Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Greta counting

I'm convinced Greta's a secret genius. Philippa's been counting for a while, and if you start to count, especially in German but sometimes in English too, she'll try to finish and usually gets it pretty right. But Greta, no, Greta's too good for that. Who needs to know how to count correctly to 10 when you can stand outside, facing a wall with no one around you, and scream "zwei! vier! 2! 4! 2! 4!" over and over. And then she just continues on with her business as usual.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Sunday morning

Host parents: are you going anywhere this morning?
Me: No, not till 2
Them: Oh good, then you can get the kids dressed and take care of them a while.

cool, just what I like to do on my days off. It's not like there's 4 other adults in this house right now.

I almost didn't even go to breakfast. I just wanted coffee and a banana and then to go back to sleep, because now I've been infected with what the whole family has.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Copenhagen (and Sweden)

me with the lil' mermaid, obviously

I loved Copenhagen! It made me kind of disappointed that I have to live in Hannover, and it even got me to look into grad school programs so I could one day live there which is a big deal. I found some really interesting ones in other European locations, but that's another story. Talk to me again in at least 5 years.
Copenhagen reminded me a lot of Seattle, except in northern Europe with castles and a changing of the guard and stuff. There were so many cool cafes and restaurants and bars and shops and buildings and bikes! So many bikes!

Day 1:
I arrived at about 1pm on Thursday, checked into my hostel, and then went to the Visitor's Center. It was a fantastic Visitor's Center, I wish all cities had one like it. I got a whole bunch of brochures, bought a chai at the cafe there (which was also wonderful) and planned. I had a few ideas of what I wanted to do, but nothing specific planned. They have a walking tour laid out on the free city map, so I planned on doing part of it, but I didn't get too far. I walked down the longest pedestrian street in the world (Strøget), and kept getting distracted by all the shops. I found some pretty cool things. Usually I don't like shopping, but this was fun. Plus it was getting kind of chilly and windy and inside is warm. I eventually made my way back to the hostel, which was in Nørrebro, and supposedly a cool neighborhood to explore. Indeed, I wish I had had time to go to every restaurant and bar I saw! I also walked over a hill that's on top of an athletic center where kids were playing soccer inside. I got back to my hostel and went to bed, but I was on the top bunk in the creakiest bed ever so I was scared to move all night.
town hall. and fashion week
Day 2:
I woke up and went on a glorious run through the neighborhood, and a big park (Fælledparken), and then along the green bike path that's 10km right now but they're trying to expand it to reach other parts of the city. It was so cool! There were fun playgrounds, and skate park, and it was all brightly colored. There were even adult playgrounds! I wanted to swing across these giant rings but it was kind of wet outside and muddy and it did not look safe. I checked out of the hostel, because I couldn't make a reservation for 2 for the next night, and my friend Meagan was coming. After breakfast I left my stuff at the new hostel and made my way to the train station. I bought tickets to go to Sweden!


in the park in Malmö - they're so prepared for water emergencies
I got a little pamphlet with a map and the top 10 things to see from the tourist office, but the first thing wasn't that great. It was just an area of town that to me seemed very under construction and empty and not that interesting. And then it started to rain, then freezing rain. I was thinking this might have been a mistake, but then I got to the park and it started just snowing, which is way better than freezing rain and was kind of nice. I walked through the old town, which was nice, but I was cold and decided it was time to go back. It was a nice city and I'm sure especially in the summer it's really nice. I liked it and I'm glad I decided to go because I can check off another country! I got back to Copenhagen and hoped it would be just enough warmer there, but it had gotten colder and the rain followed too. I walked a little through Frederiksberg, but it just wasn't that fun in the rain. I stopped at a cafe and had the best salad ever! Baby kale, apples, oranges, walnuts, raspberries, coconut, and delicious dressing. Try it. I had enough time to get checked into the hostel and then meet Meagan at the train station.

We dropped off her stuff and then looked for a place to eat. Somehow we decided on a tapas and wine bar, and we felt kind of out of place. In a not good way. We go 2 appetizers and 2 glasses of wine and spent about €40. We definitely could have eaten for way less, but that is on the lower end of the restaurant price scale. On second thought maybe Copenhagen's too expensive to live in...

guards parading down the Strøget

Day 3:

I ran through the Rosenborg castle gardens and then down to the Kastellet, which is a star shaped garden which seemed somehow important and is near the little mermaid. There was a dusting of snow covering the ground, which was nice. We got coffee and fresh juice (avocado apple lemen. so good) and Meagan got a bagel which was actually delicious. Somehow we missed the free hostel walking tour, so we decided to go on a canal tour first. It was fun and definitely worth it!

Meagan and I on the canal tour!

We did the parts of the free self guided walking tour we hadn't seen yet, and climbed up the round tower. There was a winding ramp going all the way up instead of stairs. And luckily, the sun came out! It is always so cloudy here, so it's really exciting when it's sunny. (side note: I heard Hannover had 15 hours of sun in all of January. so you understand my excitement)
Copenhagen from the round tower

Rosenborg Castle, where the crown jewels are

I bought rain boots, which is not really helping my attempt to save money, but a definite good investment. We stored our stuff in a locker at the train station and then walked through Frederiksberg again, but this time to Carlsberg Brewery. We got to walk partway through the park though, which was really nice.

Frederiksberg Park as the sun was setting

The brewery tour was self led and interesting. They had horses! We had to rush at the end because they were closing and we wanted to make sure to get both of the beers that came with the tour! We bought some blackberry cider (yum) and beer to give us something to do on our long train journey that night, and then walked back. 
old Carlsberg
We were hoping to find a fun place to eat, but they were all more expensive than we wanted. It was just a more expensive street than we had come on, but we were hungry and stopped at an Indian place instead of Smørrebrød, which was our plan. It wasn't the best Indian food I've ever had, but the mango coconut lassi's were good at least. We got back to the train station and got coffee and McDonald's, which is the only place open after 10pm and we had a few hours to wait, and also the only place we could afford coffee. We felt kind of out of place there too, but in a very different way from the tapas bar. There were several homeless people that kept falling asleep and there's no sleeping in McDonald's so they eventually got kicked out. We killed some time by drinking cider and planning our next Italy! Eventually it was time for our train and besides a very cold but less dramatic layover somewhere in the middle on Denmark for 1 1/2 hours, the trip was fine and we got back with a whole Sunday ahead of us to do laundry. and clean and stuff. it was fun.

In conclusion: I love love loved Copenhagen and hope to go back someday! But I spent WAY too much money.

Friday, February 8, 2013

A day (or more like 5 mintues) in my life

Okay I'm working on my post about Copenhagen, but here are a few videos from a couple weeks ago when I got stuck working all day on a Sunday after I had had to work all day Saturday too. I was told it would be from 11-1 at the very latest with only the twins, and it ended up being from 9-2:30 with all 5 kids. I felt like a bad au pair and literally just stuck them in from of the TV all day, because I couldn't deal with them anymore, but the twins have an attention span of 5 seconds and so I made travel plans in the dining room where's there's internet and simultaneously did my best to keep them from breaking everything. You even get a glance into their true nature. The family had to leave their play group early yesterday because the twins were beating up all the older kids. Those little bundles of chaos...

Sunday, February 3, 2013

The time I survived the night as a homeless person

I just got back from Copenhagen, and getting there was its own adventure. I had to take 5 trains over a 12 hour period. Even the fastest way takes over 6 hours and 2-3 trains. And costs more than twice as much. So I decided to take the trip overnight, save a night in a hostel, and not waste a day travelling. However, I didn't really pay attention to where I was going to have to spend 3 1/2 hours.

Instead of going directly from Hannover to Hamburg, which is really easy and fast and I have no idea why Deutsche Bahn couldn't just send me there, I had a layover in Uelzen from 01:38-05:01. Where of course the actual train station part (by that I mean someplace with doors. and benches) is closed from 9:30pm-5am. It wasn't as cold as it could have been - 6.8° C according to a bank I passed - but it was very, very windy. And the only bench not out in the open was right where the wind was being channelled under the tracks. So what was there to do but go for a stroll and do some sightseeing?

Uelzen has a very nice little old town, in case you were wondering. But after, oh, about 10 minutes, the wind was blowing me over and I was really tired and a little creeped out wandering around a deserted town at 2am. I saw some bright lights and saw it was one of those little covered shopping center things. Which meant it kind of blocked the wind, and even better - there was a bench! I ended up dozing off for a little while, but I got cold even with all my clothes piled on top of me and the wind kept making strange noises that were freaking me out.

I made my way back to the train station and found what I was looking for in the first place: a little closed in waiting area with benches and standing water on the floor that smelled like pee where I kind of slept until 4:13am when I was too cold and had to look ridiculous an march in place for 45 minutes even when I knew people waiting on another platform could see me.

And then my ticket didn't even get checked until I was in Flensburg, the tippy top of Deutschland and within walking distance of Denmark, so that was a waste. I'm still not sure why I couldn't have spent 4 hours in say, Hamburg at a really nice train station not in the middle of nowhere, but at least I get to check off another place I've been to.