Sunday, March 27, 2011

A Bicycle Built for Us!

Last week we found a tandem bicycle in good shape for sale at a very reasonable price. Bob went alone to Taarbaek to get it, which is nearly 10 kilometers from home, and rode it back alone --- taking many wrong streets on the way. Passer-bys were confused why one person was missing. Only 5 minutes from collapsing, he eventually made it home to the excited shrieks of Carla.

These shrieks turned into screams of terror when Carla learned while in motion that Bobby did not yet know how to safely commandeer a bicycle built for two. But after a few hours of practice, and a clear code agreed upon (pedal, coast, brake, and what are you doing back there?), the option of riding to work Monday together safely becomes real!

Below, Bob, sans helmet because of confidence, takes Caitlin on a whirl!

Now, all that is missing is a name. The favorites include:

Rødgrød med fløde (strawberries and cream, a Danish summertime dessert)
Big Red
The Red Baron

Tune of the Month: March 2011

I hereby dedicate the tune of this month (called "Cheshire Waltz") to bébé Iris because it is her birthday today!

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Tune of the Month: February 2011

Here you are folks, the tune of the month for February: The Dark Girl Dressed in Blue, which I arranged and now call "La Femme Met Bleu".

Weekend in Berlin

Bobby and I spent last weekend in the amazing city of Berlin. Our early Friday morning flight allowed us to get in a nearly full day of exploring. We started at the Brandenburg Gate. Constructed in 1788, the Brandenburg Gate was built as a symbol of peace by King Frederick II. This symbol of peace became a symbol of Nazism during WWII, then a symbol of the communist state of Eastern Germany. In fact, the Berlin Wall stood just behind the gate, separating East Berlin from West Berlin.

On the other side of the Brandenburg Gate, in what was West Berlin before 1989, stands the Reichstag building. Commissioned in 1871, the building housed the German Parliament. The building was greatly damaged by WWII. It ceased to be used from 1933 until German reunification in 1990.

Near the Reichstag building is the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe, which consists of 2,711 concrete slabs covering an area of 19,000 sq. meters. Commissioned in 2003, there is also an underground 'Place of Information', which provides information of the number of people imprisoned and killed by Nazis. There were also many photographs, letters, and maps outlining the destruction of the Holocaust. Needless to say, it was incredibly moving and terribly sad.

We next headed to Gendarmenmarkt, where we saw the French Cathedral. Constructed in 1672 for the Huguenots (French Calvinists), the former church now houses the Huguenots Museum.

Across from the French Cathedral is Humboldt University, Berlin's oldest university. Famous alumni include Marx and Engels. Famous former faculty include the Brothers Grimm and Albert Einstein!

We concluded our evening with a little shopping. We happened across a music store, which had an entire floor dedicated to classical music! Bobby and I were in hog heaven. We nearly spent 500 euros of DVDs of the Ring Cycle and Bernstein and CDs of our favorite composers (there was an entire area dedicated to modern composers!!). We were somehow able to reign ourselves in and we left the store with only (haha) a DVD collection of Leonard Bernstein conducting all of the Mahler symphonies.

Saturday was museum day (luckily both Bobby and I love museums). There is an entire island in Berlin dedicated to museums. It is conveniently called Museumsinsel. Of the 5 museums on the island, we visited 3: Alte Nationalgalerie, Neues Museum, and Pergamonmuseum. The Alte Nationalgalerie, photoed here, houses a nice collection or 19th century European art.

One piece inside the Alte Nationalgalerie is a portrait of Wagner, photoed here with me.The Neues Museum houses a great collection of Egyptian works, including the famous bust of Nefertiti (sadly, no photos were allowed of Nefertiti, but trust me when I say she was beautiful).

Before heading to the third museum, we stopped for a quick bite to eat at a wurst (sausage/hotdog) stand. Invented in Berlin, Currywurst is the iconic fast-food of Berlin. It is a sausage covered with tomato sauce and curry powder. It was tasty, but not something I'd go out of my way to eat outside of Germany.

Filled with Currywurst, we headed to the Pergamonmuseum. The museum houses a truly incredible collection of classical antiquities. There were many HUGE pieces, including the Pergamon Altar (it was too big to capture our on camera, so check out the link), the Ishtar Gate (again, too big to capture, so check out the link), and the Market Gate of Miletus, which we were able to capture in this photo.

After many hours in the museums, we went to see a friend of our from UCSB. Tim is a composer and musician who lives in Berlin and is making a living busking (legally) in the subways. He has an amazing set-up: he plays accordion, drums, and sing all at the same time! As you can see in this photo, he gets quite a crowd. After hearing him play, we all went out to dinner, where Tim told us all about his life in Berlin.

On Sunday, we visited one of the few remaining sections of the Berlin Wall. Berlin has an incredible amount of history, both grand and tragic. It's amazing that nearly 180 people lost their lives trying to cross this wall to escape East Germany.

We also saw Checkpoint Charlie. Bobby's father crossed from East Berlin into West Berlin at this checkpoint when he was in the Air Force. Between 1961 and 1990, the checkpoint could only be used by Allies, non-Germans, and diplomats.

We were fortunate enough to see yet another friend from the States performing in Berlin, though the venue was a bit different from the subway. Concert organist Cherry Rhodes (who teaches at USC and is married to Ladd Thomas, who played the organ at our wedding) gave a fantastic organ concert at the Berlin Philharmonic Hall.

While the outside of the hall may not be much to look at, the inside was really quite beautiful. Cherry's gorgeous playing filled the hall. It was such a treat to hear her perform.

After Cherry's concert, we headed to the Musical Instrument Museum, which is next door to the Philharmonic hall. We were able to hear recording of many of the instruments. We heard recordings of a 16th century harpsichord, 17th century oboes, 18th century, violins, 19th century flutes, and 20th century Wurlitzer theater organ. There were also many unusual instruments, like the ones pictured.

While walking around the Scheunenviertel (literally the 'barn quarter'), we saw some buildings which were not restored after WWII. The building pictured has bullet holes and gashes from shrapnel. It is hard to imagine what Berlin looked like in the 1940s, but if you look hard, you can find bits of evidence of the damage the city suffered.

For our final meal in Berlin, we ate at a traditional corner restaurant. We shared an onion tart and Bobby had Schnitzel (sausage) with potato salad. I ordered one of my favorite German dishes, Schweinshaxe (pork knuckle). Accompanied by sauerkraut and boiled potatoes, and washed down with Riesling, it was a perfect end to a perfect weekend.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

My food pic

Carla often posts pictures of her food here. So much so that some family members refer to this blog as a food blog before a family blog. Well, now I am posting a food pic of my own food creation. I made those delicious cakes; and I made that delicious egg. It is part of our Saturday morning breakfast meal. I call it, Tour de Gateaux Qui Met Chapeau d'Oeuf (Tower of cake that wears a hat of egg). C'est super chouette!

Sunday, March 6, 2011

A Very Belated Holiday Update - Sorry!

It's hard to believe we haven't posted an update since early December! Our only excuse is that real life has taken over and we are settling into work mode. Unlike our year in Paris, our lives in Copenhagen are filled with two full time jobs, regular schedules, and other mundane, normal activities. Unless we make a weekly post on what we've eaten during the week, there often isn't much to report!
That said, we did have a wonderful holiday season, which we should have reported on months ago. Better late than never! So here is our holiday 2010 post, complete with Christmas-y photo of us.

Christmas is a big holiday in Denmark. There are many shared traditions (Christmas tree, work parties, Christmas cookies), but there are also a lot of Danish traditions that were new to us. In Denmark, you put real candles on the Christmas tree! Sounds like a fire hazard to us (in fact, everyone keeps a bucket of water next to the tree for just such a mishap). There is Pakkespil (a fun gift exchange game), nisse (mischievous elves that live in your attic and play practical jokes on you around the holidays), risalamande (a rice pudding with one almond in it, and whoever gets the almond receives a gift), and traditional songs which you sing while holding hands and dancing around the Christmas tree. Bobby and I were especially fond of all the Christmas parties (we attended 4!). At one party, there was a competition to make the best table setting. Bobby, along with others at his table, created this amazing reindeer. Needless to say, his table won!

A friend of mine from work came over to teach me how to cook traditional Danish Christmas cookies. We had a fun time making two different cookies, which we shared at the office. I taught my friend how to make spiced zucchini bread.

After we attended all the great Danish Christmas parties, we headed off to the States to visit our families and partake in some American Christmas traditions. We spent some time in Colorado, where we visited Bobby's family. We also go to briefly see our good friend Wes and Andrea. Bobby stayed in Colorado a few days longer than me, during which Wes taught him to weld. Above is the super-hero photo of Bob the Heroic Welder! Below is Bob (right) with his Colorado family.

After spending time in Colorado, we headed off to California to spend time with my family. We spend New Year's Eve with my Mom and Joseph wine tasting at Bridlewood Winery in Santa Ynez. We had a great time on our first wine tasting! The wines were great and the estate was beautiful.

After our fun times with my Mom, we stayed with my Father and Gloria, where we also had a lot of fun. Gloria lives near a great surf spot in the Los Angeles area, so we finally got some surfing in! However, it soon became obvious that we are really, really out of surfing shape. The 6 foot waves were just too big for us, so we stayed on the inside and splashed around like newbie kooks. We had fun though, and it was really nice to get back in the water.
We had a wonderful holiday season, both in Denmark and in the USA. Our fun doesn't stop there, though! We have several long weekend trips planned for the next 6 months, including one that is happening very soon! So stay tuned to read more about our adventures.