Friday, August 28, 2009

Goodbye Germany

So if you've missed all the references in the last few posts, I'm leaving Germany. I'm going to Boston, where I'll be living for at least a few years. I began this blog to document my adventures 'abroad', so there will be a few posts in September wrapping up my time here (pros & cons of Germany, travel summary, ... other ideas?). And what will happen to the blog once I'm ensonced in the USA? I'm not sure yet. For now, I'm going to keep going and see what's there to blog about life in the States. But I may end up pulling the plug. Don't worry, though, I won't just leave you hanging; if it looks like there's not enough to sustain the blog, I'll do a 'goodbye blog' post.


Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Back in the Office

After 3 weeks and 1 day, I've finally gotten back into my office -- 4 days before I leave the country for good. But, finally, new windows:

Unfortunately (after 3 weeks and 1 days), there aren't any blinds yet. And my office gets sunlight all day long. So, it'll probably be hot (not so bad today) and impossible to see my computer screen. You can compare them to the old windows here (notice the lack of a dirt line in the new windows -- I tried to illustrate the old dirt line here). Looking out and through the new windows!


Sunday, August 16, 2009

I Did It!

I live in Poppelsdorf, a neighborhood in the city of Bonn. Just south of Poppelsdorf is Venusberg, and, then, south of that is the Kottenforst, a forest. It's not too far from Poppelsdorf, maybe a little more than 3 miles. To get to the Kottenforst, there are three options: go through the woods to the east of Venusberg, go through Venusberg, and go through the woods to the west of Venusberg.

View Kottenforst Bonn in a larger map

Going to the west of Venusberg is my usual route: run up the steep hill to the hospital, down the street with some pretty nice looking houses, through the wooded area to pastures with cows and horses, past the old brick bridge over a ravine with a very small stream, through the path that goes the back way to people's gardens, past the swimming pool, and home. You can run along the stream too -- very cute, winding along and over the stream. The furthest I've gotten is the green marker on the map.

On the other side, I usually get as far as the blue marker, running up the hill to the hospital, then winding back and forth and up and down through a forest path. This past weekend, I finally had the bright idea to go all the way to the top -- to Venusberg itself. There are running/walking/biking paths all over Bonn, along streets, through wooded areas, behind people's houses. That's the cool part. The bad part is that there are not really marked and you have to be careful that you don't get lost. I ran the path that went around Venusberg -- stopped to take in the view of the Siebengebirge and the Bad Godesberg castle. Then turned left to run through the forest. I hadn't decided how far to go, but I could see ahead that the forest was thinning -- blue sky ahead -- and then I was at Annaberger Hof.


Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Munich Again

After Salzburg, I spent a couple days hanging around Munich. Unlike my first visit, it was sightseeing-light, beer-drinking heavy: two beer halls, two beer gardens. The best Bavarian beer, in my opinion, is Schneider and you can get it at the Weisses Bräuhaus, where we had weißwurst. Weißwurst is supposed to be a morning thing, so we had to be there and drinking by noon. I feel like the Weisses Bräuhaus isn't as touristy as some bräuhaus-es and our (in typical fashion) gruff waitress totally warmed up to us -- even in our American ineptitude. The Hofbräuhaus, on the other hand, is a ginormous tourist trap and the waitress there (in a first for me in Germany) actually grubbed for a tip -- but it's probably still mandatory to visit.

In a typical Bavarian beer garden, they have stands for beer and food but it's acceptable to bring a picnic and only pay for drinks. We went to one out of the city center (near a very expensive looking neighborhood). Here's me and my friend Amy at one of the biergartens (thanks to Amy for the pictures in this post).
We also went to the beer garden by the Chinesischer Turm (Chinese Tower) in the Englischer Garten (English Garden, duh), a large public park in the center of town. It has 7000 seats and is the second largest in Munich. Germans are very committed to the outdoors; it hailed on us (we were partially protected by trees) and the people around kept on sitting and socializing.

There's a river in the garden with a standing wave that attracts surfers. Here's a picture of them:


Wednesday, August 05, 2009


Before I got booted from my office, I took a few days off and met up with a college friend in Munich. We took the train to Salzburg for a day. For all my obsession with visiting Salzburg, it was disappointing. Cute, but the weather was way too hot, and just not very exciting.

Above is the Mirabell Gardens with Festung Hohensalzburg (the city's fortress) rising above it. Behind me is the horse fountain that where the children and Maria sing 'Do Re Mi' in The Sound of Music. In addition to locations for the movie, Salzburg is known as the birthplace of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. There's at least two museums devoted to him. This is the Mozart Geburtshaus -- the house he was born in. There's a museum, but it's expensive (7 euros), small, confusing, and not very enlightening. You do get to see some of his hair (yeah, really) and the little violin he played as a child.
After a couple not so successful attempts, we found the path up the hill to the fortress. We didn't go inside, but walked along the hill top from the fortress to Mönchsberg. It was cooler up there. Here you see the fortress, where we started, and some of the hilltop we walked along.
The other side of the Salzbach river and Kapuzinerberg (the hill sticking up from the city).
In addition to Festung Hohensalzburg, there was a lot of small, old, ruin-y fortresses up there.
Two views from the hilltop looking away from the city (i.e., the other side of the hill).

We stayed the night, and the next day, before heading back to Munich, we went to Untersberg. Untersberg is a mountain 16km south of Salzburg (we took the bus there) and over 1900m high. There's a cable car to take you to the summit. It's pretty expensive (21 euros, I think), but actually pretty cool. There's a little peak halfway up the mountain and I think it must be pretty scary to get there and see the ground drop away from you again as you continue up. I was crammed in the middle of the car and didn't see anything, but I heard a few gasps. Going up.
At the top, there's a path to a couple high points, and a sign that indicates that you can walk (90 minutes) all the way to an ice cave. We just sat and had a drink and took pictures.
Vaguely west-ish.
North-ish, you can see Salzburg in this one.
Going down.


Monday, August 03, 2009

Working from Home

It's 11AM on Monday morning and I'm working from home. And I'll be working from home for a while. They are replacing all the windows at work, meaning that my desk had to be cleaned out, the computer shut down and stored somewhere, and I won't be allowed back into my office for two weeks. (That's right, not only do I not have a place to sit at work, they shut down the computer on my desk too.) The timing is particularly annoying since -- if you didn't know already -- I'm leaving at the end of the month. So, I've cleaned out my desk and mailed 20kg of stuff to the U.S., but in two weeks I'll have to go back to work in an empty office for another two weeks before I leave. Anyway, here's the (very dim) before picture: