No trip to any Christmas market is complete without a Glühwein, or in this case a Vin Chaud. And this one was made by a forest gnome, so you know it was the real deal.
The incredibly old, amazingly intricate, once-referred-to-by-Mark-Twain-in-some-story-of-his (according to my travel buddy) clock.
Death rings in the hour.
Just as no trip to a Christmas market is complete without a warm beverage, no trip to a cathedral is complete without a pic of a beautiful stained glass window. And this was on an overcast day, so just imagine the beauty when the sun shines through it!
This post is dedicated to my Nan, one amazing woman. She recently died. She was 91 and incredibly healthy, aside from her poor eyesight. She had a stroke and then slowly faded away. She died on October 11th, just a little more than a month away from her 92nd birthday. She was ready. Though of course many others were not ready, myself included.
She was an extremely creative, active, independent, and stubborn woman. And I loved her very much. I don't really recall when or how my love of baking developed, but I always attributed it to her as I would aspire to make my cookies and cakes and pies as delicious as she did. I was also incredibly shocked when she told me that a lot of her cakes came from boxed mixes.
She had lived in the same house for 60-odd years. If I wanted to make it to 60 years in the same residence before my timely demise, I would have to settle down ASAP… but I don't think this is something I will ever have. And that's okay. It's what she had, and what she always will have as it was hers until the very end. It's quite impressive that she was able to live alone and take care of herself almost entirely on her own (aside from some help with gardening, shopping, and eventually heavy household cleaning) at her age, and I don't think she would have had it any other way.
It's quite easy to glorify a person's life after they're gone, especially for the ones you love the most. But I know her life wasn't all sunshine and rainbows. And she had her bad moods, of course, as everyone does. I was in that sweet pocket of knowing and loving someone near and dear - close enough to know so much and yet still distanced enough never to see the claws come out. But I know they were there.
I loved my Nan, and I felt quite close with her, even though most of my life was spent rather far away. As a kid, I was just excited to play games on her porch, explore her basement, try to befriend her cat, and eat cookies. As I grew older I wanted to walk with her through the cemetery, which she used to do almost every day. She's one of the few people I liked to tell stories just as much as I liked to listen to them. Even little, seemingly mundane accounts, she was always interested. Maybe she was just being nice, but what's important is I felt heard.
She was awesome. And I'll miss her greatly. But I'm very thankful to still have as much family around as I do. I'm quite lucky, in fact. A lot of people my age don't have grandparents, let alone great-grandparents!
No matter where I am or what I'm doing or how I've changed, I know that my family loves me. They love me unconditionally as families do, and I love and miss them all very much.
It was nice to be in New England in October, despite the circumstances. It brought back many wonderful memories. It's where I feel grounded and I will always consider it to be my home, no matter where I roam. I may not live in a house for 60+ years, but I will always have my roots. Despite what some may think of those who follow their hearts hither tither and wish to move about, I do know where my home is, I do cherish it, and I have not left anything or anyone behind.
Home is not a place nor is it people. There is no distance nor time to travel to get there. It's a warm, familiar feeling of love, hope, trust, and comfort. This is a feeling you can get when you're in the company of others that radiate it, such as your family and friends. What's important to know, is that it's always there, this warm feeling, no matter where you are or who you're with. I feel it all the time. My home.
Lange Wappe (in front of Het Steen) is a statue from Antwerpen folklore about a giant who sounds a bit like Paul Bunyan's evil Belgian brother - he taunts drunks, cheats at games with children, laughs like the devil, and if Wikipedia is correct he also steals great milk...
mmm…Carolus, a dark Belgian brew. This was recommended to me by the bartender at a little pub with a massive selection of beer.
...and one massive pot of mussels in a delicious white wine sauce, yum! This was dinner at an Italian restaurant (however practically EVERYWHERE had mussels) just in front of the Cathedral of Our Lady. It was delicious and picturesque.
What a superb idea - an outdoor library and lounge area! A nice way to spend a sunny summer day: lounging in bean bags or hammocks while reading a good book, chatting with friends, or simply watching passersby.
Ever since I've taught English here in Freiburg, my students of all ages have encouraged me to go to Europa Park. This summer I was finally able to do so, and in great company. :-)
Height/Freight: One of the many roller coasters at Europa Park. This is their most recent addition, "Wodan", located in the Icelandic part of Europa Park. It was added in 2012 and I believe it's the only wooden roller coaster (or "Achterbahn") in the park. As with many wooden crate coasters, this one is thrilling, though you do get jostled around a bit.
Height: Acrosplash! An acrobatic water show featuring an international cast portraying Bond & villains with many fancy dives, jumps, "comedic" effects, and concluding with a high dive into a low pool.
Sight/Freight: Clowns. On almost every children's ride, clowns. This was was particularly creepy as it was a clown dummy set to roll back and forth across its zipline, its body swaying along...
Sight/Freight: And of course no children's fairytale experience is complete without something completely psychedelic. Frogs, fairies, and plenty of 'shrooms on this joy ride.
It's quite common to see the houses tucked into the hills of the Black Forest covered in solar panels as well as roof-top gardens atop of modern homes and apartment buildings. Wind turbines also dot the countryside: I have a view of 3 from my window.
Germany has been reveled as a 'green' country for many years and is becoming greener each year, but not without its own bumps in the road. Nuclear energy is hopefully going to be phased out completely in Germany and Baden-Württemberg elected a Green, Winifried Kretschmann, as their Ministerpräsident, which is promising. The wanted/needed push for renewable energy is prevalent, however the debates come in choosing which is 'best'. There are at least two sides to everything, however those sides pertaining to wind turbines are not necessarily clear-cut. Renewable energy is good, altering the natural environment/wildlife is not, wind turbines can both attract and deter visitors, the NIMBY argument, etc. Have a look at the article from Spiegel Online (I think it's slightly biased against turbines, however a good article regardless) or the Bundesverband WindEngergy (German Wind Energy Association) website for some direct pro-turbine related info. For me, artistically speaking, I enjoy the stark contrast of having a huge technological device against a natural, wild though tailored, landscape. It's man and nature interacting on varying levels, making it possible to combine past, present, and future within one shot.
Today I ventured with a good friend of mine into the nearby Black Forest. We took a little drive with the car, a short stint on bikes, and then hiked downhill to check out a waterfall she had previously stumbled upon.
To say these past months of 'spring' have been relatively cold and extremely wet would be an understatement. But, lo and behold, summer has finally arrived in Gufi! With plenty of lovely, cotton-candy-sunsets like last night.