was also particularly pleasant. I was able to see a huge section of the mountains and the German countryside.

Tübingen park

To the castle!



My most recent trip was also one of the most exciting because I went to a castle: Burg  Hohenzollern. This castle is built on the top of a mountain and is actually the third castle to sit on that spot. This third castle has never been the permanent residence of any of the royalty who owned it; it serves as a vacation spot and museum of the Hohenzollern family. The Hohenzollern family originally built the castle here, even though they ruled Prussia in the north, to show their power. The tour of the castle was nothing particularly impressive because the rooms were small and the tour short, though I could not tell if that was because the tour is normally short or because they were shutting down the castle in two days for filming. The tour group we were in was also quite large and barely fit into the rooms, so it was difficult to look at things. And there was a wedding going on in the Catholic chapel, so we could only visit the Protestant chapel. While on the tour, we were required to wear these giant slipper shoes so as not to scratch the floors. I actually asked if the Prince wears shoes when he visits. The tour guide seemed to think the answer was rather obvious, but if the floors are that valuable, maybe the Prince would wear slippers. Apparently he does not wear the slippers, but I was genuinely curious. The tour was nice, but the best part about the trip was getting to have a picnic at a castle. I packed tuna pasta salad and a bottle of wine, and my friend Andrés packed tangerines, apples, grapes, and chocolate. If you ask me, it was a feast fit for kings. We sat on a bench overlooking a huge swatch of land with little tiny houses, cars, and even livestock far below. The view was like one from a small low airplane. It was absolutely breathtaking. We also got in our workout for the day because the trek up and down from the castle had many many many stairs, and the next day my legs were incredibly sore. But it was definitely worth it. castle view

IMG_3778  tuna saladIMG_3783castle chapel


Let’s take the Train

IMG_3687 Over the past six weeks, I have done a fair bit of traveling within Freiburg, but I also took a trip to Stuttgart for a day. And I rode the train for the first time ever! The process was somewhat stressful because I couldn’t understand the announcements being made over the intercom. I was worried that I would miss my train or it would be late. I asked an attendant which train to get on, and he said I could take the one that was sitting at the platform right then. The odd thing was that it was not my train, but it was going to the same place, so I took it. The trip on the train went fine and I talked to a lovely old lady for a whole hour only in German. We talked about gardening and her children and grandchildren. She was impressed that I did not have a foreign accent and she was very patient because I often did not think very quickly or understand everything she said. I often had to ask her to repeat herself or define a new word for me. She also told me about Baden where she lives and some of the surrounding area. It was a very pleasant chat and definitely helped me be not so nervous. After arriving in Stuttgart, I spent the day with my friend Andrés walking around the city. First we picnicked on several different kinds of sandwiches I had packed and mango. The mango was soft and tasty but quite tangy which I actually quite enjoyed. Then we went in and out of shops with air conditioning, sat in a fountain, and sat in a park all in an attempt to make the heat more bearable. At the end of the day we went shopping and bought a picnic dinner and sat eating it in the grass. There was a little boy chasing the geese around terrorizing them. It was rather adorable. All in all it was a great trip.


Just going crazy

So I have unfortunately neglected my blog for a week, but so much has been happening! I have been cooking up a storm and eating other people’s excellent food. My friend Maggie made Dosai this evening for dinner. It was absolutely delicious! Thank God for that girl. She also introduced me to this really great guy. 🙂

This week was particularly fun filled and busy as it was the last week of the class session. On Wednesday our new classes start. I’m excited but nervous too. My German is coming along but not as fast as I would like. It’s difficult.

Here are some pictures from my past couple days of adventuring: went hiking, attended an organ concert at the Münster, went hiking on Loretto Berg twice, and visited the market in the old city center. Also, there was a excellent musician playing the didgeridoo on the street.

tomato foodmountains hikesculptureIMG_3660münster

Sick as a Dog

In the words of the Germans: Ich fühle mich hundsmiserable.

So last Thursday or Friday I ate something with gluten in it (I think it was actually chocolate), an started a very unfortunate auto-immune reaction. Yay Celiac Sprue Disease. I was sick most of last week but the really fun stuff happened this Friday and Saturday. So Thursday night I went to ned without taking my eyeliner off (it was an older generic brand eyeliner I was trying to use up), and in the morning my eyelids were swollen from an allergic reaction. Woohoo. Then when I was in the shower I got soap in my eyes, on the floor, and smacked my head into the shower wall. Yay! I took a nap and was fine, but I feel kind of cruddy the rest of the day. Later, I helped Kevin (guy from Notre Dame) with brainstorming for an essay, then hung out with friends, during dinner and went to a Biergarten. A few glasses of wine with dinner was enough for me, so when we went to the Biergarten I had a coca-cola. When we came back to the guest house, I had another half glass of wine and a tiny (and totally disgusting) sip of vodka. We all chatted for a while and then went to bed around 2AM. Little did I know that even the minimal amount of alcohol I had consumed would be a terrible idea.

When I have gluten reaction, I tend to have problems with my blood. I’m not entirely sure if this is caused by too much insulin being released for the amount of carbohydrates I am actually taking in from my food, or if I’m just not getting enough nutrition from my food period. Whatever it is, it causes me to be lethargic, have severe mood swings, and have general apathy toward most activities. And on rare occasions like Friday night/Saturday morning, actually causes a more severe reaction. I had trouble falling asleep on Friday, but I think my eyes actually closed for good around 2:45. Then I woke up around 4 feeling kind of crappy and a little hungry. Then I woke up around 5AM super shaking, both hungry and nauseous, very anxious, and had a rapid heartbeat. So I got up, grabbed a  chunk of dark chocolate, and laid back down while I ate it. Then about 15 minutes later I was feeling slightly better but still shaky, so I got up and cooked a giant pot of basmati rice. While waiting on my rice to cook, I did some research and found that likely reason for my blood sugar being particularly low was the alcohol I drank earlier in the day. If a person’s blood sugar goes low, the pancreas creates glucagon which signals the liver to make more sugar and raise the body’s blood sugar. While processing alcohol, the liver may not react to the presence of glucagon and the blood sugar will remain low. This would seem to explain why I was feeling so crappy.

After eating a ridiculously early breakfast, I tried to go back to sleep which I failed at until around 9AM. When I finally got up at noon, I was feeling significantly better than at 5AM, but still slightly “bleh.” Even though I kept eating all day, I still felt hungry and like my blood sugar was on the low-ish side. This is caused by the damaged micro-villi in the small intestines. Since the intestines are damaged, they cannot process food and absorbs nutrition from food including carbohydrates (Or significantly less than normal). Eventually (and most fortunately), my friend Maggie dragged me to the grocery store and forced me to eat a full meal of something other than rice. That helped a little, but my mood was still pretty low.

After eating my own gluten-free dinner, I went with a group of friends including Maggie to an Italian restaurant. Of course I couldn’t eat anything so I had a very delicious two glasses of Lambrusco. This made my mood significantly better because of the simple sugars I was absorbing through the membranes in my mouth and stomach (and the alcohol probably had some affect as well).

After dinner we all walked back to the guest house. About a half hour after getting back, I was hit by excruciating cramps the likes of which I have not felt in years. This is another one of the wonderful effects of eating gluten. You get painful cramping when your food tries to be digested in your intestines. So in short: you feel hungry, you eat, you still feel hungry, you are in terrible pain, you feel hungry again, repeat the whole thing. I took three ibuprofen and after three bouts of being curled up weeping in my bed, everything finally felt better. Sort of. At this point I was far too exhausted to do anything or hang out with anyone so I just went to bed.

Lessons of the weekend: 1) don’t eat gluten 2) don’t drink alcohol while having a gluten reaction 3) if drinking cool while having a gluten reaction, eat a small meal before going to bed. You’d think that after working at a diabetic camp, I would realize all of this. But, I think I deserve a pass considering I had never before encountered this scenario. Lessons learned.

You’re hot!… oops

So the other day I had my first big mistake in German. A guy in my program had just come back from a run when I “ran” into him and started chatting for a minute. I asked him how he was and he replied that he had just gone on a run and was really hot. Being a particularly socially adept *cough* person, I decided the only proper course of action was to think out loud. First thought: “Du fühlst heiß.” (You feel hot.) Second thought: “Du bist heiß.” (You are hot.) The general train of thought going though my head was the things you shouldn’t ever say to people because they are awkward. Definitely fell into that one… Turns out the guy thought I was calling him hot… oops. But there are definitely worse ways to become friends with people.

zucchini and garneleIn other news, the other day I made some yummy pasta with shrimp and zucchini. And yesterday I went for the first time ever to a Biergarten. It was quite loud but I was sitting next to the street, so it was bearable. Actually it was quite fun considering I was in good company.

The past coupe days have been quite chilly, but that’s fine by me. It’s better than being too hot. Hopefully I’ll have least one more weekend adventure. I also have a recommendation from a friend to check out a wonderful book shop. And I definitely need to go grocery shopping. All I have left is a tomato, olive oil, mayonnaise, and garlic cloves.

Frogs in the Butter

Yesterday I had quite an adventure with butter. I’m kind of an old soul and I like to do things the old fashioned way. So I bought fresh cream and whipped myself up some butter. If you are wondering how to do it, just get a tightly sealable container, fresh cream, and salt. Put the cream in the container, salt to taste, and shake. Eventually the cream gets super thick, and then it separates into milk and butter. Voilá! Sweet cream butter! After I made butter, I made just a little bit of coffee flavored whipped cream which was also quite tasty. I tried to make more, but I didn’t add enough sugar. I ended up with coffee flavored butter. It isn’t really all that bad…


By a strange coincidence, today in class we discussed pessimism and optimism which  ended up relating to turning milk into butter. Another strange coincidence is that I sang a song about the following story in sixth grade. Here it is.

Two frogs go exploring looking for food. They are hopping around a farm and go into the barn. They accidentally fall into a pail of milk, which at first seems lucky because they are hungry. But after drinking all the milk they please, they realize that the pail is too deep to jump out of. They swim and try hopping out of the bucket but to no avail. Eventually one of the frogs gives up, sinks into the milk, and drowns. The other frog keeps swimming and swimming until eventually he churns the milk into butter. He climbs up on the butter and hops out of the pail. Moral of the story: it pays to be an optimist.

Alfredo, Chocolate Strawberries, and the Planetarium

As you can probably infer from the title, yesterday was filled with lots of food and fun. I made chicken Alfredo for dinner with my friends Aileen and Jessica, and then we finished off our meal with dipping strawberries in chocolate. It was utterly delicious.

IMG_3636_2 IMG_3637

After dinner I did some homework, and then went to the Planetarium. The show was about the history of the universe, but it talked a lot about the history of the earth. I would rather have had more of a lesson on star charts to be honest. Itt was still fun, although hard to understand (being in German).


Climbing the Schlossberg

Two weekends ago, two of my new friends, Aileen and Jessica, climbed the Schlossberg with me (a mountain next to Freiburg’s old inner city). Boy did I realize how not in shape I am. Jessica climbs like a speed demon, and I felt like I was running to keep up. Good thing the paths were particularly easy, or I might have ended up crawling to the top. About halfway up, we took pictures in front of this beautiful big cross with a look out over the city. IMG_3608

After a good long break, we kept climbing until we reached… the wrong place. There was some other watch tower on the mountain as well, but that was also cool to find. We had to climb down a little bit and then take the correct path up to the top. IMG_3620

Unfortunately, there was no where to really take good pictures and the observation tower was closed because the wood had been damaged. That was sad. But we ate a light snack at the top. Mine was a whole avocado. A little strange but definitely delicious. I threw all the peels and the pit into the bushes.

We had seen another look out spot, on our way up when we stopped at the cross, so we trekked over there on our way down. We were hopping to catch a sunset, but the clouds were too thick on the horizon. But we did snap a few good landscape and group photos before the light got low. All in all, definitely a great hike.

mountain view