Saturday, February 23, 2013

Hi! I participated in this thing that Mary (@gypsybug) put together where people bike places and write about it and track it and show how useful bikes are in day to day life. I really liked the idea of this challenge because it required not that much more effort than I usually put into my life haha. And because I think that bikes are very useful and it's good to highlight this. There are only two potential concerns: 1. I did kind of a shoddy job keeping track with pictures. Hopefully my documentation is good enough! and 2. My lighting for the night trips (both dinner journeys, riding home from work) was legal, but subpar - one rear blinky. Someone stole my front light a few weeks ago and I haven't gotten around to replacing it yet :-/ cyclist fail. As a last comment/caveat, my meeting the challenge was also a little bit hindered by a pain in my knee that made it hard for me to bike the last week or so. I have a doctor's appointment on Monday that hopefully will take care of that. 

Aaaanyway, in general, doing this challenge was fun and I'm very grateful to Mary for putting it together. It definitely got me out on my bike a few times when I might otherwise have been too lazy. Also, I was surprised how difficult it sometimes was for me to recall details from the ride for filling out the score card thing, and over the course of doing the challenge this helped me be more present on my rides. Some highlights from the experience include: 

 1. Joe Biden: Okay Joe Biden was totally sitting behind me in church on Ash Wednesday. I know that sounds ridiculous but it was definitely him and we shook hands and said "peace be with you" and it was amazing. He was wearing aviators. This was my first time at church in probably years, so apparently I have good timing.
2. Alexandria ride: Biking to Alexandria for brunch with Rachel was an experience. Google Maps biking directions can sometimes be questionable and once we cross the river neither of us knows enough to know whether that will be the case. We took the Holmes Run trail and several windy paths through back side streets, and it was feeling very adventurous. Sketchy tunnels, steep inclines going in and out of rivers, unexpected dirt sections of the path, portaging our bikes around a closed section. It was fun. 
3. Fort Totten: One of the days I biked up to Ft Totten for something (from where I live in Glover Park), and I pretty rarely use my bike to get me to that part of the city. It was fun to get the different perspective and to see the way bike infrastructure is still evolving across the city (and how good it is near where I live). Also it was just a pleasant way to spend a Saturday morning.
4. Bringing Rachel to the pool for the first time was fun. I go pretty regularly but she doesn't usually join.
Rachel signaling a turn on our ride to Alexandria

My bike locked up outside Teaism in Dupont
I forgot to take a picture at church but it was Ash Wednesday so the evidence remained on my forehead
I also forgot to take a picture at Pizzeria Paradiso but I totally went there

Biking home from dinner in Bloomingdale. Good thing my bike had its hipster costume on (mustache).
The social safeway, purveyor of baking supplies (and other stuff, I guess)
Dessert selection from Whole Foods : )
Outside the pool at Marie Reed
Biking from Wilson Pool to Georgetown (on the sidewalk due to knee pain, booo)
This is what my bike looks like when it's locked up at work
Another pic of a different bike to work (this is the street my office is on. It's very narrow but always has big trucks).
The Basilica on my way back from Capital Area Food Bank

Thursday, July 2, 2009


Pictures of Berlin and Jena can be looked at here:

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Berlin and Jena

I have been taking my time updating this thing, so I have not one weekend adventure to tell you about today but two. We will start with the weekend before last, during which I had planned to visit Dresden but due to the inability to find a room I found myself taking a day trip to Berlin instead.

I had an absolutely wonderful time - I really do love Berlin. This time I did an Alternative Berlin tour, which is the kind of tour that looks at cultural icons, street art, and things popular among the locals rather than going to monuments. I enjoyed it immensely - I liked seeing another side to Berlin and feeling like I got to know it a bit more. We saw all kinds of really cool street art, and some buildings that had been taken over by artists (featuring some really cool art), some bars (although they weren't super busy because it was midday, it was more like 'you should come here later'), and a lot of other cool things. There was also a protest that was going on that day that they took us to at the end - I think they were protesting gentrification, but the actual act was squatting an old airport. However, at the time I had to leave to catch my train back to Cottbus they had not yet successfully gotten into the airport, so I am afraid I cannot tell you how the story ended. It felt like most of the people there were more spectators than anything else - it was a very laid back protest. But anyway, as I said, I had an absolutely lovely day in Berlin, and before I left I even managed to snap some shots of a few important touristy things. All the pictures from the day can be found on my facebook - I will post the link (which works for non-facebook users also) after I put them up.

Then just this past weekend I went to go visit my cousin Dolores in Jena! I had a great time. Jena is really cute - it is kind of like Cottbus but significantly bigger and surrounded by mountains (or at least hills). For dinner we all climbed up one of them to a restaurant. It was very very foggy, or else I've been told the view would have been lovely. What I could see was very nice though, and dinner was good. I also enjoyed hot chocolate at a cute cafe thing with Dolores in the afternoon, and after dinner we went to an ice cream shop and I FINALLY got a massive ice cream sundae like I have wanted since I got here (pictured on my facebook). It was GREAT. Then on Sunday, Dolores and Michael were having a little birthday party for David's first birthday (!!), so in the morning I helped (er...watched) Dolores prepare for that, and then a bunch of people came, and it was very good fun meeting everyone. I liked it especially because when people speak German to babies it is usually very simple and I can kind of understand. I also liked it because Dolores made a delicious cake. I felt like I had to leave Jena too soon - I had a lot of fun getting to know David for the first time and seeing Dolores and Michael again!

So as you may or may not know I am actually leaving Germany two weeks from tomorrow (Thursday) - good heavens that was quick! In between now and then, I will be spending a weekend in Dresden and 4 days in Heidelberg for a conference for my scholarship. I will update about those things as they come along - I am especially looking forward to the conference. Until then friends, ciaociao! Look at my pictures!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Pictures! Finally...

Pictures of Milan are here:

Pictures of Cottbus, here:


Milano!! (not the cookie).

So last weekend I went to Milan! Despite getting on the wrong train and going 20 minutes in the wrong direction, I still managed to catch my flight and the trip went smoothly from there. I did have some trouble finding my hostel, which made me anxious because I was alone and it was late, but fortunately i utilized my Italian skills (which came easily due to anxiety) to ask for help. A cool old cigarette-smoking italian lady who clearly had no idea where it was either was happy to tag along and have a look helped me out. So then I was officially in Italy!!!! I will say that that was basically the end of my Italian-speaking during the trip. Whenever I tried to speak to order food or anything the Italians heard me speak and switched to English because i was clearly not Italian. They were trying to be helpful but it was slightly disappointing.

Anyway, I mostly spent my time wandering around Milano and taking pictures of EVERYTHING. Especially of the Duomo, because honestly there isn't a lot to see in Milan besides the Duomo. I climbed up to the roof (on the stairs, not like spiderman, silly) and walked around the roof, which was cool. I also went to Castello Sforzesco and wandered around the museums looking at the art to get some culture. I went to the church that the Last Supper hangs out in, but unfortunately I couldn't get in to see it. Apparently you need to book like a month in advance, which I didn't know. I did try to see if there was a cancellation (at the advice of my hostel) but sadly it was not to be. I also spent a fair amount of time walking around looking in the windows of the expensive shops. Two rounds of my favorite game, "guess how much it costs" can be found in the photo album I'll be posting along with this entry : )

In addition to touristing, I also ate a lot of delicious Italian food, especially pizza and gelato. I went to the place that was supposed to have "the best pizza in Milan" (according to google). It was DELICIOUS, but salty and very heavy. On my last night i went to the Naviglia with a girl from my hostel - it's like a canal with a bunch of bars and restaurants around it. They all have happy hour deals where you buy a drink for 7-10 euro (depending on the bar) and you can eat all the aperitifs you want. In this way I got to sample a wide variety of delicious Italian food. You'd think in a situation like that the food would not be good, but it really was delicious, probably because the Italians are so hardcore about food. I read somewhere that Milan is known for its aperitifs, and I don't know if that's true but if it is I could see why.

By the end of my last day I was kind of running out of things to do, and it was seriously hot so I was tired of walking, so I was kind of just hanging out in the city center. All in all I think Milan itself is very cool but not super-interesting to a tourist...but I loved being in Italy in general! I can't really say what I loved so much about it, but I really did. I had a great time and really want to go back and visit the country properly. So overall, good trip! And props to anyone who stayed on and actually read this whole thing : )


So here is an interesting tidbit regarding my last post about the numerous American diners in the area. I mentioned the diners to Annika and she told me that Cottbus, and East Germany in general, has foreign food places (like American and Asian) in abundance because East Germans really embrace foreign culture, in response to not having had access to it for so long. They also travel much more than other Germans do. So I thought that was interesting.

Post about Milan to follow later on today.

Friday, June 5, 2009

American Food

I have a few observations to make here relating to American Food. First of all, within a two block radius (approx) in the town of Cottbus, I have actually found THREE restaurants called some variety of "American Diner." Why? I don't know. I haven't actually tried any of them yet, but if it ever strikes me to do so I'll keep you posted.

I also wanted to point out that there is a brand here called something like "Mcennedy's"(?) that has a picture of the Statue of Liberty on it and sells American food in grocery stores. It really makes me laugh. Things I have seen that they make include cheeseburgers, fully formed including the bun and cheese and vegetables, white bread, buffalo chicken pizza, blueberry muffins, and chocolate chip cookies. I think the reason I am so amused by this is because I never really thought of any food as being particularly American, except maybe apple pie or something.

But then yesterday! I found an entire COOKBOOK in the dollar store dedicated to the art of cooking American cuisine. I briefly flipped through it and found basically all variety of food, including things like caesar salad, cobb salad, bagels, egg sandwiches, doughnuts (come on now Germany, I know you have doughnuts here too), and ribs (which were featured on the cover).

As a concluding and unrelated note, I very nearly bought that cookbook because it was only one euro. I am definitely of the variety of people who should not be allowed anywhere near discount stores - I am always like, "i DEFINITELY need this toy gun with accompanying plastic holster, and also this cookbook that is entirely in german, because look at how cheap it is!!!"

Okay that is enough for now. If anything interesting happens before I go to Italy in ONE WEEK (!!) I will let you know, otherwise I will talk to you then to tell you about my trip : )