Auf Wiedersehen!

21 11 2009
das woof

Does a German dog say Das Woof? Das Bark? Silly. Heading to the airport! Have a good weekend everyone (and watch my cousin Nathing on the field at the Texas game by the cannon)!





Mein letzter Tag in München

20 11 2009

This morning I woke up in Munich. It’s entertaining to wake up every night/morning and look around the room, smell the smells, hear the sounds, and then say “Where in the heck am I? Oh crud, what time is it?! Did I oversleep?!!” This has been me all week. It’s been such a whirlwind trip, but overall a really good experience.

I was so excited to wake up in Munich and know that I had more than 24 hours here to relax a little before the very long journey home as well as hopeful to see some sites in the daylight hours. My room this time has a view of the Autobahn.

sunrise over the autobahn

I ended up getting the chance to take a little bit of time off from work this afternoon did some sight seeing in Munich. I walked about 3 km into the city center where there is a ton of shopping, beautiful churches, and other interesting things. I enjoy walking so I can see a little bit of every day life where people live and work instead of right in the city center.

a little post office just outside the city center of munich

I got tired, and my feet (don’t judge, I’ve been on a trillion airplanes in the last 5 days) are so swollen that I decided to hop the U-bahn the rest of the way. One of the coolest things about old European cities is when amazing things are just plopped right in the middle of the modern world. I remember that feeling when we were in a taxi from the airport in Rome to our hotel. “Oh, hey, that’s some ancient Roman ruins. Oh, there’s the Colesium. No biggie.” 🙂 This is what I ran into on the way out of the Odeonsplatz U-bahn stop:

theatine church in odeonsplatz

feldherrnhalle in odeonsplatz

who is in charge at feldherrnhalle?

There are a lot of little shops, restaurants, cafes and offices along the walk way and then you approach the Opera House. Opera Houses in Europe are so grand and beautiful! 

munich opera house

 Then you sort of get lost taking pictures of statues. You forget where they were, you forget what they were about, but you still post them to your blog. Because they are so neat!

it will come to me. i'll remember. i promise.

 Do you remember my first night when I took a picture of a beautiful gothic looking building? It was in a wide open square with not much but a fountain and some benches in it. In three days it was transformed. Little booths were set up everywhere, lights were strung, stars were hung, and this town is ready for Christmas! Tomorrow, the Christmas markets open. Grrr. What ill timing on my part. Arrive just after Oktoberfest ends and depart just before the Christmas Markets open. Another excuse to come back with Scott.

Christmas market booths and neues rathaus

 This is Neues Rathaus or New City Hall, built in the late 1800s.

gothic revival architecture

As you can see, the flower stands have even started to get their Christmas wreaths in. The shopkeepers were unwrapping poinsiettas and putting them on display, the whole area was abuzz!

flower stands make me 10% happier

 There are tons of little storefronts with delicious looking displays. I think all of the little shops are so charming and personal.

dried and candied fruit shop

 This was the closest I could get to the little scene inside the tower at Neues Rathaus. It is several figures that dance around when the clock rings.

little scene in the tower at neues rathaus

The giant 88 foot Christmas tree will be lit tomorrow at 5pm to officially kick off the Christmas market.

88 foot tree dwarfed by the tower

There were several little butchers in a row. Steaks are a little pricier than at Costco.

little butcher shop - one of 7 or 8 on this road

Last picture of lovely Marienplatz. 

neues rathaus and frauenkirche looking westward

It’s been a crazy, crazy week, but a very fun one! I am going to meet a co-worker at a bier garten for my final night in Munich and hit the plane tomorrow. Thanks for reading.

Abschiedsmünchen, Polen und Rumänien. danke für Ihre freundliche Gastfreundschaft!




Nie mowie po polsku!

19 11 2009

Hello from Wrocław, Poland! Well, I’m cheating. I’m actually back in Munich, but I only just got here and took a bunch of pictures on my way to the airport in Wrocław. This city is one I would definitely want to return to on vacation. It’s charming, has a lot of culture, and the people are very warm (even as you attempt but butcher their language).

My hotel was just 1/2 block to the office, so I had some extra time this morning and wandered around a bit. I was located in the city center, a very modern business park with malls (Zara and H&M in the same mall, whoa…my pocket book is lucky I was there for only 18 hours) and beautiful office buildings. Then you happen upon scenes like the below. They almost feel abandoned and oddly peaceful (that could be my delirium from no sleep too though).

nothing to say about this

Driving in from the airport, I saw a lot of buildings that show what I had imagined Poland to look like. Huge, square, plain. Blah. But the closer you get to downtown, the more ornate and detailed the buildings become.

central wroclaw

The Wroclaw Opera House was built in the 1800s. That is relatively young for many of the buildings in Europe, but old to this person who lives in a city that is barely pushing 150 years old!

wroclaw opera house

We were watching tons of people set up the Christmas markets in town! I’m so sad to miss it, it looked promising for so many neat little purchases. The market is set up on the many cobblestone streets (no cars allowed) of Old Town. I took this picture of City Hall, in gothic brick.

fourteenth century wroclaw city hall

This is “Old Town” which is the historic part of the city. It is just a giant square of cobblestone streets where no cars are allowed and all of the buildings look like this. I’d say this was the equivalent of 20 city blocks? So cute.

old town wroclaw

The below set of buildings were by far my favorite.

charming, tall, and skinny. who me? ha!

But, somehow, they all seemed fake to me. I took a lot more pictures, but thought I would spare you guys from them.

evening in the square

This series of statues really caught my attention. I loved how it was done and how people just sort of walked through these frozen walking people. I took several pictures of the statues, but this one (that was going to be a throw away because of the lady) ended up being my favorite. The contrast of the older woman walking amongst the frozen people was perfect to me!

Update: This statue has been kind of haunting me all afternoon, so I did a little research. There are 7 people “emerging” from the earth as part of a full statue called “anonymous pedestrians” – representing fourteen people who disappeared during the introduction of Martial Law in 1981. The other 7 people in the statue are on the opposite side of the street – they go down into the earth. So much of the art in these two cities (Timisoara & Wroclaw) painfully represents the <insert word – it’s impossible to put this into words> life the people of these countries have led. Makes metake a step back and appreciate where and how I grew up. Blessed.

contrast

I am sitting in my hotel room watching Germany’s version of American Idol, eating goulash and having a Bitburger from room service. Life is pretty good. Especially since I’ll be here for more than 24 hours! Yippeeee! Hopefully more to come on Munich tomorrow evening.





Timişoara Day 2

18 11 2009

This morning, I woke up to a beautiful sunrise and a cacophony of roosters. It felt really bizarre, but also made me smile. There is a strike by the subway operators in Bucharest, so there was a lot of news and excitement – even though we were in Timişoara and there is no subway there. Traffic was pretty bad in the morning, but it is due mostly to the poor infrastructure than terrible traffic.

up with the roosters

The office has floor to ceiling windows through out and beautiful views! It was a little hazy from pollution, but you get the jist. The picture is of the same cathedral that I showed you from last night.

view from the office

Just below the office building is a large open air market. The fruits and vegetables looked amazing. With every meal in Romania, I received at least two whole tomatoes. The flavor and texture rivaled tomatoes I’ve eaten in Italy’s summer. They were really fresh and perfect!

fruit and vegetable market

I wished we were staying longer so I could purchase some of the fruit and vegetables to make a meal. These grapes below are approximately $1/lb. You could get a giant bag of perfect potatoes for less than $2.50 USD.

grapes

Some of the sellers in the market had their own jarred sauces, honey, jams, etc.

the lady was unsure about posing

Of course I got a pepper shot. There was a mountain of cayenne peppers to the right of this, but the seller was not a fan of me photographing his produce, so I moved along.

obsessed with peppers

I like the mounds of spinach in the below picture.

mountains of spinach

We walked around the block for a bit and came across a plane bike thing. I think they were shooting a film as this was in the courtyard of what looks to be an art school.

what is this contraption called, dad?

There are random statues all over town. Many of them are broken or have not been well cared for over the years. This one was in excellent condition and I found it to be a moving piece of art.

statue in timisoara

Back in Victoria Square, there were so many people out! The little kids loved to chase after the pigeons and try to pick them up. The little boy in the orange shirt and blue hat actually touched one and flipped his lid. While he wanted it, I am not sure he expected it. He was an unhappy kid (reminded me of when Abby got head butted by the goat at the zoo).

little boy is about to get a surprise

One last viewpoint of the metropolitan Cathedral. You can kind of tell from this picture that the roofs of the turrets are made of a shiny blue and green tile. It was impossible to get that detail through a camera due to the smog and we had to go back to the office, so we couldn’t walk down there. Oh well, next time 🙂

metropolitan cathedral

Tonight, I am in Wroclaw, Poland. It has a far more advanced infrastructure than Romania and the people/city are wealthier. My room is quite loud because a light rail is just outside my window. I’m hoping for a good night’s sleep though, it’s been a long week!

Hopefully, I will have another opportunity to get out of the office and snap a few pictures, we are close to “old town” Wroclaw, where there is some historic buildings and plazas.





Bun Venit!

17 11 2009

Today was filled with meetings in Munich and a late afternoon flight to Timisoara, Romania. We flew straight over the Alps, where I was able to grab a quick picture of them. This mountain range makes my Seattle Olympic or Cascades look like Dallas. Not a small range. 🙂

german alps from the sky

As we landed in Timisoara, the sunset was one of the most amazing I have ever seen. The sun was so big! It was hard to capture it with a camera from a little plane, but I thought I did okay (notice the nifty chopper – those were all over the airfield — along with these bunkers built into hills, I suppose a reflection of recent turmoil).

landing in timisoara

As we circled the runway (the terminal was too full and we could not get off the airplane – this airport was the size of College Station’s for perspective), I was able to snap shots of the sun setting. I really wish you could understand how bit it looked!

spectacular sunset from the plane

I wasn’t sure what to expect from this city, it is a smaller city than Bucharest, and is noted as the “Vienna of Romania” as much of the architecture was spared from recent wars. The buildings are beautiful, but quite worn out. The roads are less than ideal, but not too terrible. Our hotel is well maintained (an American chain), but a modest 30€ (130 Romanian Leu or $52). As you approach, they have beautiful stained glass doors.

entrance to our hotel in timisoara

And once inside, there are antiques everywhere! Paintings, chairs, sofas, other random things, it’s hard to tell what it all is!ll

hotel lobby

antiques in the hotel lobby

Most of the taxis play dance music or 80s music, and all of the young girls dress like Madonna from the 80s. Definitely entertaining (yes, I see a million little Nadias running around, they all look just like her to my brain). The room looks stuck in the 80s, for sure (but very clean)!

not so antique room

 

We got into town with enough time to go out and see Victoria Square, The Metropolitan Cathedral, and the National Theatre and Opera House. We had dinner in Victoria Square (which is a story in itself with no pictures for fear of being thrown out of a restaurant – foreigners are not always popular…especially American ones).

metropolitan cathedral

metropolitan cathedral from the front

In our short taxi ride from the airport to our hotel, we saw so many parks. All with manicured gardens, art, and fountains. This is Victoria Square – the cathedral is behind me and I am facing the Opera House. All along the street (no cars allowed) are store fronts, restaurants, and small businesses. Above are all residences.

victoria square

I simply turned around to get one last shot of the Cathedral. Hard to turn away, it really was spectacular!

victoria square looking to the cathedral

Within the square, there are a number of businesses – mostly cell phone carriers and shoe stores. We happened upon a flower shop too.

flower market in victoria square

The Opera House is a massive, all marble structure.

timisoara opera house

I’m looking for some help tomorrow to translate this plaque from the Opera House.

something happened in december 1989

As we circled the plaza, we came across a public water fountain (square toward the bottom right of the frame – this is where many people who do not have running water come to get fresh water for their home use) and some happy signs.

happy

Tomorrow, I have a meeting in Timisoara and am back on the plane to Wroclaw, Poland. Hopefully another update to follow! It is almost 2 AM here, so I am headed to bed. Long week!





Willkommen!

16 11 2009

I lied. No ducks. No bumble bees. No ballerinas in this post. Today, I am in Munich! I flew out of Seattle on British Airways Sunday night, travelled through Heathrow (resisted the assault from Harrod’s as soon as I landed, yay me), and arrived in Munich for rush hour (it is currently 11:42 PM in Munich, I think I’ve been awake for 30 something hours).

I made it in time to meet up with some co-workers at a traditional Bavarian Restaurant: Weissen Bräuhaus. Germany is not the place to visit if you want to lose a few pounds (eeks, Weiner Schnitzel!).

So far, I have found the people of Munich to be very warm, forgiving when you destroy their language, and welcoming. The strangest thing I’ve seen is that there are no street lights on the highways. I arrived around 5:00 PM local, and it was dark and rainy (felt like home). The drive up to München was soooo dark – and then I realized it, there are just no lights on the highway! That didn’t distract me from the fact that the taxi I was riding in was nicer than my own German made vehicle. Just a regular old taxi = fancy mercedes with full heated leather seats in the back. The price to my hotel certainly reflected that luxury. Safe though!

I adventured on the subway (Bahn) this evening. Missed a few stops here and there and still made it safely to the hotel.

hotel rooms always interest me - this one has art by light above the bed

weisse bier

some of my colleagues at dinner

We grabbed a train back to our hotel from this building (church?). It was absolutely beautiful. I will find out more about where I was so I can document for the blog and of course remember what I have seen.

carvings in a buliding - i assume a church

beautiful architecture

more modern architecture

I leave Munich tomorrow afternoon for Timisoara, Romania. I come back through for two nights and hope to be able to see a few great sites while I’m here.





October Wrap Up!

9 11 2009

October was one of those months that just didn’t stop. November is turning out to be just like that. But, I’ll pause. I’ll update. I’ll read. And you’ll get to see a little peek of what we did in October. Sit in, grab some popcorn, a diet coke, and hang on…it’s a long post!

The month started with a girls trip to Vancouver, BC for my friend Jessica. A big group of girls drove across the border for a fun day of shopping, eating and a little night life. The only trouble we managed to get in was bringing some plums with us. Of course, honest Abe that I am, I declared them at the border which turned into a hilarious drama that made even the border agent laugh. If you’ve ever crossed the US|Canada border by car, you know…they do not laugh. They do not smile. They do not even acknowledge that you answer their questions (that they repeat to see if you get rattled). It’s their job, I get it. But I always want to see them smile. We accomplished that task.

It’s hard not to smile at 5 goofy girls piled into a SUV going for a “bachelorette party” in Canada who declare plums, a bottle of champagne and cheese at the border. He made arrangements for us to drop the plums off with another agent just up the road. One of our car mates got sad at the thought of tossing said contraband, so she chowed down on the plum right there in front of the agent. Where he just busted out laughing. The bride, full of the giggles, subsequently told him the only “weapons” we had were here fists (that is on par with joking about bad things in an airport…a big no no). He laughed again. Everyone realized we were one move short of being fully searched, derailing our plans to shop our afternoon away on Robson Street, so we got quiet and moved along. CRACKING UP as soon as we handed off our fruit and officially crossed the border. Good times.

The only picture I managed to snap was from our hotel room before heading out to dinner that evening.

001_Nov09

vancouver sunset from the hotel room window

The next weekend, we headed with Cara and Clint to the farm where they work during the summer. Seattle has a lot of Community Supported Agriculture, where regular old people get to learn about farming, help out, and get a share of beautiful local produce. Cara & Clint were lucky enough to get in on one at one of the best farms in the area. Jubilee!

002_Nov09

jubilee - a biodynamic farm

Their cash crop is pumpkins and they host a fall festival every weekend in October. Tons of people come out to the farm to check out the festivities. And the pigs.

003_Nov09

piglet not so small

Inside one of the shelters, they had to move in the squash due to a “killing freeze.” This whole shelter was chock full of tons of squash.

004_Nov09

butternut squash beauty

Of course. The boys had to find the biggest one in the shelter.

005_Nov09

clint's smile makes me laugh

C&C took us on a tour of the farm. We walked out into the crops. Most have been harvested, but some still remained. It was a beautiful chilly fall morning.

006_Nov09

foothills, fog, changed trees, and a crop that i can't identify (bad gardener)

Some of the cabbage heads weren’t big enough to be harvested the week before, so they stayed for a later harvest. This head of cabbage was like 12″ in diameter to give you context of how large they were!

007_Nov09

reminds me of little shop of horrors

Some of the surrounding farms come out to participate in the festival. They bring ponies for the kids to ride, tractors for hay rides and even Clydesdale horses for a different hay ride!

008_Nov09

that's a small pony, not a giant kid

The highlight of the festival is the punkin chunkin. Scott & Clint were all too excited to make it happen. They went to find some less attractive pumpkins to launch on the trebuchet!

009_Nov09

kids at heart

They gather up some people to help pull back the weight for the chunkin.

010_Nov09

crowd pulling the 2 ton weight back to set up for the chunkin

Clint and the owner of the farm are fixing everything up (notice my lack of technical terms).

011_Nov09

clint trying to keep all digits and his head while rigging the trebuchet

Once the weight gets let go, the giant box (with a 2,000 lb block of concrete in it) comes down and the top swings up (you can barely see in the top left a basket that has a pumpkin in it).

012_Nov09

action shot!

It launches that pumpkin really, really far.

013_Nov09

flying pumpkin

You can see the orange blob to the right of the trailer as it makes it’s descent…

014_Nov09

descent - please put your seat backs and tray tables up

…and then it splats. Usually the kids take off on a dead run to get the chunks of pumpkin and run it to the pig pen to feed those piggies.

015_Nov09

kerplunk (run kid with the red hood, run!)

The farm was so much fun, we also came home with a giant bundle of produce and some pumpkin butter. We had such a great time, thanks C&C!

The next weekend we traveled to San Antonio with our friends Myron & Liz, Mike & Becky (Liz’s Parents) & Todd (whose bride, Jessica was back at home preparing for the wedding the next weekend). We were invited to SA for the Washington State v. Notre Dame football game. Myron went to ND, Liz went to WSU. They are married. It was fun. 🙂

Before the game, we headed to the WSU Alumni party just outside the Alamodome. It was HOT (78°)!

016_Nov09

todd, myron, liz, scott, kim @ alamodome

The game was really fun. The ND band is awesome. We were on the WSU side, so you can’t read that, but it says “Irish.”

017_Nov09

hsiri

We even procured (well, Liz’s parents procured) sideline passes. We took turns going down to the sidelines taking in the views. You see the two guys super excited to be down there? Liz’s dad and Todd. I think they had fun (they are both WSU alum).

019_Nov09

mike & todd sideline rookies

At half time, ND played “Deep in the Heart of Texas” and made the shape of Texas. So cool!

020_Nov09

the stars at night,are big and bright (clap clap clap clap)

Liz and I went down to the sideline in the middle of the 4th quarter after the Irish had pretty much secured their win. We got to see both teams score a touchdown while down there though!

021_Nov09

action shot - wsu was on the way to scoring here

Those guys aren’t small.

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one final touchdown for those far travelin coogs

Mike & Becky, THANK YOU for the tickets and the fun memories of hanging out on the Riverwalk with everyone, what a great way to show off my home town! 🙂

Next up: Ballerinas, Ducks, and Ladybugs.