Monday, September 1, 2014

the Eifel Tower in the moonlight

Writing from Paris! It is late here and we should be getting ready for bed and another long day tomorrow, but delicious chocolate ice cream has wired me; the Germans are coming up for a route for tomorrow's adventures: maybe Lusanne, Switzerland en route to southern Germany...?

I know some people have said Paris is no great shakes, but I love it here. I know that the locals must get tired of us tourists, but we've encountered kind Parisians too, and sweet waiters who were kind--we haven't found a place yet in any country where the waitstaff doesn't speak English! Also, every place we've been has English menus too., makes it easy to be a lazy traveler. I still try and order in the native tongue, to the entertainment of the waitstaff, I'm sure.

It was hard to walk around Paris this evening, as we tried to find a dinner spot and we walked a city where kitchen windows were open and everything smelled divine. I ordered from the menu, not knowing exactly what I was ordering, and trying to be brave...well, I wound up with a raw veal dish, which though well seasoned, was still strange.

Watched the sun setting behind the Eifel Tower. I know it's the touristy thing to do, but I was awed by the sheer size of it and couldn't stop walking toward and under it with mouth agape! The line was too long to go up in it, but just seeing the monstrosity in real life was enough for me.

But it is late. Sleep calls. Early day tomorrow, hopefully to explore the Parisian Catacombs before we leave.

driving through a Van Gogh

Though Bruges is beautiful and full of old architecture it is smaller than Amsterdam, so after a short walk yesterday morning and the most delicious breakfast--can we say Europeans love their carbs!? I had a pastry and a "bun," (roll)" with my breakfast--we headed out in search of 1. waffles (yes, we just ate!!) and 2. Belgian chocolate. We found both. Belgian waffles are different than what we are used to in the States, the Belgians use a dough instead of a batter, which gives their waffles a surprisingly fluffy, rich flavor. I. WANT. THE. RECIPE.

Short drive from Bruges before we were in the beautifully bucolic, rolling hills of France. It is not being dramatic to say that you feel like you've literally driven into one of Van Gogh's countryside paintings! I could do little more than stare out the window, mouth slightly agape. At times it almost felt like home, looking out to see rolling hills and cows that reminded me so much of the Berkshire Hills of Massachusetts.

We camped last night in the Normandy region, waking to a body stiffening cold morning. We're getting ready to find some breakfast then head off to Omaha Beach to see the U.S. Cemetery there, and of course the site of the D-Day invasion. Then off to Paris...

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Bruges by night

Amsterdam to Bruges

Bikes, bikes EVERYWHERE in Amsterdam!
You're more likely to be run over by bike than car.
The best cup of coffee!

One of the many beautiful canals.

We went for a long walk through many districts of the city last night, also taking the tram (street level trains that run on the streets, amidst cars and bikes) and bus. We made it as far as Red Light District, and discovered the lurid window booths that scantily clad women dance and shake in, showing off their wares to men; I honestly thought the area would be seedier and dirtier and more dangerous, but found it instead full of lots of other curious tourists, and also stocked with kitschy little shops and bars and restaurants. Had my first Amsterdam beer at a small cafe in the Red Light District.

This morning we took the city on again, walking around for nearly 4 hours, seeing different neighborhoods in hunt for the Anne Frank house. Much to my chagrin--though previously warned by the internet that the lines can be long and advanced tickets are suggested--the line was enormous, so we just stopped and examined the outside of the building, which sits on a beautiful canal way, and I thought of the awful suffering of that (and many other) families.

After a lunch in Amsterdam we were once again on the road, sights set on Bruges. We are in Bruges now, one $30 Euro parking ticket, and one VERY delicious dinner later, and we're getting ready for bed in our very tiny hostel room, above the very noisy, and apparently very popular hostel bar. We are staying at Charlie Rocket's Hostel, which does not impress, but for $21 Euro apiece there are clean linens on the bed, a beautiful view of the street below, and free Wifi. Tomorrow we head to...France, perhaps?

Friday, August 29, 2014

Berlin to Amsterdam!

After an 8+hrs flight (6+ hrs was full of screaming babies. Ugh!) I made it safely to Berlin this morning, coming in over the city as the sun was on the rise. After a delicious breakfast in a hip little restaurant, where the waiter was charming and sweet, as I stumbled through ordering my food in German, our epic roadtrip began and we spent the afternoon driving the Berlin countryside on the Autobahn to Holland. It is exhilarating and terrifying how fast some people drive!

We've showed up at and booked a 4 person room in a hostel for tonight: $18 Euro/person ($23/person U.S. if I'm guessing correctly)--in an old industrial building, turned hostel, called WOW Hostel. It's super hip and modern arty, very clean and wonderful. Clean beds and free Wifi--that's all I need!

Tomorrow we head downtown and hopefully to the Anne Frank house (that's on my list); we're talking about the Red Light District tonight, as we're all a little intrigued by the real seedy-ness of the City's oldest vices. Wish us luck...and safe passage!

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Packing for 2.5 weeks in Europe

You remember Joan Didion's epic packing list post?
Because I'm a dork I inventoried what I've packed for 2.5 weeks travel in Germany and beyond:

1 skirt
1 pair jeans
1 pair khakis
1 pair black capris
Enough underwear, bras, socks for 1 week
5 blouses
1 thin sweater
Bathing suit
PJs: 2 pairs shorts, 2 t-shirts
Bag with: shampoo, conditioner, facewash, bar of soap, face astringent, deodorant, toothpaste, toothbrush, hair brush, floss, tweezers, jewelery, prescriptions

2 journals
5 pens
Copy of Fodor's essential Europe (2014)
Copy of Lonely Planet's Europe on a Shoestring (2011)
3 books
Camera & charger
Phone & charger
2nd pair of shoes
flip flops
Passport, Birth Certificate, License, Credit Cards, Cash
Laptop & cord
European power converters
Chewing gum

I only am packing for a week, as Yannick said I can do laundry at their apartment and we can probably do it at hostels along the way while we're road tripping. IN EUROPE!!

I travel casual--the 1 skirt I packed is black, matches all my blouses, and can be paired with either pair of shoes I've packed, in the event we go somewhere that needs something dressier than jeans.

My bags are packed and near the door, to be loaded into my car tonight. I am heading to ChicagoBoy's tomorrow morning to beat the afternoon Chicago traffic. I'll get to do some reading and relaxing and let out a HUGE sigh of content relief knowing that I am just beginning 2.5 weeks of vacation! 

2 Midwest library job postings

Crown Point Community Library, with its two locations in Lake County, Indiana, serves 42,000 residents and is governed by a seven-member Board of Trustees.  Thirty-nine staff with a $1.6 million annual budget provide excellent library service. In 2010, the Library passed a successful $12 million bond issue and the “new” Crown Point Library opened in 2012. This position requires an ALA-accredited Master's Degree in Library Science; the ability to obtain and retain an Indiana Librarian Certificate 1; and ten years progressively responsible library experience (or six years library experience including three years of supervisory experience). The community of Crown Point offers excellent public schools, strong neighborhoods, and affordable housing. Please visit Crown Point Community Library Announcement for complete information and the supplemental links to learn more about the Library, Crown Point, and Lake County. The starting salary range is $62,000 to $74,000 (with placement dependent upon experience and qualifications) with an attractive benefits package, and the closing date for this position is September 21, 2014. 

The Petoskey District Library is located in Petoskey, MI and serves 14,568 residents.  Building on a new strategic plan outlining core values, the Director, with a five-member Board of Trustees, a $1.2 million budget, and a stunning, new Library (2004), will work to implement goals including, but not limited to, building relationships with surrounding townships, expanding library hours, and developing the talents of a dedicated team of library staff. The minimum qualifications for the position include a Master’s Degree in Librarianship from an ALA accredited library school and a minimum of five years of administrative experience (or the equivalent). The complete announcement and supplemental links can be found at Petoskey Announcement. The position offers a hiring salary range of $68,000 -$80,000 and an attractive benefits package. The closing date for applications is September 28, 2014.