Shameless Plug

If you do not know this already, Bellamafia is coming out with a CD at the end of this semester. It is called “Ransom Notes” and includes repertoire from the last two school years. If you are at Bowdoin, please please please support us and buy a CD! I don’t know how much it will cost yet but it will be amazing and full of great songs such as:

“Don’t Stop Believing” -Journey
“Sweet Escape”-Gwen Stefani
“I Guess That’s Why They Call It the Blues”-Elton John

and more! including…..

My solo, “Me and Mia” by Ted Leo & The Pharmacists. woo!

Here is my performance from our concert last fall. Ignore the voice crack and enjoy although I have probably subjected everyone who actually reads this blog to the video already :)

http://www.youtube.com/get_player

Finally

FRIDAY MAY 1ST is the final acappella concert at Bowdoin and EVERYONE should go and support our awesome groups. Go for me!

Lights of Tivoli

Last Friday night I went to Tivoli with the Jeppesen’s and Co. consisting of Lotte, Michael, Bella, Nadja, and the pseudo-children including, me, Christian, Morten, and the little boy next door. Tivoli is located in the center of Copenhagen and is an awesome mix of a fair and Disney World. Walt Disney was actually inspired by Tivoli. Friday night is concert night so the place was packed when we arrived at 9pm. Lotte got us all in for free and the rest of the night was a daze of lights, people, and ice cream.

Highlights of the evening included eating a huuuuge and delicious ice cream cone, jumping on an inflatable cushion, and watching a great rock concert. We did not stay for too long but I sure got the Tivoli experience. Hopefully from these pictures you can imagine the absolute beauty and charm of this historic amusment park. We will probably return once more during the day and get an all-ride pass. I cannot wait!

 Time to return to writing 5 papers due within the next two weeks. I am not jealous of Bowdoin people celebrating Ivies. Not at all…

First Class Experience

From first class seating to first class adventure!
The tracks from Salzburg to Prague were temporarily closed, meaning the first-class tickets Mom booked for the 6 hour ride meant nothing. Instead we had to take a train to Linz, bus to Budjevice, and train again to Prague. First, we boarded a decrepit, un-air conditioned compartment and put down our bags. Mom left to confirm the bus ride at the ticket counter.
However, as soon as she left the train, the train took off, barreling down the tracks to an unknown destination. I stood up in alarm and exclaimed, “Where am I going?!”, stuck my head out the window as Mom quickly grew smaller and smaller. My mind raced with possibilities of never finding my mom, never returning home. The conductor came out, spoke in quick German, but then nodded once I gestured if we were going back. The train stopped, chugged slowly in the other direction, and I hung my head out the window, smiling at Mom’s approaching, worried figure.
The train stopped, we saw each other and laughed, tears threatening our vision. “Did you freak out?” Mom asked. “Yes!” I replied as we laughed once more. First class adventure is right!
_______________
Back in Prague, everything is bright, blooming, and steaming in delicious springtime.

“The final day of my trip. My heels are aching with intensity, with anger that the break is over, that they won’t be in such constant use anymore. Somehow the Prague airport hotel is an anticlimactic ending to an amazing few weeks of travel. It has all been too perfect. As soon as Alexi arrived in Copenhagen and walked out the terminal doors, everything fell into place at full speed ahead.

Mom has been the best travel partner. We are content slowly admiring each encountered church, through inspecting each museum, discussing history, school, and life, and jumping from cafe to cafe fora cup of strong coffee or hot wine. We had the best time.”

Now it is back to the daily grind. Only four more weeks till home. More posts to come I promise.

Salzburg… my feet are sore but my heart is soaring

Salzburg.

The highlight of the trip. I have to commemorate Salzburg with excerpts from my journal. It was a magical city that hit me with inspiration. Spring has sprung. The sun is out and the sky is blue.

“Salzburg continues to amaze and amuse me. The weather has blessed us with warmth and alpine beauty. The city is a precious jewel in the mountain rough. It almost feels like summer.”

Round One. Sound of Music Tour.

A must in Salzburg. Our awesome tour guide brought us to all the filming spots from the movie. Mom and I had a blast. Especially listening to the soundtrack while winding through the Alps. You know how everything seems so big in movies? Well it was actually much smaller in real life. Each place, location, prop become real, and occupy a space outside of the movie. It is an incredible feeling, especially when that movie is the Sound of Music and that location is Salzburg.

Try to figure out the scenes from the pictures!

Round Two. Graveyards.

Mom harbors a slight obsession with graveyards that borders on morbid but really affirms their grave beauty (haha punny).

Round Three. Bovaria.

We traveled across the border, into Bovaria, past Hitler’s Eagle Nest, and down into the Salt Mines. We hiked to all the peaks of the Salzburg valley: the fortress, the monastery, and modern art museum. We had plenty of time to sustain ourselves in perfect Austrian fashion: sausage and beer. Each peak offered stunning views and a different perspective.

Round Four. Hiking.

“Salzburg is like a dream. The mountains in the distance are shrouded in a misty haze. Almost within an easy reach to grab for the taking. That is not reality, I cannot grab the mountain, but it is there. And so big!”

“I love noon. The city comes alive from every direction with the sound of bells, the sound of music. This is our daily concert, the chimes of 42 churches, each with a distinct harmony, song, personality. The city becomes brighter if that is even possible.”

Salzburg was truly magical. It brought out the artist in me. I can see how this city, Mozart’s birthplace, can transform a person to express the beauty around them. This was definitely the highlight of the trip.

Brief Prague and Vienna

Prague

Return to Prague briefly, meet up with Mom in a swanky hotel, entertain ourselves in the first night of Easter festivities in Old Town Square, reintroduce myself to the city… Mom and I enjoy Easter cheer, climb back up to the palace, and find the Infant Jesus in his elaborate dress. We conclude with a concert in the beautiful Municipal House to the sounds of the Four Seasons, Canton in D, and more.

I am so happy relieved to travel with Mom. We explore our past, eat lots of sausage, strudel, and more sausage, drink hot wine and beer, and walk until we can do nothing else but sleep. My feet are sore, but my heart is soaring…

Vienna

Mom and I hop on a train to Vienna.The birthplace of classical music. An overwhelming and stunning city. Everything is just so big, larger than life. The streets are wide and the palaces, museums, and shopping streets are unavoidable. Everywhere you look you can find a monument to some individual, probably Mozart, Strauss, or Franz Josef.

Mom and I are pure wanderers, walking everywhere from street stores, the incredible National Museum (a building built during the A-H empire as a museum), Schonbrunn palace, Schiele and Rembrandt exhibits, and of course the backstreets to our lovely hotel. Vienna is a culture shock.

Exhausted physically and culturally after Vienna, we are excited to get to Salzburg.

My thoughts on the train: “The Austrian countryside slides by the train window in a bath of warm light and rows of green. It beckons me to get out there, become one with the soil and the trees and the legumes, do something with myself, become a farmer. But I must decline although the offer is very good.

I am merely a traveler in this land, a pilgrim to recover what has been lost by my family. Vienna was a center of music, culture, and prosperity. But it was not the same. Prague bridged the past and the present. Let us see what Salzburg has to offer. We are getting closer and closer to the Alps. To mountains and explosions of rock and soil. Let’s go.”

Long Study Tour: Prague Memory and Identity

For the first week of my three week break I went with my class to Prague, Kunta Hora, Holsavice, Budjevice, and Cesky Krumlov.

In Prague, the weather was chilly and cloudy but the city was so amazing that I barely noticed. Prague is a city that just breathes history, culture, and majesty. After learning about Prague, Czechoslovakia, and the Czech Republic in class it was exciting to see these pieces of history up close and personal. Prague is described as the “city of gold”, “city of a hundred spires”, “the city of lost time”. The Czech Republic has a dark history of population transfer of Czechs and Germans, Nazism, Communism, and more. So much has been covered up and so much has been forgotten, yet so much remains. Prague shines with the gold of architectural marvels as endless numbers of towers and spires intersect the sky. Prague is the city of fingers reaching to the sky, trying to grasp something bigger, something incomprehensible. These people are always searching for an identity a place to belong. Isn’t that what we’re all trying to do anyway?

“With fingers of a musician. With the intoxicating fingers of women lying on their backs. With fingers touching the stars. On the abacus of night. With fingers from which evening gushes with tightly closed fingers.”– “City of Spires” by Vitezslav Nezval

So much to see, so much to do. My classmates and I attended some lectures, saw the Kafka and Mucha museums, explored the palace, met David Cerny the controversial sculptor, saw an amazing view at the top of the radio tower decorated with Cerny’s babies, ate dinner on a ship, and just explored. Approaching springtime in Prague means trees just waiting to burst and bloom, shops screaming kitsch and warmth, and final snow descending during a peaceful stroll over the Charles Bridge. I was pacified by the fact that I would return soon with Mom.

After three days in Prague, our class set off to the surrounding towns in the Czech Republic. Driving through the country-side we visited smaller villages, pockets of memory forgotten after the cultural revival post-Iron curtain. We stopped in Kutna Hora, once a great medieval city from the gold rush, with a magnificent cathedral that now sticks out like a peculiar mistake in the rural landscape. We visited the interesting Oscillary, or Bone Church, with the interior constructed completely out of human bones.

Another bus tour took us to Holsovice, a small preserved Bohemian village of 140 residents that was nearly wiped out by the plague and the German transfer. The weather was strange. A mix of snow, sleet, and rain that became icy dip’n dots pelting our heads. But as soon as we stepped into the village, the clouds parted and the sun lit up the tiny town square. It was almost magical. The town was small, almost miniature and perfect in a deserted Disney world way. Creepy but pretty. Kristen and I petted the softest and sweetest puppy in the world and I took amazing pictures of Easter eggs decorating tiny shrubs. Easter in the Czech Republic is a quaint and non-religious occasion that presents itself in pastel decoration and intricately painted eggs. It is a celebration of spring and better weather.

Here are my journal thoughts on rural Czech Republic, the type of area my family comes from: “All that remains is the bare bones of 40,000 assembled plagued bodies, chicken coops, snow-lined fields, peeling paint in a marble castle. Prague is a touristy facade of perfection, a band aid covering a long and sad history. The painful past hovers like the patches of forest intersecting the pasture.”

On a happier note, we toured the Budweiser Budvar Brewery in Budjevice and tasted some delicious unfiltered beer. I really like beer. Especially Czech beer. Kozel anyone?

In addition to Prague and the smaller village visits, our group stayed in Cesky Krumlov, a small Czech town with an amazing fortress and charm. We were able to get into the Schiele exhibit which was amazing. And I could see why Schiele was so drawn (hahah pun!) to the city. Looking down from the palace tower you can see everything. Asymmetrical buildings seem to layer over each other like toy building blocks. It is beautiful and packs a powerful punch of color. Each building had character. Especially the random dungeon bar we found on our final night together as a group. We danced the night away to Queen and had the best time. I loved Cesky Krumlov and would love to return.