Day 1: Now entering Germany
Now when I awoke I was in Germany. The country looked extremely beautiful and peaceful, with huge expanses of quaint farmland and red-roofed villages near the rivers. Unfortunately we had to jump on a train in Frankfurt, so I only had a small taste of outside air and sunlight. The train was really cool and unlike any one I had ever been on before, with a modern, clean, conservative, wood interior and bubble-like privacy compartments that apparently on Stefanie, Bianca, Michael, Ryan and I got to use.
After a series of connecting trains, we made it to our first stop in Europe, the headquarters of a German-based engineering corporation, ABB, who helped to cover some of the costs of the trip for the group. We were completely jet-lagged by the time we were met by William, a tall older man with big round glasses who used to work for the company and helped us connect up with them. He took us through a path in the forest, which looked like he was taking us to Jurassic Park or something.
We started off with a meal in their cafeteria, which was light and tasty. We then went to a presentation that explained more about the company, which is a global corporation that handles many aspects of energy transport and new technologies for industry and manufacturing, and is a multi-billion dollar corporation. Although the presentation was rather interesting, many of us had to try very hard to stay awake, because of the jet lag. After a tour of the main building and a few demonstrations, we met up in the robotics laboratory, where we had a chance to witness the new manufacturing robots that can safely interact with humans.
After a few more trains, we made it to Heidelberg, our final destination; we grabbed some taxies to the hotel, which was awesomely located in the heart of the old town, right on the river and next to the famous bridge with the bronze baboon statue. There were four other guys sharing my hotel room, but we each had our own bed. We had a little time to explore Heidelberg before we headed off for our first German dinner, which was appropriately in a "biergarten." The food was amazing (I had stuffed pasta covered in baked cheese), and everyone left with a full stomach. After dinner we were free to do as we wished, so we went out to explore the city.