Sunday, May 29, 2011

in pictures

We drove to Koblenz on Thursday for an interview Ludwig would have on Friday.   It took us over 6 hours to get there mostly due to ridiculous traffic.  The whole right row were just trucks for miles and miles, it was awful.
European traffic is much worst then US traffic.
After Ludwig's interview we walked around the city for a while and saw these great fountains.  My favorite is the one on the left, it is the Noah's Ark.

On our last day we decided to visit Stolzenfels Palace
 on of many castles is the area.
  It was a small up-hill hike through a cobblestone road.
Unfortunately, we did not have much time to check out
the rest of the area, but the Castle itself
 was situated in a  park.  Next time.

The Rhine

The Chapel

The best part about this was that we were the only people there, that NEVER happens since
these castles are pretty touristy.  

I think this is my favorite picture!  Don't you want to live in a Castle?

The Castle is being completely reconstructed.  I believe most of the work is already done from the outside but the inside is still not finished.  
Knight Room.
The courtyard.

Additional castle, I wonder if this was the 'guest house' ahha

Ludwig is pointing toward where he had his interview.  If you want to learn more about castles on the Rhine here is a good link Castles. 

After driving for another 6 hours home we got ready for JAZZ!  The Bavarian Radio was the host and we had great tickets.  

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

My new friend

My mother-in-law surprised me a week ago with a present.  She first told me it was 'gro├č und rot'/red and big.  Well, I did not expect it to be this big. (insert punchline here)  But seriously this is the best bike I have ever had in my life.  I am very thankful for this present and cannot wait for a day-long tour somewhere in Bavaria :)

The best bike EVER!
So here are some facts about my new ride
model–T-300 Deore SLX, 27 gears
breaks–hydraulic, OMG, I did not even know such thing exists for bikes.  I am basically riding a Ferrari!
lights–are powered by my legs!
This is a trekking bike, which I can take on long rides/tours with all the gear I would need to camp out in the middle of France for example :)

German engineering at its best!
On the first day I got to ride my bike, we decided to go to a neighboring village, Puch, it is only 3mi away from the house.  This village has a a church with very interesting history.  Here is the link if you are interested to learn about it.  
St. Edigna
The short version–St. Edigna is a Ukrainian/Bavarian saint.  She was a daughter of a French Queen Anna Yaroslavna and a granddaughter of Kiyvan Prince Yaroslav the Wise.  In 1074 she ran away, hid her royal status and lived inside a tree helping poor, sick, disadvantaged, taught children to read and write, basically did all the saintly works.  The Ukrainian Catholic Church is well connected to this Bavarian church and apparently they like to hang out together.
That is the linden tree where Edigna allegedly lived most of her life.  I think I would like living in a linden tree, the flowers smell amazing and you can make tea from them.  
Inside the church.  Behind those flowers and candles there were Edigna's alleged bones, a bit creepy because you could see the scull and all the other stuff.

The icon on the left has writing in German and Ukrainian!
Sorry for the blurry pictures, sloppy work on my part.
This poster was in the church's entrance, a little Ukrainian boy in traditional 'vishivanka'.
The caption reads 'East and West are responsible for eachother'

Barley fields on the way home.

I have a new house pet that can eat flies very very very slowly.  I fed him three flies about 2.5 weeks ago and he still digesting them.  I think this is pretty much the coolest plant I have ever owned, lets just hope I don't kill him.
Say hello to my little friend!
If you look closely the left crocodile is eating a fly.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Munich 10K

A week ago I ran my first non-American road race!
If you ever ran a race you know how exciting it can be, the anticipation, the bathroom visits, the body-glide and sunblock applications, the pick-up of the bibs, the RACE itself, all the swag, and of course the T-shirts and free food.  Races are fun!!!  I recommende to everyone who can run or run/walk to do at least one 5K or 10K in their lives just to experience the atmosphere!

I ran my second marathon October 2010 and basically right after that life happened and I had either no time or complete lack of energy or desire to think about running or anything else that would keep me in shape.  I really hate when that happens.  I tried as hard as I could to keep at least a minimum level of fitness and I think I have achieved that–maintaine minimum level of fitness:  I can walk, bike slowly and run very slowly. Ludwig singed us for this race while I was still writing my thesis to have something to look forward to, to have a goal etc.  Unfortunately for me, I started training for this 10K three weeks before the race.  It was very hard to train, almost weird, like this should not be hard, 6 miles used to feel like a light to moderate work out (depending on the speed) but now, my oh my.
Long story short, I am ready to get back into my running shape.

Outside the Olympic Swim Hall.
Okay some pros and and cons about this race.
pro–it was in the Olympic park–very beautiful scenery
con–we had to run 2 laps of the course and the poor 1/2 marathoners had to run 4 laps
pro–the race was relatively inexpensive about 18 €
con–the race was at 10 am, I never ran a race this late in the day, all I could think was 'I am glad I am not running the half'.  It got nice and toasty by 11 am.
pro–I had the best beer after the race; it was non alcoholic and so refreshing!
another and the best pro–I think this was my favorite part of the whole race, we were allowed to take showers at the Swim Hall.  I felt like a new person afterwards.
Right before the race, let's play 'where is waldo' ;)

Running pictures are always funny!

At the end of the race with non-alcoholic Erdinger wheat beer, it was the best beer of my life!  To the right–after the shower in our matching race T-shirts, ready for lunch!
So, even though I did not set any PRs it was still a fun race!  It motivated me to get back into my running shape and run another 10K in June.  I did get a bit sad because of how much fitness I have lost and how much every pound I've gained made me slower.  But the good thing is–not all is lost!!!

On another note, my language courses are going well.  I got very tired at one point and felt a bit frustrated because all I did all day long was go to class or study and on weekends I would be absolutely dead.  I think I am getting a hang of it now, but I do not think I will continue such intensive course load and do something with less hours per week so I have a bit more time to study, practice and absorb the information.  We will see, I will try and see what fits.

Till next time :)

Monday, May 9, 2011

Goethe Institute

My first week in Goethe Institut went great but at the same time a bit stressful.

On Monday Ludwig and I drove from Steyr, Austria to Munich to check into my language school.  The weather was just spectacular, clear skies, not cold, not hot, perfect.  Here is the picture of Bavaria from that day to prove it.  We checked out the area so I know which exit to take at the train station (there were quite a few choices), timed how long it will take me to walk from the metro to the class, etc, etc.  During the 'orientation' I got a bunch of maps of Munich and the train system, information about the Goethe Institute and other random info.

Statue of Bavaria acros from the Theresienwiese where the yearly Octoverfest is held
with 5-6 millions visitors.
But on Tuesday, my first day of class, the weather was rainy and grey.  Ludwig dropped me off at the station and quizzed me about where I need to get off and which train I need to get on, etc.  My attitude was 'yeah yeah, I know, how hard can it be', well Tanya being Tanya, I missed my station and had to get off the next one.  My excuse is that they say 'the next station is....' basically right at the stop, I think they should say 'this station is.....' Anyways I called Ludwig and he told me which train to take back and I was in class on time.  I complained about the whole, 'the next station vs this station' to Ludwig and he told me to write a letter to MVG, the Munich Public Transportation Company....maybe I will, maybe I will.
View outside my window and the Buchenau train station.
The pace of the class if pretty fast and there is a lot of material.  I try to learn as much as I can but sometimes my brain just gets saturated and then all I need is sleep.
So far I know...
the alphabet
can count to 100
can ask your name, where you are from etc.
On Friday we learned foods :)  And I need to memorize so many words and not only what they mean but also if they are feminine, masculine or neuter.  It is just like in Russian, but for whatever reason it is not any easier.  I tested if Russian genders match German and they of course sometimes do, but I would say I did not find any correlation.

My class has 16 people in it.  Three Italians, two Serbs, three Americans, one Japanese, three Saudi-Arabians, one Czech, one Indian, one Mexican and one me.  There was actually another Ukrainian women in the class, but she moved to a different course level.  Almost everyone speaks more than one language and almost everyone speaks English, which is the language everyone uses to communicate if we are completely lost.  Everyone is very nice and it is very interesting to learn where every one is coming from.  For example, Kristina, one of the Americans was actually from Fort Collins and is traveling through Europe for fun and decided to learn German while she is here.  Jelena, the Serbian woman, actually lived in Chicago for 20 years and met her Austrian husband there and they just moved to Munich a few weeks ago.  We kinda both laughed at our situation, but it is life, sometimes you just do not know where you are going to end up.

S-Bahn at the  Karlsplatz (Stachus) station where I get off in Munich.
Goethe Institut on the Sonnenstra├če and my classroom on the second floor.
Some of the nice architecture I get to walk by every day, like Karlstor/Charl's gate.
Today I biked to the station for the second time.  Ludwig biked with me to the station and picked me up when I got back.  It was perfect weather for a bike ride.  
I have to do a whole post about this, but Bavaria is definitely a Catholic country and it is very common to have crosses with benches by them or little chapels like this with chairs and flowers inside.  I absolutely love these chapels, I am basically obsessed with them.  They seem to me so perfect because a lot of times they are literally somewhere in the middle of the field or by a forest.  This chapel in particular is right behind the bikes in the previous picture.  Knowing about this obsession, Ludwig took me on a detour to show me this chapel that is just moments away from where we live.

So pretty!  I want to stay outside the whole day :)
On the way home we usually bike through the forest and there is this one murder hill, it kicks my butt every time but it feels so good when I get to the top.
Next post I will tell you about my firt race in Munich!  You do not want to miss this one ;)