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

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Day 10-Tuesday... Munich Area!

After the relaxing visit to the Eagle's Nest and Salzburg, we were ready for some more learning! The first stop today was to the Technical University of Munich, which was right up the road from the hotel. We started off with a few lectures on the starch research and analytical testing done at the University. We also got to tour a variety of labs at the University including those use for analytical baking analysis, mycotoxin detection and even equipment used to detect the different aromas found in bread! The amount of analytical testing going on was crazy and since they tend to work with such small sample sizes they had a miniature baking line! After the trip to the University we headed over to the Rosenmuhle owned by Kampffmeyer. This processed both wheat and rye into flour. Again, this was a state-of-the-art mill and one of the finest mills in all of Germany! One of the most interesting parts of the mill tour was seeing the automated system for truck unloading (of wheat or rye) and loading (flour). The system was completely automated and cleaning and filling was ran with the highest precision.
After our tours of the University and Rosenmuhl, we headed back to the hotel. After a quick pit-stop at the hotel, we ventured up the road to the Weihenstephan Brewery, also known as the oldest brewery in the world! Unfortunately, our tour of the mill took too long and we were unable to tour the brewery but we were able to have supper. And as always the beer was great and the food was even better! I had the traditional pub sausages with German potato salad!

Monday, May 28, 2012

Day 9-Monday... Munich Area!

Today's adventure began with a 2+ hour car ride to the Eagle's Nest near Berchtesgaden, Germany. The Eagle's Nest was a private retreat given to Hitler on his 50th birthday. Getting to the Eagle's Nest proved to be a little more difficult then anyone intended. 2 vans were required to transport everyone to the Eagle's Nest, while the 3rd van headed in the opposite direction to check out Ludwig's Castle. The fastest route to the Eagle's Nest required a short, but expensive, jaunt through Austria. Apparently, the Austrian Autobahn is a toll road and if you do not stop to pay the toll, prior to entering Austria, a 120 euro fine is handed out by a 'friendly, English-speaking' Austrian once you cross that border. That was interesting, but nevertheless we persevered! We finally found our way up the winding roads of the Austrian Alps to the bus stop that takes you the rest of the way up to the Eagle's Nest. It is required to take a bus since it is a one-way road past the bus station. Once you make the journey up on the bus, to a small landing area, a short 2 minute elevator ride takes you up the final distance. The elevator ride was very short, the line to get on the elevator was very long! But at least we were out of the rain. The view once we got off the elevator was spectacular!! A short hike up a little higher and the view was even more breath-taking!
View of the Alps along the trip to Berchtesgaden

Sweet car we saw at the train station

View from the top of the Eagle's Nest

Me with the gorgeous view behind

The Eagle's Nest, from the bus drop off

Bus drop off, through the tunnel was the elevator to the top

The clouds starting to roll in

Motorcycle parking at the Eagle's Nest. Notice the trike with the 2 wheels in the front? Interesting!
Dave and Adrian at the top of the Eagle's Nest

Snow at the top!


Kyle posing

After we finished up at the Eagle's Nest we began the journey back to Freising, with a pit-stop in Salzburg, Austria for some shopping!! Salzburg is the birthplace of Mozart and also the setting for 'The Sound of Music'. Today is a religious holiday in Germany so pretty much all the shops (except a few souvenir shops) are closed. We were hoping they didn't celebrate this holiday in Austria, but no such luck! We did find a flee-market type event going on along the Salzach River, so we checked that out! After a little shopping we found a cozy little Greek restaurant and had a wonderful supper before heading back to Freising.
Map of Salzburg, in case we got lost

Amazing amethyst ring I want!

Just chilling along the Salzach River

Some authentic Greek beer with dinner

Orzu shots, compliments of our waiter

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Day 8-Sunday... Munich!!!

Since we will be spending the next several days in Freising/Munich area at the same hotel, it's time to do some laundry. We've been in Germany/Switzerland for 7 days and my clothes were definitely in need of refreshing! We got very lucky and the hotel we are staying at has a laundry service, so for 3 euros they'll wash whatever you can fit in the designated laundry bag. I fit quite a bit in there... 1 pair of jeans and over half a dozen t'shirts. What a deal! No need to find a laundromat to do our own. I think everyone wanted in on the good deal so we were told we get either breakfast in the morning or our laundry finished! Luckily, she was only joking and we had both a delicious waiting for us at 7:30am but the majority of us had clean clothes waiting for us! Even if we had to sort through the pile to find our own belongings, I'd say by this point in time we're almost family! A few had some wrinkly clothes but Kyle promptly took care of that for us!
Kyle getting his ironing on!
Today we started off with a tour of Dachau Memorial. Dachau was the basic model for all concentration camps during the Nazi rule. The majority of the SS barracks have been turned into a museum telling the story of Dachau and how it came to be. Dachau was the first concentration camp opened by the Nazi and was built on an old ammunition's factory. The camp was opened in March of 1933 to house German nationals being held for political reasons. After the rise of Hitler and the Third Reich the camp was used as a prototype and model of how concentration camps should be operated. The camp was originally designed to hold roughly 5,000 prisoners but it was soon realized that it was not large enough, so construction by prisoners took place to expand the camp's capacity. The camp was divided into 2 areas, the camp area and the crematorium. The camp area consisted of 1 very large building that housed the administration and SS barracks (that was later used to house the museum), the large open area (used for prisoner roll call during operation) and then a few of the 69 prisoner barracks were left standing. The stone foundation outlining the prisoner barracks could be seen and lead up to the crematorium area. While touring through the museum, an abundance of poster boards, in English, explained the store of the Dachau. Halfway through the museum was a movie, which I watched in Italian. The English translation was not needed, the pictures and videos shown in the film needed no explanation. I wasn't able to make it to the crematorium because I ran out of time. It was a very sobering experience and I really wished we would have been able to spend more time there.
Entrance gate into Dachau-"Hard work will set you free"
View of the prisoner barracks from the entrance

Memorial in the center courtyard

Map of concentration camps

Prisoner uniform and locker 

Area where prisoners were brought in

Memorial in the courtyard

Another memorial in courtyard

Outside view of building that housed museum

View of inside of prisoner barracks, sleeping area

Common area in prisoner barracks

Bathroom/shower room in prisoner barracks

Remaining foundation outlines of prisoner barracks
that had been removed, crematorium in the distance

Building over entrance of Dachau

Building that houses the museum

After the sobering experience at Dachau, everyone was ready to lighten the mood with at trip to Munich. We ventured to the city center of Munich via a quick 45 minute train ride. The first stop in Munich was the Hofbrauhaus for a beer and lunch! This Hofbrauhaus is the iconic location for celebration during Oktoberfest. And of course when in Germany, do as the Germans do and we started with a 1L glass of Pils!
Yummy and so refreshing!
Cheers Adrian!!
Just to give you a little perspective, the beer was
bigger than the table decoration!

After a delicious lunch we set off to explore Munich. We wondered our way around and found some very interesting sights and some very old buildings. We also ventured all the way over to the English Gardens to see some local dancing take place. After our stroll around Munich, we were parched and stopped by another pub for a beer. After re-hydration, we continued exploring but made a final stop back at the Hofbrauhaus for one last beer and some dessert!
Courtyard area outside Hofbrauhaus


Of course there's a Hard Rock Cafe next door

Banquet room in the Hofbrauhaus

P. Kitty and K. Pitty making friends with a street mime

Baller ride!

Amazing looking old building
with a huge Cuckoo clock!

Naturally, they have a Tiffany&Co, too bad it was closed!

And a sample of another local Pils

Fun building we found

Porta-potties right in the middle of the town square,
because when you gotta go, you gotta go!

English Gardens

A friendly fountain found along the way

Another Hofbrauhaus original to end the day!!

Funky elevator buttons at the hotel!