Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Last days in Limburg

I have difficulty with good-byes and finality and options being cut off. I think along the lines of "Oh no, I will never again be in Maastricht on a Thursday!" or "This is my last sandwich at the cafeteria I have been complaining about for the past year." or "I forgot that Batman's curious nose will no longer peer out of our front window, I should've paid better attention yesterday." Meanwhile, Nick takes a break from packing the boxes to wonder aloud if he can throw away the pair of sunglasses he never sees me wear. Here are a few of our good-bye stories:

Sinatra
A few weekends ago, we went out with Nick's boss and a coworker, painting the town black and blue. By about 1AM, we are all hammered and in the Markt (Maastricht's main town square) singing screaming out Frank Sinatra's New York, New York. (Because if you are not yet aware, we are moving to New York, New York.) A group of random Indian guys walked by as I spun around singing a solo line, and one of them picked me up and said "you're coming out with us now!" What a brilliant idea! So I just laughed at my good fortune as he carried me down the street. Nick's boss and coworker started chasing after us, and Nick just stayed where he was, because he knew I would come back eventually. :-)

Vespas
Nick and I rented some cool Italian flag vespas from La Dolce Vespa in Maastricht. (Isn't that a cool name?!) The lady was super nice, and taught us to drive in the little parking lot. We were both fairly terrified, and really sucked at making turns on the tiny Vespa wheels. You aren't obliged to wear a helmet, but we sprang an extra 20 euros to get helmets. We spent about 6 hours zooming around at about 20 mph through Limburg, to tiny towns we'd never visited. Including Gulpen a few times because we got lost. We went to Margraten, which is a large American cemetery from WW2. Dutch people adopt graves and leave flowers and messages, it was a really beautiful place. Horror of horrors, my camera ran out of batteries before I could execute all my photo ideas of us on the Vespas so we have no Vespa photos.

Paris
There are many reasons to drive 4 hours to Paris while your husband packs a few suitcases and golfs. To see my old coworker from my Paris internship 6 years ago. To eat Berthillon ice cream one last time. To take advantage of the French sales that are only held twice a year. To buy perfume at the Rue Cambon Chanel boutique. We went out with our coworkers on Friday night, stayed out until 3, and then I woke up at 5:30 to drive to Paris in time for my shopping appointment at Galeries Lafayette. Nothing like shopping to cure a hangover and a little bit of homesickness. I've spent the past 6 years homesick for Paris, and sadly it will continue when we move. I spied a mime preparing for his day on a side street near Notre Dame.

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Our last picture in the apartment- you can see Batman has a cone on his head, the poor guy needs to get his shit together and look healthy before we try to import him....

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Monday, June 29, 2009

Wall Study

Novice blogger Nick didn't post photos, so here are some interesting wall contrasts from our road trip:

1- Peace Wall in Prague

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2- Berlin Wall

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3- Bike storage wall (one of many) in Amsterdam

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Enjoy!

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Amsterdam: The Finale

We left Berlin around 9 and started our 6 hour drive towards Amsterdam. This was a fun drive for me, as a big portion of it was on the Autobahn. I learned that our Prius tops out at 181 km/h. I was still getting lapped by the Porsches and BMWs.

We arrived to our hotel, on the western outskirts of the city. We checked in quickly and headed straight into the center of town, as a beer specialty store that Erik wanted to check out was soon closing. We made it with about 10 minutes to spare, and Erik quickly made friends with the store-owner(?). We spent way too much on beer, but came away with some very unique ones that we may never see again.

We headed to a restaurant called Gespot that Erica and I had tried before and really enjoyed. It had a little of something for everyone and good cocktails. We took a few pictures of Amsterdam and headed back out to the hotel. Erik and Lynnea were leaving tomorrow morning and needed to pack properly for the flight. Erica and I tagged along, and Erik and I quickly became distracted by a card tossing game. It started out as landslide victories for me, but Erik quickly became a challenge. Who knew I was so good at tossing cards?... I did!

We met up with the Sundman's for breakfast at the hotel and said our goodbyes! Erica and I headed back into Amsterdam to visit a couple of museums and say goodbye to the pretty city. Our first stop at a museum called FOAM. A photography museum. We learned that there was a New York Perspectives exhibit across the street and also visited that. It was New York photographers taking pictures around Amsterdam. We went downstairs at the place and stumbled upon the city archives. We saw old city planning maps, and a police report about Anne Frank's bike being stolen. Also 3-d pictures (although not Magic Eye).

The last legs of the trip... (better late than never)

Before leaving Prague, Erica and I headed back into the city to use the last of our metro passes. We were originally planning to go visit a glass museum, but decided against it and went to an area of the city known as Mala Stan. We just walked around and came across the John Lennon peace wall there.


We were to meet up with Lynnea and Erik at a pub that we were thwarted at trying to get into the night before.
Everyone had a couple beers (I had one, since I was driving) and some lunch. We used every last minute of our metro pass by heading back to the apartment. We packed up the car, and were on the road to Berlin.

3.5 hours later...

We pulled up alongside our apartment, checked-in, and headed to Oscar Wilde Pub, so that Erik could see the Champion's Cup Football (soccer) match. I stayed along with him, and the girls went back to the apartment, as it was standing room only. It was the first match I have ever completely watched, and I actually enjoyed it. I was glad that Barca one, but what do I know? We walked back to the apartment stopping for some Shwarma along the way.

We woke up the next morning and headed to the big T.V. tower for the Fat Tire Bike Tour. I volunteered for the Ass-man position this time, and was in charge of making sure everyone stayed in front of me.
Places visited on the tour:
German version of the White House
The Dom
The book burning site
The Gardens
The Berlin Wall
Checkpoint Charlie
Old Nazi Headquarter
Bunker where Hitler killed himself
Holocaust Memorial

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It was a good way to see many things. Afterward, Erica and I headed to a longer stretch of the Berlin wall, in East Berlin. We also did some shopping at a local store, and went to a Photography Museum near the zoo.
We headed back to our apartment and found a japanese noodle restaurant for dinner. The food was good here, and Erica had a beer with Fanta added to it (they also have a beer that the mix with lemonade).

Friday morning started with some pastries and window-shopping. Erica found a very persuasive salesman at a store she had been eyeing. A beautiful red trench coat was now on her brain. We walked around to a few more stores, and also to a bakery where Erica had tried some deserts from previously. It was now time for lunch at an all-you-can eat buffet. Erica received some good news, and bought lunch for everyone! She also went back and bought the red trench coat, but the salesman wasn't there. She had to deal with a slightly less fun saleswoman. We headed to the zoo next! A bit anti-climatic, but we enjoyed the monkey house, polar bears, and the petting zoo. We decided to eat more kebabs for dinner and have a night in with games and wine/beer, after all we had to leave pretty early the next morning to head towards A-dam.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Roadtrip Recap - Prague

After Salzburg, we headed to our next stop- Praha! But first, we stopped at the Eagle's Nest, which was a 50th birthday present from the 3rd Reich to Hitler. It is basically a house (now, a restaurant) on top of a mountain. With mountains come mountain climbing, driving in twists and turns, ears popping, etc. No joke- 1800 meters above sea level, views up to 200km (we saw Salzburg!) Erik was a good sport despite his fear of heights and I climbed through snow and up a mountain peak in flip flops. There were plenty of places where natural selection was allowed to run its course, and we couldn't help but comment, "In America, there would probably be a huge fence so you couldn't climb around this stuff and hurt yourself!" (Luckily, climbing around in flip flops left me on the alive side of natural selection!)

Lynnea and Erik in front of the house

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The four of us at the restaurant, taken by our very kind waiter.

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Erik, Nick and I climbed to the peak! (Look for Nick's red shirt on the left!)

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From the Eagle's Nest, we thought Prague would be only 3 hrs by car. But no, our TomTom said 5 hours! We later found out that we could've taken a slightly faster main route. But instead, we took the scenic route. Scenery included mountains, hills, young hookers, and Casino America. We spent a few days in Prague- most of it was spent on foot so we were generally pretty exhausted from sightseeing. On our first day we took a paddle boat around the river, which was great. This boat ride also served as the long anticipated "anniversary cruise" - when Erik and Lynnea got married in Costa Rica last year, we all talked about going on a cruise for their first anniversary. A paddle boat is similar to a cruise.

Here is a picture of the Frank Gehry Dancing Building from the boat.

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There is a nice restaurant on top of the Dancing Building, so we had a great dinner to celebrate the Sundman's first anniversary. Prague castle is in the background.

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We also had an afternoon drink/dessert in a bell tower (we only needed one expensive dinner!)

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And finally, me in the subway, I just like this picture. I don't know why I open my mouth in every picture, but this is documented back to my kindergarten talking during the fireman's presentation days. 

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Roadtrip Recap - Salzburg

After a day on the Romantic Road, we drove from Augsburg to Dachau concentration camp and spent a few hours looking around the prison, gas chamber, ovens, exhibits. It's a bit surreal to see a place like that, and quite the contrast to step into the parking lot and see a big McDonald's sign.

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Then we drove to Salzburg, Austria. Despite the fact that we were hit by hardcore hail, the mountain scenery was stunning. We spent 3 days there, mainly hitting up Sound of Music tourist spots. Nick and I went to a puppet show- it was our first one, puppets are awesome! I really enjoyed looking at the marionettes on display and wish we could've had an up close tour to see how things work behind the scenes.

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View of Salzburg:

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Near the Leopoldskron Castle, which served as the "Von Trapp house"

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The SoM gazebo (You are sixteen, going on seventeen....)

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The hills are alive!

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Sunday, June 7, 2009

Roadtrip recap - Romantic Road

We had another set of visitors- Lynnea and Erik arrived on May 17. We picked them up at the airport in Amsterdam, then drove back to Maastricht via Rotterdam (to see cool buildings) and Kinderdyk (windmills). They hung around Maastricht and Aachen for a few days while we worked. One evening we headed to Drie Landen Point, which is the intersection of The Netherlands, Germany, and Belgium. There is a really fun labyrinth with fountains that we chased each other around in. Thursday we left for our trip. The first leg was about 8 hours of driving along the Romantic Road in Germany. We stopped in Warzburg, Rothenberg, and Augsburg for some sightseeing.

Lynnea unsuccessfully trying to videotape me:

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Mario jumping on a mushroom in Super Mario Bros 2. Or me in Rotterdam.

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Lynnea and Erik in zero of the 3 countries.... at Drie Landen Point. There are lines on the ground dividing the countries. Photobucket

Self explanatory, no?

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Don't I look like Vanna White? Pink porsche in Rothenberg.

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Schneeballen, a famous delicacy in Rothenberg, are made from flour, water, sugar and toppings. As it turned out, Schneeballen do not taste good. At all. Photobucket

Chastity belt in a Rothenberg shop. Is there really a market for rich virgins?

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More entries to come, it was a long trip with a full car!

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