Thursday, June 17, 2010

Wed. June 17 and Thurs June 18

Yesterday was a terrible day with pouring rain all day long. It was aweful. Barbaras husband had a friend visiting so we had a barbeque and watched the soccer games. Poor Sarah cried all day and didnt sleep once. She then continued to cry all night. Poor Barbara.
Today Barbara, Sarah and I went out to the city center again near St. Stephens cathedral. I went to the top of the cathedral; all 343 narrow, winding steps. The view was amazing, and because of the tough climb there werent many people obstructing my view.
Then we walked through the city to where there are old roman ruins. They are just bricks in the ground, but they reflect how old the city is, and to me its really cool. Behind the ruins is where the crown jewles are kept. Walking through the building,called the Mickaelerplatz, which has a green dome, you open up into an open area, and then you pass again under arches and then to your left is the Austrian National Library and on your right is Volksgarten. In front of you are the Natural Sciences and the Technical Museums. Barbara and I walked through Voksgarten, which is very beautiful. Towards the back of the garden is a rose garden which is full of beautiful roses and a fountain.
Behind the garden is the Parliament Building, which has a very romanesque style and a statue representing justice in front of it.
We then walked past the Theater and City Hall, which has a very gothic style in contrast to the Parliament Building.
We stopped to meet up with Barbaras husband Martin at the university, but since he wasnt there yet we stopped in. Apparently it is normally very quite but today there seemed to have been a job fair or something. There was a panel of people talking in the entranceway of the university and in the courtyard there were booths inside the arcades and there was a group of students sitting on the grass protesting something.
Then we met Martin and walked to the "Bermuda Triangle" which is where there are a bunch of bars and restaurants. We sat outside at a restuarant called Bermuda Bar. I got to have schnitzle, which is deep fried pork basically and tasted really really good.
After we walked towards the Danube canal and along there. We passed a cool bar along the Danube canal that had sand and a beach theme. They also had a huge screen where the World Cup was playing, so we had coffee and watched the first half of the Greece vs. Nigeria game. Then we continued walking. Along the Danube, they allow the walls to be used for graffiti, but its really cool and looks really good, not dumb names.
We continued along the canal, which eventually became much more park-like. There were nice trees and you could choose to walk on the paved walkway closer to the road or a gravel path closer to the canal and more hidden among the trees.
We eventually walked to the Hundertwasser Village. Hundertwasser was an artist who decided to become an architect. He believed that straight lines and bland colors were not natural, and therefore came up with the much more lively and vibrant buildings. The outsides of the buildings have different colors and the lines on the buildings suggest that each level is at an angle. We got to go inside the building, even though theyre private, because Martin is a cop and here the cops have a key to get access to all the appartment buildings in Vienna. So we went to the top of the building to go in the garden. Inside, the ground is not flat, but also not at an angle; it has bumps and curves and there are tiles on the walls in a squiggly line in different colors and the walls are white but also not smooth. Outside there was a great view of the city as well as the other parts of the village. After, we were exhausted and came home.
I went swimming in their pool just above their building! It was really nice and there was a guy there who i could talk to so it wasnt as boring as i thought it would be but that meant i was too embarrassed to take pictures of the view. After, Barbaras mother came over. She gave me a swarovski candle holder for me to remember Vienna by!! She also helped Barbara with the baby, who was being very coliky tonight, as well as ironing and cleaning! She was very sweet, though Barbara is exhausted from not getting much sleep and walking around all day so she was very impatient with her mom- haha sounds a little like me and my mom sometimes!
I can still hear the baby crying and Martin has to get up for work at 6am and Barbara wants to show me around again tomorrow! I wish I could be more helpful--- having a baby is so hard, especially on no sleep!
Pictures of Vienna are up! Ive already taken 150! But the camera is finally telling me its getting low on battery (I dont have my converter, i think i left it at Mikaels house or something, so I havent charged it for 2 weeks now!)... Im gonna have to steal Barbaras camera soon and take pics on hers haha
here is the link:

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Friday June 11 to Tues June 15

Friday feels like it was so long ago... It was raining so we went to the mall. Malls are the same in Estonia and the US lol it was really big and clean. We had sushi for lunch, which was very cheap. I had a california roll with salmon and tuna rolled on top and shrimp tempura rolls. sooooooo good!
Then that night I went to a bar called Nimeta Baar, which means bar with no name. Triin told me its where a lot of English guys go, and there was a World Cup game between France and Uruguay (tie 0-0) that I wanted to watch. The game was so boring, no action, so I herd these guys speaking English and introduced myself to them since I was by myself. Turns out they are the national sailing teams from New Zealand, Australia, Canada, England, Ireland, and later the Neatherlands, France, and Germany. It was dude central, and luckily they all thought I was cool. Some of them had been in the Olympics, and most of them were in Tallinn for the regata to qualify for the next summer olympics. I met the best North American sailor, and the coach of the German team. So cool. Suddenly i realized most of them were gone around 3am, and then i rememberd- they had a fligh at 6am! haha they must have gone to get their stuff and leave... so i went home... so awesome... I took a cab back. They have estonian kroons in Estonia, but they are switching to the euro next year, so they take euros too (luckily, since i realized AFTER i got in the cab that i had no more kroons)...
The next day we went to Parnu, the summer capital of estonia. While it was raining again in Tallinn, it was sunny in Parnu (pronounced par-no). We went to go see a wind surfing competition, and Timo was hoping he would get to get a little wind surfing in... unfortunately, the wind was about 12 knots (they didnt know the mph version, so thay told me in knots... good thing my parents are boaters!), too strong for even intermediated boarders. We could only watch the compition for a second, because the sand was whipping our faces and we couldnt take Stiina out of the car because she woud probably cry. Then we went around the town, had some pizza (i had a calzone that was bigger than you can even imagine, stuffed with tomatoes and ham and mushrooms). The town was pretty empty, and they seemed very surprised, since normally its getting very crowded on teh weekend this time of year. But it was super cold and windy, so thats probably why.
That night, we just hung out and watched the World Cup game US vs England (tie 1-1, much more exciting)...
Sunday was my last day, but again it was raining. So me and Triin went to see Sex and the City 2 (sooooooooooo funny!!!! mom- take all your girl friends to see it with you! its so great, and really meant for women your age, which never happens haha). Then we had lunch at a crepe place and I had a chicken crepe which was good. Then we went home and walked Stiina through the forest that is in their back yard. For dinner, Triin and I went to a restaurant called Olde Haas or something. Its very touristy, but very cool. It is in an old building from the 14th century or something and has all these paintings that make the place llook authentic and all the workers dress up and theres all different food that really was from the 14th century, like we had wild boar and they make beer there and you drink it in a real ceramic mug. The beer I had was honey beer with cinnamon in it- very tasty but heavy.
That morning I left for Vienna! I flew from Tallinn airport to Vienna where Barbara and her husband Martin and her 1 month old baby girl Sarah picked me up! For lunch we had pizza and I got to try Martins home made schnapps! Very, very good! But then I was too full to eat anything for the rest of the day, even when we went for ice cream! They have an awesome appartment at the end of the subway line, so its only 15 min or so from the center of Vienna. There is an outdoor pool just on the floor above their appt. They also have a balcony. Its so nice! And Sarah is so tiny, the first time I held her it was too hard, I was so afraid of hurting her neck or something!
Today, Barbaras best friend Teresa came over and we all went to Laxenburg, a large park/garden where there are a bunch of old castles and ponds. It was beautiful and fortunately a nice day.
After me and Barbara and the baby went into the center of the city where theres is an old famous church called St Stevens cathedral, its THE most famous thing in Vienna. We had some coffee in a chain coffee place so Barbara could feed the baby. Then we had to stop in a Nescaffe boutique to buy refills for their espresso machine, which was so cool because it was just a place to buy these little things for the coffee machine, but it was really fancy. The city is really beautiful and old. I really like it.
Then we went home and now were just hanging out, watching tv, and having pasta carbonera for dinner :)

Friday, June 11, 2010

Estonia photos!

Here are some Estonia photos! Today was super rainy, so we just are hanging with the baby and had sushi for lunch... hope you like the pics!!!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Monday June 7 to Thurs. June 10

On Monday, I woke up at 6am and met my friend Molly early in the morning to go with her to work. Molly teaches English at an elementary school in Paris. I went to two classes with her and helped her teach a 2nd and 3rd grade class about numbers. In the first class, the teacher was absent so they were very roudy and difficult to work with. The second class was really great and more cooperative. At the end they sang me songs like "if youre happy and you know it" and "Jingle bells" it was really adorable! I wanted to go because I am interested in doing that too, but I have no teaching experience and often you need teaching experience to do these things.
One really interesting thing about elementary schools is that all the children get picked up by their moms to go to lunch at home.
Then I went to the airport and flew to Helsinki. I arrived at Helsinki and there was a ship i needed to take at 9:30 to Talliin, Estonia. I had to take a bus to the city center and then power walk to the ferry. I didnt get to take any pictures of Helsinki, but from what I saw, it was really beautiful.
The ferry was also really nice. It wasnt really a ferry at all, but really a cruise ship. There were restaurants and bars and gambling, but everything was pretty expensive, so I had a small meal and just watched tv. When we left the port, it was also very beautiful and the sun was still out. In fact, the sun doesnt set here until 10:30 and when I got off the ship at midnight, there was still bright red on the horizon.
Tuesday I just hung out with Triin and her beautiful 8 month old baby girl Stiina. We woke up at about 9am and then had breakfast and got dress and around 11:30 Stiina was ready for her nap which meant we had to go for a walk with her in the stroller. Near where Triin lives, maybe about a 7min walk away, there is a beach! There is a paved walkway that follows the shore from about 50 feet away. The path can go for many many miles along the shore. Unfortunately, its been too cold to go swimming and its definitely not as nice as Tobay!
On the way back, we went to the supermarket, which is just like the supermarkets in the US, I didnt really notice any difference.
Then we came back for lunch. In Estonia, normally people have sandwiches for breakfast, a big meal for lunch, and then salad for dinner.
When Stiina was ready for her next nap we went on a walk to a park that is near by. Triins neighborhood is nice, just a 15 min bus ride to the center of Tallinn or a 7 min car ride. She lives in a one bedroom appartment with her husband Timo and her dog Tommy. My favorite part about their appartment is that they have a small balcony with 2 chairs on it that over looks a forest. It is very picturesque.
When Timo came home from work, Triin and I went in the car to go to see Tallinn. Tallinn is a really cool city that has the "old town" in the center which is basically the original medieval town. Its actually really amazing and beautiful, but it is very touristy. Outside of the old town is "city center" which is much more modern and not as beautiful. Triin and I wandered the streets just so I could see what it looks like and get a feel of it. There is a cool square in the center of it and right now there is a stage because they are having a festival called "old town days" lucky me! They have all kinds of performances and special things going on around the city. Good timing!
After wandering around for a while, Triin and I became hungry again so we ate at Hesburger. Hesburger is this really great fast food place. They have amazing burgers, better than McDonalds I would say. Then we just went home and had a nice quiet evening.
The next day, Triins husband Timo stayed home with Stiina so that Triin could take me to see more of the site in the Old Town. Like I said, this week is the week of Old Town Days, so this day was Museum day (other days are Classical music day, Jazz Day, etc). This meant that a lot of museums were free. Triin took me through the town, starting by walking up a steep hill to a really great look out point over the city. Then we walked through the back part of this city to pass a Russian church. We also saw some people dressed up as medieval archers trying to advertise archery games to tourists. There was a courtyard called the Danish Kings Garden, which is supposedly where the Danish flag was invented. Old Town has a lot of old cobble streets that are narrow and winding and it is easy to get lost there, though it is small so you dont have too much to worry about. We also saw Kiek in de Kok (say it out loud). It is this old tower that also has a great look out and was free because it was the museum day. Apparently there are underground passages beneath the city that have just recently been opened up and you can access them through this museum, but this wasnt free so we didnt do it. Eventually, Triin had to go home because Timo had to stop in his office for some work. So I stayed in the Old Town to look around and enjoy some alone time. I went into the Tallinn museum, again free. They were giving tours in Estonian on their treasury, so I signed up for one and then walked around the museum. They actually had a quite nice museum, which lots of old relics and the history of Tallinn, and a cool area with different old maps of Tallinn and a 3d interactive light up map where you press a button and it lights up on the map. The treasury was kind of boring, just a lot of old stuff they didnt know what to do with, but to me it was kind of neat, since ive always wonder what one would look like. They had a lot of old pots and ceramics and tiles. In the back room there were the remains of a very old well, and some rocks from the foundations of old buildings that were uncovered.
After I walked to the Nigulist Museum which is in a 13th century church. I really wanted to go here because there is a Danse Macabre painting by Bernt Notke that I had studied in my Black Death class.
I then needed to kill some time before Triin was going to come back, so I went into a temporary exhibit on Medieval torture. It was so awesome, with real (copies i guess) devices you can see as well as copies of images (usually woodcuts) and great descriptions. Some things I saw were the rack, a chastity belt, and masks that people wore as a form of shame punishment. I definitly think this was one of the coolest museums Ive ever seen.
After, I had to wait for Triin to come back, so I sat in the square and people watched.
When Triin was able to get back, we went to St. Olafs church which is the highest point in Tallinn. We went to the top, and it was really crazy because you have to walk up these narrow winding stairs very very high up and then you get to the top and its super narrow, the width of 3 wooden planks (i know, bc that is what the ground actually was). The view was spectacular though. The city is on the Baltic Sea, so you can see the water from these high points. Tallinn is also a popular cruise destination, so there are often 3 or 4 large cruise ships in the harbor.
We then went down, there is an actual church but its pretty lame with white walls and no decorations. We sped over to the Estonian Maritime Museum, which was also free. There were a lot of old people in the museum, I think there must have been a show about to go on or something. So Triin and I beat our way through the crowd up the stairs to the top of another spectacular view on top of what is called Fat Margarets cannon tower. This view was much closer to the water than St. Olafs, but it was much lower. Then we sped down the stairs because we needed to be home before Stiina needed dinner. We stopped for our own dinner on the way back at an Italian restaurant that had really great pizzas, salada, and pastas. At this restaurant, you get a card and you order at different areas. They make the food right in front of you. Triin and I both had different types of raviolis that were superbe. Then they wave your card in front of the resgister and when youre ready to leave you go to the front desk and pay there and everything you ordered comes up on the card. I thought that was pretty cool and modern. Food is also very cheap here compared to Paris and Denmark. It was about 10 euro for one of our dinners at this place, and Triin said that was on the expensive side.
Today Triin had to stay home with Stiina, so I took a 15 min bus into the city by myself. It was really nice to have this day to myself, since it was such a beautiful day out and the Old Town is so charming to me. I ran to catch up to a free 2 hour tour that goes through the city. By the time I got there I was an hour late, but it was ok bc it was sooooo boring. The tourguide was a young girl, and it was in English, but her jokes were so bad. So I started talking to this girl from San Diego who went to Harvard (gasp!) and is now living in Berlin or something. We decided to ditch the tour, which had now gone past 2 hours long, and have some lunch. After searching for a good but reasonably priced place, we found a little bakery where I had some pastry with ham and cheese in it, a yogurt, and water. The whole thing came out to the equivalent of 3 euros!!! AMAZING!
After having lunch with the girl, I realized I wasnt really in the mood to make friends and wanted to be on my own again. We went to the oldest pharmacy in Tallinn together, which I thought would just be a modern pharmacy but just in the place of where the old one had been for centuries. Negative. It was so cool! It was a regular pharmacy, but it also had old jars and siringes, herbs, and cool remedies such as mummy parts and dried dog poop. Then I told the girl I was shipping off and just started to wander the streets. I really love this part of the city, and to be honest, I dont have too much interest in seeing the more modern part of the city. So I walked around. I hung out in Freedom Square, catching some rays and writing some postcards. Then I wandered behind the square to see the opera house, which really wasnt anything too special. So I stopped and had an ice cream and went back to Freedom Square to enjoy it. Then I went back through the city to look at the streets again. There is a tourist booth meant for young people subsidised by the state or something so I talked with a guy my age about different bars and travelling and stuff which was nice to finally talk to another person. Then I walked to the Cathedral of Saint Mary the Virgin which has all the coats of arms of Tallinns old nobility which was really cool!
I also saw a group of people who do reinactments of Medieval times all day long! They were just hanging out in old looking clothes with a fire and a tee pee and sewing or chatting.
There is also a park that makes a cresent around the east side of the city that is very beautiful so I walked around there for a long while, then wandered back to the bus station and went to go home.
When I got back, Triin was walking the baby and the dog with her younger sister who is 17. When we got back, Timo was home so we played with the baby until dinner was ready. For dinner Triin made this amazing meal with carrots, potatoes, broccoli, califlower, and chicken with coconut oil. It was actually really amazing and I ate all the veggies!!!
After dinner and chores, Triin and I went to Pirita beach. Here there is a huge outdoor concert hall that looks like it would be so awesome for festivals. It has a really nice park around it that we walked in.
After we drove to the boardwalk that is along the beach. The sun was setting so it was really beautiful! We had the dog too so that fun too.
Im trying to upload pictures from Estonia, but facebook is being a pain, so it may take a while...
Also, if youre reading this, leave comments every now and then, because thats how I know people are actually reading this and Im not just writing to myself! haha

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

More Pictures!

Here are more photos at the following link!

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Thurs June 3 to Sunday June 6

Thursday I had a late start and went to the Bois de bologne. It is an enormous park in the east of Paris. I started at the bottom of it and walked up past this enormous lake that was picturesque with lots of trees and couples in row boats. Then I went on a long walk to find a garden in the park bagatelle which was amazing. I got lost on the way so it took about an hour walking through the woods and streets to get there (i told you this park was big). In the park bagatelle, which was big in its own right, there were peacocks and waterfalls and a rose garden and iris garden. I must have spent 2 or 3 hours there. Then I went to jardin du pre catalin which had one of the biggest trees in paris. there is also a small garden in the park that has different plants that can be seen in shakeaspere's plays, but there are only 2 hours per day that you can go in, so i missed it. In total I spent about 5 or 6 hours in the park and I was exhausted. After I left the park, I passed the Rolland Garros, which is the French tennis open. It was a relief when my friend Noelle called and invited me for a soda right near where I was.
Friday I spent most of the morning trying to move my stuff from Noelle's appartment to Javier's dorm room. When I finally got there, it was a gorgeous day and I wanted to get outside, so I met my friend Jacky from Binghamton and his friend Laura at Trocadero, right in front of the Eiffel Tower, to hang out and picnic. Laura has a cute dog too that we got to play with! After I met with Javier and one of his friends and we had burritos. I was supposed to meet people from work, but they ended up not getting together so I met my old friend Anna and 2 of her british friend for some drinks. Before I knew it it was already 9pm! I went to Noelle's to get ready and meet her new roommate Dave who's British. Then we met my friend Angela at the Seine since it was her last night in Paris before she went travelling around Europe with her sister.
Saturday it was crazy hot out. So me and Javier met up with Jacky and Laura and 2 of their friends for another picnic, this time in Park Monceau. This park was closer to the Arc du triomphe and had nice flowers and waterfalls. There were tons of people there trying to take advantage of the beautiful day. We just hung out in our bathingsuits and sunbathed for most of the day. By the end of the day I was so tired I didnt want to go out, so I went to Noelle's around 8pm to take a nap and then when I woke up she had pasta ready for me (best friend ever haha!)
Today I went to an exotic bird market that had zillions of birds as well as some small pets like kittens and bunnies. then I met Laura at her appt. and dropped off my backpack since I cant take it with me to Estonia and vienna. We watched the last match of the Rolland Garros to watch Nadal win. then I went to Noelle's since her friends boyfriend is a chef and he wanted to cook dinner for us. We had chicken and duck curry with rice. It was sooooooo good and we had so much fun.
I'm trying to upload more photos now, but it's taking a long time so I dont think it will work, so I'll let you know soon!

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Sun May 29 to Wed June 2

On Sunday we went to get Wills bag at CDG airport. We got his bag!!!!!
After, we went down the block from Mickeals house to the Sunday markets and got his mom flowers because it was mothers day in france! We then ate lunch with Mickael and his mom and relaxed.
Later, we had dinner with our friend Alana for all-you-can-eat mussels at a restaurant called Leon. I'm not going to lie, I had 3 buckets of mussels that were in this amazing tomato-based sauce. Definitely the best. My mom would have gone crazy for them.
After, we went to a bar called the Mad Maker that has a cool pirate theme. The tables are barrels and the ceiling has old sails on it and there are cool candle-like lights with chandeliers.
On Monday, Will and I went to Monmartre, a beautiful quater in Paris that is on top of a hill with a beautiful byzantine church that over looks the whole city. We Started off at Pigalle, the "sex district," and walked over to the Moulin Rouge. From there we began walking up the non-traditional way to the top, walking through the winding streets. We made it to the cute little square perched on top by the church that hosts painters and bistros, just as you would imagine Paris to be. At the other corner of the square, in front of an old church there were some performers doing kapoera. We went into the church, but there was actually a funeral going on- very awkward. Then we made it over to the Sacre Coeur, one of the most famous churches in Paris. It is incredibly massive inside and outside there was a fantastic view of Paris. Despite the bad weather, there were still lots of people there, though not as many as on a normal tourist day there. Then we walked behind the Sacre Coeur and down the back way of the hill to wander the streets. We saw the only vineyard in Paris, the only 2 remaining "moulins" or windmills, Picasso's studio and some famous painters house- haha i forget who!
We then went to the cemetary near by to sit down and relax because we were getting very tired. After resting we went back to Luxembourg to hang out with Alana and Noelle- it was alanas last night! So we went to an old hot spot that we used to go to every monday night when I was here last semester: the Great Canadian! Its a fun bar that has "wing night" on monday night- however, despite the name, the wings are not cheap. We had a fun time and went to an American bar near rue Moufftard afterwards to play American drinking games like flip cup and beer pong since you don't play those here and we thought it would be hilarious to go and play. It was definitely a great last night for Alana.
The next day we had to move out of Mickaels to go to Noelle's since now there is an extra room there now that alana's left. We spent a lot of time moseying around and then when we got to the appartment we spent most of the day cleaning. We did go with my friend Mirielle, who's also crashing at Noelle's, to the Marais- a really popular district to walk around and that is known for is Jewish and gay communities. We stopped in Eglise St. Paul, a really old beautiful church, to rest our feet- by this point in the week Will and I are exhausted. We went back to the appartment soon after to nap.
It was Mirielle's birthday, so we went out to sushi, which was actually very good and very cheap. I was really surprised. We then went to an Irish pub for a private party of a friend of a friend of a friend who was leaving. It was fun, and I think will's last night wasn't as epic as Alana's but we still had a good time.
Today, Will left and I took him to the airport to make sure he got there ok. I was really sad to see him off.
After I met with my old language exchange pair, Monique. We went to the area near the Louvre and went into Eglise de Roch, which had been the church for the artists in Paris. It was surprisingly beautiful inside, since the outside is so tiny. After we took the metro to Bercy, which used to be where wine was imported to Paris. Now, there are cute restaurants and boutiques in the old wine stalls. I've never been there so it was really nice, and I was surprised I've never herd of it. After, I went back to Luxembourg and met with Mirielle and her Turkish friend to hang out in the park, which was beautiful on this nice day, especially with the palm trees! After I made dinner for Noelle and me: pasta with tomato sauce and mini shrimps :) you'd all be proud, it was delicious! :D :D :D