Thursday, December 22, 2011

lindymegan's photostream

IMG_0424Delivering Hoegaarden from HoegaardenLeuven Center SquareCPH1CPH2CPH3

Travels thus far in full Photographic Glory

Hello to Berlin

Reading the history of a place you're visiting always does make it a bit more exciting and meaningful. Four years ago when I was headed to Berlin, I was reading 'The Fall of Berlin 1945'. The vivid descriptions of fighting in the last year made the visit to the Reichstag all the more impactful.

Now I'm reading 'Berlin Diary'. The journals of a radio correspondent stationed in Berlin beginning in 1934. It's about the run up to the war and the thick of it, before America entered into the fray.

Agh, the haunted-ness of Berlin. It was delightful to hear the stories of the Danish coming together to outwit the Nazis and save lives when I was in Copenhagen. It’s a horror reading about the slow fall into destruction of Germany. How stupid the people were at first to allow democracy to be done away with, and then how complacent they were to allow war to start again. One ray of niceness is that Berliners tended to be a bit smarter than the rest, having the highest number Communist party members (hence anti-Nazi), voting in the largest numbers against the Furhrer in elections, not wanting war, most listening (illegally) to the BBC, trying to hold on to their days of debauchery between the world wars. And of course, now the new Berlin, united in Democracy, holds that period of their history in shame and aims to create a new path. That's why the city is so exciting, alive, artsy.

Most disgusting is the use of propaganda. The outright lies of politicians. Is it so far off to call what Fox 'News' and the Republican party does the same? One is to uphold a dictator, the other is to promote a regime that makes them more money. The National politics of America really does disgust me hugely. How can one say that the rich can't afford to pay more taxes and the stimulus didn't work when most economists (at least the ones not paid by the Republicans) say otherwise? How can they say that global warming isn't caused by human activity when every scientist (and usually they themselves a few years ago) say otherwise? And even sillier things like Obama is a Muslim, or gay parents make their kids gay.

It's a bit more believable to think that the Germans swallowed everything Goebbels was selling when you think a good percentage of Americans are swallowing what Fox sells them, even when there are other sources available to negate them. ( anyone?)

In any case, I'm still excited to go. Would have rathered Barcelona, Lisbon, Rome, or anywhere else warmer, but somehow Berlin was by far the cheapest ticket on the menu, so away we go.

Time to brush up on my German . . . .

Monday, December 12, 2011

CPH Memories

So yes, the one reason and one reason only I was in Copenhagen was the blog CopenhagenCycleChic. And yes, it was worth it. Turned out to be quite an expensive trip and a bit unnerving since no American credit cards work over there, but some of these should turn out to be funny stories in a year or so, no? Here's my memories in list format since I'm a bit lazy, being on vacation and all:

Nørrebro Brewhouse

Funny mustachioed bartender, drinking with Danish designer, leaving all the glasses on the table, riding on the back of the bicycle, then loosing the bicycle : (

Free tour with an Irish Guy

seeing the oldest street, being the only American on the tour, the rich Aussie girls in min-skirts and berets, 'What am I going to show you next? . . . Oh yes!", Nyhavn ships getting stuck, Amelie palace and the guard stories, stories of the Danish resistance to the Nazis, the opera house support of Chistiana

Little Mermaid

Getting locked in the bathroom


A nice dreaded guy on a bike showing me the way to the gate, walking alone on the ramparts, stampeding horses, petting dogs

Vor Frelsers Kirke golden tower staris


Bike shopping. . . to replace the one I lost

80% of children being in snowsuits, even though there was no snow

Peacefulness fo Kongens Have and Botanisk Have and the rows of trees

Assistends Kirkegard

H.C. Andersens and Kirkegard's graves, a forest-like atmosphere with plants growing across graves, people going for walks, biking to work, pushing strollers around the graves

Being part of bike rush hour : )

Bikeing Slotsholmen at night

the tower of Børsen

København Museet free!

Getting to my bus two hours to early and then heading here, the exhibit on trash

The 16 hour bus ride there and home . . . and the ferry!

Thursday, December 08, 2011

Back in Belgium

Yipes! Three months flew by fast, and here I am, in Belgium with Chris. Living in a sparse, artless room that's best used for meditation (because there's not much room for anything else). We've finally figured out how to angle the twin mattress and move it away from the floor so we can sleep somewhat comfortably.

We've settled into a sort of routine. I work most of the day at a nearby bar with free internet, sipping one beer very slowly. Chris is off to class, reading or writing. I nip out to walk down a street I've never been down before. Today it was the Groot Begijnhof - a 13th century monastic community of women. Another day it was the M Museum. Another we wandered through the Christmas Market and ate chocolate.

Overall it's a pretty sweet deal to get paid to be in a foreign country. (Thank you generous vacation package!) More travels soon . . .

Sunday, August 07, 2011

Vacation Report Back

Well, our trip was even better than I hoped. Perfect amount of bikes, beer, and climbing on boulders. Highlights:

-Every single brewery in Fort Collins: Cooper Smith, Equinox, New Belgium, Odell's and Funkwerks. Why couldn't FC be in the Northeast? I'd take weekend trips there all the time. Too bad there's not much else to do in the city besides go to the plethora of breweries. (Perhaps that's why people drink so much there.)

-Wildlife in the Rockies. There was so much! Elks galore, coyote pups playing with their mom, pikas gathering wildflowers; they popped up on every walk, hike and drive.

-Bike shares in Denver and Boulder. In Denver, it made carrying luggage a cinch. In Boulder we did a ride down the Boulder Creek, which was beautiful and overflowing from the rain. It was nice not to have to have total withdrawal from biking on vacation. Though Fort Collins didn't have bikeshare, I got my fill of looking at bikes. New Belgium bikes and bike parking were all over the city!

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Beer, bicycles and babies

Our week long, long-awaited summer vacation has begun! Friday, we did the always familiar flight to the Denver airport. I always did look forward to our yearly training in Denver and vacation in Aspen, despite the freezing cold weather of December. But after a frustrating stint working on the election in Colorado Springs, I vowed never again to go to Colorado.

Then Chris' sister had a baby and, well, family wins out. We designed a vacation around seeing the newborn and our big loves (well, some of these are mine) - craft beer, bicycling and National Parks.

Colorado is a different place in the summer. I suppose the snowy mountains and Colorado always had been linked in my mind. Now I have a new picture to replace it. Dry heat, flash hail storms, bicycling wide avenues, great beer and Red Rocks.

After dropping our bags off at the Public Interest Network offices and got ourselves a B-cycle. They are absolutely adorable bikes, with a bit of a Schwinn influence and a big basket. We used them to easily bike between breweries and pubs.

First stop was Fresh Craft, a restaurant with a long beer list. Then off to Breckenridge Brewery, which had an amazing imperial IPA. Next on to Great Divide, which had a great tap room set up. Just $3 for 3 tastings and all the proceeds go to charity. Unfortunately all their beers seemed to be trying to hard and were far too malt-forward. Lastly we checked out Flying Dog. Getting their 10 minutes before opening, and feeling the altitude a bit, we sat down on the sidewalk outside. But the opening bartender instead let us in while he set up the bar space and immediately brought us a tasty rare brew. A shy german shepherd greeted us too and we got a great introduction to a brewery whose motto is "Good people drink good beer." The founder of the brewery lived next to Hunter S. Thompson and all their label art is by an artist that worked with Thompson, which leads to an imaginative, grotesque bunch of labels.

While Friday was all about beer. Saturday was all about hanging out with Chris' family. We got a lot of baby and puppy time in - both of which need a lot of attention. We also got to take them out for a hike in Red Rocks. Amidst the pine-covered mountains, Red Rocks stands out. It looks like it should be in Arizona, but these rocks are naturally here outside Denver. In the middle of one of the rocks they've made an amphitheater, which looks like it would be an amazing place to see a concert. Instead during the day it becomes a workout locale for local fitness-buffs. No wonder Colorado is the most fit state in the nation. If I could run up and down the stairs in this beautiful place, I might be a bit more fit too. (Or at least I'd balance out the beer drinking.)

Next up on the vacation menu is Boulder. See you there!

Friday, May 13, 2011

New Boston-focused Blog

I've been pondering and planning this for a while and finally launched it, Beantown on the Cheap.

I know everyone's a writer these days, and readers are hard to find, but I've wanted to have a 'maketable' blog for a while. My adventures home and abroad keep me connected with friends and family far-flung, but as of late, I've become an expert on Boston. Boston, cheaply that is. Yes, I'm a cheapskate. I've made career choices in my life that give me enough money to be comfortable, but not drop big bucks having fun. I think there's a lot of others in my boat. (Though the boat surveyed is mainly the non-profit office where I work.)

Beantown on the Cheap will be the place to easily find my free & cheap events calendar (just scroll down to the bottom), get weekly updates on the hottest events and my tricks for seeing Boston like a cheapskate year round.

So if you live in Boston, or are planning on checking out my fine city sometime soon, make sure you follow Beantown on the Cheap. If you want to stay abreast of my personal adventures in this city, and others (summer vacation season is coming up soon after all) stay tuned here.

And hopefully see you soon in either case!

Sunday, March 20, 2011

A Perfect Birthday (long) Weekend

Since I was marking my third decade on the planet, I decided to fill a long weekend with my favorite things. Strangely one day did involve a brown-paper package and lovely enough, the silver-white winter melted into Spring on Thursday. (Sound of Music fans will get those.)

Thursday was devoted to the sliver of Irish heritage that is no doubt somewhere in my blood from my father's side and definitely in my name (Megan Ryan) from my mother. Starting at noon with a great round of drinks at Stoddard's. We first attempted to test as many of the Harpoon specials that were on cask. Then another. Then (like last time) our waitress kept misinforming us about what beers were available. So the barkeep came over, looking straight out of a 1910's fancy downtown Boston establishment, and offered us a round on him. It pays to be smarter than your waitress, a lesson I relearn on Sunday.

St. Patrick's Day continued as we joined in the revelry at Faneuil Hall then drinking for free at Harpoon. We wrapped up the night with my favorite dish and local dinner joint - eggplant parm and Bella Luna.

Friday was brutal. 8 straight hours in the kitchen. Our first all-grain brew. Then more apps then you could shake a stick at for my evening shindig. Our first all-grain batch, a rye, will likely be low in alcohol and have a slight hint of burnt sock. (Our grain sock burnt to the bottom of the pot.) Oh well. What started off with hard work ended with many good friends gathered round the table at the Haven, being served kelp-chocolate beer by our local Scotsman.

Saturday, back to me time. I took a leisurely ride down to the Haymarket. If there's two things I love, it's slow cycling and Boston's Haymarket: the number one source for cheap produce. Some steals to be jealous of: ginormous bag of mixed greens for $2, 5 nectarines for $1, very large bunches of basil for $1, bags of onions for $1. I biked back on home with my load and then took myself out to get some pad thai and read a book I just got from the library. (Pad Thai and books are on my favorites list.) We ended the night with a bottle of cava and the best mussels I've ever had in my life at the bar at Bon Savour down the street. (Cava and mussels, also on my favorites list.

Sunday, more favorites: A belly dancing class at the adult dance school. A parade in Southie for St. Patty's Day.

Lastly, I donned my new red dress and Chris took me out to a very fancy, very expensive restaurant (with a Groupon). If you are in Boston, you must go to Aquitane. Without a coupon you can make it affordable by going 5:30-6:30 and doing a three-course, beat-the-rush menu for $30. It's worth triple every penny you spend. And when you're turning thirty, there's no better reason to spend every penny.

Saturday, March 05, 2011

In a hot New York weekend

New England's smushed-togetherness lends itself well to quick weekend trips. So last Saturday we roused ourselves at 6 in the morning and drove to New York City. An old friend and co-worker and her husband were gracious enough to host us in their Manhattan-sized apartment.

I almost forgot how tiny those one-bedrooms are! It's now been 10 years since I lived in New York and now the 'home' feeling has really faded. I'm over it. I'll always enjoy visiting, but I'm grateful for the pace of a smaller city like Boston.

With little preparation we headed out. First stop: Heartland Brewery for lunch. We talked them into letting us do a full flight of 9 beers (note the extra glasses in the middle). One outstanding brew was the Quad - 10 grains, 10 hops, 10%.

Next up: The MoMA. Excellent stuff. We probably spent a little too long there, since by the 3rd hour or so, my brain wasn't registering things as much. I might take a little virtual tour at Google Art Project to remind myself everything I saw.

One thing about New York that baffles me is the rate at which restaurants open up and close down. So it was with blind faith that we took a bus 70 blocks down to 2nd St. and 2nd Ave. to go to a French-Russian restaurant I remembered from eons ago. All I remembered about the place was the strange combo of ethnicities and the beautiful ceiling - painted black, layered with white Christmas lights, and then fake palm fronds over that gave the impression of being under a jungle canopy at night.

In any case, Anyway Cafe, was there, open and delicious. (And they served Lithuanian beer!)

The rest of evening was a little awkward as we decided one thing after another was too expensive $15 art house films, $25 jazz clubs, $5 bad beers. We eventually settled in at the Blind Tiger which had an astounding 30 excellent beers on tap.

Sunday we all made the necessary stop over at Veselka, an old Ukranian Diner I worked to graveyard shift at in college. I forewent brunch and got the vegetarian deluxe platter of pirogies, kasha, borscht, stuffed cabbage and a latka. As good as I remembered.

We wandered across Manhattan the rest of the day - Chelsea Brewing Company, Chelsea Market, High Line park, the Natural History Museum. It was almost too much for some weekend, but still, I didn't feel rushed.

We ended our weekend with a trip to another old stomping ground from college the Daryl Roth Theater. We were lucky enough to get 1/2 tickets to the new De La Guarda show: Fuerza Bruta. 6 years after working there, I only remembered one of the staff. But the big black box theater, the lights, the water, it all was the same. Letting loose in that show 4 times a week during college, was certainly better than any therapy I could have had.

That's what New York is for: a little let loose, eat exotic, walk about, culture-filled weekend therapy session. And I feel great.