Saturday, July 12, 2008

New Address!


I have switched over to wordpress, so my blog can now be found at
Visit there to find updated posts and pictures about Europe and further happenings of life here in Chicago:-)

Friday, July 11, 2008

May 29

Day 13

It’s midnight here at the beautiful Krystal Hotel in Prague. We arrived at about this time last night after a 7:00 concert in Brno. As we were unloading, Scott informed us that we should get everything off of the bus, as the bus driver was seriously concerned about the bus being broken into. This greatly worried me as to the location of our hotel, but as it was pitch black out, I couldn’t get a good look around.

But I must go back. I have forgotten to detail the events of the bus ride, which are worth noting. As I said, it was late, and we were all asleep when our bus began braking quickly and pulled off to the side of the road. I sat up and looked out the window to see a police car, lights flashing, leading our bus into a gas station. A buss began on the bus as to what might be going on We were driving through Slovakia, and I tried to remember if it was there that my parents had had problems with corrupt police or not. I had visions of us al being hauled off to jail.

“Everyone get your passport out,” someone said, and we all began rummaging through our things to find them. Of course, tonight was the first time on the entire trip that I didn’t actually have my passport on my person, so I began tearing through my backpack in search of it. At last I located it and felt safe. Someone reported from the front that the police man was talking to our Prague guide, who was translating to Slovak into English for chorale member Jean, whe then translated that into French for our bus driver. Word reached the top of the bus that we had incurred a 50 Euro fine for not having our trailer properly lit. We were not sure whether this interpretation came from since we later found out it had been an improperly paid toll. Sono we were bnack on the road to Prague.

So back at the Krsyal hotel in Prague. We walked up to the counter and said our room number and theyh handed us the key. Scott had told us that there was only one keyh per room and that every time we left we were to leave our key at the desk. Odd, but okay. So we carried our stuff to the elevator and went to the 11th floor. Our room was unique. It had prickly carpet and floor-to-celing vinyl cupboards, walls, and doors to the shower room and WC. The cupboards all had locks and keys, but the keys didn’t work. This also disturbed me. There were multiple switches around the room that didn’t work. There was also a speaker over the door. But the most disturbing things was the fact that when we went into the city the next day, we handed them our key, and when we came back we simply told them our room number and they handed us the key. High security.

We had a concert downton tonight, and the church was going to provide us with our dinner, as usual. But when we got there, they had break and apples…that was it. Not enough to sustain for a two hour concert! A whisper soon went through the chorale that we would be ordering pizza after the concert. Whew. A funny thing about Europe is the general lack of food. When the churches feed us, it’s very minimal. In Switzerland we ate melted cheese over potateoes. The was the whole meal. In Hungary, bread and goulash. In the Czech Republic, suausage and potato salad. I gues they have their big meal at lunch here. My favorite foods thus far: the chicken gyro, the raspberry torte, the bread, the Turkish kebap, and the pizza we had last night.

Speaking of the pizza, back to our late night dinner.

Morning Mumblings

Grandma and Grandpa's neighbors are not my friends. I declared this to Grandpa as I stumbled into the Breakfast Room at about 8:13 this morning--which is 7:13 on my clock. After an eventful and very long drive from Chicago to Carmel, IN, Stephen and I had finally pulled into their tree lined driveway at about 12:40 am. I looked forward to sleeping in for the first time in weeks. Our weekend with Sister and Joey really took it out of me and I have still not recovered.

However, at about 8:01, I was rudely awakened by what sounded like a chain saw right outside my window. Discombobulated, I rolled over and tried to return to my slumber. But it was not to be. The chain saw was incessant and very loud, and I finally jumped out of bed to see what all the ruckus was about. It sounded as if someone was cutting down a tree right in front of our bedroom.

It was the neighbors. They have apparently been doing construction on their house for the last three years, and three men were standing in their driveway sawing something and making dust billow out over the Grandparents pool. Not cool. Frustrated that there was no way I was going to sleep through that, I found Grandpa at his computer and mumbled my complaints to him. Grandma soon joined us, followed by Stephen, and we were soon sitting down to a beautiful breakfast of Honey Nut Cheerios, fresh fruit and orange juice, sharing stories about our horrible drive in and hearing about the neighbors, the cousins, and new vacation options for the Grandparents.

Now that I'm awake, though, we are all going to "clean up" and go in our various directions. The boys are taking our very loud car to get it fixed, and the girls are going--where else? Shopping:-) Have to find a decent swimsuit so I can enjoy the pool this afternoon!

Thursday, July 10, 2008

To Bike or not to Bike

I have long pondered the possibility of bringing my bike from Iowa and riding it around Chicago to and from work and whatnot. It would not only be quicker than walking, but it would be economical and great exercise. However, a few main things have kept me from doing this:
  1. The wicked winter weather
  2. I can't store the thing in my apartment, so I'd have to pay to have it stored elsewhere
  3. Bikes (or parts of them) get stolen all the time, no matter how many safeguards you have
  4. It is really dangerous in Chicago

This last point may be emphasized by some recent events. A biker was hit and killed outside our building a couple of weeks ago. Skip and Cassidy were out for a walk and witnessed the horrible aftermath of the crash. He was only 22.

I have had one friend who has hit a biker, and another friend who has been hit by a car while biking. And just yesterday, as I was returning from my internship, I was wondering why on earth traffic was so bad at that particular moment, when I heard sirens all around me and saw a fire engine pull up and stop in front of me. It was then that I noticed the man lying in the middle of the road and the bike beside him. I think he was okay in the end, but it reminded me of just how dangerous it is to bike the roads of Chicago.

But the question remains--is it the drivers who are dangerous, or the bikers themselves? After observing for almost three years, I have to say it is both. Drivers are impatient (especially taxis) and think they can whip around a turning car whenever they want without checking their mirrors. But bikers think they own the road on their small skinny two wheeled contraptions. Few wear a helmet and even fewer actually abide by the rules.

I drive every day this summer to and from my internship, and I have been so nervous about these bikers. I am constantly watching out for them, but they are so small and quick. One minute they're there, the next they're gone. One's driving at you, one beside you, and one crossing in the middle of the road. The next is weaving in and out of cars at a stoplight and crossing, though he should know he is considered a moving vehicle and should be abiding by the same laws as cars.

When a biker is hit, who is usually suspected first? The car driver. But the more I witness, the more concerned I become about these bikers putting their own lives at risk. If you are a driver, please be aware of bikers' presence and always check blind spots! If you are a biker, please remember you are not the only vehicle on the road and stick to the rules.

And so I continue to remain bikeless in Chicago. Maybe someday when I live in the country...:-)


Having some issues uploading photos for my Europe posts. More will follow.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

May 23, 2008

Day 7

We've spent the day and night in Salzburg, Austria. Stephen and I split up for the day, and I went to the Sound of Music tour, and Stephen went up to the Salzburg Castle. I am really glad I went on the tour (I would have regretted it if I didn't), but it was expensive, and a little disappointing, and then I didn't get to go to the castle after all, and now I'm back, and I have no clue where Stephen is, and I'm starving. We got to see more of the Sound of Music film scenes outside the tour than we did on the tour! But I got a lot of good pictures.

All of us standing in front of the fountain where Julie Andrews "swishes" the water with her hand while singing "I Have Confidence"

Doe, a Deer

Rachel, Shira, and I attempting to do what seven people did for the movie

Somehow we all came down at the exact angle...

Authentic Apple Struedel The lane which Captain von Trapp and the barroness drive down. There should be some "local urchins" hanging from the trees:-)
Jessica and I outside the back and interior of the Von Trapp home (film version)

The Abbey where they married (for the film)

Unfortunately, the clouds were very thick and low today, so we couldn't see the beautiful mountains! They are finally breaking now and we can see them!

May 22, 2008

Day 6

We are in Lagenthal, Germany. We finally got to spend the night at a host home last night! They were SO sweet. They spoke and understood English fairly well. They had a two-year old and a five-year old. Their house was very interesting. I understand Ikea a lot more. Their house was narrow and storage space was not built in to the house. It was added in shelves, armoires, etc. But all were separate entities--no closets. They are coming to Chicago in September and we hope to have them over. Both concerts have gone very well. Last night at the end, they were clapping and I said "they are clapping very rhythmically" And David said "oh, that means 'sing one more'." That was their encore! So we sang 'Witness,' of course.

I love being in this group! It is so much a second family to me. I have never felt such a sense of belonging anywhere else.

I love Europe. I always knew I would, but I really do love it! (side note, they don't seem to sleep with sheets, here. How odd!).