Monday, July 27, 2009

mom and grandma come to europe.

I had a wonderful week with my mother and grandmother in Europe. I kept them busy the first day they arrived so that they could beat jet lag. We ate a warm lunch with our family in Leutershausen. While it was difficult for my mom and grandma to communicate with the family in town, I think they enjoyed once again seeing where they spent holidays while my grandpa was stationed in Germany. We ate a typical German dinner with Sabine after meeting the boys. On Wednesday, we explored Heidelberg together - Philosophenweg, Hauptstraße, Schloß, Königstuhl... It was nice having visitors because there were places that I still hadn't gone because they seemed too touristy to do on my own. We even made it to the monastery where we enjoyed a beverage with Annika before dinner at the Herzberg household (the picture to the left was taken at the Hofladen). On Thursday, my mom and I were able to take a wonderful walk between rain storms from the house back to the Philosophenweg some 3 miles away. In the afternoon we loaded two cars full of people and went to Schwetzingen. We took a tour of the castle which was in German and did little good for my mom and grandma. Therefore, they received English reading material and Sabine and I did our best at translating. We proceeded into the gardens and spent the rest of the day in the sunshine amongst the flowers of the billion acres of land. Absolutely breathtaking!

On Friday morning we caught a train to Basel where we were greeted by family friends who once lived in the United States. They were absolutely wonderful hosts. They showed us all around Basel on Friday and made a day trip to Strasbourg, France on Saturday. The weekend could be detailed better but I wouldn't do it justice. Sadly, my grandma and mom left on Monday after only a short week but they say three countries. Quite a successful trip according to my standards.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Trier und Luxembourg

Alison and I are trying to fit in as many trips as one can fit into a summer. This past weekend we went to Trier (one of the oldest cities in Germany) and Luxembourg City (the capital of the country). I departed from Heidelberg early on Saturday morning and met Alison while transferring in Kaiserslautern. We arrived in Trier before noon. We spent the day wandering the city, looking at the many Roman ruins that still remain. We ate dinner at an Asian restaurant. While it did taste amazing, Alison and I were both wearing white shirts and our curry soup was a color between lime and lemon. We both made napkin bibs and looked absolutely ridiculous, switching between our spoons, forks and chopsticks, trying not to be incredibly messy. A couple sitting next to us laughed but then when it came for them to eat, the man made a bib napkin too so... We saw an independent Greek film, dubbed in German, at a tiny theater. I can only say that it will not be showing in America.

When Alison and I awoke on Sunday we both looked at each other with concerned expressions; we could hear the rain hitting the window outside. But after having paid the train and hostel, we would only be saving 8.40 Euros by not going to Luxembourg. We thought it would be worth the trek and in fact, it was! The sun ended up emerging shortly after we arrived although it disappeared and gave way to rain by the time we boarded our train home. The weather has been so mysterious the past month. Luxembourg was a beautiful city. We spent the few hours we had roaming the many hills and streets in the city. The best part was walking through catacombs. Apparently there are more than 20 kilometers of passageways within the walls of the city but we only were able to explore 2 kilometers. I suppose they were once useful but I think I would get lost and starve before finding my way back out again, back in the day that is.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Romantic Rhein

Alison and I decided to visit another wonderful part of Germany last weekend. It was last minute with little planning involved but was awesome. On Saturday we met in Bingen, a small town at the southern end of the so called "Romantic Rhein". We explored the city. Its shoreline was part of a beautification project last year and the new park is unbelievable. There is a skatepark, life-size chessboard, cherry trees, apple trees, squash gardens, water playground and more. There were even chairs and lounges throughout the park and they weren't held fast to the ground. After successfully exploring Bingen, we took a ferry across the river to another town called Rüdesheim. It lies at the base of a mountain covered in vineyards. The town itself is small but the backdrop is fabulous. We took a cable car up the mountain to view a famous statue which is much like the Statue of Liberty (in fact, Alison thought it was a version of the Statue of Liberty). Instead of paying for a roundtrip, we only paid for one ride and decided it would be best to wander through the vineyards and find our way back down the hill. With our cameras and a bottle of wine we slowly made our way back to town for dinner before the last ferry back.

On Sunday, we spent much of the day exploring the Romantic Rhein from a boat. There is a service from Binger which makes at all the little towns on the Rhein. We stayed on the boat and took pictures of a few dozen castles; it is amazing how many castles are in Germany. I ended up taking hundreds of pictures over the whole weekend. We hopped off the boat in the afternoon at Koblenz. Nearly the entire city is under construction so while we did wander around, there wasn't too much too do or see. We opted for an ice cream on the Moselle River. The sun was beaming all day and we both were sunburned. The weathermen hadn't predicted sunshine. I didn't even pack sunscreen or sunglasses! We were so worn out that we spent the last hour with our feet in a fountain while we watch children play with the water.

Monday, June 22, 2009

weekend of street festivals

Handschuhsheim. There were many street festivals last fall and as the weather is once again warm, they have started up the new season. Handschuhsheim is a Stadtteil (city part) to the north of Heidelberg. This weekend they held their street festival. Alison, the previous Au Pair, was visiting for the weekend so she and I went on Saturday evening. We walked around and viewed all the normal things, sweet vendors, bratwurst vendors, beer vendors and of course, all the rides for kids. We met some of her old friends for dinner and beers in the remains of the Handschuhsheim castle. It was great fun hanging out with new people but the best part was watching all the drunken adult dance to America oldies. It was entertaining enough that I decided to take some video footage!

Heidelberg. Yesterday was a different kind of street festival in Heidelberg where local organizations had booths to educate the community and raise money for their cause. The main street along the Neckar was closed for the day (which is not that complicated since no one really has anywhere to go on a Sunday in Germany). Alison and I met the Herzbergs for lunch in the field at the monastery. There was a maze of hay that Tom and Max spent most of their time enjoying. They biked the street for the rest of the afternoon while Alison and I walked. We past old fire trucks that were on display, the plans for the new tunnel that is expected to be built starting in 2012, bike vendors with a new model of a bike with an electric engine and much more! It took hours to make our way to the end, over two miles from the house. On our way back, Isabel had her hands full as she was working Moritz's kindergarten table and had an extra kid for the day. She spotted me and I volunteered to walk around with the baby and the kids. We saw some bike riders who had drawn a crowd; they were biking off ramps into the Neckar. It was a nice afternoon. I walked home on my own, as there was no other transport available. It wasn't raining when I started my was pouring when I finally reached home. Needless to say, I was in need of a warm shower!

Saturday, June 13, 2009


The last time I travelled alone was over three years ago when I ventured to Fiji. Even then, I was set up with a tour so I was with a pretty steady group of people. This time, I was totally on my own in Prague. It was wonderful! I was on my own schedule and got to see and do anything and everything that I wanted to do. I checked the bus schedule last Wednesday morning and booked a ticket to leave for Prague on Thursday night. I took a Eurolines bus directly from Heidelberg to Prague. It was both less expensive and less timely than the train. I arrived in Prague early on Friday morning, leaving me two and a half days to explore the city.

Friday. I arrived extremely early in the morning and went for breakfast with some people from my bus. It was difficult to find a place that was open at 7 in the morning. After filling my tummy, I headed for my hostel. The weather was weird. It started to rain as soon as I exited the metro. It continued to rain throughout the rest of the day, about 7 times. Between each shower (or downpour) the sky was blue and sunny. I found some shelter whenever it rained because I hadn't packed an umbrella. Anyway, in the morning, exhausted from not sleeping on the bus coupled with the rain, I decided to sleep on the couch in the lounge of my hostel. After a nap, the sun was back out and I ventured out into the city. I walked to the castle and wondered around for a few hours. It was extremely crowded! I guess it is the main tourist attraction of Prague. It is kept it in really good shape; it doesn't even look that old with all the new paint... I enjoyed the gardens and all the pictures that could be taken of the rest of the town from the hilltop that the castle laid upon. I wandered down the hill and through the Lesser Town where there were lots of touristy shops. I went to the top of the Church of St. Nicholas where I snapped some nice pictures of all of prague. From there I continued over the Charles Bridge, which was really amazing, and back into the Old Town. I saw the clock which was gorgeous but the show on the hour was a little lame. After all this walking I decided to go back to check into the hostel and get settled. Before dinner, I went for a run in one of the parks semi near my hostel which was nice cause i got to see another part of town and a park that I probably wouldn't have seen otherwise. I ate at an indian joint that was vegetarian for dinner. I was tired and returned to my bed to read.

Saturday. I started my day with breakfast at Bohemian Cafe, which was filled with American students who seemed to be studying abroad. It was a nice place to read and enjoy a bagel and of course, coffee (no where near a NY bagel but it was still yummy). I walked through the 'jewish town' and saw the cemetery and the synagogues. I walked down the 'Fifth Avenue' of Prague, lined with Louis Vuitton, Lacoste, Burberry, etc. I just let myself wander, walking the whole day! Eventually, I ended up at the Powder Tower which I decided to climb for more great photos. I saw the eiffel tower (Petrin Tower) and headed for that next. It was a long walk to the tower, and another walk to the summit but totally worth it once I looked out upon Prague. Atop the hill, next to the Petrin Tower, was the house of mirrors. It was fun and I made some silly photos. I walked back into the Old Town and went to Clear Head, a well-known vegetarian restaurant, for dinner. The food was excellent; my favorite was the sun-dried tomato peanut pesto. I was beyond stuffed when I departed and walked the whole way home to help work off some food.

Sunday. I only had half a day to spend in the sunshine of Prague. I first went to Vysehrad, a fortress atop another small hill on the southern side of the Prague with a cathedral, large cemetery, and gardens. It offered even more views of Prague. Despite how many towers and hills I climbed, each view over Prague was truly unique. I didn't spend too much time atop Vysehrad as I wanted to visit the Communism Museum before I had to catch my bus. I had tried to find the museum the day before but had had no luck. Finally, after circling the block once more, I found it in the center of the block. It is as confusing as it sounds. It was well worth the second trip. I don't remembering learning too much about the political history of Czechoslovakia; I found it interesting to read about the details. Communism... Wow. I went for a warm lunch afterwards, as I would be on the bus for what would be dinnertime. I ate at another great vegetarian restaurant. Lonely Planet says that Prague isn't the most vegetarian friendly city in Europe but I think I have to disagree!

Great last minute decision; everyone should visit Prague.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009


I used my frequent flier miles to take another trip home. At first, I did not make any plans in hopes to have a relaxing week. Unfortunately, that did not last long. I was busy but not as busy as during my trip home for the holidays. I was able to catch a Phish concert at Jones Beach, dinner at WD-50, a wedding in MA, Kenny's 25th birthday, and more!

WD-50 is worth noting as it was the best meal I have ever had. While I am a vegetarian, I believe my opinion is credible as many of the dishes were fish; I even ate snail (which apparently is related to seafood although I see them all the time here on the streets of Heidelberg). Jonathan and I both had the tasting menu, which was absolutely perfect as I love to eat lots of little things (aka appetizers) for my meal at restaurants. There were 12 dishes, which seemed to be broken down into 4 appetizers, 4 entrees, and 4 desserts. I could barely fit the final dessert into my stomach but I had to try everything! It is impossible to describe each dish as most of them I could not identify myself; Wylie Dufresne is known to use uncommon elements and techniques in his kitchen. For example, I enjoyed an ice cream bagel with freeze dried smoked salmon. It was incredible food in a vibrant atmosphere. Highly recommended!

Jonathan's cousin, Adrienne, got married last weekend in Concord, MA. The wedding was beautiful; it was held at a nearby country club. The weather was perfect and the ceremony was held in the evening on the porch of the clubhouse. It was the first jewish ceremony that I have every attended and it was everything I had hoped for, including the smashing of the glass (although when I found out that the glass is supposed to represent how fragile love is, it didn't seem like anyone should be smashing it). At the rehearsal dinner, the soon-to-be-bride asked me, "How common is the name 'von Glahn'? I explained that it was not common; in German, it translates to 'from Glahn' meaning my ancestors were once habitants from a place called Glahn. She continued by asking if I knew a Drew von Glahn. Although I had just explained how uncommon the name was, I denied any relation. The next day at the wedding, I was introduced to Drew von Glahn. He asked who my father was and surprised me when he said that he was first cousins with my father. He remembered playing as kids at the old house in Tarrytown... Who knew that I had to go to my boyfriend's family's wedding to meet my own family!

I have safely returned to Heidelberg where Tom is still obsessed with spiders and bees and Max is still obsessed with Hoffenheim : )

Tuesday, May 26, 2009


The last time that I was in London I was with my soccer team which made sight seeing a little limited.  Nearly 8 years have past since then and I cannot remember all the details of the trip.  Therefore, I enjoyed spending three full days in London exploring exactly what I wanted to explore; which was basically everything!  Annika and I arrived to our hostel quite late on Thursday night which made for a relaxing night and fresh start.

On Friday, we went on a free walking tour offered by our hostel which lasted for three hours.  It was fantastic as our tour guide was enthusiastic.  We saw all the main royal sights and got to learn lots of cool little tidbits of info.  For example, someone once paraglide onto the roof of Buckingham Palace.  Afterwards, Annika and I searched for a market that I remembered from my previous trip.  When I thought it was impossible to find, as I only had a vague memory left, we stumbled upon it!  I picked up some souvenirs before we headed to the London Eye.  The views were quite nice but it is a tourist attraction which of course was overly overpriced.  We joined a pub crawl later that evening which went to five different bars.  We figured it was the best and cheapest way to capture the nightlight in London.  I met heaps of Australians and so we had plenty to talk about!

On Saturday, we bought a circle cruise boat ticket which allowed us to visit several tourist attractions along the Thames.  First we hopped off at Shakespeare's Globe.  Unfortunately, there was a play in the theater and there were no tours at the time.  Therefore, we hopped back on and headed to Tower Bridge and the Tower of London.  We spent several hours inside the Tower of London, learning all sorts of things about the incredibly old fortress and of course, we saw the royal jewels.  I do love to learn which made the afternoon incredibly interesting for me.  We spent the evening visiting Piccadilly Circus, Oxford Circus, and roaming SOHO.  We ate sandwiches on-the-go nearly the whole weekend so we decided to enjoy a sit-down dinner.  We roamed a little more before heading back to the hostel to enjoy a nightcap with an Aussie we had met at the bar crawl.

On Sunday, we started the day once again at Shakespeare's Globe.  We were able to go on a tour and see the recreated theater.  I felt like I was a part of the movie "Shakespeare in Love" as it was filmed in the theater.  As I am a fan of Shakespeare, I liked learned about the history of his time.  The theater has only a few additions like lights for the night performance and sprinklers on the thatch roof.  After our tour, we went to Harrod's because I figured I had to at least see the place.  We then through Hyde Park to Kensington Gardens where we took a short break in the shade to relax our feet.  Once we arrived to the other side, we traveled to Madame Tussauds to checkout the wax figures.  There were many celebrities and familiar figures but I enjoyed seeing  many national faces such as the queen and the many princes.  I took a picture with Shrek to prove to the boys that I had met him.  They are going to England in a few weeks time; I hope that they don't go looking for him!  After the museum, we headed back to the hostel to relax and pack before our alarms went off at 3 am!