Friday, December 11, 2009

Firenze

sorry, no pictures again!
Florence was magnifico. The city of the birth of Western Civ as we know it! I found it rather monumental to be there in that great city. And it was so beautiful.
I arrived at night and found my hostel relatively easily. Thank heavens for hostels near train stations. The next day was when the real fun began.
I woke up early (which, by the way, is the best time to see any city - when it's waking up! AND the double plus of going early in a touristy city? You get all the sites to yourself.). First stop: Il Duomo and the Baptistry. THE place/event/thing that started the Renaissance...well, at least to me. See, the Medici Family was a powerful family in Florence in the 1400's. They held a contest for artisans to create the best doors for the Baptistry outside the Duomo. It came down to Gheberti's doors, or Brunelleschi's Doors. After much debate, Gheberti won (in one of those "underdog beats the old master"kind of moments...) and in a fury, Brunelleschi left the city. [don't worry, he came back and saved the day when he was the only one who could figure out how to successfully place a dome on the magnificent church {a church whose dome, btw, became the model for churches (and out capitol building) all over the world}].
SOOO Gheberti won, and it was magnificent. Michaelangelo saw the doors as a youth, and said that they were so beautiful, they were like the "Gates of Paradise" - which is the name they are referred to as even today.
The Medicis continued to pump money into the arts and sciences for the next little while, effectively revving up the Renaissance and bringing Europe out of the dark ages. Thank Heavens! and it happened in FLORENCE!! and I was THERE!! seriously, so cool.
i climbed to the tippy top of the dome (423 steps, thank you very much!), and the sight was beautiful. you know in mary poppins, when they're looking over the city at twilight, and it's just stunning? yeah, it was like that. If you feel like a hike up narrow, tight, windy staircases, then this one is for you! it's really worth it too, trust me.
While in Firenze, I spent a lot of time wandering the streets. It's so fun to just get lost in a city, and watch the people. The flea market was huge and fun, Santa Croce has the tombs of many a famous person (da Vinci, Galileo, Machiavelli, etc etc....), I saw the Uffizi, Michaelangelo's David, the Academia, had real italian pasta (it was so-so....) and pizza (BEST thin-crust pizza EVER), as well as fun along the river.
Italy is so colorful and lively. It's exactly as I pictured it. And it was fun to be there in off-season, and see their christmas market. Every country is different, and Italy's was more craft-driven than Germany. So many cute things!

go to italy. you'll love it.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Roma!

(I promise to put pics up...at some point in time... when my mind isn't mush... go look at FB. :)
I do believe that Italy is one of my favorite places so far. I know I say that about every place I go to, but believe me... Italy is worth they hype. Only, remember that if you come in winter, bring rain gear. I don't think I have been properly dry since I arrived here!
ROMA! what to say about lovely rome... what an amazing city filled with history. It was kind of shock to walk down streets and look around and see buildings thousands (literally!) of years old, right next door to a McDonalds...ahaha. I can't believe how huge the Colloseum is, or how marvelous Palatinate hill is. The history of the Roman Empire and the Roman Catholic Church rests in that city! So much awesomness, I just can't describe.
As always, I tried to figure out the metro system right away. Nothing makes me feel like part of any city more than knowing their metro systems. Most of the time it is pretty straight-forward. But Rome's is tricky. Don't be fooled when you come! Other than the crazy exits, it's pretty fun to figure out.
I only scheduled 2 days in Rome... because I am a dummy. So, the first day was Palatinate Hill and the Colloseum. I was outrageously happy to see the house of Augustus Ceasar, and the Forum. Seriously, it's HUGE guys. The Colloseum was cool because of the gladiators, and Olympics, and jazz.... and also because it's where a key plot development happens in "The Count of Monte Cristo". :) I'm on a pilgrimage to follow Edmund Dantes' steps.... in reverse. Paris, Rome, Marseille! haha
Next, I went to Villa Borghese, to see Bernini's masterpieces. I wish I could have taken a picture of them. You'll have to look them up - especially Apollo and Daphne. Look really close at it... They say that when the clean the leaves at the top, they ring, because the marble is shaved so thin. Now that is mastery. Go Bernini GO! Bernini is my 2nd favorite sculptor, by the way. Also, when you go to Villa Borghese, make reservations ahead of time! They don't take walk-ins!
The next day I went to Vatican city and St. Peter's. Vatican museum... Sistine Chapel.... and a surprise!! They were having an exhibit on early astronomy instruments!! ohmygoodness...I bought my ticket as fast as possible and RAN to the exhibit. First one there! thank you very much. The guards looked at me funny. But I cannot believe how cool it was. 1st edition texts by Kepler, Galileo (a handwritten copy of Sidereus Nuncius!!!), Hevalius,. Copernicus....um, I died of happiness. no joke. I spent 75 minutes in there, and I could have easily spent more. It's nice that my Latin is so handy... I could acutally sort of understand what Galileo wrote! haha
Next, I strolled through the Vatican Museum. You have really got to take your time there. It is massive and somewhat overwhelming. Also, there is a FAKE sistine Chapel. You'll think you are there, and you're not. Don't be fooled, FYI. But the fake one is still cool.
The actual Sistine Chapel is magnificent. It's easy to see why so many consider it Michaelangelo's masterpiece. It has such dimension, and such presense. It's an amazing experience to be in there. There were also little cherubs of the OT prophets, and they were funny because the Cherubs were attitudinal.... as in, Daniel looked pious, Ezekial looked melancholy, Isaiah looked angry, and Elijah looked happy! Elijah was the only cherub that looked cherubic. haha
Sistine Chapel = oh so awesome. I really loved it a lot. I'm excited to go back!
Then, I went to St. Peters. Now that is an awesome place. Huge, welcoming, filled with happy people, and so much art. My senses were kind of on overload. :) I ate lunch in the square, and monk passed me saying, "Buon Appitito signora." yep, that made my day!
St. Peter's is filled with a lot of art revolving around the popes. I was a little surprised at how little there was of Christ. However, when you enter and go to the right, Michaelangelo's Pieta` is right there in front of you. Now THAT is an AMAZING piece of sculpture. Mary's face has the most poignant expression. And it's just so moving.... Go look it up, because my pictures don't do it justice at all.
St. Peter's is amazingly grand. Put it on your Rome To-Do list. And try not go on sensory-overload when you enter, because it makes Baroque look tame... somehow. :)
My stay in Rome was short and sweet. When I go next time, there is so much I want to do! And now that I have the metro figured out, it'll be a piece of cake.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

random

i'm exhausted... but i'm not sleeping. every hour spent awake is one less in my heidelberg. and one closer to my grand adventure.
i'm torn.
sigh.

here are a few random movies i have made during my travels. enjoy!

Spinny wheel of death at Christmas Market.
video


Schloss! from my first week here.... aww...
video

Versailles, Hall of Mirrors
video

Jazz vagabond performers. They rocked.
video

Monet.
video

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Vienna!!

Vienna!! City of Mozart, the Opera, Figlmuellers, Albertina, and wonderful, wonderful things.
I almost didn't go to Vienna, and it was a good thing I nixed that idea. Vienna is at the cusp of Western/Eastern Europe, and it really feels that way. There were times when I would walk through the city and feel like I was in Paris again, or other times when I would stroll through a garden and feel like I was in Krakow again. Very interesting indeed!
I went to Vienna with my friend Tara, and we definitely got a lot done. it was fantastic. First on the agenda, however, was to visit Megan!! Megan was my neighbor last year, and is now studying abroad in Vienna. She was such an amazing resource of all awesome things to do. We grabbed lunch in Naschmarkt (the BIGGEST flea market/ farmer's market I have ever been to... it was AMAZING), then headed over to Karlskirche to enjoy it. There was a Christmas market outside the kirche, and we walked around looking at what the vendors had to offer. Smells of hot red wine, apple cider, kinderpunsch, roasted chestnuts, brats, and cookies filled the air. there were so many adorable little ornaments too... I wanted to buy them all!
Megan and Me!
Tara and I spent some quality time walking along the ring. They had put up the decorations for Christmas, and night time was lovely....It has been so easy for me to forget about the holidays while in Germany. They don't celebrate Halloween, and unlike BYU, they don't put Christmas decor until about.... right now. And, since they don't celebrate Thanksgiving either...it was easy to forget that we're heading into one of the lovliest times of the year! So, seeing all the decorations was awesome.
Saturday night was eventful! Tara and I waited in line for standing room tickets to the Opera. We saw Wagner's "Das Rhinegold" which is part 1 of the Ring Cycle. The Ring Cycle's most famous part is part 2 - Die Walkyrie. Part 1 was still stunning... i love the opera. :) And the opera house was like a walking into a museum... it was absolutely wonderful. Plush carpets with vaulted ceilings, and ornate chandeliers, velvet seat cushions... i think i stepped into the 1800's when I walked into the place.
Tara and I also went to the famous cemetary on Simmeringstrasse, where all the famous musicians from the past are buried. I don't care that you may think it's morbid. We were very excited to visit the place! And their tombstones are extremely ornate and lovely. What I loved most, however, was the memorablia people put on them. I saw lots of little "I love you" pillows, pictures, music pieces, flowers, and other fun things. It was definitely a fun experience. Besides Beethoven, we saw Strauss, Bach, Brahms, and Mozart (just a memorial... he's actually buried in a pauper's grave...).
On monday night we went to the HUGE Christmas market outside the Rathaus. The Rathaus is a stunning building. And it's even gorgeous-er when lit up! The market was cute, and for the tourists. However, there's something about being at a christmas market that just makes you so happy. I love love loved it.

Vienna definitely had a music theme to it. Opera, Vienna Boys Choir (holy cow... so beautiful in every aspect!), jingles at the markets, and stuff like that. I really enjoyed being there! You will too. :)

p.s. when you go, eat at Figlmuellers (the schnitzel is bigger than your head!), and buy a chocolate Mozart ball (you can only get them in Vienna! make sure it's "ohne alkohol"! and the pistachio ones are good... but marzipan is better. :)

Friday, November 20, 2009

are you serious?

6 days left in HD.

4 hours till I leave for Vienna.

1 month till I'm home.

...

WHERE DID THE TIME GO?!?!?!?!!??!?!!?!?!?!

holy cow, time, stop going so FAST. that's just not cool.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Paris is Pretty!

I was in Heidelberg less than 24 hours before I took off again, this time for Paris.
Paris, Paris... now I understand why people leave the states and live in Paris. It's wonderful there! So much to see and do.... it's awesome. I was excited to spend 4 days there (I only spent 3 days everywhere else). I thought maybe I could take it easy, and have a more relaxed approach.
nope.
not at all!! Paris is so full of so many things that I've wanted to see for so long, I was bookin' it from place to place! It was fun though...I wouldn't trade it for anything.
The first thing to do was figure out the metro. It's tricky, but once you have, it's AMAZING. Guys, seriously, the metro is a great thing. I felt so city-ish... haha! I was even able to help these German kids figure out how to get to Paris-Disneyland. (Thanks Mikaela for the tips!!)
I started out my trip in the Jardin de Luxembourg. They were so beautiful. I LOVED that fall was in full swing, and the leaves were crunchy, and the air was crisp, and the flowers were lovely. And, I've also realized that I have a passion for gardens. Luxembourg is not as known as the Tuilleries, and I liked it more. There was even a gazebo!
On the tour I took I learned a lot about the history of the city - including the origin of the word "plastered" as it is used today - and finally saw so many famous things. Notre Dame. Pont Neuf, Champs Elysees (ohmygosh CHAMPS ELYSEES!), Les Invalides, Place de la Concord, the Louvre, Palace of Justice, Saint Chapelle, the Eiffel Tower, Arc de Triumph.... and so much more. I was bursting at the seams with joy.
Paris has an awesome "city-ness" feel to it. Shana would have loved it. I felt the hustle and bustle of the place, as well as the relaxed nature of Parisians in the afternoon. Their morning were definitely gogogo, but afternoon time was like being in Krakow again... followed by a definite sizzling night life. Paris is beautiful, I cannot wait to go back again.
Most of my time in Paris was either spent in museum or in a garden. I can't believe I thought 4 days was enough. 4 YEARS wouldn't have been enough.

This is a Monet from L'Orangerie museum. This was my 2nd favorite museum. Full of impressionist paintings. They are definitely more impressive in real life, I tell you.
Oh. My heart gave a leap of joy at this. The Burghers of Calais by Rodin. My favorite sculpture. The Rodin Museum was my favorite. I spent a lot of time there. With amazing artwork and beautiful gardens, you just can't go wrong.
This is the famous Hall of Mirrors at Versailles. Versailles was a DREAM! Jaw-dropping artwork, stunning buildings and gardens, and exquisite ceilings really really made my day fantastic.
Yep, I could live there.
This is inside Notre Dame. I felt like singing a few strains from "The Bells of Notre Dame", but I refrained. It's such a fantastic building. Size alone is striking. But inside... even better.
This is in the Luxembourg Gardens. I really love flowers. :)

Oh Paris... let's meet up again sometime soon, ok? And next time I'll get hot chocolate in the Latin Quarter, I promise.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Auschwitz

Auschwitz was...intense.
We went to Birkenau first. It's the largest of all the Auschwitz camps, and boy, you can tell. I couldn't see the end of the barracks when I was looking down just one lane. It was very grim.
Birkenau is significantly larger Auschwitz-1. But I suppose that wasn't big enough, because Nazi's stuffed 1000 people into buildings meant for 400. Birkenau's gas chambers are four times the size of those at Auschwitz-1. We didn't see them though.
This is the platform at Birkenau. In the distance you can see a train car. I was standing at about half the length of Birkenau here. Maybe that gives you some idea of how huge it is.
Doctors stood on the platform when incoming prisoners got off and immediately started separating them - healthy, unhealthy. They say that sometimes, it wasn't but 15 minutes after people exited the trains that they were dead in the gas chambers.
This is Auschwitz-1. Understandably, you are not supposed to take a picture inside the gas chamber. But I took this through the window, so... technically I kept the rules.
What you (sort of) see here is the creamatoria. The room to the the right of it was the actual gas chamber. In one room on the tour, we saw the cans of Zyklon B - the poison used to kill the prisoners in the gas chambers. The cans were probably the width of my hand and the depth of my palm. 7 of them was enough to kill 2000 people.
On the tour they showed us many rooms of items Nazi's had taken from the prisoners. Glasses. Shoes. Toothbrushes. Dishes. Clothes. Hair. Suitcases.
The room of suitcases struck me the 2nd hardest. Prisoners had put their names, DOBs, and country of residence on them. Suddenly, it hit home that these people were very, very real. They're not names in a textbook or a number to mourn over. They were people. Human beings.
Elijah Strüschte b. 1891 Deutschland
Ruth & Elinore Divrote b. 1919 Italia
Benjamin Antrentock b. 1931 Poland
These were the gates to enter Birkenau. I think they were called the Gates of Hell.
This is the infamous cell block 11. It's where all the torturous forms of execution occurred - as if gas chambers weren't bad enough. There were rooms where they stuck prisoners to die slow painful deaths; 3 rooms for starvation; one room where they knew there was a lack or proper oxygen supply, so that was used to long-term suffocation; and an interesting room that had 3 1x2.5sq meter cement boxes. You could only get into the boxes by crawling into them from a door that locked from the outside. Nazis would stuff up to 8 people in these blocks, forcing them to stand all night, and work all day. Stick one of your arms straight out in front of you, and one straight out to the side. That's about the the dimensions of the box. 8 people? yeah, right.
Block 11 had an outdoor version of torture as well. Outside there was an execution wall where the youngest known person to die was a 9yr old girl. They had poles where they'd hang prisoners from their arms - effectively dislocating their soldiers.

It was very grim to be there. We went through one barrack that had pictures of some of the prisoners who lived there. These photos had dates of entry into Auschwitz and dates of death. I was amazed at how long some people lived. 2.5 - 4 months seemed to be about average. I guess I thought it would have been longer, but no. There are not many known prisoners to have lasted more than a few years in the camps. Especially Auschwitz.

All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.
-Edmund Burke (1729 - 1797)

Thursday, November 12, 2009

The narritive...

For you (kelly), by popular demand! :)

The bus drive to Krakow was long. LONG. 17 hours on a night bus, watching an odd polish-dubbed movie. Kat and I understood nothing! We go along by just guessing what was happening. haha

We arrived in the morning, found our way around town relatively easily, and we were very excited. Our hostel was RIGHT on the main square. It was amazing to be so centrally located. Here we are, walking down the King's Way (Florianski Street), which opens up to this HUGE main square and continues down to the palace. We walked, enjoyed the sights of vendors, shops, locals and tourists alike looking happy!

Exiting Florianski street, we were greeted by the open-air market of the main square. flowers to the right, fruit to the left, crafts straight-ahead! The church stood impressively at the back of the square, while the main textiles guild building stands right in the middle of the square - effectively dividing it into two squares. As we entered the square, it was nearing the hour. This is important in Krakow because the trumpeter plays his tribute from the top of the church tower every hour on the hour.

The trumpeter commemorates (according to legend) the fact that a guard at the top of the tower warned the city of an incoming invasion of the Mongols by blowing his horn. The Mongols, being fantastic marksmen, shot and killed the trumpeter in the middle of his warning. To honor this, the player plays, but the tune is cut short quite suddenly. It was so cool! Kat laughed at me for always being excited about this. You can hear it all over the city, and every time we did, I would stop and listen. haha good times.

Next, we went to the Wawal Castle, which is striking. Perched on top of a hill overlooking the nearby river, it's a lovely lovely place. The cathedral is situated right inside the castle grounds, and it unique due to each dome that specific kings attached to the building. Usually, each dome has something to honor God at the tippy top. Well, one king allowed the artisan of his dome to put his own (the artist's) name at the top - honoring the work of art, as God is the ultimate artist. How cheeky!! haha

Jewish district was definitely a ghetto. Many a run-down building. some of my favorite pictures came from this part of town. It was interesting to walk through. We stumbled on an exhibit honoring those who died in the holocaust. It was striking to look at pictures of people who lived, worked, and loved. And then they were taken away to death camps.

Kat and I had so much fun looking at all the things vendors had to offer, and trying delicious food. The döner kebabs are spicier in Poland than in Germany, and they are still delicious! Perogi is amazing, and I crave it! We ate a lot of perogi! The tea cup I decided to buy was of polish pottery - a little more earth than your typical pottery, but still very lovely, and I fell in love at first sight of my cup. (Today I mailed a package home, and I had to include the cup... I was so sad to pack her up!)

Kat and I also had fun playing the missionary to people in our hostel who asked us (frequently) why we don't drink. I was happy to talk to them, and it was fun to be around people who don't believe the same thing as me! BYU lulls me into a false sense of security sometimes, and I'm so glad I got out to remember what it's like on the outside.

Poland = love. I was so sad to leave that place of relaxation, art, happiness, and fun.

Next post - Auschwitz.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Krakow!

It seems so long ago... I have to pull out my journal and remember what I wrote!

Krakow was an adventure for two reasons. I have heard a lot about eastern Europe. People go, and always have complimentary things to say... but they never truly describe what it's actually like! Now I know why... because there are no words to describe the love that is Poland.

Krakow just has this different FEELING to it. I knew I wasn't in western Europe anymore. And I loved the feeling! It's a combination or relaxation, contentment, take-it-easy, and still have fun-ness.

That doesn't make any sense whatsoever... but hopefully you will go there someday and know what I am talking about.

I knew that before I went the places I would see would be beautiful. They did not disappoint. The castle that overlooks the river, the largest main square in europe, the gorgeous chruch, Auschwitz, and so much more. We
had fun checking out the street performers, the flower markets, the souvenirs, the kebabs (YUM!!), and so much more.

Krakow was also an interesting missionary experience. We stayed at this awesome, fun, hoppin' hostel. We met people from all over, and it's so much fun to learn about their stories. Also, hostels are the source of all knowledge on travel. Seriously, you get the people that have been where you're going, and done what you're doing.

Anyway, Kat (the girl I went with) and I had interesting experiences. The hostel hosted a "Polish Vodka Tasting" night, and needless to say, the liquor flowed. Don't worry, nothing untoward
happened. We just sat and talked with the people as they drank. We got many questions about our own beliefs, and lots of offers for every type of drink imaginable. One of the guys, Jasper, said (in response to my religion), "You're the first Mormon I've ever met! Cheers to that luv!" Then he downs a shot of 40% vodka. Priceless.
Also, I had 2 people tel me that they became fans of Mormons on Facebook. Also priceless. Yay missionary experiences!

I could tell you more, show more pictures, but that's all narrative stuff. Try to imagine just what it feels like.
That's the best part of Krakow,and one thing I will always remember. It just felt so
different - in a marvelous, fantastic, amazing way.

Also, when you go, eat pirogi. You'll crave them for the rest of your life.

Gosh, I miss the Planty Gardens. I could sit in them and watch the world go by for the rest of my life.

(Gardens [which surround the city] are above)
(Funny, cute old ladies outside the church on Sunday, to the left. I want this to be me!)

Monday, November 2, 2009

Prologue

Ok, it's been quiet on here for the last little while. Don't think I've forgotten. So much has happened, in fact, that I am quite overwhelmed at thinking about all I've got to update!

I've decided to do this in stages. Since my next three weeks are going to be kind of slow...and I didn't want all of you to read a novel...and I didn't want to write a novel...we'll take this sloooowly.

First, all about Krakow, then all about Paris! It will probably come in stages and spurts. Don't be surprised.

But get this: Prague got 15 pages in my journal, Krakow got 21, and Paris got 33. Really, there's a lot to talk about.

Get ready.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Mayschoss!

Last week the PSF group at MPIA went on an amazing retreat. The point of the excursion was to see all the research done at the institute, and forge friendships. It was a fantastic thing for me - I got the best networking experience since I came, and the people here are so interesting and fun.

We stayed in a hamlet called Mayschoss - about 30 miles away from the big radio telescope in Effelsberg. This telescope is massive - the size of a football field. It was so cool. At one point, they took us up onto the platform right beneath the dish. The cool thing about this scope is that it can move 90 deg. (downwards) and they have a system that rotates the scope 480deg. around. So cool. At one point, when we were on the deck, the scope was moving down, the base was rotating, and I was walking. I felt like I was in some sort of bizarre Einstein Paradox (which reference frame am I in?!?!?). But it was still cool.
The town of Mayschoss is absolutley beautiful. It's really really really really really tiny. It's right in the heart of wine country - as evidenced in the pictures. The hills that surround the town are quite steep, so the farmers made terraces all the way up the sides. They grow grapes and make wine the traditional way - feet stomping fun-ness!! (Ever seen that "I Love Lucy" episode?) Our first day there we hiked around the hills and through the vineyards. It was quite lovely. I met a lot of people as we walked around, talked with the farmers, flirted with the farmboys, hijacked grapes when the farmers weren't looking, and generally had a great time.
On the retreat we had our meals at a very fancy restaurant. I felt like I should have dressed up for the meals. I had venison, salmon, and eggplant all for the first time - and I really enjoyed it. The tables all had real candles - and, as I sat at the only table full of theorists, we discussed the luminosity function of said candles. I was grateful for Nana's instruction in my early early years on how to 1) eat properly with two untensils and 2) know which utensil to use when. It seemed like everyone else knew exactly what to do, and I (luckily) wasn't too far behind. bam.

Monday, October 12, 2009

You and Me

This music video really does something for me. Watch it, love it!

Friday, October 9, 2009

PRAGUE

K, so a few posts ago I excused you all from commenting. I meant for that one post, not the rest of my blog! Please continue to comment now. You know I need external validation that I'm still loved. Without further ado: "Now for the cream..."

Holy cow. Why don't I live in Prague?
Just kidding people, I love HD. But I had the most fantastic experience in prag-oo. I love architecture, and that city is the most perfect blend of all styles since 800AD. Walking to the city every day was an awesome experience. Getting lost in the windy street, finding the most random buildings, stopping and having my breath taken away every 50 feet - literally - gosh, it was just too awesome.
I'm going to let my pictures do the talking, because I'm no good at words. Suffice it to say, you must all go to Prague. It's a magical city of wonder and beauty. Also, amazing flea market.

This is where THE defenestration of Prague happened!! The Catholics were thrown out of that "middle" second story window. Holycow all that amazing history.
ST. VITUS CATHEDRAL. Guys, my first honest-to-goodness cathedral. ooooo it was stunning. breath taking. reverence-inducing. beautiful. and HUGE!
Inside the cathedral. You must go at either sunset or sunrise, so that you get this amazing sun hitting the stained glass windows just right. I was tempted to hug the pillars, it's true.

The front of St. Vitus. it's the most amazing example of gothic architechture... EVER.
TYCHO BRAEHE'S HOUSE. his HOUSE guys. ohmygoodness, i felt like i met a celebrity. a real life astronomer that did AMAZING things!!!
That's the castle district in the back. You can see the spires of the cathedral! And the Vltava river. :)
This is in the Jewish quarter. 1st: the brown roofed building is the oldest still running synagogue in the world. in use since the 1200's. 2nd: the building with the clocks is their town hall. The two clocks are fun - one is like ours, and the other is the jewish version - it reads counter-clockwise!! haha
this building was SO. COOL. it's a CUBIST building. Prague was the only place in the world where cubism branched out into architecture. It's really a feeling you get when you see the building. I felt like it was breathing. that's the only way i know how to describe it. You'll just have to go see it for yourself!
ohohohohohoh! the powder gat and the opera house! The powder gate is one of the few parts remaining of the big wall that used to surround the city. it was one of the few areas you could get into the city. it's called the powder gate because that's where they stored the gun powder. Also a good example of gothic architecture.
that plaque says: In memory of W.A. Mozart's "Don Giovonni" which was first performed in this theather, 29.10.1798. For those who have seen DG, you'll know what this statue is of.
This is the opera house where DG premiered. it's one of the few building that still stands where Mozart actually conducted. It's really really pretty too!
The ASTRONOMICAL CLOCK. i almost fainted from happiness. Notice the fun statues on the side of the upper clock. they represent vices: vanity, greed, and the infidel. They are a little un-PC. they are made to look like a noble (vanity), a jew holding a money bag (greed) and a turk (infidel). On the hour, the apostles pass by through door at the top, and the statue of death nods his head as if to say, "you're all going to hell!" and they shake their heads - "no, we're not!!"
The Lesser Town main square. it was full of vendors, tour groups, delicious smells, gypsy bands, and other fun things.
This is a statue of Jan Hus, and the main church of the Hussites. It's like their Temple Square. Jan Hus was really the first protestant, in case you're wondering. :) The church has the most stunning chandelier made of Bohemian Crystal, which Prague is famous for.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

wait, what?

I should be writing about prague. Really, it was an AMAZING experience.
But who can write about that city when both of my brothers are ENGAGED?!?!?!?!??????????!?!!!?!?!?

Seriously, so awesome.

My brothers decided that they simply could not live without the most amazing girls ever. And they get each other for - EVER! I love the gospel. Because you know what that means? I get more sisters! Score. Since I love/adore/idolize the sisters I already have, how can I not be thrilled to get more? Gosh, I'm so excited.

How do people make it through life without a sister? ~Sara Corpening



Welcome to the fam.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Temples, candy, fairy-tales, oh my!

Last Saturday the YSAs in this huge area went to the Frankfurt temple to do baptisms. I was so excited - this is something I know and love and understand. Walking on the grounds was fantastic, the building was exquisite, and the experience lovely. One of the missionaries asked me if it was weird to do the work in german, and I said, "not really. Different language, different building, same spirit, same love." Next time, though, I'll remember to plug my nose on the way down. :)



This store is AMAZING! it's a big candy store in the university district. I love it. Picture an off the wall shop. Dark and a little dank inside, thick carpets cover the floors, and it's really narrow. Lined with jars and jars of all different types of candies. SO FUN! I tried this interesting thing unique to france - it was a lychee/pear jelly square. mmmm it was yummy. When you come to Heidelberg, I highly reccommend this place. it's Plock 52, just off the Hauptsrasse. The best part though? The guy in the dentist's chair in the window display, warning you of the ills of too much candy. hahahahaaaa
This is an aerial view of where I work. You see the main facility at center, the telescopes at left, and then this little building to the right? I live in that building to the right. It's a great place.
The forest near me is stunning. I love to walk around, find new trails, and see those silly red/copper squirrels running around. Last summer I had a love affair with the arboretum at U of I. This fall, I'm in love with the Marchen Paradesie.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

scratch that...

Last post was silly. this one is more... esoteric.
Now, there is a good word. Esoteric. I've been playing with word for weeks. Love it. You can almost feel the meaning when you say it, you know?

"the leaves are changing & so can you. NEW SCHOOL. NEW JOB. NEW LOVE. NEW LIFE. autumn calls for reinvention, a change of scenery. don’t hold back. cut your hair, tell her you love her, tell him you’re leaving, start a band, leave your job, switch your major, do what makes you feel good. the choices you make now will pave the way for the rest of your life. does that always have to be a negative thing? no no no no no no!!! don’t be frightened, things will work out. throw your heart into it & hold your chin up high. we’re going to make a beautiful future. this is the start of something remarkable."

Thank you stranger of the blogging world. (http://youareremarkable.wordpress.com/2009/09/13/future/)

I just loved that quote. Some people feel the most remarkable things, and are able to express it with the most fantastic words. I'm not one of those people; I find what others say. I think I prefer it that way.
Me=maven: the rest of the blogging community=artistic.

"Explore. Dream. Discover." -Mark Twain

Random Post

Let me paint you a picture.

I live up on the top of a mountain. It's awesome. There's not much to do up here besides wander around the forest, go to work, and other random things I can think up while in my apartment at night. (Typically trying out new recipes, reading, writing in my journal, or engaged in my bad habit - watching NCIS.) I love it.

Today I am feeling happy. More than content, less than excited... I landed on happy. Yep, that's the ticket.

The squirrels here are red. Well, more of a copper color. This color. So cool.

FYI: booking a room at a hostel in Munich a week before you go, at the height of Oktoberfest = not gonna happen unless you want to sleep at the "Hangover Hostel - Come sleep it off with us!" Yeah, riiiiight.

Riding Betty down the mountain was probably not a good idea. Steep, long switchbacks... I rode my breaks the whole way down. The one time I did stop, there was a mysterious odor coming from the bike. I looked - and lo and behold! - Betty was smokin'!! literally. I wore my breaks out that much.

... ...

This post is completely pointless. I just wanted to update all of you with useless information. You are all excused from commenting.

P.S. Am I the only one in the world that thinks Abby and Gibbs should be together? Stupid NCIS drama.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Tara and Schwetzingen!

A picture is worth a thousand words. I'm going to let my pictures do the talking, and hopefully they'll descirbe how beautiful Schwetzingen is.
If something romantic does not happen to me at Schwetzingen in my lifetime, I may die a sad woman. :)
Seriously, one of the most lovely spots on earth.
In the Aviary.
Walking to the bath-house...which we weren't allowed to take pictures of, but which was so baroque in style that it took my breath away!


This is Betty my bike! She likes to go exploring with me. :)
Last week, Tara came up for a visit! We had our first schnitzels together. it was YUMMY!

on the Philosopher's Walk.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

"How do you live each day with this kind of passion? Don't you find it exhausting?"

Kudos to you if you know the movie reference for the title of this entry.
Next line: "Only when I'm around you."
My line: "No. I find it invigorating."

Since coming to Germany, I am astounded, constantly, at what I am doing. Is this my life? Am I really living a bazillion miles away from people I know and love? Am I seriously in a place where I don't understand the language? Is my home referred to as 'the fairytale paradise', even by the locals? Does my neighborhood honestly contain a real castle, a palace where the Prince-Electors of German history resided? Is my town the singularly most beautiful town in the region?

YES! yes to it all!

Do I participate in research that is exciting? That is over my head, and fun, and confusing, and interesting, and important, and everything that research should be? Have I been uniquely blessed? So much beyond what I actually deserve? [WAAAAAAAAAAAAAY beyond it. leagues, miles, light years and parsecs beyond what i deserve...]

again, YES.

I find myself invigorated by my experiences here. I have found so many opportunities. I am going all around europe in the near future. I have seen much of Heidelberg, and i LOVE it.

Do I find it exhausting? No. I find myself rising to the occasion, snatching opportunities and creating them as the come. The passion that brought me here - to do research in a professional setting in Europe - is one that will make the experience rich. I have filled a third of a journal, writing about every single experience, because I can't forget anything. Any detail, emotion, feeling, building, experience, or encounters.

I wish I had a talent with words. That I was eloquent enough to describe everything to you. But I don't. And since the internet is still down at my place, I cannot upload pictures - which, as we all know are worth a 1000 words, and more adequately express feeling.

“Traveling is a brutality. It forces you to trust strangers and to lose sight of all that familiar comfort of home and friends. You are constantly off balance. Nothing is yours except the essential things – air, sleep, dreams, the sea, the sky – all things tending towards the eternal or what we imagine of it.” –Cesare Pavese

“To awaken quite alone in a strange town is one of the pleasantest sensations in the world.” – Freya Stark

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines, sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” - Mark Twain

“Travel and change of place impart new vigor to the mind.” – Seneca

Thursday, September 10, 2009

siiiigh....

The internet is down at my place. I post this from work, where i am taking a sanity break. I have been reading IRAF command language, and polarization information all day... my eyes are tired!!

Imagine that this is an amazing post. one where i put up pictures of my new bike - complete with basket and bell!! i'm so european. it's red, pretty, 2nd-hand, and FUN! did i mention that getting a bus pass was a complete and total nightmare, and that i hate hate hated it??? So i just solved that dumb problem and bought a bike!!! aaaaah.... sweet freedom. Now, i'm not dependent on time schedules, i don't have to play with the german-only ticket machines, and i don't have to deal with BO.
Truly, I have a an amazing life.

ka-CHING!

[pictures soon]
yay for colorful posts!

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Super Saturday!

Yesterday was an intense day. I woke up early, walked all around town (literally....north, south, east, west... i traversed all of Heidelberg!). But it was a good day! Let me tell you all about it.

I decided that hiking down to town through the forest would be a good idea. It was a long hike, and sometimes I felt like Snow White with all the funny forest sounds I kept hearing. The forest here is so beautiful, did I mention that? Anyway, I got lost in the forest for about an hour. Well, not literally lost, I just didn't know the path I should take. I followed the general direction. Luckily, I made it into town just fine... and it only took an hour! (this is a big deal - it takes 30 mins to get to town on the BUS.)
I walked around the Hauptstrasse because it was market day - i LOVE market day! there are so many fun things. Anyway, I saw about four couples taking wedding photos... what a gorgeous day to get married. I was finally able to get into the big church on the main square and take pictures. That church is amazing... I have to get back inside. :)
Once I was done with that mission, I decided to hike to the Philosopher's Walk and Heilgenberg. Both very lovely. Heidelberg is famous for the Philosopher's Walk. Great minds in 1800's came to Heidelberg and loved it quite a bit. They would walk through the vineyards on the hillside, and this walk was named after them. It's a really gorgeous walk, full of gardens, terrced flower beds, and great views of the city.
Next, the hike up to Heilgenberg. Heilgenberg has some amazing sights, and I really wanted to see them. First, the Celtic Ruins. The top of the mountain has some ancient ruins from the Celts that lived there around 400-200BC. There is not much left - an old well, and a wall were all I saw. Still, it was fascinating to be around history like that. The well was over 55m deep! (that's more than half a football field!!) and it was easily the width and breadth of a human being all the way down. So cool.
Next, a little way up the trail is St. Stephens Cloister. It was built in 1094, but abandoned in the 1300s. It's still cool. Completely run down, and trees growing all through it... I felt like I was in a gothic novel. The tower is the only thing that remains intact... more on why later. To get to the top of the tower, I had to climb up 3 flights of windy staircase. Did i mention how that makes me dizzy, but I love it anyway??
Further up the hill is the Thingstätt. Built in 1934, it was used for NAZI propaganda for the youth of the third reich. They used the stones from the abandoned cloisters nearby (that's why only the foundations remain). It is HUGE. It seats over 8000. It was kind of scary to be there, and know what sort of mentality was espoused there, and what it was used for. That being said, the sheer size was amazing, and it would be a good place for a play - the acoustics were amazing.
Next, St. Michael's cloister at the tippy top! This thing is HUGE! kids play hide-and-go-seek, it's so big. I liked this one for it's design and roman influence. so cool! I can't believe I walked around and saw physical evidence of people who lived there thousands of years ago. I love history.
Lastly, last night was the tri-annual lighting of the castle! The castle has been burned down three times. So, to commemorate, Heidelberg lights the castle up three times a year, and shoots off amazing fireworks. It was sooooo cool! Imagine... it's completely dark outside, then the lights around town go out. BOOM, you're in total darkness. Then, 1, 2, 3 verticle streaks of light shoot into the sky. Next, the castle blazes to life in orange and red lights - it's on fire!!! slowly growing brighter and brighter... then it dims as the fire fades. Now it's time for fireworks. BOOM boomboomboomboomboom!!! they are lighting those things off as fast and loud as possible. The show lasts about 15 minutes, and it's a real doozy.
Finally, it's home for a late night glass of milk, a shower, and bed.
Yesterday was amazing!!
the thingstätt. it's so huge, you just can't believe it.
St. Michael's cloister.
the tower of St. Stephen's cloister. That's me at the tippy-top!
View of the valley from the Philosopher's Walk. You can barely make out the communication towers at the top of the hill. I live just below those. Yep, I walked down that mountain, and up the one on the otherside of the river. Long hike. :)
Window in the main-square church. I really need to learn it's name...