Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Switzerland sub-trip!

On Saturday, Ed, Joe and I headed out to the Airport to visit Brady in Zurich. While this ends up being slightly ironic given the airplane difficulties at the end of the trip (and if it isn't strictly "ironic," I don't care), it was an awesome sibling trip to several amazing cities in Switzerland.

We went out in Zurich, except for Joe who was still recovering from his arrival the day prior. We went to the pedestrian streets of Hauptbahnhof and Bahnhofstrasse. We saw the neatest toy stores with very well-made toys, mostly craftsy, stuffed or wood-based. Ed and I also explored a mid-century modern furniture store much like Design Within Reach which means budget-wise, it's anything but. But the store was cool with multiple levels of wood and grating. Then we went back to Brady's house, had a fondue party and then headed to a bar to finish the night.

The next day, we headed to the Ticano canon to visit Lucarno the first day followed by Bellinzona the next. Locarno had two neat sights: Franciscan Santuario della Madonna del Sasso church up the funicular and the Castello Visconteo. We went to a restaurant of the Gran Piazza for dinner which was good and more importantly, cheap-ish.

Bellinzona was a little bit higher on my favorite list because it had a UNESCO World Heritage site! It comprises multiple sites: Castelgrande, Montebello Castle, Sasso Corbaro Castle, the city walls and the Murata. It was quite a walk in this natural confluence of Alpine passes but it was so beautiful. I had the most delicious lunch- a lasagnetta, a seafood sauce with three thin slabs of fresh pasta arranged in lasagna style. It was delicious although initially, I had my doubts. Then we headed back to Zurich.

The next day, Joe and I headed to Lucerne and saw the transport museum with the neatest mousetrap ever, the Martyred Lion, the mirror maze, Glacier Garden, the covered bridges and the beer garden! Or rather, a beer garden with delicious beer!

The last day, I spent mostly on my own touring Zurich proper to include the Grossmunster with beautiful stained glass windows by Giacometti and Munch, the Fraumunster with Chagall windows, the Lindenhof, the Frietag store and my favorite, the Kunsthaus with the best collection from Emile Bruhle, a Swiss collector who may/may not have been the most ethical collector in the 40s although he did return paintings that were properly claimed (and then bought them again!). That evening, we returned to Copenhagen and pigged out on Indian food made by Mom. Certainly not needed by that point but delicious.

Copenhagen Chic!

There's a bicycle blog with photos, mainly of fashionable Copenhagen bikers. While I hesitate in any way to assign that description to myself, I *did* bike without a helmet. That made me blend in a bit. Although I totally would have worn a helmet if one was available.

Friday, 4/9, I cycled a lot around Copenhagen. I went to Christenhavn and climbed the tower of Our Savior Church which was SO scary! It's quite high and the last 150 steps are actually outside on a metal staircase hugging the steeple! There's a 5 foot high guardrail but still- it's borderline vertigo inducing.

After I recovered from my hyperventilation, I had a polse that was delicious. It's a hot dog +, much longer and thinner with crispier "skin." It was fransk style, meaning it was popped into a thin baguette. Delish! Then I went to the hotel designed by Arne Jacobsen. Well, reputedly. There was a conspicuous lack of egg chairs that I thought were supposed to be present.

Next, I went to the Rundetarn, an astrologic observatory near the Stroget, a pedestrian walkway. The climb to the top was wide and in a spiral. People have ridden horses to the top. Mostly Russian czar/czarina types so it hasn't been done anytime recently.

After the climbs and bike rides, I went home and gave into the pressing need for a nap. I felt amazing afterwards. Ed, Mom and I went to the Louisiana Art Museum for the evening where music played in the cafe and the exhibits were open until 10. There was an exhibit called "Color in Art," which delved deeply into a wonderful private collection owned by the Swiss couple Werner and Gabrielle Merzbacher. The time period ranged from pre-Impressionists to mid-century modern.

There was also another exhibit called Homo sapiens sapiens by swiss artist Pipilotti Rist, which consisted of lying on very comfortable settees and watching changing images on the huge ceiling screen. I felt very avant-garde.

Then we went home, so it was a full day even with a jet-lag recovery nap.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Hamlet is Not MacBeth

Have you ever started to describe something and you realize, "Hmmm, what I am saying is completely nonsensical but I can't quite figure out why?" It's happened to me once or twice before but I think what is a more likely occurrence is describing something ridiculous and having no insight. An example of the former is when I mixed up tamarind and tahini when both cooking and describing a dinner party dish. An example of the later is what happened yesterday.

Ed and I were at Kronborg Slot in Helsingor, Denmark. Ed asked why, exactly, was this "Hamlet's Castle." I told him it was just a setting Shakespeare picked. Then I started going into the plot details of the downfall of Hamlet in the hands of a man "not born of a woman" and supported by the "moving forests of Elsinore." Ed looked at me and said, "That's MacBeth." The embarrassing thing was, it still took me a few minutes to believe him that I was completely and totally backwards. Not only that, the way I remembered the plot was more from recalling Tom Stoppard's "Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead" rather than the actual "Hamlet." And I've read all three I swear. But now I am old so that was about 12 years ago now. [Aside: how was high school that long ago? At the same time, it also feels like it was hundreds of years ago. P.S. It's the moving forests of Dusinane and the man was MacDuff, born by a C-section. Even though when I think MacDuff, I think of the cartoon "Duck Tales"]

ANYway, Denmark is awesome. I arrived on Tuesday and went for a run. I got super lost, but managed to find my way back after stopping in a hotel. It's always a bad sign when you end up back from a run with a map in your hands. Copenhagen is beautiful and I love all of the artificial waterways, initially built for defense. Mom and I went to a tapas bar called Panzon (pants on!) that was delicious! We had a glass of wine each and a really nice mixed plate of cheese, meat and spreads.

On Wednesday, I went to Amalienborg Castle and saw the changing of the guard. Then I met up with Mom and Ed at Ida Davidsen's for lunch. It was a delicious Smorebrod feast! The base bread was on the small side and quite hearty and dense. On top, there was lox, dill mayonnaise and Greenland shrimp with dill. My second course, which should be meat by tradition, was another fish dish that Ida called her Spring specialty. It was asparagus in a Gruyere sauce on a plate topped with Rockland shrimp. Soft white bread was served on the side. Mom and Ed had great smorebrod as well and we all shared.

Afterwards, Ed and I went to Rosenborg Slot, a castle significantly redone by Christian IV. The crown jewels and treasury are there as well. The surrounding grounds were beautiful and I'm sure once everything is in bloom in the next few weeks, it will be stunning.

That night, Mom, Ed and I went to Figaro, another cozy bar where we had a beer. I broke the footrest on a stool, but the welding had come loose and I'm sure it was broken before. But nothing like pushing off the footrest and having it clatter to the floor. I love being inconspicuous!

Yesterday, Ed and I took a trip north to Kronborg Slot. It was awesome, mixed-up Shakespeare references aside. I really wanted to go up Telegraph Tower but it is only open May-September. My favorite part was the casements, or underground cellars/bunkers. Their main purpose was to serve as places to hunker down and survive a siege. There were holding cells, exercise rooms, storage bins. It was awesome and so cold! 7 degrees C! Brrr! That type of chill feels like it would just set up in one's bones.

We ate lunch in the town at Radmand Davids Hus, a cute restored house with more smorebord!

Next, we went to Klambenborg and biked through Dyrehaven and went to the Bakken amusement park, which is the oldest operating amusement park in the world! We rode the Rutschebanen, a rickety wooden roller coaster around since 1932. The whole place was more carnival than huge amusement park, but it was cute. It was pretty empty, patron-wise, but all the rides were open. It's sweet that there's no quota of people needed for allowing a good time.

Pjerrot is the mascot clown, of whom I snapped an illegal picture according to Ed (I didn't see a cashier charging for pics but Ed said that was the whole point of the clown sitting at the house. Hmmmm).

Next, we went to Bellevue beach and saw a cute lifeguard tower by Arne Jacobsen. It was raining and fairly dreary but I decided I wanted to bike home along the Strandvejen 12 km back to Copenhagen. Ed politely declined and took the train home. I got drenched but I love seeing the Whiskey Belt homes and outskirts of Copenhagen.

We ate dinner at home and then went to bed. Today, I need to go over the swearing in ceremony with one of the embassy Marines followed by a few sights in Copenhagen and a trip out to Roskilde to see the Viking Museum. Tonight, Ed, Mom and I are going to Louisiana, a contemporary arts museum slightly north of Copenhagen.

Birthday Weekend!

I had a great birthday weekend! Basic was a lot of fun. There's a lounge area that links the bar area with the greater room. It has four seating areas with huge cushioned ottomans that are comfy and made for sitting. The pizza was not as good as I was expecting but it was decent. The drinks were great and the cupcakes that Jenny brought were awesome and way too plentiful and available!

After Basic, Jenny and I went to Starlite and talked to some people for awhile, which was nice because mingling in San Diego does not always happen so easily. Finally, we called it a night. Yay for friends who organize birthday parties!

Saturday was pretty mellow. I had a slight headache initially, but pretty much chilled out all day while packing for my trip and getting ready for brunch the next day.

Brunch. I love brunch! Sunday we had caramelized oven-baked French toast, a cheese and spinach strata (ama-zing!), blintzes, coffee cake and bellinis. Holy yum!

Afterwards, Sam hosted a linner with ham and various veggie sides that was also delicious. I feel like I ate more on Easter than I did on Thanksgiving!

Finally, I did a once-over on what I packed for Denmark/Switzerland. I am normally not that diligent but I really did not want to forget anything. As it ended up, I couldn't find my camera but I've been using Mom's since I've been here.

Monday started out fairly smooth. I went to Bar Method and for a 5 mile run. I showered, got ready and called a cab slightly later than I wanted (12:15 vs 12). I waited 30 minutes and called. The guy had lost my cab request. AUGH! Big jerk! I was heading to the airport for a 13:44 flight and it was now 12:53! So, I waited "5-6 minutes" (read: 10) and just as I was about to hop in my car, which would have been frightfully expensive to park, the cab rounded the corner. We got there quickly and though I sorely wanted to stiff the cabbie since I was so mad, I didn't since it wasn't his fault. No point in punishing the independent operator when his dispatcher is the one who sucks.

I couldn't check in automatically, but a counter agent helped me. The security line was stressfully long but I got through alright. As it ended up, I had gotten an exit row seat (score!) and made it with 5 minutes to spare. I am SO lucky though b/c the flight was way oversold- I'm still not sure how I managed to keep my seat since I checked in so late. I was also helped by the fact the plane was running a 20 minute delay. So, phew! I can retain my record of never having missed a flight!

Friday, April 2, 2010


Oh, my gosh it's here. I'm so excited. Another decade- it just seems so full of possibilities!

I received a beautiful bouquet of flowers from my parents at work. It was so awesome. My parents are the best!

I'm about to leave work and go home. I need to come back to work to pick up my flowers, then get ready for tonight. I'm going to Basic, a bar/lounge downtown with people from work and people I know in SD. I've gone once and had the best time dancing. We're going to eat there this time. Supposedly, they have awesome pizza. Jenny also ordered cupcakes so it'll be a real party. It'll be like a party in Japan, where people tend to host them outside of their homes b/c they're so small (the homes, not the people. 30s is the decade of non-dangling modifiers!).

I have all these ambitions for reflecting on my 20s and what I hope for in my 30s but maybe I'll make it a birthday weekend project b/c 1. I want to get out of here and 2. I need to pick up a little around my house before Jenny comes over to pick me up.