Friday, August 30, 2002

Go to Jolle's Switzerland siteTravel site finished
I finished my short report of the hiking weekend. I posted it below. If you click on the picture, you'll be lead to the same report including some photos.

Friday: Stuttgart
In the afternoon I went to Europcar to pick up my rental car. I had ordered a Volkswagen Lupo some days ago, for the cheap price of 63 Euro (Friday-to-Monday-rate) including all mileage and insurance. If this is not cheap enough already I got a free upgrade to a Volkswagen Golf and therefore left the station smiling. Back at home I packed some things and started off to Enzvaihingen near Stuttgart where an old schoolmate of mine, Katrin, is living in a shared flat at the moment.

In the evening we made a short trip to the ruin Blankenhorn in the nature reserve Stromberg-Heuchelberg. It got dark before we reached it. We almost missed it walking through the forest in complete darkness. The ruin is situated on the slope of a mountain and you probably have a nice view from here, if it would be daytime. So we rested for a while and started the adventure of descending the mountain. I had to use my camera flash light to look for the path from time to time. Otherwise we wouldn't have found back.

Saturday: Stuttgart > Lake Constance > Appenzeller Country
We had to start early cause of the long way to Switzerland. So we hit the road shortly after 7am reaching lake Constance, the biggest lake in Germany, around 10am. In Constance we also crossed the border to Switzerland and refilled our car with fuel, which is one of the very few things that are cheaper here in Switzerland compared to Germany.

In Muensterlingen we rested for a while to eat breakfast at the lake, then started again with the destination Appenzell, a small city famous for its cheese. The sun was gleaming and we drove through a land of hills so green that it can hardly be imagined. It looks like an artificial creation for a model train scenery. Passing St. Gallen we reached the countryside around Appenzell. Here we are, just on the verge of the higher reaches of the Alps.

Our final destination was Bruelisau, a small village at the foot of the "Hohen Kasten", a 1795 m high peak of the Alpstein range. We took the funicular to the top where a 360° view awaits the visitor. To the north-western side you could see the outskirts of the Alps with Appenzell, to the East the Rhine-valley. The rhine is completely straightened in this area which makes it a bit less attractive to the nature lover. But you completely forget this when you shift your eyes to the south-west. I tell you: this is one of the best views I've ever seen in the Alps. You look into a smaller valley including two beautiful lakes. You can see this one on the picture on the left.

And the best is that our route followed along the rim of that valley, passing the Stauberen and the Saxer gap. Cause the path mainly went along the western side, we had this view for most of our walk. Just sometimes, when it went on top of the rim, we could additionally see the Rhine valley.

It was very hot, no shadow and quite steep for a rim walk. But luckily the more we walked, the less crowded it was. Every one who came across greeted with a friendly "Gruetzi mitanand", the typical local greeting. The Swiss German is a quite funny accent coming directly after the Swabian on my list of favorite German accents. It sounds really funny, a bit like a coughing German. It's hard to take them seriously when they speak that way. I like it!

At the Saxer gap (1649 m high) we bend off to the right, descending from the rim to a lake called Faelensee where we took another rest before following down the valley we have seen so much today. Before it got steep again on the way down to Bruelisau we were passing the Saemtiser lake. It is quite an exhausting descent, because the tour follows a road with a continous and steep incline, not offering any recovering for your feet in between.

As soon as we arrived Bruelisau we drove towards the Schwaegalp pass, where a cable car runs to the top of the Saentis. On the way we luckily found a hotel for just 28 Swiss Franc per person including breakfast. It was the first hotel we asked for a room and it was definitely the best bargain in the region, especially if you take into mind that there was a big traditional sport event going on the next day.

Before checking we continued to the pass and went on top of the Saentis with the funicular around 8 pm. With 2506 m it is the highest peak in the Appenzeller region and therefore definitely a sight, even its beauty can be denied. If you like the Saentis or not definitely depends on what you are expecting to see there. In my case, I read about it before, so I did know what's going on above the Swiss clouds. The view was phantastic even though the clouds couldn't resist to conceal parts of the mountains. But if you're a freak who likes undistorted nature, this is not the place to go. Swiss Telecom set a mark on top and there is almost no space left to built something more. At least it's not the typical Telco style but looking like a big spaceship paired with a oversized lunchbox.

There are always two sides of the story. As the sun set down the clouds were colouring in every tone between red and blue compensating for the earlier lack of view. It was a mystic feeling.

Sunday: Vaduz (Liechtenstein)
As the first thing in the morning we went up again to the Schwaegalp pass where this traditional festival was already on full run. You could not see the wood for the trees, that means the mountain for the cars. It really seemed to be popular here. I forgot the name of the strange sport, but the next similar thing would be Japanese sumo wrestling, I guess. Just the ringers were a bit less well proportioned. We didn't spent too much time there, gazing more at the vintage cars than at the event, and started towards our next destination Liechtenstein (Official Homepage of Liechtenstein ).

a small independent principality between Switzerland and Austria. This little place in the Rhine valley houses the huge mass of 33,000 people on an area of 160 square kilometers. Even an American might mock that Liechtenstein is no bigger than a fair-sized Texan ranch, I wouldn't dare to name this is a crowded place. Moreover you can return that joke by betting a month' salary that they won't find Liechtenstein on the map in less than 60 seconds. :)

The capital Vaduz has a stunning 5,000 inhabitants, almost. This suggests that it is not more than a small mountain village. But it isn't. It has everything of a city, luxury stores, restaurants, cafes, a theatre, a 14th century castle, a multistory Palmers store… All right. I'll stop here. If you didn't get it until now, that this is a nice place, you won't get it at all.

Liechtenstein's secret to wealth and success is its tax heaven status. Almost every big financial company, trusts and lots of multinational corporations have an affiliate company here. So if you walk through the streets it's normal to see ten or so company signs at a normal family house.

Being quite a bit impressed we walked towards the 14th century castle where the principal family is still living. That's also the reason why it is completely closed to public. Anyway, you can have a nice view over the city, pardon village, from there. By the way, guess what agriculture means in Liechtenstein? It seems to be equal to growing wine in your extensive garden. Yeah, they know what life is about.

And surprisingly, I found here was the accumulation of people with the family name Beck. There is a Beck taxi company, a Beck bakery, a Beck architect and so on. Even some street are containing my family name. Stefanie told me beck means baker in Swiss German. So this may be the origin of that name. Anyway, it's a bit strange that so many of them flocked together here.

In the afternoon we went back, not beck (what a hilarious joke), to Constance, driving again through wonderful Switzerland which still looks like a model train scenery.

Wednesday, August 28, 2002

Update II
I finished Lance Armstrong's book Tour des Lebens (English title: It's Not About the Bike), which I got from Katrin by mail some weeks ago. His style of writing is far too much patriotic and the German translation a disaster. Anyway, the story is moving and you certainly experience a different perspective on life. You can find a full German review on my website.
By the way, I got the letter of refusal from Lufthansa some days ago. It consistet of a simple and plain letter just 8 lines long inlcuding my application folder. How sensative. That forces me to enjoy my time instead of going to work. Oooh, how poor I am. :)

Sunday, August 25, 2002

Delicious dinner experience
For today, I am soooo hungry. All day I was looking forward to my delicious dinner, I have nice meat in the fridge. But at 7pm the case of emergency entered. Booooooze! Electricity turned off!

I went to the hall and watched out for the fuse box. I closed the circuit again and...boooze! Something was wrong, really wrong. I tried to close the individual circuits of my apartment and found out the one with the problem. Looking on circuit diagram, which was luckily showed within the box, I found out that the problem must be with my electric kitchen stove. I protracted the jack and closed all circuits again. booooze came. Everything was in perfect order. Except that my hot, delicious evening dinner became a cold bread and cheese meal. :(
Hamburg Fish Market
Yesterday I've been with Steffi to the fishmarket. It is one of Hamburgs attractions and on tour at the moment. It's a good mixture of selling shows and food stands. Banana-Fred, Eal-Kai and some others were showing off their selling talents. It was funny to see again, but the food stands were much too expansive in my opinion.

Saturday, August 24, 2002

Ebay auction
If you should need an altimeter for skydiving by chance, check out my site at ebay.
Again again again again again and again...
Hansa did win its match today, the third of three this season, the best start ever in its team history. Moreover it was the biggest away victory in the premier league with 4:0 goals. Absolutely unbelievable. I'm out of control!!!

Jolle going crazy (&copy 2002 by Johannes Beck)

Friday, August 23, 2002

Good or bad guy?
Germany is in the midst of an election fever. In mid September the question will be: Schröder or Stoiber? Schröder is the chancelor that leads our country since almost four years, taking over the reins from the former Helmut Kohl. I think it will be a close outcome between Schröder, the socialdemocratic party leader, and Stoiber, at the moment prime minister of Bavaria, and the leader of the conservative union. Schröder and Stoiber (&copy 2002 by cannot avoid the topic at the moment. Politics is everywhere, newspapers, magazins, TV, radio, street ads etc. A new trend is definitely touring the cities in big trucks or buses, every party has these coloured vehicles. Moreover the Green party has something special to offer, daily jogging with our foreign minister Joschka Fischer.

Another premiere is a TV discussion of both top aspirants this Sunday, like it is been known to Americans since years. For Germany this is really someting new.

Today I saw a report from NYC. A German TV reporter was interviewing passengers on the street about the election overseas, asking them the simple question: "What do you think about Gerhard Schröder?". The usual answer was: "Who?". Nobody knew the name of the German chancelor. Is nobody interested in international politics there? Or is the outside-America-knowledge of US citizens really as bad as the world assumes?

Maybe there is hope. Some of them did say more than "who". Here a short example:
Reporter: "What do you think about Gerhard Schröder?"
Passer-by: "Yeah, the Japanese one is good looking."
Reporter: "Koizumi?"
Passer-by: "Yeah, he is good looking."
Reporter: "But what about Schröder?"
Passer-by: "Oooh, who?"

OK, not that clever yet, but at least he knew the Japanese one. Another passer-by requested more information to evaluate "this Schröder". He was asking the intelligent question: "Is he a good or a bad guy?". Well, this sounds very much like typical American rhetoric. There's just good or bad. Bush is good, Saddam is bad, Great Britain is good, North Korea is bad. And Schröder is... Who is Schröder?

For all those Who-people I recommend the website of the American Institure for Contemporary German Studies (AICGS). They have an 2002 German election special informing you about the battle of "the Nordlicht (northern light) vs. the laptop leader in Lederhosen (Bavarian pants)", Schröder vs. Stoiber.

Thursday, August 22, 2002

Go to the result tables at SoccerAssociation.comHansa rulez
What a phantastic start into the season. After two rounds my soccer club, the FC Hansa Rostock, is on second place in the German premier league called Bundesliga, followed by Schalke 04 and FC Bayern Munich. The first match in Munich was won with 2:0 as well as the second match at home against 1.FC Nuremberg. Hansa Rostock, which was long time the only first class club from East Germany had always problems to stay in the premier league. But now the hope for a better season has been aroused by these first results. If we can win the coming Saturday match in Cottbus against the second Bundesliga team from East Germany, it will be a record start in the clubs history. Let's hope for it!

If you're interested in soccer you better visit as they provide results from all major leagues worldwide and also show interesting club statistics. Hansa's players are an average 26-year-old ethnic mix of 8 countries whereas 14 are coming from Germany and 6 from Sweden. Why so many Swedish players? Well, I guess they're very good and quite cheap on the transfer list. But if you count for the fact that parts of Mecklenburg, the North-German state Rostock is situated in, has once been under Swedish rule (from 1648 til 1805), the close relationship might be just natural. Sometimes Mecklenburg is ironically called South Sweden.

FC Hansa Rostock Official Website (German)
Soccer Links:
Worldwide: Results
Bundesliga: Results, Squads
Hansa Rostock: Results, Squad, Statistics, Transfers

Wednesday, August 21, 2002

View from the 'Hoher Kasten' on the Saemtiser lake in Switzerland (&copy 2002 by Johannes Beck)
Work is progressing
I got up early - for my standards - and went to the library. From 3 pm I've been in the lab to work. I ordered my photos from the weekend yesterday and started to write. I'll finish it soon if I keep writing for some minutes a day. Here's a pic showing the sight we had during the hiking trip on Saturday, it's soooo beautiful.

We went along the whole left rim and then descended to a lake behind the lake you can see on the photo. From there we hiked down the valley passing the lake on the picture and continued to were we started in the morning.

Tuesday, August 20, 2002

Back in track
I came back Sunday late night and definitely needed some sleep. Today, the same as yesterday I was working on my thesis. If I find some time soon, I will give you a description of my hiking trip including some of the photos I made. I have been to the Alpstein-range near St.Gallen. There we climbed the "Hoher Kasten" and saw a sunset on the Säntis mountain. On Sunday we went to Vaduz, the small capital of Liechtenstein.

Now it's time to go home. Stay cool, Jolle!

Friday, August 16, 2002

So, stop working today. I have to get my rental car and organize some other stuff before leaving to Stuttgart. Saturday/Sunday will be hiking time, hopefully in Switzerland. Pfiat's Euch!

Thursday, August 15, 2002

Mariä Himmelfahrt
Enough of the floods. The weather here in Ingolstadt is sunny and hot. We have our summer back. But therefore Eastern Germany is sinking. It is already the worst flood there since 1845 and it's getting wors for at least 4 more days before it's North Germany's turn to be the victim of the water. So a lot more news coverage to come next week.

For me, I don't believe anymore in the Lufthansa job as 2 of our group have been selected already on Wednesday. Congratulations to Astrid and Natalie. I think I have to enjoy Christmas and New Year without work :). Today is a holiday in Bavaria called Mariä Himmelfahrt. Don't ask me what for, i'm not a Catholic. But I think it's good for me, so I won't complain.

Wednesday, August 14, 2002

We got our flood, too!
The situation got worse but at least the rain stopped so that the situation will ease soon. In Ingolstadt nothing happened to the city because they flooded the recreational area around the artificial lake, the Baggersee. The whole area is is a river lake now. We tried to go further into the area, but the current was too dangerous that we had to turn around. I hope there won't be too much damage as the whole area has just been valorized in the last years, with beaches, table-tennis, beach-volleyball-fields and so on.
On the photo below you can see me in this area near the original lake.
Jolle in flooded Ingolstadt (&copy 2002 by Johannes Beck)

Monday, August 12, 2002

Old district of Passau (&copy 2002 by ddp)Europe under water
It was raining the whole night, so I went to the danube river in Ingolstadt today. Some waterside paths are flooded, but it's not really critical here in Ingolstadt as we have two weirs near the city where they can control the water level of the river. Other cities in Bavaria and Austria have more to stand. On the left photo you can see the old town district of Passau where I have been some weeks ago. It's already flooded and the worst is still to come. They expect a water level of 10,50 metres, the highest in over fifty years.

Even worse is the situation in Austria where some villages are cut off by flooded streets or mudslides as you can see at the pic below. In South Russia more than 50 people died already in the newest floods. Let's hope the weather is getting better. We want our summer back.
Flooded Rottenengg in Austria (&copy 2002 by ap Associate Press)

Sunday, August 11, 2002

Another rainy summer Sunday
Not a weather to go out in the park, so Stefanie, Christiane and me went to the cinema for watching "Buena Vista Social Club". I love the soundtrack but I didn't see the movie up to now. It's a great one and the old Cuban musicians are unique and show such a positive attitude towards life. At the end when they visited New York and staged at Carnegie Hall it was just moving to see them fulfilling a dream. These people are really legends.

Later we went to a bar. My order was balck tea with rum and a piece of Sacher cake. Delicious. The way back home was even more wet than before, but I like cycling in the rain.

Saturday, August 10, 2002

The Friday-Frankfurt-Day
The day started early around 4 am. I tried to get awake and went by car to Nuremberg airport. Because they told me to be at the check-in one hour before departure I was there at 6 o' clock. They told me I can also take the 6:20 plane. Aha, check-in and boarding can also be done in 20 min. So next time I'll know this and can sleep a bit longer. I landed in Frankfurt an hour too early, so I took some time to relax before walking to gate 21, the visitor entrance. I had to deposit my drivers licence and changed it into a visitor sign. With that I went to the right building 303, 5th floor where approximately 20 other applicants have been wainting already for entrance. We were lead to a waiting room and I got into small-talk with 2 other guys. Later some others including a German girl studying in Maastricht, Henriette, and another German girl named Astrid joined in. They all seemed very easy-going and nice people.

A bit later half of the crowd was lead away, they were applicants for check-in. So we were just ten people for today's Fly-Along-Agent assessment round. It started all with an introductory presentation of the Fly-net project, made by 2 people of the project staff, 2 psychologists from the recruiting department as well as an American working for Connexion (a Boeing company). We were told the details of the project, our tasks, the conditions, the incentives as well as the schedule for today. Following the presentation was a 2 1/2 hour computer based test including the typical questions from which they hope to gain some insight knowledge of the applicant. I don't believe too much in these tests, but anyway, I think I'm not the worst in this, so I don't mind.

After that I went for lunch with Henriette and Astrid. Then we went back to the waiting room. Now it was a much more relaxed mood. We were all talking and joking. It wasn't a bit a competitive situation. It was all very friendly so that I wasn't nervous at all. I was really relaxed. If you looked a bit closer at the people, they were all quite different. People from different nations, people with different mother tongues, in ages ranging from 21 to the late 30's. And people with completely different backgrounds and education. It was interesting to see, but that was also the reason that nobody of us really knew, what person they were looking for.

After a while we were divided in two groups for a team-work-assessment. We had to sit around a table and were given a some handicraft task and a manual. Around us the assessment troika (psychologist, fly-net, Boeing) took notes of our behaviour. So we divided the 2 handicraft tasks and somebody read what should be done. It was a quite difficult work and I think we didn't act that organized. But at least Astrid finished one of the tasks succesfully in time.

The rest of the afternoon we chatted waiting for our individual interviews with the assessment troika, lasting around 45 minutes each. I had mine around 5 pm. It went better than I expected. I could answer most questions and my English was fluent. Definitely I could have done better, but you're never that cool in front of 3 people trying to get something out of you. I found the day interesting. And even if the chances of being selected are small, I learned a lot today.

Back in the airport I found that a plane just left and the next one gav me 3 hours time. So I called Marc and we met in the city centre of Frankfurt to eat some Pizza. The next table was taken by a Chinese group. Oh my god, their behaviour reminded me so much of Korea. It was nice to see. Frankfurt may not be a nice city, but it's definitely an international place which makes it interesting enough to live in.

My plane departed at 9:10 pm and the clouds had vanished which ermöglichte a night view of the city. I came to Ingolstadt around 11 pm and went to Kai to return his car. I met him in a beer garden with some friends.

...nothing special on Saturday. Just another visit to the beer garden and a lot of rain...

Friday, August 9, 2002

I came home in the afternoon at Thursday and - see see - the letter from Lufthansa has arrived. I have an interview in Frankfurt at 8:45 the next morning. That means getting up a little after 4 am to get a plane in Nuremberg. Thanks to Kai who gave me his car, no train is going there that early.

Now guess what I left home on Wednesday. The thing I need most tomorrow, my passport. There was no way to get it til Friday morning, so my parents faxed it. Thanks again. I hope this will work at the airport. If not, I'll be the fool of the week, I guess.

Now I better go to bed. Otherwise the first thing in the morning will be the sight of an alarm clock showing 9 am or later. Wish me luck for the interview.

Wednesday, August 7, 2002

Just in time
On Tuesday I went to the city centre to buy a present for my uncles birthday and got the biggest teapot ever seen. Hope he'll like it. Later I got my hair made and in the evening I went skating with my mom in our village.

At midnight I drove to my cousins in Schwerin and we sat on their terrace for some hours chatting before I went home to get 2 hours sleep. At 5 am I had to get up again in order to get my train to Ingolstadt. It was a nice journey as the trains haven't been so full and I had a long sleep from Hamburg to near Ingolstadt. I was also glad to find my flat so clean and orderly. Normally when I arrive it's all chaos and disorder.

Since 3 pm I am sitting in the lab and "work".

Tuesday, August 6, 2002

Tuesday morning blog
I called Lufthansa right now as they didn't send a letter yet. They told me I am invited but they still don't have a date yet. So I'll return to Ingolstadt tomorrow morning to be on time for work.

PS: The sun is back. Let's go out!
Monday killing trip
Following another night of fighting for Egypt I woke up pretty early to bring my mom to her work in the hospital because I needed the car for the day. At noon my granny went to the train station to return to Thuringia and I left for Rostock. It's about an hour drive through villages with beautiful avenues as well as on the brand new Baltic Sea freeway.

I ate lunch in the old hanseatic city centre which seems to change its face every time I come here. There has been done so much restoration and construction work since my family left Rostock eight years ago. It's fascinating.

A little later I picked up my cousins Friedemann and Christian which both study here and we went to Warnemünde at the Baltic Sea. It's the mid of summer and the only time I'll be here for this year so I wanted to go swimming, no matter what. The sea was around 19 to 20°C and therefore warmer than the outside. So we stayed in the water for quite a while. It's been so nice. Then the rain stopped and we went to the pier at the old harbor to eat something.

Later I brought them back home and went to my grandparents in the southern part of the city. I stayed with them til 11pm watching photos, eating and talking. Then I hit the road to go back to Wittenförden.

Rescued toad (&copy 2002 by Johannes Beck)As soon as I left the freeway it was a terrible drive. I couldn't see much as the highways in this rural area are ligned by trees on both sides and are therefore very dark. Moreover it was raining and the toads (or frogs) have been on their way to somewhere. There have been thousands of them bouncing over the highway and you couldn't avoid killing dozens of them. It's an awful feeling to be such a cruel killer. But what can you do!

We also have lots of toads getting lost in our basement and dying for lack of water and food. But from time to time we find these cute animals early enough and rescue them like the little one on the picture which was taken seconds before his return to freedom on Sunday evening.
Sunday: Photo session IIFlower in our garden (&copy 2002 by Johannes Beck)
It hasn't been much different today, except for the weather which was not that sunny anymore. I took some more photos, Teresa still wanted to win this board game (and won every 7th game), we ate a delicious apple cake made by granny and played badminton in the rain. In the evening we had one of my favorite snacks, Hawaii Toast.

So all in all, it's been a nice and relaxing weekend.

Saturday, August 3, 2002

Caesar vs. Cleopatra
Butterfly in our garden (&copy 2002 by Johannes Beck)On Saturday we made a family day, getting up late and staying in the garden all day playing badminton, taking photos of flowers and butterflies as well as trying out a new board game called "Cesar vs. Cleopatra". It's a strategy card game for 2 people with a lot of strategy but also some amount of luck in it.

This plant on the picture has dozens of butterflies at all times on it. They seem to love it. The photo with the bee is taken in the garden. I wanted to try my macro function and it worked out pretty well I think.

In the evening my mom and me went inline skating at the industrial park in our village. There is a nice and straight street going downhill where you can gather quite a lot of speed. The nigth was under the shadow of Cesar's and Cleopatras's war in Egypt. Teresa didn't want to stop as she was losing most of the times.
Flower and bee in our garden (&copy 2002 by Johannes Beck)

Friday, August 2, 2002

Hitchhiking Report
I went to the autobahn (freeway) on my rollerblades at noon and put my thumbs up. It took less than a minute to find the first driver who took me some miles to the next filling station. From there I went with 2 Portugese construction workers and a dozen techno tapes to Bayreuth where I changed into a car with two army sergeants from Lower-Saxony. With them I survived some havy traffic before I was picked up by a guy who went home from his job in Bayreuth.

My fifth driver was a grandpa from Berlin who wanted to pick up his granddaughter some miles off Hamburg. He dropped me at the right freeway exit. Than I had again much more luck than expected. I found a man living in my village who brought me home.

The whole way took me a little less than nine hours, no record, but not that bad either because we had 3 traffic jams on the way. Even I had to change the cars five times, my overall waiting time was not even an hour. Hitchhiking is definitely easy, safe and cheap.

Now I am home again. Moreover my granny from Thuringia is on visit for the first time in more than 10 years.
Night Talk
Yesterday afternoon I fell asleep in the library before going home. The evening ended in the same way as the day before, drinking wine and playing a board game with friends. After midnight a discussion about different society models arose, getting hotter as time passed. There's a lot to argue between business and history students. Now that they are gone I will pick up my stuff to hit the road as early in the morning as I can.

Thursday, August 1, 2002

Wake up
Got up at 8, took a long shower and snatched up my things. Went to the computer lab by nine to start "work" - puuh! The morning is nothing for me, definitely. Maybe it was also the bottle of wine Kai and me shared last evening.