Monday, June 20, 2011

Yellow Field

rapeseed field

It's canola (rapeseed). There were a bunch of these around.


Here are some pictures from the medieval market Ben wrote about.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

"New" Music recommendations, part 7

It's been almost a year since I last did one of these, so the definition of "new" is stretched a bit.
  • Regina Spektor: "Fidelity"
    I'm late to the party on Regina Spektor (this song is from 2006), but I discovered this song only within the last year, and it's been high up on my playlists ever since. Simply catchy.
  • Rana Santacruz: "El Funeral De Tacho"
    A little bit of singer/songwriter, a little bit of Mexican ranchero music, and a little bit of Beirut's trumpet lines go into the music of Rana Santacruz, who I became aware of from a Tiny Desk concert by NPR. Also check out the folk-punk-polka "El Ranchero Punk".
  • Dropkick Murphys: "Peg O' My Heart"
    Irish folk-punk, featuring Bruce Springsteen. Gets you into a good mood fast.
  • The Pains of Being Pure At Heart
    I can't recommend any particular song, by this indie-pop group I first heard of last year. Both their self-titled album and this year's follow up "Belong" are filled with slightly fuzzy, retro pop anthems that make for good listening. My most listened-to tracks are "Come Saturday" off the debut, and the title track from "Belong".
  • Of course, there were also releases from old favorites that I can't neglect mentioning. The Arcade Fire's "The Suburbs" was probably one of the most talked about albums of the last year, and we were able to catch them at an awesome concert in Bologna. Check out the synth-pop "Sprawl II (Mountains Beyond Mountains)". The Decemberists came out with "The King is Dead" at the beginning of this year, a solid record which goes back more to their earlier folk-rock than the prog-rock of "The Hazards of Love". Favorite tracks: "Down by the Water" and "Rox in the Box". Finally, Fleet Foxes put out "Helplessness Blues" a few weeks ago, which continues to show their ability to make well-crafted songs with beautiful harmonies. Favorites so far: the title track and "Battery Kinzie".

Activities recap

It's been a while since I've talked about our weekend trips and activities on the blog. While we haven't been as active as we were in Italy, we have had the opportunity to explore some of the surroundings of Ulm. So let's take it in chronological order...
Back in April, my parents came to visit for a weekend, and while we spent Saturday visiting furniture stores, we took a day trip into nearby Bavaria on Sunday. The town of Weißenhorn had an old castle in the town center, which was unfortunately being renovated at the moment. Another negative point was that none of the restaurants in the town center were open for lunch. So we stopped on the way to Roggenburg, another small town nearby, which boasts an impressive baroque monastery.
A few weeks later, it was Easter, and we visited my parents for the long weekend. One of the days, we went to Mosbach, where my aunt celebrated a big birthday with a big lunch. On Easter Sunday, we visited Schwetzingen Castle, which is located quite close to my parents' house. There, we wandered through the gardens, where a lot of beautiful flowers were in bloom, and looked at the 18th century interpretations of classical temples, as well as the mosque.
At the end of May, my parents came again for a weekend. This time, we visited the nearby town of Blaubeuren on Sunday, along with what seemed like thousands of other people. Blaubeuren is located at the source of the river Blau, which flows into the Danube in Ulm. The river is a bit unusual in that the source is not just a trickle, but in fact an entire river coming out of the "Blautopf", a series of underground caves that collect water from a large region of the Schwäbische Alb. We also visited the monastery in Blaubeuren, which has a nice gothic altarpiece, and ate a good meal in the old town. We then drove a few miles to visit the Laichinger Tiefenhöhle, a cave that's open to visitors which takes you up to 55 m underground.
Finally, on Ascension Day (a holiday in most parts of Germany), we went to a medieval market (similar to a Renaissance Faire) at Wiblingen monastery. Kristen wore her medieval costume and didn't look out of place at all.

Monday, June 13, 2011


Last weekend, we finally took a trip to München (Munich for all you English speakers). Finally because it's only an hour 15 minutes away by train, and because Kristen hadn't been there before (although she did go right by during her high school trip to Europe, even stopping in Dachau). Anyway, we took the train and then walked into the city center, where we were just in time for the moving figures in the clock on the Rathaus (town hall). We then wandered a bit through the old town before heading over to the "Englischer Garten", the München equivalent of Central Park, where we had lunch in the beer garden at the Chinese tower (originally from the 18th century). The weather was fantastic, and many other people, both native and tourists, had the same idea. After satisfying our bodily necessities, we were keen on also stimulating our intellects, so we walked over to the Alte Pinakothek, one of the great art museums in Germany (and indeed the world). The nice thing, being a Sunday, was that admission was only 1 Euro, although we paid extra for a special exhibition on Vermeer's Woman Holding a Balance (which turns out to have been a loan from the National Gallery in Washington, so we had probably seen it before). From there, we headed back into the city, walked through the Platzl quarter (part of the old town), and relaxed some in a cafe in the pedestrian area before heading back to the train station and taking the train back to Ulm.

Hot Air Balloons

Apparently hot air ballooning is popular here.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Compound Words

Here are some German compound words that I like:

gloves = hand shoes (Handschuhe)
dictionary = word book (Wörterbuch)
vocabulary = word treasure (Wortschatz)
hippo = Nile horse (Nilpferd)
turtle = shield toad (Schildkröte)
light bulb = glow pear (Glühbirne)
guinea pig = little sea pig (Meerschweinchen)

And this one I don't get: space = world room (Weltraum).