Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Home sweet home...

Well, I'm back at my apartment in my Philly. Notice the sun is shining!







































Actually it was the low 20s last Thursday, and then 70s degrees yesterday. That's about -5 and 21, for all you Euro people. Harken the schizo global warming weather!

So I guess my blog will be dormant for a while (until my next trip to Berlin :) Or maybe I will keep writing in it, from Philly. Not sure yet. But before I go, here are pics from my cozy Christmas in Lyon with Julia.

The tree was petite but quite jaunty. And isn't that scarf totally her? ;-)

















This is the raclette we had for Christmas dinner.


















And the buche we had for dessert. Mmm, Christmas log ... (Why does it have a fence on it??)


















This is part of the *smaller* of the 2 Roman amphitheatres in Lyon. It was built in the 1st century B.C.

















At the Musee D'Orsay in Paris.






















Where I had the pleasant company of Liz :-)

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Chamonix

We stayed in Annecy through Sunday afternoon, and then took the train to Chamonix-Mont-Blanc, which, as the name suggests, is at the foot of Mont Blanc. It was incredibly beautiful. I realized that this was my first time in real mountains during the winter. It also helped that the weather was quite sunny :-)



































The mountain in the middle behind these buildings is Mont Blanc. It's the white one :-P


















On Monday we went up into the mountains for some mild adventures. I was too nervous to ski, but fortunately the risk of avalanche was only mild!


















Instead we went snowshoeing. In the video you can hear the distinctive sound it made :-)



























video

On Monday night we had a lengthy (4-hour) train ride back to Lyon. It was surprisingly crowded for Christmas eve!

Annecy

My stay in Berlin ended this past Friday, December 21. Ich bin traurig :( However, I'm sure I will be back, considering that it's become like a second home to me.

On a more upbeat note, I left Berlin for France, where I am visiting my friend Julia in Lyon and traveling around the country a bit before heading back to the U.S. On Saturday we departed on a quick trip. The first destination was Annecy, a beautiful little town on a lake near the edge of the Alps.


















The water was incredibly clear, and one could see the mountains from practically every angle. The town consisted of various beautiful old buildings, scattered among small canals.














































We consumed fondue, vin chaud, and bought some regionally produced nougat :-)



Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Sachsenhausen part 2

This is a plaque memorializing the homosexual victims of the Nazis. It says, roughly, "fatally beaten, and fatally silenced. To the homosexual victims of Nazism." It refers to the fact that the silence and stigma surrounding the closet preventing even a general acknowledgment of these victims' existence until the 1980s, approximately.


















This shows where some of the barbed wire would have been. It's on the fence surrounding the Jewish barracks.

Sachsenhausen

Today Liz and I visited Sachenhausen, which is the concentration camp closest to Berlin. This was my first visit to such a place. A scary fact is that one can take a regular transit line all the way from Wannsee (where it begins) to Oranienburg (where it ends)

This is a monument to the victims erected by the East Germans. The triangles represent the identification patches worn by the prisoners. The second picture is another memorial.






































The trench in the foreground is where mass shootings took place. It was really rather deep, but I could not bring myself to take a picture from inside it.












The steps on the left led to the gas chamber. However, if you were a victim of the Nazis, you would have actually entered from the room to the right of that, where you would have undressed and been inspected for any valuable fillings in your mouth.


















There were many homosexuals imprisoned, tortured, and executed by the Nazis, especially at this camp. This uniform shows the pink triangle they would have worn identifying their orientation. As with all other prisoners, they were made to sew it on themselves.

Kleist

Last Saturday I took a walk with my friend and colleague Liz to the grave of Heinrich von Kleist. He was a German writer of the early Romantic period. In true Romantic fashion, he made suicide pact with his beloved, and they carried it out near the waters of the Wannsee, where there is now a memorial.






















Here is Liz by the water. Shortly after I took this picture, we sat down for a bit. Subsequently, a wild boar ran past us. It looked like a miniature bison, we decided. Scaaary!