Wednesday, May 7, 2008


This vacation I visited Paul in Eastern France (Dijon, Besaçon) but I don't have the pictures from that trip yet so I'm going to write about the trip I took to Copenhagen after France. My friend Dave from college has an internship there and I thought it would be fun to visit him! The first two days he was working and so I just walked around and saw all the touristy stuff:

I'm pretty sure this is the Parliament....

Royal Ballet:

Striking Danish health care workers. They were circling the square I was having a picnic in and singing protest songs in Danish to the tunes of "When the Saints Come Marching In" and "She'll Be Comin' Round the Mountain."

They got closer and closer to me. They handed me a piece of candy (normally I wouldn't accept candy from strangers but they were nurses...) and a helpful leaflet explaining their plight (in Danish). I've never been more flattered than when actual Danish people thought I was Danish. They are the most attractive people I've ever seen.

Nuhavn, Famous Canal

I just wanted to take a picture of the boat and I got caught by a sailor.

Cute café:

Queen's House:

Cool building near Queen's house:

Famous Little Mermaid statue with random people who wouldn't give other people a chance to take pictures in front of it:

Fun fact: This statue is an homage to Hans Christian Andersen's character. Hans Christian Andersen is one of the Danes' favorite native sons and they affectionately call him Ho C.

Underwater statue of the Merman and his 7 Sons. I don't know why its underwater.

The next day I went to a really cool art museum that had an interesting mix of art including Danish art which I'd never really seen much of before. I even saw several paintings by a guy named Dahl! Here is the museum:

I also took some pictures of some cool buildings that day:

Dragon Spire Building (At least that's what I call it)

Black and Gold Twisty Spire:

The next day, Dave and I went to Christiania which is basically a hippie commune set up in abandoned military barracks. The people have been living their for 30 years and they consider themselves to be an independent state:


Exit: "you are now entering the EU"

There was a really delicious vegan restaurant where we ate in Christiania so I was pretty much in heaven. The next day I was leaving in the evening and we mostly just walked around Copenhagen. Dave told me about how in Denmark people use the graveyards as public parks (having picnics in between gravestones is totally normal) and the gravestones are really well kept up and unique.

We really liked the quotation on the top of this one:

"Give me the grace to take a joke and pass it on to other folk"

I also have to include a picture of one the lakes built around Copenhagen to keep out invaders:

OK, I guess that's it! It was a great long weekend!

Monday, April 7, 2008

Playing Catch Up 2

After getting back to Paris, I took the train to Strasbourg to visit Paul. We visited the modern art museum there and I took this picture because this piece was done by someone from St. Brieuc!!

After a few days, Clare joined us and we took at a day trip to a castles whose name I forget, Riquewihr (with is on the Route du vin / Wine Route) and Munster. The castle was on top of a mountain and we were allowed to go in because of the high winds but it was still really cool to see it from the outside.

view from the top:

view from far away (it's possible that this isn't the same castle. Also ignore the scary black smudge next to the castle. It seems like I somehow managed to take a spirit picture or something)

vineyards of Alsace:

cute town in a valley:

Riquewihr was a really cute town where they make and sell really delicious wines (mostly whites). We went to a cave and got to do a taste test before selecting some to buy. Even though these wines were really high quality, they are not expensive at all in France (about 7 euros a bottle or around 10 dollars). In the supermarket, spending over 3 euros for wine is pretty classy. Here are some pictures of the town:

Munster was cute but less picturesque. I was able to buy some real Munster cheese (not at all the same as what they sell in the US.) I loved it but I'm not sure how pleased my car companions were to have me with them because it was a little bit smelly. When we were in the bakery to buy bread to go with the cheese we heard the cashier and another worker speaking Alsatian, which is a dialect of German spoken in that region of France. (It's right next to Germany and the area has been under both French and German control during its history.)

I was pretty sad during this trip because I had found out that morning that my dog Sandy had passed away. She was 16 so it wasn't a huge surprise but it'll be hard to go home to a house without her!!

Playing Catch Up

To all my dedicated fans, I apologize. I have no excuse for my long absence other than laziness. So, on the eve of my next vacation I’m finally going to write about my last one in Berlin. You’ll be spared a lot of the historical details since I don’t remember them any more and mostly you’ll just be able to look at the pictures! The first night we got to Berlin it was late and so we just made our to Sophia’s grandfather’s apartment and hung around and went to sleep. The next day we walked into town and saw a cathedral that was damaged during a bombing in WWII and never restored in order to remind everyone who saw it about the realities of war.

We also saw a really cool break dancing/ street performance. Interestingly enough the men conducted the entire performance in English (I guess because there were so many tourists) and his English was almost perfect. I haven't encountered any street performers in France with such a high level of English....

Cool sculpture:

We then made our way to the Brandenburg Gate, which was commissioned by Friedrich Wilhelm II and built between 1788 to 1791. It used to be the gate to the city and later became part of the border between East and West Berlin.

Next, Danae and I went to the Reichstag which is the German government building. If you look closely you can see me in my light brown coat at the bottom of the stairs on the right.

There is a really cool modern glass part of the Reichstag that Danae and I climbed up:

After our day we went home and relaxed with some beers at the apartment. This is Barbara and me enjoying some green beers from Berlin:

The next day we went to the Turkish Market in the area of Berlin where there are a lot of Turkish immigrants:

After the Turkish market we went to the Jewish Museum, which traces the history of Jews in Germany from the Middle Ages up to today. The architecture was really interesting and was made to make you feel unsettled / unsure to show how the Jews have felt throughout history after their many journeys to new countries.

The next day we went to Potsdam, which is a suburb of Berlin and home of lots of the castles of the German (Prussian) royal family. We took a tour of Sans Souci (French, not German, for Without Worry), Frederich the Great's summer palace.

More castles:

At Potsdam, I bought a book about Kaiser Wilhelm II's mother (Empress Frederich/ Princess Victoria of England) and I'm still working on it seeing as its about 500 pages but its really interesting to read it after having seen all of her palaces and the places she visited in Berlin.

That night we went out to a club to experience Berlin's famous nightlife. I wasn't disappointed! We managed to find a club that was both huge and really unpretentious. It was sort of like being at a huge party with all of your friends. This is us before we went out:

The next day after an (ahem) late start, Danae and I went to see Checkpoint Charlie and the Checkpoint Charlie Museum. Checkpoint Charlie was the barrier between American Berlin and Soviet Berlin:

Then we went to a Sri Lanken Restaurant for dinner where we decided it would be a good idea to take pictures like this:

I'm pretty sure the waitress thought we were insane. I guess Barbara was either too classy to participate or just really liked being the photographer.

The next day we went to the East Side Gallery which is a part of the wall that still standing and is covered in murals and graffiti.

This is us on the walk there followed by some pictures of graffiti:

Note Barbara's head at the bottom.

Barbara, Danae and me in from of the River Spree

(not me)

("we were here" also not us)

not on the Wall but still so nice.

After the Wall it was just about cake time (something that really exists in Germany!!) and so for the sake of full cultural immersion we decided to participate:

After cake, Danae and I went to Museum Island to visit the Cathedral:

We got up the next day at 4 to catch our flight (which, of course, was delayed!) and then I went off to Alsace which I will document in my next post in about 10 minutes!