Well with lack of a combination of internet/computer access I begin what I am sure will be a long post as so much has happened in the past four days.
To start with, I am really suprised about the music I have been hearing. It's American. Every city we have been in we have listened to music that I have heard on some radio station back home; everything from oldies swing to current pop. So far I really have not heard any true German songs.
Anyway, Frankfurt is Germany's New York City. The hotel the group stayed in was located in the busniess district and we were withing walking distance of Frankfurt's Wall Street and many corrporate buildings. Our second day in Frankfurt we had the opportunity to get a behind the scenes look at both the Opel factory and John Deere Factory. ( I do have pictures to post once I return.) The plants were very well developed, which comes as no surprise since they are such large corporations. Opel and John Deere both used continous moving assembly lines and industrial robotics. During both tours we were given head sets so we were able to hear everything the tour guides were saying as well as help drain out some working noise (which I am surprised how little there was of). Although I really enjoyed these tours (they are what I came for), I don't feel that I gained much cultural experience from them. However, I did gain some in the evening when a small group of us decided to go explore more of the city and have some dinner. We enjoyed great food at a cafe called the Bull + Bear which is named after the statues which represents the ups and downs of the stock market which it is located by. Once again during dinner we discovered that some additional knowledge of the German language would be of great help. However, after seeing us struggle with determining what food was actually on the menu the waitress took pitty on us and gave us the English version.
The following day we set off for Stuttgart and on our way we stopped at the Auto & Technik Museum in Sinsheim. Originally my thoughts were that it would be like any other museum, something where you just "walk" around. Well, while we did walk, alot, (so we were able to enjoy the awesome displays of everything from motorcycles to trains and some of the earliest cars made to WWII planes) the greatest thing was being able to go on the roof of the building and not only explore different kinds of airplanes but return to the ground floor by sliding down a slide that started in the flight deck of one of the planes and went through the roof. We also enjoyed lunch at the meseum's cafeteria. The meal I got is special for the area and was fantastic. The best way I can discribe it would be a pierogi in lasagna form.
After our first night in Stuttgart we spent the following day at the Mercedes Benz factory and museum. This factory was unique to the tour because industrial robots build the engines, with limited human intruption for the most part. Although opperators do need to have programming knowledge. We were shown a section of the assembly line where the robots have not yet been installed and our tour guide informed us that although they will be using robots for those employees jobs in the future, the workers will not lose their jobs but be offered positions else were with equal or better pay. The Benz too was interesting. I was able to see cars similar to the repla car my dad owns. As well as learn some history on the company and cars themselves.
That evening I, along with two other girls on the trip, made our way back out, using the U Ban (Germany's city's metro) to find our way to Stuttgart's "Spring Fest" which was a large fair. Similar to the county fairs I go to back at home were people dress up in their western wear, Stuttgart's citizens dressed their part in their lederhosen and dresses. It was such an amazing experice to see that aspect of their culture. I didn't think we would get the oppurtunity to participate in any cultural festivals or celebrations. It was an experience I won't soon be forgetting. The singing, the food, the clothing, it was all overwhelming and perfect for a view of how the Germans celebrate. Even riding back on the packed metro, people were still singing and showing high spirits.
Last but not least, I am now in Munich, by both bus and train. After arriving at our hotel we were given a breif orientation and then embarked on another walking tour (by the same gentleman). We got to view many of the curches, learn about some traditions (such as blessing buildings for the year and marking them with chalk/white paint), and view some amazing architecture. After the tour ending we did some shopping and I finally got some of the souvenirs I wanted to be able to take back to the States. However, even though we tried to retrace our steps from the tour to find shops we had seen a few of us ended up with our own little adventure in Munich. However, we made it back to the hotel in one piece and just a little wet from the down pour we got caught in during the afternoon.
So now I am drying out and preparing to get some sleep. Tomorrow is our free day and I am really looking forward to taking a trip to visit the castle that Walt Disney's Cinderella's castle was based off of and possibly a trip to Munich's Hofbrauhaus.