belgium

Jun. 18th, 2013 10:56 pm
clevermynnie: (smile)
I went to Belgium with Ben over the weekend, to hang out with some friends from grad school. If this sounds familiar, it's because we did the exact same thing last summer, just with different friends. What can I say, Belgium is a nice place to hang.

sunny high five


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clevermynnie: (and then?)
I'm back from my weekend in Northern Ireland! This was supposed to be my race weekend, but shin injuries (shinjuries!) and illness took me out of the running, so instead I relaxed with friends. We had amazing weather and went on a hike up Slieve Donard, the highest mountain in Northern Ireland. And then we were tired and had a barbeque and relaxed and played card games. And I took photos!

cottage field


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wales

May. 15th, 2013 10:52 am
clevermynnie: (smile)
I ended up having a really packed trip to Wales, but it was a lot of fun!

The precipitating event was the Ultra Brecon 40, which was a mixed bag. But what was great was that [livejournal.com profile] erindubitably and [livejournal.com profile] marrog came down from Scotland, to drive around with me and Ben and to do a lot of relaxing in various B&Bs, cottages, and pubs. Pretty much everywhere we went was gorgeous, but also we had a lot of fun just playing board games and listening to music and chatting.

We also visited some distant relatives of mine, second and third cousins on my paternal grandmother's side. They were really nice, especially my second cousin who is older now and told me about going around the US by Greyhound after World War II, moving to New Zealand because it was cheap and sounded fun, and generally how one should travel when one was able. They showed me my great great great grandfather's grave, and took us out to a family-owned house near Llanidloes. The house was very old and very interesting, with a lot of bedrooms that are apparently filled with distant relatives come summer. And we walked around to see the grotto, the pond, the forest with stone age burial mounds, and of course a lot of sheep and views of sheep. I'd love to go back and stay awhile sometime.
clevermynnie: (see us waving)
So after my race which went so well, I spent a few days in San Antonio. I was visiting friends I grew up with, whose older daughter is my goddaughter, and whose younger daughter I hadn't even met before since it had been so long since I saw them.

It's always nice seeing old friends, and I keep in pretty good contact with Jeanine so there wasn't really a disconnect at all. Still, it was odd peeking into her life which is so dissimilar to mine. She's a stay at home mom with very young kids, a new dog they are still training, a cat, a minivan, a house. This is absolutely what she wanted to be doing at this point in life, so while it can be stressful, she and her husband seem pretty happy. It doesn't really make me want to do any of that more, though, but I guess we've been on different life tracks for five years or so, since she finished with school.

We did go around San Antonio a bit, to the Alamo and the River Walk which were both very nice. Texas in the spring is a surprisingly enjoyable place, though from the sounds of it I should never ever go there in the summer. And we cooked together and did stuff with her kids, and I got both my friends into SW:TOR which I'm hoping they keep playing. I still think it would be easiest to keep up with friends if everyone blogged regularly and played an MMO. Alas, I've had a hard time converting people to either of those pursuits. If only I were in charge!
clevermynnie: (see us waving)
Having spent the last week in the Bay Area, I am now in transit passing through Phoenix, which means I actually have time to write!

I had wondered if it was going to be weird returning to the Bay Area for the first time in 4 years, mainly because of the bizarro past-life vibe that Los Alamos still gives me. But actually, it was just lovely to be in San Francisco again. This is a great time of year to be there, what with the greenery and the clear air and the temperate weather and the way that everything goes into bloom. I had a nice dinner with [livejournal.com profile] mr_ron and his girlfriend, spent the weekend in Napa with [livejournal.com profile] chih and everyone, got to have banh mi with Jessica and meet her boyfriend, and saw my undergraduate mentor and catch up. It was really enjoyable, with jaunts to Berkeley and through Chinatown and up Coit Tower. I loved being back in Berkeley; it was comforting and great, not quite like home, but like an old friend you're really fond of. And it was fun taking around some of the people I work with in Ireland, and eating more than my share of Mexican food and sushi (and, intriguingly, the sushirrito).

I do notice variations, though, in the rapport that I have with various old friends. When you've had a lot of life events pass there's a sort of disconnect that starts happening, and I could feel that with some of the people I saw, where we're all in very different places now and it's noticeable even if it's still good to get together. Though in some ways maybe that's nicer than going back to someplace you're still disentangling yourself from (Philly, I'm looking at you) and navigating that whole experience. A lot of things have happened since I lived in the Bay Area and saw many of these people, but mostly life has gone in a positive direction and that's comforting.

I didn't have time to see everyone in the area that I would have liked, since I was in SF for work and had a pretty packed schedule. Nor did I get to revisit every old haunt! But what's most important is that I had Cheeseboard Pizza... and in a weird turn of events, meet the son of the woman who wrote the Cheeseboard cookbook. Would I consider moving back to the Bay Area? I certainly would, though not for awhile yet.

And now I am going to San Antonio to see Jeanine and her family, run my trail 50k, and hopefully track down some sopapillas. Hopefully good news to follow.
clevermynnie: (al fresco)
So I spent the weekend with a couple friends out west, in County Clare. Originally we were going to do an academic writing retreat, and then it morphed a bit so we did some writing, but also some cooking and also some hikes. I knew we'd be near the Burren, a starkly beautiful geological area, but didn't realize until we got out there just how close we were to the Cliffs of Moher as well. So writing was nice, the time with friends was really good, and also the hikes were amazing! Here, have some photos.

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mullaghmore

madrid!

Jan. 21st, 2013 11:58 pm
clevermynnie: (smile)
Over the weekend we went to Madrid with [livejournal.com profile] erindubitably and [livejournal.com profile] marrog! We saw a lot of the Prado and the Reina Sofia, two of the largest art museums there; I've wanted to see them ever since I realized how much good stuff was there (which occurred while I was reading Janson's over a year ago). I was a bit goal-oriented about seeing all the things, but we also had a lot of downtime having tapas, wine, and hotel room game nights, so I felt like it was a well-balanced weekend overall. Somehow I barely took any pictures and the good ones were of random buildings where we didn't spend any time, which probably indicates that fun was had.

san jerónimo el real

roof and sky


I like both traveling and friends. Life is good.
clevermynnie: (Default)
On Thursday we had a lot of people over for a big Thanksgiving, and only yesterday did we finally finish cleaning everything up. I'm really glad that we got the stuff to be able to have more people over, though, because it was really fun and opens up some possibilities for the future.

And, dinner was great! I haven't been eating meat for a month (aside from fish) and was worried about how that would feel at a big turkey-oriented holiday. I mean, Ben and I used to go make pescetarian Thanksgiving feasts for his family back when we both lived in California, but we'd also do turkey another time so it wasn't exactly deprivation. But it turns out that when nearly all the side dishes available are vegetarian, it doesn't feel like much of a change at all not to be eating meat. I was a little sad not to be trying the deep-fried turkey, which was impressive to watch cooking, but I was reliably informed that I wasn't missing much. Sadly, the leftover situation ended up being less enjoyable for me: I had one meal's worth of vegetarian leftovers and then everything else was turkey, gravy, and non-veg stuffing. We had only put aside a small amount of the stuffing to keep vegetarian, and if we had it to do over we'd make less stuffing and split veg/non-veg more evenly. So Ben was eating leftovers all weekend and I ended up having to cook for myself (not trivial given our slow cleaning process).

In any case, after a week with a big dinner party and a lot of work for a meeting, it was nice to have a low-key weekend with some gaming and a run, and a Glee binge because I just can't stay away, to just have time to relax.

norway

Aug. 10th, 2012 04:39 pm
clevermynnie: (Default)
So, Norway. It was amazing and challenging and I can't wait to go back someday. The whole thing was a very intense experience, and this will be a long entry.

Read more... )

So, overall, I really loved Norway. It's a beautiful country, it has a low population and lots of wild places, and it has a spirit of exploration which I love. Not amazing national food, but a few things I do really like to eat, like brunost and rye bread and smoked salmon. Actually, as I've gone around the East Coast of the US and Europe, I have enjoyed myself a lot but I have found few places that feel like home. By that I mean, place that feel natural, like I could belong there, like what's around me reflects and serves what's inside me. I felt that way about Norway, and while I expected to enjoy it I had no idea it would be so amazing! So I really want to go back, would love to see more of Norway or even Jotunheimen again, but obviously much better prepared. I also immediately started thinking about trips to other Scandinavian countries, and selling Ben on the idea. This trip was obviously a mix of very fun things and less fun things, but nonetheless great. And, there are so many pictures to come.

belgium

Aug. 5th, 2012 06:24 pm
clevermynnie: (smile)
The last few days have been great! Ben and I joined up with a couple we knew in Philadelphia, Rose and Mike, as they toured around Belgium. They had rented a car, so we joined them in Brussels and then drove together to Ghent, Lille (FR), and Maastricht (NL). Mostly we walked around old city centers, saw cathedrals and towers, and enjoyed a lot of delicious food and beer. The weather was great, and the traveling was very relaxed even though we saw a lot. 

We also made a very memorable stop at Westvleteren, a Trappist brewing abbey. Their beer is generally hard to find, though we did manage to get a pricey six-pack recently because apparently they are fundraising for renovations. But you can't actually go into the abbey, you can just have their beer in a cafe across the street. We got there early and stayed a long time, watching bicyclists and some tourists come through, looking out at big fields of barley, and sharing sandwiches, ice cream, and three different kinds of really superb beer. 

I really enjoyed the opportunity to reconnect with Rose and Mike. I've had semi-regular Skype chats with Rose, about grad school and feminism and how you figure out what to do with your life, but to just get to hang out for a few days was great. And as a bonus, we met up with a friend of Rose who was also from the southwest, moved to the east coast, and is now working as a scientist in Europe. 

Today, Ben headed back to Dublin, and I've just arrived in Oslo to meet up with another grad student friend. Tomorrow we are headed to Jotunheimen national park for a few days of hiking which should be amazing. Time for a change of pace!

hosting

Jul. 24th, 2012 03:35 pm
clevermynnie: (Default)
This weekend was hectic but pretty great.

Two women I knew through PGWISE were heading to a conference in London that is actually taking place during the Olympics, and visited me on the way (in part to see how great it is to do a postdoc abroad, but in part because flying into Dublin and then going on the cheap to London was a lot less pricey than going directly to London). So they showed up on Friday, and we had lunch in the Science Gallery, went to see the Book of Kells and the Long Room, and hung out in the Trinity area late into the evening. They were pretty severely jetlagged but real champs about it, and slept for 12+ hours Friday night!

On Saturday we went to the Temple Bar Food Market, fast becoming a favorite Saturday activity for me and Ben due to all the great grocery and lunch options, and then met up with a friend of mine here to talk about various options post-graduation for women in science. (There was also the non-trivial bonus for my Philly friends of having a prolonged conversation with someone who had an Irish accent, something they were really wanting to experience.) We went to Dublinia, which is a museum about Viking and medieval Dublin that seemed mostly aimed at kids, but one of the coolest things was that the top floor was largely devoted to an explanation of archaeological methods, complete with site hut and technique explanations. There was also some information about a controversy in the 1970s, when a pretty impressive archaeological find was made under Wood Quay during preparation for construction. Some of the material was excavated, but in the end construction went on before the excavation was complete, causing demonstrations and raising awareness about loopholes in the laws that are supposed to require companies to fully study archaeological finds before they are destroyed or made inaccessible by new building.

We also went to the Guinness Storehouse, a super-touristy thing that I knew someone who visited us would eventually want to do. Having done some craft brewery tours, as well as homebrewing, the Guinness experience came off as bizarrely... managed, is maybe the word. Very streamlined, very stylized, very ad-heavy. To show that barley is an ingredient in beer, they had a huge open well of barley you could sit by and watch videos of threshing and harvesting. There were videos and old equipment and classic advertising (by classic I also mean racist) and the experience was very much like being on a ride. But the view from the top was pretty great, a round room with giant windows on all sides looking out over Dublin. Great place to hang out, even if getting there is a strange thing. Afterward we ate at El Bahia, a great Moroccan place, and had ice cream at Murphy's which is my favorite ice cream place here (I have one in every city I inhabit). Chicken bastilla followed by salt, honey, and Bailey's ice cream. Mmmm.

On Sunday, one of our guests left, and I took the other up to Howth for a day of hiking and snacking. It was the warmest day I have experienced here, and a lot of fun! And I took some nice photos of the route I usually run there, which I will post eventually. We also had a small beer tasting, because there are a lot of great Irish beers.

It was great to see people from Philly, but it also made me miss Philly a bit, and miss all the people I left behind. On the other hand, getting to show off Dublin reinforced how much I like living here, and hearing about grad school woes made me really glad to be done with grad school. Of course, once the weekend ended and both our friends had left, I felt just exhausted. I have been experiencing some fatigue lately, but this really amplified it, so I am going to work on my sleeping habits to see if I can maybe feel less wiped out all the time.
clevermynnie: (smile)
Until just now, we hadn't been anywhere much west of here in Ireland, so on Friday we took the train down to Cork for the weekend. It was very fun, great food and a lot of beautiful areas.

After getting in on Friday we headed to the Franciscan Well brewpub; we can get their Friar Weisse beer here in Dublin, but they had all their beers on tap there and we really enjoyed them (a blonde, a great lager, a nice casked red and a stout). We also lucked out there with Ben snagging the last chorizo wood-fired pizza just as they were stopping production for the night. But come morning, from the beer and changing our sleep schedule around, we were both feeling a little out of it. The breakfast at the B&B we stayed at was pretty amazing, and picked up my spirits significantly. Then we met up with someone I used to work with in Philadelphia, a native Corkonian (that's really what they say) who was back in Cork for a bit before permanently emigrating to the US later this year. He drove us to Kinsale, where we walked around a beautiful old star-shaped fort, along a grey beach, and then had lunch at a pretty amazing fish place where I had a salad with salmon and some other fish in chili sauce. Unfortunately, during this time Ben was feeling worse and worse, and ended up getting a migraine and sleeping in the car for a bit. We headed back to Cork, poked around some sights and the university, and then retired to the room for a bit so that Ben could nap and hopefully recover. He ended up feeling well enough that we went to this vegetarian restaurant for dinner, which he'd heard about from a coworker, and had another amazing meal there. I had a carrot and almond terrine, these amazing artichokes with citrus cream sauce, white beans, and saffron gnocchi, and then a really lovely berry pudding for dessert. It was actually really hard to choose because everything looked so good... I am considering buying one of their cookbooks but I need to do some research on which one would be best.

Fortunately, after a full night's sleep Ben was feeling a lot better, so on Sunday we headed off on a bus tour of the Dingle peninsula. I kept hearing over and over again how Dingle was one of the most beautiful places in Ireland, so even though it's again a couple of hours from Cork, it was completely worth going there. The bus driver gave a lot of history and current events in places we drove through, pointed out nice spots, talked about counties Cork and Kerry through the years, and of course also had some pauses to just play music as we drove. We stopped at the Inch Beach where it was raining, and worried that we were driving pretty far to see rain, but we really lucked out and after that it cleared up. We drove out to Slea Head, which is the westernmost point in Ireland and has an amazing rugged coastline plus views out to the Blasket Islands in the Atlantic. There was an interesting museum about Blasket Islanders (who left the island in 1953) and a lot of nice views, and then we headed to Dingle town and had a late lunch. I had nice fish and chips plus a Crean's lager, but Ben had what was apparently a transcendent fish pie, and told me that the fish pie had pushed the weekend into being a net positive experience despite feeling miserable for most of a day. Phew.

We spent the rest of the day getting back to Cork and then back to Dublin, to our cats and own bed. I have a list of a bunch of places I'd like to go in Ireland, and this trip hit some of them, but it also just gave me more ideas about places to go! Like Killarney, which I'd heard of but didn't realize how nice and outdoorsy it was until our bus driver told us about it and drove us by a nice view of Lough Leane. Next time!

photos, of course! )

slea head and cow
clevermynnie: (and then?)
Other than running the Clontarf Half, I spent most of the weekend socializing and brewing, in lovely weather on Saturday and not so lovely weather on Sunday. Mostly we were both trying to relax and do stuff at home, since our upcoming travel schedule is looking, on the one hand, super exciting, and on the other hand, dauntingly packed.

Next weekend we are going to Cork to visit a colleague of mine, which should be fun as we've never been to that part of Ireland before. The following weekend, some friends from grad school are visiting us in Dublin en route to a conference. Then we'll be celebrating our wedding anniversary with an exciting but currently secret set of plans that I've been finalizing! And after that we are off to Belgium to tour some cities and breweries with friends, and then I'll be going straight to Norway for backpacking with another friend. And then it will be mid-August, which seems to still have a couple of free weekends but I'm wondering how long that will last. We've been doing a lot of travel dictated by expedience, to visit specific people or take advantage of good deals. This works out really well since there are so many cool places to see, it's fine for us to pick the ones that have additional perks. But then I wonder what I am missing out on!

I periodically yearn to visit some of the parts of the world that I've yet to explore at all, entire continents like Asia and Africa. And then I have to tell myself, focus on the cool stuff that's closer to you! There is time for everything else. (Actually I could have said the exact same thing in grad school, and it was true then too!)

quiet

Jun. 5th, 2012 03:06 pm
clevermynnie: (Default)
It has to be some kind of deep irony that, just as I get a copy of Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking, we have a solid week of social activities in almost all of our free time. We had friends from Philadelphia visit, and took them up to Howth for hiking and picnicking even though the weather was bad. And we went for drinks with some new people, had Ben's coworkers over to brew a brett wheat beer, and have even more stuff coming up this week. It's exciting! It's just also draining. And so far that is one thing I am really enjoying about Quiet, how well it makes the distinction between introverts and misanthropes. Introverts have friends too! And I'm realizing now that most of the time someone (including me) said, "I'm not really an introvert, I'm very outgoing and talkative with people I know, I'm just quieter in large groups or with strangers until I get comfortable," part of what they were saying is "I'm an introvert but I want you to know I'm not a misanthrope." Plus it covers lots of research, has a lot of interesting ideas regarding workspaces and living, and is overall very validating as a discussion that doesn't pathologize shyness or the propensity to think carefully about things. There are benefits to introversion, just as there are benefits to extroversion, and it's helpful to identify your own preferences and then work with them to get where you want to go. I also like the many facets of the introvert/extrovert spectrum that the book covers (and I'm not actually introverted on all of them!).

One thing that is getting me through this week, though, is knowing that this weekend I will get plenty of time to myself. I'm taking the train up to Northern Ireland Friday evening, running the Mourne Ultra Saturday, and coming back Sunday morning. I'm going alone and don't know anyone else running, so I'll bring a lot of podcasts for the race and reading for the time alone at the B&B. I am really excited about this race, especially now that I have realized I will almost certainly be able to do my longest run ever in a race, even if I miss a time cutoff and don't finish the full race. That's because the first cutoff, for the marathon, is 6.5 hours, way longer than even my trickiest trail marathon. After that I have 3 hours to do another 13 miles, which under normal circumstances would be easy but I may be slowing down a lot by then... missing that cutoff would still give me 39 miles run in a race, though. And that's really the make or break point, because after that cutoff you get 3 hours to go another 9 miles, then you're just covering the last 3 miles to the finish. If I could make that second cutoff I would have a really good chance of finishing, but if not it should still be a great experience, and great practice so that someday I could actually finish a 50-mile race. Which is something I really want.

I do feel as prepared as I can be without having done a race of this length before, though. The 50k last month was good practice for going through the food/drink/sunscreen/layers dance that is required for longer runs, and after having those salt issues I figured out where to get electrolyte tablets here which ought to help a lot. Plus I'll be doing this with my Camelbak instead of the smaller waist hydration pack I used at the 50k, and honestly I prefer the Camelbak. And I am just super excited about the course, from Rostrevor to Newcastle and back, which should be so lovely. Hopefully the weather cooperates!

dublin!

Mar. 13th, 2012 03:24 pm
clevermynnie: (Default)
I have now been living in Dublin for six months!

I like it a lot. It's a small city, a lot smaller than Philadelphia or the Bay Area, but very dense with cool cultural things, and easy to get out of and get into some really beautiful areas. Going out to eat is a bit expensive here, but there are lots of places to buy stuff to cook with, and I've pretty much got an idea of where to buy each separate thing I might need. Running here is amazing, as I have said many times, and I love our home neighborhood and our work neighborhood, and the relative ease of commuting on bus or train. And I really like the climate so far; the summer won't be balmy but I think it'll be a relief after those Philadelphia summers. Plus it has been great getting to easily travel to so many interesting places! Very much scratching an itch for me.

The only real drawback has been the initial isolation that always comes from moving somewhere new. I'm really glad the internet provides so many ways to keep in touch, but I miss hanging out with a lot of people, and frankly, many of the people I care about are terrible correspondents. Plus the time zone thing is inconvenient for talking with people. I wish my friends and family were more in the same places, even just the same state, but then again if they were, I'm not sure we would have come here; it's a lot less tempting to stay where you are when your loved ones are scattered anyway.

But, now that the summer is coming, people are starting to make plans to come visit us! Which I am so excited about! We have friends from Philadelphia coming in early June and late July, and it'll be a good opportunity to see some of the cool things here that we haven't gotten to yet. Living here is a lot of fun!

vienna

Mar. 12th, 2012 10:31 am
clevermynnie: (al fresco)
I went to Vienna for the weekend to visit my old friend Daria, who is temporarily living there. What a great city! I flew in Friday night and we caught up over dinner, and then over the weekend we did quite a lot. We went to a Viennese kaffeehaus, saw the amazing art collections at the Kunsthistorisches Museum and the Belvedere, and went on a walking tour around the core of the city which has a beautiful cathedral and a huge sprawling palace. We also got very cheap tickets to see a ballet in the Vienna State Opera House, which is one of these towering small performance spaces with balcony after balcony: very beautiful. And the ballet itself was interesting, with two Jerome Robbins pieces to Glass and Chopin that I really enjoyed (and two Balanchine pieces to Tchaikovsky and Stravinsky that I didn't like as much). We also talked a lot and had time to relax and have cakes and such, so it was a very nice weekend.

There is one cake that I had which I should make at home. It was in the Belvedere cafe and it was two layers of very dense, almondy cake, a layer of orange buttercream between them, and a very pretty fondant layer on the outside. I probably could skip the fondant but the cake was delicious.

And I feel like I only scratched the surface in terms of all the museums and sights in and around Vienna... which is good because Ben was away and so didn't accompany me, to his regret. So I'm sure we'll go there together at some point and see some of the many things I did not have time for on this trip.
clevermynnie: (i carry your heart)
Last night we popped over to Edinburgh to attend wedding festivities for [livejournal.com profile] erindubitably and [livejournal.com profile] marrog, which was a lot of fun! I still find it slightly weird that we can go to another country on a weekday evening and be back for work the next day, but the flight to Edinburgh is less than an hour and the flight times worked just perfectly for us. We arrived there, bought some nice Scotch for Ben (who had been regretting not buying a Campbeltown Scotch he had sampled a few months back), and got to the hotel at just about the right time. A lot of fun ensued, including more people dancing in kilts than I have ever seen before, the only time Ben has ever been handed a bag of haggis at a wedding, and probably the most enjoyable dance music selection I have experienced at a wedding. (I exclude the music at my own wedding from this comparison, if only because I can't be expected to fairly judge.) I wasn't sure how many people we'd know, besides Mo and Erin who would be quite busy, but it turns out that if you just keep visiting people you do get to know some of their local friends. It also turns out that when you are enjoying dancing a lot, the effect of the alcohol you had beforehand is rather amplified. I will definitely remember this.

I like seeing all the different ways that people celebrate at weddings: what family members say, how everyone interacts, what things the couple chooses to emphasize or not, and the general individuality of the event (which includes what concessions were or weren't made for family members, how much the wedding is about the couple and how much it is about their social network). And of course it is always cheering to see people who are great together.
clevermynnie: (smile)
I just got back from spending Christmas plus a few days in Dundee with [livejournal.com profile] erindubitably and [livejournal.com profile] marrog. It was the first time I had ever spent Christmas not with family (mine or Ben's), and without seeing my parents at all around the holiday. But Ben and I had a really nice time, ate tasty food, played fun games, and generally enjoyed ourselves a lot! I got sick a couple days before the trip but I was over the worst of it by the time we got there, thankfully. I am really grateful that, while we moved further away from many of our friends, we moved closer to a few very quality friends.

And now, back in Dublin, where the days are 7.5 hours long and getting longer, and we have finally found a great Indian restaurant nearby. I hope everyone's had a good holiday.

germany

Nov. 19th, 2011 10:52 am
clevermynnie: (smile)
I found out recently that my friend [livejournal.com profile] mr_ron was going to be in Germany for work, and was planning a road trip as well. He kindly invited me to come along, so I just got back from nine days roaming around Germany, seeing cool things and talking a lot about photography. It'll take me a bit to go through all the photos I took, but some highlights of the trip:

*Wandering around Heidelberg, especially in the forest around town which had beautiful views and amazing fall foliage.
*The Chagall windows in St. Stephen's church in Mainz, which turned the interior into a sort of religious aquarium.
*Seeing a Gutenberg bible, which while not as impressive as the illuminated manuscripts Ireland is full of, was more historically significant, and thus pretty awesome to see in person.
*Driving up the Rhine Valley, which would be picturesque even if it weren't dotted with castles.
*Seeing my favorite ever room in a castle, the Green Lacquered Room at the Residenz in Wurzburg. (The walls had been painted with silver and then green, giving them a very luminous and gorgeous color.)
*Walking around the walled medieval city of Rothenburg.
*Drinking rauchbier, which is made using smoked malt, in Bamberg which is famous for it.
*Seeing the many gardens and parks in the Garden Kingdom of Dessau-​Wörlitz.
*Experiencing all the stupendous installations at the Pergamon Museum (the Pergamon altar, the Miletus Market Gate, the Gate of Ishtar, and the Aleppo merchant's room were all amazing and huge).

I also really benefited from my slow but steady progress through Janson's, seeing a lot of paintings and cathedral styles that I had recently learned about. (Though I was in the dark about anything made after 1400 or so, since that's how far I currently am in the book.) And I reviewed the German language lessons that I had from last year when I went to a conference south of Munich, and was gratified to see it all come flooding back pretty quickly. When I say 'it all', I mean a few months' worth of vocabulary, but still.

It was a very fun trip, especially since I hadn't gotten to hang out with Ron so much since the days I lived in Berkeley.
clevermynnie: (smile)
A friend of mine from Penn invited me to visit her in Paris, where she is staying for a physics collaboration, so I spent this past weekend there. It was great to see her, and to spend a sunny autumn weekend wandering around Paris. Paris was the first place I went that was outside the US, five years ago when Ben and I went there, but since I had already done most of the big museums and sights I was happy to do whatever Jen wanted to do. So we walked around, a lot, both in her neighborhood to figure out where things were, around her work, and in some of the iconic parts of Paris. We ate a lot of great food, both in restaurants and at home, like a Breton galette and Merguez couscous and a ton of chocolate. But one of the coolest things we did was going into the giant Sephora on the Champs-Élysées which has an amazing number of perfumes that you can sample, and then smelling everything we possibly could. And of course... I took pictures.

notre dame

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