|The CTI Black Belt Team Adventure Continues!|
By Erik Albrechtson, 5th dan
Germany is here! We got up nice and early this morning to get ready and go. After a much needed haircut, my parents and I headed to the airport to continue our trip across the world. We arrived at Denver International Airport about three hours early and met up with the other people traveling with us.
Grandmaster Sautel divided us up into three groups. Each group was named after a famous explorer in American history. My group was named after Neil Armstrong - "The Strong Arms!" We got our groups together, took a few pictures and headed to our plane which would take us to Chicago, Illinois.
The flight to Chicago flew by (no pun intended) and we only had twenty minutes to get to our connecting flight to Munich, Germany. This flight went by pretty quickly considering how many miles we flew! It never really got dark on the flight and we were all very excited, so I don't think anyone really got any sleep.
I'm really excited to be in Germany, see the sights and to do some Taekwondo while I'm here!
Wednesday - 7/13/2011
Our first day in Germany was incredible! It went by so fast it was just a blur. When we got out of the airport Southern Germany's best bus driver Karal and top notch European tour guide Almar (from Holland) were waiting outside. So we jumped on the bus and drove 20 miles to Munich. Our hotel wasn't quite ready for us that early in the morning, so we had a little tour around the old Munich downtown to get a general idea of the layout. We had some free time around Marienplatz (an old church square) and a market where we ate lunch. I had my first real German sausage and a Coke. It was delicious! Other people enjoyed pretzels and sandwiches (and a couple un-adventurous had popcorn chicken!).
After some ice cream for dessert, we stopped by a bank to buy some Euro coins for the students back home then went to Peter's Kirche (Peter's Church) and climbed the 303 stairs (I counted 301 and Mr. Garner counted 306, so using the Price is Right Rules I won) to the top where we got an amazing view of the city.
After our free time, we went to the hotel to check in, shower, siesta, and then we jumped back in the bus. I really like our hotel (Hotel Erb). It is really nice!
We then went back downtown and ate dinner at the Hoffebrauhaus which was quite the experience! We had a nice three course meal with potato soup, weinerschnitzle and an apple pastry for dessert. We also got to see some traditional German dancing, music, singing and whip cracking!
After dinner we went back to the hotel and crashed hard. We had a long, adventurous day!
Thursday - 14 July 2011
Today we got up early (well we met at the bus at 8:45am which was early for Almar and Karal, but I personally felt like we were sleeping in.) and we got on the bus and headed to Marian Square again. There we met Lenny, Tom and Joe who were our bike/walking tour guides for our Munich city tour.
We biked/walked through much of downtown and saw a lot of cool places and thousands of years of German and Muncih history. Along the way, we stopped and did a tour of a museum (the München Residence - a normal tour takes six hours and we did it in one, and losing only Kyle Feagans along the way), churches, memorials and historical buildings. Our tour guides were really nice and friendly, and we hilarious to boot!
The bicycle tour lasted for about five hours and afterwards we had about an hour to eat lunch in the market place in old downtown Munich. I had some delicious pizza with my parents in a "by-the-slice" cafe near the Square.
After our late lunch we hurried back to the hotel to get ready for our workout at U-Chong Taekwondo with Grandmaster Chang Jae-Hee. It was a lot of fun working out with them. We did a warm-up with lots of drills and stretching, a little bit of power Taekwondo-like drills (from our Saturday workouts), some target kicking, and we did all of the Taegeuk poomse by the count. It was incredible that our poomse matched up exactly as theirs! It was a great workout and it was nice to kick and sweat with them.
After the class we performed our demonstration for them and then we talked to them for a little bit and had to go as everyone on our bus was waiting. It was very fun and an educational experience.
After the workout, we went back to the hotel and ate some dinner and then we were off to bed! Good night!
Friday - 15 July 2011
Today was a fun-filled day filled with some serious sightseeing! We started off by driving to Schloss Linderhof, the first of three castles built by King Ludwig II. It wasn't a huge ancient castle like we saw in Ireland, but almost a villa-like stone mansion with an amazing yard, fountains, waterfall, statues, etc. It was really nice and cool to tour the inside and take pictures around the grounds.
After the castle, we drove to Oberammergau, a small village known for its wood carvings . It was a nice little place, though we didn't have much time to shop and eat. We did buy some presents for everyone back home, and then after some pushup work we were back on the bus.
Next we drove to the 2nd castle built by King Lugwig II - Neuschwanstein. This place was so huge and really cool! It was WAY up on top of a mountain (about a 20 minutes hike up the road) and it was really neat to tour. The whole place was never completely finished, though we saw what was finished and he must have spent a fortune on the whole place.
As we were waiting for the rest of the group to finish the tour, Grandmaster Sautel had Eilidh Spery and Delaney Zandin do Taegeuk Pal Chang for a young girl in a wheelchair and her mother who were waiting for her father and brothers. She loved it and it made her day (edit: I didn't know it at the time, but Grandmaster Sautel also gave the girl a few of our old tournament patches. When we got home we had an email from the mother, who had found us on Google, saying, "Thanks so much for your impromptu martial arts demonstration for my daughter at Neuschwanstein a few weeks ago, as well as the badge ! It was a really nice highlight for her (and us) of our trip!" It is a great feeling to know we're spreading happiness across the world!)
Once we had our whole group again after the castle tour, we walked higher up the mountain overlooking the magnificent castle to take a few pictures and a few people were promoted in this wonderful place (congratulations to Marcy Feagans - purple belt, Kathleen Sautel - 1st dan, Eilidh Spery - 1st dan, Delaney Zandin - 1st dan, Abdu Kikhia - 3rd dan, and Bridget Sautel - 3rd dan)! It was a ton of fun!
After a few pictures, we headed back to the hotel to get some sleep after the busy day!
Saturday - July 16, 2011
We had a good morning workout this morning! The black belts got up and took a short jog to a basketball court near our hotel. We did a warm-up and then did some sparring (which makes the seventh country our black belts have sparred in!). The weather was wonderful and it felt so nice to be out there on a beautiful morning with the sun shining and to be out there doing some MSK Taekwondo.
After the workout we headed back to eat breakfast and take a shower. We then jumped on the bus and drove a short ways to the BMW Museum. It was really cool there!
The main exhibit was closed due to water damage which was a bummer, but we were still able to see two huge exhibits. One was a cool collection of many different BMWs painted in many neat ways by many artists, and it also had a collection of many vintage cars. Across the street we also saw a huge exhibit of their current cars and concept cars. At one point, a motorcycle expert rode up and down the stairs doing tricks for the visitors! It was incredible!
After the museum, we had a couple of options. Some of the group went to tour the first concentration camp (Dachau) and the rest of us went to downtown Munich to tour around. We also were able to catch Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (part II). It was in 3-D and was pretty cool to see it there (many of us saw Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban on its release date in Ireland, on CTI World Tour '04)!
After the movie we had some free time to do some shopping and I got a lot of Christmas shopping done. Munich is a really cool town and there is a lot of history and culture that has been great to experience. I'm excited about the trip so far and I'm excited for the upcoming days of the trip!
Sunday - 17 July 2011
Today the black belts got up early again and had another morning workout at the basketball court near our hotel. We didn't spar again today, but rather we did regular warm-ups, basics and poomse. We spent a lot of time on poomse and it was another beautiful morning and such a great experience to be out there working out.
We left Germany on the bus and headed to Salzburg, Austria today! It was a lot of fun. And the bus ride was only a couple hours, which was really nice. The musical The Sound of Music was filmed there, and it's a really big deal there for tourists. So Almar put it on during the bus ride, though with our jet lag most of us slept through it.
When we first arrived in Salzburg, we first went to Hellbrunn Palace. This place was like a nearly 400 year old Waterworld! There were trick fountains everywhere- it was hard not to get wet. It was amazing what they were able to do with just water power. They had play sets and all kinds of moving objects and art work that was all water powered. Luckily it was hot out today, so it was kind of refreshing when the tour guide would turn the secret levers and water would spray everyone from the hidden nozzles in the rocks and statues!
Afterwards we went to downtown Salzburg and took a quick tour and then had some free time for lunch, followed by a two hour walking tour of the city with a funny, old English lady who was an Olympic skater from Endland back in the day. It was really cool to walk the city and learn the city's history.
After the tour, we had some free time to shop and buy souvenirs. A few of us even had an old-fashioned picture taken. It was really cool to see the city.
For dinner, we all got together and had the Sound of Music dinner. The food was really good and we watched a video about the real family in the movie. After we ate, they had four people come out and do a bunch of singing and dancing on stage. At one point they even had Mr. Eric "the Tiny Dancer" Evans up on stage dancing! It was hilarious! But then later on they pulled Master Mindy Sautel and myself up there too- how embarrassing!
Other than the dancing on stage, it was another amazing day! I'm really excited to see what we have in store for us tomorrow!
Monday - 18 July 2011
We got up very early because we had a lot of fun and excitement to pack into today!
The first thing we did was go to Herrenchiemsee Castle, the 3rd and final castle built by King Ludwig II. The was by far the biggest of his three castles- it was huge! It was on an island in Chiemsee (Bavaria's largest lake), so we took a short boat ride to get out there and then walked for maybe a half mile to get to the palace. King Ludwig II really looked up to the French King Louis XIV (who lived a hundred and fifty years earlier) and so this palace was built like one of his designs. Unfortunately, King Ludwig II ran out of money while building the palace, so it was interesting to see the very elaborate parts that must have cost a fortune to build versus the bare-brick walls of the unfinished parts. It was a stark contrast as to the very elaborate rooms that were made when he had money!
Next we headed to the Bad Dürrnberg salt mines. We ate a fast lunch and then headed into the mines. We put on miners' suits, got to ride on the miner's train, slide down their slides, ride a boat on an underground lake, and learn about mining salt. It was a very educational tour and very entertaining. It was a super cool experience!
After that, we rushed to our bus and then switched buses which took up towards the top of the nearby Kehlstein Mountain. From there we walked to Eagle's Nest. It was a present to Adolf Hitler for his 50th birthday and was to serve as a retreat for Hitler and place for him to entertain visiting dignitaries. It was an impressive place with an impressive view. I got a lot of good pictures while on top of the world up there!
We then took the last bus down back to our bus and then headed back to the hotel. It was another adventurous day and I learned a lot and had a great time!
Tuesday - 19 July 2011
Today is our last day in Munich (and the awesome breakfast here at the Hotel Erb). We got up early and got into our uniforms and took some group pictures in front of the hotel.
Afterwards, we jumped into the bus and drove to Rothenburg ob der Tauber. It was about a two hour bus drive there, so it wasn't too bad.
Rothenburg was "the quintessential Middle Ages German town." It was cool to walk around on the cobblestone streets and see the huge stone city walls.
We checked into our hotel and then we had some free time to check out the city. We did a lot of souvenir shopping here because it had a lot of great little shops. The people were really nice and friendly too.
After some shopping, we had our farewell dinner. I heard it was either in or next to the original city hall (I heard two different stories). The food was pretty good and we had a lot of fun talking and laughing.
Afterwards we did a walking tour with the famous Nightwatchman. He was really funny and the tour was cool. He walked us through the city and told us stories about the town's history. It was quite the experience.
Afterwards we had some free time to explore the city before we headed to bed for a couple hours of sleep. We've got an early morning tomorrow!
Wednesday - 20 July 2011
Today is our last day here in Germany- how sad! We had to get up really early and the bus left to take us to the airport at 3:15... in the morning! Most of us just slept on the bus for the two hour drive to Frankfurt.
We headed right to the airport and said, "goodbye" to Almar and Karal before getting checked in and heading to our plane. Part of me was sad to be leaving but another part was happy to be heading home.
Our first plane took us to Chicago and I tried to sleep as much as I could. The flight seemed longer this way for some reason, but the flight was nice. At Chicago, it took a long time to get through customs and security so 14 of us missed the connecting flight to Denver! Luckily the airline took care of us and got us all on other flights (with connections all across the country, including Phoenix, Omaha, Cincinnati, and Dallas) and we all made it back to Denver safe and sound.
It was such an amazing trip! I need to be sure to thank everyone who helped me and the other participants be part of it. Without the help of countless people, it wouldn't have been possible. Now I'm fired up to get back to regular classes and push for the next leg of our World Tour! Where will we go??
Until our next adventure!