Thursday, April 16, 2009

I skied!

Back when I was in France, I made a life decision. I decided that skiing was not for me and I was never going to do it again. I believed I had the right to make this decision because I had given skiing a fair shot: I had been four times, and three of them were terrifying and miserable. The one time I enjoyed it, I was 12 years old, so it didn't count.

But Carina's Leysin friends were all going skiing, and Carina said she doesn't really like skiing either, and that we could just go on the easy slopes. So I went skiing yesterday, in the Alps. The Alps! And we stayed on the easy slopes and it was actually fun! Not so fun that I'm rushing back to Seattle to buy my own skis and a season's pass, but fun. Not to mention beautiful. We had lunch in a shack on the edge of a cliff with a view of a gorgeous valley down below. It was stunning. Considering the fact that I've only skied a few times, I certainly have skied in the right places. The Pyrenees, the Alps. Okay, less so Steven's Pass, but I've hit the major mountain ranges. Now I just need someone to invite me to their home in Aspen and somehow convince me to ski the Rockies.

The weather has been really gorgeous since I got here, but today, clouds rolled in, and now it's snowing (though not sticking). It's funny because the slopes here are supposed to close on Sunday, and they're supposed to get a bunch of snow on Sunday night. Too bad!

This afternoon, I head to Lyon, France, which isn't far from Geneva. I get to hang out with Izzi for the next couple days! And speak French! I'm so excited!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009


Carina's directions to her home in Leysin, Switzerland:

"The trian goes from geneva to aigle, then you change a aigle onto a smaller brown train that goes to leysin, and you want to get off at the first stop - leysin village. so the train, is towards brig, it will go through lausanne, vevey, montreux and then aigle is the next stp but it is never writen on the board. ever. it can be stressful. but dont panic."

A smaller brown train?? I have to say, I was a bit nervous about how I would manage to find this place. I took the train from Hamburg to Geneva, and from Geneva to Carina's. I was on various trains for a grand total of 12 hours. Blech. But the scenery in Switzerland was gorgeous. Geneva seemed very dirty from the train, but Carina says it's actually really nice and clean. We'll explore on Thursday. From Geneva, I traveled to Aigle, a tiny town at the foot of the mountains. The smaller brown train turned out to be an ancient little mountain-climbing tram with just two small cars. It's probably been in operation since 1920. It rolled through the streets of Aigle, then straight up the mountain until we reached 1200 meters and the ski town of Leysin. I was a bit nervous that the train wouldn't actually make it up the mountainside. A few times, we stopped on the incline to let another train pass, and I had serious doubts about whether we would be able to start up again or just have to roll slowly back down to Aigle.

To say Carina's chalet is nice would be a bit of an understatement. To say Leysin is beautiful is a huge understatement. Breath-taking, awe-inspiring, magnificent and spectacular come closer to describing it. I woke up this morning to dazzling sunlight illuminating a vast, snow-capped mountain range. It was really warm, so I opened all the windows and puttered around listening to the sound of the bells on the necks of the lambs and donkeys next door. It's a bit of a weird place, because many townspeople are American or English expats, but most are Swiss and say "bonjour" when you pass them on the street. There are a lot of skiers and snowboarders about as well, which means there are a ton of young people in town.

So yeah, I'm enjoying it mucho. It feels really good to be back with Carina. Alex was supposed to come too, but she got stuck in Santorini, Greece. Rough, huh? And on Thursday, I'll head to Lyon to see Izzi. I can't wait to see her! And soon she'll be back in London and we can hang out ALL THE TIME! Yay!

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Blogging from Germany! Oh yeah!

Hamburg is a really, really nice city. It was the first European city I ever visited, and I think at the time (back in 2001), I didn't realize how nice it was because I had nothing to compare it to. Since then, every other European city I've visited has been ugly or run-down. Now I think maybe I was comparing them to Hamburg (and possibly Berlin) without knowing it. I had to come full circle and return to Hamburg to realize that I was spoiled with my first visit to Europe. Paris is alright, it has its nice spots. Amsterdam has a certain wealthy, Dutch charm. But Hamburg is absolutely beautiful. Almost every building is topped with copper. I asked Ingo why, and he said it was traditional to put copper on churches. "No," I said, "I mean, why is it on every building? Other cities don't have that." He couldn't answer. I remember thinking UW looked like Europe, because it was all red brick and (green) copper tops, but now I realize it just looks like Hamburg. If someone told me I had to live in Hamburg, I'd be okay with that.

For some reason, it drives me nuts that I don't speak German. I have this weird feeling that I should speak it. I think it's ugly and I can't get my mouth to produce the sounds necessary to form German words, yet I want to know it. I don't want to go through the process of learning it, I just want it to be downloaded directly into my brain. But as that isn't an option (yet), I think I will try to learn it. I don't feel that way about any other language. When I hear people speaking Russian or Arabic around me, I don't feel the same urge to be able to communicate with them. I guess I just like Germans. I certainly like Germany a lot. I've always said, I wish I could live in Germany with Germans, but speak French. And I wish there were only two seasons, spring and summer. But life is what it is.

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Super fantabulous 27th birthday brawl and bash!

Oh man, so much to say! Where to begin? Right, Thursday.

Thursday was my birthday, but as I had an exam on Friday morning, I spent all of Thursday (and most of Wednesday) studying. I wore my blue party dress, though, so that I would feel a little bit birthday-ish. We had class that day, most of which I skipped in order to study for it, but I attended the lecture on eradication which involved a debate between our two arrogant professors. Prof no. 1 gave the argument for eradication of diseases such as malaria, yellow fever, polio, etc. Prof no. 2, who once wore a bright red suit to class and has now been nicknamed "Captain Kangaroo" by the American contingency, argued against eradication. In regards to malaria, he argued that malaria eradication was an idea put forth by the Gates Foundation, and, in his words, "not even by Bill, but by Melinda! Some woman in a kitchen in Seattle decides malaria needs to be eradicated and everyone listens?" He literally said "some woman in a kitchen in Seattle." I was SOOOOO angry. As the class is roughly 60% female, this did not go over well and people started booing, but the guy just kept talking. I stopped paying attention and left at the first possible chance. Asshole.

The exam on Friday went alright. I don't know my score, but the exam itself wasn't as bad as I thought it would be. Afterwards, we went to a pub for lunch, then Carina and I went back to my place and took a nap, then off to the John Snow pub where much of our class (200 people) were celebrating the end of term. From there, about 12 of my friends and I headed to an Indian restaurant for my birthday dinner. After dinner, I started crying inexplicably, went to Tanya's to take a nap and cry some more, tried to go to a really cool club but the line was too long, went to a house party nearby with school people, had a horrible fight with Alex, made up, then went dancing at Barfly in Camden. Barfly was disappointing, but I had fun. For the first time ever, I managed to con some guy into buying me a drink. Of course, then I couldn't shake him for the rest of the night, but whatever. Somehow managed to not give him my phone number, which he was a little pissed off about.

On Saturday, I slept (or tried to sleep) for the better part of the day and apologized to everyone who had to witness my crying and generally ridiculous irrationality from the previous night. Don't know what got into me. Then I got myself gussied up for another big night out, this time in Clapham for a joint birthday party with Penny. We started at a nice bar where I chatted with a really awkward, really posh guy named Kester. He described the program he had done in undergrad as "kind of a big deal." I kid you not! I was wearing legwarmers so as not to get cold (I know, I know, but I made them myself!) and he asked me if I thought it was a fancy dress party (translation: costume party.) Carina met him, too, and agreed he was a ridiculous human being.

After the pub, we headed to a club called Infernos, which I absolutely LOVED and so want to go back to! It was so much fun! I was dancing with my friends, and Carina shoved me at some boys, so I tried dancing with them for a few seconds, until they stepped on both my feet and crushed my toes, at which point I gave them the British version of the finger and turned back to my friends. Later, I don't quite remember how it happened, I started dancing with another guy. He was really fun and I ended up dancing with him for a long time. He asked me my name but it was loud, so he thought I said Ken. For the rest of the night, as a joke, he called me Kenneth, which I thought was awesome. It reminds me of Kenneth from 30 Rock. So funny! After a while, he said he had to go to the toilet, and asked if I was going to "leg it." I told him I'd wait for him, so I did, but after 10 minutes, I was getting antsy. I couldn't find my friends anywhere, and the guy wasn't coming back, so I went downstairs to see if anyone was there. I didn't find my friends, but I did find the guy's brother, so he and I went back upstairs to wait for the guy. Looking back on it, that was weird. But I really didn't want to leave the club without this guy's phone number, so we waited. When he finally found us, he and I exchanged phone numbers and I scampered off to find Alex and Holly, who were heading home. Within five minutes, he sent me a text message (addressed to Kenneth, of course.) I texted back that he had better take me on a date, and he responded in kind, at one point referring to me as the girl of his dreams. hahaha! Quite a good night for me, I'd say! We'll see if anything ever comes of it. I really enjoyed myself with him, but then we were both drunk.

Sunday was supposed to be hard work on my tuberculosis essay, but I spent most of it just trying to recover from the weekend. Ditto Monday. I finished the essay yesterday, though, and I think it's fairly decent. So now I'm FREEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!!!! Except that I need to read a 95-page report in order to create a summer project for myself. No biggie. On Saturday, I fly to Hamburg to see Ingo for 10 days, then to Switzerland to hang out at Carina's house (on a ski slope!), then to Lyon, France to see IZZIIIIIIIIII!!!!! So excited! I'm one lucky duck. Anyway, back to the 95-page report.