a polish-filipino wedding!

Among the wedding party, that’s what we decided that we would call Niki and Io’s wedding if we had a wedding blog. Well, I don’t have a wedding blog, but I have this blog, so that’s how I’ll title my post about the joyous and beautiful wedding of two of my best friends, which I had the pleasure of witnessing last week.

Niki is one of my very best friends from college and she is very dear to me–in fact, she was my wifey first!

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January 2011

Luckily, Io is great enough of a guy that I didn’t think twice about letting my wifey go as she became his actual wife 😉

November 2010

With such a fantastic, holy, fun-loving couple at the center, of course their wedding weekend was nothing short of magical. I’m still basking in the love and joy of the experience! So I wanted to write a little bit about it in case any of my readership is at all interested. (I just wish I had better photos to offer… some of these photos are from Daniel Laprea and Bailey.)

On Thursday I took an early bus from downtown Houston to UT’s campus Austin, and my friend and fellow bridesmaid Ali picked me up. We stopped by Kerbey Lane, a UT essential, for lunch and I got to have my first Tex-Mex of the year! Next, we drove up to Marynia’s (Niki’s sister and MOH’s) house to drop off some bachelorette party essentials, and then Ali and I continued our “girls’ day” at a salon to get manicures and/or pedicures.

After arriving at Ali’s house, the rest of the day consisted of nonstop reunions! First, Justin, Johanna, and Christina (other college friends!) arrived because Johanna would be staying with us, and Christina was coming to the bachelorette party as well. Before I knew it, we were on our way to the Triangle (after dropping Justin off with the guys) for part 1 of the bachelorette party: pottery painting!

It was lovely to be reunited with Niki, our guest of honor, as well as my college roommate, all of the other bridesmaids, and several other lovely ladies who I was either meeting for the first time or seeing for the first time in a while! We all got to bond over our mutual distrust of ourselves to not make a disaster out of the pottery (I made a to-go mug for coffee, which I don’t think I ruined) and mutual love of Chuy’s creamy jalapeño dip! Another really fun part of the evening: this was a true Catholic bachelorette party. We had two infants and two pregnant women in attendance! 🙂

After painting our wares and re-acquainting ourselves as a group, we moved on to the Clay Pit, a fancy Indian restaurant between campus and the Capitol. I’d never been there [too fancy for a normal college meal], and it was fabulous. I got to have some of my beloved chicken korma, Marynia bought a bottle of champagne for us non-pregnant/nursing mamas to share, and we took the opportunity all sitting around a big table to tell stories about Niki, how we met her, and why we love her! It was a wonderful way to kick off the weekend of honoring and cherishing the lovely bride.

Part 3 of the party took place at Marynia’s home, where we (in theory) all drove in a timely manner to watch a movie and drink margaritas… but Bailey, Christina, Johanna, and I made the unfortunate decision to take 35 North, where we sat on the highway for at least half an hour, causing everyone else to delay the movie! Oops!

Regrettably, I don’t think anyone took a single picture during the whole bachelorette party! But that doesn’t mean that it wasn’t memorable! (It just makes for wonky blog formatting, oops)

On Friday, I somehow slept until noon! (At the time I was thrilled that I had finally gotten so much sleep a week after my transatlantic flight, but later, this would prove problematic.) I woke up to Ali informing me that everyone would be meeting for lunch soon–as soon as we could all decide on a restaurant. [this part felt like college again. No one can ever decide much to the distress of this choleric.] After a lovely lunch at Hula Hut on Lake Travis, our little group congregated back at Ali’s house to catch up, go jogging (just kidding, only Bailey did that) and eventually get dressed for the rehearsal!

Mission accomplished (partly)

Mission accomplished (partly)

But first: Johanna and I crashed the men’s trip to Addie Roy to pick up the organ they’d be using for the wedding! I just wanted to see the progress of the brand new Schoenstatt Shrine they’re building out there, but it turns out that wearing a white dress to a construction site is maybe a bit ill-advised. Regardless, the menfolk got the organ loaded into a truck and on its way to the chapel, with many thanks to Johanna and myself, I’m sure. 😉 And the shrine looks BEAUTIFUL!

The reunions continued at the church (the chapel at Niki’s high school out in Westlake): college friends served as groomsmen, ushers, and altar servers! The rehearsal was very… thorough… and the chapel was warm… a sign of things to come! But alas, we made it through, and resolved all issues regarding where to stand, when to bow (hint: ALWAYS bow), and whether all the bridesmaids would fit in the first row (we did). And then we were off to Maggianos for dinner and for me to reunite with this guy:

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Eating Italian food while catching up with good friends in a fancy ballroom and watching a slideshow of embarrassing pictures of the bride and groom can’t be bad, right? Right.

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Bailey, Ali, the lovely bride, myself, and Johanna. AKA the “vintage girls”–we’ve been together since freshman year at UT!

Resisting the temptations of an invite to Rainey St., we bridesmaids retired to Ali’s house to watch Say Yes to the Dress (which has a new version totally devoted to the progress of one [inevitably terrible] couple’s wedding, apparently) and go to sleep at a normal hour. Which we all did. And then I didn’t sleep. All night. And then it was 8:30 AM and it was time to drink some coffee, grab our bridesmaid gear, and head to the Bridal Headquarters to get this party started!!

I hadn’t been in a bridal party since exactly 20 years previous, when I was a 3-year-old flower girl in my Aunt Patti’s wedding, so the craziness of the bride’s house the day of was kind of new to me. Brothers and brothers-in-law rushing to Party City last minute for balloons; everyone getting their hair and makeup done, convincing each other to have another bagel or a cup of tea, and soothing crying babies; the bride printing out programs and handing them off to a competent assembly line for folding, hole punching, ribbon tying, and insert stuffing… the most fun kind of insanity.

Half of the bridesmaids are ready!

Half of the bridesmaids are ready to go! [Johanna, Bailey, Ali, and myself, for the viewers at home]

And finally, everyone was ready, or ready enough, and we headed for the church! We girls got dressed in some offices in the school building across from the chapel. Occasionally we’d see members of the men’s contingent out in the hallway and have to shove Niki around the corner so they wouldn’t be able to see her in all her bridal glory…

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(With a nice view of my hair, there, on the left)

And she was glorious!

We had time for a quick prayer all together, led by Marynia (chosen because she would be able to be both “deep and efficient”), and we, sans bride, headed into the church to join the congregation in singing the litany of saints before everything kicked off.

And then we processed. Despite my practice-walking, I did stumble slightly on my dress on my first step… but recovered! It was hot in that church in floor-length navy polyester, let me tell you. [James, who was an usher, informed us that he and Ryan, the other usher, stood at the back the whole mass and “just watched the thermostat rise.”] And someone, probably the aforementioned ushers, didn’t put programs in the bridal party row… so we were lost during the confusing Gloria setting and all the hymns!

But EVEN THAT did not take anything away from the absolute beauty of that wedding mass. The homily by Fr. Brian was thought-provoking and beautiful (a funeral homily, actually, but he pulled it off), the music was simple and gorgeous, and the marriage ceremony was perfect. Especially fitting were the vows: as one could predict, Io was incredibly emotional as he said his part… and then Niki came in in a perfect stage voice 😉 Very them. 

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I remember thinking during Communion… wow! It’s over already? I can only imagine how fast it flies during one’s own wedding! The joy and love just carry you through the ceremony.

After re-hydrating back in the school building, taking an effective and efficient number of family/official/wedding party photos in the church, and driving to the reception site, the wedding party was introduced at the Marriott! My partner, Marynia’s husband/Niki’s brother-in-law, James, was the tallest member of the bridal party, but I held my own in my 4-inch heels.

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This wedding truly was a Polish-Filipino affair, as advertised by the title of this post 😉 Niki, Io, and their families seamlessly integrated traditions from both cultures into the day. For instance, Io’s parents escorted him down the aisle before the Mass in keeping with the Filipino culture’s more predominant role of the groom, and after the ring exchange both sets of parents performed the imposition of the veil and lasso, an Hispanic tradition also used in the Philippines. And at the beginning of the reception, the Polish welcoming was used: guests threw/bestowed money on the newlyweds (their first money as a couple), and the parents of the bride presented them with bread, that they may never know hunger, and salt, that their lives may have flavor.

Then the ceremonial dances… Io and Niki danced to Ben Rector: (My first time hearing this song was actually at a Ben Rector concert with both Io and Niki, a few months before they got engaged, and they got really excited when he played it 😉 I wonder why…)

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Niki and her dad danced to Sunrise, Sunset from Fiddler on the Roof, and Io surprised his mom with Isn’t She Lovely. Both pairs could really dance! I know Niki’s family pretty well, but it was really sweet and wonderful to “get to know” both families during the weekend at the various events and through the fathers’ toasts at the wedding.

I mean, we all know how wedding receptions work at this point, right? Eating, drinking, general merriment, dancing… the dancing in particular was very lively! I was worried about my high heels and my too-long dress, but in the end, it worked out fine! Of course I had the best wedding date, and although Daniel and I hadn’t really danced together for over a year, we were able to bust out some decent two-step, cha-cha, and polka skills. I was very impressed by our polka, I must say. The Poles know how to party, and we kept up! 😉

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It’s not a secret that I had been really, really excited about this wedding for a really long time. The chance to catch up with so many wonderful friends, in such a joyous atmosphere, after being gone for so long was so. much. fun. Our table was Johanna, Bailey, and me, six of our best guy friends from college, and Fr. Brian, who celebrated the Mass. It was awesome swapping Canonization/World Youth Day stories with Daniel and James, laughing at Io’s dad’s crazy toast with all the guys, and looking forward to Justin and Johanna’s wedding next year!

My gentleman friends at our awesome table... Ryan, Daniel (me) and James

My gentleman friends at our awesome table… Ryan, Daniel, (me), and James. And James’ shirt.

At toast time, the DJ opened up the floor for people to offer some remarks (advice, nostalgia, well wishes) to the happy couple. James and I both debated saying something, but were edged out by time constraints. So instead we did this: wedding1

No regrets!

There are no pictures of this yet, but at some point a few members of the wedding party snuck down in the garage to decorate Niki’s car, in which we “sent off” the couple at the end of the night… even though they were staying in the hotel where the reception had taken place. We labeled Io as “whipped” on the driver’s side and Niki as the “ol’ ball & chain” on the passenger’s side. And, the piéce de résistance, on the windshield: “To boldly go where no man has gone before.”

I keep thinking of fun things from the reception: the “grand march” around the ballroom, dancing to “Love Shack,” someone not knowing that “Twist and Shout” is by the Beatles, so many fun line dances (The Wobble! Copperhead Road!! I love Texas), the 4-year-old who was intent on dancing (very violently) with every bridesmaid, getting the bride and groom up on chairs for the Horah… the list goes on. It was such a fun time with some of the people I love the most.

But probably one of the most beautiful sights came the next morning, after everyone dragged themselves out of bed before 9 to go to Mass at the Cathedral. We took up half of the church, y’all, between the bride’s family, the groom’s family, the couple themselves, and those of us friends who came out. Niki kept saying afterwards, “I can’t believe this many people love us so much!” The joy of the wedding day isn’t the end, it’s just the beginning. I can’t wait to experience the joy that Io, Niki, and their new family bring to all of us in the future 🙂

last week in the WG with a view

It’s hard to believe I only have a few days left here! As the week starts, I wanted to share a photo project I’ve been working on: the views from my apartment through the year! I present: Die Vier Jahreszeiten.

West (from our balcony):

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East (from my window):

2013-10-22-05-37-26DSC03946DSC04937One day after I took this shot, landscaping crews cut down a whole slew of those trees, leading to the final “summer” view, or what my view is at this very moment, which really underscores the reality check of living abroad.DSC06649Come to Germany! Then you, too, can experience the joy of being woken up not only by the beautiful bells of this church every morning, but also the sounds of a garage being demolished right outside your window!

Enjoying my last week! You’ll hear from me a few more times, I believe 🙂

EDIT: Check out how cool this is!!

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lessons as a listicle

It is a terrible cliché that one travels abroad (or embarks on a post-graduation “experience”) to “find themselves” or “learn about life.” Mostly because… those aren’t things you can wake up and do, as if you were checking them off of a checklist. As life happens, the finding and the learning are found in the everyday, gradual things.

That’s one reason I’m glad I’ve gotten to live abroad rather than just traveling for a short period of time. These things take time, and they take reflection. So, here I am to reflect. In the style of 21st-century journalism, of course. I have learned a good number of things this year–about the world, myself, what I believe, what I want… and I thought I’d share some of them as I attempt to parse through them 🙂

Listed in no particular order:

1. People are people. This is a huge one. No matter your ethnicity, nationality, or main place of residence, most people are fundamentally the same. I have experienced many incidences of people from various places assuming things about people from other places, ranging from harmless to vitriolic: all German people like beer, all people who travel or live abroad are enlightened, all people who can’t speak a second language are ignorant, all Europeans are lazy, all Americans love guns and hate all other countries… and the list goes on and on.

However, this year I have also had the opportunity to get to personally know many people from many different backgrounds, and have usually found more exceptions to these stereotypes than people that conformed to them! Yes, national or ethnic stereotypes are usually rooted in some fragment of truth about what a society values in general, but rarely does such a stereotype describe any particular person within that society. On several occasions, I have gotten very angry about people (Americans and non-Americans alike) letting their prejudices get in the way of truly learning about people and places that are foreign to them.

The only way that we can move past the “othering” of strange people and places is to experience them at a personal level… to really know another person and to have a relationship with him or her, rather than defining them based on vague and ineffective categories. This is one of many reasons why I think that everyone would benefit from living abroad at some point in their lives. The people you meet will definitely have annoying habits or attributes, and because they come from a different culture, they may do things you don’t understand or believe things you don’t agree with. But they are people. They are people like you, with likes, dislikes, dreams, ambitions, and feelings. The things we share as humans are more fundamental than the cultural things that divide us. We all have so much to learn from each other, because at the core, we all have so much in common.

2. That being said, there is one universal truth: all tourists, no matter their age or country of origin, are fundamentally aggravating to all non-tourists. 😉

3. Hospitality = Gastfreundschaft. Those two words are technically synonymous, but “Gastfreundschaft” literally means “guest friendship,” and I think it’s important to think of hospitality in those terms. It is really hard to be new in a different country, city, school, church, workplace, or group of friends. The friendly and hospitable thing for the “established” people to do is to extend a hand of friendship to people who are new. This is especially important when we’re talking about being new to a country, because often there is some degree of a language barrier, and there is a new culture and new social cues and structures for the new person to navigate… so, from where I stand, the “established” people need to be the ones to act. And to act beyond just a “hello” and a handshake… an invitation to come out with everyone later, an exchange of phone numbers and a follow-through with a call or text, a real conversation. And for goodness’ sake, at the very least a greeting or acknowledgement when you see them later at a party, meeting, or event.

Without getting too much into it, I’ve met people who were lovely and hospitable and open, and people who were very, very not. Let’s just say that there is a reason why many “international” people in any given place stick together: because, more often than not, the existing group or community doesn’t offer an adequate point of entry. (They are often not aware of this.) Thinking back, I’m not sure that I have been the best about this when I have been in my own little comfort zone at home; I have probably come off as cold or closed off when I thought I was simply being friendly enough and going about my day. But new people need your hospitality, and they need to be included and regarded as “friends” in order to feel at home.

4. We are truly blessed as Americans to have contact with so many diverse people, opinions, and lifestyles within our own country. It might be (incredibly) annoying and aggravating that Americans are 50/50 divided on just about every political and social issue in existence… but I have realized that the, ahem, lively variety of opinions and values in the US has made me acutely aware that not everyone agrees with me, and in many cases has given me a reason to really, truly know what I believe and why I believe it. I’ve encountered people from more homogenous countries who, until meeting me and discussing whatever issue or opinion it happened to be, seemed to have no idea that people thought differently than they did! Just because most people where they are from generally agree, and they haven’t had contact with anyone who was much different from them. It’s easy to get stuck in our own little “bubbles,” but the liveliness of American public and private life is a gift we should cherish, as it helps us to better understand others and ourselves, and to live in (relative) harmony with people who are different from us.

5. Personally, my diligence is only matched by my laziness. I had a very loosely structured life this year, and there were absolutely days when I sat in my apartment and watched TV all day, and there were even more mornings where it took me 2, 3, even 4+ hours to get my butt to the library. Then again, I wrote 20 pages of my report in the eight days before I left for Spain in February, and wrote a total of 60 pages (a whole Plan II thesis!), over 14,000 words, about flood management, with little to no supervision from anyone, for better or for worse. And I’ve been told that it actually makes sense! So, although I could definitely improve in certain virtues regarding my “down time,” I can get things done when it comes down to it 😉

Besides those “big picture” things, there are small nuggets that I’ve been chewing on, as well. Like…

Even though it’s sometimes annoying or inconvenient that stores in Germany close on Sundays, it’s a welcome reminder to take the Sabbath seriously. I hope to keep up the Germany-enforced habit of not shopping on Sundays in favor of more reverent, less frantic activities.

In a similar vein, the chance to live more simply this year with fewer clothes and possessions, a small but sufficient monthly stipend, no car, and a disincentive to buy much (namely, having to bring it all back to the States somehow) has been a good practice in living the kind of life I want to in general. [Have less; love more]

However, I will be glad to have a bit more wardrobe variety upon my return, not to mention easy access to black beans (a staple of my diet that I basically had to cut out this year) and new music on the Internet that is not blocked by GEMA.

Finally, I am excited for my next adventure: graduate school. I think that, in the end, I will be very glad that I took a year off to decompress from my four years of college, and I am ready for the more structured, disciplined life that Master’s student life will provide, as well as the many opportunities ahead!

a crazy week, but first some photos

This week has been NUTS! I’ll give y’all the Cliff’s Notes version

Saturday and Sunday: the 24th Annual Elbhangfest, a huge festival that stretches the length of the Elbe River from Dresden to Pillnitz. Felicitas and I biked in on Saturday to see live music, browse craft and jewelry booths, and cheer on our friend Daniela in the Dragon Boat Race. Sunday, we explored the part of the festival at Schloss Pillnitz, a palace about 10 km away from Dresden.

This Drachenboot team all dressed up as dragons... wings and all!

This Drachenboot team all dressed up as dragons… wings and all!

A view of the Blauen Wunder bridge from the fair

A view of the Blauen Wunder bridge from the fair

Live music in the rain on Sunday...

Live music in the rain on Sunday…

Monday: Germany vs Algeria in the World Cup! I went to a public viewing of the game along the Elbe and it was crazy fun, emphasis on the crazy because no one scored during regulation and we went into overtime!

Me and Agnes sporting the red, black, and gold

Me and Agnes sporting the red, black, and gold

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Got home around 1:30 AM and had to be on a bus by 7:30 the next morning because…

Tuesday and Wednesday: I was in Göttingen, where I finally got to meet Ayse, my German replacement! She was my high school German teacher’s teaching assistant this year, and she lived with my parents while she was in Sugar Land. We hadn’t met even on Skype before, so I was glad we got to “meet in the middle” of Germany! Ayse’s friend Inga lives in Göttingen so she was very generous to make accommodations for us at her dorm. We watched America sadly lose to Belgium after a hard-fought game.

Displaying our American pride at Göttingen's most famous fountain

Displaying our American pride at Göttingen’s most famous fountain

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Thursday (today): My aforementioned German teacher, Mr. Buck, is in Germany currently with GAPP, an every-other-year exchange between Clements and a Gymnasium in Cologne. Mr Buck is a brave soul to bring 17 high schoolers to Germany for 5 weeks! They were in Dresden today so I went and met up with the young’ns, who were all still in middle school (or even elementary school?? shudder) when I graduated! Several of them have older siblings who were in my class, though. We walked all through the Altstadt and crossed over to the Neustadt before I saw them off on a day trip to Königstein and Rathen and I returned here to write this post 😉 Most of the things we did today, I’d already seen, but one new thing was that I got to go to the top of the Hausmannsturm at the Schloss, which I didn’t even know was an option before. So I’ll leave you with these stunning views of Dresden:

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All the way in the back, you can see the university. See the pointy green building?

germany or america: where am I better traveled?

Throughout my life, I’ve been fortunate enough to see a lot of my home country thanks to my Dad’s affinity for cross-country road trips, and the generous dispersal of our family and friends throughout the Lower 48.

And during the past three years, I’ve been able to travel through Germany quite a bit too!

So I think it’s time for a light-hearted game of: Where Am I Better Traveled?

This game will be purely based on the states/Bundesländer of each country. The USA has 50 states + DC, and Germany has 16 Bundesländer. So the question is… in which country have I visited the highest percentage? Continue reading

time is a toothpaste tube

or, alternatively, “A Day in Thüringen.”

[maybe provocative titles will garner a larger following than i’ve had lately. hi, y’all.]

Palm trees in Germany... totally natural

Palm trees in Germany… totally natural

I have about five more weeks left in Dresden, which is basically unbelievable. So I’ve been trying to get the most out of what little time I have left. The weekend started auspiciously with our cherry-picking adventure, and continued with a really fun dance with the KSG peeps on Saturday night. (It was a bummer to see Germany tie with Ghana after a frustrating game, but dancing took the edge off a bit.)

To round out the weekend, on Sunday, Felicitas and I had planned (or, more accurately, not planned) a spontaneous trip to Jena, where our friend Allie lives. We bought a Thüringen ticket, which allowed us to take any train* in Saxony or Thüringen all day, and cost only 13 euros each.

The German National Theater in Weimar

The German National Theater in Weimar

*Unfortunately, we realized just as we were about to get on the train that we were only allowed to take regional trains with this ticket, so our journey took a bit longer than we had anticipated.

We both slept on the train, which was welcome, but that led to the next unanticipated turn of events: we missed our stop! We reached “Jena-West,” but knew that we were supposed to get off at “Jena-Göschwitz,” so we waited. And waited. And waited as the train continued through huge fields filled with cows, and we guessed that we were, indeed, leaving Jena, which we confirmed with a phone call to Allie. But with a stroke of luck, we discovered that the next stop was Weimar, a town I had wanted to visit but figured that I wouldn’t have the chance!

In front of the Weimar town hall

In front of Weimar’s town hall

And so, we spent about an hour and a half in the charming city of Weimar.  Weimar is famous as the former home of the famous author/philosophers Göthe and Schiller, and it lent its name to the Weimar Republic, the ill-fated German republic formed after World War I. It really was beautiful.

In front of Schiller's home

In front of Schiller’s home

We barely made the next train back to Jena, and Allie met us at the train station. Allie and Flitzi went to Northwestern together and were both athletes there, and it was great to spend a few hours from her and get the full Jena tour.

We saw the university, the famous DDR-era “skyscraper,” the cutest little restaurant-and-kneipe street, two of the four remaining city gates, the town hall, and enjoyed ice cream cones the size of my head as we walked through Paradies-Park. It was a lovely, lovely day in two cities I’ve had on my list to see since November.

Old and new: the "skyscraper" on the right, the town gate on the right

Old and new: the “skyscraper” on the right, the town gate on the right (in the far, far background)

As we waited for our train at the station, we talked about little cultural quirks and observations–how Germans don’t apologize as much as Americans, and maybe even think we are silly for apologizing so much; how, for Americans, asking “how are you?” or “what’s up?” is more of a pleasantry than an actual inquiry (to the exasperation of Germans)–when Allie asked an actual serious question of me: how am I feeling about going back? In the midst of the silly things we’d been discussing, it actually blind-sided me a little!

I gave the standard answer I’ve been thinking of for a while: how, this time, I’ve spent a good amount of time in Germany, and during that time taken advantage of everything I feel I could have gotten out of my time here. I’ve traveled a lot, but I’ve also integrated myself into everyday life here in Dresden, or at least I did that as well as I knew how. I don’t feel I have any regrets, and this year truly has been one of the most meaningful experiences of my life. So I don’t feel disappointed to be leaving.

Walking down an idyllic Weimar street

Walking down an idyllic Weimar street

(And it does help that I am really excited for the adventure ahead! The wedding of the decade a week after I get back to the US, a transamerican move two weeks after. No shortage on adventure here.)

But after I got home, I looked around my disaster zone of a room and out at the church tower that would wake me up at 7 the next morning with its incessant chiming, and I remembered the sun-dappled train journey through Saxony I’d just enjoyed, and I realized that I will be very sad to leave! It’s crazy how fast time passes–I can barely believe that I graduated college at all, let alone that my graduation was 13 months ago–and the end of a chapter is always bittersweet, isn’t it? But this chapter has been an amazing one, and I’m so blessed to have lived it. So I’m going to keep squeezing every last memory out of my Dresden life before I go.

Among the list of things to look forward to: my sweet kitty hanging out on my bookshelves at home

Among the list of things to look forward to: my sweet kitty hanging out on my bookshelves at home

playing hostess in dresden

Daniel was my first and probably only guest during my time here in Dresden. I was so happy to be able to share my new (is it new anymore?) life with someone, and I’m happy that someone was Daniel because we had such a blast during the 5 days he was here!

This is real life--a picture with my boyfriend on my actual street! haha.

This is real life–a picture with my boyfriend on my actual street! haha.

Sunday

The first thing we did on Sunday was attend evening Mass at the cathedral, kicking off the list of “I’m so glad I can show this to someone” places! I love going to the Dresden cathedral every week. I think it’s gorgeous. We actually ran into several friends of mine there (which made me look incredibly popular, when in reality that never happens!).

The gorgeous cathedral decked out for Pentecost

The gorgeous cathedral decked out for Pentecost

Afterwards, we headed up to Neustadt, the hipper part of town north of the river, to get Indian food. There was a great Indian place near town hall that I used to go to embarrassingly frequently before it unexpectedly closed in December, but they have another location up there that I hadn’t been to yet! It was also a great chance to see Neustadt at a glance.

Monday

Monday morning I kicked into “tiger tour guide” mode again as we did a full cycle of Dresden’s baroque center. I felt relatively well-prepared to give a good tour of “my city” by now, and we made it all the way through in about two hours: Kreuzkirche, Altmarkt, Frauenkirche, “Zitronenpress,” Brühlische Terrasse, Hofkirche, Fürstenzug, Zwinger, Semperoper… and if all of that is just nonsense to you, clearly that is a sign that you should have visited me and gotten a tour yourself! [There’s still time, folks! I’m here till July 31!]

It was really fun to show Daniel the beautiful city and also I loved having a reason to be a total tourist, taking photos and everything! We also had a beautiful day, and I don’t think many of my Dresden-Altstadt photos have had a blue sky so far, so that was great.

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With the Frauenkirche and my beloved Lemon Press in the background

Then we took the Straßenbahn a few stops to the Weisse Gasse, a kind of expensive but very… varied group of restaurants, and helped ourselves to Cuban tapas! And ice cream. I had a Spaghettieis in honor of German immersion, of course.

Later that evening, we had an International Mass at the KSG, so I brought Daniel along to meet a few more of my friends. It was great timing because a lot of the Mass was in English due to the special International event. So that was fun. I also had a great reason to skip the usual lecture afterwards because Daniel doesn’t speak German! 😉

During the day on Monday, my camera died, so I don’t have any pictures from the rest of the week! Daniel has them, and he is having problems uploading them for some reason… so I’ll just talk about what we did Tuesday-Friday with hopes of later posting the highlights of the photos.

Tuesday

On Tuesday, I took Daniel on a little tour around the university and then we had some coffee and cake at one of the cafés on campus before my class at 1.  After my class, we took the Straßenbahn about half an hour north to Bühlau, near where I lived with my host family, to see the castles along the Elbe and go hiking in the Dresden Heath. Neither of us had really been hiking since our Colorado trip, so it was fun to have a little urban wilderness excursion. We followed that up with beer and grilled meat at the Biergarten of one of the castles, of course, while enjoying one of the best views of Dresden.

The Frauenkirche, Dresden's famous domed church. (Obviously I am just dispersing photos and they don't really go with the text at this point)

The Frauenkirche, Dresden’s famous domed church. (Obviously I am just dispersing photos and they don’t really go with the text at this point)

On our way back, we met Felicitas for ice cream– but none of us ended up being hungry, so instead we went to the Großer Garten, Dresden’s biggest park, for a little walk (and a look at another castle in the middle of the park).

Wednesday

We actually started Wednesday off at the Großer Garten as well, with a lovely lunch picnic! It was a nice, leisurely change of pace compared to the previous two days! We watched the park train go by, had spinning contests, and successfully opened a beer bottle sans bottle opener.

This is not the Großer Garten, but rather the Zwinger Palace courtyard

This is not the Großer Garten, but rather the Zwinger Palace courtyard

We had picked the park as our chill-out picnic location because it is right next to the Volkswagen Gläserne Manufaktur (“transparent factory”), a state-of-the-art factory where VW’s only luxury car is manufactured. Every single VW Phaeton in the world (not sold in the US) is assembled there! My friend and tandem partner has an internship there so she gave me all the information about English tours, and it was actually really interesting! The idea of the factory is to involve customers in the manufacturing process, as everything about the Phaetons (and Bentleys) produced there is entirely customized. It is absolutely fascinating (and FANCY), even for two non-“car people” such as ourselves. This video explains it way better than I could on this little Cliffs Notes version of our week.

Thursday

Thursday, our last full day together, was probably one of the most fun! After my morning class, we rented bikes for the day and went riding along the river. The weather was gorgeous and I love being able to see the city from a new vantage point. On our way “out of town” along the bike path, we saw the famous Canaletto View of the town which was immortalized in many paintings in the 18th century. We rode about 5 kilometers east along the Elbe before stopping to take a little break, watch some people flying kites, and enjoy some brews at a Biergarten before heading back the other way.

Our westward destination was the Pfund Molkerei, the so-called “most beautiful dairy in the world.” Basically, it is a dairy shop that sells cheese and other milk products (and a lot of souvenirs because it’s become a tourist destination), but inside it is absolutely beautiful, decked out with painted tiles from floor to ceiling. No photos are allowed, but Daniel was able to get one… I’ll share it when possible! There is a restaurant upstairs, and we each had a milkshake and we shared a piece of quark cake (like cheesecake but made with quark, a dairy product that I’ve never seen in the States).

A view of the castle and cathedral from the Brühlische Terrasse

A view of the castle and cathedral from the Brühlische Terrasse

We passed the cathedral as we biked back through town to the bike rental, and I realized that Thursday adoration was going on! So we stopped by for about half an hour before returning our bikes. That evening, we had dinner at a German restaurant that I actually really liked, despite my German food fatigue. Thanks again, TripAdvisor! I was craving a salad, but Daniel really won with a heaping plate of pork smothered in onions and fried potatoes. And, because we were living large on our last night together… ice cream for dessert!

Friday

Daniel’s bus to Berlin left a little before noon, so we had time to have a nice breakfast together at one of my favorite cafés near campus. Of course I wish he could have stayed longer, but I had such a fabulous week with him and I’m so glad he was able to visit me in my German home. All things considered, this year has worked out wonderfully for us… better than I could have hoped!  We have made so many amazing memories together all throughout Europe.

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Behind us is the Fürstenzug, or “Procession of Princes,” a mosaic mural that shows every prince or elector who has ever ruled in Dresden

We did lots of really fun things while Daniel was in Dresden, but honestly a lot of the best moments were the uneventful ones: making pizza at my apartment and watching 30 Rock episodes while drinking cheap whiskey… or trying to teach him to pronounce German words! It was just the most fun week ever and I’m so glad to have those memories. Pictures of the rest of the week to come soon, I hope!