Read From the Beginning

Next Stop...

20 Jun 2011
Posted by Marisa
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Our days in Asia our numbered, 4 to be exact. And the next stop is Europe. The following plan is what happens when you are confronted with a map of many places you have imagined, yet never been to and have to decide which ones to visit. 

Europe Plan

It still looks manageable when you look at it like this. Everything in Europe seems trickily close together and so you make the above plan. Then you put in on the calendar and realize that we were in Southeast Asia for 7 months and saw 3.5 countries. And now we are planning to see 12 countries in about 1.5 months. Hopefully we will not die from exhaustion. Likely at the end we will sleep for 1 week. 

A few more notes on the trip. We are actually flying to England on Thursday where we will spend a week traveling aimlessly, seeing a few people, possibly Jordan's sister if she sees fit to respond to our emails. Then we are spending two weeks at a Christan community in southern England. After a few days visiting some game developers in Cambdridge for a Game Jam we will be starting our trip to continental Europe on what looks to be July 18th. We were really hoping to continue overland from Istanbul to Amman, Jordan, our final destination, but it looks like traveling through Syria is an unlikely possibility. Upon arriving in Amman in the middle of September we plan to stay put there, perhaps until summer time.

And amazingly that is our life plan beyond just tomorrow, which should make my mother rest a bit easier. 

Posted by Marisa
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Six months ago I made a post reminiscing about my life in relation to Harry Potter. And while with the release of the last movie I would like to revisit those memories, I expressed them pretty well last time, so in honor this last and final movie I will show you picture of me in HP places.

2011.07.17 - Cambridge

I was lucky enough to be surrounded by Harry Potter places in the weeks leading up to the release since we spent most of our time in Oxford, where various scenes for the movies were shot, including the famous Great Hall.


Also these steps. Who knows what two HP characters met here in film HP1?


The next stop is from HP4 where the characters from the previous photo meet again and this time one of them is turned into a ferret.


This next photo doesn't particularily show the room well, but was used for different scenes including in HP4 when Professor McGonagall teaches everyone how to dance.


This last photo wasn't taken in Oxford, or even in England. But when we were visiting Versailles, the tall hedges immediately made us feel like we were in HP and Karith and I couldn't help but act it out.


That's it for the tour of my days leading up to the HP finale. And while I was suffering from some post-Potter meloncholy, and the rain in Paris didn't really help cheer me up, I find that these days I'm able to go on as if the most exciting movie event of my life isn't behind me.

Posted by Marisa
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On a sunny day in July, Jordan, Karith and I found ourselves out for a punt. And no punt is complete without a picnic:

That it will give a particular relish to success, if you be successful, and wonderfully dull the edge of disappointment, if the contrary be your fate, (which all good spirits avert,) if you never take punt (for we recommend that as the easiest mode of exercise) without stowing therein a sufficient basket of ham, tongue, veal pie, stilton-cheese, bottled ale and porter, port, sherry, moselle, claret, brandy, and cigars. - London Magazine, 1828

While we went for a slight variation on what we stowed in our basket, the food definitely added a relish to our success. For it was only success that we encountered (no one fell in the water, and we didn't get lost).

2011.07.04 - Oxford

I misled you a bit at the beginning when I said it was a day in July, because it wasn't just any day in July, but July Fourth. We celebrated our country's independance from the country we were punting in by remembering all the words to the "Star Spangled Banner" and singing them aloud. We sang so well, that this bird came aboard:


Jordan punts like a jungle explorer:


Karith punts like a contemplative, insightful student:


And I punt like I wish I wasn't:


However, when resting comfortably in the boat, I can pose like I mean it:


Sightseeing Quandry

03 Aug 2011
Posted by Marisa
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The Eiffel Tower is one of those mythic tourist destinations. You don't travel to Paris and skip it. However, I have to admit that the famous monument wasn't quite how I imagined it. My first glimpse was from the highway, at a distance, a glowing tower with a giant spot light roaming the sky. For some reason the giant, roving light made me think it was something from Disneyland Paris, and so discussion ensued and no conclusion was reached.

I was a bit doubtful because if it was the Eiffel Tower, shouldn't I know? Isn't something magical supposed to happen?


The next day did nothing to help put an end to the mystery. We walked around Paris for a whole day, in the rain, and I didn't catch sight of it. I mean, I don't think I had any unrealistic ideas about the Eiffel Tower, I'm no disillusioned Japaense tourist, but I did think that any entrance to the city would have led past it. How can they let you wander around for a day with no sighting? And shouldn't you be able to see it from anywhere? Shouldn't it be peaking out from the tops of the buildings wherever I look?


"Where am I?" I started to wonder, "Am I even in Paris?" It wouldn't be the first time I was confused about my location. "Maybe we're somewhere like Vienna," I thought. "Have I been to Vienna?"


My mental state was at this point confused enougth that I began to doubt the famed tower's existence. Perhaps it was just a giant conspiracy. There's the giant, glass pyramid (and how do they keep so many paintings in such an empty space?), why can't I see the Eiffel Tower?


If wasn't until our second day in Paris that someone finally pointed out the top peeking above some buildings. I felt a little thrill of something begin and I said, "We must go to it." Jordan tried looking at his map, but I delcared, "It's right there! Let's go." 


For a while this method worked, however eventually it was obscured again and my doubts began to resurface. It's not really that tall, is it?


Falling back onto Jordan's method, the map eventually got us there and the tower's reappearance started that little thrill of excitement again.


I really am in Paris. 


The Disney Effect?

06 Aug 2011
Posted by Marisa
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 Do you recognize this place?


It looks a little idyllic. 


Perhaps a little too idyllic.


Sometimes people blame Disney, or Hollywood, for making things appear too perfect. I've often found this a little suspicious, and now I have proof that it's not their fault. These are pictures of the hamlet Marie Antionette built in 1784. They look exactly like they were built from the Disney Snow White cartoon, but they were built about 200 years earlier.


Apparently modern life didn't invent wishing for a perfect world. Or trying to make one.


4 Years

06 Aug 2011
Posted by Marisa
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4 years ago today (in MN):


3 years ago (in Egypt):


2 years ago (in Busan):



1 year ago (in Gunsan):

Reflection in Lily Pond

Today in Berlin:



♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ 

Death by Food

10 Aug 2011
Posted by Marisa
Marisa's picture

 If you are interested in eating yourself to death, I would suggest going to Belgium. Lots of places have delicious foods, but few have so many delicious foods that when eaten in large amounts will weigh you down to the point of complete immobilization. Between the waffles, chocolate, french fries and beer I'm pretty sure you could be dead in 2 weeks, less if you threw caution out the window. We were there for a little over 1 week and I know my stomach heaved a sigh of relief when we left. In fact, we didn't go to a single restaurant in Amsterdam (our next destination) and instead ate apples and salads from the grocery store. A bit of penance for our behavior in Belgium.


Hearts for Belgium

12 Aug 2011
Posted by Marisa
Marisa's picture

I believe that most of you are aware that Jordan and I are making a mad dash across Europe. I assume this because most of the people who read this blog are related to us, and therefore somewhat privy to our plans. In the cases when we have plans, of course. 

When we were face to face with the Europe map we couldn't really help but go everywhere, and so we scheduled about four nights everywhere. Three nights in some of the places we're stopping in towards the end, and five nights in Paris, because well, it's Paris. However, we scheduled a whopping seven nights in Belgium. Because while Paris may be Paris, Belgium invented the french fry.

French fries are probably my favorite food. And when I realized that they are in fact not even French, it became obvious that we should go to their home country and pay some proper respects.

Belgium it turns out is a very nice place for reasons beyond french fries (I continue to call them french fries because even though we were in Belgium eating them and trying hard not to call them French, it's really impossible not to). They have:

  • the world's greatest town square, where you can drink the best hot chocolate
  • 2011.07.25 - Brussles

  • our favorite cathedral so far
  • Ghent - Saint Bavo Cathedral (St.-Baafskathedraal)

  • a medieval town, much of which was built 150 years ago to encourage tourism (which was a great success) 
  • IMG_8230

  • a room in their royal palace that is covered with millions of beetle wings. 


Also they have waffles. I had always thought that a Belgian Waffle was just a waffle made in a waffle-maker with deeper grooves. It turns out a Belgian Waffle is, in fact, the most delicious waffle you have ever eaten. 


Also, they created the Smurfs.

That is freaking smurf.

What more could you want?


21 Aug 2011
Posted by Marisa
Marisa's picture

 Where the letters are big


And the cars are small


Where there are windmills 


And bikes


And houseboats


 And people who will give you the time


The pancakes are delicious


And the picnics are too


And there is always a nice view


Standing on the Edge

28 Aug 2011
Posted by Marisa
Marisa's picture

Despite the fact that it ended within my lifetime, it's quite hard for me to imagine the craziness of the Cold War. And it's not like I haven't experienced its after effects, traveling through Vietnam's once ravaged countryside and trying to imagine a worse place to have a war. I know there are terrains that are perhaps as unhospitable as the jungles of Vietnam, but of all the people I've met, I would definitely not want to fight against the Vietnamese. Or living in Korea and visiting the line that splits the North from the South; one of the last real remnants from the Cold War, a country so cut off from the rest of the world I can't imagine what life is like up there despite the fact that I lived amongst their brothers and sisters for two years. 


And it's that experience that helps me imagine what I would have experienced if I had been in a position to understand what the fall of the Iron Curtain meant when I was four. I know if I woke up tomorrow and someone informed me that there had been a bloodless revolution overnight and the North Korean regime had fallen, I'd be shocked. And yet, North Korea is only one small country and despite it's posturing, I loose no sleep from fear of them blowing something up, even when I lived a few hundred miles from its border.


So when I visit places like the border between East and West Berlin I remember my trip to the DMZ between North and South Korea and imagine it bigger. And it's amazing what twenty years can do to something that seems so permanent, because unless I had Jordan spouting stories and facts at me about European history as we walk along its streets, I'd really have no idea. The biggest dilemma I faced while staying in (formerly) East Berlin was which bag of Haribo to buy.