Monday, October 31, 2011

Dracula Voice


Dracula Voice
A Refresher Training

Dracula Voice, noun. A voice you use when participating in vampire events* and/or celebrating Halloween Holidays.

*Vampire events = Bram Stoker. Vampire events do not = Stephenie Meyer.

Guidelines:
Ws = Vs (what = vat)
Th = ignore the H (three = tree)
Roll the Rs (Drinking = drrrinking)
Laugh like the count on Sesame Street (Bev: So I said, have some cheese with that whine!   Dracula: A ha ha!)

Quick Handbook:
Common pickup lines: Vat are you drrrinking?
When asked to count things (ex, trees in the forest): Van, tvu, tree, a ha ha!**
**It is appropriate to laugh, a ha ha, in otherwise awkward places.
Beverages are sold in terms of blood alcohol content, that is, you can order a pint of blood (O, A, B, AB, all either + or -) at varying degrees of blood alcohol levels.

Practice Problems: How would you handle this situation?
Bartender at Vampire Bar: Vat are your drrrinking?
Carinneicula: A pint of the AB+ on tap, please.
Bartender at Vampire Bar: How many?
Carinneicula: Van -- err, tvu -- er, tree. A ha ha.

Mouse ears at work.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Happy Birthday Nate!

Eighteen years of epic messes from my younger brother.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Friday, October 28, 2011

Happy Friday

Paper hole punches like confetti, poppin' staples like it's champagne...


Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Things I Learned Today

Women in their 70s put Brazilian Waxes on their bucket list.

This post is to be followed up in year 2055.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Olives & Pittsburgh

And so I experiment and so I learn that I do indeed like olives in the US also. And there was much rejoicing.

And so I am working through Mark Oldman's Brave New World of Wine by trying new wines and new foods to go with them. On Saturday I endeavored through a bottle of Boutari Moschofilero ($9!) along with garlic olives, a chesapeake roll (crab+avocado+old bay sushi), and some jalapeno hummus. Delightful.

And so, lastly, Pittsburgh was added to National Geographic's Best Trips 2012. Truly, I feel that Pittsburgh is the "which one of these is not like the other?". A beautiful and fantastic city for sure, but when you look at the contenders - Croatia, or the Virunga Volcanoes, for some - it is a wonder how this city made the final cut. And not only did it make the final cut, but it's one of only two cities from the US. Regardless, bravo!, and I will have an Iron City in honor of my hometown.


Monday, October 24, 2011

State Mammal

"I thought the NJ State Mammal was Snooki, but maybe it's this thing." Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you the never-ending wisdom of Tyler. Haha.


Sunday, October 23, 2011

Found in France

On a post in Nice, France. Someone (who?) "taking a poop" on a white house porcelain bowl and using the American Flag as toilet paper. The bottom scrawls a website:


Although only I looked at the website some, and haltingly with a website translation service, I do not think this group is anti-American. They are just activists for change in general. I didn't see this picture on the site at all, though. I wish I knew the story behind it.


Saturday, October 22, 2011

Crazy Couch Lady

Work is raffling off one of the reception area couches.

Now my thought is, my couch is fairly gross. I'm wondering if I should enter in the raffle - or if that would reflect poorly on me. Or if the available couch is more skank than the one I have. I don't ever see anyone sitting on it. It's a reception couch... It doesn't get used that much... Right?

I have this irrational fear, though, that I'll become this repository for old couches. Couchland. That they'll accumulate and multiply in awkward shapes, sizes and  hideous crossbred patterns, until they run over my apartment.  

I mean, what does one even do with a couch they don't want anymore? Or are there constant couch raffles going on?


Friday, October 21, 2011

München, Germany

I don't know if it was my extreme exhaustion or if the railroad was just a lullaby, but I slept wonderfully on the train. Eleven hours flew by like nothing and the next thing I knew we would be arriving in München in ten minutes.

Munich (München) had lockers. We stored all of our stuff and headed outside.
It was a chilly day, but Munich is beautiful. We toured the city and expected it to stop being so charming but it never did. We got breakfast, shopped, and had a few beers at the Augustiner brewery (which starts serving alcohol at 9am). We learned the hard way what a Radler is - beer plus lemon soda. Blech.

Jonaid bought a beer stein, and we headed back to Frankfurt to catch our plane home. Auf Wiedersehen.

And that is a wrap.


Thursday, October 20, 2011

Bier, vin, assiette, alkoholfrei

Turns out, I don't like olives in the US but I like them in France. One place had them pitted and stuffed with garlic - delicious. Another was drizzled in something but otherwise plain - I was loving them.

In Germany you can't spend money on beer. I tried. I bought friends beers and shots. My bar tab - lunch and an afternoon of drinks included - was 13euros. In France - the wine is splendid. You don't have to spend a lot to be very impressed. 

And I don't quite understand the flourescent Perrier - glasses are filled about an inch with a vibrant liquid (alcoholic? non?) and the rest of the glass with Perrier. No idea what those are. But here are some of the snapshots not previously posted on the blog.





Paris, France

Oddly fitting that I'd find this eerie video of a flooded, abandoned Paris as I'm writing this. Although the cause is unclear, the movie has a chill to it. Citing sources - found here.

Before sunrise we left for Paris (Pahree), France. As it was one of the first trains back up and running it was packed. Every seat was taken, some with standing room only.

On this train there was serious resentment between passengers and I realized how much of that I'd seen in France. To me, I've heard the French stereotype of snobbishness and being harsh. I had thought that it was only to tourists but I realized they are equally that way to one another.

We arrived in Paris. We only had a few hours to stay there as we had booked an overnight train to Munich. Our overnight train was leaving from a different station that we arrived in, a station across town, meaning we had to carry our luggage with us all day. And so that started off Paris.

We stopped in a tourist office to ask for directions to the Eiffel Tower. The woman was so vague we had to go back and ask again. And even after doing that, it still took us two hours to get to the tower.

Frustrated, we finally arrived at the subway that would take us to the Eiffel tower. The subway was one block from our arrival train station, and the subway ride to Eiffel was about ten minutes. One block, ten minutes - it took us two hours. As we boarded the subway, Jonaid dropped his suit on the tracks. My heart stopped as he dove after it.

"It's an expensive suit!" He exclaimed. I just looked at him.

We arrived at the tower and it was magnificent - stunning - I couldn't believe I was really there. The lawn in front of it was unfortunately closed so we didn't get to sit on the grass. Also, we wanted to go up the tower, but with all of our luggage it was simply impossible. So we got crepes and enjoyed it from below.

At that point we were tired of carrying around our luggage and it taking a ridiculous amount of time to get anywhere, so we headed to our next train station. We stopped for dinner on the street and sat, took our time, and watched Paris go by. I had a delightful French Pinot Noir. 

We didn't see much of Paris. Our frustration and luggage held us back. I hope to give it another chance in the future.

We boarded the night train with cabins and bunk beds so small it was like we were on the Titanic. We waved au revoir, opened the windows, and watched as Paris became far away.


Wednesday, October 19, 2011

So Many Train Stations







Nice, France (pt. 2)

After getting settled in the hotel we headed to the pebble beach and touched the Mediterranean. On the water you can get wine bottle service - six glasses for 10 Euros. Best deal on the block and the wine was fantastic. For a few Euros more you could pick wines from nearby regions - Loire Valley, Bordeaux - all at prices that were unreal to me.

By the way - some places in France served their red wine cold. Any ideas why?

Because it was Sunday when we arrived nearly everything was closed. A small stand next to our hotel was open and I asked if I could purchase a glass of wine. She sold me the whole bottle for 4euros - and opened it for us too. I was expecting Boone's Farm but it turned out very tasty. I'd open the window and would enjoy the city and my wine. 

Wifi was only in the lobby so I'd also bring the bottle down there as we'd check our email. As we'd sit there, the two main employees, a man and a woman, would chat with us. They were incredibly entertaining and were full of antics. I'm not sure what the woman's story was, but the man was a retired steel industry worker. JLo ordered pizza one night and we brought it to the lobby, offering some to the male. He replied, "My wife would kill me, but I do wish I could eat some." He was flattered at our gesture.

The room next to us was occupied by a female patron who would crack open her door and watch as we'd come and go. We would look up at her staring at us and she'd hawhaw and shut the door like she wasn't watching us. One day, I saw her walking around the city. She waved at me like we were old friends. I learned the male employee did not like her and was ready for her to go.

On Monday we went to make reservations for the train. Although we had the rail pass, some trains you still need to reserve a seat for. The man at the kiosk told us the trains were suspended because of a stabbing. The conductors went on strike. We booked a later trip to Paris, and shrugged it off. Woe is us, spending more time at the French Riviera. We hiked back to Hotel de la Buffa, told them we'd be staying. The man grinned and booked us for another night. 

The rest of the time in Nice we spent eating baguettes (0.25 euros!!), eclairs, raspberry tarts, and drinking wine. We sat on the beach where clothing was optional and went in the water. We went from the snowy Alps to the sunny beach in merely one train ride. Incredible.

That night, a group of sixteen from Texas joined the hotel. We chatted with them in the lobby. Later, they saw us walking around. "Hey New Jersey!" they yelled down the street. "Hey Texas!" We hollered back. 

I think us getting "stranded" in the Riviera was a blessing in disguise. So much of our trip was running from one place to the next that being forced to just "be" was appreciated. The best parts of our journey was in Germany and in Nice where we made friends, became acquainted with our surroundings, and got to enjoy the community, not just the tourism.

A full moon over the Mediterranean - what luck!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Nice, France

We left Switzerland somewhat earlier than anticipated. We had planned on spending the night there, but after it being so expensive ($2 to use the bathroom!) and general unfriendliness of the locals, we decided to head to France. Exhausted and drenched due to the pouring rain, we made it to Lyon, France around 10pm.

We were beat. We stayed at the nearest hotel we could find - about 10 yards from the train station at the Novotel. Our priciest stay during our trip, but we were warm, comfortable, had hot tea, and wifi. Life was good.

Waking up next to the train station proved to be no help for us to make the trains on time. On Saturday we missed the train to Switzerland due to Jonaid's long shower - on Sunday we missed the train due to my long shower. We concluded no more showers.

Luckily, we had the train pass, so we could take any train any time. This combined with no hotel reservations (yes, some thought we were crazy - we didn't want to be tied down though, we wanted the ability to stay longer or leave earlier as we pleased - and not once did it prove to be a problem in finding a room or a train) allowed for easy changes of plans. We left the rain in Lyon (Li-yon) and arrived in Nice (Neice), France. The sunshine and Mediterranean Sea were simply stunning.


We walked around town for a bit. We saw the luxurious hotels directly on the sea. A few blocks back, standard Quality Inn rooms could be obtained for about 100 euros a night. We stumbled on a door that read "Hotel de la Buffa," 58Euros a night. It was cheaper than a hostel, and one block from the water.

JLo and I agreed we'd go in and check it out. As we entered the dark lobby we nearly turned around and walked out. I held my breath and asked if we could see a room. Two were still available for the night. JLo sat with our luggage as I went upstairs.

First, the lights in the whole place turned off. I froze up and as usual my imagination got to the best of me and I convinced myself I would be axe murdered. The receptionist mumbled something in French and hit the switch to turn the lights back on. I later learned they were set to a timer, not a sensor. She opened the door to the first room.

If that were the only room available I would've walked out then and there. It was dingy and just plain creepy. I held my tongue although I wanted to preemptively say "Nevermind!". We walked down the hall to a vibrantly colored room.

The room smelled musty, but the walls were a bright shade of sunshine. To the left was a bathroom that was maybe, on a good day, 1 yard x 1 yard. Jonaid dubbed it the "smallest bathroom in the world". He seriously struggled in there. The water pressure was miserable. The bed was comfortable but I tried not to think about it too much, in terms of sanitation.

But the view, the view! You could [barely] see the sea from it, but you could. Windows taller than both Jonaid and I went to the ceiling and opened completely so you could lean outside. The breeze and the sun invited themselves in and I was sold. Many a happy moment in Nice was spent sitting by that very window, watching the world, experiencing the breeze, and sipping the wine.

Although as usual, I was worried about ghosts. I'm learning it's a chronic thing. I'm glad to report no ghosts and no thefts and no break ins.


European Cashmoney

The Euro (as JLo says, "monopoly money") and the Swiss Franc. Gotta love the dude on the Dix Francs. Alex says his expression is him saying "What are YOU buying?" Creeper.



Monday, October 17, 2011

Switzerland

We arrived in Interlaken (pronounced Inter lahken), Switzerland and marveled at the natural beauty. Stepping off the train, the air was damp and noticeably cooler. It started downpouring and didn't stop - making the pictures unclear. Still, we enjoyed the delicious chocolate and the mountain air just felt good. Seeing the snow made me excited for ski season. Cars driving down from the mountain had inches of it caked on.

Interlaken is in the valley between the lakes. Above the town is Jungfrau, one of the highest peaks in the Alps. It also has the highest train station in all of Europe. Unfortunately, due to the weather, we barely saw it.

Before we left for our trip I had looked at pictures of Interlaken and Switzerland. I thought the teal color of the water and the sheer splendor must have been photoshopped. When we arrived I realized the photos were not lying and the colors were even more magnificent in real life.

We were only there for one day, but it was stunning. Hopefully if I ever get the opportunity to go again the weather will cooperate.