Tuesday, September 22, 2009

being an adult :-P

Being an adult is dumb. I mean, it's nice to be independent and have a paycheck and all of that but really there's a lot about being an adult that's annoying...
  • mortgages, car loans, student loans (I don't even have any and I think they're annoying for my friends)... ok, how about debt of all kinds?
  • credit cards - face it, even if you regularly pay it off, you still think about whether you have the money at the end of the month
  • having to work for a living. even if you love your job, there will always be something annoying about it
  • needing more recovery time after nights out, hard workouts (or any workouts in some cases), or vacations to far away places
  • the fact that we now discuss things like house buying, interest rates, mortgages, insurance, and the state of the economy and planet at parties - though thankfully not all the time
  • the focus on health and working out is different
  • having to make major decisions yourself - no one will do it for you
  • home repair
  • the toys are way more expensive ;)

Friday, September 18, 2009

home improvements

We came back from our European vacation only to find this:

mirror all over the floor; what was left of the medicine cabinet

That was fun to clean up after having been on a plane for something like 10 hours. And since it's the only mirror we have, we had the joy of replacing it the next day when we should have been recovering. I don't have any pictures of Will in the process of replacing the medicine cabinet because what was behind it was GROSS - and there weren't enough hands for pictures.

Before we left, we'd been without a working dishwasher since the beginning of the summer. I was using a connection from my boss to get our cute new 18" dishwasher so it took way longer than it would have if we'd just gone to Lowes and bought one. But this way it was cheaper. Not long after we got back, Dave brought it over and installed it - all for the cost of the dishwasher and a bottle of Johnnie Walker Black. That's cheap.

Dave removing the dead one; new one still in the box

Dave actually reading the installation instructions (shh, I wasn't supposed to tell)

and it's in!

These 2 were the latest in the long list of things I've replaced in the apartment for various reasons.

Because I wanted to for aesthetic reasons: kitchen cabinet door pulls and drawer knobs, light fixture in bathroom (one bulb doesn't cut it for this lady) and sink faucets in the bathroom and kitchen.

Because I needed to: toilet seat, garbage disposal, refrigerator and windows. and the aforementioned dishwasher and medicine cabinet, of course.

The only major things left: stove and heat pump - pray those don't go out!

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

goals and projects

Back when the end of grad school was approaching but still seemed like a distant dream, I made 2 lists, one of fitness goals for myself and the other various projects that I wanted to tackle. Don't all of those women's magazines tell you to be public with such things to hold yourself accountable? well, here it goes.

  • Lose 10-15 lbs.
  • Be able to lift 25-30 lbs dead weight with one arm at a time. T-Rex begone!
  • Be able to touch my toes. I've never been able to do this in my life.

I've already taken some baby steps towards these goals. I renewed my membership at the rec center so that I could get back to swimming but that was last week and I'm finally going to get there today. I also signed up for yoga at the rec center once a week on Mondays that starts next week.

Projects: (in no particular order)

  1. change thermostat to programmable in order to save more energy
  2. refinish kitchen table (if it goes well, it could get expanded to other furniture items)
  3. recaulk tub
  4. sell extraneous stuff on eBay
  5. organize the basement, in particular label all the bins and boxes
  6. wedding album - professional and snapfish
  7. clean refrigerator
  8. clean wood floors
  9. figure out our bedroom furniture
  10. honeymoon pictures and scrapbook
  11. clean snuffles
  12. get my knees checked out
  13. Christmas stockings - Leia, Sara, Autumn, Austin and Will. whew, that's a lot of stitching.
  14. sort through stuff at parents' homes
  15. burn CD for Liz of geological pictures from NZ
  16. get the bathroom fixed - ceiling, drains, and tub faucet

Clearly, I have some lofty ideas of what kind of time I'll have on my hands. We'll see what happens.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Day 12 - Heading home

August 28

We flew home :-/ We weren't really ready for the vacation to be over but we were pretty much over playing tourist. Everything was fairly uneventful. We caught the Lufthansa shuttle to the airport in Munich, breakfast and rummy in the airport, and no actual problems getting to Heathrow. We had an unexplained rough landing into Heathrow that I was not happy with - the plane was literally tipping from side to side. Once in Heathrow we wandered through the maze that is Heathrow Airport and left just a bit late because the rough wind that had caused our bumpy landing had backed up the air traffic. After that things were good until we entered the Baltimore-Washington airspace.

Then things changed...

The announcement came that due to weather at Dulles, we were going to have to be in a somewhat lengthy holding pattern around Dulles. BUT... we didn't have the fuel to do that (whoa) so they were going to land the plane at BWI (seriously?!?), refuel and then we'd be on our way.

Then things changed again...

The flight attendant came back over the PA and said that we'd been given clearance to go ahead and land at Dulles. To which the co-pilot felt the need to explain further that really, we had enough fuel for the change. Thanks for reminding me of that little problem - I had been happy that we were just landing. We made a very hard, very obvious even in a plane, turn and soon were on the ground at Dulles only about an hour and half late.

We made it home and out to dinner with Liz so she would keep us awake.

Day 11 - Last full day :(

August 27

Our last day in Europe :( Our plan for the day ended up being to rent bikes from the hotel and play Municher for the day.

We decided to head for the nearby English Garden to which we were able to find well marked bike paths to get there. I thought it was more like an arboretum than a garden but what do I know. We found the "lake" and rented a paddle boat with our last 10 euros - oops!

After our time on the lake, we had to leave and find money which turned into a trip to the post office and grocery store as well. We bought picnic supplies but also things to take home so we ended up biking back to the hotel and then back to the garden.

We headed for the North part of the garden this time and quickly found a place for our picnic. It seemed to become doggie central as we ate. The Germans have very well-behaved dogs though and we weren't too bothered by them. We rode around the garden for awhile and found a Hofbräuhaus Minibeergarden. We stopped there to have a drink and decided to play some rummy.

Look at them all patiently waiting for a morsel; Will enjoying his beer

After awhile I didn't feel all that well, so we left the park to look for a cache and head back to the hotel.

Stone pillar near cache

I was feeling better after a little while so we decided to rest our wander-weary bones in the hotel's whirlpool, pool, and sauna (ok, only Will went in the sauna because they make me feel very light-headed and uncomfortable). After showering, we headed to dinner at a place that the concierge assured us would make jägerschnitzel even though it wasn't on the menu but they wouldn't. After dinner, we went back to the hotel so that I could repack. We had to expand the one suitcase and employ our small-packed extra bag to get everything to fit! And we didn't feel like we'd acquired that much stuff.

We had dessert in the hotel just because. Our waitress had no one else to wait on and was thrown off when all we wanted was dessert. She was very funny and we decided that she was Swiss and was paying her way through school in Munich.

Day 10 - München

August 26

We tried to get an early start but in the end we only managed to get an 11:03 train. Over the course of the day before we left, the train station shifted all its operations into what one of the employees called the "container village," bathrooms included. They were clearly preparing for a major renovation. The train was a nice, straight-shot, high-speed line right into Munich. It only took an hour and a half.

We grabbed another taxi to get to our hotel - the Marriott Munich this time - as it was a bit further out of town than we had thought. We very quickly discovered how our $75/night priceline bid was accepted so quickly - the hotel was undergoing a renovation/redecoration and was hosting the 2009 European Goalball championship.

We headed back to the city center on the U-bahn soon after arriving because we were in search of lunch. The city center is Marienplatz by city hall which looks more like an ancient church than city hall. We had a nice lunch in the platz.

City Hall

There was a cache in the tower of the nearby St. Peter's. At first we thought that we wouldn't be able to get in because the signs said it was closed for cleaning but the tower was still open.

St. Peter's Tower and the view

I spotted a farmers' market from above so we headed there afterward. We wandered there for quite awhile as I rediscovered how much I enjoy taking photos of flea and farmers markets.

We wandered more of the pedestrian zone, eventually finding the Hofbräuhaus and stopping in for a beer. While there we finally figured out what a Radler was - beer and lemonade, fizzy lemonade but still lemonade.

Afterward we decided to walk up Ludwig Strasse in search of jägerschnitzel but ended up with Indian instead.

Sights along Ludwig Strasse

We stopped by the front desk for help with our plans for the next day and we decided once and for all that our trip to Neuschwanstein was not to be - too expensive and lengthy.

Day 9 - Sound of Music!

August 25

This was a day I'd been waiting for - We went on the Sound of Music Tour!! The only drawback was that it required a somewhat more early wake up call than I would have liked. The Panorama tours picked us up from our hotel in a shuttle and dropped us off outside Mirabell Gardens to join up with the whole group.

our bus!

Our tour was in English, of course, and the tourguide was HILARIOUS, if a little over the top. It turned out that his mother was Austrian and his father was American.

We saw Leopoldskron Schloss - the back of the Von Trapp house,

the Hellbrunn - the site that they have moved the glass gazebo,

Mondsee - the wedding scene,

pretty glacial lakes and alpine terrain - the beginning and ending scenes

and the Mirabell Gardens - the Do Re Mi scenes around "town."

We ended up with the music stuck in our heads for days!

After we got back we rode the elevator up the cliff to the museum of modern art because it has some of the best views of Salzburg.

The view from the Modern Art Museum

We walked from there along trails to the Festung Hohensalzburg - the medieval fortress that presides over Salzburg. It was exceedingly well-preserved and quite impressive. The cost to get into the place made more sense. There were lots of great views and we climbed all over the castle and then rode the funicular (cable car) back down.

The outside wall, inside the walls

We walked to the Festspielhaus (the scene of the music contest) only to find that we'd missed the guided tours.

We wandered further into the old town and found fantastic greek food for dinner. After dinner we hiked up to the Nonneburg Abbey and then back to the hotel to pack up to move on to Munich in the morning.

Day 8 - Moving on to Salzburg

August 24

We were leaving Vienna but since hardly any of the shops had been open the day before (being Sunday and all), we'd decided to take an midday train to Salzburg and do some shopping before we left. There was one particular souvenir shop that I wanted to go into but she would never open up! I bought myself a nutcracker since Mom has decided that I must now buy them for myself if I want any new ones.

I decided to take my picture with the Steiff bear

We had lunch at the Hotel Sacher - home of the Original Sachertorte. Lunch was great. Will had an amazing potato soup with roasted chanterelles and bacon - I consider myself lucky that he would share. Of course we each got a slice of Sachertorte for dessert - the best chocolate cake I've EVER had.

We went back to our hotel to collect our bags and get a taxi to the train station. The train to Salzburg was a local via Linz so we made a few stops and traded our 2 car companions several times before arriving.

View of the countryside from the train

The train station in Salzburg is under a bit of renovation - or renovation in preparation for restoration perhaps. It turned out that our hotel - the Renaissance Congress Center - was just a few blocks from the train station which while convenient when we were coming and going, meant that it was about a 15-20 minute walk to the old town.

the old town

We walked to the old town to check it out and to find dinner - preferably something non-traditional for me. We didn't find it (though we did figure out where we'd gone wrong the next day) but we did find a very yummy café. Lying in wait for people to get up from a table to swoop in and take it for yourself is entirely acceptable and practically necessary. I ended up having the closest we ever came to finding jägerschniztel on the trip - so yummy!

We were intrigued by the well-dressed people who were wandering the town, stopping for drinks or food and some were even wearing traditional dress. We did figure it out - there was a performance at the Festspielhaus, as there was most nights. The Salzburgers take the opera season very seriously.

Festspielhaus after most everyone had gone in for the show

After satisfying our curiosity, we walked back to our hotel along the river where all the teenagers hung out.

Old town from the other side of the river at night

Day 7 - More Vienna

August 23

We got a somewhat late start to the day after the reaction to the cheese plate we'd had for dinner the night before. Our goal was mass at St. Stephen's in German but we'd already missed the "big mass" at 9:30 so we had to wait for the noon. We decided to get breakfast to kill time and chose an Aida café with a waitress that was either in a hurry or extremely efficient seeing as we were unable to order everything we wanted before she ran off.

Mass was interesting in German. We knew what was going on because the structure is the same as at home - that, of course, is one of the purposes behind the ritual of Mass - but I was way more thrown by everyone saying the prayers in German than I expected to be. I was actually embarrassed that I couldn't recite the prayers from memory in English - not even the "Our Father"! A poor elderly woman passed out during the service because it was overly warm in the church so there was a small influx of EMTs at the end of Mass.

Outside and in

We headed back to our hotel for a simple lunch and a quick wardrobe change (the sun had come out while we were in church). We spent the early afternoon in the Kunsthistorischesmuseum (art museum) looking at mostly Flemish art including some from Ruben, Düser, Vermeer, and Raphael.

The floors in the museum were amazing.

For the late afternoon and evening, we took the U-Bahn (subway) out to Schloß Schönbrunn. We were able to take a audio tour of the palace and learned a few things about the Habsburgs.

The Palace
We then wandered the gardens, hiked up the hill to the Gloriette and down again past several fountains and other installations hidden among the gardens. We had dinner in a restaurant just inside the park and watched as they closed the gates, hoping that there was a way out for the runners we'd seen entering not long before.

A "Roman ruin" installed in the garden

Our evening's entertainment was to attend a concert at the Orangerie featuring selected works of Mozart, Hayden and Strauss. There was a ballet dancing (a married couple it turned out) and a pair of singers to complement the music. It was very nice.

a Prime Méridien

Thanks to an online booking service, we stayed right in the heart of Vienna. Our hotel, Le Méridien Vienna, presented a mix of old and new. On the outside, Le Méridien fits in with the rest of Vienna's buildings. The inside, however, is sehr modern.

T-shirts for sale in the lobby; Marcy jamming to cicadas

Funky art in the lobby, colored lighting in the elevators with a variety of sounds that changed every hour or so. (We heard cicadas, galloping horses, animals at night, and lots of aquatic sounds from the ocean to the drain). Our room was big and had a lot of lights (check out Marcy's video tour).

(yes, that's a horse behind the bed)

A few things struck us as odd. While exploring the hallways, we followed signs for the Fitness center. The signs pointed to a lone elevator that ferried us to a small vestibule with a window and a door to the gym. Back upstairs, we wandered around until the 5th floor split in two (there was an upper and a lower level on the backside of the hotel; these rooms must not have had the same headroom as ours).

looking down the spiral staircase