Friday, May 30, 2008
Tuesday, May 27, 2008
And for those of you who have been patiently awaiting the humiliating information, here it goes:
1) Spice Girls' "Wanna Be"
2) Divinyls "I Touch Myself"
3) Cindy Lauper "Girls Just Wanna Have Fun"
(I had conveniently forgotten about the last one until so kindly reminded by my singing partner.) Thankfully no videos were taken of me singing either!!!
Monday, May 26, 2008
Standing atop the grassy knoll, some hang gliders took off before me and I was beginning to get a wee bit nervous. My pilot, Saul (I think) said "Okay, you ready?" in this beautifully thick Bulgarian accent and I thought "oh goodness, can't back out now." So then he said "4, 3, 2, 1--Run Run Run!" And I ran and ran and ran toward the edge of this cliff until my feet left the ground, the parachute opened above me, and we were airborne! It was the single most exhilarating feeling I've ever had--now I sort of understand why people jump out of airplanes. It was incredibly peaceful and beautiful, and I got some great pictures of the city from above. And I got to see the Eiger once again in all its majesty. Quite amazing! And better yet, I lived to tell about all of it!
Now I am in the airport awaiting our flight back to D.C. I have mixed feelings about coming home: in one way, I never wanted to leave Switzerland because it was so beautiful and the people were so nice (although it was insanely expensive and I'd have to sell both kidneys in order to live); but I am ready to see my friends and hang out and return to normalcy for a bit. Enjoy the pictures and yes, yes, I know I look like Speed Racer in the paragliding get up. Don't be jealous! HA!
(Alright, the computer is being weird and won't let me upload any photos. I will try again later possibly or tonight when I get back to the States!)
Sunday, May 25, 2008
Afterwards we spent the evening at The Swiss House enjoying great company and even better food. (I did break my no-meat policy because I had pre-ordered the rack of lamb. Oh well, we can't be perfect all the time.) Last night was much calmer and more subdued than Friday evening. As you might imagine, we were all still pretty wiped out from Friday night, so sitting around and just talking was a wonderful way to spend the evening.
Today, I am up and moving slowly toward getting ready. I am really unsure about this "adventure." I've been told not to punk out by one of my elder bros, and I should probably heed that advice. You only live once, right? And it's not like I'll be jumping out of an airplane, although that was discussed! In all likelihood my little escapade will be a great story to tell (I mean, who doesn't love a good puke story) and I will be glad I did it.
And I PROMISE to get some pics up soon...it's just been crazy lately.
Saturday, May 24, 2008
We arrived in Lauterbrunnen just before 1 and had lunch at some little (overpriced) cafe with the Eiger rising behind me. Waterfalls and giant peaks littered the surroundings and I felt so relaxed there, despite pure exhaustion from the ride. The Eiger is majestic (even though that sounds so trite) and incredibly impressive.
After we returned the bikes, we sat at a little cafe for a drink with every other American in Interlaken. No, I take that back. We sat at the cafe with every spoiled, rich Americano frat boy and sorority girl in Interlaken. Ugh, it was nauseating. Amusing but nauseating.
We got in the car and drove to Lucerne, where I am now sitting in my hotel room blogging. We arrived later than expected yesterday and had to rush to get ready and make it to dinner by 7. We met up with the rest of the group and the bride and groom, of course, and had a lovely dinner. Then, much to my dismay, someone had the idea that we should all go sing karaoke. Trudging over to the bar down the street, a couple of the guys started out the night with Roxanne, and it only got weirder from there. One guy sang "I'm A Barbie Girl" and it was HYSTERICAL! I almost peed my pants it was so great. Somehow I was roped into performing with the girls (thank God it was a group effort) but I will leave out details. Then, after a few more beers (and a shot of Vodka) I decided to do a duet which turned out to be a lot of fun, but I hope to erase that from my mind very soon! Again, I won't be giving out song titles for fear of being mocked for the rest of my existence.
At 2:00 a.m., the bartender gave us the "you don't have to go home, but you can't stay here" speech, so the girls went one way and the guys went the other. Venturing back to one of the hotels (we're all in various locales), we tried to go to the bar but they were closed as well. We ran into some rich, snotty, 18-year old American boys who are in Switzerland finishing high school and they offered us some of their champagne. So we enjoyed their company for about twenty minutes and decided it was time to go. After that, we just hung out and talked and laughed and K enjoyed her last night as a "free woman."
Tonight is the wedding (5:30 p.m.) and then out for more partying. Tomorrow we're up early to drive back to Interlaken for an adventure. This was an unplanned adventure and I am a little hesitant, but have been talked in to it by everyone else. I'll let you know what it is tomorrow (or Monday) if I go through with it. I've already sort of committed, but we'll see. After the adventure, it's in the car for a long drive to Weisbaden with a stop in Heidelberg. Monday it's up early to drive to Frankfurt and come home!
Thursday, May 22, 2008
Entering Switzerland we stopped to get a Swiss autobahn pass and then proceeded south through Basel and on toward Bern. This is when it began to get a little tricky. It seemed as if our lovely navigation system was taking us through all the towns possible. I mean, aren't there major highways that bypass cities like in the U.S.? Well, not really knowing where we were or what we were doing or how to operate the nifty navigation system, we trudged on like good little soldiers. I think we circled about 400 round-abouts in various towns and cities. All of them are completely charming, and smelled of goats and cows. (Contrary to others' opinions, this made me want to get out and find some cheese.) After passing through like sixteen of these wonderful olfactory delights, I began to wonder just how much longer those pesky 80 miles were going to take. Yea, quite awhile. Instead of our trip taking 7 hours, it was more like 11. Needless to say, upon arrival the excitement and giddy-ness of the earlier hours had dissipated.
But, I must say that Switzerland's countryside is breathtaking. As we got closer to Interlaken, the Alps slowly emerged from their sleep in the clouds. Snow upon their peaks, I was enthralled and captivated by them. One of the most popular things to do in this area is to climb to the top of one of these giants and paraglide down. We thought about it...and then thought that it's probably not a good way to go.
Well, we're off to eat dinner now. Tomorrow morning is up early again for biking. More later!
Wednesday, May 21, 2008
We began the day around 1:30--yes, I know that's rather late, but jet-lag is a terribly hideous thing and caused me to sleep until about noon. Once up, we walked over to the area of Brussels known as Le Sablon (don't ask me what it means because I do not know at this moment.) There, we ventured into the Church of Our Lady which is home to healing saints and statues. It was beautiful but simpler than yesterday's cathedral. Here I prayed in front of the Blessed Sacrament for some time and felt a true sense of peace come over me.
From here, we ventured up and down the streets of Le Sablon wandering in and out of antique shops and had some lunch. At the cafe, there was some sort of "Hidden Camera" TV show being filmed in the alley behind me. Two guys dressed as bowling pins were hiding behind this black curtain and whenever someone would walk up the alley, the guys would come out and grab the person's arms. Another guy further up the alley would roll this gigantic bowling ball toward the three-some, and then the bowling pins would fall down! It was hysterical!
Off to Bruges! Unfortunately, no midgets (oops, dwarfs) were spotted and no one tumbled to their death from the bell tower. However, it was a gorgeous, sunny day and the town looked as charming as ever. I think we scoured the entire city, but my favorite place of all was the Chapel of the Holy Blood. It is said that this church contains a piece of cloth gathered by Joseph of Arimathea that has a few droplets of Jesus' blood upon it. It is also said that this dried blood turned to liquid quite frequently until the 15th Century when the miracle ceased. I was moved beyond words and knelt in front of this piece of cloth (although there were no kneelers) in complete and utter awe. I felt so close to God, but didn't feel worthy to be there at all.
After that, we walked around for a few more hours and then drove back to Brussels. Tonight I've got to get to bed so I can get up early tomorrow. We drive to Interlaken (about 6 hours from here) to the Swiss Alps. I am so excited to see the Eiger, but am less than excited about the car trip. Oh well, gotta take the good with the bad, n'est ce pas? Oui!
Update tomorrow night, hopefully!
Tuesday, May 20, 2008
Cathedrale des Saintes Michel et Gudule
Baptismal font inside Cathedral
A view from behind the High Altar
I hate it when I'm wrong...(and especially when he's right!) :-)
We were seated in row 59 (of 60) on the plane, so I didn't even unbuckle my seatbelt when the plane arrived at the gate. We'd been sitting for seven plus hours, what's another thirty minutes, right? Well, then I felt this huge rush of cold air at my back and lo and behold--they opened the rear door! I didn't think those doors actually opened! :) We rapidly gathered our belongings, deplaned and headed for passport control. We eventually made our way to the baggage claim and then to Hertz for our rental. Much to the dismay of several people, we didn't get a BMW or an Audi...instead we are driving around in a sporty 4-door Renault Laguna. But it does have navigation which is incredibly helpful when not one person in the car has ever driven in Europe!
The beginning of the drive was good...a little giddy from sleep deprivation, we managed to stay focused and enjoy the beautiful country that was unfolding around us. The grass seems greener here, but maybe it's just me. Rolling hills with little town nestled in their valleys lined the Autobahn and I was captivated by its magic.
Herr D had told me about the impeccable cleanliness of the rest stops along the Autobahn, and he is indeed correct. (Although he did forget to tell me it would cost me .50 euros to use said facilities!) After stopping once, we jumped back on the road and cruised at ungodly speeds toward Belgium.
Noticing a sign that said something like "Wilkommen Neiderland" I decided to take a look at the map. Yes, we had in fact crossed into the Netherlands! We were in Holland for about 50 miles or so (at this point, I was beginning to lose focus and drift in and out of sleep.) The countryside looks quite similar to that of Germany (go figure) but was beautiful nonetheless. One particular moment looked like something you'd stop to take a picture of and stick on a postcard--simply gorgeous.
We arrived into Belgium and soon thereafter entered the city of Brussels. We found our hotel instantly (thank you British speaking GPS lady) and are now settled in and ready for a quick rejeuvenating siesta. After our naps, we're headed out to see the town and eat some pomme frites--with mayo, OF COURSE!
So, in the past 17 hours, I have been in 4 countries. Weird. Cool. Exhausting! More soon!
Monday, May 19, 2008
Not too much longer then we're headed to Dulles for our (long) flight to Frankfurt. But to be honest, after a 14 hour trip to New Delhi, and the 11 hour trip on the train Saturday, 7 or so hours on a plane should be a piece of cake. Although I do have a sneaking suspicion that I will be in the middle seat--ew. Oh well!
I am taking the computer with me and will try to blog and upload pics as often as possible! I will miss you all!! (All 4 of my blog readers! HA!)
Thursday, May 15, 2008
Wednesday, May 14, 2008
Tuesday, May 13, 2008
“Throughout history there have been supernatural apparitions and signs which go to the heart of human events and which, to the surprise of believers and non-believers alike, play their part in the unfolding of history. These manifestations can never contradict the content of faith, and must therefore have their focus in the core of Christ's proclamation: the Father's love which leads men and women to conversion and bestows the grace required to abandon oneself to him with filial devotion. This too is the message of Fatima which, with its urgent call to conversion and penance, draws us to the heart of the Gospel” (The Message of Fatima, Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, June 26, 2000)."
You know, a lot of women splurge on shoes or handbags or jewelry--my vice is definitely books! I've got to stop buying books! But books never go out of style, you can never really grow out of them (with a few exceptions), and you can't lose yourself in a good necklace.
Monday, May 12, 2008
I actually have faith and confidence this time that this is what I am supposed to be doing...it's time for me to dig up my firmly planted roots and move ahead. I've become too complacent here. Life is too easy here. I need to be challenged, I need to feel motivated again. I'm still undecided as to when I will go, but it will probably be sooner than later.
Of course, parts of me are sad and will miss this place I've called home for 9 years tremendously. However, I think I will only figure out what I am supposed to do and who I am supposed to be, by leaving Columbia behind. Things will work out however they are supposed to. I have faith in that.
Friday, May 9, 2008
One of the things I was having difficulty wrapping my mind around was the concept of enlightenment. I understand it from the yogi point of view, but was having trouble really understanding what it means from a Christian p.o.v. I asked a dear friend and though his explanation was perfectly sound, I still didn't "get it." That's not his fault, it's mine. However, in reading the article today, I think I finally understand what he was trying to say:
"Thus the two essential points of Christianity--sin and salvation--are both
missing in the East. If there is no sin, no salvation is needed, only
enlightenment. We need not to be born again; rather, we must merely wake
up to our innate divinity. If I am part of God, I can never really be
alienated from God by sin."
Another fascniating, well-written article on the website concerns love and the different types of this misused word. Agape, being the love that Jesus showed and taught, is what we are all called to show and teach even though it's the hardest thing in the world to do (at times). In my own life, most recently, I've had to distinguish between agape and feelings of love. In agape, we give ourselves away selflessly and receive unestimable rewards. Peter Kreeft uses the metaphor "...it's like a ball in a game of catch: throw it and it will come back to you; hold on to it and that ends the game." That seems perfectly right at this time in my life.
Thursday, May 8, 2008
- What do these comparative and interreligious questions mean for how I live my life? Where do I find Jesus, how do I live openly, attentively, aware?
- If I am open to how learned relgious people from far away and long ago rethought the idea of the divine, it can perhaps provide me with a new vantage point to see my own tradition in a new way.
- How do I understand, get involved see th eworld and God through someone else's tradtion while recollecting my own identity?
- I am interested in entering a new conversation while keeping old commitments, meeting in new ways the God who has already become known to me.
- How can God teach me? How can God reach me?
- I must seek God as He dwells outside the boundaries of my own tradition because He is greater than anything I can understand or imagine.
- Keep my ears open--for if I can listen, I can see. That is the foundation of dialogue.
I hope to expand myself in new ways, challenge myself to the point of almost giving up, and finding my place among all the chaos in this world. I hope to be open to the possibilities which I encounter, and do so with a smidgen of grace.
When we feel enthusiastic about the endeavors in which we participate, we are more apt to do all we can or what is required of us to ensure that our efforts are met with success. Enthusiasm breeds eagerness, providing a foundation for our dedication when we aim for challenging goals or want to test the limits of our mental and physical capabilities. Setbacks cannot trump the excitement and exhilaration we feel when taking part in the activities we deem promising. Our devotion never wavers and our focus is consistently trained on the object of our desires, ensuring that we concentrate on achieving victory by whatever means necessary rather than on all that might go wrong. The optimism you feel today when engaging in pursuits you enjoy will help you make all of your wishes come true.
Wednesday, May 7, 2008
When thinking about it, it IS unacceptable how much of our livestock is treated and eventually killed purely for our meat-eating enjoyment. I know I have much to learn on the subject and still need help in my discipline, but the main thing is to begin. Isn't learning to pay attention and to reject the unacceptable parts of life what our Christian discipline is about?