Sunday, September 5, 2010

SIdetracked and really lazy

Sorry everyone for not updating for so long. Take it as a sign that my time in England have been wonderful, particularly my time in Cornwall. It's a beautiful region, lots of natural beauty. I am leaving for the Netherlands on Tuesday to visit my aunt. I will probably stay for two weeks and then move on to France. I will try to catch up during that time. I hope everyone is well back in the states, and I hope you are all with me.
I shall be back, I promise.
Bao

Monday, July 26, 2010

A night in Zurich

We woke up early and headed for the Prague airport. Unfortunately our flight was very late and we were worried we would might miss our connection. Luckily for us we made it with about 10 minutes to spare. Our arrival in Zurich was late in the day, we found our hostel and then walked around as the sun was setting. As with everywhere else we have traveled so far, it was really hot. What made it worst were our Canadian roommates. They didn’t like the noise outside so they decided to close the window, making our room a makeshift steam room, without the steam. Because we wanted to be polite we decided not to open them. I slept alright, but was sweating the whole night. Marra had a difficult time sleeping and woke up early enough to take a morning stroll and watch the sun rise over the lake. I woke up to find Marra gone, but I got prepared anyway. Our Canadian roommates were still sleeping with their blankets on. We both thought it was weird. Breakfast was some bakery goods from a grocery store and then we went for a stroll before going on our way to Gimmelwald.

Prague

We arrived later in the day on the train and the walk to Old Prague Hostel felt long due to wheeling the large suitcase over the cobblestones. We dropped our gear in our room and headed for Charles Bridge, walking through the old town square where the World Cup Soccer match was being shown on a large screen to a very large crowd. The view of Prague as the sun was setting was breathtaking. We returned to the square and ate at a nice restaurant. Marra ordered the beef tongue which was really tasty. The next morning we made a last minute decision to hire a tour to the bone church and Kutna Hora. The number of human bones used to decorate the church was overwhelming. In Kutna Hora we took a walking tour of the town and ate a traditional Czech meal. Upon returning to Prague we took a walk up to the castle. As we were walking around we were approached by a woman advertising a string quintet that was going to be playing in about an hour. We decided to attend and had the benefit of hearing wonderful classical music. On our last day full day in Prague we visited the Jewish Museum. At that point we decided to split up and Marra did some shopping while Bao walked around taking pictures. We met back up at the Hostel and headed for the Mucha Museum. To save some money we picked up some items from the grocery store and used the hostel kitchen to make dinner. While we ate we met some new friends whom we decided to go to a club with later in the evening, ending our adventures in Prague.

Bao’s note: Absinth is nasty!

Sunday, July 11, 2010

A Stop in Dresden

This morning we started our across continent travels. The ending destination for the day was Prague but we planned an excursion in Dresden since it is on the way. We booked EuRail passes before we left Iowa for our longer travel days. Once we made it to Hauptbahnhof station in Berlin we found the ticket office to get our passes validated. The train platform was full of people. Once we boarded the search was on for seats. We quickly found two seats together and stowed our belongings. Not long after the train began moving a lady came and stated she had reserved the seat Bao was sitting in. He searched different cars for open seats. Fortunately he found two together a couple of cars up from where we started. We sat across from two women from Minnesota. We commented on how much the country side resembled home. Our two hours on the train were complete as we arrived in Dresden. Bao commented on how Dresden resembled his mental picture of what Europe should look like. We walked down the main street towards the large attractions which led us to a shopping area. Marra had a great time searching the racks for new wardrobe additions while Bao wandered the rest of the store. At this point we split up (not intentionally, at least on Marra’s part) and explored the area individually.

Bao’s journey:

While Marra was trying on the clothes, I decided to go take a look around for a while. A while turned into a long time because the buildings were so beautiful. In the hour that we were separated, I was able to cover most of the historical buildings in the center of Dresden. On the way, I met

Marra’s journey:
After finding a lot of great deals at C&A, I went looking for Bao without success. Since we had already figured out the time for departure from Dresden I decided to start exploring. Over the buildings I could see the dome of the Brühlsche Terrasse and made my way towards it. I walked though a grand gateway and found the Fürstenzug (Procession of Princes) which led me to the Frauenkirche (Church of our Lady). At this point a saw the first of four wedding processionals. I started walking around smaller back streets and stumbled upon Turmaufzug. I was not really sure what it was but I noticed people getting in an elevator and a price of €3 and a description written in German. I decided to hold off on checking into what it was hoping that I would run into Bao and we could explore together. I headed back towards the main street and journeyed over to the Zinger and Residenzschloss (Royal Palace). I needed to rest for a bit and found a beautiful tree canopy with benches that overlooked the river. Ten minutes later Bao found me and we continued to sit and relax, taking in the refreshing breeze and nice view.


With 90 minutes remaining until the train we wandered the streets and returned to Turmaufzug to investigate where the elevator would take us for €3. We walked into the courtyard and a few people were getting out of the small elevator in the side of an old stone building. We asked if it was worth the price and they confirmed it was. The elevator only goes between the ground floor and the seventh floor, at that point we saw a wonderful view of Dresden from all sides. We knew we were in for a treat when we saw a second elevator that would take us up to the eleventh floor. Not only were the views breathtaking but we found ourselves up close with all the statues on the top of the building. We quickly made our way back to the train station and narrowly made it before it started pulling out of the station. Dresden was a nice contrast to Berlin and Bao is excited at the thought of going back to paint there later in his travels.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Last of Berlin

On our last day in Berlin, we walked to Museum Island from our hostel. There we found the glorious Berlin Cathedral with a beautiful copper dome. We walked up along the river and made our way to the Pergamon Museum to see the Greek altar for which it is named from 180-160 B.C. The other most impressively large piece is the Babylonian Processional Way that leads to the Gate of Ishtar. The colors are grand as are the pictorials of lions that lead the way. Our next planned stop for the day was to Brandenburg Gate. On our way Marra got distracted by a Swarovski crystal store. We then made it to Brandenburg Gate followed by a short walk over to Reichstag, the Parliament building. The wait to get in was long and hot because they only let in a few people at a time but the architecture and views of Berlin made it well worth it. Like most places in Berlin, it was hot. Air-conditioning is not common despite the warm temperatures. The lack of humidity makes walking around much more tolerable than what we experienced in NYC or a typical summer day in Iowa. After seeing all the sights we were ready for some food, we decided on bratwurst from a street vendor next to Branderburg Gate. By that point we were exhausted, sweaty and very ready for some rest back at the hostel. Near our train stop we stopped in a huge department store like grocery store. After short naps we spent some time down in the lobby of the hostel and met Eli and his father from Vancouver. There was a lot of nerd speak and art talk before we hopped back on the train in attempts to find a shopping center but it was too late in the evening and they were all closed. The night was capped off with a walk in the neighborhood around Wombats Hostel where we finally found the Berlin art scene that had been eluding us since we arrived.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Berlin!

The European leg of the journey started with a very hot morning in NYC with walking to the post office and finishing packing. The trip to JFK airport from Mickey’s apartment in Washington Heights took about two hours. After checking in with Air Berlin and making it thought airport security without hassle we were rewarded by an uncomfortable seven hour flight with little sleep but great food and entertainment by the cute babies sitting across the aisle from us. Our connecting flight to Berlin included a stop in Dusseldorf, Germany where we literally ran through the airport to get to our gate on time because we only had one hour scheduled and our flight from JFK arrived late. We were very glad to make it to the Tegel International Airport in Berlin. We did not have to wait long for the checked luggage as Bao’s bag was one of the first off the plane. After Marra figured out the transit system (Bao was a little mentally slowed by the lack of sleep) we arrived at The Wombat’s Hostel, we dropped our bags and started exploring the city.

After two weeks in NYC, Berlin is very slow in comparison. That didn't mean we took it slow though. We decided to push through and explore for the rest of the day in attempts to get our internal clock synchronized with the local time. We decided to go see some museums thinking that they would be free four hours before closing. Unfortunately, not all of them were involved in this. We did see the glorious Stadtschloss palace courtyard since it was open to the public. It was a beautiful view, kind of hot because of the sun, but otherwise cool in the shade. Unlike NY, there's little humidity here.

After the palace and a Picasso Museum, we were ready for relaxation (Bao fell asleep on the train) and decided to head back to the hostel to finish checking in and shower. It was a great decision. I showered and then took a nap while Marra went to get her nails done. An hour later, we met up again and continued to look for museums. On the way, we got sidetracked by a cluster of cool buildings and then by the Sony Center. It was a great place to hang out, very beautiful.

As we walked to The Gemäldegalerie nearby, we passed by the Berliner Philharmonie buildings. Marra thought they look like two golden crowns. We spent about an hour in the museum, because both of us were about done with the day and because they were closing. On the way back to the subway, we popped in the Sony Center again to see it all lit up for the night. We ended the evening with some pizza accompanied by local German beer. We were both too exhausted to talk and had the unfortunate luck to have sat at a table with very stereotypical fashion models in town for Berlin Fashion Week. The hostel has a bar on the top floor and we got the opportunity to talk with some other American’s. The plan today, more museums and parks, and maybe some shopping!

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Good Bye NEW YORK!


So, the two weeks have come to an end. I had an amazing time and am very glad I took it pretty easy. Marra had a blast too, even though she's been here much shorter than I have. We tried to get up early this morning to send some stuff back home. No souvenirs from me, just extra weight I'm glad to be rid of. We will be leaving for JFK Airport in about 2 hours. Our flight will be around 5:45pm. There will be a layover in Dusseldorf, Germany, and then we will reach Berlin around 9am. I will hopefully have my cell phone set up later in the day and will try to call home(thanks again Monty).

If you haven't already, check the web album for updates and to see what happens when we're heated up.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Marra's here!


I've put all the pictures up for the last few days. Marra got here last night. We went to Time Square and the to Bubba Gump Shrimp for some late night dinner. I'll give a full write out of my adventures later, but right now we gotta have some eggs and get to exploring, for real!

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Things happen


I have been mostly wandering around for the last few days. On Friday, I took a round trip on the Staten Island ferry and got a glimpse at the Statue of Liberty. I was told it isn't worth the price to visit it since you can't go up into the crown anymore. I got a pretty good view already, but we'll see.

After the ferry, I walked to Seaport and saw the Bodies exhibition. Unfortunately, they didn't allow photography, so I have no evidence. It was a great show though. I especially love the circulatory system room, but seeing the human nervous system all laid out was insane. I think it got to me towards the end of the show. I felt kinda queasy seeing the diseased organs.

Afterward, I went for a walk in the financial district, but skipped Wall St. I met up with Nina and her brother and they took me to an authentic Shanghai restaurant. We had egg drop soup, stir fry with handmade noodles, chicken with jellyfish, and juicy dumplings...full of juice. It was delicious.

We ended the night with a walk in little Tokyo. All the Sushi bar we packed, but there was one that was overflowing. Might have to go there later, but aside from that it was pretty small. We stopped in a whole foods store to get some snacks and drink and in Union Square for a little bit before heading home.

Saturday was moving day. I spent most of the day doing laundry, packing and moving to a new place. Marra sister was able to find a room at the tip of Manhattan, in an area call Washington Heights. It's over on the other side of town, but it's quiet and much more roomy. Once I got there, I settled in, made dinner and spent the rest of the night planning,

Today, I met up with Sylvia, one of the artists at the Chait Galleries. She got there much earlier than planned, so by the time I got there she wasn't able to show me her drawings. Maybe some other time.

I continued with my plan and headed for the Empire State Building. I started hearing roaring and cheering on Fifth Ave, and soon found out it was a Gay Pride parade. The costumes were fantastic and the condoms were all over the ground. After a few minutes, I headed up to the 86th floor of the ESB and got awesome views of the entire city.

After getting lunch, I spent a couple of hours in Bryant Park sketching. It's a great park, lots of seating and cool shade. On the way home, I stopped at Rockefeller Center, NBC Studios, and a LEGO store near by.

Galleries and Museums are closed tomorrow, so maybe some art and book store browsing and more sketching in parks. Who knows, things seem to happen whenever I step out the door.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

More Adventures


After a long day of walking and art gazing Wednesday, I decided to relax today under an overpass, with the Mahattan and Brooklyn bridge in view. It was humid that day, but nice and breezy under the overpass. I sketched for a couple of hours and then walked to Pier 17. I got some more views of the two bridges. I wandered some more and ended up in Seaport, where I stumbled upon the "Bodies" exhibit. I saved that for the next day.

I met up with Nina after work and with her brother we walked across the Brooklyn bridge. The sun was setting and we got a great view. We met a nice stranger in Brooklyn who pointed us towards the park at the base in between the two bridges. On the way to the subway we saw a fashion shoot for shoes. It was a weird scene. We took the F train back into Mahattan and dined at a Korean restaurant. It was different, but good.

After dinner, we walked to Madison Sqare Garden and on the way back, got some frozen yogurt at Red Mango.

So, although I tried to avoid it, I ended up walking anyway. Seems like the only good way to see things.

Check Picasa for more updates

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Chaos and Adventure!


Sorry for the long delay folks, it's a crazy city!

CHAOS:

Let's start out on Tuesday. I left for the Moline airport around 3am on Tuesday. Ely was kind enough to give me a ride and Derek seemed very eager to tag along, too eager. We got to the airport with time to spare, which was nice because I started to feel really anxious by then. They calm me down though. Despite some turbulence, the flights went very smoothly and I got to La Guardia 30mins early. Of course, I had to have trouble reserving a shuttle and ended stuck at the airport for 3hrs. The drive itself must have taken at least an hour and a half because I got to where I was meant to go after 4pm. This is the part where I say everything went according to plan, but nope.

The night before, Monday night, I got an email from my sister's friend Nina (the one that helped me reserve a room in Queens). She said that the people I was going to stay with expected me two days ago and since I wasn't there, they gave the room to someone else. The family spoke Spanish and almost no English, so this was how the confusion ended up. I was panicking till Tuesday morning, and halfway through the flights. Nina was nice enough to let me stay at her place until I could find another room. It's been two days and I'm still here. She offered to house me for the remaining time, but there is a possibility of a room somewhere else, so I am still planning for that. In the mean time, I'm having a blast!

ADVENTURE:

On Tuesday, I was able to make a quick visit to an art gallery with a show I had wanted to see. After that, Nina and her brother and I went out for some delicious Dim Sum. It's great to live in Chinatown. After 36hrs of no sleep, which might have caused my migraine on the plane, I crashed early.


On Wednesday, I attempted to use the New York subway. It didn't start out so great, but I learned enough to get me through the day. I met a friend on 57th and 7th, at the edge of Central Park. We saw a couple of shows and then went for lunch. Afterward, he left for class and I went to MET. It was huge, really huge. I focused on the paintings, but it was hard not to be distracted by everything else. I was able to take some pictures for references for a new book assignment in the weapons galleries, so it was the right decision. After 5:30pm, the museum closed and everyone flooded onto the front steps to rest after a day of walking and standing. Performers started showing up and gave a great show.

So that's the short version. Go here see the evidence

Monday, June 21, 2010

Getting close




Some last minute packing to do. It's getting bigger.
Thanks for the bags Monty!

Almost there

Well, it's official! I'm leaving for New York early Tuesday morning, the 22nd. The two week European trip with Marra is mostly planned out. Tickets are bought and hostels are reserved. Packing is almost done too. Now, all I need to think about is New York.

The place I'm staying at in New York might not have a bed, but my brother-in-law is lending me his sleeping bag, so I think it should be fine.

So excited I can't seem to sleep, but I must. I will try to keep this updated as much as I can so you all should follow it to get notified when I do.

See you all whenever I get back.

Monday, June 7, 2010

The beginning

Getting ready to purchase ticket and room.