Monday, May 31, 2010

Roadtrip to the 'Windy City' - Chicago

Another public holiday in the US!!! Memorial Day on May 31st! This meant another travel weekend for the interns!!

During my internship, I got so many recommendations about the Chicago, not only from the interns who have been there already, also from my co-workers. So another spot on my “Wanna-see-and-have-to-do-list” was a trip to the “windy city” as Chicago is also called.

3 other interns wanted to join me: Alvaro, the crazy Spanish man who also went to New Orleans with me a few months ago, then Benny, my CT co-intern and Dan, one of our American interns who wanted to discover another part of his home country. As I really liked the road trip to New Orleans, I suggested taking the car to Chicago instead of flying. The boys agreed and so we started with a bit delay on Friday evening after work. The estimated length of travelling was 12 hours. We decided to change drivers every few hours. Dan was volunteering as the first driver. We took the highway through Pennsylvania and it was very relaxed to drive with empty roads ahead. After 1,5 hours of driving, we suddenly saw the party lights of a police car behind us. We all knew the meaning and Dan confirmed it: We are going to get a ticket for speedingL The police officer was friendly enough only to charge fees but no points to Dan’s drivers record. Of course, this situation calmed us down for a while.

I was the last driver and thus the one who drove into the city. The weather was promising to be sunny and just beautiful. Our plan was to leave our luggage at the hotel and then park the car outside the city to avoid extreme parking fees. One of my co-workers lives in Chicago and he gave us information about some safe parking spots. We left the car in Irving Park and took the blue Metra line to the city centre. Our desire was to see the lake, so this was our first destination. Before we reached the waterfront, we turned right into Millenium Park to have a glance at the Buckingham fountain, for some better known as the fountain in the trailer of the TV show “Married…with Children”(“Eine schrecklich nette Familie). From there, we strolled along the boardwalk, enjoying the sun and our lifes. Chicago has huge pier with a lot of entertainment, restaurants, shops and boat trips. This was a perfect location to have lunch.

After that, we walked towards the city centre to get to the main shopping street ‘Michigan Avenue’, also called the magnificent mile. We were not really into shopping but at least a stop at the Apple Store was interesting enough for the boys. I was playing with the iPad and lost sight with them. After 10 min, the came running towards me, totally excited: The soccer player Ronaldinho and 3 other players of were in the shop as well and Alvaro got a picture with them. The shop was so crowded anyway, that’s why I didn’t pay attention to the bulk in the back of the shop.

We became tired from walking around and from that long drive during the night and headed to the hotel. After checking in, we took a nap as we wanted to go out that night. I got tickets for “Howl at the Moon”, a pretty entertaining live music bar. As we were all refreshed after the nap, we partied all night long.

The next day, we slept in and Alvaro and I wanted to go to the beach and catch some sun. Unfortunately, Dan and Ben got bad sunburn from the day before and were not able to stay in the sun.

We had a snack for breakfast and then Alvaro and I went to the beach while the others were working out in the hotels gym. Later that afternoon we wanted to check out one of Chicago’s specialties: Deep Dish Pizza. So we went to Gino’s which is supposed a good spot to eat that kind of pizza. Too bad that this was a tourist place and we had to wait for a while to get a table. I have to admit that this wasn’t my type of pizza. It was very rich and stuffed but I prefer traditional Italian pizza.

Our next stop at that night was “The Bean”. It is a public sculpture, made up of 168 stainless steel plates welded together. Its highly polished exterior has no visible seams. The original name is “Cloud Gate” but because of its form, it is called “The Bean” in common.

As we needed to check out the next day, we decided to have the car around the corner and so we took the Metra line back to Irving Park to get it. Later that night we went to a few bars around the corner and also met with Alex, Benny’s former boss in Germany who started to live and work in Chicago a month ago.

Getting up the next morning was hard but we headed home with a lot of nice memories and impressions after a wonderful weekend.

To see get more impressions of our Chicago weekend, check out my photo album:

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Wild, wild west - Farewell for Jackie and Lalo

Some of you who read my blog from time to time might have recognized that there was no farewell party for a long time. But unfortunately the end of the internship of my dear roomie Lalo was approaching. Another intern, Jackie who just moved into my house got a job offer from Siemens Germany and had to say goodbye as well. The party took place Saturday night. Along the tradition they also had a theme party at the intern party house. This time, we had to dress up in the Wild West style. This was a very funny party theme for all the Cowgirls and Cowboys, playing around with their colts and hats.

Check out more party pictures here:

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Lets have "Spätzle"!

Even though it is always interesting to explore other cultures and different food, it is still wonderful to have some traditional German food. Among the interns, we have a lot of people from Swabia who know how to prepare home made "Spätzle". Spätzle are a type of egg noodle of soft texture found in the cuisine of Germany and of Austria, Switzerland, Hungary, Alsace and of Bolzano-Bozen.

Spätzle dough typically consists of few ingredients, principally eggs, flour, and salt. Often, water is added to produce a thinner dough.

Traditionally, Spätzle are made by scraping dough off a wooden chopping board ("Spätzlebrett") into boiling salt water where they cook until they rise to the surface. They are then skimmed and put aside.

Since this can be a cumbersome way to prepare spätzle, several devices were invented to facilitate cooking that resemble a strainer, (or colander), a potato ricer ("Spätzlespresse"), a food mill or coarse grater ("Spätzlehobel"). Like with scraped Spätzle, the dough drops into the boiling water.

Lucky enough, Mona has a special ricer for Spätzle and so we had a lot a fun to make them. Mona gave instructions and I was happy to press my first "Spätzle":-)

They tasted soooo delicious and we were all so happy having original, handmade German food:)

To see more pics from that funny evening, check my digital photoalbum:

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Weekend in Washington, D.C.

Last weekend was Mother's day in the US, so after a weekend at the beach in Chestertown with Ryan's mum, we had Mother's day lunch with his mum, his Sister and his grandparents at the Chesapeake Bay.

This Saturday, Katrin, one of the interns, was joining me on my way to Washington, as she wanted to visit her former host family where she was an Au pair.
I met with Ryan and we went to his dad's house. His friend Rayl was there and also Ryan's nieces. We spent a while in the garden with them, before we drove to Georgetown.
Georgetown is a neighboorhood located in the Northwest quadrant of Washington D.C., along the Potomac River waterfront. It is a very nice shopping area with high-end shops, bars, and restaurants.

In the afternoon, we met with Mona and Tim who also spent their weekend in Washington. We decided to visit the Museum of National History. Almost all of the musuems in Washington are free of entre. They also have a 3D cinema where they show nature movies. After the movie, we explored some sections of the museum.
It was dinnertime and we decided to look for a place to eat at the Verizon Center. An Irish looked very inviting and served delicious food.

That night, Ryan and I were invited to concert. A few years ago, he lived together with some friends in Florida. Some of them started a band. They had a concert that night in a bar in Baltimore.
The band was really good and during the breaks, I got to know them and had a chance to talk to them. I was trying to find them on Youtube but with no success, probably because they are a local band. They are called "Mandown" and the latest CD has the title "Somewhere down in Florida".

Saturday, May 01, 2010

Ocean City, Maryland

The weather forecast for this weekend was promising: Lots of sunshine and pretty warm. Perfect beach weather!!! On Friday evening, I drove to Ocean City, Maryland to meet Ryan and his friend Rayl there.

Ocean City, sometimes known as
OC, is widely known in the Mid-Atlantic region of the United States and is a frequent destination for vacationers in that area.

After 3 hours of driving, I arrived shortly after midnight. Ryan was waiting for me and we went to a beach bar across the street. It was pretty cool bar, called "
Fish Tales", with an open padio, a beach section with umbrella-shaded tables, beach seats and also hammocks to hang out.

The next day, Chris, a good friend of Ryan who spent the weekend with his family on Ocean City as well, joined us for a walk at the boardwalk. We strolled down the pretty long boardwalk, enjoying the sun.

On our way back, we decided to have lunch at Fish Tales again. I learned that the bar belongs to the parents of Chris's wife, Era-Beth. We had lunch at the bar and took a few refreshing drinks.

Era-Beth joined us with the kid and she invited us for a trip with her parents' motorboat. So we went to her parents house to enter the boat. It took a while to get the motor running after the winter break but with the expertise of her dad and with the neighboor's help we left the bay. It was great cruise along the shore in the sunshine.
After we returned, it was time for dinner. Before we made our way back to the hotel, we stopped at Fish Tales again. The next morning, we slept in. After a late, horrible breakfast, I decided to grab my book to lay at the beach. Rayl wanted to go to the shops at the boardwalk and Ryan was cruising down the boardwalk on his long-board. As I had a long drive home, I say good bye in the afternoon, after a wonderful weekend at the beach.