Monday, June 4, 2012

Day 16- The Journey Back to Kansas!!

Well after sightseeing around the Black Forest Region and a wonderful dinner in Dr. Maier's home town, we were all ready to head back to the States. After dinner, the packing party began! Amazingly, I almost fit all my stuff in my suitcase... Except for my old purse (since I wanted to carry home my fancy new one) and my coat! Kyle graciously offered to take on my old purse and coat as padding for his suitcase. Before you knew it I was up at 3am (local Villingen time, Kansas time 8pm Sunday night) and attempting to get ready to head to the airport in Zurich. Apparently, at the hotel we stayed at they shut off the hot water so I took by far the coldest, quickest shower I have ever taken in my life. I was packed and ready to go by 3:30am, which was kind of a bummer since we weren't leaving for the airport until 4:30am! April and I were waiting, with our luggage, in the hotel lobby by 4am and scavaging around for lights and any breakfast leftovers. Luckily, the hotel owner showed up shortly after to rescue the day and turned on the coffee machine! Next thing we knew we were off on a rainy drive to Zurich! The van drivers dropped us off at the door and turned the rental vans back in quickly. A rather awkward trip through Delta pre-security, ticketing and baggage check, where my suitcase was 5kg over! I managed to remove some papers from Buhler and souvenir cuckoo clocks to be underweight. We began our 20 minute walk to the gate but first swung through customs with no issues. We arrived at the gate with plenty of time to grab a bite to eat before the 9-10 hour flight home. The flight wasn't too bad and I was able to sleep a majority of the way, except for the occasional wake up for food!lol This plane wasn't as nice as the flight over as we didn't have our own person tv's but I was able to watch part of a couple of movies as I dozed off and on. Before we knew it we were in Atlanta! We were able to pick up our bags, go through US customs and re-check our bags in no time flat! The 5 hour layover was a little boring but there happened to be a Krystal's Burger stand right next to our gate!! The chicken sandwich sliders were just as amazing as the last time I had them on Bourbon Street at 4am! A slight flight delay and plane switch and we were off to KCI! It was quite a trip and I wouldn't trade the experience for anything!!! The faculty planning this trip did an amazing job and definitely kept us busy!!
Dave, Jen, April and P. Kitty patiently waiting in ATL

Beautiful flowers arranged by Jonathan, waiting for me when we got home!

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Day 15- Sunday... Sightseeing in the Black Forest!

So today started off pretty soggy and remained that way for most of the day. We started to day by going to the world's largest cuckoo clock! It was pretty interesting, we then headed over to the glass blowing museum. Sarah G was even so brave to blow her own glass vase! Very neat, next up some souvenir shops and the luge! The luge is basically go karts on a rail! It was so fun! Most of us road down twice!! And why not for only 1.30 euros! Next we did some more sightseeing around the area with a little shopping.

Kyle trying out some local apparel

Sampling the local schnapps and bitters

Dave playing digger at the luge

My speed racer for the first trip down the luge

Hard to see but that's the luge track

Cockoo clock!!

Motorcycle themed cockoo clock

Inside the world's largest cockoo clock!

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Day 14-Saturday... Villingen, Germany

After a relaxing night in Villingen, Germany, we headed out to do some sightseeing in the area. We started with a tour of one of the oldest flour mills in Germany! This mill has been in operation for over 500 years. It was run by monks but then was purchased by a local family and is still a family run business. To help grow the business the family added a bakery, which also supplies almost 20 other bakeries in the area with specialty breads and pastries. The view from the top of the mill was amazing! It was also really neat to see how a family run mill is operated and amazing to see how well the old equipment still runs! After a thorough tour of the mill we headed over to the bakery for a tour and sampling! We tried a number of amazing breads!
Top of the mill

Stream outside of the mill

The yummy baked goods we sampled!

After the mill and bakery tour we headed over to the farmer's market taking place in the city center of Villingen. Villingen was originally completely surrounded by a wall made of stones and house/buildings. As the town grew, people began building outside the wall, but inside the wall remains the lifeline of the town. Our hotel was just outside the wall! The farmer's market was amazing... We say a large variety of different fruits, vegetables, meats, cheeses and wine for sale, especially erdbeere and spargel (strawberries and asparagus). We wondered around the farmer's market but soon ventured out to the other shops on the hunt for Birkenstock sandals! We wondered all over and even found a Mexican restaurant, but no fun Birkenstocks. A little disappointing but kept some euros in our pockets! We did swing by the local grocery store to check out some flour prices and prices of other random items. We discovered it's cheaper to buy beer than water or soda/pop. I did purchase some schnitzel, jager schnitzel and hollandaise sauce packets to bring home for when I'm craving schnitzel!
1 kg bag of flour for 0.89 euro or
about 2 pounds for $1.11

2.5kg bag for 1.99 euro or
 about 5 pounds for $2.49

I'm not sure what type this is, but it's a lot cheaper

Can't forget the dog food, about
8 pounds for $12.48, ouch!

After a quick nap after the farmer's market a few of us headed over to a 'fair' that was in town. This wasn't your typical Iowa, Nebraska or Kansas State or County fair. It was very different, it was more like an expo with things for sale or on display that ranged from wood pellet stoves to solar panels to pots and pans to lawn tractors to kids toys. It was amazing all the stuff they had to see! I was most excited about the large, round bale wrappers and unwrappers... They were so cool! And would have been so nice to use for my research! Now I know why they have some many wrapped bales out in the fields (or as I called them bale marshmallows or I heard another call them dragon poop) of Germany and Switzerland! They also had beer gardens around every corner! So of course we sampled the local Pilsner!
Outdoor fire pit

Jacuzzi time!

Can't forget the John Deere with the mini deck

ZTR German style

Bale wrapper

Bale wrapper again

Bale unwrapper!!

Tonight the students were on their own! So, besides the protest of P. Kitty who wanted a kebap, we headed over to the Mexican Restaurant we spotted earlier, for supper. It was by far the most interesting Mexican food I've ever had. I had the enchilada sampler, which included a lima bean and peas enchilada, a shrimp enchilada and a ground beef enchilada all served with rice. It wasn't bad, it was just interesting! Next, we ventured over to an Irish Pub for some Guinness, which was very delicious. We continued on on our bar crawl to the next bar we found, we happened to be the only patrons but we had fun. Here Mark and Dave met up with us and decided we should probably head back to the Irish Pub, which was a good choice. After a few more beers we were ready to head to our home away from home!
Sarah M. even finished a beer all by herself with no help!

The prices were right!

Friday, June 1, 2012

Day 13-Friday... Buhler Visit in Uzwil, Switzerland

Today we loaded up the vans and headed toward Uzwil, Switzerland to visit the headquarters of Buhler. Buhler is the leading manufacturer of flour milling, chocolate production and pelleting equipment. We started the day with a presentation on all the areas that Buhler has a hand it. This includes commodity food handling, processed food handling, advanced materials, die casting, feed and renewable energy. The equipment they produce is amazing! And the research conducted in their pilot facilities is even more amazing! After a tour of the equipment manufacturing facilities, we headed over to Buhler's pilot scale flour mill, which is also used for teaching the Swiss Milling School students. Here, we got to have a hands-on approach and touch the wheat and flour as it was being milled into different fractions. We even got our very own Buhler hats and flour slicks! Again, we couldn't take any pictures, but the tours were amazing and I am really considering looking at Buhler more seriously when graduation time comes rolling around.

US flag (center) along with the Swiss flag and Buhler flags, welcoming us!


After a very informative tour of Buhler we headed a few kilometers over to the Minor chocolate factory, for some of the best chocolate in Switzerland and a self-guided tour of the chocolate making process! It was yummy!! After stopping for chocolate we were on the road again and headed back to Germany, where we would be spending the rest of our trip in Dr. Maier's hometown of Villingen. On our way, we stopped at the Rhein Falls to do a little sightseeing. The Falls and scenery were beautiful!
Rhein Falls

View from the top of the falls

Beautiful purple flowers!

Kyle making it rain petals!!

View from the bottom of the falls

After the quick stop at Rhein Falls we continued on to Villingen. After we quickly dropped off our bags at the hotel in Villingen we headed to a local Italian restaurant for supper and it was delicious!

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Day 12-Thursday... Sightseeing around Switzerland!

Today a couple of employees of Buhler, Tobias and Johannes, have so graciously decided to show us around the St. Gallen, Switzerland area! They were the best tour guides you could ask for! First we took a quick, educational stop at Switzerland's latest, state-of-the-art flour mill. This place was amazing and filled with all Buhler equipment! We couldn't take any pictures but it was pretty amazing! After that quick tour we made our way up the winding roads of the Alps toward Mount Saentis. Mt Saentis is the tallest mountain in Northeastern Switzerland and sits right at 2,502meters (or 8,209ft). Tobias treated us to a private cable car ride up to the top of Mount Saentis! The view at the top was breath-taking! We started our visit at the mountain top with a traditional Swiss dish for lunch, which included salad, schnitzel, but different than German schnitzel, it was pork loin wrapped in a dried meat and smothered with mushroom gravy all served with a side of veggies and spatzel followed with Swiss creme brulee, which was probably the best creme brulee I've ever had! Of course, we also enjoyed the local beer with lunch. After a very filling lunch, we headed outdoors to do some exploring. A large transmission tower and weather station are located on the top of the mountain as well. The clouds began to roll in so the spectacular view was limited, but still worth the trip!

Inside the cable car

View before we left in the cable car

View while going up

We made it to the top!

Transmitter and weather station

Transmission tower

The clouds moving in

Pretty purple flowers at the top

I could almost touch the clouds!

Snowball fight anyone?

The ride back down

View on the ride down

We made it down safely


Our lovely cable car

Nice wheels, Lotus anyone?

After our fill of the top of Mt. Saentis we headed back down on the cable car and headed over to the local cheese shop for some authentic Swiss cheese! Next, we were loaded up in the vans and headed to the scenic little Swiss town of Appenzell for some shopping!!! Finally, someplace with open shops for us to spend those euros! We stopped at the city center and made our way around all the shops. I found an amazing new purse that I just couldn't live without!! After a little bit of shopping and P. Kitty and Brian finding some ice cream, we headed back to St. Gallen via Tobias's 'short-cut'. This short-cut should have gotten us back to the hostel in 20-30 minutes but since we ended up getting lost it took over an hour to get back! Oh well... A quick pit-stop at the hotel, the purchase of a train ticket into the St. Gallen city center and we were ready for another dinner hosted by Buhler! Again, the food was phenomenal!

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Day 11- Wednesday... St. Gallen, Switzerland

Well our time in the Munich area has come to a close, today we make our way to Switzerland! We began our journey to St. Gallen, Switzerland to stop at the Swiss Milling School. The Swiss Milling School is located in the heart of St. Gallen, which is located between Lake Constance (which was beautiful) and the mountains of the Appenzell Alps, where Mount Santis, the tallest is located. At this point the group had lunch together, homemade pizza made by the baker of the test lab for the school and Buhler. The pizza was delicious along with a traditional Austrian pastry for dessert. A few members of the group, Kyle, Adrian, Sarah G, Dr. Madl and I headed west to the Zurich area to visit the Paul Scherrer Institute. PSI is a federal funded research facility that focuses on Matter and Materials, Human Health and Energy and the Environment. When the institute opened research was focused on nuclear science and physics research but has since broadened their research focus. We were given a short presentation of the highlights of the institute and then headed out to visit a few research labs. PSI houses the Swiss Light Source Synchrotron used as an electron accelerator used to produce x-rays to determine the structure and shape of materials, down to the nanometer size range. They also have a Spallation Neutron Source and a proton accelerator used for proton therapy, that has been found to be very effective for treating deep seeded tumors in human patients. We weren't able to see the synchrotron or various particle accelerators but we were able to see a full-scale solar concentrator that is used to conduct very high temperature chemical reactions. The solar concentrator is similar to a large conical mirror that works by focusing the sunlight into a small focal point. Enough solar energy can be concentrated to generate temperatures in excess of 3,000 degrees Celsius! At these temperatures, researchers were able to make lime and melt concrete blocks! It was indeed a very interesting facility to visit!

K-State in the house!!

Learning about fuel cells

Research bay

A fuel cell up close

How a fuel cell powers your car

Now that's a capacitor

Pellets made from grass and wood

Solar concentrator


After the visit to PSI we headed back to St. Gallen to meet up with the rest of the group for a dinner hosted by Buhler. Again, the hospitality was amazing and the restaurant picked by Buhler was amazing! I had some very delicious spatzel with chorizo, pork and a mushroom sauce followed by fresh strawberries in ice cream! After dinner, Gorges, an employee of Buhler took us out to a local bar/club. There we enjoyed a beer or two and met some locals. Well locals to the area, we meet a couple of guys from England, Germany, Switzerland and Austria that were all attending school in St. Gallen. One actually dated a girl from Kansas! And would be heading back to the states, to California, this summer to study finance at Berkeley. Small world! It was quite an adventurous night and got just a little bit better when we made our journey home! The hotel we were staying at was on the edge of St. Gallen and at the top of a never-ending hill! The hotel was also considered to be a youth hostel, so by the time we made it back the halls were filled with students, most younger than us! The sleeping arrangements were also dorm-style, a room with 2 sets of bunkbeds and a sink with the showers and toilets down the hall. Good thing I brought flip-flops! The shower/bathroom was even more fun with the automatic, motion detector lighting that couldn't detect when you were in the shower. Nothing like waving your arm out the shower door every 2 minutes to get the lights to turn back on! It was an adventure to say the least!lol
Church of St. Gallen

The sights on the way to dinner in St. Gallen