Snap Judgments for the Undeserving

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Warsaw, Poland

Once again, I have made the trek into deepest darkest Polonia, to visit my fabulous friends Lissa and Dave at their Warsaw pad. Thus far my main activity has been eating ... all is right in the world.
Here we are at the fabulous Companie Piwnie Restaurant ...
Those Kebabs came to us on FIRE
After our great dinner, and much beer, we went out on the town, which I had yet to do in Warsaw. It was very very fun, and only slightly sketchy :)
Here's the inside of the "Ice Bar"
A bar which is made, not surprisingly, of ice
The place is famous for fabulous Vodka, served at freezing temperatures
(It is so cold inside you have to wear the Parka)
Anna+Vodka+Arctic Parka+Club music = PARTY

Friday, July 28, 2006

Berlin, Germany

On my way to Poland a couple of days ago, I had the chance to stop in Berlin and visit a friend from school. Anna (and we even say it the same way, which leads to lots of confusion) was a great sport, and took me on a tour of the Bundestag, the famous buildings of the German government.
Here's a view of the Riechstag building, home to the German parliament
(I got to go in the cool dome)
Some of my Professors from Toronto were also in Berlin for the summer, and they also came on the tour!
Here we are, milling around in the Paul Löbe Building,
the conference center for the Parliament
Anna kindly let me stay with her and her husband in her pretty apartment in downtown Berlin. She even taught me how to make Kasespatzle, one of my favorite South-German dishes.
Anna is Swabian ... you can tell by the enormous Spatzle-press she owns!
Before I left the city I also got a chance to peek at one of the fabulous art collections...
Here I am in front of the Kunstgewerbemuseum
They have lots of nifty Medieval objects in this colletion
I like this Limoges Reliquary because it looks like the Baby Jesus is levitating :)

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Ulm, auf wiedersehen fur immer (or maybe not!)

My fabulous summer in Ulm has just come to a close, and boy am I depressed. I had an amazing time, and I am going to miss my summer friends so much! My spirits have been slightly lifted by the promise that we all made to each other to meet in 4 years for the World Cup in South Africa, where we shall be die hard Deutschland fans. It will rock :)

I left Ulm during the blow-out Danube fest that happens there every summer. We partied all day and then my friends put me on a train at 2 am. Yes, even I am suprised that this worked out.
Enjoying a "halb" with my awesome Ulm friends in front of the Rathaus:
Katie, me and Meaghan, at a sketchy mexican place:
Sniffle!! This is so tragic!! But soon I shall be home to harass my family and friends in person with long winded stories of my summer ... horray!

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Köln and Aachen, Germany

On Saturday and Sunday I traveled further north to see Köln (Cologne ... or Colonia if you happen to be Roman) and Aachen!! Köln was an actual city! It was big! With big city things! I think I've been in southern Germany for a bit too long, any place that doesn't have half-timbered houses seems really cosmopolitan to me.
Aaack! The Kölner Dom is coming to get me!!!

Köln has lots of Romanesque Churches ... and here's a word to the wise, do NOT try to see all 12 in one day without really really good walking shoes.
To untrained eye, they all look like this:
This is St. Gereon if anyone is counting

Romanesque mosaic from St. Gereon ...
I'm thinking Samson is too sexy for his shirt,
so sexy it hurts, if you know what I mean.

Then I took a day trip out west to see Aachen, capitol of the Holy Roman Empire under my man Charlemagne (you know, the Carolingian guy ... lived around 800 ... liked to recreationaly bathe ... nice guy). Only a bit of his palace complex is left, in the form of the "Palatine Chapel," but it is a cool COOL bit.
The chapel is the domey octagonal thing in the middle,
surrounded by Gothic-ness

Here it is from the inside!! It was so cool I had trouble not passing out.
(I realize that this means that I'm an art nut ... go with me here)
It's me!! In the Palatine Chapel at Aachen!!
I think I'm glowing more than the ridiculous chandelier behind me.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Würzburg and Fulda, Germany

This past weekend I was left to my own devices (while my friends went to Roma! Oh the jealousy I feel!!). Of course, when left alone for too long, I devise long and complicated journies across Germany to see lots of obscure old stuff. This weekend took me to western Germany, where I visited the towns of Würzburg, Fulda, Frankfort (accidentally), Köln and Aachen (yes, my feet are killing me).

The town of Würzburg is the start of the celebrated "Romantic Road" through the beautiful towns of southen Germany. It has lots of Baroque stuff ... not really my thing, but very shiny none the less.
Here's a view of the city from the fortress hill
Here's the (non-Baroque) castle at the top of Würzburg's hill
This was superceeded by a Baroque monstrosity ... uh, Shloß ... in the center of town
And then I went north to Fulda, which is also known for it's Baroque architecture, but I went there for the nifty Carolingian stuff.
Here's the huge Baroque Dom
This is the increadibly amazing St. Michaelskirche, dating from 822
it's got a Romanesque facade, but a complete Carolingian choir and crypt inside
(these are technical terms generally meaning "cool")
I also got to see some great Romanesque frescoes in the crypt of a tiny church
just outside the town
(btw: I am now a criminal ... I had to sneak into the crypt whose barred door was left unlocked, then I dragged in some lighting fixtures that were sitting around in the Church ... then I took lots of illicit pictures. I'm pretty sure this means eternal damnation)
More to follow on Köln and Aachen as soon as I can get the pictures to upload ...

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Strange foreign signs, season 2, part 2.

This is a street sign near my dorm .... I seriously have no idea what it's for:
(no awkward can-can dancing?!?)

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Füssen and Schloss Neuschwanstein, Bavaria, Germany

On sunday a group of us made the (very) long journey south to the Bavarian Alps to see Schloss Neuschwanstein, the Fairy-tale castle of King Ludwig II (he was rich and nuts)! The countryside and the mountians surrounding the castle make it particuliarly beautiful.

Schloss Neuschwanstein
(fyi, the Disney castle was modeled after this one)

Here I am inside the castle courtyard ...
doesn't it look smaller up close??

The views from the castle were breathtaking!

After our tour of the castle we went on a hike in the mountains directly behind it. This means that I have lots of pictures of Neuschwanstein from various different angles ...
Look, it's us, Neuschwanstein, and a tree!!

The town of Füssen was also really cute and interesting. The town's castle, built in the 15th century by the ruling Bishops, has these really cool Gothic trompe-l'oeil frescoes in the inner courtyard.
Are these really windows?!?

Ok ... I had to include this because it shows the range of pictures that I have showing Neuschwanstein,
all from slightly different vantage points ... I have about 80 of these.

Stuttgart, Baden-Wuttemburg, Germany

Last weekend I took a day trip to Stuttgart with my friend Kat. The city was totally over-run with World Cup fanatics who were going to see the 3rd place game, played in the city. Despite the frantic crush of people we had a fabulous time.

We decided to go see the brand new "Mercedes Benz World," celebrating the brand that was pioneered in Stuttgart. It was a seriously cool museum.
Here are Kat and René* in front of the Mercedees Benz Welt
This is the very first "car" put together by Benz ...
Did you know that the Popemobile is a Mercedes?? Oh yes, yes indeed ...
We also actually saw the city of Stuttgart, and it was lovely, albeit slightly less shiny than the Mercedes Museum and packed with people.
This is the Schiller Platz, with the Altes Schloss in the background
They were having some kind of folk food festival - my kind of town.

Here I am inside one of these cute little outdoor restaurants.
Can you see the fake chickens above my head??? They were definitly there.
Despite the Kitsch, the cake and Riesling were delicious!

*a friend of ours from our program who we ran into accidentally in the city ... I swear, Germany is secretly a very very small place.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Rothenburg, Bavaria, Germany

Rothenburg, aka the cutest town on the face of the planet, was a lovely way to finish off my weekend. This tiny town has almost been perfectly preserved since the 14th century ... and except for the hordes of tourists that invade it daily, has looked pretty much the same for the past 700 years.
The town is surrounded by a totally intact medieval wall ...
I walked all the way around the town on the ramparts!
Here I am, taking a break as I walked around the whole town
(it only took about an hour, really, I'm just lazy)
Here's a view of the Old Town Square from the bell tower of the 14th century Rathaus
The climb up was one of the most interesting (and by that I mean "precariously vertical") climbs of this sort that I've ever done!
The Jacobskirche is famous for their "Holy Blood Altar"
It is very large and, uh, wooden ... I confess, I'm way out of my league with 15th century German Altarpieces.
Finally, you can't escape Rothenburg without experiencing some serious Tourist Kitsch.
This is a shot from when I was trapped inside this enormous indoor Christmas Village ... that Nutcraker is over a story tall ... yipes.

Bamberg, Bavaira, Germany

Bamberg was the second town that I visited last weekend. Honestly, I went because I'd heard the town name associated with lots of Medieval manuscripts. Bamberg turned out to be a very interesting town, with a great 12th Century Cathedral.

Here's a view of the city and the hill with the Dom:
Here I am, outside the Cathedral, on a very worn ... lion thingie??
(This Cathedral was the site of my 12th century liturgical vestment viewing,
in which I spent 3 hours and forgot to eat lunch ... I have a problem)

Here's a view of the cute little old town ... the river really makes it quite scenic,
they call it their own Klein Venedig (little Venice)*

And here I am, outside the only Baroque church in the town
(because every town needs at least one)
This one was interesting because of it's botanical-print style fresco decoration.

*My friends from the program actually went to Venice this same weekend, and I think that their pictures show that there's really no comparison.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Nürnberg, Bavaria, Germany

Last weekend I ventured out on my own to visit some towns in Northern Bavaria ... it was a fun experience to travel truely all by myself, but I notice that when left alone I get to be a little too much "in my own head" as it were. I clearly need friends with me to stop me from doing things like starting at 12th century liturgical vestments for hours on end...

Nürnberg (Nuremberg to you and me) was quite beautiful, despite having been heavily damaged in WWII. The town was great to walk through, but even more impressive were the collections of art objects in the Churches and Museums...

The Lorenzkirche was absolutely decked with impressive
15th century wooden interrior decoration

Here's me, by the Medieval Hospital
(you can't go in it now, because it is a retirement home,
because nothing says "relax in peace and quiet" like "Medieval Hospital")

The Germanisches Nationalmuseum is housed in Nuremburg and was simply amazing!
Among many other wonderful things, they have the actual cover of the Codex Aureus!
I seriously almost cried it was so cool:

And finally, I tried one of Nuremburg's culinary specialities:
The tiniest Bratwurst in Bavaria...

Auf wiedersehen...

Last night, Germanys run in the World Cup came to a tragic end ...

We were saddened:

Honestly, the Germans probably took it better than we did. Now all we have left to live for is the coming destruction that shall be visited upon the Italians ... by ... France?!? Hmmmm ... maybe we'll have to rethink our revenge.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Happy America Day!!

That's what my German teacher here called it ... we tried to explain that it was not quite the same thing as "Canada Day" (last Saturday) but to no avail, alas.
I will celebrate by ...
watching the Deutschland game?!?!*

*This is such a weird picture, don't I look like I'm up to no good??

Monday, July 03, 2006

Strange foreign signs, season 2, part 1.

Sorry about the lack of strange foreign signs up 'till now. I can only point to three possible explanations for my lack of wit:

1. I've become European, and now everything looks normal
2. Germany is boring
3. I don't get out enough

But at long last ... they begin:
I assume this means that Tom Hanks will be doing
a cameo appearance of his role in "Big"