Münster is only an hour train ride away from Essen. Outside the main station was a bike parking lot where hundreds of bikes were chained to rows of long bike racks. I saw more bikes probably in that area than I did when I went to Amsterdam, and the Netherlands are known for bicycles. Hannah, one of the tutors, told us that Münster is the bike capital of Germany. According to http://www.muenster.de, bikes constitute 37.6% of the traffic in Münster, while cars are only 36.4%. They even have a "bicycle highway" going in a circle through the city, and over one thousand bikes use the highway an hour. The city has a little less than 300,000 citizens, yet there are 500,000 bikes in Münster. They even have a special set of fines for them.
- Cycling along cycle paths in the wrong direction: 15 euros
- Using a mobile phone while cycling: 25 euros
- Cycling "hands-free" or with headphones or ear plugs: 10 euros
- Cycling at night without lights: 10 euros
- Cycling through a red light: 125 euros, and one month’s driving ban
- Cycling with a blood alcohol level of 1.6: disqualification from driving (http://www.muenster.de/en/bicycles.php)
The city center features cobblestone streets and sandstone buildings ornamented with pillars and archways. I imagined that some of the buildings would have been at home in Italy.
Not that I have any opinions on the use of violence by and for religions.
That was a bit of a problem because earlier that day I went to the ATM I found out my account was frozen. I searched my wallet and found $11 in American money. Thanks Irony--you're a jerk. I went to a bank to try to get it converted to euros, but found out you need a German bank account for that. Instead of getting frustrated with my situation I said, "I won't let you steal my joy!" (I love using that quote, Brandon.) I decided to go home early, eat, and ask my mom to call the bank for me. There was nothing else I could do, so why worry about it? Another success of positive thinking!
Melissa and Perrin also went home early because the weather was a bit dreary. After we got to the train station rain was falling in sheets. We felt sorry for the people who had decided to stay in Münster and decided we had definately made the right choice. Melissa invited us to her room to be girly and paint our nails. I didn't mention that the last time I tried painting my toe nails they looked as if I had glued ground beef to them. Needless to say, they did not remain painted for very long.
I did not end up making it to Melissa's room while they were painting nails because I ate and texted Mom about the bank. Afterwards, I visited with Melissa and Perrin until Melissa had to skype with her boyfriend. So, Perrin invited me to have dinner with her. She had made some soup the day before and she doctored it up with potatoes to make it thicker. While the soup cooked I went down and skyped with Mom about the my situation; thankfully she was able to unfreeze my account within the hour.
I was quite cheerful when I returned to Perrin's kitchen, and I have to say my taste buds were quite happy when they tasted her soup. I was very impressed with her cooking skills. I'm definitely going to have to recreate it! While we ate we talked about our countries, how the world viewed them, and our personal political views.
Perrin said that her sister had studied in the US a few years ago and whenever she told someone that she was from Belgium they either had never heard of the country or they had no idea where it was. Seriously Americans? If you know anything about World War II you should know where Belgium is.
We also talked about Obamacare, which was a fascinating conversation. She said that Belgium people have no idea why Americans don't want universal healthcare, because they are so happy with theirs. Apparently the Belgian government even gives stipends to every family to assist in providing basic needs. While some families take advantage of this, the majority of the citizens are hard-working and use the money for its intended purpose.
From everyone I have talked to--Australian, Belgium, and German--none of them understand America's phobia of universal healthcare. To them it is completely illogical. The question they always ask is "Why would people not want it? Especially if many of them can't afford to pay for health insurance." When I was talking to Adam von Wald he said that German healthcare is excellent. So all the people from those countries are very pleased with their healthcare.
I am not publishing my views, just those of everyone I have talked to about this. Sharing the opinions of the people I meet is a major reason as to why I am writing this blog.
Well, we have reached the end of the post. I have a question for anyone who has made it this far: Should I post some recipes such as Perrin's soup and a Palestinian dish Ward made for me? Let me know in the comments below. I prefer if you comment on the actual blog so that anyone who does not have me on Facebook can read your insights and opinions. But I never turn down comments, so just post wherever is most convenient for you.