Today I decided to do a marathon 3+ hours of working on grad school apps.
WHY ARE SCHOOL APPLICATIONS SO FRUSTRATING?
For example, the California state schools have you do one sort of “common app” but then they each demand that you send things to them in a highly separate in distinct way. I get that each of their programs differs somewhat from one another, but they also make you pay a separate fee for each school and it all just doesn’t make tons of sense. ESPECIALLY SF State, who makes you do such insane things such as have your recommendations come by email in this highly specified format that involves lots of numbers, and also letters from all your places of employment saying that yes, you did in fact work there, you weren’t lying.
Writing these personal essays, too. Bah. There was a reason I never embarked on a career of writing personal essays, ya know? Mostly because it is torturous. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, but if I could magically make the schools understand that I want to go there and I promise to do well there and not have to go through all these shenanigans, done and done in a heartbeat.
If anyone out there has been through this recently and has helpful bits of advice to share, feel free!
This morning I babysat for two adorable kids, Zoe and Benjy, and took them to the Oakland Zoo where we got to see the otters and monkeys and other cute animals. Mostly Zoe was into rides, though, so she went on several and then the three of us went on the train where walleroos and emus were literally inches away from us!
I’ve started applying to social work grad schools and I did an informational interview today with a woman who is an adoption social worker which is a career I am really intrigued by. She was very helpful and talked with me for almost forty minutes even though it was a blind call (I found her doing research on the internet). I have officially become a fan of informational interviews. All the applications kind of intimidate me though. JUST LET ME IN OKAY?? I PROMISE TO BE A GOOD SOCIAL WORKER!!
In other news, the postal service released the PIXAR stamps which are adorable (please go out and support your local post office and make sure that the USPS doesn’t shut down or something of that nature as it is a huge nightmare of mine) and I made my first ratatouille!
Shana Tova to all you Rosh Hashana celebrators out there. My birthday falls on it this year (Friday)!
We had a rather lovely birthday weekend for Honza, with a scrumptious dinner at Millennium in San Francisco on Saturday night and then a picnic at Crissy Field the next day with friends. Both involved lots of delicious food and good company. We got to watch the sunset over Golden Gate Bridge, which always looks so pretty that it seems fake or illusory. I suppose I am an official Child of the 21st Century, albeit one that thinks Kindles are frightening and evil.
Ellie and I watched Waking Sleeping Beauty the other day, which is a really well done documentary about the Disney company between the years of 1981-1994 (basically from their least financially and critically successful period to their second “golden age” where they had a string of hits) and how it all came together and then how the success kind of unraveled due to large egos. It’s actually very interesting, even for people who are not Disney-lore obsessed fanatics as we (I swear it’s interesting!)
I started one of my part-time jobs today and it went well except I have to dress more business casual apparently. Better get on that. Hmmm…
I have no idea why I just thought of that Cabaret song. I’ve never even seen Cabaret. Hmm.
It’s been a simultaneously busy and not busy week, if that makes any sense. I’ve started some job trainings for working with autistic kids and their families and my actual work will start at the end of the month. I’ve been wrapping birthday presents (as previously mentioned, September is a huge birthday month), riding my bike, going out for spicy hot chocolate with my friend Ellie, hangin’ with the grandparents, and getting and receiving postcards from all over the world (thank you Postcrossing…everyone should join! Plus, support the Postal Service, please. What if they went bankrupt? I live in fear. THE MAIL MUST CONTINUE. I also live in fear of books ceasing to exit but that is another story.)
I still haven’t gotten my Pottermore email. Gnuh. I don’t know why this is even bugging me but it is.
Also, babies! Whoa! Two of my friends now having babies. It gives me all these weird biological clock sensations and I’m like no no no self no babies right now calm down.
Am I the only one in the world who thinks the Grapes of Wrath actually sounds like a horror movie? Like these giant grapes on steroids coming out to strangle people in the Dust Bowl.
I’ve decided to go to Disneyland the first weekend in December. Will make more concrete plans shortly. Very jazzed. Intrigued about the new Star Tours. Annoyed that Haunted Mansion and Small World will be Christmasified by then but what can you do, right?
It’s September…the month of my birthday, Honza’s birthday, my mom’s birthday, Honza’s dad’s birthday, my dear friend David’s birthday…you get the idea. BIRTHDAY MONTH. I used to not like having a September birthday because in the school year, it’s right at the beginning of the year when you’re still adjusting and maybe don’t have all your friendships worked out, but now I love it mostly because September is just such a pleasant month. I love the warm Indian summer weather we get in Cali and then when I lived in NYC I loved the changing of the leaves and the crisp fall weather, equating BUST OUT THE AWESOME SWEATER JUMP IN THE LEAF PILE AND SIP WARM CIDER, i.e. FALL IS THE BEST SEASON OF THE YEAR. Which it is, obviously. Granted, we don’t get much fall here in Northern California, because, well, we just don’t plumb dang have any seasons here, period. So I’m not gonna lie, I will miss that New England (and also Bavarian) season. But whatever. I am still going to wear my sweater and jump in leaf piles, regardless of fall colors, and sip warm cider. So there! And of course, celebrate lots of birthdays.
My mom was away for a few days taking care of grandparents, which is its own story and rather personal so therefore not for the blogosphere, but while she was away I was cooking for my dad and I, which was nice. I made an orange-cherry rice pilaf, a summer pasta with avocado, tomato, arugula and mozzarella, and an improvised Vietnamese noodle dish. Also, today I am picking up my new glasses. Bizarrely, they are made by Juicy Couture. I never thought I would own anything by a company that emblazons the word JUICY on the butt seat of their sweatpants, but you know, I liked the glasses.
I’m excited to vote in the elections soon. I often worry about the state of my state, especially the whole closing-down-lots-of-state-parks threat and the unemployment rate. That’s also another story, though. Till next time…
Until my jobs start, I have a bit of free time, so Honza and I went up to Lake Tahoe on Friday to stay with my cousin Ilan at the Stanford family camp where he’s been working for the summer. It was absolutely wonderful—we got to hike in Desolation Valley and swim in isolated, clear, cold Lake Suzie, go out to the Brewery, drive by Emerald Bay, explore Tallac Historic Site and go canoeing out on Fallen Leaf Lake. I felt slightly guilty about all my East coast friends in the hurricane area dealing with terrible storms. I’m crossing my fingers for everyone.
Yesterday Honza and I walked from the Embarcadero in SF all the way to Ocean Beach. We passed by the J-pop festival in Japantown and dressed up as samurais, visited my high school, ate pieroshkies from a Russian/Georgian bakery, witnessed a Russian Orthodox wedding, climbed around the old Sutro Baths ruins and walked along the Cliff House and then ate Chinese food with my family back in the East Bay.
Missing all my German and Czech friends, though, and thinking of them fondly!
I am seized with the urge to go “back to school.” I miss my Home Alone lunchbox I had in first grade…
Anyways, I’ve been back in Cali now for over a week. New York City was short but wonderful. I got to see some wonderful friends, sing my first ever bar karaoke (“The Whole World” by Outkast, in case you were wondering), eat a 5.99 lunch in Brighton Beach and get served by the ultimate Russian waiters, got a manipedi also in Brighton Beach where neither the workers nor the clients spoke English, walk through Prospect Park, eat ramen with my awesome cousin Adrienne, spend a day at Riis Beach, and discuss who would be a worse roommate between a militant vegan, freegan or hipster while sitting on my friend David’s roof. So yeah. Great trip, and I miss all my buddyroos there immensely.
Honza arrived on the 17th and it’s been so wonderful having him here with me in the Bay till January (wish it was longer, but still). He is living with some other grad students in Berkeley and is working on his thesis. We’ve been doing some Bay exploring and are heading up to Tahoe this weekend with my brother and my cousin Ilan, which I’m super jazzed about, and Honza has never been to Tahoe, so that’s pretty exciting. Last night we hung out with my friends Ellie and Jon and ended up getting amazing gelato at a new place in Oakland. I had cardamom orange zest and Honza had peach ginger and Jon had banana salt caramel…drooling yet?
I’ll be starting at least one of my jobs in a week or so working with autistic kids and their families through a great organization, and then doing some office work at a social work gerontology organization hopefully around the same time, and also starting to apply to grad school.
BUT, weighing heavily on my mind is when I should go to Disneyland. It’s tempting to go ASAP because Pirates and Haunted Mansion will close soon for either renovations or to be Christmasized…ARGH. What to do??
After a wonderful day in Bamberg, Honza and I headed on to Prague, where we stayed overnight and then left the next afternoon to go to the town of Valec for a free open-air music festival. The festival is called Povalec and has been going on about six years, and remains completely free of charge. It breaks even every year through sales of drinks and food. To give you an idea of what it looks like (not my photos):
It was pretty fun to see a bunch of “alternative” Czechs (lotsa dreadlocks, interestingly cut hair, intriguing clothing choices) as well as just people who wanted to enjoy great free music and camp out for a day or three gathered together. My favorite band was called Fiordmoss (http://www.fiordmoss.cz/) who sounded a lot like Portishead.
On the Valec garden property, there was a guy who lived in his own handmade yurt and raised sheep. He was selling food made with his own fresh sheep cheese and goat milk. I had amazing couscous with goat cheese and homemade granola with the goat milk. It was pretty awesome.
Valec is an amazing town in and of itself. I visited back in October of 2010. It looks like this:
fairly undiscovered by tourists as of yet, but maybe now with the growing success of the music festival, more will come? We’ll have to see.
Blog entries to be continued.
Also, in other news, I have a new (well, used, but new to me) bike, and Honza and I biked from my house to his. It sure ain’t Munich—those hills will make us buff! It was a great ride though.
So I clearly haven’t posted for quite some time. Since the time I last posted and as I write this now, I have been in Bamberg (Germany), Prague, Radoun, Ustek, Litomerice (all Czech Republic), a brief stopover at the Dublin airport in Ireland, and in New York City.
Now I’m back in Cali.
I’ll have to write a legitimate update later this week, if time permits.
But I’m alive and kicking, if a little jet lagged and sleepy.
We had the goodbye party for yours truly on Tuesday night. I got to meet the new au pair from Denmark, Elida, and Elisabeth and Amelie made a ton of pictures for me (Elisabeth even gift wrapped them herself) and I got a photo of the kids when they were in South Africa in a picture frame. Ludwig was being so cuddly all night and wanted me to hold him all the time, which was adorable. I’ll miss those kids, for sure. I told Amelie we would have a Skype date together and then she said “Na gut aber wann kann ich dich richtig sehen?” (that’s good but when can I see you for real?) Awwww….heart melting.
Honza and I had bubble tea at Munich’s first bubble tea place, which just opened. I told the lady working there I was surprised and excited to see bubble tea in Munich, ‘cause coming from Cali, we have a lot of it there. She laughed and said “yeah, most of the people coming here are foreigners because Germans don’t really get the bubble tea idea yet.”
Also, not to brag, but nerdily enough I got into Pottermore yesterday. SeekerWatch92. YEAH. Also I bought Harry Potter in German—so now I own the book in German, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Hungarian, Japanese, Hebrew and Czech.
I mean, really. Cliche, but where HAS the time gone?
It seems like just last week I was starting my very first au pair job in Starnberg, which turned out to be awful (waking up at 5:30 am every morning to catch the train+psycho mom+spoiled children+boring tiny town=bad news bears).
A lot has really happened over the course of letzte August to now.
I’ve learned a language that I knew basically nothing of to the point where I can converse in it for an hour with random people, I’ve visited two new countries (Ireland and Switzerland, though I’m not sure if Switzerland counts since I was in a parking lot), I’ve become a really good cook (not to toot my own horn, but it’s true, and tacos are on the menu tonight!), I’ve met people from all over the world—-Germany, Austria, Kenya, Georgia, Italy, Spain, New Zealand, UK, Poland, Peru, France, Netherlands—-and traveled all over Bavaria. I was at the world-famous Oktoberfest and have become a beer connoisseur, if a semester in the Czech Republic hadn’t done that to me already.
I’ve had my first Christmas and a Czech one at that. Honza’s family met my family. I’ve help raise a baby from age six months to fifteen months. I went to Rosh Hashana and Purim services at a German synagogue and also experienced services at the world’s oldest synagogue in Prague, and also experienced a slew of Catholic holidays I never knew existed. I’ve gotten really into riding my bike and further confirmed my love of hiking. I’ve attended world-class performances of opera, theater and classical music (and am about to attend a weekend music festival near Prague of rock, jazz and techno). I went to the Munich Film Festival and tons of museums.
In the end, the main thing is that I was able to spend so much time with Honza, which was really the initial reason I went to go live in Germany for a year—besides the fact, of course, I was excited and ready to live in Europe again.
I’m jazzed to go back to the States and be with my family and friends and eat legitimate Mexican (and Thai, Vietnamese etc) food again and experience the glory of NYC and SF but I will most definitely miss it here. It’s a bittersweet feeling. I mean, I’m sure I’ll be back to visit in the near future, but visiting ain’t the same.
I have my good-bye dinner with the au pair fam on Sunday which will be pretty sad too. I have gotten attached to the kids, and the baby’s known me pretty much his entire life. He can even say my name now!
We’re having a farewell party on Monday that will either involve a barbecue in our courtyard or at our favorite Greek taverna, depending on the weather forecast.
Then, it’s a few days of Bavarian exploration, and then a Czech music festival, then I fly out to NYC for a week, and back to Cali.
things i'm really going to miss about bavaria: honesty and reliability
I have to admit, I’ll miss the kind of place where people lose their wallets and they are 99% of the time returned fully intact to their owners, and where bike theft is almost a non-issue, and I’ve never seen a shopkeeper try and cheat anyone (I also do appreciate the euro bills are different sizes so that a blind person cannot be cheated with which-bill-is-which). Sometime when people lose an item in the street, someone will pick it up and stick it on a signpost so that the person can retrace their steps and find it.
Also: trains, buses and trams actually run on time, which has been a fairly novel experience for me. Although it can be bad if you are running just one minute late…
Not to go all cheeseball on everyone, but after seeing the last HP movie last night, I said in a super-cheesy way, “It’s the end of an era! The end of my childhoooood!” Okay, I was maybe exaggerating a little there but I’m not going to lie that I felt rather sentimental and sad that the book and movie saga have ended and THERE’S NOTHING TO LOOKING FORWARD TO BWAHHHH. No no, that’s an extreme reaction. Actually the movie was decent but not amazing (I guess I was mostly just sad that Ron and Hermione didn’t get more screen time ‘cause I love them), and the awesomest parts were anything with Snape, McGonagall and Neville Longbottom, who are all 100% certified badasses. And let me just say that the butterbeer during the movie looked very tempting, despite the fact I was drinking an actual beer. Another great part of the movie was during the epilogue the audience just laughed hysterically the whole time. Maybe because I was seeing it with an audience of cynical Germans? But no, I laughed too. Let’s be real: the epilogue is pretty ridic. Then I went home and had some kind of Harry Potter-related dream.
I also spent the weekend with my friend Laura from home, which was really nice. We walked all around Munich despite the weird, decidedly non-summer rainy weather we’ve been having and saw the sights and ate cake. I can’t believe I have two weeks left in Europe during 2011…crazy, really.
Amelie (after drinking a glass full of fizzy-drink-powder water): “And the Lord Jesus said, drink you now of my blood!” (My response: “Um, interesting statement, Amelie.” Her response: “We have to drink Jesus’ blood at church!”)
Elisabeth, after hearing me burp: “Naomi, you are not a lady. Ladies don’t do that.” (My response: “Don’t you ever burp?” Elisabeth: “Of course not. I’m a lady.”)
things i'm really going to miss about bavaria: bakeries
On nearly every Munich block and in every tiny dorf and stadt in Bavaria, you get these amazing bakeries. Some are chains, some are independent, but they all have one thing in common, even the super-cheap discount bakeries: they are FRESH, DELICIOUS, CHEAP and EVERYWHERE.
We’re talkin’ zwetschgendatschi:
And most importantly…BAVARIAN BREAD.
Pictures not taken by me.
Bavarian bakeries, you will be missed. Not to say there aren’t good bakeries in the US, but your specialties are indeed special, and your prices special as well.
Over the weekend in Prague, Honza and I saw a great exhibit by a photographer named Dana Kyndrova called “Rituals of Normalization” documenting the 1970’s and 1980’s in the Czech Republic during the period called “normalization,” a particularly repressive and stultifying era.
Here’s one from the Spartakiad, a mass gymnastics event held in Communist countries through the years. They still have ‘em in North Korea: the Arirang Games (which are even more intense and kind of drop-jaw horrifying yet fascinating).
Kids during a May Day parade in the early 80’s. Honza remembers desperately wanting to partake in one of these parades, but as his parents weren’t so into the regime, they had their own little “parade” at the chalupa where Honza’s dad read aloud from a learn-to-read textbook for the “speech” and Honza marched around the garden.
Queuing for fruits and vegetables.
Obligatory protests and “rallies.” Here is an anti-nuclear “protest.”
things i'm really going to miss about bavaria: biking & walking
Thus begins my list of things I am gonna miss about living here in good ol’ Munchen.
BIKING AND WALKING (/HIKING)
I have never lived in such a bike-friendly city, ever. Munich has tons of bike lanes, it’s mostly flat, there are places to park your bike EVERYWHERE, bike theft is extremely rare, you can take your bike on the S-Bahn, drivers and pedestrians respect bikers (for the most part), streets and sidewalks are wide, and the city offers free bike check-up stations about once a month or so.
It’s also mad pedestrian friendly. Besides the being flat factor, there are clearly marked signs about what direction most main landmarks and neighborhoods are in, so you could basically get around to a certain degree without a map or even asking for directions. Drivers stop for pedestrians (it ain’t NYC, that’s for sure) and even schlepping Ludwig’s baby carriage around is never too hard.
Plus, hiking couldn’t be any more convenient. You can hop on a BOB train to the Alps and be there in less than an hour or take a different regional train, or sometimes even take a bus, and you’re right at your starting point. Trail signs are everywhere, ensuring you basically can’t get lost, and there are little “Almhutte” along the way that are super cute and sell beer and Bavarian snacks to fuel you up en route. You can go the whole day and not have to get in a car! Wunderbar.
The day following Elisabeth’s birthday party was Opapa’s funeral. I stayed at the castle with Ludwig, my little favorite WALKING (!) buddyroo, during the funeral service and then everyone came to the castle for a garden reception. I got to meet a bunch of members of the extended family which was actually a lot of fun for me—I definitely practiced my German a lot—and there was even another American, who was dating one of the cousins. Her German was absolutely excellent, but Elisabeth said “Oh, I knew you weren’t German because you said ‘das decke’ instead of ‘die decke’.” Man oh man, leave it to Elisabeth to find the Auslander! Ha. Although it was a sad event, it was nice to see how many people came, so clearly Opapa was well loved. And guess who was there? A Lobkowicz! As in, the Bohemian Lobkowiczes….okay, I am clearly now at a point where I know a little too much about German and Bohemian aristocracy. Time to shut up.
I went back on Friday night with some of the cousins to Munich and finally slept in a bit (Ludwig and I were roomies the last few nights, so yeah, sleeping in doesn’t happen with the Shnoodler). Today was rather excellent. My friend Beth from language class and her German husband Dieter took me to Aumuhle, a section of the Isar river where we were able to swim a bit in the current and then sunbathe and chat and eat Johannisbeeren and Kirschen. We watched a succession of people on rafts, canoes and kayaks. The trend seemed to be that the lazy rafting beer drinkers made it without capsizing or turning around and everyone else, not so much. Later on we went to a beergarden that has a fish farm there so when you buy your trout, it’s insanely fresh. Alas, I do not like fish, but I had spatzle and sauerkraut like a good Bavarian gal.
I am debating whether to see Harry Potter when it comes out this week or wait another week or so. What to do? What to do???
(To answer the title post straight away—the Shnoodler himself! He took his first steps on July 7. He walks like a drunkard, but I cut him some slack, he’s only fifteen months old.)
It’s been a busy, fun, crazy and interesting last week. Over the past weekend, my friend Pete who I worked with two summers at camp Micah in Maine came to visit Munich en route in his Europe backpacking trip. We showed him some of the sites of Munich and also saw a great movie, “The Secret Life of Words,” at the Filmmuseum. Pete and I also hiked from the Tegernsee to the Schliersee (you can see pics in the last blog entry) which is a really pretty hike. I hope I get to do at least one or two more hikes before I leave Germany, which I have to say is one of the most hiking friendly countries ever—you just take the train or bus to wherever you want to hike, find the beginning of the trail which is clearly marked, and go! And in the case of Wendelstein, if it’s too unsafe to hike down due to fog, there is a funicular railway, which is quite awesome in its own way.
On Tuesday I had to go down to the Schloss because of Opapa’s death. I had an especially nice bonding time with the girls, who got to stay up late every night, and we played intensively on the trampoline and went on lots of “Spaziergangs.” Elisabeth had her birthday, and she loved the necklace that I made for her. We celebrated with chocolate cake, singing songs, and playing “Topfschlage” where someone is blindfolded and has to crawl around with a spoon looking for a pot to bang and people yell “heiss” or “kalt” to tell you if you’re close or far. Candy is hidden under the pot when you find it! To be continued…
I drank iced coffee this morning and am still feeling the hyper results. Also, what is UP with the weather here?? It’s sunny, then it rains, then it’s cold, then it’s humid…I just never know how to dress in the mornings anymore.
Opapa died, so my host family is up at the castle. I’ll probably have to join them at some point next week. I had the girls and their friend Emma at the Deutsches Museum yesterday, which the girls loved (I took them to the mining exhibit, which is an entire reconstructed mine) and then we got a phone call Opapa had died, so I had to bring the girls home straight away.
One of my co counselors from my two summers working at camp in Maine is backpacking Europe and we will have him over this weekend. Should be fun.
In other news, I made spanakopita for the first time this week.
catholic holidays, baby ludwig, and the damn flies
I was under the extremely wrong impression that Catholics, like Protestants, don’t have THAT many holidays. Christmas, Easter, and maybe Good Friday, right? Well, I was pretty darn wrong about this impression, because these last two months have been chock full of Catholic holidays. For those who don’t know, Bavaria is different from most of Germany (except Baden-Wurttemberg) because most people are Catholic instead of Lutheran or whatever and they take Catholicism seriously BUT combined with this weird Bavarian angle, by which I mean they build little Jesus statues absolutely everywhere (by the road, inside pubs, everywhere) and go to church dressed in their lederhosen and dirndls and accompany the hymns with an oompah band, which is what happened this Thursday on a holiday that had a complicated German name I cannot remember.
I had to go to my host family’s mom’s castle (yes, the family has two castles…whenever I write it, it sounds really bizarre, which it actually is, but I’m used to it now) and the holiday involved people putting out private altars and then decorating them with flowers and the priest walking under a chuppah (okay I know that is a Jewish word but I have no idea what it would be otherwise?) with a relic and blessing the altars and the oompah band playing hymns. This was about the bizillionth holiday these last two months but the first one I had experienced with specific rituals (other than the ones I knew like Easter and Good Friday).
Here’s the castle:
Picture not taken by me. It was built in the 1100s and Amelie likes pointing at the murals on the ceilings of knights and whatnot and being like “oh Naomi, that’s my great-great-great grandfather,” or whatever.
I know this sounds a little irrational, but sometimes I just get so jealous of these Europeans who have had their families living there forever and ever. Why did they get to keep these properties and castles and family heirlooms when my ancestors were basically kicked out, killed or fled from all their respective countries? I have no cousins or family in Europe left and the closest thing we have to a family heirloom is my great-great-grandfather’s glass cup. That’s it. A cup. A really nice cup, but THAT’S IT. I am really happy for all these families who do have these amazing legacies, but it’s unfair, in a larger sense, and sometimes I feel quite sad about it.
In other news, baby Ludwig is learning how to walk, which is quite exciting, and he loved watching me vigorously attack all the buzzing flies at the castle. Flies remind me when I glamourize the idea of agriculture or farms or whatever they come with a ton of flies. And I hate the damn things.
At the fruit and vegetable stand, the friendly Greek seller and his wife give me a handful of free cherries “fur unterwegs” (for, literally, underway, meaning on-the-go). At the drugstore, a little girl whimpers due to a large swollen lip. Her mother comforts her as I pay for my shampoo.
The rhubarb cake is sitting in the oven, waiting to emerge in the next twenty minutes or so.
Tonight we’ll see Tchaikovsky’s Sleeping Beauty ballet at the Bavarian State Opera. I don’t think I’ve seen a ballet in maybe almost two years now.
…has been: job applications, red wine, Settlers of Catan, deep annoyance with a certain someone and then deep appreciation for a different certain someone, the English Garden, soup making, North Korea obsessions, Postcrossing, tea, babies, vacuuming, new shoes, goodbyes, walks, Mozart, and hats.
So I didn’t take this picture, but this is where I hiked today with Honza and our friends Margaret and David. It’s a large Alpine hill called Wendelstein in Oberbayern and it is GORGEOUS. It took us around 4 hours to get to the top of the mountain. Along the way we saw goats, cows, alpacas, lizards, and a ton of slugs. At the top of the mountain there are several funicular railways, a chapel, an astronomical observatory, an Almhutte, and….a cave! Filled with frozen waterfalls and other awesome things. We filled up on some food and took the funicular railway down the mountain. One of the best hikes ever!
I don’t mean all tourists to Prague are obnoxious. What I’m talking about are the large groups, mostly British stag parties, American college kids, and French and Italian high schoolers, who somehow think it’s cool to come to Prague and get absolutely wasted and scream and yell and make a commotion on public transit and late at night on the street and trash things and then talk back to the old men on the tram who tell them to please, be respectful, this isn’t your city. EXACTLY. You are acting like RUDE LOSERS. Either do not come to Prague at all if this is how you will behave, or get your act together. Dekuju,
I think the rain has put me in a mood of non sequiturs. I have had a pretty good week that involved using our new immersion blender (making carrot and also cauliflower soups), having Elisabeth tell me she loved me (WINNNN), hanging out with my friend Margaret before she heads back to the States (boooo), teaching Ludwig how to play tag—okay, crawling tag, if you will—-and today I had an insanely delicious muffin. I wanted to buy and eat about five more but I restrained myself. Also, I felt highly amused by some great street names here. For example: Bummstrasse, Bonner (pronounced “Boner”) Platz, and Kraepelinstrasse (which is right next to Bummstrasse…intriguing!) We are going to Prague for the weekend, which is most excellent.
Germany also has the weirdest news stories. The big thing here right now is this E. coli outbreak that supposedly came from Spain, but then that apparently was wrong so now Spain is MAD pissed at Germany for defaming their agriculture. Another huge news story is this insurance firm in Hamburg that was revealed to have had a 80,000 euro tax-write off for a sex party they had in Budapest with twenty-five hookers at a bathhouse. Oh Germany. You are a little bit bizarre sometimes, no?
It’s been a pretty busy last couple of weeks with many ups and downs. One of the highlights, though, has been the Hofflohmarkts here in Munich. Those refer to courtyard flea markets, where apartment buildings and homes open up their courtyards and the residents sell random things, as in a garage sale. Some of them, particularly the courtyards in Schwabing, are really hidden and beautiful. We went to the Maxvorstadt one today (each neighborhood has a different weekend). People sell things ranging from clothes to household objects to very questionable CDs, old toys, and—probably most ridiculous—-statues of black servants (and there were a lot of these statues…ummm…what?) Mostly everything is really nice and laid back, and lots of people sell homemade goodies like cake and sausages and coffee, and Honza and I got a handheld blender.
The kids had Sommerfest on Thursday, where all the kindergarten kids were dressed up as animals and performed songs and dances and then there was a potluck dinner. I’m happy, though, to be in Munich this weekend and not at the schloss, which I may have to be at next week. Unsure. I just needed to relax and recover and all that good stuff.