Saturday, December 31, 2011

Tropea Football

Our landlord Pasquale (pictured below with sunglasses) runs a local radio station. He was asked to sponsor a local football tournament. It is a memorial tournament for a boy at the age of 19 enjoyed free climbing the local cliffs. He fell quite a distance 13 years ago, and these tournaments, 8 teams, are put together every year in his memory. On our trip from the airport Pasquale invited us to come watch. So of course we went!
The pitch was sand, so the ball was pretty fast. If the game slowed down at all, spectators would toss fire crackers on the field. Not your namby pamby poppers. These were basically modified shotgun shells. This of course was mixed with yelling and italian arm movements.
At half time we wandered down to the local harbour and perused the boats.
You can see Tropea perched on the cliff overlooking the harbour. Our little apartment is in there somewhere, but one block in, so no ocean view.
Perching buildings is quite the thing here. This is apparently a very wonderful B&B to visit. Although for €500 a night I hope so.
The game was 1-1 and full time and after overtime so it went into shootouts.
The black team won and celebrated. Not a disney movie here, it's real life where the black team can win even after the drawn out shoot-out.
Pasquale presented the trophy to the winners. Everybody cheered!
Fireworks also set off. There were balloons and such too. All for a small local tournament. The italians really know how to celebrate, and celebrate they do!
Pasquale quick darted off as he was late for his New Years family party. What a great introduction to Italy!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas from Switzerland
Owen & Ashley Mead-Robins

Jungfrau Continues

Things here in Jungfrau are going very well. It is go go go, with getting up at 6:45 every morning, breakfast, pack bags, then skiing most of the day. We come back with about an hour to shower, hang all the ski stuff to dry and get ready for dinner. After dinner there is 20 min downtime, then mini church service which is done at 9:00pm then at most an hour before lights out so you aren't exhausted the next morning. Repeat.

It's very good and we are both meeting some wonderful people here. Everyone is so very friendly. I've taken the morning off to take a side step frm the fast lane and relax a bit. Ashley on the other hand is go go go and quite the centre of attention. She probably one of the best in her beginner class and ventured out to do a full run yesterday while the others stayed on the trainer bunny hill. Makes me smile.

We have a couple photos, but not many as it isn't safe to take the camera skiing with us. Will try to get those up soon.

K, off to do some other small things around the hotel, then going to head up for the afternoon of some more skiing!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Safe In Jungfrau

Just a really quick post to let everyone know that we are safe and sound in Jungfrau. Sorry no pictures, but I'm sure if you Google Jungfrau you'll find lots :)

Ashley is enjoying her ski lessons and is picking them up quite well. My legs are quickly remembering how to ski. Both of us are quite soar, and we have another early start tomorrow. Gotta rest for another big day on the slopes.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Reichstag II

Sorry for the delay on this. Having good reliable Internet is such a blessing. So without further ado, we'll continue with our original post of the Reichstag.

Instead of a very clear separation of church and state the Germans opt to be more inclusive. Within the Reichstag is a non denominational room where people of all or no faiths can go to pray, meditate, or just be quite. The cross on the ambiguous alter can be removed if you like for example.

The art on the walls loosely represents: Christianity, Judaism, Muslim, and "Other." You might think the line in the floor isn't square, but actually it was designed that way to be perpendicular to Mecca.

Some really neat artifacts, which include this shall from the Dali Lama. These artifacts were housed just outside the room.

Although German's want to move past the dark spots of WWII, they also want to remember. Notice the various bullet holes that adorn this archway. Amazing to think a handful of years ago the Soviets were pressing hard around this very building.

Art is something that is embraced quite a bit at the Reichstag. This instillation is numerous mailboxes, one for each member of parliament.

The tag has their name, the party (or parties) they were associated with, and when they served. Members of the National Socialist Party are given an extra black label.

The artist, of French decent, really struggled if she would include Adolf's mailbox or not. On one side he was a voted it member. On the other... In the end she decided to include him. Although she herself was heavily affected by this man's actions, she choose to be inclusive, and rise above what transpired. Feels very German. To acknowledge, learn, and move past. Unfortunately Hitler's mailbox continues to be vandalized by visitors. They keep fixing it, but it doesn't take long before it gets kicked in again.

One black mailbox is included to mark the years of Nazi reign.

The architecture in this building was really quite wonderful. What you see here are the offices of the various members of parliament. Each person gets the exact same size office. Doesn't matter what position you hold, from top dog to newly elect everyone is equal.

This was an American art instillation. Kind of neat in that what is scrolling is segments of speeches about rights, and freedoms of the German people. If you wanted to read all of them, it would take you months to do so.

We got to sit in one of these boxes inside the parliament. Anyone can come in, but you must behave or be tossed out. Oh, and the blue that is the chairs is copyrighted so nobody else can use that exact blue. It's the official Reichstag blue!

One of the biggest draws to the Reichstag is the glass dome that sits on top of it. I think this is arguably the most stunning architecture I've been in. These pictures don't really do it justice, but was really fun to take lots of photos.

You can get to the roof to see the dome up close.

Inside, you can climb the spiral walkway all the way to the top. A free audio-guide is available to describe all the parts of the city you can look out on.

In the middle of the above photo you can see a shade. This shade moves in correlation to the sun. That way when the sun hits all those mirrors in the middle it doesn't cause a lot of glare. Great example of German engineering and thinking things through.

At the very top the dome is open. So when it rains, it rains inside. The water is collected in this central container thingy and used to flush the toilets. Lots of resource reuse. They can put the dome in "cool" or "heat" mode which changes the way it circulates the air.

Looking down you can see (sorry for the glare) into the middle of the Reichstag. This looks right into the room with all the copyright blue chairs where parliament sits. Not only does it provide a great source of light for the room, but more importantly it symbolizes a transparent government. All citizens can come up here any day they want and peer over the shoulders of their elected officials. Apparently when it opened it brought tears to the eyes of Germans. Now that's saying something!

As the sun sets we walk back down the dome and head on out. For me this dome is a very good lesson to learn. The architect, Norman Foster, really didn't want to build the dome. He fought hard not to do it, but in the end had to. Within a few years, the Reichstag has become Norman's crown jewel of his architecture career. Makes me really think hard about how hard I fight against doing certain designs and work.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

A Walk By Zurich

We arrived in Zurich a couple days ago. Since the time in our Berlin Apartment was up on the 15h and our skiing adventures don't start till the 20th we had a bit of time. So Zurich it is! Well, technically we are staying in Aeugst am Albis, a little town 50min by train. Feels very much like the Swiss version of Brentwood Bay.

Went for a walk after half a day of working. Having some data issues with ChatterBlock, and both Ashley and I were working. Once we got a good chunk of it done we headed out.
This is the view from our little B&B we are staying at. All this snow is very fresh. We arrived to a very green Switzerland, and overnight it snowed! What fun!
Ashley all happy with our Swiss designer house. We have a room very similar to the top one there with it's own balcony. LOVE the layout of the place, but would probably make it a bit more homey, and less designer. Wow, did I really just say that?
Wondering through the little town, is so much fun. Very fresh and clean running water. Really is amazing when the government puts such high value on the environment. Such a different feel from Germany, even though Germany is heading in the right direction. Really makes me realize just how much we are squandering in Canada. We can get away with it, just because we have so much!
Our mission was to find the small lake that was close by. This view through the trees was the first hint we are on the right path!
Taking the time to enjoy all the lovely trees, and snow, and wonderland we are now in.
Heading down the trail. The lake on our right, we are getting closer and closer.
Didn't bring the tri-pod but found a fence post that will work just as well. It's actually getting quite dark, but with a timed shutter and some lovely manual settings we get a lovely shot like this.
Another one pointing down the road we are traveling.
This is actually how dark it is getting. Just around the bend we found this other cute Swiss town in the distance all lit up.
Finally make it down to the lake. Although not after bush-waking through the snow and almost getting stuck in a swamp thing. Cupped some water in my hand and had a small drink. So very clean and fresh! Now I can say I've drunk from a clean Swiss lake on a snowy day. What a good break from a not so good half-day of work on a Sunday (the downside to this work remotely thing).

Friday, December 16, 2011

Farewell Berlin, Hello Zurich

We have left our little Berlin Flat, and are staying at a Bn'B just outside Zurich.
This morning we woke up to snow-covered Switzerland! The first snow we have had!

P.S. We have SO many more photos and adventures to tell you about, so the posts may be a little bit out of order. We are working on finishing up our time in Berlin. 
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Family Abroad

November 11-13
Owen has family in Germany! It was a surprise and a treat for us to find out that one of his cousin's, (in a very confusing and convoluted way that I won't attempt to explain), lives about an hour outside of Berlin in a small town called Wolfsburg. Sharon, Helmut and their daughter Christa welcomed us with open truly is family, and we were so grateful for the connection!
The picture below is Christa and Ashley.
This is Sharon with Helmut in the background. We realized that we don't have a lot of pictures of them!
They took us to Celle, an old town in West Germany that is filled with timber construction houses. The oldest one is from the 1400's (I think...)
There is also a Schols, or palace, which was a hunting lodge for the Germany royal family.
They also gave us the great tour of cake! Germany and cake go together like a hand and glove. So delicious. We were certainly very well taken care of.

They also introduced us to a special kind of cake, called Baumkuchen, or Tree-Cake. It is made in a long cylinder, like a tree trunk.

We had such a good time with them that we went back a couple weekends later for longer. 
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