Wednesday, August 15, 2012

You say tomato...

You can't find tomatoes like these in Edinburgh or Minnesota. 
 That's right, I've moved yet again.
Ever since June, I haven't managed to stay in one place for more than a fortnight. Iceland to Scotland to Germany to Scotland to The Lake District to Scotland to Minnesota to New York City to Minnesota and now to....

 I often get asked, "Why Missouri?" Sometimes in language more colorful than this produce.
 The answer: grad school. It's been less than two months since I graduated college, yet I'm already in grad school. It's exhausting just thinking about it, but that's what coffee is for. I'll be needing a lot of it for my latest academic endeavor, journalism.

 It seems obvious now, but it took me until my second to last semester of undergrad to realize that the one constant in my college career was journalism. I may not have stayed in the same country, but I wrote on every paper or blog that they would let me put my byline on, so it was time to make it professional. Hence I'm currently down in Columbia getting a master's in magazines at University of Missouri (called Mizzou fondly or cult-like depending on how you see it.)
I know I'll fit in here because Mizzou's colors are black and "MU Gold" or what I like to refer to (and wear too much of) as mustard.
I haven't felt this enthusiastic about something in awhile and not just because it means I'm staying in the same spot for two years as opposed to my two week habit. 
Obviously, this means this blog will change a bit. I suppose it can no longer be considered a "travel blog" and I might have to retire the beloved Loch Tess moniker since I'm nowhere near a loch, let alone a lake right now.
I'm still working on another pun. So far my best is "In the Boonies," but that won't help me make friends in Missourah (by the way, according to my new friend from St. Louis, no one actually says Missourah except people who aren't from it. Therefore, I will only use it ironically. I'm a hipster after all.)

  As for the blog's direction, it's now more of a life style blog, although I hesitate to use that term because I'm not planning to post on how to raise children or can things. Expect what it's like to live in CoMo (still not sure if I can get behind this acronym), traveling (I've already been to the State Fair!), and whatever else I can scrounge up between reporting real news. You can read my first story as a real newswoman here.
My fellow j-school classmate, Gwen, sporting her farmers' market find.

These photos are from the Columbia Farmers' Market, which is thus far my favorite thing about the city. If heirloom tomatoes had a lineage, I'd join. Sorry, terrible tomato joke.  Turns out the farmers are actually better at marketing:

Monday, July 9, 2012

Fit for a King

Just an hour away from Berlin lies a city where art is in statue form, not graffiti and the biggest controversy was a windmill (okay, I'm downplaying the city's history just a bit, but more on that later.) Welcome to Potsdam, a pastoral retreat from Berlin for over 300 years.
Both Anneke and Caroline wanted to show me their version of Potsdam, so I went twice. Each trip was emblematic of the friendship I have with each girl. Anneke and I had a royally good time frolicking throughout nature and historically sight seeing Fredrick the Great's many palaces. Meanwhile, Caroline and I did what we do best, cafe crawled.
Janet Jackson moment?
Welcome to my humble abode.
Anneke and I had an argument over semantics about the difference between a castle versus a palace. I claimed that a castle was a defensive fortress, whereas a palace was a place for monarchs to demonstrate their affluence and power, conspicuous consumption at its finest. Sure enough, Fredrick the Great built The New Palace after The Seven Years War to glorify Prussia. It was only used to impress other monarchs and foreign dignitaries, who were probably overwhelmed by the baroque architecture into agreeing into whatever Fred wanted.

 This is the entrance to the Sanssouci Gardens, or Fred's version of Epcot in my opinion. There are Roman Baths, a Chinese Pagoda, and bucolic fields that make you believe you're in rural Germany, so why bother leaving?

Anneke at home in nature.

Is she wondering where she left her dress?


 Sanssouci was Fred's summer palace for a laid back time away from the ostentation of the Berlin court. Yes, this palace isn't conspicuous at all. A rival of Versailles, sans souci translates to "without concerns" in French, although I'm sure Fred's royal gardeners would beg to differ. A weekend up north at the cabin hardly compares.

 This windmill may look quaint, but it caused quite the controversy at the time it was built (note: this isn't the original windmill, which burned down in the 1940s and had to be reconstructed.) According to my tour guides, Fred's architect mislead him into believing the windmill would be quiet. Fred was so perturbed by the noise that he tried to sue his architect for lying to him. He didn't win. It's hard to be King of Prussia sometimes.
 If only I could "travel by map" like in "The Muppets" because the actual park took over an hour to walk through.

The Dutch Quarter of Potsdam.

Caroline and I cafe crawled throughout many country's cuisines: Austrian cakes, Mexican hot chocolates, and eventually French crepes (not pictured because sometimes I do actually eat my food, not just photograph it.)
Two of my favorite words in the German language.

And you thought frappucinos were decadent.

As Caroline said, why go to Vienna when you can get their delicious cakes in Germany? 

Hot chocolate art.
Potsdam, formerly part of East Germany, didn't always look so adorable. The city gained international fame when it was used for the post-WWII Potsdam Conference, but became isolated during the Cold War. The Berlin Wall cut the city off from West Berlin and made getting to East Berlin an ordeal, cloistering Potsdam away. The GDR tried to rid the city of signs of Prussian militarism and successfully demolished what Potsdam is famous for in the process. After the fall of the Wall, a period of re-establishment occurred: Potsdam became the capital of Brandenburg again and its famous landmarks were restored.
This is my last post about Berlin. I raise a toast of cocoa to my generous hostesses, Anneke and Caroline, for making sure I was well-fed in baked goods, properly cultured at local festivals and museums, and able to navigate the Berlin public transportation system and German language. My futon is always open back in the Midwest, where I can introduce you to the culinary delicacy that is the cheese curd.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Waffling Around Berlin

After June 14, I had nowhere to live.
Inexplicably, my university owned flat lease ended mid-June, despite how my graduation wasn't until late June, and I thought I was bad at math. With not even a couch to call my own, I decided to sleep on a friend's. So I temporarily "moved" to Germany for eight days, after all it had sun to Edinburgh's rain and gave me the chance to reunite with my two good friends, Anneke and Caroline.
Anneke pictured at one of our many waffle outings.

Caroline pictured on the foundation of our friendship, the cafe crawl.
I'm no longer the wide-eyed tourist.

This was my second trip to Berlin. Last September, I played tourist- seeing the Brandenburg Gate, drinking in beer gardens, contemplating the city's history, discovering its alternative art world, and falling in love with its edgy but inviting personality (click the links to read my posts from that trip). This June, I wanted to live in Berlin like the locals did and luckily , I had some of the most accommodating natives to show me how that was done. 

Firstly, you must embrace public transportation because Berlin is a huge city and every type is available: trains, metros, trams, buses...I'm sure Berlin will be the first to get flying cars at this rate. Make sure to bring some patience (or at least a book to read) because I took up to two hours of public transport a day. Thankfully, the trains are more punctual than Alice in Wonderland, but if you're running late, the stations are so well equipped you could live in them for weeks. They even have bakeries open at midnight, which I took advantage of for a late night cake, of course. Berlin understands my needs.
Next, find a neighborhood you want to make your own and eat accordingly. 
Kreuzberg has been evolving along with the city. Although only formed as an official Berlin borough in the 1920s, it's been through more cultural shifts in a century than most country's have in their entire history. Before WWII, Kreuzberg was the center of Berlin's industry and newspapers, but the area was left bombed out and enclosed by the Berlin Wall on three sides afterward. The Wall didn't stop the alternative scene from getting in, so Kreuzberg became the epicenter of Berlin's punk rock scene. After the Wall fell, more people poured in, making Kreuzberg the youth capital of Berlin and home to a burgeoning rap scene, dive bars, and the hipsters that come with it.


Sure enough, the activities Anneke and I partook in when roaming around Kreuzberg fit the hipster bill- we saw her friend's graphic design show, ate vegetarian kebabs pictured above (yes, they exist and may be even better than the original),went to a very loose adaptation of Alice in Wonderland at the English Theatre, and capped it off with a beer at laid back bar that would be crawling with scensters in any other city, but because these places are everywhere in Berlin, you can actually enjoy a nice beer and conversation.
Since it's Germany, they serve pretzels not bar nuts.

Right next door is Friedrichshain. With a similarly war torn history, Friedrichshain is now gentrified: full of cup cakeries, cafes, and a surprising amount of Americans.

The neighborhood makes for a fun stroll, with five new restaurants to try on every street or snarky graffiti in every corner.
I did indeed take this advice.

My favorite neighborhood is Prenzlauer Berg, a rare borough that hasn't changed much since its inception in the late 19th century. Developed as a home to artists and intellectuals, the population largely remains the same and lives in the original buildings, which managed to survive both WWII and post-war re-development.
However, I go for the waffles.
"Breakfast always", this is my kind of place.
A vanilla waffle drenched in custard and cherries.

Anneke's vanilla AND chocolate waffle, is that legal? With applesauce and cinnamon. 
To be patriotic, Anneke and I tried to keep up with the Euro 2012 and went to Prenzlauer Berg to find a bar to watch the Germany/Denmark match since public viewings are a great way to feel part of the Berlin community. Except, we are so obsessed with the waffles at Kauf Dich Glucklich that we ended up watching there. Yes, soccer and waffles, it's almost blasphemous. 
At least I ordered a beer to be slightly less girly.

Of course, we had to order another waffle. This one is a chocolate waffle with bananas.

Anneke, feeling slightly smug about our public viewing location. 
Finding a neighborhood I love is something that takes me quite awhile in a city I live in, but to find my favorite neighborhood in a foreign city in less than a week is almost a miracle. Fortunately,  Berlin has a lot of choices and I had lovely hosts to help me narrow it down.