Tuesday, September 19, 2006

The beginning of a very ridged trip

Okay, time to finally put the beginning of my trip onto this here blog. This is going to be a doozie.

So there I was at home in little ol’ Stouffville when it finally came time to get in the car and drive to the airport. I said my goodbyes to my brother Tim, who would also be leaving on his own Eurotrip to Norway about 7 hours after my flight got there. It was oddly hard to leave behind that little blue house that I call home.

I was excited to leave but I had this awful stomach ache. I felt fine mentally but I have a feeling that it was my body being nervous that caused me so much pain. I felt like I was going to throw up the entire way to the airport. Fortunately, I didn’t and with less than an hour I had checked my luggage and got my plane ticket from Martinair, a sketchy unknown Dutch airline.
I walked around with my mom and my step-dad for a while and then finally I decided to make for the gate checkpoint. The goodbye was not nearly as emotional as the whole Ecuador one, but it was sad to see them go. That would be the last time I would see them this year.

Everything at the checkpoint was fine so I walked down the corridor to find my gate. I found it and sat down, trying now to decipher who was in the Intermenno program. I eventually asked the girl beside me and then before I knew it I was with 16 other people. Most of them seemed like kids fresh out of high school, first time on their own and all that spiel. It made me laugh on the inside.

The flight was horrible. I spilled hot tea all over my crotch and shirt and effectively made myself look like a dumbass in front of 150 people. All the food was not good and the cartoons were all in Dutch.

Once we finally got to Amsterdam, everyone was excited but tired at the same time. We meet some of the Intermenno committee members and then we were off on a bus towards the small Dutch town of Elspeet. In Elspeet we would stay at a Mennonite retreat centre called Mennorode. It was way out in the country so after a few days of morning walks I saw not only deer but wild boars. Wild freaking boars! I can now die a happy person.

Mennorode was awesome. We learned about the program, about our placements, German and Dutch culture and, of course, the many types of European beers. All nights were spent by everyone in the bar. I was freaking out that everyone was being so loud around all of the old people in the bar. I think everyone thought that I was really strict. I guess it goes to show you that culture does have an impact on our behaviour! Me strict? Ha!

It was nice getting to know everyone and then before we knew it all of the German-Swiss trainees were off to the train station in Niemejin. We all boarded the same train and then got off at different points. Keith (my partner....mate...thing?) and I were the only trainees stationed in East Germany.

We got off at the second stop and then proceeded to take a very long 6 hour train ride. It was enjoyable though, and Keith and I talked about a lot of stuff and got to know each other better. For me the best part of the trip was arriving for the first time in Berlin. Going in to the Hauptsbanhof was amazing. The Berlin BHF is the largest train station in Europe and is made mostly of glass.

When we arrived at our platform I was looking out the window and then I saw her. Hannah was sitting at the platform waiting for me. Actually, now that I think about it, that was the best part of the trip. This would be the first time in a year I’d seen my best friend (and sadly only the first of three days in which I would see her for another year). Well, I think I’ll leaver her out of the rest of this story and leave you with your imaginations. It was nice to see her.

We walked downstairs and then found our train going to J├╝terbog. It was a short 40 minute ride until we arrived to a host of welcoming Germans. It was very intimidating at first, but to say the least I was happy for after a week of travelling I had finally made it to my destination of Germany.

That seems like enough for today, peace out.

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