March 07, 2008

Student Posts: Emmert & Slater

A note by Mitchell Emmert, AmbEx student from Corban College

Rome is full of history. It was crazy going around every corner to see incredible landmarks and things from all kinds of time periods. We visited the Coliseum, the Vatican, the Pantheon, and the Trevi Fountain. I guess Rome to me was some concept I remembered reading about in books and thinking was significant, but to see it and realize it actually was seemed humbling. At times I think history is a concept of things that all happened near the same time, but taking a trip to Rome helped me realize how flawed that is.

From Rome, we went to Florence and Pisa. The tower was indeed leaning; it's almost disturbing when you see it, but pretty impressive. On Monday we left for Venice; how often do you see a city built on canals? We were amazed! The buildings are all kind of run down and old, but the whole thing is charming in a really confusing sort of way. There are no cars, the gridlines are very off-kilter, and streets typically turn into alleys without any notice. But it was really fun and nice to be somewhere where everything wasn't organized in enormous squares and you didn't have to dodge aggressive drivers.

Food ventures had mixed reviews. One of my favorite treats was Italian gelato: I got a combination of chocolate, pistachio, banana, which I did not regret! We also tried a pizza topped with gorgonzola cheese, but I genuinely don't understand how a person could like it. It was not my favorite!

A note by Emily Slater, AmbEx student from Corban College

This last weekend was an interesting and exciting one in many ways. For one thing, we successfully used six different forms of German transportation! Because there was a major storm all across the country, many trains were delayed or cancelled on Saturday and Sunday. If there’s one thing we’ve all learned in our time in Germany, it’s that German trains are never late. If the train is supposed to leave at 10:23, you’d better be on it by 10:22, because it will leave exactly on the minute! But on Saturday, what should have been a simple five-hour train ride to Frankfurt for Beth (Bartosik) and I ended up as an eight-hour ordeal requiring a taxi as well as trains, and many long waits on bitterly cold train platforms.

We made it to Frankfurt in time to attend a fantastic concert, then took a quick train back to Aschaffenburg, just east of the Bavaria-Hesse border. During a cold, dark walk through downtown Aschaffenburg, we were a little surprised to discover a pond or moat with a ruined castle rising off a knoll in the center! The partially-lit ruins reflecting off the water made a beautiful sight.

Finally we ended up in beautiful Salzburg, Austria—with its old castle high upon a fortified hill in the middle of the city, the Salzach River winding its way through, the Kapuzinerberg (monastery complex) on an overlooking crag, and the Mirabel gardens and statues setting off the regal palace of Franz Joseph I. This city holds not only charm but also history and legend. Here Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was born and lived most of his life; here the von Trapp family of "Sound of Music" fame lived, sang, and endangered their lives by their allegiance to their nation; here the castle sits that has never been taken by outside forces.

By the time we returned to Amberg on Monday night, I was exhausted—but happy! From bus to high-speed train, from trees snapped in half by the storm to the regal Bavarian Alps, the weekend was one of new and interesting experiences and sights.

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