February 08, 2006

Escape from course work to Barcelona

Everyone seems to love Barcelona – I couldn't understand people's fascination and obsession with this city until last weekend when I visited myself.
The visit was awesome despite the facts that we had no hot water, we had ants in the apartment, I had my money stolen on the first day of my stay and the local cashpoints discriminated my debit/credit cards to an extent that I could get no money out.
But still, the city and its people are so great it makes up for all of thatl!

I went with Helen, Chloe and Kim. They seemed very shocked about the scary little narrow alleyway we lived on. I suppose it didn't help that we arrived at night and our taxi driver said to us with his strong Spanish accent"Watch out for these people!" pointing at some dodgy men outside the taxi and dumped us at that spot. I thought the first apartment was fine, but the cold shower was too much for the others so we moved to a hotel next door. It didn't solve the problem of living on the dark alleyway. In fact, it was right next to Las Ramblas, so it was that dodgy after all.

On the first day I managed to have my money stolen by 2 sweet old lovely ladies. Clearly you cant trust anyone! Well, I panicked without my money and went to this policemen who did not speak English. For those who don't know, my Spanish vocab contains about 20 words and consists of very useful phrases such as "Falta papel de baŮo!" exactly what I needed in this particular situation!
Well, they put me to the police car and drove me to the station. I think I have to get used to police cars, it was my second time within a year. They made me fill in forms in Spanish and were pointing at me and saying something "chica" all the time. luckily i got out of there in the end.

I headed to Parc GŁell. I was quite exhausted having walked up a steep hill and having gone through the trouble of getting money etc. but this place was truly amazing. The park is overlooking the city and I could see the big cathedral Sagrada Familia(and very numerous houses).
I walked down and saw houses designed by Gaudi. they are so pretty and look so much better in real life than in photos. Walking into the park was like entering a fairy tale: ginger-bread houses with sugar-coating on the top. Exotic birds flying around and children playing. Someone was playing the guitar.

I met up with Stu and he showed me around Barcelona Uni. They have fish ponds and orange trees in the university garden. I'm so envious! That's something we must get to Warwick(however, I think they might slightly suffer when the English winter arrives…)
Soon afterwards Jordi joined us. We were just chatting and hanging around. We walked past Sagrada Familia and went to Stu's place for a bit. In the evening we went out for a meal. It was exotic – the menu was in Catalan and Italian only. We had pasta and risotto with balsamic vinegar and pears. Sounds weird but it was surprisingly good.

Next day I visited the Gaudi museum and walked around loads. We went to see "Breakback Mountain" in the cinema. I'm grateful it hadn't been dubbed into Spanish. I bought chocolate with bergamot and with 100% cocoa content. We went to a bar and to another later. Their Swedish friends joined us. Always embarrased to admit, my Swedish is pretty dreadful. We had a little crash course.
Can you imagine, you can buy cakes and croissants at 3.30 in the morning in Barcelona!? We walked along one of these little dark alleyways packed with drunk people. All of a sudden there was a door. No sign, nothing. It was ajar and we entered. It looked like a warehouse storage room and there was a pile of boxes with cakes inside and a guy selling them. Very tasty and I could sleep well after eating them. The Swedish girl Petra kindly walked me home because it was dark.

I don't think I saw half the stuff the city has to offer. Which means I don't have a choice – I have to go back at some point.

I forgot my camera in Finland on the xmas break but luckily I had my mobile with me. I love this modern technology, I truly do! I took a few photos with my phone(in the gallery).

TAlking of christmas, I'm aware that I have completely forgotten to update my blog for a century, that's covering last christmas. I'm still in one piece as you may conclude for this entry. I shall try and be more active in terms of writing here!

On Monday I went to Sharon's to Birmingham. She does photography and it was the opening of her exhibition. It was good, nice art and even a band playing. Afterwards we went to a Moroccan cafe, had some mint tea and then had a Chinese take-away when watching Moulin Rouge at Sharon's. It's so relaxing to spend time off-campus.

With so much relaxation in my life, my course work is piling up! So I better get on with it.
Academically excellent news, a professor in my department has agreed to take me into his research group next summer and is sending an application for project funding, which is really exciting!! The project is based on marine microbiology. Now I just have to wait until May and see if it gets funded.

October 13, 2005

The love–hatred–relationship with the Internet

Help! Until yesterday I hadn't realised my severe addiction to the Internet. Having lived in a house without the World Wide Web for three weeks I was already having clear withdrawal symptoms and anxiously looking forward to connecting to the Net.
Well, yesterday I managed to purchase a WLAN card in Coventry in hope of making friends with my laptop again. After installing the software and trying to connect for 90 minutes I was just about to explode of anger and frustration! Good job we didn't have a hammer in the house, otherwise there'd be nothing left of my computer!
We are looking into different internet providers now(no more wireless! ever!) and I'm counting seconds to the moment when our house moves on to the new modern era with a functioning Internet-connection.

Apart from this constant warfare between me and my laptop, the start of the new term has been good. This week we are having labs every day as well as lectures, which means I'm so knackered there's not much energy left for anything else.

My mum Ritva came to visit me last week. We celebrated her 50th bday in Birmingham by wandering around, going on the Wheel of Birmingham(Birmingham-version of the London Eye), visiting an art gallery and having a meal in a Chinese restaurant.
Afterwards we went back to mine for a glass champagne.
She brought me rye-bread and cheese from Finland, yummy!

Tomorrow we are celebrating Erika's 20th birthday and I promised to bake her a cake. We have cool neighbours. Me and Erika went around yesterday to ask whether the party is ok, than they just went "Oh, come on in! It's so lovely to meet our new neighbours" and we were chatting for ages. Sophie was worried and thought we might have been kidnapped by evil people next-door.
At least they weren't evil.

September 18, 2005

Canley, my home

Last summer days in Finland are over and I have now moved to my lovely new house in the scary Coventry. In fact, Coventry is nowhere near as bad as its reputation, and so far Iíve been mainly positively surprised at the house.

Before my return to England I spent crazy days with my international friends Julia(England!) and Katrin(Germany!). Juliaís written her verdict on the Finnish smoke-sauna, muurinpohjalettu, howling wolves and much more on her blog: www.spaces.msn.com/members/agueda
Check it out, itís seriously funny!

Katrin visited me in Helsinki and we went to our holiday house to Joutsa as well. Of all the things including weird Finnish dishes and sauna and even bio-toilet Katrin was most shocked (and amused) at Finnish alkies. She got to see this interesting side of Finland when we did a day-trip to Estonia across the Baltic See. The ship was loaded with part-time alcoholics, who were thrilled to buy tax-free alcohol. In Estonia the situation didnít significantly improve, and probably half of the passengers spent the day pouring 80% Viru Valgee or similar down their throats. How surprising that Finns are known as _poro _(Finnish for reindeer) on the southern side of the bayÖ! Finns seriously resemble these arctic animals when standing, walking or crawling in the middle of the road with a confused look in their eyes. Apart from the fact that reindeer donít swear of course.

Having survived this alkie-populated ship and eastern suburbs of Tallinn, where everything was written in Russian(!), Katrin headed to Germany and I to England.

I arrived on Saturday the 10th at Birmingham, where Chris and Matt were already waiting for me! It was really nice to see them and we drove straight to Leamington Spa to their place. We went to Kenilworth Blockbusters where I used to work last year and my colleague generously let us rent 2 DVDs free. We had then Indian take-away. The best Indian food in Europe is definitely made in England. YUM!
I was trying to call my landlord to find out when I could pick up the key to my house. There are 3 of us living together, but I was the first one to arrive and therefore desperately needed to collect the key. Well, the landlord didnít come back to me, so Matt and Chris let me stay at their house over night. It was actually really convenient, because they had a spare bed(the German flatmate hadnít moved in yet. They concluded it must be because of excessive usage of German beer) and we watched the film Aviator. If you havenít seen it yet, donít touch it! If you have made it to the end, congratulations! Itís 3 and half hours long(read: way too long!) and I kept falling asleep when watching it.

On Sunday I finally moved into my new house!! When I left England in June I left most of my stuff at Helenís house in Kenilworth, so I had to collect that and then took a taxi with all my stuff in to Canley. The house is not huge but fair-size. Weíve got a kitchen and a lounge downstairs, and 3 bedrooms and a bathroom upstairs. Thereís a garden on each side of the house. And apparently we have to keep mowing the lawn, this is stated on the contract. Sophie already moved in on last Tuesday and Erikaís coming on this Tuesday.

The only problem we have noticed so far is the shower. Waterís dripping so slowly that feels like standing in the rain. I and Sophie decided we are going to do a lot of exercise this year and shower in the Sports Centre. I also have the boiler in my room now. First Sophie was living in this room but couldnít apparently sleep because of the noise from the boiler. Even now I can hear the cheerful rhythm from the boiler but itís luckily so quiet it didnít really disturb my sleep last night.
Surprisingly we haven't had any chavs, junkies, drunkies or any kind of dodgy people bombarding the house! I've only heard our neighbour sing a song I couldn't recognise and another one in the bathtub. Yes, the walls are so thin I can even follow their conversations and hear the water move! The reason I didn't know the song may be a gap in my music knowledge. Or more likely, because the artist wasn't perhaps fully qualified…

On Wednesday I traveled to north-England to Hartford to see Julia. The train station is right next to our house, so I didnít have to walk far. I was really lost the Coventry station and got on a train to Aberdeen, Scotland. In the end I made it to Hartford.
On Thursday we visited Chester. It was raining quite heavily but we got on a city tour bus(open-top) and Julia got really wet sitting next to a leaking window.
Chester is a really old town, it was once governed by the Romans and thereís still an old Roman amphitheatre in the town. However, the Roman houses had been destroyed and instead the centre was full of Tudor houses. They typically have black cross-patterns on the white background as decorations, and I always had thought this style is typically German! The houses of Chester hadnít been actually built in the Tudor era but a lot later in Victorian times. Then there was an interesting road system called ďThe RowsĒ. In this system you would have the roads in a way ďinside the houseĒ so the outer walls of the long houses were drawn back and the roads were covered with the ceiling of the house.
There were these roads in the ground and first floors. I guess, itís a type of an ancient shopping centre.

On Friday we went to a salt museum in Hartford. Thereís a big salt mine in Cheshire and a developed canal system they used for the transport. When they first started mining salt from below the town, it resulted in subsidence and the ground sunk. Nowadays the methods are better.
On Friday night there was a little ďleaving-for-the-uniĒ-party and we cooked curry for lots of people. On Saturday morning we set off for Warwick again and Juliaís parents brought us here.

The Orientation Week for the new international students will start tomorrow at Warwick and Iím volunteering as a Helper. 850 new students will arrive and there are 80 Helpers.
Should be an interesting and fun week!
The term starts on the 26th with a gene technology lab.

August 14, 2005

From Berlin to Helsinki

I know havenít updated my blog for about half a century and people probably think Iím either dead or have been abducted by the aliens…
Tons of things have happened to me. Thereís a ďlittleĒ summary(more of a novel) of my last 4 weeks in Berlin written already at the time I was there. Unfortunately I never came round to putting it on my blog, but better late than not at all.

Sunday 24.07.05

Right, itís 2:44 am and I just got back from Soda-salsa club from Prenzlauer Berg.
I must be insane since Iím writing blog diary instead of falling asleep in my cozy bed. Itís probably thanks to Crazy-Carlos at the internship and Swiss-Thomas behind my wall that I discovered this fun latino music and my enthusiasm is so overwhelming that my little report cannot wait till tomorrow.
A half-Japanese, half-German student called Taro mentioned they organize salsa classes always before the parties. So we decided to go together today. And besides, I desperately needed some tuition as have never danced salsa before and am all over the place with my big feet. Considering that Iím usually destroying my dance-partnersí feet if they dare to come anywhere close we thought itís probably safer to take some classes first. So I went with Taro tonight and Thomas, Carla and Corinna joined us later.
Salsaís really fun and the basic steps are actually not all that difficult. Merengue is also good as I donít have to know any steps and men lead the dance anyway. I danced some salsa with Tora and then merengue with Thomas. After 6 hours of dancing I was absolutely knackered and realized that Iíve just missed my last underground back to Tiergarten where I live. Conveniently the night buses are real sight-seeing trips and circle around and about in central Berlin before finding their way to Zoologischer Garten. Luckily Tora offered to give me a lift and we went to get the car.
It was cool to walk around the dark streets of Prenzlauer Berg and visit an old Berliner building. Apparently all the buildings in the area are built by the same pattern. I imagine itís a bit like all those student houses in Coventry in Earlsdon which look exactly identical to each other. The ceilings are really high and on the street-side thereís a huge lobby. We went through tall doors with decorative windows and all the colours and shapes in the lobby were really pretty. Then typically comes Innenhof, a gap surrounded by walls of the house on every side. These Berlin houses are really tall so the lowest floors in this type of houses are very dark. The flats sometimes have windows only on the Innenhof-side so living in such a flat must be as depressing as November in Finland.The flats are also weird, can you imagine originally there was no shower. In Taroís flat the shower was randomly built later at the corner of the corridor next to the kitchen. Strange! And very picturesque, when exiting the building I spotted 2 holes made by a bullet in these decorative windows. So thatís what the ex-DDR houses are like.
I never can get used to the fact that Berlin was divided. We were driving along Gleimstrasse, where this house was located. The house was initially on the east-Berlin side and after driving under a bridge we were suddenly on the west-side of Berlin without even turning off the road.
Siegmundís Hof is random. I got back and couldnít get out of the lift as the door-way was taped up with cellotape. There was a piece of bread taped to my door as well without any sensible reason! This house is full of freaks but at least they are nice ones.
It was such a beautiful day today. We sat on the balcony in the sunshine. I made pancakes Finnish style, with strawberry jam and whipped cream on the top and we ate water melon. We dragged our dear sofa to the balcony and I, Philip(Poland), Afroditi(Greece) and Christian(Cameroon) squeezed on the sofa and started singing Beatles as loud as possible. Philip even had some notes with him so we could read the words even if we didnít know the melodies for all of them. Itís a strange feeling as all the people are leaving in a week or so and traveling back to their home countries. I might not see these people ever again. However, the moment at the balcony today was so gorgeous that any description doesnít make it justice.

On Saturday we had a big party in our floor to celebrate the end of exams. Indeed, the poor German students still have to take exams at the end of July! When getting ready for the party, we headed to Aldi, the cheapest shop around. The 5 of us carried a massive load of drink and food back to Siegmundís Hof. We suffered some losses though when we had a little break and I set my crate on the window sill for a bit. Of course it had to kip and consequently there was a bottle of wine on the ground. Laa-la-laa-la, it wasnít meÖ
Unfortunately that wasnít the end for my destruction derby. At the start of the party Enrico brought a football to our common room and showed us so cool tricks. I wanted to have a go as well and smashed the glass of boiling hot Raki Afroditi had just poured for me and hit the bowl of peanuts. So we had pretty Raki decorations on the wall and the ruins of the glass in the floor which was now covered with peanuts. Enrico thought Iím a walking disaster, which is not too far from the truth. So still surprised I wanted to take some salsa classes before dancing?! Just out of respect to my dance-partnerís feet.

Our halls are very international. In fact, I believe there is one single German person living in this house and there are 140 rooms. And thereíre no guarantees for the state of the mental health of this particular person. I found some real Berliners in the Bierkeller on the Saturday night and was absolutely excited. In the end, Iíve come to Berlin to see some German culture and practice the language etc. and I had met just 1 Berliner before. So I invited the real Berliners to our party.

The only German people I had met here before that were Warwick students. There are so many of us in Berlin now that thereís no need to found the debated Asian campus. We already have an exchange campus here.

The fact how small Berlin is kept amazing me throughout my stay. On one these boiling-hot days, I traveled to Schlachtensee for a swim. As soon as I got into water a friendly familiar face was greeting me. Filip, my neighbour was there as well.
Another day I was standing at the Leopoldplatz underground station eating cherries. In Berlin, and in Wedding in particular, there are lots of little stands where fresh fruit and vegetable are being sold. Standing at the station lost in thought I noticed someone had put his hand in my bag! It was the crazy Carlos trying to steal the cherries.
In the city of 4 million people you would think you never randomly bump into people you know. I love the fact that such a massive city can be so friendly and feel so small.

Katrin visited me in Berlin for a weekend. That was a nice weekend of sight-seeing and chilling. And partying of course. My British neighbour Nik and the Italian Alesso offered to take us out as they know the Berlin night clubs way better than me and Katrin. However we ended up in this dreadful club called Q-Dorf absolutely packed with wasted and sweaty people. The only way to handle this disaster was to drink some tequila. After that the bar seemed ok actually and we were dancing till 6 in the morning. We saw a pretty sunrise at the broken tower of Gedšchtniskirche as we walked back to Siegmunds Hof.

Xian, my Finnish-Chinese friend, came to visit me in Berlin as well. She is a hard-core tourist. We saw more castles than Iíve seen in the last 10 years altogether. And she even had energy to visit museums, which I didnít manage. We found a really nice Singapore restaurant after about an hourís search. This was thanks to Xianís obsession with Chanterelle-mushrooms(Chantharellus cibarius). It was Chanterelle season in Germany and these mushrooms have not only a beautiful taste but a distinctive pretty yellow color. We didnít find a restaurant with Chantarelle dishes so went to this Asian fusion restaurant in the end.

I visited Sachsenhausen concentration camp north from Berlin. Thatís a scary place and made me feel very anxious and uncomfortable. Itís unbelievable that these horrors took place only a few decades ago. Concentration camps are a proof of the stupidity of the mankind. No other animal species treats the individuals of their community with such cruelty and insanity. I was walking around the camp for 4 hours, listening from the audio guide to the stories of people who had survived it.

In my last week in Berlin I had to move out and I was living with Erika for a few days. That was really fun and we spent our days doing the internships and the nights going out. We saw all our dear friends in the last week: Mahmout, Warwick-people, Taro, who made sushi for us(yummy!) I was constantly so knackered that kept passing out at inappropriate times and situations. Me, Erika and Taro were trying to watch a film and I saw 5 minutes into it before nodding off. And it seemed like a good film.
I got into a habit of taking my pillow with me and sleeping on the underground on the way to work and when coming back at night.

I returned to Finland on Friday the 6th of August and after getting pick up by my brother and his BMW we headed straight to Joutsa to our holiday house. On the Saturday we traveled all the way to North Karelia to my cousinís wedding which was one of the best Iíve ever been to(this really telling something considering I have more than 20 cousins)
The groom is Austrian and half of his family was there as well. I think the Austrianís were both amazed and confused with some Finnish traditions such as rubber boot throwing competition accompanied by sahti, Finnish home-brewed beer kind of thing. There was karaoke as well, and a brilliant afterparty at the cabin where the Austrians stayed. My cousin Riikka had particularly said sheíd like to have SingStar Playstation2-game for wedding present and that was definitely a great choice. We were singing it in the afterparty so much that I could barely speak on the following day. The ďhighlightĒ of the day was probably when coming back from the church and getting on the car I heard a tiny ďcratcshĒ. I discovered it was my short dress breaking down and getting even shorter every time I moved! We had to drive to the centre of Joensuu to buy a needle and thread so I could sew my dress, otherwise the backside of it wouldíve been open all the way to my waist! No joke and not funny at the time!
Brand clothes are a hoax anyway. This dress was probably the first one Iíve ever bought in Benetton instead of H&M or similar. At least I save money and thoughts when I can keep buying cheap, cheerful and long-lasting clothes in my favourite Swedish cloth shop.
I didnít return to Helsinki until Wednesday and found my e-mail inbox full of Juliaís panicky letters trying to ask if Iím coming to pick her up on Friday. Poor Julia, I hadnít said Iím spending a few days out of civilization and without the Internet. I guess, the fact that I hadnít updated the blog for ages didnít helpÖ
Oh well, she got here in the end after two delays with terrible KLM flights and we visited Suomenlinna the see-fortress yesterday. It was a bit of an adventure because of the track-and-field World Championships which currently take place in Helsinki. Consequently all accommodation in Helsinki and the surrounding areas is fully booked. As a result I had 4 Austrians, my cousin Riikka and Julia all staying in our house at the same time. We had a struggle to find the ferry to Suomenlinna as the sport organizers had decided to put the marathon track in the middle of the centre and the marketplace and our multicultural Finnish-English-Austrian group was neatly stuck on the wrong side as the athletes ran by. Great! This is gonna make me hate sports even more!
We had a wet sauna as there was something wrong with the settings, went out and only returned after 2 oíclock.

July 08, 2005

Watermelon and Feta Cheese, yummy!

I've had panicky phone calls and worried e-mail regarding my entry about Berlin-Wedding-ghetto.
Don't worry people, I'm still alive. As long as I keep updating my blog you know that I haven't been attacked.

Besides, I do consider myself lucky for being in Berlin now. I can't believe what happened in London yesterday and feel sorry for the innocent victims of the terrorist attack. What does al-Qaeda gain by doing that? Sick.

Tuesday 05.07.2005

Yesterday I got a chance to try this obscure combination which is apparently also a popular Jordanian national dish. It tastes actually better than sounds. I found myself in this very bizarre situation:
I sat on a sofa next to a Jordanian student who was wearing a Suomi-Finland T-shirt. I was eating watermelon with feta cheese, watching an overdramatic non-subtitled Arabian soap opera from the 80ís and wondering if the burning coal on the table was a great idea in terms of fire safety. Window decorations (or similar, not entirely sure about their function) were original: windows were covered with kitchen foil. Beautiful.

Berlin is full of interesting characters. Last Saturday me, Erika, Laura and Annika went to explore Berlin night life and bumped into a guy asking for a cigarette. He promised he and his friends would sing to us in return. Cheerful singing for the tiny expense of one cigarette sounded good so they started singing ďIch bin ein echtes CountryboyÖĒ that was absolutely hilarious and they were really great! They actually perform as well and we were invited to a concert. I need to ask Laura if I can get hold of the video she shot that night because it possibly canít be described how funny they were!

Other than random situations like this, my days are filled with work. My work experience is really demanding and just today I spent 10 and half hours in the lab. Itís exhausting but also fun because of our team. I work mainly with Carlos, the PhD student from Cuba who is really crazy. Carlos calls me constantly Barbara and sings this Cuban song ďOh, BarbaraÖĒ. Also apparently Iím also ďSeine GrosseĒ and today I was also called Sandra. In return I call him Kalle, the Finnish version of his name and I have a repertoire of Finnish songs I sing to him and to the reagent tubes. Realistically, apart from this audience no one else could probably put up with my performance. Also I have discovered that it is possible to speak German, Spanish, English and Finnish in the same sentence and it still makes sense!
Yesterday I thought he is going to explode of anger as I made so many mistakes and didnít have a clue what was going on. He even stopped singing the ďOh, BarbaraĒ Ė song and thatís a really concerning sign!
Uli is a German girl who also does an internship in the lab. She was very creative today when trying to build some equipment and made a tripod-looking supportive element by bending metallic paper clips. In my opinion it looked like a halo, and I tried to explain this association in German. Tired as I was and my German is what it is, I called the little thing The Angel Circle. When the others looked a bit confused I called it a Holy Sign instead. At this point they concluded that I must have inhaled too many evaporative chemicals.
Even if the lab work in this mad team is fun, I have also learned something. I can now do protein SDS-electrophoresis by myself from scratch. I should be able to do Western Blot as well which is good for recognizing different proteins according to antibody specificity. And today we did protein isolation and purification.

Wednesday 6.7.05

Launderette is the ultimate place for socializing! Everyone who lived in Claycroft this year knows how obsessed I am with launderettes.
I had survived 13 days without doing laundry so I was dying to wash my clothes. Interestingly I had to buy a washing card + credit in our Bierkeller. Does it maybe tell something about the German culture that all the activities are focused around the BierkellerÖ?
Eventually managed to find the launderette and even got some laundry done. Whilst waiting for the cycle to run I was chatting to an Italian student and met an Indian student. Can you believe the Italian guy used hand soap instead of washing powder? I learned thereís more to Milan than just fashion (apparently a beautiful city, high buildings and the roads located in the middle of the tiny gaps between the buildings) and that in Delhi there are 12 million people and no-one knows how many holy cows.

I love the internationality of the place. In my floor there is a group of Greeks, Italians, a few Chinese students, a Mongolian, a Russian, 2 from Cameroon, a Swiss and a Britton.
I just enjoyed Cameroonian dinner tonight when Christopher made me some gorgeous chicken-peanut sauce. It reminded a little bit of the Chinese Satay-sauce. I must get the recipe!
It was funny at work experience today as I spotted the BBC news about how unbearable Finnish food is. Apparently Jacques Chirac, Vladimir Putin, Gerhard SchrŲder and a Finnish euro-representative had enjoyed some Finnish delicacies. Or in fact our friend Jacques hadnít enjoyed the dishes but slated the Finnish food culture and this caused a massive uproar in the self-conscious Finland. The article was written in such a funny way that I couldnít stop laughing. I sounded like we were living on a different planet or at least in the Stone Age. Of course Finnish people live out in the sticks in a place called PŲpelikkŲ, surrounded by bears and lakes and eat nothing but fish, reindeer and elk meet and pick fresh mushrooms and berries from the forest every day. Thatís how it goes!
Having read the article I should be even more motivated to learn the Cameroonian recipe but honestly thereís also some really great food in Finland. You canít beat muurinpohjalettu, a pan cake made on open fire and eaten with cream and berries (fresh, picked from the forest every day!) And Karelian stew with potato mash is also really good!

I met some Christian people today as they came to our floor to discuss faith and religious issues. One of the girls, Sharon is moving to Warwick in a month and doing a Christian mission also in England and is going to be involved in the Warwick Christian Union! Itís a small world: Sharon is from Northern Ireland, we met now in Berlin and Iíll see her later this year at Warwick!

Also at the same table sat Nick, the British student, Afrodite from Greece and Christopher. Nick doesnít know German and Christopher and Afrodite donít speak much English. So I would interpret most of the things from English to German or vice versa. Itís so cool being able to speak different languages! My German vocabulary is not as good as my English one but I compensate this by speaking at least as much as I do in other languages. Considering the fact that I never shut up anyway you can imagine how much the others get to talkÖ

In theory I learned to count to hundred in Spanish today Ė I and Carlos got bored during some incubations. In practice, Iíve forgotten all about it now. Finnish numbers are so hard to remember that Carlos didnít learn them despite our efforts. Also I learned quite a few lines from the ďOh, BarbaraĒ-song, donít have a slightest idea what Iím singing though.

I was buzzing around Berlin by U-Bahn for 2 hours trying to find a cheap and quick place to get my photos developed. For my disappointment no place would do the photos today so I decided I might as well wait 2 days to get them done and pay a really low rate for them. So on Friday Iíll finally get my pics from Salzburg, Munich and Berlin.

July 04, 2005

The many sides of Berlin

I've just discovered a completely new side of Berlin.

Earlier I was somehow too busy worrying about my accommodation and being robbed and raped on the dodgy roads of Wedding. Now I've seen more of Berlin and its history and my worries seem so tiny in comparison.
The history is everywhere. In the centre is Gedšchtniskirche, a church with half a roof and smashed windows because it was left that way after the war. I went to the Brandenburger Tor on Saturday and they had a "timeline" with photos explaining the events of the war and the building and the fall of the Berlin Wall. When the Wall still separated the 2 halves, West- and East-Berlin, people on the west side would have to go through Brandenburger Tor to visit the east.
In this timeline they also had a picture of the ruins if Coventry Cathedral. It looked different but was still recognisable.
I can't possibly imagine, that the Wall still separated the 2 worlds just 16 years ago.

Berlin is really green. I live now near Tiergarten, the Berlin Zoo and within a walking distance to the centre. In fact I can walk through beautiful woods to Siegessšule and Brandenburger Tor. I'm getting to know my way around though it's taking a long time. On Friday I tried to walk from Berlin Zoo the Brandenburger Tor and conveniently I had no map on me. I thought I would know the way, but got completely lost. The walk should have taken maybe 30 mins at the most, but I was wandering around for an hour and a half…at least I saw some beautiful scenery.

Erika came to Berlin from Poland on Friday night. We had some dinner with her aunt Elli and her Polish relative(not grandma, but grandma's cousin or something…). It's so nice to see Warwick people here!
We had a wander around the western side of the centre, KurfŁrstendamm etc.
Also Erika kindly gave me some bed sheets, a pillow and a cover, which were more than welcome. At the moment it's so hot here in Berlin that I don't actually need a bed cover so I use it as curtains instead. There's a road behind my window and before that I had no curtains so that was interesting…

On Saturday me and Erika went to the Live8-demonstration concert, which is part of the "Make Poverty History"-campaign. Concerts also took place in Philadelphia, London and Paris simultaneously and just in Berlin there were 200,000 people who participated.
That was really amazing especially considering that there are only half a million people in Helsinki which is the biggest city in Finland by far.

July 01, 2005

Goodbye Altenheim, welcome ERASMUS people!

Tuesday 28.06.05

Berlin, Iranische Strasse 6, Paul-Fleishmann-Haus 4, Obergeschoss, Zimmer 413

Right, Berlin is completely different from what I expected.
Having lived now in this care-home surrounded by ancient people Iím not only fed up but also scared. So far I have been here for 3 days and havenít met a single young person in this building. Even the cleaning ladies are pretty old Ė and also the only women in this house apart from me. What on Earth happens to the old ladies? Do they just kick the bucket earlier than their husbands or have they been hijacked by the aliens?! I canít think of any sensible explanation for why the house is crowded with old dudes.
Iím also getting sick of walking 50 yards to go to the loo. Besides, the toilets are esthetically nowhere near satisfactory with their poor painting work, horrible lighting and the lack of toilet paper. And the corridor along which I have to walk to the toilet is well scary! Have you ever seen the film The Grudge? Ok, imagine the bureau house in that film with the stair case, the empty long echoing corridors and cold white lights. Thatís where I live now! Even the lift is identical apart from the lack of the window. I havenít seen any dodgy-looking girls with black tangled hair yet and no-oneís tried to pull me into the water sink and drown me but apart from that everything is identical.
I felt so paranoid when coming back to my room tonight that I didnít dare to look down the stair case in case there was a load of black hair rapidly approaching me!

I prefer spending most of my time locked up in my room because itís safe at least. Today however, I felt I have to get out since am not used to this sort of oddities such as constantly being alone. So I headed to the gym which is included in my obscenely high rent. The Germans love their A4s! Apparently it wasnít enough that I had my ID on me but Iíd also have to get an additional paper slip proving that I actually live in this Altenheim. Kinda of makes sense though because you donít get many 20-year-old girls living with a bunch of old blokesÖ

Thatís about exercise then, I was already heading back to my room when felt a sudden urge to use the Internet. There are these Ahmed Tele/Internet places in every corner, so popped in and surfed for about an hour. At some point started to feel a bit uncomfortable when realized Iím not just the only female in the room but also the only white person.
On the top of that some random Turkish guy next to me was trying to chat me up and I decided itís time to leave. I felt terrified walking on the dark streets surrounded by these horrible guys. One started to follow me with his car, opened the window and shouted: ďLecker!Ē=ĒTasty!Ē and was blowing kisses at me. It was horrible, I felt really intimidated and tried to ignore him the best I could.

Iím going to talk to the accommodation people in the morning as cannot possibly handle a whole month in this mental house! I had a very abrupt reply to my query today as rang the people and got maybe half way through explaining what the problem was when they said there are no other rooms available. German efficiencyÖthat was the quickest reply ever!

The area around the house is really funny actually. I would estimate 90% of the people on the street are of Turkish, Arabian or African origin and this is no exaggeration. Then the remaining tenth are older hippy-style people often with grayish long hair. There are really interesting people out there!

The work experience is really good anyhow. The people there are fun and normal, a few of them a bit more reserved but at least not scary. And the general atmosphere is much more relaxed than I expected. There is a Cuban PhD student Carlos in our research group who is always explaining how they make The Real Havana cigars. Then a Turkish woman who is also fun and complains how she doesnít want to live in Germany and sheís been here for 35 years now. The German Praktikants, the students who are doing their work experience, are nice as well. Then there is me, a crazy Finn, who explains about ice-swimming world championship which takes place in her beautiful home country.

We are studying the Borna virus and I find the research really interesting. Borna virus infects the blood stream and the brain and causes behavioural changes such as depression. At the moment we are working on the genome and specifically so-called M-protein encoded by a gene in the viral genome. The gene was copied to a plasmid which then was transformed into a bacterial cell and today we were studying the expression of the gene in E.coli Rosetta strain. Itís well cool, but something went wrong and the bacteria didnít start growing until 5 hours later than they were supposed to and it was therefore a long day.

Tomorrow is going to be a fun day. Josh from Denmark is coming to visit me. I canít wait to get some sensible company! Warwick power!

Wednesday 29.06.05

This morning was interesting. I went to the Stiftung(the building association which let me the room) bureau. Conveniently they were supposed to be closed today but luckily they were open. Knowing my luck, I had to talk to this miserable bitch who would even listen to me. So I started shouting and going on about WHAT LIARS THEY ARE and how unimpressed I am and that I WANT MY MONEY BACK! At this point the other 2 customers in the bureau had gone quiet as well as the 2 ladies advising them and I had 5 sets of eyes staring at me. The older lady behind the near desk jumped at me and said sheís able to sort something out for me. After a few phone calls they were ready offer me a room in another house which was supposed to be full according to my query yesterday + what the bitch had said to me 5 minutes before. I love the German language though, itís brilliant for arguing and sounds so aggressive!
The room they offered is stupidly expensive so I decided to make a few more phone calls at work and managed to find something more promising where Iíll be able to move tomorrow.
I explained everything at my work experience and those people are so fantastic and encouraging. We have this Turkish lady in my research group who was really happy to help and said she has a spare room in her house. So off we went as soon as we had a lunch break. Really funny, because I donít even remember her name and she didnít know mine until we went to the apartment and she had to introduce me to her husband. So Iíll call her GŁnsl here. GŁnslís place was really nice actually in a beautiful area. The room I could have got was massive, maybe 4 times the size of the room Iím now in. I also met GŁnslís daughter, husband and some Turkish guy, probably a family member as well. It was really interesting because we had said weíll go really quick and rush back but then we had time to drink some coffee and talk in Turkish(well, I just listened and GŁnsl translated)about how cars get dirty so quick and where GŁnsl and her husband will travel on the holiday. Then I got a little sight-seeing tour in GŁnslís car and she showed me KaDeWe and Gedšchtniscirche and KurfŁrstendamm.
We went back to the lab and I felt bad for leaving my Cuban friend alone with all the work. Candy also was really helpful with the housing situation and tried to call a girl who had done work experience with her again because she was supposed to know about housing. Tonight Iím going out with the German Laura and her friends and if I donít stop writing now Iíll be very late!

Friday 1.7.05

After some confusion and many events I've managed to move to halls and am surrounded now with ERASMUS-students! It feels like Warwick and I'm really happy I moved.
Yesterday morning Miss Bitch was already waiting in the office and told me to get out before I had even said anything. Amazingly, I managed to get a refund for the "carehome-room" I had paid for and realised I'm actually saving 105 euros when I'm living in this new accommodation.
The timing to move out was perfect as the neighbours on Iranische Strasse were getting a bit too friendly. Just when I had signed the contract yesterday and returned to pack my stuff, a 60-year old bloke next door started talking to me and suggested he would make me a cup of coffee and we could get to know each other better…no thanks!
Then I dragged my stuff to Siegmunds Hof(my new accommodation) accompanied by a random guy who started talking to me on the U-Bahn Station and eagerly wanted to help me with my luggage.
I live with really cool people now. Last night I went out Italian, Belgian and Greek ERASMUS students and they are really friendly. Apparently there are also 2 Finns living in my building! ERASMUS parties are exactly the same as in Warwick, apart from the lack of German exchange students.
I slept better than in a long time even if I had no linen, pillow or cover. But I had my dear LIPSOC-hoodie under my head and all the fun students around me, so I couldn't wish for more!!

June 26, 2005

Brandenburger Concerto à la Laura

Iím now on my own in a little room in Berlin. The room is located in the top floor of a massive ugly post-war concrete house, which is colonized by a bunch of 50-year-old balding men. The course of events which has lead to this peculiar situation is the following:

Over the last few years it has come really popular among Finns to buy a car in Germany. The prices are considerably much lower and german cars are respected and well-built. So, since I was going to travel in Germany anyway, my brother Verkku decided he has to come over and buy a great german car. Verkku just passed the driving test about 32 days ago and was extremely excited about the task.
Katrinís family generously helped us and accommodated my brother. They put us in touch with the previous owner of the car and helped with the daunting german law regulations involved in the international car registration. Without their help it would not have been possible to the car business sorted.

On Wednesday night 22.6 at 1.19

My brother Verkku arrived at Nuremberg railway station having flown first to Riga, Latvia and then to Munich. Me and Katrin were really knackered after a few active days and late nights and still went to Nuremberg already 2 hours earlier. It was a struggle to stay awake till my brother came. When we eventually found him and set off to go back to Katrinís, we realized we donít know the way. We spent about one hour zigzagging on the dual carriage way leading to Krottensee thinking that weíve gone wrong somewhere. The lack of road signs is a serious problem in Germany because we were all the time on the right road but the road signs were so confusing that we thought we should go elsewhere. But we got back in the end, after 3 oíclock.

In the Thurday morning 23.6

we got up late Ė lovely Ė and had early lunch at Katrinís grandmaís. Katarina is so sweet, I told her that my grandma in Finland died recently and she said she is now my grandma in Germany. When I went to greet her a few days before(thatís 3 years since I had last seen her) she had the biggest smile on her face and she said ďMeine Enkelin ist zurŁckgekommen!Ē (My granddaughter has returned!) ďMeine deutsche OmaĒ made us a beautiful lunch with the vegetables from her own garden. We had vegetable soup with Kohlrabe, then lamb and KnŲdels and salad. We were extremely full after the meal and headed to Schwimmbad, a outdoor-swimming pool as it was really hot once again. At around 4 we went to have a look at the car my brother wanted to buy. That was actually Katrinís cousinís car, a 10-year-old BMW which is still in a nice condition. He did a test drive, was happy with the car and decided he wants to buy it. Then we started a battle with horrible German laws concerning the car registration etc. We made so many phone calls and were really stressed on Thursday night, thinking that we are not even able to get the car to Finland. The biggest problem was the hectic timetable as Verkku had to be in Finland by Monday morning and had already booked the ferry tickets from Rostock for the Saturday night. The registration offices are only open till 12.30 on Fridays. In the Friday morning me, Katrin, Verkku and another grandmother drove to Eschenbach with the registration plates of the car, and amazingly managed to get all the paper work sorted by the time the office closed. My brother was really the happiest person on the Earth when he was given the keys of the car and it was confirmed that he can take the car back home.
It was also an experience to do business with Katrinís cousinís family. They live in a farm house in a tiny village called Zirkendorf in Bavaria. Just picture a perfect country-side image: lots of cows, the cow smell, dogs running around, women with scarves in their heads. The also spoke with a strong Bavarian accent and knew only a few words in English which made things very interesting. Even better is that my brother doesnít speak much German either. So my brother was speaking English to them and the replied in German. Occasionally they got stuck and I interpreted the best I could. It was really interesting as my german vocabulary regarding cars is not extensive. Amazingly, it all worked out really well.

Then on Friday 24.6

Katrin had her college-graduation at school and me and Verkku wandered around Pegnitz, ate some beautiful ice cream and bought ďa ufo lampĒ for Katrinís brother David as a birthday present. We canít thank their family enough as it was such a major effort from them and we would not have been able to buy the car without their help.
We had a fantastic time on Friday night, everyone was pleased the car business worked out well and we grilled at their patio which overlooks their garden and lovely fields. We also tried playing a little bit of music, I did the keyboard, and we also had 2 guitars and the drums. David and Philip are really talented and I felt a bit stupid for making so many mistakes when playing the keyboard. The main thing was anyway that it was good fun. We had the gorgeous food: grill steaks and chicken breasts with Chakalaka sauce and then we had ďEiszšppchensalatĒ, a salad made of this white, carrot-shape vegetable which grows underground (I donít think we get it in England or Finland). We had Weissbier and cocktails and talked for hours and hours. They are so great people we did not want to leave them at all!
Everyone else went to bed then and me and Katrin stayed at the patio talking. Suddenly we heard a shriek and then some loud music. Then Katrin remembered that there is a big midsummer celebration in Neuhaus that night with Johannisfeuer, a big bonfire. This is similar to Finnish Juhannus, which we also celebrate in the end of June with the bonfires. Since we felt it was such a shame to go to bed, we decided to walk to the party. It was interesting because we left the house at half past midnight and had no idea where the party was Ė we were just trying to follow the music. Eventually the party was maybe 3 kilometers away but the area is so quiet that we could hear it clearly at the patio. We were really tired when we got there and people were already packing away all the stuff so we only stayed for 10 mins and then walked back.

Today, on Saturday 25.6

got up around seven, packed our stuff, said goodbye to the family and sang David a bday song in Finnish. Then we had to leave to Berlin by my brotherís new BMW. I canít wait to see the Gradls again as they are just fantastic!
The trip went really quick until we reached the ring road, Berliner Ring. The road signs were rubbish once again and we ended up somewhere outside Berlin. We had to go back and then ended up in east-Berlin we hadnít been trying to go.
However, it was a funny experience and we were completely lost and Berlin is so huge that the city map we had didnít even cover the area where we were. Then saw a cool ancient Trabant, which was smoking so much that it definitely would not pass its M.O.T because of the environment damage. I didnít know that there are still those classic DDR cars around because I think their manufacturing was stopped maybe 30 years ago. Most cars on German roads are brand new or a few years old, so this amusing little vehicle really stood out.
Having driven all around Berlin for 90 minutes we eventually found the house where Iíll be living the next 5 weeks. The house vaguely reminds me from my trip to Belarus since itís extremely ugly from the outside. My room is really nice though, and I have a little balcony, 2 warderobes and a shower. Toilets are Öinteresting. I just had a look and the paint is peeling off the walls and there is no toilet paper. The kitchen is also interesting, and pretty filthy. I think Iíll be eating a lot of take-away when Iím here.
Food is really cheap, me and Verkku had original DŲner Kebap as soon as we got here. And indeed, Kebap is very good in Berlin. Now I can also finally understand why thereís constantly a debate about the Turks in Germany. There arve hardly any Turks in Bavaria, but Berlin is different and e.g. where I live it feels maybe half the people on the street were Turks. But that also means that you can buy really tasty kebap in Berlin.
It is very strange to be on my own again after having such a great and social time with a lot of people over the last 2 weeks. I seem to have some interesting neighbours, mainly they are old men, but Iíve already seen a woman as well and one younger asian guy.
Also some dude just came to my door and was just like ďOh cool, there is someone living in this room now. Iím living upstairs. Bye!Ē How random is that!

Adventures in Pegnitz and Prague

Monday 20.6

We got up early as Raimund had lectures. Itís almost criminal they have to do Uni still till the end of August in Bavaria, and they always tend to have the exams on weekends. Anyway, I had to say goodbye and head to the train to travel to Krottensee.
3 years ago I did a student exchange for a month in Germany and stayed then in a host family in Krottensee. Their daughter Katrin is roughly about my age and it was fantastic to see her again! We had a good time also at the time I did the exchange but I think it was even a hundred times better this time. I think on the first time we had a bit of a language barrier as I could not follow most things in German. Now we just couldnít stop talking and because it was a hot day we went to a Schwimmbad in Auerbach straight away. Schwimmbads are outdoor-swimming pool areas and typical for Germany. We also went to Auerbach and had a walk around and bought some ice cream. Many of the little ice cream kiosks which make the ice cream themselves, and it is really nice.

Tuesday – Prague 21.6

We visited Prague and Pilsen(officially Plzťn) in Czech Republic. It was a long and exhausting day but it was well worth the effort. We got lost all the time and the road signs were absolutely terrible in Czech Republic. Also it was fun as we didnít know any Czech apart from ďHelloĒ and that obviously doesnít get us very far. Most people knew neither German nor English. I could tell the difference in houses and the scenery as soon as we crossed the border. The houses are not as nicely maintained as in Germany and in many of them, the paint was peeling off and the gardens hadnít been looked after. They had some Finnish shops in Prague like the furniture shop Asko and Rannila, which sells everything needed for building houses etc.
The centre was really beautiful. There is the River Vltava in the middle and then lots of bridges and beautiful buildings. Unlike the other buildings we had seen on the way, the ones in the centre were in nice condition. There were a lot of tourists and I spotted at least 4 Finnish groups just in the centre. We climbed up the hill which overlooks the city and had a stroll in the garden.
We had had to park the car in an indoor car park as we were scared it will be stolen. We got a slip from the machine when we drove in and were supposed to pay at another machine when going out but the instructions were in Czech. Also the machine was presumably broken as it didnít accept our money which was even in the right currency. So we pressed the emergency button on the machine and after a while a scary tall security man came to us. He was wearing a big bulletproof vest and had a walkie-talkie in his hand. We tried to explain the problem but he didnít understand English or German and constantly kept talking to us in Czech even if we obviously didnít have a clue what he was saying. After about 5 minutes another man came there and luckily he knew some English and was able to help us.
We visited Pilsen on the way back and that was an experience. They had a big Street called America, apparently because the city was liberated by the U.S forces during the World War. Also they had lots of electric buses which drive on rails and therefore there was a big rusty rail network above the streets. We went to a bar in Pilsen, and instead of buying Pilsner, the beer that gets its name from this city, we bought some cocktails. They also had Swiss Cannabis Ice Tea, which they were eagerly advertising, but we thought itís better to stick to the cocktails. I guess cannabis is then legal in Czech Republic because otherwise they wouldnít be able to advertise like that. The road signs very incredibly difficult to interpret and it took about 6 hours to drive from Prague back to Krottensee.

Wednesday 22.6

Katrin had the Abischertz, the show organized by all the students who leave the college. Everyone had water guns, with which they were shooting the smaller students. Apparently earlier they used to gather all the small ones together on the schoolyard and make them completely wet using buckets and water balloons but now the principal had forbidden it. After that they had a special show in which they were making fun of their teachers. The teachers had a dancing competition and the principal had dressed up as Elvis Presley and 2 of the teachers as his security men. The principal even sang Elvis, and actually was pretty good. And I once though the German were so serious!

Proset, Proset, Proset, Gemütlichkeit

…eins, zwo, drei… ZUFER!

Saturday the 18th of June

Munich is absolutely brilliant!
I had a memorable day and a half in this great city of Munich and had the pleasure to stay in Raimundís massive mansion (also known as Raimundís home but it looked like a palace!). I arrived in Munich after 4 pm after an interesting train journey. Fortunately the German trains are reliable and really nice. However, this does not mean that all the passengers are. I spread my considerable amount of luggage all over the car hoping that nobody else will come there and disturb my journey but ďluckilyĒ a loud group of chavs found their way to the car and squeezed in. Conveniently, they also had a lovely 20-year old radio which played German rap. Brilliant! It was a unique journey.

Raimund picked me up from the railway station and as soon as we had left my luggage in his car we headed off to a Volksmusikkonzert. We walked through the centre and I was surprised to realize that I even reconised some places from my visit 3 years ago. We took the U-Bahn(the underground) to the Olympic Park, where a Volksmusikkonzert took place. The place had been built for the Olympic Games for 1972 and was massive compared to the Finnish Olympic Stadium.
The artist was Ambros, an Austrian singer who sings Volksmusik, quite traditional and very different from what Iím used to hearing in Warwick Studentsí Union.
The concert tent was boiling hot and really packed with people. The concert was a positive surprise and the music was honestly really fun. At the start I was pretty suspicious if the music is going to be any good. However, I enjoyed the music so much it was hard to believe that the concert went on as long as for 2 and half hours. The most famous song from Ambros is Ski Fahren, which apparently is always played in the ski resorts in the Alps. Quite a few Raimundís friends were around as well and I had a good chance to practice my German. Everyone was really hungry after jumping, singing and dancing in the hot tent for a couple of hours, so pizza and kebab was more than welcome. Unfortunately they donít sell my new favorite drink, Almdudler(the Austrian herb lemonade), in Germany so I had to have an apple schorle. That consists of half a bottle of apple juice and the other half of sparkling water.

We soon headed to the centre to meet Raimís sister and her friend. The concert had gone on for so long that it was already dark and Raimund only had his sunglasses as it had been really sunny at the time we went to the Olympic Park. It must have looked unusual to see someone wear sunglasses in the middle of the night.

We went for a cocktail in the centre and I started feeling really tired after having such a late night and a hectic day. I noticed itís probably the time to go to bed when I was speaking German, English and Finnish all at the same time and was making no sense whatsoever. We were supposed to go to a night club but then all of us were feeling so exhausted that we decided to take an U-Bahn to the car. I passed out at the U-Bahn station when we were waiting for the last train of the night.

We got off at the Marienplatz and as a ďpleasantĒ surprise discovered that we only have the escalators to one direction and of course that had to be down to the station rather than up, where we were trying to go. Crazy German design! We concluded that we have no option but run really quick up the escalators even if they were moving down. We started running but the escalators were moving really fast and it was much harder than we thought. Also I felt I was moving nowhere because as I was running up the escalators were coming down. I felt absolutely dead because I was so tired and also tipsy because I had just drunken a cocktail 15 mins before. Amazingly, I made it to the top and a random German guy was so amused with our task that he was following my struggle in the escalators and cheering. After running I could barely walk and I had to sit down for a while.
We got to Raimundís house which is absolutely huge with marble floors and stairs. It was very dark and as soon as we had dragged the mattress and sleeping bag to Raimís soom I just collapsed.

Sunday 19.6

We woke up after a good nightís sleep and had a lovely breakfast in the patio in the sun. There is a stream in the back garden and they even had some pet ducks like in Warwick. Sweet!
We walked around in the centre and climbed up Peterís Church tower where we had a lovely view over the city. We also went to a river where they had surfers.
We visited Hofbršuhaus, a famous brewery in Munich and I tried some Weissbier. I was a nice surprise as normally I donít particularly like beer. Weissbier has a sweeter and milder taste than lager, it is darker and unclear unlike lager. We tasted also some Weisswurst, Ēwhite sausageĒ which is unique for Munich. These sausages are first boiled in water and there are certain manners how you need to eat them. For instance when you pick the sausage from the boiling water you should not pierce the skin but lift it so that it remains intact. The taste was really nice and unfortunately you can only buy Weisswurst in Bavaria so Iíll have to handle the rest of the summer without it. There also was a camping equipment shop called Napapijri, which is very close to the Finnish word for the Arctic Circle. Weirdly, they had Norwegian flags everywhere.
After walking through the English Garden Park we drove to a Bergsee, a ďmountain lakeĒ. We went to a lake in Kochel, and the scenery was absolutely beautiful Water was really cold as these mountain lakes are typically very deep. It was relaxing just to swim and sunbathe. There was a tiny village at the lake and the lake was surrounded by the Alps.
We were trying to work out what a bumblebee is in German but we didnít get far. Raimund suggested it must be Bienemayer, which I doubt.
After coming back to the house, we went to a Biergarten near the house and had big Radlers. I wish we had those also in Finland! There are always some nice trees like chestnuts or similar and Biergartens have a special atmosphere.

March 2023

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