Thursday, April 27, 2006

Happy semi-anniversary to me

I went out with friends tonight to see this play (it was very British), and I was reminded by one of them that I’ve been in London exactly six months today. Wow!

I’m heading out for the weekend again—if you get a long one, too, then happy long weekend!

(Just so you know, by “today,” I mean the 27th, no matter what the date stamp above this post might say. I arrived on October 27th. Crazy.)

Making up for the lack of pub pictures

The mid-week posts are hard. This week I haven’t done anything in the least bit noteworthy. And even when I do, it’s often hard to take a picture.

So this is a picture from this past weekend (taken the same day as the one of the flowers). Jaynna’s sister Carissa is visiting—here they both are.

On a different subject, some people at work yesterday were talking about getting a team together for some sort of organized quiz night event. We were told, “You might want to get some locals—some of the questions might be centered around the UK.” I know, I know.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

The emotional roller coaster of the pub quiz

We won! Again, second place in the first round. And this time it didn’t require anyone’s forgetfulness in answering the tiebreak question. Another £10 bar voucher for the team:

(I’d also like to point out that one of the questions was this: “What band sang the songs ‘For Those About to Rock’ and ‘Let There Be Rock?’”).

Then we did medium on round two.

Then for the jackpot round, we came in dead last.

Monday, April 24, 2006


Saturday was a beautiful day in London. I went for a walk with Jaynna and her sister—the walk included strolling through a number of parks. We weren’t the only ones who were appreciating the weather.


Friday, April 21, 2006

And finally, Münster

On Sunday, we took the train to Münster. We changed trains in Hamm. You can see the sort of weather early spring can bring in northern Europe:

Münster itself was very nice, with its own cathedrals and sights. This is a the middle of the town:

The cathedral has a very impressive clock in it that keeps track of the movement of the planets, sun, and moon, as well as telling time. It even has a skeleton that rings a bell for each quarter-hour:

There’s a big university in Münster—one of the largest in Germany. Here are Robin and Robert trying to find it. Hahaha:

At the end of our trip, we rested at a little park by the lake, enjoying the inspiring sculptures there:

I’ll do my best to go to a few pubs this weekend so the pub pictures can return.

Oh, and happy birthday to the Queen!

Thursday, April 20, 2006


After Aachen, we took the train to Cologne (or “Köln,” if you like umlauts—and who doesn’t?). Köln is home to the second-largest gothic cathedral in the world (which, if I’d had a wider lens or a little more distance, you might have been able to appreciate more):

It also houses relics from the Three Kings.

Here’s my attempt to take a non-flash picture on the inside:

Having taken a tour recently, Robert led us around the city and pointed out some sites of interest. In the middle of this activity, we wandered into this very attractive courtyard:

He also pointed out the gutters on some of the buildings, which are sweetly fashioned to look like bare bottoms:

(If you’re a hyper internet-reader and link-clicker, you’ll notice some parallels between this site and Robin’s).

Köln is also notable for its Kölsch beer, to be compared to—but not confused with—Alt beer of Düsseldorf.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

On to Aachen

On Saturday, Robin, her friend Robert, and I took a trip to, among other places, Aachen, which had been a favorite city of Charlemagne. He began construction on the Aachen Cathedral in 786, and it became a part of his palace:

It’s a charming city, and we wandered through the streets. This statue is made so that children—and I—can play with the limbs and rearrange them:

Here’s one of the somewhat creepy faces:

The city decision-makers were very adamant about renaming the street. This street is not Klostergasse, it is now named for Pope John Paul II:

Here’s a striking juxtaposition of old architecture and new:

This restaurant is what’s on the front of that new building. Tee hee:

Because the next day was Easter Sunday, people in the Düsseldorf train station were giving away potted flowers. So Robert carried a potted flower in his pocket all day. You can see how nicely it began to bloom during the course of the day:

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Düsseldorf in the Spring

It was a four-day weekend this weekend. I took advantage of the break and visited Robin in Düsseldorf, Germany. Düsseldorf is a city of multiple industries, located in the westernmost part of Germany, and is the capital of the German state North Rhein-Westphalia.

Düsseldorf is on the Rhein River:

Despite Düsseldorf’s industrial nature, my visit included interacting with a surprising amount of animal life. There were multiple families of wild rabbits that lived in the courtyard surrounding Robin’s housing. Here are a couple of their babies:

And the day I got there, a rather large herd of sheep mysteriously appeared on the banks of the Rhein:

Their presence was unexplained, but they seemed quite content to mill around and eat with their own families:

More poking around the region and fewer baby animals tomorrow, I promise.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Marathon in France

The reason the people I was meeting were in Paris this weekend at all was because several of them were going to run the Paris Marathon. In fact, due to injury, all but one wound up dropping out. But on Sunday morning, we watched the marathon and cheered on that one person.

This is how you know you’re watching a marathon in France:

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

La Tour Eiffel

What trip to Paris is complete without a visit to the Eiffel Tower? I went with Bill’s friend J.D., Joy, and Bill:

Cara’s Hen Party (or bachelorette party, if you’re from the U.S.) seems to have had the same idea:

We walked up as far as we could go, which was the second level, roughly 380 feet above the ground. (We did not stand in line for the elevators to the top floor). Here’s a picture of the view down from the first level:

Monday, April 10, 2006

Another weekend jaunt

This weekend I was off for a short trip—again to a fine European city:

There I met up with my friend and frequent blog commentator, Joy. Here she is with her fiancé, Bill:

We spent most of Saturday at Versailles, a palace built by Louis XIV and located a short train ride outside of Paris. Construction on the palace began in 1644 and took almost 50 years to complete:

Inside is the famous Hall of Mirrors, currently being renovated, but fine to see nonetheless, and especially handy if you have a sudden burst of insecurity about your hairstyle:

The grounds outside are enormous and laden with various statues, formal gardens, and the like (including an entire fake hamlet built for Marie Antoinette). Visitors can walk through the gardens and admire the statues and, if their visit is timed well enough, they can enjoy Les Grandes Eaux Musicales.

Our visit was well-timed:

Les Grandes Eaux Musicales is a show that’s executed entirely by turning on the fountains and piping classical music into the grounds, but the title doesn’t lie: it is big, and it involves water and music.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

I’m growing as a person

This is the roundabout I have to walk through every day on the way to work (and back home, for that matter). No matter which way I go around it, I have to cross three streets, one of them a divided two-way street. This used to make me very nervous and it used to take quite a long time as I waited for each light to cycle.

But now I jaywalk like mad:

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

How weather affects behavior

Sunday’s weather was hard to predict: it was sunny one moment, pouring rain the next. And we spent a good long time indoors on Sunday. But towards the end of the afternoon, it was sunny outside, and the groundswell of support for heading outdoors was apparent. But it’s still not warm outside, especially as the sun gets low, so we wound up going inside a pub. But as you can see here, the improving weather gave us the incentive to find a seat near the window. Spring is almost here!

Monday, April 03, 2006

4th time’s the charm

After not showing up last Saturday, then on Tuesday, and then on Wednesday, the window glazing company finally sent someone to measure my window this past Saturday. You just have to be patient about these things.

Later that day (and, I have to admit, as my other window-related fury was subsiding), I went to a very pleasant brunch and did some sightseeing with some other people, including Orla, who just moved to town.

We saw interesting contemporary works of art, as well as priceless and beautiful artifacts from England’s artisanal past. Pictures weren’t allowed in either place, though, so I can’t show you direct examples here—although there was a man happily snapping photos inside the second museum without any bad consequences. Eh, that’s what I get for asking.

Instead, here’s a picture of Eric and Orla at the end of the afternoon, as we were waiting on Orla’s bus.