Thursday, December 13, 2012



I am back in Germany after a short trip to the motherland, aka, Poland.

Sunday afternoon I hopped on a train to Berlin with Malia and Tom, we met David there. We went straight from the Berlin Hauptbahnhof to Berlin Tegel airport. Berlin Tegel sucks. Berlin has been building a new airport and Tegel and the other one will apparently close whenever they get around to finishing it. There were some protesters at the airport on Sunday waving signs and shouting in German. All I caught was 'destroy' soooooo that seemed promising. Our flight was cancelled for Sunday night because of weather conditions, so air berlin gave us vouchers for food and hooked us up with a hotel near the airport. we spent the vouchers on burgers(fries for me) and beer and then went to the holiday inn(sing the song) The hotel ended up being pretty nice, we got two rooms, there was a pool, sauna, steam room and most importantly a bar with snacks.

Monday we went back to the airport early in the morning for our new flight to Krakow. more rough times at the Tegel airport as there was an impromptu security strike which led to a 3 hour delay. Finally we arrived in Krakow, got a bus to the city center from the airport and managed to find our hostel. Quick hostel plug, if anyone is going to Krakow I would highly recommend the Mosquito Hostel. It had all the things that I like in a hostel: large lockers, personal lights and outlets, tall bunks so you don't hit your head, 24 hour reception, full kitchen, free breakfast(with cheese, so you could totally make a sandwich for lunch), multiple showers/bathrooms with soap, board games, organized free events every night with super nice hostel workers, and quality organized tours. I want to open a hostel now. 

We dropped off our things and went to go eat pierogies. NOMZ. The pierogi restaurant was 24 hours. That was another great thing about Poland, they had a ton of 24 hour stores and restaurants. There are roughly zero 24 hour places in Germany. The pierogies were delicious, despite not being fried like I make them at home. america. We then walked around the freezing cold, but beautiful winter wonderland. Everything is prettier covered with fresh snow, until it turns to slush and gets gross. We stopped at a few christmas markets and then found a cool underground pub and had some more pierogies and hot wine. We went back to the hostel and caught up with the group just as they were leaving for a pub crawl. We first stopped by a little place with a bazillion flavors of polish vodka then went to a club. Drinking in Poland is dirt-cheap. 

cut to Tuesday morning. 

I scratched my eyeball again, which is apparently something I am doing now, so I tried to keep my left eye shut for a few hours while Malia, Tom and David wandered around some more. I joined everyone at 4 to go to the salt mines. The hostel organized a driver and tickets for the English language guided tour through the Wieliczka Salt Mines. They were amazing. We went through three of the nine levels, apaprently to see all the things there would take a week, we spent 3 hours looking at stuff. Our tour guide was hilarious and knew a lot about everything salt related. He also reminded us that the price of the ticket included licking as much salt as we wanted. All the walls were made of salt. Actually, everything down there was made of salt. Statues, chandeliers, walls, floors, ceilings, everything. I got a few pieces of salt to bring back if anyone wants a lick. My pictures turned out pretty crappy because it was so dark and creepy down there, but the whole thing was very impressive. Seeing giant old construction-type things always impresses me. People carved out HUGE salt rooms and statues and things a loooooooong time ago. only one of the rooms we saw was excavated using dynamite. The rest was with hand-tools and horses. amazing.

We weren't allowed to take pictures in the main chapel room, but here is one I stole from the internet(borrowed from here):

Wednesday morning we packed up our things, checked out of the hostel and headed to the main market square to meet up with a free walking tour of the jewish quarter. I think the tour was with this company: freewalkingtour It was an excellent tour. Our tour guide was funny, and knowledgeable. She was telling us about how difficult it is to get a tour guide license in Poland because the exam is in Polish, but most of the tours are given in English. So ex-pats have a hard time passing the exam. She said she worked for roughly a year to get her license. Also the tour company has worked really hard to prepare a new 'winter edition' of their Krakow map. It was full of great tips and information about the city. We were there for the grand release of the winter map, she was sooooo pumped about it and had her friend come and take pictures of the group smiling and looking at the map. adorable. She also was telling me about her method for learning things about the different states in the US. She only knows the states that are featured prominently in US tv shows. Ohio-Glee, New York-HIMYM, Friends, Castle, Wisconsin-That 70s Show, etc. I thought that was the best way to learn anything because I am OBSESSED with television. 

We also learned a bunch of historical things on the tour. It was rather Schindler's List focused as the story is based on events that happened in Krakow. Must watch movie now. I liked hearing about how each part of the city had changed with time, from the main Jewish area, to Nazi warehouses, to the Jewish ghetto, to a modern student area complete with the most popular bars and restaurants. We saw the memorial on the main square in the old Jewish ghetto:

The chairs were arranged with most of them facing the concentration camps and death camps, with a few others facing Schindler's factory and the various factories people were sent to work. The Nazis believed that people were hiding valuables in the legs of their chairs and after the liquidation of the ghetto, the buildings were ransacked and this main square was full of broken furniture. 

The building in the back right of that photo also has an interesting history. That building was a pharmacy run by a non-jewish polish man, Tadeusz Pankiewicz, it was kept open after he bribed the Nazis. Him and the few women who worked with him provided medications, hair dye(to help people look younger and more fit for labor and concentration camps vs death camps) as well as calming pills to help the infants remain quiet so they could be smuggled out of the ghetto, and to help people retain their dignity while they waited to learn their fate.

Overall a very well organized and factual tour. 

After the tour we headed to a restaurant to warm up(thaw out) and eat more pierogies. Then went to the main christmas market to buy some gifts for people, hopefully they survive the flight home! 

Pierogi total: 40 eaten in 2.5 days. not too shabby.

We got to the Krakow airport, our flight only had a 30 minute delay, what luxury. We made it to Berlin and got the bus back to the Hauptbahnhof and made our train back to Hamburg in time. We flew out of Berlin because it was way cheaper FYI. 

Krakow was great, now I am tired though. Tonight is the Landor Hamburg Christmas party. Theme: wear something green or blue. 

I need to start packing, but I keep procrastinating. I am excited to come home, but I know I will really miss my life here and everyone I have met. I am now used to being able to hop on a train/plain and go somewhere new, easily, whenever I want. It will take some adjusting to be back in school and in Cincinnati where public transportation is essentially a joke.

Happy Thursday! See you all in 6 days.


Monday, December 3, 2012

Florence/buying all the leather goods

Hello people,

Sorry I haven't posted anything in forever.

This weekend Malia and I went to Florence. Our flights were originally cancelled and everything was a hot mess, but then we got a different flight, which was then 2 hours late because the front door of the airplane would not close. Seems like that is something you would check... but whatever.

We finally got to Florence around midnight and headed to our hostel. The lady in the bunk below me had some GIANT underpants artfully displayed on a hanger. I really don't know what she was trying to do with those, but hey, good for you lady. artsy.

Saturday we went to the leather market to buy all the things. I had forgotten how pushy the leather sales people can be. I almost bought a custom leather jacket but was afraid I would ruin it or lose it.... andddddd I did manage to lose a bag full of bags later, sooooo good call on not buying the jacket, self.

One guy liked that Malia and I were blonde and offered us anything we wanted for free. We ended up in his shop later and he got totally weird. I was trying on a jacket and apparently he decided that I looked like J.Lo and kept trying to touch my legs.

except with legs, and not dogs.

I bought a giant leather bag to check on the flight back to the states. I was trying to figure out if it was possible to get all my things into my two suitcases, and while I think everything would fit, they would be too heavy. enter, new bag! score. 

My bag is on the right, Malia's new duffel on the left:

We did a free walking tour, which was just awful. I had written in my post from last year that the tour was pretty bad, but we had hoped in a year it would have improved. SO TERRIBLE. the tour guide didn't seem to actually know much about any of the things he was showing us. 'Here is a famous statue created by a famous Florentine artist'  any idea which one, sir?? no? great.

After that we wandered around looking for a place to eat dinner. Grabbed some gelato, because Italy, duh. The two guys who were working in the gelato place were adorable. Malia and I decided they were father and son, because that makes everything more adorable. They were engaging in some sort of gelato beautification contest and kept adding cookies and things to our gelatos and rearranging things and just being adorable. Take my word for it. I can't describe it any other way.

Then we had some time to kill before our dinner reservation and went and rapid fire bought some little purses in the pouring rain. (spoiler alert, these bags for my sistaaaaaas, and I lost them all. SORRY I RUINED CHRISTMAS) The waiters were clearly trying to get us to leave the restaurant quickly and quickly brought out food and then took the plates away and were not properly timing the meal. sooooooo(spoiler alert, mistake) we decided to see how long we could stay at the restaurant. MISTAKE. We ordered wines, coffees, and I kept picking at the bread after we finished our first course. They kept trying to take the bread away though.... GIMME MY BREAD, JERKS.(lots of all caps in this post, sorry world) Sooooooo long story short, we drank alllllll the wine, got separated and I ended up lost and overwhelmed in the pouring rain in Florence surrounded by creeps, lost my umbrella and the purses. *bold caps* SORRY WORLD

Sunday we got up and shoved all the things into my new GIANT leather bag(thankfully I didn't lose that as it was considerably more expensive than the other bags(RIP/you're welcome Florence hobos)

We then headed out to go see the David. Weirdly, the Accademia gallery museum thing with the David was roughly twice the price of the Uffizi Gallery which had soooo many more things. Giant naked men really drive the price up I guess. My favorite part of going to see the David was eavesdropping on the little old ladies there who were talking about how amazing the detail on the sculpture was, but that they 'realllllly thought it would be bigger' hilarious. 

Here is the David(iPhone pic):

Here is what I like to think were the intended colors of the David:

pale pink, mustard yellow and HOT.

The Accademia also had this great video of a ginger girl writing/drawing something: 


Here is the Duomo, which I think is my favorite giant cathedral I have seen so far, other than the Sagrada Familia

We grabbed some food near there and then walked over to the Uffizi. They have the Birth of Venus, which was cool to see. and this:

Wonky, stretchy Madonna with wonky stretchy Jesus. AKA 'Madonna with the long neck'

Artist life tip: If you totally botch a painting of something and make it look totally wonky, just add something to the name so people think it was on purpose. noted.

We headed back to the hostel to grab our bags and hopped in a taxi to the airport. Because of the problems with our flight over to Florence, it looked like we were going to be stuck in the airport forever, but they figured it out. We had a layover in the Amsterdam Airport, which was amazing. They have a nature lounge area that is made to look like a park and has nature sounds playing and lounge chairs and fake trees. SO GREAT. 

My final trip is coming up next week. going to Krakow, Poland! MUST EAT ALL THE PIEROGIES. NOMZZZZZ

hopefully I will find something cool to replace the christmas gifts I lost, otherwise... I'll just come home for christmas and everyone should be satisfied with that.

Happy Monday everyone!

I'm going to the sneak preview tonight, finally got tickets in a semi-reasonable row and not row 1. ROW 17 for the win. Hope the movie doesn't suck.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Vienna/Wien. Not Wein.

This past weekend I was in Vienna.

The flight was from Hamburg was about 1.5 hours and Air Berlin gave out sandwiches, it was great.

Purse packing went better for me this time, as I mentioned in my Prague post. Bought a new bag and crammed all the things in it. Might add photos of it later, but I probably won't.

Saturday we tried to do a walking tour and were 1 minute late to the starting location. Someone told us the first stop and we ran there but they were already gone... assuming they started early. jerks. So we wandered around looking for giant real looking things and took their picture. Later on, I checked online for the main things to look at in Vienna and it seems we saw them all. score. The method of wandering aimlessly and occasionally exclaiming, 'oh, that looks like a thing!' was a success. We went to the Sacher Hotel cafe and had the famous Sacher Torte(chocolate cake) and Apple strudel. nomz. I was sick on Saturday but tried to power through and see all the things. We also walked around the Naschmarkt which was a giant empty lot full of people/weirdos selling random things. Saw a stuffed cat in a box. soooooo, that was great. Saturday night we went to a massive Schnitzel restaurant called Figlmüller. Malia got the schnitzel and I got the baked cheese thing, which I have decided was vegetarian Schnitzel, and some Spinatknödel or spinach dumplings. Delicious. 

Here is our food:

Dumplings and baked cheese thing:

 Malia's GIANT schnitzel:

On our walk back to the hostel we passed the St. Stephen's cathedral, still not finished, but looked nice at night!

Front of St. Stephen's cathedral with a lightshow happening:

We played pool when we got back to the hostel and I went to bed and hoped to fell less illlllll on Sunday.

It worked. Sunday we went and got food, and the most delicious Chai Latte thing of my life:

Then we walked a mile or so to the Schloss Schönbrunn palace. 

Here is a picture I snuck of the floor in the Chinese closets in one of the main ballrooms:

After that we went and took a quick peek at the Danube:

and then got some more baked goods and coffee and headed to the airport.

Here is my flying neighbor Herr Strudel all buckled up for safety:

Sorry for the poor quality of some of these photos, I will try to upload the pictures from my camera to Facebook soon. I realize that posts will only words can be pretty boring, so I figured any photos are better than none.

-Michelle + Mr. Mink

also, I was hoping to embed Billy Joel's Vienna into this post, but couldn't get youtube to cooperate. So just sing it to yourself.

Prague, Prag, Praha


Sooooo, an update on purse packing:

Purse packing is fun and makes you feel far superior to anyone you see with luggage. However, I think it would work better in warmer weather, or for staying with friends/in a hotel. The flip-flops for hostel showers, and toiletries take up a lot of room in a purse... and if you were staying somewhere super clean that provides toiletries to you, you could skip those things. Also, purse packing would work well for you if you have ANY self control and don't go shopping and buy a bunch of new stuff that you magically have to cram in to your exploding purse. I have no self control, clearly.

I need to do a purse break-down post with photos of my bag... but realistically, this will never happen.

For Vienna, Malia and I bought new, cheap bags for purse packing that were a little larger than our last bags. Malia's broke instantly... soooooo don't buy purses from New Yorker. Mine worked pretty well. It was still stuffed and about to explode, but I didn't have to stuff my coat pockets with toiletries and bonus purses, so that was nice.


Prague(including iPhone photos):

We left work Friday and headed to the airport. The guy at the check-in desk was AMAZED by the size of our luggage(purses) for the weekend. Purse-packing for the win.

We took a bus to a train to get to our hostel and on the bus we were sitting across from a lady with the longest eyelashes ever. It was really amazing. I spent the whole time trying to figure out if they were real, or how she managed to grow the worlds greatest eyelashes. I'm sure she thought I was a total creep. Plus I was sitting backwards on a bus, so I also looked like I was going to vomit. Cute.

Got to the hostel and it was super nice! I should have taken a picture of our bathroom. Huge shower and cool sink. Good for you Mosaic House Prague. Also played the 'guess where our roommates are from by looking at their toiletries' they had some large ziplock bags, god bless America, and some full size German products... American students living in Germany. What a fun game.

Saturday morning we went on a walking tour with an adorable Spanish guy as our tour guide. The super thick Spanish accent made even the boring history things hilarious. Also he told a story, which he totally made up, about a Turkish guy giving a girl a kebab to make her fall in love with him and I decided that is the most romantic thing I can think of.

We went in the church of St. James. Story of the church. Some famous thief guy went in there looking to steal some bling from a religious statue. The statue came to life grabbed the guys arm and then re-froze in statue mode. People came in to the church and saw the dude dangling from this statue and after he promised that he changed and would no longer do any thieving, they cut off his arm and freed him. The statue then came back to life, dropping the arm, and the church people hung it up as a warning to other thieves. That thief guy then became the church keeper. Moral of the story: if you try to steal something, your arm will be cut off, and then you will be given an upper management job.

Here is the dangling arm(shriveled thing hanging off the wall on the right):

And the inside of the church for my Grandma:

We also saw the atomic clock, it has a rooster on it. I don't have an iPhone photo of it, so you will have to look on Facebook at my other photos.

After the walking tour we crossed the river to the other half of Prague, old city, new city, some city. We walked up to the Strahov Monastic Brewery and captured this view of Prague:

and drank this beer and ate these brownies:

It was strange to me that these monks have been making beer for so long, but hey... liquid bread is great, so whatever.

Sunday we walked around and ate some Prague street meat(for Malia) and some spinning bread roll covered in sugar and nuts(for me) Then we took a cab ride of death and I thought I was going to vomit all over the place. I didn't. Proudest moment of my life. Thinking of listing it as a resume skill.

Vienna post up next!

Friday, November 2, 2012

pack it in a purse(hire me Rick Steves)

quick Munich post:

Munich was amazing. The weather was warm and sunny and perfect. Saturday was one of those days where everything was exactly what you wanted/needed. After a fairly cold/rainy Hamburg week, Saturday was a magical sunshine-y day. We went to the Neuschwanstein Castle which was in some mountains in Füssel, about 2 hours away from Munich. Usually I am not a huge nature freak, but everything was soooooooo great. The fall leaves, sunshine, mountain views and a castle. If only there were donkeys. It was warm enough to expose my shoulders in an attempt to get a slight tan. glory. We left the castle and grabbed some food on a lake. Since it was warm, the bees were SWARMING. I think they love me/hate me. I freaked out, naturally, and put on a show for all the germans. sorry germans. The waitress came over after a while and put some coins on the table because she said she had seen people doing it to keep bees away. I looked it up and apparently it has something to do with light reflecting and confusing their giant bug eyeballs. These bees must have had really strong eyeballs. So I ran away and sat by the lake and soaked up some more sun and looked at all of the dogs. all of them. Germany has sooooo many dogs and I want to steal every single one of them. We headed back to the hostel and put on our dirndls and prepared to go to some beer hall place. We couldn't find the beer place and everyone on the street was confused by our Dirndls. Oktoberfest ended the week before, so everyone just thought we were dumb. Doesn't matter. It started raining a little so we headed back to the hostel bar and hung out there for a little bit. We ended up going out(not in Dirndls) with a few people we met who lived in Munich. Sunday we woke up and went to the Chinese pagoda in an English garden and found a German beer garden and had a giant pretzel. Soooo multicultural.

Last weekend I wasn't able to go to Dresden, but it ended up being a nice weekend anyways.

Tonight Malia and I are flying to Prague for the weekend. Last night, we decided we were too lazy to pack real bags and that turned in to a 'pack all the things in our purses' adventure. I think it might have taken more effort than packing a real bag, but hey.... maybe this is interesting enough to convince Rick Steves to hire me...

I will have to take pictures to document the packing.

For this weekend I have:

the clothes I am wearing:
-Thick socks
-Long sleeve shirt
-Giant Man shirt(pajamas)
-Jacket with large pockets containing: umbrella, mini purse + locks for hostel(I know jacket pockets aren't really a purse, but whatever)

-socks + bonus socks, in case of rain
-underwear + bonus underwear, in case I am not allowed back into germany and have to live in the airport
-elephant spandex pants(pajamas and sunday clothes)
-flipflips, in case I decide to shower + perfume for when that doesn't happen

I think I can probably do a better job packing, maybe I will perfect the pack it in a purse technique for Vienna.

Yay, adventure.

Also, I have been joking for a while that I would be fluent in German in November, so this would be the month I start talking.... I never really thought November would arrive... but alas. DeutscheMonat ist hier. So now have to speak German at home. Sorry if I get reallllllly silent this month, roomies.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Munich Photos

Here are a few photos from the Munich trip:

Schloss Neuschwanstein


coins on the table to ward off bees(waitress's suggestion)



giant pretzel, mashed potatoes, gross cheese/plate of onions

adorable real dog being fake walked by a statue

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

planning all the trips


Munich was amazing, I will write about Neuschwanstein Castle, Dirndls, pretzels, stealing, monsters, and mashed potatoes later. This is just to prove that I am alive. 

Also, I have a ton of trips coming up! This weekend is Dresden with some friends from my German class. Next weekend Prague, weekend after that Vienna. Still need to plan Poland, Florence and possibly Portugal or Budapest.

Hope everyone is doing well, see you all in two months!