Saturday, April 16, 2016

Berlin, Germany

First, a little background story:

In February I was supposed to spend a long weekend in Istanbul. I was so excited to explore the markets, the Haga Sophia, and buy some turkish delight (my favorite)! Unfortunately the tourist-targeted bombings in January lead us to cancel our trip. I was really bummed. It makes me sad to think that there is all this violence in our world, and I wanted to believe that the odds of it impacting me were minute. So I said that we should just go anyway, but my friend insisted that we do the safe thing, and in hindsight I'm grateful we did.  The day before we would have left, another bomb went off in their capitol, and a few weeks later there was a suicide bombing less than 1 kilometer away from where our Airbnb we had rented was. 

So instead we booked a trip to Berlin, which really wasn't a bad consolation prize. 

It was a little cold in February, but I had an awesome time! Berlin is not quite picturesque like some other German cities, so much of it was destroyed during WWII. But it has great museums, food, and so much history! I definitely recommend it. I was really only there for about 2 days, but I saw so much of the city and had a great time, so it was worth it! 

The Brandenburg Gate ^^  a symbol of Berlin's freedom and peace. One of the most iconic landmarks in Berlin, it was built in 1791 and survived both the World Wars. The gate is near the Berlin Wall and thus was prohibited from being accessed between 1961 and 1989, which is why it is now, especially, considered a symbol of freedom and unity. 
^^ Travel buddy & roomie for 3 years! s/o to Marina! 
This is also the sight of Regan's famous 'Tear Down this Wall' speech and to the left of the gate (out of the picture) is the US embassy which recently was in hot water for hosting NSA officials who were tapping Angela Merkel and other top German official's phone calls. Oops.  
I only included this photo because our tour guide told us that this the Hotel where Michael Jackson held his child over the balcony (if anyone remember that incident?), who knew it was a sight-seeing destination! I guess I can say I've seen that now! 
Love these little 'Trabi" cars that you'd see all over Berlin! They were produced by East Germany.
World War relics 
This photo (^^)  doesn't look like much, but beneath this unassuming gravel soil is the bunker where Hitler committed suicide. It caved in and the German people decided to leave it as a kind of unmarked grave, there is only one small sign that let's you know it isn't just an empty lot. 
The checkpoint between East and West Berlin that got pretty heated at times! 
^^ This is me making fun of Marina for never smiling in photos of us together! Ha, who's laughing now! 
Candid at the Berlin Wall ^^ 
Berlin Wall artwork!! 
My favorite Berlin Wall mural!! "My God Help Me to Survive This Deadly Love." I looked up the story behind it too. I thought it was supposed to be an ironic painting, but it is based on a real photograph (!) Apparently in the communist party there is such a thing as "the fraternal kiss" and if you want to show that you're 'really' brotherly than you kiss and the leaders of the Soviet Union and East Germany pictured here in 1979 were celebrating their close alliance at a communist party event. Ten years before the Berlin wall came down. 
That avocado toast was insanely delicious! It had some kind of infused olive oil on it that was to die for. We ending up going to this coffee shop for breakfast every day we were there! 
I loved the little crossing sign guy! It's one of the few unique East German things to have survived the fall of the Iron Curtain. 
We spent an afternoon at the Pergamon Museum and it was honestly one of the coolest museums I've ever been to! I think that the Germans and British must have a real monopoly on Near Eastern Antiquities and Islamic Art, I've never seen exhibits like this in the US!  
The highlight was definitely the Gates of Ishtar that were one of the original Seven Wonders of the Ancient World and marked the entrance to Babylon! I still am in disbelief that they actually excavated these and restored them! It's amazing! The gate was under renovation when we were there, but you could still mostly see it! 
Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe (^^) 
The spy museum! (^^) In the museum I also saw the Turing Machine and the Engima machine, both featured in The Imitation Game, a great Benedict Cumberbatch movie!
A female femme fatale spy ^^ 
Wall of Poisons in the Spy Museum ^^ This is me when Marina tells me to do my best 'serious' face.. I'm really bad at 'not smiling' on demand. 

And that's it for Berlin! It was a short, but sweet weekend adventure! 

I've got lots more to catch you up on this semester! Hopefully I'll get to that soon! 

xx Jess 

Thursday, March 31, 2016

Fall / Winter Roundup

Before I move on to talking about my most recent travels during my last semester here at Franklin, I want to wrap up 2015! Since I'm so behind on blogging, this post is going to cover October, November, December AND January!
So get ready!

I spent last Fall at home in Salt Lake attending the University of Utah and working for 3Degrees, in partnership with Rocky Mountain Power, on their Blue Sky Renewable Energy Program. I wasn't planning on being home for the Fall semester, but I am SO glad I was. I needed that time with my family and I had some more (new) health problems -- this time with migraines -- that I needed professional help with. It would have been impossible (not to mention so much more stressful) for me to get the help I needed if I was back in Switzerland. Plus I got to hang out with my family for a few extra months, so that was nice too!

Sorting through all of those months of photos and picking out my favorites was actually hysterical.  I was (literally) laughing out loud at how many photos I had of our dog Zoe. Apparently we spent a lot of time together during those months! So it feels appropriate to start the post with a photo of me and Zoe in Liberty Park! I remember that I was trying to get her to look at the camera, but her attention was riveted on the geese at the pond's edge that she was about to run after! She is so tiny but the geese (which are 5x bigger than her) are terrified of her and she LOVED it!
Beautiful sunset hikes in the terraces above Salt Lake! 
Utah ain't so bad! ;)
My hiking fam ^^ 
^^ semi-awkward pic but I have to document the day that I got my hair cut the shortest it has been since I was probably 8 years old? I didn't tell anyone I was doing it, and when Marissa came to pick me up she said, "was that on purpose..?" and then when I got home Everett immediately says " OH NOOOOOO" hahaha, I like it though! I needed a change after having such long hair in high school and my first two years of college. It has been progressively getting shorter, but this was the big chop! 
I swear Zoe begs to be carried around like this. What a diva!
Grams and me on Halloween! I was a gold star (if you couldn't tell!) and she was a witch! Maxwell was an astronaut, so my star kind of went with his theme. 
We carved some dope pumpkins this year!! Mine are the two faces looking at each other and the moon with the bats (to the left of the faces). 
Ev got major ear surgery right before Halloween so I suggested that he should be van gogh! The resemblance is striking! 
Liberty Park in the fall is the prettiest! 
ZOE being adorable, playing chase with that ball in the kitchen was my nightly workout! She always seemed to get super feisty and playful at about 9:30pm! haha 
Ev and I at brunch at The Park Cafe (so good!) This was also his bribe to be good for his ear surgery and appointments! 
Mom and me at the Natural History Museum Gala ^^
Ev admiring his cookies ^^ 
I swear she thinks she's a human ^^
This is when we put on our matching scarfs so that we can brave the chilly weather and go get hot chocolate at Ev's new addiction, The Coffee Garden. Ev always offers to pay for mine :)
Waiting with Max at the bus stop, that kid's got flair. 
Zoe is not a morning person
Meeting my hero!!! Naomi Klein! 
Live nativity in the glenn! 
BFF christmas card
It snowed so much one day they canceled school and we went sledding! 
This was a different day, but I was laughing so hard when I looked out the window and saw Maxwell laying dejectedly in the snow. 
Zoe. Again. I have a problem. 
Getting some major air sledding! 
We spent so many nights like this on the couch! Ev, Max, Dad, Zoe and I went on a pretty big Star Wars and Clone Wars spree! 
8am Christmas Morning 2015! 
ALTA, our happy place! Fresh mountain air, soft powder and blue skies! 
And this is from when ALL of us gave talks in church one Sunday, Ev took my phone and decided that we should take a covert selfie from the pulpit. Love that guilty smile he has, haha. 

Big kisses Salt Lake, I miss you and the whole tribe! 

And thus concludes my four month roundup of fall/winter in Salt Lake! 

On to Switzerland! 

xx Jess