My madcap adventures in Germany during my year as a Fulbright Scholar.

24 December 2006

I'm off!

If all goes well (knock wood) I'll land in Omaha before 5:00 p.m. Cross your fingers or press your thumbs for me.

Oh, and before I go I'd like to commemorate a dear friend:

It is my one and only Christmas decoration, a promotion for this store. A couple of weeks ago I walked in and a small, blonde woman dressed as an angel, complete with floor-length gossamer gown, halo and golden wings, handed it to me.

It's been a loyal companion, but I neglected to find a sitter for it, and I'm afraid it will have shuffled off its mortal coil before I make it home.



23 December 2006

Last-Minute Gifts

Still haven't bought me a present, yet?

Check out this list for some tips, courtesy of the Yarn Harlot.



I'm going mad from boredom.

For the past twenty-four hours I have had nothing to do.

I can't re-pack my suitcase, since I already managed to defy the laws of physics and cram yet another gift into it and am afraid even opening it will ruin all my hard work.

I can't shop (see above).

I can't wrap presents.

I can't gorge myself because I decided to prudently empty out my fridge, leaving me with only a box of frozen spinach, some feta cheese and a zucchini (or rather, zucchino). A better cook than I might know what do to with that.

What I have been doing: returning all my bottles to the grocery store (almost €4 worth), uploading photos to flickr, obsessing about possibly missing my flight in Chicago, and cleaning.

(You know it must be desperate for me to resort to that.)

And I still have twelve more hours before I can leave for the airport!

22 December 2006

More strange, incorrect uses of English

So, is the "Coffee Travel Point" where your coffee goes on vacation?


19 December 2006


My friend Shannon and I decided to take a much needed end-of-term vacation. Well, it's the end of term for her; I still have class but agreed to go along anyway. She came to Berlin for a couple days and then we spent about two and a half days in Prague.

Here are some highlights:

We went ice skating on Bebelplatz.


Of course, when I came up with the brilliant "let's go ice skating" plan, I completely neglected to take into account my inability to ice skate, and this was the result:


We walked around town, visited Christmas markets, drank Glühwein, and had our picture taken with Marx and Engels.


After that it was off to Prague, city of spires.


I spent a day touring the Jewish Quarter. This is the Old Jewish Cemetery:


At sundown (3:42 PM!) we went to Shabbas service at the Old-New Synagogue, built in the 13th century. It was the first day of Hanukkah.


On Saturday I walked the processional route to the castle area and spent the morning there. This is the most recognizable building in the area, St. Vitus Cathedral:


There were beautiful city views from the castle.


Like every good toursit, I spent time on the Charles Bridge.


This is the knight who stands guard at the base of the bridge:


I also walked around the Old Town, with its beautiful Town Hall:


The astronomical clock on the Old Town Hall:


I even braved the masses of people to shoot a video of it chiming the hour:

On Saturday evening we went to the Opera (Carmen).


This was the view from our box:


The highlight of the trip was my visit to the National Gallery (of 19th, 20th, and 21st century art). Don't judge the building by its facade.


Somehow I also managed to find time to just wander around and snap photos of whatever caught my fancy:








How awesome is the Soviet area Metro system?

As you can see, Prague is a beautiful city. It was, unfortunately, overrun with tourists; I can't imagine what it's like in the summer if it's this crowded at Christmas.

If you can believe it, there are even more photos on my flickr page.


18 December 2006


I heard this crazy rumor that some people go on vacations to relax.


I walked 27 miles during my three days in Prague.

27 miles.

Yes, Prague was beautiful and amazing and wonderful, but I'm far too tired to post anything right now. I need to go to bed. I will provide you with one little tidbit: my train was almost forty minutes late getting into Berlin because it ran over a wild boar.


12 December 2006

more reasons why I love this city

Sorry that last post was a bit boring. To make up for it I uploaded a bunch of new photos to my flickr page. Here's a preview:

In addition to buses, taxis, subways, pedi-cabs, trams and trains, you can travel with horses.

I’ve even seen dogsleds. (Sorry, I didn’t get a photo of that.)

You can get a €150 bottle of Dom Pérignon to go with your €1,70 curry sausage.

You’ll note, you can order your Currywurst with or without intestine (Darm).

The scaffolding is second-to-none. This is a life-size image of a subway train, covering the fence behind which they’re building the new subway.

(Look for more German scaffolding on my flickr page.)

Oh, and then there’s this:

That’s a man, right?

Can you imagine the controversy something like that would cause in the U.S.?


11 December 2006

nothing new here

Hello out there. Yes, I'm still alive. Sorry for the absence of late. Blogging kept getting bumped to the bottom of my to-do list. I somehow deluded myself into thinking the weeks leading up to Christmas wouldn't be as busy here as they always are at home and was then absolutely unprepared for the deluge. Thankfully, the worst is over (knock wood).

Today was a strange day. I went to the post office to mail a Christmas present to my friend in Zambia and felt like the ten years I've spent learning German were ineffectual. I did what I always do with a package and took it to the post office blank, planning to fill out their form with the customs declaration. "You know, you need to write the address on it," he said. But then he recollected himself and handed me the form with the customs slip. He also looked at me like I was crazy when I said it was going to Africa, his glance implying, why would you need to send anything to Africa. It was a demoralizing experience, and I was glad to be gone.

Then I went to the train station to buy tickets to Prague (a vacation! yay!) and had no problem communicating what I needed to the woman at the desk. I left with my tickets and seat reservations and realized that the situation at the post office probably had nothing to do with my communication skills and everything to do with that guy being an ass.

In other news, I'll be home in two weeks!

04 December 2006

Fun Study Break

I took a break from homework this afternoon/evening to go to the official Christmas tree lighting at the Brandenburger Tor. Although slightly corny, I did get to see Berlin's fabulous mayor and the Prime Minister of Norway.

Here's a [rather amateurish] video I made:


03 December 2006

Walter Benjamin

I won’t keep you in suspense any longer. I know you’re all dying to know the answer to the Walter Benjamin puzzle.

01 December 2006

Writing Lesson

Apparently the Associated Press also subscribes the German philosophy of sentence structure:

"Relatives of a groom shot by police hours before he was to have been married prepared instead for his funeral, set for Friday night at the church where the wedding was supposed to happen." (Full story here.)

Heaven forbid you should write two clear, simple sentences when one confusing, muddled sentence would suffice.