Wednesday, December 31, 2008

2008 in Pictures

Well, 2008 sure has been interesting.  It hasn't been my favorite year, but I am realizing it had its moments as I looked back over my pictures.  Somehow I was able to whittle down my pictures to one per month.  Here are some of my favorites.

From left to right, starting at the top row:

1. January - Me & my coworkers goofing off at a hockey game
2. February - Royal Albert Hall (London)
3. March - Swimming in the Bahamas
4. April - Skagit Valley Tulip Festival
5. May - Running down Main Street during the Orlando Danskin Triathlon
6. June - Swim portion of the 5 Mile Lake Triathlon
7. July - Waiting at the train crossing (Bonn)
8. August - Reichstag (Berlin)
9. September - Nurnberg
10. October - Behind bars at Alcatraz
11. November - Me, Pooh & Jana
12. December - Deep Freeze 2008

Happy 2009!!!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

I'm dreaming of a dry Christmas!

Snow, snow and more snow!! I never thought I'd say this but enough with the snow. I can't remember the last time it snowed this much. Actually, I can - I was in eighth grade. And the reason I remember? Yeah, with all the snow days we were in school until July!! I exaggerate - I think the last day of school was really June 30th. Last night was the first night my drive home wasn't a complete white-knuckle drive. Granted, I have an all-wheel drive, but that only helps so much, and really doesn't help when stopping. Exhibit A - It has been snowing fairly constant since this morning. The driveway was shovelled this morning before I left for work and arriving home this afternoon there was another couple inches of accumulation and I slid sideways down my driveway. Yikes!

Driving in the snow I'm usually saying one of two things - 1) Don't slam on the brakes, don't slam on the brakes to remind me if I do start to slide to not slam on the brakes or 2) Thank you Mr. Snowplow, Snowplow, Snowplow, thank you Mr. Snowplow, for clearing the roads (sung to Thank you Mr. Bus Driver whenever I see a snowplow). Which means I haven't really been listening to Christmas music the past couple of days. I love Christmas and Christmas music so I might just have to listen to Christmas music after Christmas is over to get my fix.

Speaking of Christmas music here are two things you may not know about me: 1) my all-time favorite Christmas song is Winter Wonderland which Jana pointed out isn't really a Christmas song and 2) I usually cry anytime I hear I'll Be Home for Christmas.

I was wrapping presents and Chloe was trying to "help". I don't know how she knows, but she can pick out the bag that has her Christmas presents in it. Maybe the bag smells like a pet store?

Here's a few more snow pics:

To my friends and family in Seattle (and anywhere else it is snowing) - stay warm and be safe

To all my friends and family - I wish you a very Merry Christmas!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

An Austro-Hungarian Adventure

So I've been sitting here for awhile now trying to come up with a great opening line and it is just not coming so I'll cut right to the chase!

Day 0/1
I had been complaining that I would miss out on Thanksgiving dinner, even though I'm normally gone for Thanksgiving. The difference this time being since I was leaving the day before Thanksgiving I wouldn't get a plate of leftovers. Fortunately one of the choices for dinner was turkey & mashed potatoes! It wasn't too bad for airline food. The flight was extremely turbulent! I looked out the window as we got closer to Heathrow and saw the Tower of London, Tower Bridge, Big Ben & Parliament, and Buckingham Palace - it was just like the Peter Pan ride! Jana & I met up and then boarded the flight for Vienna. After dropping our bags off at the hotel, we wandered around in search of dinner. We ended up at an Italian restaurant (big surprise there, right?), but it wasn't very good. We walked back to the hotel and arrived a bit frozen as it was cold. The cold actually wasn't too bad - it was the biting wind! Our beds turned out to be heat-sucking beds and it wasn't long before we were both toasty warm. Heat-sucking beds are fantastic when it is super cold!

Day 2
Today should have been called Hapsburgs Day as we explored the Hofburg Palace complex. We started off in the Imperial Apartments which had an exhibit on Empress Elizabeth. At first I was very interested in Empress Elizabeth (or Sisi as she is called) until I learned more. She wasn't the nicest person but she did live an interesting life. From there it was the treasury and the chapel before stopping for lunch. We ate at a restaurant in the cellar of the palace. It was canteen style, which reminded me of my time in Bonn.

We continued exploring the Hofburg complex, with the National Library and Augustinian Church before taking a break to tour the Opera House. We fell behind the tour group at one point and were joking if we couldn't catch up we would be lost within the Opera and could become Phantomesses of the Opera!!! It was then back to the Hofburg complex as we visited the Papyrus Museum and the New Palace whose museum included an armory, musical instruments and ancient statues. I really enjoyed this museum because it was in an old palace and it was really fun to walk through. We finished up the day at City Hall where there was a Christmas market. Wow, there were a lot of people there, it was a bit overwhelming!

Dinner time! We started walking and decided to go one way and ended up making a huge circle and basically ended up back where we started. We ended up at, what else, but an Italian restaurant and they had the best tiramisu! However the restaurant was super smoky. If Italy can go smoke free, I would think the Austrians could as well.

The biting wind made me extremely happy for heat-sucking beds!

Day 3
As it turned out, the heat-sucking beds worked a little too well and we had a restless night. Our first stop of the day was at the Kaisergruft, the crypt where the Hapsburgs are buried. We continued on to St. Stephen's Cathedral where mass was starting so we were only able to take a quick look. Next it was the Globe Museum and the Esperanto Museum. What exactly is Esperanto? Yeah, I didn't know either until I went to the museum! It's a universal language, which I'm thinking is losing the battle to English.

After lunch we took a tram to Belvedere Palace where there was another Christmas market. We finished up the day at the Albertina Museum, which used to be the residence of Maria Christina. Maria Christina was the favorite daughter of Maria Theresa and the only one who was allowed to marry for love rather than political positioning. Our experience at the Albertina was hampered by the lack of line management, considering all the people. They could learn from Disney! The sign at the entrance said wait times were going to be anywhere from 15 minutes to 90 minutes. We ended up standing in line for about 30 minutes or so, which isn't bad, except when you are standing in the cold and the wind. The draw? There was a special Van Gogh exhibition.

Finally emerging from the throng of people at the Albertina, we had dinner at the Cafe Sacher, the home of the famous Sacher Torte, a special recipe used for 175 years. It was good. Apparently the hotel has received letters addressed to the Hotel Chocolate Cake.

Day 4
We decided to venture out of Vienna and took the train to Bratislava, Slovakia. We decided to walk into town from the train station instead of trying to figure out the bus. We walked by the Slovakian "White House" before arriving at St. Michael's Gate which had the kilometer zero plaque, the point from which all distances in Slovakia are measured. Lunch was at a "traditional" Slovakian restaurant. We had potato dumplings with mystery meat. It was pretty good!

Rick had told us about a couple places where cannon balls from the Napoleonic wars were still lodged in the buildings and that these cannon balls were all over the place so we kept our eyes open to find them. We ended up only finding the ones Rick specifically pointed out. There was a Christmas market in the Main Square. It was extremely crowded! We visited Primate's House which boasted of a Mirror Hall which would not be mistaken for the Hall of Mirrors at Versailles except in similarity of names. We continued down to the river to look at the bridge, a leftover from the Soviet days. We visited St. Martin's Cathedral before starting up the hill to visit Bratislava Castle where we wandered around and eventually found the deep well and threw a coin in. This was Maria Theresa's castle for awhile until it burned down. She shows up everywhere!

Day 5
This was the first day we ventured into the metro to visit Schonbrunn Palace. And what was out front of Schonbrunn? Why, a Christmas market! Inside the palace we learned more about Maria Theresa and Sisi and a few other Hapsburgs. If Jana & I were Hapsburgs, she would have been Maria Jana and I would have been Maria Amalia. We walked through the hibernating until spring gardens and up the hill to the Gloriette, where there was a restaurant so we decided to have lunch. The maze was also hibernating which was too bad, as I enjoy mazes! As this Christmas market wasn't too crowded we did a bit of shopping.

Back in town, we visited Charles Church where we were able to take a elevator up to the base of dome and then walk up the remaining stairs. The church is currently being restored. It was neat to see the dome up close.

Dinner was at Cafe Sacher where we amused the waiter and he gave us each a Cafe Sacher pen. Since I had the Sacher Torte last time, tonight I had the Cheese Strudel for dessert - it was yummy!

Day 6
We spent the morning at the history museum where there were a ton of kids! We had lunch at Cafe Sacher before heading to the train station to catch a train to Budapest. Jana's finger got smashed when we were lifting her suitcase up. She was very brave - I would been bawling! We knew the Budapest station was coming up and so when everyone started gathering their belongings to leave we acted like lemmings and did the same. Only to realize, as our train was leaving, this was the wrong train station. Yikes! Another train was coming so we got on as our stop was going to be the next one. The train conductor looked at our tickets and tried to tell us something but our lack of Hungarian made it impossible to communicate effectively. He eventually gave up on us and continued down the train.

We arrived at the train station and thanks to Rick we were able to negotiate a decent price (at least we thought is was) for a taxi to our hotel. Our hotel is new-ish and the elevator is not yet operational and so up we went 59 stairs. The hotel clerk carried both our bags, at the same time, up the stairs. Wow! The hotel was beautiful! Maybe not as functional as we would have liked, but definitely beautiful! There was a bathtub, no shower and no shower curtain. Hm, this would be interesting in the morning. The hotel had a restaurant which was pretty good! And quite convenient!

Day 7
I survived the bathtub, or I should say the bathroom floor survived me taking a shower! We walked along the river to the Hungarian Parliament where we arrived just in time for the tour. Inside the Parliament are the Hungarian crown jewels. Myth has it, the crown is the original that King (later Saint) Istvan was crowned with in the year 1000, or something to that effect, I may not have remembered the details correctly. After WW2, the crown jewels were kept in Fort Knox until 1978.

We went to the Museum of Ethnography and tried to buy a Budapest Card, except apparently they didn't have any more and they tried to direct us to the metro station where we could buy the card. We finally found the station but they only had one card but station attendant called and found a station that had more so we hopped the metro to get our Budapest card. After all that it was time for lunch! We found, what else, but Italian! After that we went back to the Museum of Ethnography, which is a tiny little museum in a huge building! We walked back along the river, and across the Chain Bridge to look back at the Parliament at night. We stopped by St. Istvan's Basilica before heading back to our hotel for dinner.

Day 8
We started off the day at St. Istvan's, this time in the daylight, before heading over to the Buda side. I was really excited because we were going to take a funicular up the hill, and I just love funiculars. Unfortunately it was closed so we trekked up hill as it started raining. There were two museums in the old castle. In the basement of the Budapest History Museum were the foundations of the old castle. When we emerged from the museums it was really raining. Since we were already at the top of the hill we walked over to Matthias Church and the Fishermen's Bastion. Inside the Matthias Church is a statue of Mary & Jesus that reportedly scared the Ottomans but due to the renovation the statue was blocked off. We had dinner at our hotel but were seated in the corner and had absolutely horrible service. It took forever!!

Day 9
Our first stop of the morning was at the Great Synagogue, the second largest in the world. Behind the synagogue is the Tree of Life memorial which was built over the site of a mass grave of those killed by the Nazis. Next we visited the Hungarian National Museum. The 1848 Revolution against the Hapsburgs was declared from this building. It was really interesting visiting Vienna and learning about the Hapsburgs and how they viewed Hungary as part of their empire and then visiting Budapest where they viewed the Hapsburgs as oppressors. We got in a tiny metro and went out to Heroes' Square - no Hapsburgs left at Heroes' Square. Near there was a replica Transylvania Castle. We walked around before heading to the Postal Museum. I'm still not sure how we found the museum - there were no signs but somehow we did find it. The museum itself was meh but it was located in a grand old apartment which was beautiful. We then went to the Museum of Trade & Tourism which wasn't much at all. We decided not to eat at the hotel, but instead ate at Mamma's, an Italian restaurant that we had passed several times near St. Istvan's.

Day 10
We spent the morning shopping at the Great Market Hall. After dropping off our packages we headed to Mamma's for lunch. We walked to the Opera and stepped inside to look at the grand entrance hall but decided against going on the tour and continued down to the House of Terror, the former headquarters of the Nazi Gestapo and then the communist Secret Police. It walked us through the terror of the two regimes, it was an excellent but sobering museum.

We decided to have our last dinner at the hotel. Sometime after dinner but before dessert a man walked into the restaurant. I remarked to Jana he looked a lot like Jason Isaacs. I didn't think much of it until 10 or 15 minutes later when another man walked into the restaurant that looked and sounded like Viggo Mortensen!! Both Jana & I reached the same conclusion - it was Viggo Mortensen! Which meant the first man must have really been Jason Isaacs! We were both star struck and very giggly. After a little research (aren't Blackberries wonderful? And props to Ben for helping) we discovered that Viggo & Jason had made a film in Budapest and were in town for the premiere. We lingered at dinner for as long as we could but finally decided to leave as we still had to pack. And for those of you wanting pictures - well, I don't have any. It seemed to us they really didn't want to be recognized. And I'm sorry to say there just wasn't a good angle for us to get a picture surreptitiously So our only other choice was to be obnoxious and intrusive which neither of us wanted to do. We settled for gazing at their backs.

Day 11
The next morning came fairly early as our flight to London was at 8:30 a.m. The flight to London was uneventful and we did some shopping before saying goodbye - me to Seattle and Jana to Houston.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Another List!

I am procrastinating working on my pictures from Vienna & Budapest and saw this on Mandi's blog.  What a perfect way to procrastinate! :)

99 Things Meme
Things you’ve already done: bold
Things you want to do: italicize
Things you haven’t done and don’t want to - leave in plain font

1. Started your own blog.
2. Slept under the stars.
3. Played in a band.
4. Visited Hawaii.
5. Watched a meteor shower.
6. Given more than you can afford to charity.
7. Been to Disneyland/world. Okay, so this past year was apparently all about Disneyworld - next year I'm going to try and make it to Disneyland! :) I have also been to Paris Disney - someday perhaps I will make it to Tokyo Disney!
8. Climbed a mountain. I've climbed on mountains but not one to the top. Someday...
9. Held a praying mantis.
10. Sang a solo. I'm with Mandi - you wouldn't want me to do this!
11. Bungee jumped.
12. Visited Paris.
13. Watched a lightning storm at sea.
14. Taught yourself an art from scratch.
15. Adopted a child.
16. Had food poisoning.
17. Walked to the top of the Statue of Liberty.
18. Grown your own vegetables.
19. Seen the Mona Lisa in France.
20. Slept on an overnight train. I can't decide if I want to do this or not...
21. Had a pillow fight.
22. Hitch hiked.
23. Taken a sick day when you’re not ill. I am such a rule-follower this may be hard to imagine. I did tell my boss that I was taking a mental health day.
24. Built a snow fort.
25. Held a lamb.
26. Gone skinny dipping.
27. Run a marathon. Never going to happen - you realize the reason why it is called a marathon is when the messenger arrived at Marathon after running 26.2 miles he died. Yeah, not going to happen. I am seriously considering trying to do another half, but you will not find me doing a full.
28. Ridden a gondola in Venice.  I go back and forth on this one - Venice is not my favorite city but I can tolerate it in the colder months but then would I want to go on a gondola in the cold?  
29. Seen a total eclipse.
30. Watched a sunrise or sunset.
31. Hit a home run.
32. Been on a cruise.
33. Seen Niagara Falls in person.
34. Visited the birthplace of your ancestors.
Made it to Germany. And I have been to Ireland, but I would like to go to the area where my family is from.
35. Seen an Amish community.
36. Taught yourself a new language.
37. Had enough money to be truly satisfied.
38. Seen the Leaning Tower of Pisa in person. I was so sick that day that I literally got out of the tour bus, saw that it leaned and got back in. I'm not even sure I took a picture!
39. Gone rock climbing. This is a maybe...
40. Seen Michelangelo’s David in person. YES!!! I love David! Every time I'm in Florence I visit him and he is usually the highlight of Florence for me.  Well, him and Ponte Vecchio.
41. Sung Karaoke.
42. Seen Old Faithful geyser erupt.
43. Bought a stranger a meal in a restaurant.

44. Visited Africa.
45. Walked on a beach by moonlight.
46. Been transported in an ambulance.
47. Had your portrait painted.
48. Gone deep sea fishing.
49. Seen the Sistine chapel in person.
50. Been to the top of the Eiffel Tower in Paris.
51. Gone scuba diving or snorkeling.
52. Kissed in the rain.
53. Played in the mud.
54. Gone to a drive-in theatre.
55. Been in a movie.

56. Visited the Great Wall of China.
57. Started a business.
58. Taken a martial arts class.
59. Visited Russia.
60. Served at a soup kitchen.
61. Sold Girl Scout cookies.
62. Gone whale watching.
63. Gotten flowers for no reason.
64. Donated blood. They have a hard enough time trying to draw blood for blood tests (my veins are difficult to find).
65. Gone sky diving.
66. Visited a Nazi Concentration Camp.
67. Bounced a check.
68. Flown in a helicopter.
69. Saved a favorite childhood toy.
70. Visited the Lincoln Memorial.
71. Eaten Caviar.
72. Pieced a quilt.
73. Stood in Times Square.
74. Toured the Everglades.
75. Been fired from a job.
76. Seen the Changing of the Guard in London.
77. Broken a bone.
78. Been on a speeding motorcycle.
79. Seen the Grand Canyon in person.
80. Published a book.
81. Visited the Vatican.
82. Bought a brand new car.
83. Walked in Jerusalem.
84. Had your picture in the newspaper.
85. Read the entire Bible.
86. Visited the White House.
87. Killed and prepared an animal for eating.
88. Had chickenpox.
89. Saved someone’s life.
90. Sat on a jury.
91. Met someone famous. Okay, maybe not actually met - but Jason Isaacs and Viggo Mortensen had dinner at the same restaurant as me & Jana in Budapest, which I hope to get around to posting my trip report and pictures soon.
92. Joined a book club.
93. Lost a loved one.
94. Had a baby.
95. Seen the Alamo in person.
96. Swum in the Great Salt Lake.
97. Been involved in a law suit. Do class action law suits filed on my behalf count?  Several lawsuits have been filed "on my behalf" against my former notorious employer.   
98. Owned a cell phone.
99. Been stung by a bee.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Snow Day!

Massive snow has been predicted for awhile now. Monday - no snow. Tuesday - no snow. Wednesday, the supposed "big snow day" - no snow. But Thursday? The snow showed up on Thursday. It started snowing early this morning and literally has been snowing all day. And while this really wouldn't be big news anywhere else, in Seattle snow is a four letter word. I can't remember the last time it snowed this much. The total accumulation? About 4 - 5 inches. Those of you used to the snow feel free to laugh right about now.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Snow & Ice - Oh my!

Today was supposed to be the 12Ks of Christmas, "supposed to be" being the key phrase.  We woke up to a light dusting of snow and in true Seattle style the city slowed to a crawl.  I dressed appropriately with lots of layers and gloves and slowly drove to the race only to find out the race had been cancelled due to the ice.  Oh well, at least I got the t-shirt!!

Friday, December 12, 2008

Book List

I am procrastinating instead of wrapping Christmas presents, addressing Christmas cards, or editing my pictures, take your pick. So now I'll post this which I saw on Mandi's blog. Wow, I've got a lot of reading to do!!

a) Look at the list and bold those you have read.
b) Underline those you intend to read. (Or, if you can’t underline, asterisk!)
c) Italicise the books you LOVE.

1. Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen
2. The Lord of the Rings - JRR Tolkien
3. Jane Eyre - Charlotte Bronte
4. Harry Potter series - JK Rowling
5. To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee
6. The Bible
7. Wuthering Heights - Emily Bronte
8. Nineteen Eighty Four - George Orwell
9. His Dark Materials - Philip Pullman
10. Great Expectations - Charles Dickens
11. Little Women - Louisa M Alcott
12. Tess of the D’Urbervilles - Thomas Hardy*
13. Catch 22 - Joseph Heller*
14. Complete Works of Shakespeare
15. Rebecca - Daphne Du Maurier*
16. The Hobbit - JRR Tolkien
17. Birdsong - Sebastian Faulks
18. Catcher in the Rye - J D Salinger
19. The Time Traveller’s Wife - Audrey Niffenegger
20. Middlemarch - George Eliot*
21. Gone With The Wind - Margaret Mitchell
22. The Great Gatsby - F Scott Fitzgerald
23. Bleak House - Charles Dickens
24. War and Peace - Leo Tolstoy*
25. The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams
26. Brideshead Revisited - Evelyn Waugh
27. Crime and Punishment - Fyodor Dostoyevsky
28. Grapes of Wrath - John Steinbeck
29. Alice in Wonderland - Lewis Carroll
30. The Wind in the Willows - Kenneth Grahame
31. Anna Karenina - Leo Tolstoy
32. David Copperfield - Charles Dickens
33. Chronicles of Narnia - CS Lewis
34. Emma - Jane Austen
35. Persuasion - Jane Austen
36. The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe - CS Lewis
37. The Kite Runner - Khaled Hosseini
38. Captain Corelli’s Mandolin - Louis De Bernieres
39. Memoirs of a Geisha - Arthur Golden
40. Winnie the Pooh - AA Milne
41. Animal Farm - George Orwell
42. The Da Vinci Code - Dan Brown
43. One Hundred Years of Solitude - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
44. A Prayer for Owen Meaney - John Irving*
45. The Woman in White - Wilkie Collins
46. Anne of Green Gables - LM Montgomery
47. Far From The Madding Crowd - Thomas Hardy
48. The Handmaid’s Tale - Margaret Atwood
49. Lord of the Flies - William Golding
50. Atonement - Ian McEwan
51. Life of Pi - Yann Martel
52. Dune - Frank Herbert
53. Cold Comfort Farm - Stella Gibbons
54. Sense and Sensibility - Jane Austen
55. A Suitable Boy - Vikram Seth
56. The Shadow of the Wind - Carlos Ruiz Zafon
57. A Tale Of Two Cities - Charles Dickens
58. Brave New World - Aldous Huxley
59. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time - Mark Haddon
60. Love In The Time Of Cholera - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
61. Of Mice and Men - John Steinbeck
62. Lolita - Vladimir Nabokov
63. The Secret History - Donna Tartt
64. The Lovely Bones - Alice Sebold
65. Count of Monte Cristo - Alexandre Dumas
66. On The Road - Jack Kerouac
67. Jude the Obscure - Thomas Hardy
68. Bridget Jones’ Diary - Helen Fielding
69. Midnight’s Children - Salman Rushdie
70. Moby Dick - Herman Melville
71. Oliver Twist - Charles Dickens
72. Dracula - Bram Stoker
73.The Secret Garden - Frances Hodgson Burnett
74. Notes From A Small Island - Bill Bryson*
75. Ulysses - James Joyce
76. The Bell Jar - Sylvia Plath
77. Swallows and Amazons - Arthur Ransome
78. Germinal - Emile Zola
79. Vanity Fair - William Makepeace Thackeray
80. Possession - AS Byatt
81. A Christmas Carol - Charles Dickens*
82. Cloud Atlas - David Mitchell
83. The Color Purple - Alice Walker
84. The Remains of the Day - Kazuo Ishiguro
85. Madame Bovary - Gustave Flaubert
86. A Fine Balance - Rohinton Mistry
87. Charlotte’s Web - EB White
88. The Five People You Meet In Heaven - Mitch Albom
89. Adventures of Sherlock Holmes - Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
90. The Faraway Tree Collection - Enid Blyton
91. Heart of Darkness - Joseph Conrad
92. The Little Prince - Antoine De Saint-Exupery
93. The Wasp Factory - Iain Banks
94. Watership Down - Richard Adams
95. A Confederacy of Dunces - John Kennedy Toole
96. A Town Like Alice - Nevil Shute
97. The Three Musketeers - Alexandre Dumas
98. Hamlet - William Shakespeare
99. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory - Ronald Dahl
100. Les Miserables - Victor Hugo*

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Sneak Peek

I'm back!  Where was I this time?  Vienna & Budapest, with a stop in Bratislava.  With Christmas, work, etc., it is shaping up to be a busy week and I'm not sure when I'll get to my pictures or a trip report but thought I would post this sneak peek.  

My feet in Buda & Pest!

I wasn't sure it would turn out, but I think I like it.  More to come...

Sunday, November 23, 2008


I saw Mandi's diptych and was inspired to do my own. However, it's dark when I leave in the morning and I can't seem to remember to do it during the day but finally today I was able to do it. The challenge was to: "Go outside. Hold your camera down a bit and capture a shot of yourself with the sky as your backdrop. Then point your camera down and capture your feet on the ground. Put the images together to create a lovely diptych that reveals a small, telling moment in your day." Okay, so it turned out to be way easier said than done for me. The feet picture was no problem, after all that has become my signature picture. I had the hardest time with the self-portrait part of it! But finally I got one that I think works. Whew!

And if you are like me and wondering what exactly a diptych is, it is basically a work of art made up of two matching parts.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Hips Hold Emotion

They are renovating the bathrooms at work which means I need to walk up a flight of stairs to use the bathroom. The bathrooms on my floor will be closed for probably a month. Even though it is only one floor, it is going to get annoying fairly quickly.

Where has this year gone to? It seems as if it was yesterday it was 2007 and now it's Christmas! Well, at least you would believe it's Christmas from all the store displays and eggnog lattes! For whatever reason, I don't feel it would be right to indulge in an eggnog latte until at least after Thanksgiving.

I went for a run (which again in Emily speak means walk, run, walk, run) on Sunday. I hadn't been running for awhile and I realized two things - 1) I am not going to be ready for the 12Ks of Christmas but good thing they have a 5K option and 2) even though it was a short distance (because I'm still trying to get over a cold) it felt really good to go for a run. Apparently over the course of the last couple years I have become a runner!

And for laughs - what is blue and smells likes red paint? Blue paint, of course!!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

I need some Magic!!

"Emily, you just won the (fill in the blank), what are you going to do next?"

"I'm going to Disneyworld!"

And off we went. I took the red-eye and arrived Thursday morning and met Jana at her hotel (she had flown in the night before). After breakfast we made our way to the Magical Express. The line there was incredibly long!! All of a sudden we started wondering if this was a foreshadowing for how our park experience would be. But the line kept moving and finally we were at our hotel. We checked in and were off to Epcot! The food and wine festival was going on and you could have very easily eaten and drank your way around the world!! Last time we were thwarted in our efforts to ride Soarin' but not this time. We got our fastpasses and soon were Soarin'!

Friday we went to Hollywood Studios where we watched the High School Musical 3 Pep Rally! I'm not sure Jana enjoyed it as much as I did! :) At some point we decided it would be really cool to get matching Mickey shirts to wear on Sunday when we visited the Magic Kingdom and so began the great shirt search. We found the shirt we wanted to wear but did not find it in Jana's size at Hollywood, but not for lack of looking! We ended the day by watching one of my favorite shows, Fantasmic! We weren't able to do the newest Toy Story ride but since we had some time on Monday before leaving for the airport we decided to come back then to try the ride.

Saturday we went to Animal Kingdom. I had never gone out to the petting zoo which was a lot of fun! After finishing at Animal Kingdom, where we were unsuccessful at finding the matching shirt we were looking for, we went to Downtown Disney for dinner and to do some shopping. We ended up eating dinner at an Italian restaurant. Sitting next to us were these super cute kids, probably about 3 or 4 years old. The little boy all of a sudden said "I'm Corbin Bleu" and I just cracked up laughing. His mom noticed me laughing and was telling us she had no idea where he had watched High School Musical - turned out his cousin had been babysitting and that's where he had seen it. It was probably one of those you had to be there moments but it was just so funny, probably because he did kind of look like Corbin Bleu. We were still on a mission to find the matching Mickey shirt but once again came up empty handed.

Sunday we headed to the Magic Kingdom. Still determined to give it one more shot before giving up on the matching Mickey shirts, we walked through the stores on Main Street hoping to find the shirt. No such luck. Finally Jana decided to get another Mickey shirt so at least we would both be wearing Mickey shirts. Since we had decided to go back to Hollywood the next day we thought we would try the matching shirts again - this time with a red Mickey shirt that we were pretty sure was in both our sizes at Hollywood.

Sunday was Extra Magic hours at the Magic Kingdom which meant we could stay until 1 a.m. We decided to play it by ear and see how long we made it. We had started off the trip with Halloween cups and napkins but finished the trip with Christmas cups, napkins and decorations!! So much for Thanksgiving. It is no secret I am not the best roller coaster rider but I finally was able to put my hands in the air on a roller coaster (granted it was Barnstormer, which is a kiddie roller coaster but still...). After many hours of old favorites (Peter Pan, Big Thunder, Mickey's Philharmagic) and new favorites (Aladdin's Magic Carpets) it was time to go home. We didn't make it to 1 a.m. but we did make it to midnight.

I do have to say for entire trip we had fantastic bus magic - usually the bus would be pulling up as we walked up to the bus stop. All this ended Monday morning. Granted we didn't wait super long for the bus to Hollywood, but it was significantly longer than any of previous bus wait times. We arrived at Hollywood and were greeted by a very long line, which neither of us expected. Finally inside the park we headed over to the new Toy Story ride only to find the line very long. Oh well, it gives us something to look forward to next time. Next on the list was to find the red Mickey shirt but it was not to be. We decided our magic had run out at midnight, a little like Cinderella. Either that or it had slept in since we were out so late the night before!

It was a great trip! See you real soon!

ETA: I almost forgot the best part!  We were standing in line with a family whose girls had gone to the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique and found out it is not just for little girls!  Big girls can get their hair and makeup done like princesses too!!  Guess what I'm doing next time! :)

Monday, November 03, 2008

31 Things Update

Two posts in one night!  I'm on a roll!!

2. Make it back to Houston a couple of times.   I visited Houston last weekend!

7. Back up my pictures on CDs. If I'm really ambitious catalogue and organize!  I finally moved a lot of my pictures onto an external hard drive.

14. Eat at several restaurants I've been meaning to - Greenlake Bar & Grill, Z Tejas, Boka and Salish to name a few.  So my new favorite restaurant is Azul!  It is a bit of a drive but it is really good!

15. Play bingo in Houston.  Woohoo!  When I visited Houston we played bingo - no one won anything, but it was fun.

22. Set aside some money and invest in the stock market.  So I set aside some money and I figured now would be a good time!  I opened up an account but I haven't actually bought an stocks yet.

27. Take a yoga class. (Technically this one is already done since I attended one on 4/20, but since I planned to put it on the list before I took the class I'm leaving it on. Plus this way it will motivate me to take another!)  I took a hot yoga class (taught by my sister).  Wow - it was super intense!

31. And one I'll keep to myself for now.  This was a couple of different things I wanted to do for myself and now I have accomplished one.

What Team? Wildcats!

It's been a busy few weeks!  Work has settled down somewhat, thank goodness!  I flew down to Houston for the premiere of High School Musical 3!  Why Houston?  Well, the fact HSM3 was opening was an excuse to go down and visit.  The movie was great, better than 2 but not quite as good as 1.  I had a great time - watching the movie, playing bingo, eating yummy food - but the highlight was seeing everyone!!

I arrived home on Sunday night and turned around and left for San Francisco on Monday.  I was there for a conference on Wednesday & Thursday but Jessica (my co-worker) and I went down a day early for some fun.  We started off the day heading over to Alcatraz.  What I find interesting is how close it really is to San Francisco, yet so far for those incarcerated there.  And now I really want to watch the movie The Rock again!  My favorite line in that movie is when Sean Connery says "Welcome to The Rock" which I'm sure Jessica got tired of hearing since I kept saying it!  We came back and walked along the wharf.  While we were walking, somehow we talked ourselves into renting a bike and riding it to the Golden Gate Bridge.  It ended up being fun!  We rode across the bridge and down to Sausalito to catch the ferry.  The ferry dropped us off at Pier 1 (we needed to drop the bikes off past Pier 43) so we hopped back on the bikes.  After a stop at Ghiradelli Square we headed back to our hotel and meet up with another co-worker, who had just arrived, for dinner.  Wednesday night we headed back to Fisherman's Wharf so I could have some yummy clam chowder in a bread bowl.

And now I leave for Disneyworld on Wednesday night!!

Sunday, October 12, 2008


Not a lot going on lately. Or I should say not a lot of interesting things going on lately except work. Late nights at work often mean moments of delirium. Case in point - me trying to do a heel click jump without much success. My first try ended with my sort of falling and catching myself against the wall. A common phrase over the past few weeks was "I hate fill in the blank with 10,000 vats of burning oil!" Other variations included 5,000 burning arrows, 12,000 hungry hippos and 7,000 scorpions. But work should calm down now - at least for the time being!

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Feeling the Love

Mandi gave me a "I Love Your Blog" award. Thanks Mandi - I feel loved! :) And even though we haven't really seen each other much post high school (although we somewhat remedied that in Bonn) it has been great to keep up with each others lives via our blogs.

And while I was tempted to keep the love all to myself, I will spread the love!




“If you see your site above, feel free to pass on the love or just horde the love all to yourself…that’s okay too.”

Saturday, September 06, 2008


Wow! Time flies! The last few weeks have been busy and here it is time for me to say goodbye to Germany. It is with mixed feelings that I view my impending departure. On the one hand, I am glad to be going home. I have missed my family, friends and not to mention I will be happy to sleep in my own bed! On the other, I am really going to miss everyone here. It has been a great experience. I will miss the eis and gelato stores, the bakeries with the fresh bread, the public transit system, and the squares and pedestrian shopping areas. I think I will even miss the canteen! Okay, so maybe not the canteen, but definitely stopping for coffee after lunch in the canteen. But I will miss my German colleagues the most.

The last few weeks have passed by in a flash, culminating in my last day in the office. I should realize by now how fast time passes, yet when I first arrived, the time seemed to stretch out. And here I am about to leave. Dinner with Mandi at a Persian restaurant, a visit to a winery for a goodbye dinner, a trip to Cologne and another hike up the stairs of the cathedral, and a trip down the Rhine to visit a castle sums up the last week or so before leaving Bonn.

Leaving Bonn behind I travelled to Frankfurt for a couple of days before heading home. I arrived Thursday afternoon and walked around Frankfurt. Friday I visited Nürnberg, wandering around the old town and up to the castle. When I reached the castle, I was a bit short on time and so looked around a bit but did not go in. Seen one castle, seen them all! Ha! I bet you never thought I would say that! From there I visited the Nazi Documentation Center - a museum housed in the unfinished Congress Hall, a gigantic building that was to be used to hold Nazi Party gatherings. The construction was never finished. Saturday morning I visited Heidelberg, taking a funicular up to visit the castle ruins. I just love funiculars!! Mainly because I think the word is just so much fun to say. I walked through the old town before heading back to Frankfurt to meet up with an ex co-worker for coffee.

And now I'm procrastinating before packing everything up. Sound familiar? I tend to procrastinate before packing a lot! :)

And as a funny P.S. I was mentioning to someone that for as clumsy as I can be I hadn't really spilled anything. And then at the winery I spilled a glass of wine and then in Nürnberg I decided to get a cappuccino after lunch and completely spilled it all over. And when I say all over, I mean all over! I tried to clean it up and the waitress was quick to come over and help. So much for not spilling!

Tuesday, August 26, 2008


My flight to Munich was scheduled to arrive late evening and when it ended up being late, I decided to skip trying to sort out the metro and decided instead to take a taxi, whatever the cost. My taxi driver was extremely talkative, complaining about American politics, German politics, the Olympics, Chinese politics and then full circle back to American politics. Finally we arrived at my hotel. I fell into bed and was soon fast asleep.

I woke up bright and early and walked through the Viktualienmarkt and Marienplatz just as it was starting to wake up. My first stop was the Residenz, a palace of one of the ruling families of Bavaria. The palace was a maze!! I don't know how people navigated through the palace without maps! I had problems and I had a map and arrows telling me where to go! I stopped in the Treasury and admired the jewels. Next stop was Glyptothek, a museum of Greek and Roman statues. Not having a lot of time, I decided to skip several museums in favor of taking a tram out to Schloss Nymphenburg, originally a summer palace. It reminded me a lot of Versailles. There was a museum of carriages which I enjoyed, imagining myself descending from a carriage, on my way to a grand ball. I ended up back at Marienplatz, which was full of people and activity. I took the elevator in the New Town Hall for a look down at the square. I stopped at St. Peter's Church before heading to the Beer & Oktoberfest Museum. It was starting to rain so I stopped in to the Hofbrauhaus, the famous beer hall, for a beer (hey I'm in Munich) and applestrudel. May not be the best combination, but I enjoyed it. The rain had lightened up a bit by the time I was done so I headed for the metro and out to the BMW Museum. I got there just before it was closed. Rick had said the museum would be open until 8, and it was on Saturday and Sunday, but on Friday it closed at 6. It was my own fault, normally I check the times (which Rick does say to do) but I hadn't this time. Because it was about to close, I didn't go to the museum but instead looked around the gift shop, a couple of the exhibitions (which were open later) and the show room floor. I sat in one of the models, which was nice! My next car may need to be a BMW! I wandered over to the Olympic Park and peeked in the Swimming Pool but Michael Phelps wasn't there! Do you mean he has something better to do than swim practice in Munich? (Just kidding - I HEART Michael Phelps!) It was pretty cool to wander around, especially considering the Olympics were still going on.

One of reasons I choose Munich as a weekend getaway was its proximity to Neuschwanstein, a fairy tale castle rumored to be the inspiration for Walt Disney. I got up early to catch a train which ended up being over 30 minutes late but finally we arrived in Füssen where you catch the bus to take you to the castle. The bus pulled up and a swarm of people pushed towards the opening. I was caught in the flow and ended up on the first bus. Of course after all that pushing and shoving, three more busses pulled up behind the first one. I collected my tickets and wandered up to Hohenschwangau Castle, King Ludgwig’s home growing up (Ludwig built Neuschwanstein). The interior of Hohenschwangau was decorated in a medieval style which I really liked. The tour ended and I started down the hill from Hohenschwangau over to the bus stop for Neuschwanstein. I arrived just as the bus did and didn’t think I would make it on as it was full, but I was once again shoved on as four people got on behind me. The bus let us off at the top of a hill and I walked up to Marienbrücke (Mary’s Bridge) and gazed down at Neuschwanstein. The view was incredible! I didn’t stay too long on the bridge as it was really windy and had started raining by then. During my walk down to the castle it started pouring. But finally it was time for my tour and I went inside the castle. Ludwig died before the castle was finished and the tour went through the rooms that were finished when he died. Ludwig actually had a grotto outside of his bedroom, a real grotto! With the tour finished, I made my way down the hill and back to the train station.

Sunday I visited Dachau. I'm not really going to say a lot about this because it is hard to put into words. I will say it was really hard to walk through the camp, harder than I thought it would be. But I'm glad I did it as it is a part of history and I think visiting places such as Dachau honors the memory of the survivors and those who didn't survive. And part of the reason I travel is to learn, and what better way to learn than observing the past.

Back in Munich I realized I hadn't taken any feet pictures. I had meant to take one on Marienbrücke (Mary's Bridge) but with it so windy and rainy I had forgotten! Instead I took my feet picture in Marienplatz before picking up my luggage from the hotel and heading for the airport.

I had been meaning to write a diatribe about the cost of water at airports in Germany (after security) as at both the Cologne and Berlin airports it was €3 for a little bottle of water. But at the Munich airport, water was only €1.45 which did much to lessen my annoyance.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Romans & Castles

What to do this weekend? A few of my co-workers suggested Trier, the oldest city in Germany and Saturday morning I set off. My first stop in Trier was Porta Nigra, originally a Roman gate but later a church. The city musuem was next, which I must say, is the most random collection of things. But on the top floor was a collection of clothes which was fun to see. Next I went to the amphitheater before continuing on to the Basilica. The Basilica is the largest Roman age building still intact outside of Rome. It was built by Constantine who left to go found Constantinople (later Istanbul, and you can imagine what song was stuck in my head for the rest of the day). Next, I walked over to the Imperial Baths, another of Constantine's projects. There was a festival going on so I wandered through looking at the booths and admiring the ruins. Karl Marx was born in Trier, so I went and saw the house where he was born, which is now a museum. From there I went to the cathedral, the oldest church in Germany. It was built over the palace of Constantine's mother, Helena. It also holds what is purported to be the Holy Robe of Christ, but it was not on view. After that, I wandered through the market, people-watching and window shopping before heading home.

Rick recommended Burg Eltz (his favorite castle in Europe!) so Sunday morning I set out for the castle. It is a bit out of the way, but Rick described the walk as a pleasant, scenic jaunt. I got off the train at Moselkern, a little village, and began walking after spotting the first sign. Rick described the trail, saying you would basically follow the river to the castle, so after awhile when the road veered away from the river and I hadn't seen any signs I began to get a bit nervous. But in short order, the road curved back towards the river and then I saw a sign. The path kept going and going and going and my feet were beginning to say stupid Rick, stupid castle, stupid path when I happened to glance up from the path (which was uneven and rocky) and saw the castle peeking through the trees. It was beautiful! It was never taken by military force, and no wonder - no army would bother to come all the way out there! But really, the family were quite the diplomats and always on the "right" side. I hung out in the courtyard until finally an English language tour was called (the only way to see the castle is by tour and I have been on non-English tours and I much prefer English tours!). When the tour was over, I looked around a bit more before making the trek back. The way back was a lot easier then the way there, probably because I knew the way. Halfway back I saw a little cave up a hill a bit. If Stacy had been with me, I'll bet she would have climbed in there! So of course I had to climb up and take a picture and while I was doing that a family came along and the kids were really interested in the fact I had climbed up there and so as soon as I came down they scrambled up. Sorry parents, I didn't mean to be a bad influence! Finally I reached the train station and before long the train came to take me home.

As a side note, I met up with Mandi for dinner last week. You can see a picture of us on her website.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Erdbeeren und Himbeeren

I knew there was a small fruit & vegetable stand near my apartment but I wasn't sure exactly where it was. Matthias had taken me there on my first day. The strawberries I had gotten from the grocery store weren't as good as the strawberries I had gotten from this stand so I really wanted to find it. On my way home from work I decided to walk try and find it. Fortunately I remembered the right road and found it without too much difficulty. In fact it isn't too far! The strawberries & raspberries were delicious! The strawberry season is almost over so I am going to enjoy them as much as I can.

Erdbeeren: Strawberries
Himbeeren: Raspberries

Sunday, August 10, 2008


My weekend in Berlin started off with a bit of a hiccup. I left work and caught the train into town to catch the bus to the airport. Everything was going along swimmingly when a stop and a half way from the train station (where I could catch the bus) the train stopped. There is probably another train in the station ahead of us and we are just waiting until it pulls out I thought to myself. A few minutes turn into 10. An announcement (in German) is made and everyone groans so I take this is not good news. The conductor makes his way through the train and finally the train starts moving, backwards. It makes it back to the previous station and everyone leaves the train, me included. Not sure what to do next, I head outside and start walking towards the next station (fortunately I had an idea of where I was). I get to the next station just as the train I had gotten off pulls into the station. It leaves a few minutes later and I decide to wait a few minutes to see if another train will come along (I’m anxiously watching the clock at this point as my cushion to get to the airport is melting away). Another train did come along and I catch not the bus I wanted to, but the one immediately after (they come approximately every 30 minutes). Whew!!

With that excitement over, the flight to Berlin is nothing. We land and I had already decided to take a taxi even before the escapade with the public transportation which just fortified my decision. The hotel is something else. According to Rick, it once housed the Nazi Chamber of Culture. The bathroom smells like I don’t know what but I’m only here for 2 days and as long as I keep the bathroom door closed it is fine.

I wake up early and head to the Reichstag (Parliament). Even at 8 a.m. in the morning the line was long, but it was even longer when I came out. This turned out to be one of my favorite things - I really enjoyed the cupola at the top of the building. From there I walked over to the Brandenburg Gate and after admiring it, I walked along Unter den Linden, stopping at the Neue Wache (where the tomb of the unknown soldier and the tomb of the unknown concentration camp victim are buried) before continuing on to the German History Musuem. The museum covered a lot!! I then walked over to Museum Island. The Pergamon Museum's line was way too long so I went to the Egyptain Musuem to visit Nefertiti and then visited the Berlin Cathedral and climbed the dome. From there I had lunch in a little cafe before continuing on with my exploration of Berlin. Next stop was the German Cathedral before continuing on the Museum of Wall and a visit to Checkpoint Charlie. I never knew why it was called Checkpoint Charlie - it was the third checkpoint (c = charlie). The museum was very moving with tales of escape attempts. The Jewish Museum was next. It is a very interestingly designed museum, and very haunting at times with stories of Jewish persecution.

I finished up the day at KaDeWe (or Kaufhaus des Westens), a huge department store before walking back to my hotel. It reminded me a lot of Harrods. I checked my map and decided my hotel wasn't too far. Turned out to be a case of it looking closer on the map than it was in real life!

Sunday I woke up a little stiff and decided to take it easy. I checked out of the hotel (leaving my luggage there) and made my way to the Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church. It was not open but I looked around and took a few pictures. Next I went to the Berlin Wall Documentation Center. The street is lined with another remaining section of the wall and from the center across the street you can look down at the "death strip" between the wall and the border. I ended up back at the Brandenburg Gate and visited the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe. Next I toured around the city on one of the hop-on, hop-off tours, stopping at Potsdammer Platz and walking through one of the art museums in the Kulturforum. I finished up the bus tour and got on a train back to my hotel. In Germany, as opposed to other places, there really isn't a ticket checking mechanism. It's on the honor system and if you get caught there is a penalty. So far I hadn't ever had my ticket checked. Not anymore! I, like Mandi, had expected these ticket inspections to be carried out by a potentially scary police officer, but no, it was a regular person in street clothes. He paused for a second looking at my ticket, which to me seemed like an eternity before thanking me and turning to the next person.

I got my luggage from the hotel and headed to the bus stop to catch the train to the airport. I just caught the bus and as I was heading to the back to find a seat, I haphazardly stuck my ticket in my purse thinking I was already checked today, surely I won't be checked again. That was an incorrect thought. She ended up looking a little more official than the last one and asked to see our tickets. I started rummaging through my purse and my pockets. She passed me by and looked at everyone else's before coming back to me. I was still rummaging, thinking oh crap when finally I found it! I triumphantly handed her my ticket and she smiled and thanked me.

Note to self: ALWAYS put your ticket in a safe place!

And that was my trip to Berlin.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Wo sind Sie?

We have a German phrase of the day! I share an office with two other people and Beate came into the office asking "Wo sind Sie (where are they)?" before realizing she was talking to me and switched to English. She told me I can answer "Ich weiß nicht" or I don't know. Not too much later someone else came looking for Thomas and asked something similar to Wo sind sie and while I understood what he was asking, I answered in English that I didn't know. I am not thinking in German.

I've been here about 2 and a half weeks so far and what I miss at the moment, as it changes based on the day and my mood, is Target - one stop shopping with scads of choices! Yes, I would be a suburbanite. Oh how I miss you! And what else I miss right now? The medicine cabinet at work. I had a huge headache and had forgotten ibuprofen at my apartment and there is no medicine cabinet (or at least that I have seen) in the kitchen at the office here. How easy it was to walk into the kitchen at work and get a packet of ibuprofen! I am enjoying my time here, even without Target! :)

Sunday, August 03, 2008

Weekend Fun

So the weekend started on Friday with me trying to figure out the washing machine. I ended up putting my clothes in and pushing buttons, which seemed to work. I wasn't as sure about the dryer and kept running downstairs to check (the washer and the dryer are in the basement so two flights down). Finally I got tired of running up and down the stairs and just stayed downstairs doing some hamstring curls and grapevines to pass the time.

Saturday I took the train up to Cologne. Stepping out of the train station into the shadow of the cathedral, I am once again in awe of this magnificent building. I wasn't sure until I got there whether or not I was going to climb to the top of the tower. Looking up and up and up I made my decision. I would climb the tower, and my incentive, a stop at the ice cream shop on my way home of course! :) 509 steps later I was at the top! Coming down I looked around the cathedral before visiting the Roman museum, and Museum Ludwig. I enjoyed the Roman museum, but not so much the Museum Ludwig - a little too much modern art for me. I did a little shopping, mainly of the window variety before heading back towards the train station. I passed by the cathedral again which was hopping with activity. A mass amount of tourists, along with statue people, musicians, artists and protestors filled the square in front of the cathedral. I people watched for awhile before catching the train back to Bonn.

Sunday I ventured to Sieburg to visit the St. Michael's Benedictine Abbey. The abbey was founded in 1o64 or so. You could climb up the tower so of course I did. The view was great from the top. I'm not sure how many steps - around 170+. I counted on the way up but forgot and was counting on the way down when I missed a step and slipped down a couple. Fortunately I wasn't too far up from a landing and I landed on my feet, if a bit hard. I forgot the count after that!

Bonn is a bit like Seattle in that during the week the weather seems to be great and get to the weekend and the sun has a tendency to disappear. Well, not disappear exactly, but there is more rain here on the weekends. But the rain doesn't last too long.

And let me just say switching between a German and an English keyboard is not as easy as you think! I am currently typing on my laptop which is an English keyboard but at work I use a German keyboard where the z and y are in opposite places (there are several other keys that are different as well). The y is becoming second nature on the German keyboard except now when I'm using an English keyboard.

Thursday, July 31, 2008


I'm trying out a new photo website (I know I've tried several!). Anyway, check out the link on the right to my Bonn pictures on Picasa.

I Heart Detours

Why yes it would be opposite day! So Friday on my way home from work I had my first experience with the detour and finally found my way home. Saturday morning I ventured toward the subway stop only to find the detour was still in place. A detour with trainers (sneakers) on is much better! That and knowing where you are going helps too. Sunday my goal was to find a better way around the detour. I figured out a better way to get to work and a better way to get home from work. Monday morning the detour was still in place so I took my newly discovered way to work. I assumed it would be the same on my way home. No, by then the detour was down but I didn’t realize this until after I had gone around avoiding the detour.

Sunday I also visited the German museum. This was a fantastic museum and it was basically all in German. Imagine if it was in English!

Grocery bags in Germany are 10 cents each. I think it is a great way to promote recycling of bags. I haven’t been doing my part as yet because plastic bags are so useful! So I guess I have been recycling them by using them for other purposes.

I'm not a huge coffee drinker, I usually have one or two a week. But lately, I have been drinking quite a bit during the week. And that trend has continued here in Bonn. After lunch we normally have a coffee and the barista knows my drink after only a couple of times (latte with vanilla). What's great about this is, I rarely have to order and my drink is normally ready by the time I get to the counter. The downside (if there is one), is on the off chance I didn't want a vanilla latte. Today I would have had my chance as my normal barista hadn't seen me but I am still in a vanilla latte mood.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

The First Week

Wow! Was it really a week ago today I left Seattle? Time flies no matter what you are doing! I've had some problems with internet access but found an internet cafe in Bonn so here I am. And let me just say it is hot!!

Planes, Trains, & Automobiles
Okay, this was one long travel day. I didn’t sleep too well and finally fell asleep right before my alarm went off (typical). And it turned out I overpacked as my luggage was over the weight limit. It was actually under the SAS weight limit but as my first flight was on United it was subject to their limit. Oh well. The flight to Washington DC was fairly smooth until we were in the descent when it started getting a little bumpy. And then one minute we were about to land and the next we were on our way back. The landing was going to be tight so they decided to pull up and try again. It was fine the second time. The flight to Copenhagen was fine and then came security. I am not used to carrying my laptop with me and so went through security without taking it out. They were nice about it and had me go through again. Oops! I was completely out on the flight to Frankfurt. I had been waiting for my luggage awhile when I realized there were no other bags coming out from Copenhagen. My heart started to sink. After I had been so careful in packing everything into one bag, did they lose it? I made my way over to the luggage inquiry where they assured me my suitcase was in the airport, it had just been put on the wrong cart and therefore was coming out on a different carousel. When it still hadn’t shown up after waiting awhile I went back and asked for an ETA – about 10 more minutes. Finally my bag came out on the carousel. Whew!!

This was my first experience with SAS and my second or third with United and I must say, I really prefer Continental or British. Not that there is anything wrong with SAS or United, I think the quality is better with Continental or BA. And lately I haven’t been super happy with BA but in general I’d rather fly with them.

And now on to my next mode of transport – the train. I bought a ticket for the next train which was leaving in 10 minutes, not realizing how far I would have to walk. It was close, but probably not as close as I thought it was. I think I ended up with a couple of minutes to spare, but it felt like less.

Matthias met me at the train station and drove me to my apartment. The apartment is small but it will do just fine.

I unpacked a bit and then I broke my own cardinal rule and slept. I woke up a little later on and after futzing around a bit more I headed back to sleep.

Matthias picked me up and we drove to the office. He showed me where I would catch the metro. The office is actually within walking distance, if it isn’t raining. It’s a little far if it is raining! I got set up at work and made progress on my visa (I have a meeting with at the town hall on Thursday to finalize). I decided to walk home and it isn’t a bad walk, especially when on a call (the call only lasted a few minutes due to the fire drill back home but it distracted me while I was waiting for the train to pass).

On another note, I tried to get cash out today from a Deutsche Bank ATM machine and got a message that it could not accept my card. What? I have done this how many times and now it decides it doesn’t like my card? I ended up trying another bank and guess what – the not Deutche Bank worked just fine. I would prefer the Deutsche Bank work as they won’t charge me (as they belong to the same family as Bank of America) but I am just happy my ATM card works!

I’m not much of a cook, I’m trying to cook more (hence the cooking class) but I’m not there yet. And I’m not going to start trying with a hot plate in my hotel room. So for dinner I’ll probably revert back to cereal or yogurt. At least it is simple and easy!

I’m full of random thoughts tonight – do you think watching CSI dubbed in German will help me improve my German? :)

Don’t worry, the daily updates will probably stop soon, but for now they’ll continue. Granted, as of today the only person who has read these updates is me as I have had no access to the internet. If nothing else, this weekend I should be able to find an internet café.

I awoke to sun! It’s amazing what sun can do for you! I decided to walk to work and enjoy the sunshine. It’s not too bad of a walk. After lunch I ventured into downtown Bonn and picked up my biometric pictures (for my visa) and stopped by Deutsche Bank where my ATM card worked! Go figure.

After work I had grand plans to venture over near the river and go for a run but when I got to my apartment I realized my iPod was just about out of juice. So no river for me as it is a bit of a jaunt to get there. Instead I explored a little bit around where my apartment is located and found a path that goes along the train tracks.

My television does not have the Disney Channel but never fear, I have figured out when The Suite Life of Zach & Cody is on (dubbed in German of course). And I finally noticed here it is called Hotel Zach & Cody. Guess The Suite Life doesn't translate so well. I’m justifying this to myself as helping me to learn German! :) And I can understand a little but I haven’t really tried speaking.

I am now official. Matthias was nice enough to come with me and help me navigate my way through the paperwork and officials and I am now legal with a big sticker in my passport to prove it!

German word of the day: großartig which means great or really great

It was really warm today, 90+ degrees. Yeah, not really a big fan of anything over 90. I started walking home, noticing the first place where I can cross the train tracks was closed. I didn’t think too much about it and continued on. I’ve learned that whenever you have a chance to cross the train tracks – do it! You never know when you’ll get another chance! Next crossing, same thing, as well as the next crossing. And then I noticed the barrier and the fact that it was actually closed for construction. Not sure what do to I stood there for a couple of minutes. A woman on a bike came up expecting to cross and had the same dilemma I did. She asked another pedestrian if there was another way (I’m assuming, they were speaking in German) and they pointed her straight ahead. I decided to follow and finally there was a detour sign. I’m not sure when a detour is actually fun, but let me tell you it is not fun when you are on foot and in 90+ degrees and not sure where you are! Finally I came to a street I knew! I had been avoiding the ice cream shop near my apartment but being tired, hot and having cranky feet I decided ice cream was just thing. It wasn’t just ice cream, but gelato! Yum! Or I should say lecker! (see the word of the day) Meine eis ist lecker! I have a feeling that isn’t quite correct but oh well.

I should also mention I tried cooking - sausages, and they turned out fine so maybe I will try to be a little more adventurous in the "kitchen".

German word of the day: lecker which means delicious (or as Beate said yummy)

I woke up to what I thought was the sound of thunder followed closely by what sounded like rain so I turned back over and went back to sleep. I got up finally and started towards town. They were still working so I took the detour which was easier this time considering I had been on it before, but still not fun. I walked around Bonn, visited a few museums and then walked home on the path that went by the river. It was really hot by this time, but it seemed a little cooler by the river. It started raining the closer I got to my hotel. I was going to meet up with Mandi, her boyfriend and several people from her program for dinner. I was just going to leave the hotel when it started absolutely pouring. No problem I thought. Or keine problem I should say. It was similar to rain in Houston where it would be torrential for a bit and then stop. While it didn't stop, it did slow down and so I started out. Let's just say I was a bit wet by the time I got to the train. I got a little lost but finally found the restaurant. Dinner was fun!

The hotel
My room
The "kitchen"

Enjoying my gelato after navigating the detour!