Saturday, March 19, 2011

Vienna, The Naschmarkt

It has been way too long since I posted anything and so much has happened.  Goodness!  The first order of business is to complete the posting of our trip to Vienna in February.

One of our favorite days was visiting the Naschmarkt.  As in Marrakesh, the open markets are seductive and sensual.  Luscious fruits, pungent cheeses, crusty breads, colorful sweets, delicate handmade pastas, smelly fish, and cured meats were available along side spices, vegetables, and flowers.  These are the places that make life worth living.  Fortunately, there are lots of restaurants in the Naschmarkt that can assist in handling the hunger that comes from viewing all of these goodies.
Tulips from Austria - in February!
Nougats, marzipan, chocolates, nuts, and dried fruits
Exotic and familiar fruits
Hard and soft cheeses from the mountains and valleys
Incredibly crisp and fresh vegetables
Frutti del Mare
Savory Breads
Spices - unlike Marrakesh and Vladikavkaz - they are already bagged.
Dry sausages and cured hams
Freshly prepared ravioli and spaghetti

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Splendid Vienna - the achitecture

One of our very favorite cities is Vienna.  In every way, she reflects the grandeur of a capitol city most especially because of the extraordinary architecture, wide boulevards, and open parks.  My favorites are the 19th century apartment houses but then, I turn a corner and see Jugenstile from the early 20th century and I question my first choice.  Turn another corner and a stunning yellow Baroque palace, most associated with Maria Theresa in the second half of the 18th century,  stops my heart. No doubt I look like a "peasant come to town" as I gawk at the fantastically designed store fronts and sophisticated citizens wearing stylish leather boots and full-length fur coats.  If I lived here (or Salzburg), I have to admit, I would wear one too.
Kettenbrückengasse - beautiful buildings (and the Nasch Markt - more that later).
Close up of one of the pretty apartment buidings.
Schönbrunn - Maria Theresa's summer palace -  the unfinished palace was a gift from her daddy.
One of the Jugenstile facades.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

New Year - The Quickening

The notion of the quickening is old and the feeling is ageless.  Those in our dearest circle know that we become more alert and aware when there is life or threats to it.  Today has been one of those days.  First, we received a call from Ria that Melanie was in the hospital.  Eight months pregnant, gestational diabetes, and a lung infection - not so good.  News from home about two of "our kids" needing to check in with doctors.  Lastly, our Chancellor Ken - a heart incident (is expected to fully recover - thankfully).  Parents, family, siblings, and friends only want to reach out and make each of these people well.  The quickening - the awareness of life - it is subtle, special and scary..

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Taking in the Countryside

This week we have faithfully taken at least one 50-60 minute walk every day and if we walk in the morning, we also take another one in the afternoon.  It isn't just for the conversation - which cover topics from Arabic uprisings in North Africa (Tunisia and Egypt) to the type of car we will purchase when we return home (Ford Escape hybrid beats Audi Q5 for gas mileage and price but not style!) - but also for the views throughout the countryside.  Here are a few reminders of what we see everyday.
The Chiemsee - note the snow on the shores and the Alps in the background.

Erlstätt - our fair village - from the little hill

New Year - New Project

This week has been very low key ... we are in a routine that I would hope we continue at home.  We wake, have a pleasant breakfast, read the e-version of NYTimes or International Herald Tribune (iPad), walk in the morning to discuss world issues (Egypt has been this week's topic!), return for a warm lunch (lots of roasted brussel sprouts this week), take a short nap (love my naps), read/work/talk, make a phone call or answer emails, prepare Abendsbrot, watch Jon Stewart (show from the night before) and then head to bed to read our books.  My work for this trip has been a box of letters from my Uncle Randy to my Nana starting in 1968. 
Box of letters - cost over $50 to ship them to Germany
 I began reading these letters in November and tried to take notes on them as I read them... which caused me to avoid reading more than about 10 of them.  In the middle of January, Peter began to hint that I needed to get back to the letters.  I resisted because I just didn't want to keep taking notes.  He suggested that I should just read them like a novel.  So - this week, I picked them up and began to do just that.  I can't put them down.  There is much to say about what he has written - but for now, suffice it to say, I am reading them.
Uncle Randy was hired Mr. Sherman at Louis G. Sherman Wholesale Decorator Furniture in 1953.  At the time the letters begin, Mr. Sherman is dead and Uncle Randy and Homer Moore run/own the business and are taking care of Mrs. Sherman.  "Madame: (as they call her) is ever so friendly, if slightly forgetful. Located in Santa Monica, California - Louis G. Sherman was one of "the" places for the rich and famous to purchase their furniture and have their decorating needs met.

Monday, January 31, 2011

New Year - 55th Birthday

My Dad said that next year I would be speeding... but for now, I'm legal.  No one in the world has been happier than I am on their 55th birthday - of this I am certain.

The Yas sent a card and flowers... unbelievably beautiful flowers from the Rosencavalier Florist in Traunstein.
This arrangement is about 3 feet tall!
 Then, we spent the day in Munich.  What a wonderful day - trains, snow, coffee at Dallmayr (decandant marble pound cake), new slacks and shades for Peter and perfume for me!  To top it off, we had dinner with Sabina, Bernhardt, Nicolas and Patrick - our favorite pizza, champagne and wine.  They had lovely flowers for me as well.  We left their apartment on Kaiserstrasse at 8:20 pm and, with 2 minutes to spare, caught our 8:54 pm train to Traunstein from the Ostbahnhof... at 10:30 pm, we were in our apartment in Erlstätt!
The colors and arrangement are stunning!
We returned home to find a card from Matt Dull - what a sweetie - along with a cake and more flowers from our landlords (Sabrina and Walter and their 3 children)!
It has yet to be cut.
The promise of spring!

Sunday, January 30, 2011

New Year - Familiar Paths

Our afternoon walks through the countryside are wonderful.  There are two in particular that we like in Erlstätt - one takes us over a hill and into a neighboring village and the other through a field and a forest.  The snow is deep and falls regularly and yet we are always amazed at the number of people who walk every day on these paths.  Neither of us can remember what could be seen prior to the winter white.  In the spring, it will probably feel like we are in another place.

The field and forest
Sometimes we feel like we are walking in Siberia
The school buses do not go to every house.  If you lived on this farm, you would walk about a mile to catch the bus. German community development is very strict about where houses can be built and which services are connected.  Farms like this are extremely important to the economy.  Bavarian dairy production relies on such farms and they surround us.  At the same time, mass transit works where the majority of the people live (in the village).  Children of farmers are either met by their parents at the bus stop or they walk to the bus stop.  School has not been canceled a single time this winter.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

New Year - New Plans

Several options opened up this week for the year. 

First, we have a couple of trips lined up.  Munich for my birthday on Monday; Vienna for Valentine's weekend (Feb. 10-13); and Sicily with dear friends the first week of March.  Peter has a hankering to visit Olomouc, Czech Republic where we taught for several summers so that might enter the line-up as well.
Coffee House on the Odeonsplatz, Munich
And then, there were positive conversations with McGraw-Hill about a future with Robert Feldman's P.O.W.E.R. Learning textbook(s) for first year students;  Cindy Wallace and I have been involved with this project since 1999.  Both of us love working with first year college students and Bob Feldman is a very talented writer, faculty member, and university administrator (UMass-Amherst).  Our part of project has been to write the instructor's resource manuals and to provide workshops for faculty and administrators.  Being part of McGraw Hill's efforts has allowed us to meet incredibly interesting people. 
Life continues to be good.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

New Year - Normal Days

Sometimes it is a magical to live a normal day.  You know - the kind of day that consists of sleep, conversation, readings, a walk, and three simple meals.  The kind of day that is lived over and over because it is familiar and enjoyable.  Nothing spectacular happened and nothing disastrous did either.  Here is to the normal day.

A January walk in the fields of Erlstätt

Sunday, January 23, 2011

South Tyrol - walks and talks

Only 2 days after we returned from Marrakesh, we found ourselves back in South Tyrol. Nadja and Merko returned from Vietnam and we picked them up from the airport in Munich and drove them to Sterzing. Following a good night's sleep (we arrived at 1 am), we drove to Afers. Emma - as always - welcomed us and we stayed from Monday through Wednesday. It would have been longer but the weather report suggested that Thursday would be 0 degrees and precipitation --- not a good day to travel. During our brief stay, we managed a walk to our favorite Alm. The return trip required a little sledding time on our butts since it was simply too icy to try and walk down. A beautiful day in the Alps.

Pietler Kofl in the Dolomites
Peter bei Schätzer Hütte- he worked there as a teenager and as a child herded cows on the Alm
Joni at the Schätzer Hütte with Ortler Alps (Italy) in the background.
Skiers on the Plose.
The end of the run.

Marrakesh - El Bahia Palace

The Royal Palace reflects 19th century wealth.  Built in two periods by a father and a son, the El Bahia Palace is an irregular rectangle.  The internal gardens are lush - we saw banana, lemon, and orange trees.  The fountains and flowers were intoxicating - jasmine, bougainvillea, cypress, and poinsettias.  The tile work is astonishing and the jeweled glass work delightful.
Banana Tree
Poinsettia trees!
Fountains in the inner courtyard
Jeweled glass in the windows
Reflections on the walls from the glass windows

Marrakesh - The Saadian Tombs

We are easy to spot.  We are tourists seeking the Saadian Tombs in Marrakesh.  We are all walking around with sunglasses, backpacks, and maps.  There is NO signage to this amazing discovery and guidebooks warned us... "you will be approached by seemingly friendly residents who will lead you to the tombs and expect payment once you are at the door."  How hard can it be to find this extraordinary archeological discovery by pilots flying over Marrakesh in 1917?  Apparently - very hard.

We eventually stumbled upon a business man who was willing only to point the way - and paid the 10 Dirham entrance fee (less than 1 euro) each.  We are talking about a cemetery.  I have problems with the notion that I should pay someone to show me where the cemetery is... and that might be MY problem, not theirs.

The Tombs are an astonishing site of solitude and peace ... beautiful, quiet, calm and restful in this tumultuous city.

We shared the secret pathway with the next tourists we saw -- backpack and map in hand - and we did not ask them for money.

Marrakesh - Jemaa El Fna

Okay - I have written about the Jemaa El Fna before, but there is more to say and show.  It is the heart of Marrakesh and the world crosses through it.  Innumerable languages; cacophony of drums, flutes, and bells; jumbled traffic of cars, pedestrians, motorcycles, bicycles, donkey carts, trucks, horses, and carriages.  Smoke and fire from food stalls selling temptingly roasted chicken and french fries.  Clearly, my favorite place.
Yep - that's us at the edge of Jemaa El Fna
People, people, people headed towards the Jemaa El Fna

Woman bargaining for her fresh vegetables
Leather goods

Clothing for all
The Mosque at sunset
Jemaa El Fna at night