9.21.2011

updates and such



I can barely get a handle on the fact that I've been back in the States for two and a half weeks. This goes in both directions. I was still in Germany a month ago. I spent Labor Day weekend in London. And yet. And yet. And yet. It feels like I've been back much longer. I've stayed in 3 different places since being back and I'm getting tired. I couldn't sleep the other night and tried to count the different places I'd slept over the last 6 months in place of sheep. I lost count. Now I'm commiserating with a friend of mine about the difficulties of looking for a place to live when you don't currently live in that city. Don't be fooled by my complaining, though. I've managed to see a lot of people in the mean time and I'm looking forward to some fun and luxury next week. I'm the genius who made appointments for everything before I left: hair cut, massage, acupuncture, teeth cleaning (I actually like that) and a soccer game! Yay me! Throw in the awesome people I'm going to see and it's shaping up to be a fantastic time.

Happy day, all!

8.25.2011

I love the Alps and other tales.

Zugspitze vom Eibsee lounging view, 2
Zugspitze summit alpen fields

I, quite simply, love the Alps. This extends to pretty much all mountains, but some hold sway a bit more than others. And this little spot in the German Alps holds me. These are mountains that you can simply sit and stare at and have that be an activity in and of itself. Mountain rivers can hypnotyze me the same manner. I imagine that this is what Ocean people feel when they watch the endless waves crashing to shore (not really my thing). I will admit that I particularly love these mountains because they enable my love of nature without demanding hikes with heavy packs. Yes yes, I've been on multiple hikes in the Alps (both by walking up and taking a cable up to start) that had their challenging moments. But it's not hard. And then you turn a corner in the path and there's a rasthaus WHERE YOU EAT FOOD AND DRINK BEER up ON the mountain. Now that's a civilized hike! And I also really enjoy walking in mountains without worrying about bears and such. I'm a wimp like that, what do you want?

In other news, this little trip to the Alps was also the last one for my time on the Continent. Tomorrow I'm attending a fest, the Weindorf, in Stuttgart while Saturday and Sunday remain mostly up in the air. But I think I'll stick around close to my camp because on Tuesday I fly back to England. I'll have work for the week, then it's Labor Day weekend in London and my flight home to the States. Wow. Less than two weeks left. I'm particularly looking forward to London as Sunday shall be Sunday Funday with the intrepid Bernie, of Royal Wedding and A Very Jane Austen Day fame. I'll have to figure out some super touristy things for us to do. I'm talking things that any normal British person would be ashamed to do but for the fact that they got stuck with an American. The suggestion box is open.

Finally, to answer your question EM, you can find my pictures on my flickr site. All the bits of my trip are basically organized by location/event for you to pick and choose.

8.12.2011

SLIPPER! Updates

warning: SLIPPER

So... it's been some weeks since I last updated my blog. And I must say, I've used that time well. The sis came over and we did some general hanging about in Germany and then headed for the blue skies and clear water of the Cyclades and the land of Zorba: Crete. I have this compelling urge to write my impressions and observations served up in little anecdotes, but that would take entirely too long and be entirely too boring. So I cheat. I make list... it shall contain at least one bit of useful information:
  • everyone has a doppelganger in the world and your doppelganger has a Greek counterpart. Fact.
  • avoid islands where cruise ships dock... someone should have told us this.
  • my sister accused me of being tan. then she looked closer and said, "oh. nevermind."
  • good things happen when you avoid large towns.
  • eventually magic happens when you keep ordering new things.
  • you really can eat that many tomatoes, cucumbers, and feta.
  • feta ain't the only cheese in Greece.
  • I don't watch enough sunsets; or, clearly Greek islands lend themselves to sunset watching.
  • night ferries that save you the cost of a hotel one night really aren't worth the drain on your system.
  • for all the island beauty I'm still a mountain kind of nerd.

Speaking of mountains, I'm now slightly further south in Deutschland. This means, of course, that I'm that much closer to the Alps. I have grand plans. Hopefully this weekend I can attend the Zwiebel Fest in a nearby town, next weekend I'll be in the Alps (still deciding between the German Alps I know and love and the slightly further away & more expensive Swiss Alps), and finally there's the Weindorf in Stuttgart in two weeks. After that I go back to England and soon home to the States. That's it, people. Time is ticking by, three weekends here in Germany and one in England. But I've already got big plans for that, so no worries there. I may as well take this opportunity to announce that I'll see the Women's National Team for the 3rd time this year when they play Canada in Portland. Get your tickets while you can! Woot!

Have a great weekend. Over and out.

7.20.2011

Swim


Or don't. But more on that later. It's in the low 60s with a light drizzle at the moment and my mantra changes by the day: only X more days until Greece. I was chatting with my friend from Sweden about how I finally understand why people go crazy and travel to sunny, hot places to expose their pasty white bodies to the sun and she succinctly replied, "you turn into fungus if you don't get sunshine." One way or another I'm getting to that sunshine. I'm hoping, however, that at no point do I need to do what Google Maps instructs when travelling from China to Taiwan... check out #48 on the image above. Thank you Google Maps for putting a smile on my face after a long day of work.

That is all.

7.17.2011

tonight.

Things of interest; with such problems as these; or is that with such friends as these? No matter. I offer some snippets form the past week:
  1. I'm currently drinking coffee out of a mug that reads, "Atheist Wine Club - Celebrating 'life before-death.'"
  2. I'll marvel at my own purchasing power when I return to the States in September, the US dollar to US dollar conversion being what it is.
  3. The church bells, they ring. Really, it never ends.
  4. I get to go watch the US play Japan in the Women's World Cup final. This is indescribably rad for a whole mess of reasons.
  5. Ferry schedules will be understood! I have to go to what island to get to which island?
  6. Less than a week until the sister arrives.
  7. The "New York Times" restrictions on the amount of articles one can view in a month could cut down on my ability to stay in the loop. Until one remembers to clear their cache and dump their cookies.
  8. Spotify comes to the US! Embrace it friends! It's a great way to test-drive music. Think of it as the little booths or headphones one used to find in your local music shop.
  9. 9 is a beautiful number.

7.09.2011

To Berlin!

berliner dom life imitating art? to the U-Bahn ceremony

Last Sunday I hauled my cookies to Berlin. Ah, Berlin. Berlin is a place I've wanted to go for quite some time, but it always seemed so far away. So very far away. Considering some of the places I've been (Budapest, Prague, Bratislava), this was a very silly thought. I figured it out, though: Berlin is just close enough. You always feel like you could go there. It is in Germany, after all. But when you start to examine the ways and means, the nitty gritty, the brass tacks, it all falls apart. Too far away for a weekend and too too (if you know what I mean) for an American Tourist kamikaze trip. I did well, though, with Berlin. For sundry reasons I opted to rent a car for the treck. I mention this only because I was stopped by the polizei on the way out of town for a "spot check" and asked if I'd been drinking. At 7:45 in the morning. I attribute the stop more to the Fest going on that weekend in town than to a lack of driving skills. Better yet, it was as if the polizei was my first checkpoint into Berlin. Because I drove through Checkpoint Charlie, the Checkpoint Charlie, and everything had to be in order. Never mind that 20+ years have gone by. I turned a corner following my GPS instructions and there it was: guard house, giant picture of a soviet soldier, and tourists everywhere. Welcome to Berlin!

I stayed in the historical center of Berlin, Mitte, and walked everywhere. Literally. I took two walking tours on the same day because there was just so much to see and learn. And Mitte had it all: the middle ages, Frederick the Great, Humbolt University (Marx, Engels, Lenin!), Cabaret, WWII, the Cold War, and reunification. This created quite the witches brew: bullet holes still riddled buildings from the Battle of Berlin; buildings returned to the Jewish Community waiting patiently for a new purpose; Soviet memorials to the Communists killed by Hitler next to unified German memorials; East German crosswalk signs (loved the ampellmann); and a community of people that embraced it all. I feel I should apologize for the lists, but I'm still trying to unpack it all.

I recommend a visit.

The excitement didn't end with Berlin! I made my way on Wednesday to Wolfsburg (home of the VW Bug) to watch the US play Sweden in the women's World Cup. The game itself was disappointing because we lost. There were missed opportunities, some panicking, and all the luck seemed to fall to the Swedes. But what fun was had. I sat alone in a sea of Swedes and Germans all rooting for Sweden. Alone I stood and cheered the amazing footsave in the first 10 minutes of the game by Hope Solo. Cheered the close calls, cheered the goal to pull it back within one, and applauded when the final whistle blew. That bit I wasn't alone. Those Swedes and Germans loved the outcome. That brings my tally of soccer matches up to two for the trip. Not bad at all.

Sadly I returned to reality on Thursday. Back to work. But it's fine. My sister arrives in two weeks time. We'll do a small amount of hanging out in Germany, but then it's off to the Greek Isles for 10 days. I don't consider myself a warm weather traveller. I do not seek the sun. I run from shade tree to shade tree. But I've had so much rain and cold weather this trip I can't wait for the Mediterranean sun and heat.

Have a great weekend, all!

6.30.2011

Oops.

I made a flippant Nazi remark while in public in Germany. Yeah. Oops. In other news, I'm back to picking up some random food item not available (or only limitedly available) in the United States. While in England I focused on candies, generally speaking. You know, all Cadbury has to offer. I do realize that you can get Cadbury in America, but it's not really the same. As an example, eating a Cadbury Egg before Easter didn't make me want to vomit. Other gems that I would heartily recommend: Jaffa Cakes and Reggae Reggae sauce.

My initial purchase was an item that looked like Cheetos Puffs and had the same texture but was peanut flavored, Erdnuss Locken. I am a peanut butter enthusiast. I start many of my days with peanut butter toast. Why not try the strange Cheetos-like German peanut chips? They were that unexpected good... the kind where you just keep eating them even though it's so. very. strange. This week, I decided to up the ante. I purchased the "Mexican Style" Erdnuss Locken. I'll admit, I was afraid. This should in no way surprise: there is no good Mexican food here. And why should there be? Anyway, I do get cravings for Mexican food and I have made Mexican food as well as I could with the options available to me. But here before me, in the small German grocery store in the small German village I am staying in, were two great loves combined! Mexican Style and Peanuts! I had to buy them! And the force of their goodness compelled me toward excessive exclamations of enthusiasm! No really. They were good. I'm not kidding. Think about other glorious peanutty-spicy combination much loved: pad thai, thai peanut curry, etc. Magic. All-in-all, a total win.

Mexican Style Erdn├╝ssen