so. we went to the louvre on a cold and rainy day. not perfect for standing outside in line for three hours to get in, but hey, if i took anything away from our time in paris, it’s that you have to wait in line. a lot.
i come by my nose honestly as you can see. [tiles from persepolis] creeeeeeepy.
after the louvre, we went to eat at le mosquée. the food was delicious, and the building amazing. fertig.
le jardin des plantes. finally, the floral madness i was looking for. the mister knew what i was after, so we packed a picnic, and off we went.
guys, i’m really far behind here. i don’t even live in berlin anymore, and i’m still posting about vacation. my goal is to get three posts a week up till i’m up to date. so let’s pretend…
we saw the paris opera ballet student exhibition. this is when the upper level students get jobs. directors from the major ballet companies across the world come to see who they think would fit well into their companies. no pressure.
we went to the luxembourg gardens. still too much gravel for my taste, but a sunny glorious day.
the oldest street sign in paris.
then we went to notre dame. on this trip to paris, i learned the art of waiting in line. it was worth it though.
the eiffel tower was but a 5 minute walk from our fancy apartment.
our fancy apartment! then we went to the pompidou! this was an exhibition about the man who built my mom’s house! hassan fathy. then we went to the fancy tea shop!!!!!!!! i was stoked. theeeeeen back to the pompidou, because, well, eddie. fertig.
life with eddie entails a LOT of museum going. seriously. in my 11 days in paris, we went to seven museums. the orsay was one of them…
one is not supposed to take pictures in the museum, but the french aren’t so rule bound as the germans, so i took some liberties. one of the coolest parts of the museum is their cafe. it’s BEHIND the clock. very “hugo.”
honestly though, i was disappointed by the tulleries. i was expecting an english style garden, but, well, it was mostly gravel. a little grass. that you can’t walk on. and a cool pond where kids were racing miniature sail boats.
sorry for the radio silence, i’ve been running around a fair bit, and… I GOT A JOB!!!! but more on that later.
i assure you, the star of this trip hasn’t gotten any less adorable for the wait.
back to our story. from budapest, we bussed our way to prague. it was a looooooong day. 11 hours in a bus. and it was a loud bus. my brother, in the know, brought ear plugs with him, but i, a mere mortal, had no idea what noise a bus full of smiling thai people would be.
but i taught jedi 20 questions, napped, and watched a video of a thai stand-up comedian. on repeat. for hours. my brother was, to quote our dear esl dad, “dying of laugh” looking at my face by the end of the trip.
this was my second trip to prague, and while i like prague, i’m more interested in other parts of the czech republic. luckily, we go to see some of those too!
jedi ran my camera battery down in two days in budapest, and because i’m me, i didn’t bring the charger. thus, most of the following photos were taken by me with my iphone. if i’m in the photo, then jedi took it with his ipad. go apple products!
the brown pole in the background [yes, yes, i look insane with my tongue out in concentration, but people, that is not the point of this photo,] is a monument to the plague victims. in the middle of the 14th century, 1/3 the population of prague was killed by the plague. bleeeeech. me and my tour peeps.
for some reason, the tour didn’t include a walk through the jewish quarter, which is one of the most beautiful parts of the city in my opinion. the jewish cemetary in the city is absolutely gorgeous. but. we skipped it.
from prague we headed off to Český Krumlov in southern czech republic near to the austrian border. it is one of the town that traditionally had a large german population, and had for centuries, until the end of wwll when they were all summarily kicked out. it’s a very interesting time in european history, but one that i don’t know much about. there’s time to learn though. Český Krumlov is also a unesco world heritage sight on account of it’s castle. it’s also my favorite stop on the tour.
the hotel was super old school with floral curtains and twin beds. the windows opened onto the plaza and the delivery of luggage to the rooms was a czech farce. i had only one small rolly suitcase with me [the structure of this sentence is super german, and i was just about to change it into “regular english” but then i decided it was kind of funny, and an indication of how my brain is working these days]. when i went upstairs to my room, there were three large suitcases, but not my own. so i put the three in the hallway, went downstairs and told the front desk clerk. there were only two people working the desk and handling the luggage, so mistakes were not surprising. they apologized, and said they would work it out. when i went back to my room later, my suitcase was indeed there, but so were the other three! i put them back and explained again at the front desk. they said they would handle it. cool. after dinner, my suitcase was still there, but so was a totally different one! the poor kid nearly cried when i told him were still too many suitcases in my room.
my favorite sherpa. after he held my bag for about 3 minutes, he turned to me and said, “what is in here? too heavy for me.” so yeah. this is the crest of Český Krumlov. we learned on our tour of the castle [no photographs allowed], that the bohemians were a ruthless warrior tribe. [this clarified a few things about our grandmother, so jason and i felt like some missing puzzle pieces were found on that day.] during the ottoman invasion, the rosenburg prince defeated the turks and saved this section of bohemia from being occupied. the crest of the house of rosenburg was changed from a pretty rose and bear to this: a crow pecking out the eyes of a living turkish prisoner. [i think i have the houses rosenburg vs. schwartzburg right here, but it has been over a month since i hear the story.] lovely.
Český Krumlov also has a famous ghost, “the white lady.” she is the wife of one of the princes, who was less than happy with her philandering husband. after she died, she stuck around and still, to this day, haunts the castle and the city. dtwam told me that jedi is afraid of ghosts, to which he replied “phew, no i’m not. only babies are afraid of ghosts mom. gaaaaaawwwwwwdddddd mmmooooooom.” so it was established, jedi, not afraid of ghosts. or is he…?
one of the three bear that protect the castle. loooooves kisses from his mommy. what? did he suddenly become a teenager? this town is so small that there are no english speaking doctors at the hospital. sadly, some our tour group had occasion to discover this. one of the men on the trip fell, slid head first into a wall, got a concussion, and broke his collar bone. said man is doctor, and speaks great english, so he and his wife took a taxi to the hospital [streets are too narrow for an ambulance to get through!], and figured, as did we all, that they could speak in english to the er doctors. nope. poor souls had to wait 3 hours for an english/czech interpreter to show up. he was fine in the end, and enjoyed the rest of the trip with the aid of some pain medication.
after our tour of the castle, and fall excitement, we had some free time to wander around the village. jedi and i wanted to go walk around an underground city that we had seen the entrance to. so off we went. it turns out that the underground city was converted into an art gallery. the exhibition up was about nazi’s and deportation of czech jews to the concentration camps, and dehumanization. so i had to explain that one to jedi. both the art and the space were interesting and beautiful.
jedi asked for me to take his photo in this alcove. as he was standing there, he started to get frighted by the space and what i had told him about the art work. jedi: “it’s spooky down here. i feel like there might be ghosts.”
me: “maybe we’ll see ‘the white lady.'”
jedi: screams, jumps out the alcoves, leaps like a monkey onto me.
me: cracking up, “i didn’t say ‘i saw the white lady,’ i said ‘maybe we’ll see her’
jedi: “you just scared me so badly my butt cheeks fell off.”
best lunch we had on the whole trip. it was amazing. and not chinese food!!! from Český Krumlov we went on to vienna. on the bus ride, jedi came up with a compromise for our conflicting desires of me wanting to kiss him till face cheeks fell off, and his not wanting to be kissed ever. rock-paper-scissors. the first person to win ten games got their wish, if i won, i would get 10 kissed without complaint, if he won, i couldn’t kiss him for one hour.
jedi, when it became clear that i was going to win my 4th set of kisses in a row. i offered him a truce, but he wanted to keep plowing on till he won at least an hours worth of respite. “that move was scissors.” on our way to vienna, we stopped at the “stift melk” center in austria. i have no idea what it held, as the building was closed when we got there. but grounds were open. jedi may or may not have bit it on the gravel when i was chasing him around. sorry dude. vienna was gorgeous and tasty. and super racist. whoa. wasn’t expecting that one. my brother and his wife attracted some attention as an asian woman and a white as toast man. one crazy guy shouted at her that was “a stupid chinese c%$t” and there were lots of stares when they were holding hands or being all lovey dovy. now, i don’t doubt for a second that every nation on earth has racist assholes in every city, but it was really odd to me that they were attracting that kind of attention in a major tourist destination in the city center. we weren’t off the beaten path by any stretch. that said, most everyone in vienna was really nice.
except when they were making fun of my germanisms [all in good fun. i think.] it was also really funny for me being around shop keepers, and service industry workers who were speaking german, but were nice, and friendly. our friend marcus assured me that after a full year in berlin, when we travel to other parts of germany, and people are friendly, we will assume they are making fun of us or being sarcastic. an occupational hazard of living in berlin. at our last dinner before the tour group left to go back to berlin the waiter was very nice, but man oh man did he laugh at me when i ordered my drink. in germany, the national favorite drink is carbonated water and apple juice, “apfelschrole” when our waiter asked us what we wanted to drink, i answered him, “Ich hatte gern eine apfelschorle” “i would like an apple fuzzy drink.” in response to which, he busted out laughing, and said “schorle? what? are you from germany or something? schorle? hahahahhahahhahahahhahahahaha. perhaps an ‘apfelspritzer’ would be better.” his though bubble kept on laughing at me. after everyone else got there drinks, and i, a full half-hour later hadn’t, i reminded him that i had ordered a drink. he just started laughing again, “oh yeah, i was so distracted by the ‘apfelsaftschorle’ part that i forgot.” i though it was big of me not to remind him that both hitler and arnold schwartzeneger came from austria, so he shouldn’t get so high and mighty with me. jedi pounding his way through a rack of “austrian barbeque.” it was pretty good.
but i was sad, because at the end of this dinner, the bus packed up, and ran off to the airport, back to thailand, leaving me in vienna for an extra day. no more of this. i may or may not have cried as i walked back to the hotel with out my little buddy.
i spent the next day in vienna, wandering around, eating exorbitant amounts of pastries, and planning my next trip back to vienna with eddie, wherein we will eat our way through this gastronomic wonderland. it really brought home how lame restaurants in vermont are. we were so stoked about the food when we got to berlin. which i maintain is still good, but after my days in vienna, i was like “oh right. thiiiis is amazing food.” i haven’t had access to that on a daily, “oh i want an amazing donut right NOW” basis since we lived in san francisco. and berlin has great food, seriously, but vienna, blew my face off.
on a different note, i will do my best to post more regularly, and thus less epically. sorry.
our first inter-european trip!
we decided to go back to amsterdam and try to erase last years 22 hour layover hell from our hearts and minds. as you might imagine, i wasn’t too pleasant with 48 hours of flying freak out to get from berlin to new jersey. you might want to do the reasonable thing, and point out “hey, you were going to new jersey, why wouldn’t you be nauseated and miserable?” but, let’s not forget, and i am an air travel nuttso.
back to the present. sort of. in april, i was digging around on the olde internts trying to find us a hotel in amsterdam for our anniversary weekend. [last year we were so demoralized by our dinning out options in vermont, that we just stayed in and had gnocchi for our anniversary. this year? we would triumph.] i happened upon a consortium of hotels that were houseboats!!! dope.
so, back to the future. we hopped on a morning train on a cold and grey berlin morning, and rolled into sunny warm amsterdam in the afternoon. our houseboat was a mere five minute walk from the main train station, so we were setup in a flash. i won’t say that our houseboat was glorious, the photos were clearly taken 13 years ago before things had gotten run down, but it was clean, and pretty cool.
mostly we walked around the city. we walked for hours everyday. the weather was perfect, the people friendly, and drivers went a reasonable speed through the city streets. it was everything berlin is not. it was a wonderful five days. please note, i love berlin. it’s just not an overwhelming friendly place. it’s not rude, it’s just not nice.
uhhh. cool interactive exhibit in the stedelijk museum
we also went to the anne frank house, which is a pretty amazing space, but you can’t take photos, so i can’t share images with you. 1 in 16 dutch jews lived through the holocaust, compared to between 1 in 4, or 1 in 6 german jews. admittedly, that is a somewhat misleading set of numbers, because half the jewish population of germany fled with the rise of the third reich, some to the netherlands. even so, 1 in 16 is an appalling number. it would seem that the dutch resistance didn’t really come into action until the german army started to conscripted dutch men into the military in the later days of the war.
of course, there were a number of people who worked against the nazi’s from the start, and there were an estimated 300,000 people in hiding who cared for by around 200,000 protectors.
mostly, i left the anne frank house astounded by the will of her father otto.
at first i laughed at the “slave free” branding. then i saw their promo video. then i cried. buy slave free chocolate. if the dutch can manage, you can manage.
all in all, we had an amazing time in amsterdam, but i was very happy to get back to grumpy, ping pong playing, graffitied, grey and drizzling berlin. i like a city with a little bite. nur ein bißchen.
oh man, it’s hot up in here. turns out, despite my desires to move back to dc and run a roof top farm, i may not be able to live through the summers there anymore. 3.5 years in san francisco backed up into 4 years in new england have a made a heat wuss out of me. for real. it’s been in the 80’s here, and without air conditioning, i’ve been feeling/acting like it’s 115.
on this note, we’ve been going to museums most weekends to get me into air conditioning and to use our year long membership cards! ’cause we’re cool like that.
last weekend, eddie picked the alte nationalgalerie [the old national gallery] because this man, this eddie, loves him some greek vases. surprising no? the first time we went to a museum together was to the sf moma, where he showed me his favorite piece in the museum. it was three canvases painted white with house paint by robert rauschenberg. so i suppose one might say that i knew what i was getting into. but, eddie is a man of varied tasted, thus, to the greek vases we went. i was more interested in the roman and greek sculpture…
luckily for us, museum island is a mere three minute walk from our apartment. literally. it’s fantastic.
many of the building in berlin still have markings from the war. the allied forces weren’t kidding around when then attacked berlin. this is a detail from the column below. entrance to the alte the beautiful bodes museum as seen from the alte museumthe mister immediately started striking yoga poses whilst in the galleries. statue of a slave girl mourning the death of her master. i’m sure a slave would have been simply broken up about the loss. [please note the sarcasm] check out that dope sicilian octopus coin, number 61. sicilians had the coolest coins. done. the remnants of saturday night as seen on our walk home.