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.