Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Pool of orange

A common sight in the town in the mountains that we visited - refreshment stands along the hiking trail offering sodas and oranges (waiting to be turned into fresh-squeezed orange juice) chilling in natural refrigerators.

High Atlas Mountains, Morocco
April 2008

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

soccer wrap-up

Ok, so I know I said I'd post every day this week, I really did write this post yesterday and was about to post it when my computer battery died. I was up on my 7-foot-tall bunk bed, and it takes a lot to get me to climb down this ladder once I've climbed up to go to bed. So there's my inadequate excuse.

I realized that I never posted any pictures from my various Euro2008-watching experiences. A couple good reasons: right before I was going to take pictures of the projected-on-a-sheet-in-my-kitchen viewing parties I dropped my camera in the toilet, I forgot my camera at the party in Berlin where I watched the finale, I'm lazy sometimes.

But here are a few pictures that don't adequately convey the Fußballfieber.

Public viewing at a local park

Crowds of people celebrating after Germany made it into the final.

So many German flags and painted's always kind of surprising to see these kinds of patriotic displays in Germany, since flag-waving-nationalism is understandably not common. But it really is nice to see everyone rallying around something positive...even if the celebrations kept me up at night and they went on to lose to Spain. Certainly an exciting time to be studying in Germany.

Monday, July 7, 2008

the sunniest city in germany

You wouldn't have known it a few weeks ago when it was raining all the time, but Freiburg is known as having the best weather in Germany, and I'm intent on soaking it up before I leave.

On my friend Fiona's last day in Freiburg, we grabbed a blanket, bread, cheese and wine and headed to a local park by a lake.

Needless to say, it was wonderful, as lounging around in the sun usually is.

A few days later I spent a Saturday morning outside on the same blanket with a cup of coffee and a good book. This will likely happen tomorrow morning as well, but with the sources for my term paper. I enjoyed my personal ban on homework while it lasted (just a weekend).

A good way to enjoy Freiburg, but as it turns out, Berlin is quite sunny as well.

Making Tall Places

A couple days ago I went with my boyfriend to the carnival that is Navy Pier to visit our friend Sarah, who works for Chicago Public Radio. After a tour of the offices, she gave us fortune cookies and passes to the Ferris Wheel. So that was pretty great.
We went up on the McDonald's brand gondolas, up, up, up... and back down again. I took pictures. No surprise there.

There was obviously a great view of Lake Michigan and the skyline, and it was a beautiful clear day. One of the neatest things for me was to look out and see the Hancock building (that's the tall black one just left of center), where we had earlier that week had drinks. They have a lounge and restaurant, priced to fit the view, on the 96th floor. The weather that day wasn't nearly as spectacular, but here's the view down the shoreline from up there:

As a big public radio fan, I'd love to say that WBEZ Chicago was more exciting that these views... but you just can't beat being really, really high.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

An American holiday in Germany

Maybe one of the three firework displays that Sidonie attended can make up for my total lack of fireworks this Fourth of July. I did, however, attend a Fourth of July party put on by a local foundation for American-German relations. It was at a brewery, so there was plenty of good beer along with country music, barbecue (do you think it's weird that barbecue doesn't have a 'Q' in it?), American flags and a discussion about the upcoming elections (more intellectual than the typical Independence Day party).

My other Fourth of July activity was baking chocolate chip cookies, with chocolate chips sent by my mom. Unfortunately no pictures, since they were gone within a few hours. Depending on who you ask, they were either "really, really delicious" or "unglaublich lecker". My mom sent my grandma's recipe, on an old hand-written notecard that I've seen many times before.

Luckily, I froze some of the dough, so maybe I'll bake some more cookies later this week and be quicker with the camera.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Independence from dark night skies

It looks like the setting sun, but oh, no.

I've been to three fireworks displays this week. That's how much I love loud noises, brilliant colors in the sky, and America.

The first was last Saturday, Rhythm & Booms in Madison. It's the midwest's largest fireworks display, timed to music on the radio. I watched from across the lake, where the fireworks were small but beautifully reflected in the water.

Thursday night, July 3rd, I was on the shore of Lake Michigan, watching Chicago's official fireworks display--similar to Madison's, but we got really close and drew excitement from the huge crowd. I might post some pictures of that night when I get home and upload the photos on my camera. The highlight for me was walking in a giant crowd across Michigan Avenue and down Monroe, all traffic blocked off -- it was definitely reminiscent of a massive demonstration, except we had nothing to protest. I ate a giant bag of Skittles.

But last night--last night was really something else. On the fourth in Chicago, everyone in the city goes all out. It seems as though entire monthly salaries are spent on impressive displays in all directions. We stood on top of a parking garage until we were booted by security. From two stories above every other building around we could see firecrackers going off all around us, from the street below (and, terrifyingly, even one from the parking garage itself) and receding brightly into the distance. Here was the immediacy that Rhythm & Booms had lacked. Everywhere we drove we were right in the middle of the war zone. "Intense" describes it well.

These low quality photo attempts are from Madison's display, and don't do any justice to it, but I figured I'd put them up anyway.

catching up

Dear blog, I'm sorry. You've been neglected by me.

But! now I am done with my program courses and my university course presentation. Just two classes a week and a paper to write. No problem.

Add this newly-found freetime to gorgeous weather and a desire to explore Freiburg more before I leave, and you get...a post every day this week! Really. I figure I should set lofty goals for myself.

I was in Berlin from last Saturday until Wednesday, which was wonderful. Saw friends, wandered the city, drank lots of coffee at lots of cute and hip cafes, found stores that I couldn't even let myself walk into for fear of spending money. I braved the fear to go into a few of them, though, like a bookstore with only cookbooks. Sigh. They even had a comfy bench. And a copy of Breakfast Lunch Tea, one of my favorite cookbooks.

Which reminded me that I found one of my favorite recipes from the book (one of Sidonie's favorites too) online. Lemon, Rice and Polenta Cake. Lemony, gluten-free and pleasantly crunchy.

And, my travel photo wednesday (um, saturday) post, one of the aforementioned cute hip cafes in Berlin. Cappuccino and a waffle with strawberry sauce = a good way to start a day.

And a bonus, as atonement for my blog neglect. We went on a great bike ride near Berlin on Sunday, including a cafe on a houseboat, sunburns and volleyball on the beach at a lake, and adventures maneuvering bikes up and down escalators and on and off of trains.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

the 2nd city

I'm spending the week in Chicago, which has meant that although I'm not posting, I am taking pictures and collecting stories to post when I return to Madison on Sunday. Hold me to that, o internet readers. I will update.

In the mean time, here's a (small) travel photo for you.

Delhi, India
January, 2006