Friday, March 28, 2014

Why Is Everyone Getting Naked? Great article from Glamour Magazine.

Before you begin reading the Glamour piece, I just want to say I think it's a great article and an important one.  Especially the parts I bolded and underlined towards the end.  The sexual imagery in our media today does seem to be at a level of...over-saturation.  Sexuality is of course, a natural and wonderful thing in life.  But I think Rashida Jones hits the nail on the head when she talks about how all the sexual images in our media that are supposed to represent "supposed sexiness" to us are largely the same (bending over, butt cracks, g-strings, gyrating on poles, tongues out, crotches exposed, etc), offering a very narrow idea of what it means to be "sexy" as a female (largely in a way that caters to pleasing men, and isn't about women's actual pleasure at all).  

I also agree with her overall message that while yes, women have made some advances in our world today in terms of being treated equally but in many ways we still lag way behind men.  Women's worth is still largely based on our appearances (not so much on say, our intelligence, or our snappy wit, or our ambition) and what we can offer a man.  Women in the media are often pitted against one another as a means of competition to obtain men, which I think creates an overall attitude of distrust and distance between the female population instead of something like trust and friendship (because if you view someone as a person you are to compete against, that isn't a great foundation for a genuine friendship).  We are also still given the overall message that our life is not complete until we have obtained a man in our life.  All of these messages set much of the female population up to feel: dissatisfied, lonely, bad about themselves and mistrusting of one another.  Not great messages overall.  Anyway, read on below for a relevant article :-D about this topic.



Why Is Everyone Getting Naked? 

Rashida Jones on the Pornification of Everything

This fall I was hanging out with my sisters, catching up on pop-culture stuff. We watched some music videos, looked at a few Instagram accounts, and checked out blogs. And amid the usual duck-lipped selfies and staged paparazzi photos, a theme emerged: Stripper poles, G-strings, boobs, and a lot of tongue action were all now normal accessories for mainstream pop stars. Across the board the Instamessage seemed to be: "You know you want to have sex with me. Here, take a look at lots of parts of my body."
That was at the end of October, a month that had already brought us the Miley Cyrus cross-continental twerk-a-thon and Nicki Minaj's Halloween pasties. With the addition of Rihanna writhing on a pole in her "Pour It Up" video, and Lady Gaga's butt-crack cover art for the song that goes "Do what you want with my body," I was just done. I'd had enough.
I don't know when the pornification of pop stars became so extreme, but as Robin Thicke's "Blurred Lines" video played in the background—naked fantasy women bouncing around and licking things—I realized that the lines were not really blurry at all. They were clear. A new era had arrived.
If 1994 was the Year of O.J.'s White Bronco, 2013 was the Year of the Very Visible Vagina.
Let me say up front: I am not a prude. I love sex; I am comfortable with my sexuality. Hell, I've even posed in my underwear. I also grew up on a healthy balance of sexuality in pop stars. Yes, we had Madonna testing the boundaries of appropriateness, but then we also had Janet Jackson, Whitney Houston, and Cyndi Lauper, women who played with sexuality but didn't make it their calling card. And for every 2 Live Crew "Me So Horny" video girl, there was Susanna Hoffs singing tenderly about her eternal flame.
Twenty years later, all the images seem homogenous. Every star interprets "sexy" the same way: lots of skin, lots of licking of teeth, lots of bending over. I find this oddly...boring. Can't I just like a song without having to take an ultrasound tour of some pop star's privates?
On that fall day I wanted to know if anyone else felt like me. So I took to Twitter. (Admittedly, not the best place to go while frustrated. Because, as my best friend puts it, Twitter is a bad neighborhood. If you go there to score, you will be surrounded by people looking to pick a fight. They may also rob you. And carjack you. And call you names. He was right.) Here's what I tweeted:
This week's celeb news takeaway: She who comes closest to showing the actual inside of her vagina is most popular. #stopactinglikewhores
And then: Let me clarify. I don't shame ANYone for anything they choose to do with their lives or bodies...
And then: BUT I think we ALL need to take a look at what we are accepting as "the norm"...
And then: There is a whole generation of young women watching. Sure, be SEXY but leave something to the imagination.
And finally: Also, calling on all men to show me dat ass. (This tweet was purely selfish. If women are going to do all this exposing, why can't we get a little something in return?)
I was shocked by the responses. Yes, I know, I used the word whore; more on that in a minute. But while some of the Twitterverse was supportive, most reacted like this:
Stop policing how women dress #slutshaming
I used to look up to you for being a highly educated actress but now I think you're a bit of a misogynist.
And this nice one: RU a whore?
I'm not gonna lie. The fact that I was accused of "slut-shaming," being anti-woman, and judging women's sex lives crushed me. I consider myself a feminist. I would never point a finger at a woman for her actual sexual behavior, and I think all women have the right to express their desires. But I will look at women with influence—millionaire women who use their "sexiness" to make money—and ask some questions. There is a difference, a key one, between "shaming" and "holding someone accountable."
So back to the word whore. My hashtag was "stopactinglikewhores." Key word, acting. Like I said, I'm not criticizing anyone's real sex life; as George Michael tells us, "Sex is natural, sex is fun." But the poles, the pasties, the gyrating: This isn't showing female sexuality; this is showing what it looks like when women sell sex. (Also, let's be real. Every woman's sexuality is different. Can all of us really be into stripper moves? The truth is, for every woman who loves the pole, there's another who likes her feet rubbed. But in pop culture there's just one way to be. And so much of it feels staged for men, not for our own pleasure.)
I understand that owning and expressing our sexuality is a huge step forward for women. But, in my opinion, we are at a point of oversaturation. It's like when TV network censors evaluate a show's content. Instead of doing a detailed report of dirty jokes or offensive words, they will simply say, "It's a tonnage issue." One or two swear words might be fine; 10 is too many. Three sexual innuendos is OK; eight is overkill. When it comes to porn imagery and pop culture, we have a tonnage issue.
And then there's this: What else ties these pop stars together besides, perhaps, their entangled G-strings? Their millions of teen-girl fans. Even if adult Miley and Nicki have ownership of their bodies, do the girls imitating them have the same agency? Where do we draw the line between teaching them freedom of sexual expression and pride in who they are on the inside? Are we even allowed to draw a line?
Some people think not. Sinéad O'Connor got blowback after writing an open letter to Miley Cyrus, warning her of the dangers of her constant sexual imagery: "The music business...will prostitute you for all you are worth...and when you wind up in rehab... 'they' will be sunning themselves on their yachts in Antigua, which they bought by selling your body, and you will find yourself very alone." Miley responded by basically calling her crazy.
It's all enough to make you want to take a monastic vow and swear off Wi-Fi forever. But I'm an optimistic woman. So as we say goodbye to 2013 and wish for a slightly more clothed, more original 2014, I have a few requests:
Record execs: When you market young pop stars, can you please try to apply some of your own personal moral parameters? (I'm just going to assume you don't take off your suit midmeeting and do a selfie with a whipped-cream bra.)
Women: Let's at least try to discuss the larger implications of female sexuality on pop culture without shaming each other. There's more than one way to be a good feminist. Personally, I loved the Lily Allen "Hard Out Here" video—a controversial send-up of tits-and-ass culture. She helped start a conversation. Let's continue it.
Men: WHERE ARE YOU??? Please talk to us about how all this makes you feel. You are 49 percent of the population; don't sit around and let women beat one another up while you intermittently and guiltily enjoy the show. Speak up! We care what you think!
And finally, pop stars: Please stop saying you don't want to be role models. Because, guess what: You are. You want to sell millions of albums? You want to sell out a tour? You depend on the millions of people who adore you. So maybe just consider some sort of moral exchange program, in the same way that carbon credits make people feel better about driving an SUV. Go ahead and make videos in which your ass cheeks slap water around in slow motion; go ahead and tweet pictures of your undercarriage. But perhaps every eleventh song or video, do something with some more clothes on? Maybe even a song that empowers women to feel good about some other great quality we have? Like, I don't know...our empathy, or childbearing skills, or ability to forgive one another for mean tweets?
I know some people will wonder what gives me the authority to tell people to do anything. The answer is: nothing at all. But I feel this way—and I'm guessing other women might too. Besides, let me get to the point of this, which is that I'm dropping my new single this year! And if everything continues in this direction, my single will be literally dropping out of my butt. Live at the Video Music Awards. See you there.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

“Beauty awakens the soul to act.”

Something incredibly touching and neat happened to me on Friday at work.  As I was leaving Kid's Camp to go on my 30-minute break, I happened to cross paths with one of my favorite little children in my class, Philipp.  He, like the other kids in my class, is 5 years old.  He is the shortest of the boys in our group.  He has a smile that lights up his face.  White blonde hair that comes almost to his chin, big blue eyes and a light barely noticeable smattering of freckles across his nose.  When he laughs, his eyes almost close as his grin and cheeks light up with joy.  He LOVES to play Uno more then anything and asks me numerous times every day to "please you play Uno with me, Brooke??"  He often comes over to me, clamors onto my lap, touches my hair, gives me a hug.  But mostly, he just loves, loves, loves to play Uno with me <3.  I have noticed his English improving as the weeks have passed.  It took me about 3 days to teach him the phrase "deal the cards."  But now as we sit down to play Uno, he looks up at me through long-lashed eyes and asks "I deal the cards??"

The other day when I returned from my break, he ran up to me, asking me to play Uno with him.  I declined, telling him I needed to go upstairs to grab snack for the kids.  My jaw dropped as he looked up at me and said "I come with you?  I missed you."  I have never heard him use that phrase, nor did I know he even knew it.  Wow.  My heart warmed to the core.

And finally, back to my original story.  I was leaving Kid's Camp on Friday to go on my break when I crossed paths with him, his Mom and his little brother, Julius.  She stopped me to say hello, the same broad, warm smile on her face that Philipp has as well, and we chatted briefly.  She told me "Philipp has been speaking so much English at home, Brooke.  Its really, really neat.  Before you came to Kid's Camp, he spoke none.  Zero.  He didn't really like the previous English teacher.  But I think he really, really likes you."

I looked down at him to be met with him smiling up at me.

This moment made my week.

A large number of the other children approach me frequently now and are speaking in English with me too.  There are just a few children who are more hesitant, shy and seem to have a bit more difficulty grasping the language.  But most of them have been approaching me more often as time continues to pass, speaking with me more and more.  I love this.

This is the part of my job I adore.

If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other.”  ~Mother Teresa

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Friend Spotlight :-D

Lindsay Emery is the person with whom I have had the longest friendship of my life thus far.

She and I met, well, on the day we were born to be exact.  Our mother's were friends so when the two of us were born, we naturally became friends with our mom's spending time together.

It didn't hurt that Lindsay's mother babysat my brother, myself and a number of other children during the week, that Lindsay and I attended the same middle school and high school, that we lived 10 minutes away from one another for the first 16 years of our lives, and that we shared many of the same personality traits and likes.

We always got a major kick out of the fact that literally everywhere we went together, we would get asked at least once "are you two twins?"  When we replied no, they would ask "sisters?"  Upon finding out we were not siblings, they would ask "cousins?"  People were shocked to learn we were of no relation.  This happened hundreds of times to us, so cool.

That would be me on the far left, in the horrible red and white outfit.  And Lindsay, looking girly and cute, in her flowery skirt, white top and shoulder-length hair.  This is us with our siblings and one of our other close friends at the time, Alexander, and his little sister, outside riding bikes!
Canobie Lake Park birthday celebration!!  Left to right: Jayme, me, Elyssa and Lindsay.

So many of my silliest, most outrageous, funny and memorable moments have Lindsay in them, right by my side.  A number of memories which I have a feeling would elicit similar chuckles from her that I always recall when thinking about our friendship, such as: many, many sleepovers.  Attempting to obtain a duck egg from the little pond in White Park next to where I lived growing up, writing back in forth to each other every day in notebooks throughout middle school and high school (we filled quite a few of them actually, with drawings, notes, letters, etc), our insane math class during 10th grade in high school, the sound recording we made together of our version of the movie Clue-ridiculous, many birthday celebrations at Canobie Lake Amusement Park, and so much more.  Literally hundreds of wonderful memories.  We were the best of friends growing up.

Left to right: one of my other best childhood friends, Jayme, me and Lindsay. 
High school.  Lindsay, on the far left, my friend Elyssa in the middle and me on the far right.

When we were 16 years old, Lindsay's family moved from New Hampshire to Virginia.  I remember feeling my heart crack and the breath go out of me on the day she told me this.  She was literally my very best friend.  I knew her absence would leave a gaping hole in my daily life.  Her departure loomed large in my life, before she left.

However even after she moved, we remained quite close.  We talked on the phone often, and for quite a long time each time we did.  We would often seek one another our for relationship advice or to just tell each other stories about the friends and events in our lives.  I flew to Virginia once to visit her, which was a blast, over Thanksgiving time.  We had a great time watching Harry Potter, visiting Virginia Beach, going shopping and having more of our usual silliness together.

Lindsay and I did have a brief falling out in our mid-twenties.  I remember being shocked to the core by it, because I had so firmly believed that we would be friends forever.  She was a friend I never had a single doubt about in regards to the solidity of our friendship.  So that was quite heartbreaking for me at the time.  

However, as I believe it was meant to happen, we found one another again.  I remember the first time we ever Skyped (last winter, 2013).  It was incredibly cool.  We hadn't seen one another live, face-to-face (despite it being on a screen) in years.  We talked for a couple hours.  After this initial conversation, we began Skyping fairly regularly and our conversations would almost always go longer then I had planned we might talk.  It felt like we picked up where we left off, for the most part.

Lindsay truly embodies a friendship quote I love:

Lindsay knows everything about me.  My history, my good qualities and not-so-good, she has seen me in all kinds of different moments, and she loves me anyway.  She is a friend who I feel I can tell anything to and be totally myself with.

She is a kind, loving, incredibly silly and fun, intelligent, open-minded, animated, interesting and a beautiful person.  I am lucky to know her.

One really neat thing about Lindsay.  When we were younger, she was always into art.  She would often paint or draw something and ask me what I thought?  I would always tell her what an amazing artist she was.  How her paintings looked as real as photographs.  She sometimes doubted her talents, but I had zero doubts.  I told her often she was an amazing artist. forward to today.  Myself, and all those around Lindsay who knew how talented she was all along, were SO right.  Lindsay was just featured last month in Southern Living Magazine!!!!!  So incredibly thrilling.  She has a successful business in pottery, every single piece made by her own hands.  Her business is called Suite One Studio.  You can take a look at her stuff right here.  Click the link below:

She is one of the most talented people I know personally.  And one of the best.

Lindsay, thank you for being a rare and fantastic friend.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Why Traveling is of Paramount Importance (In my humble opinion ;-))

As someone who has always had a great love of traveling (though this urge was sparked the most deeply when I studied abroad in Italy during college and has continued to grow ever since), this past weekend while in Salzburg, I was giving the topic of travel some thought.  Why is traveling so great?  (Because many people would argue that it isn't.  Too costly, stressful to plan and execute, seeing a new town isn't particularly thrilling to some, etc).  And why might traveling be an important aspect of human life?

After pondering this during my scenic train ride home from Salzburg back to Germany, I decided that I believe traveling is always worthwhile, and always awesome, for the following reasons:

1. The Anticipation.  Traveling and taking any trip is something that is filled with anticipation.  From the very moment you decide to take a trip in the first place (Yay!!), to considering where your destination will be.  Then the thrill of actually booking the trip and being able to say that "Yes!  Now it's actually happening.  And in the near future!"  Followed by the exciting research of what constitutes as your must-sees and must-dos while there, the process of counting down the months, weeks and finally days to your actual date of departure, and even the taking off of the airplane into the air from the runway and lifting into the air, or the train pulling away from the station and moving you towards your destination.  ALL of this is: anticipation.  Which = GREAT fun!

2. Seeing and experiencing a new place (city, town, countryside, island, you name it).  I know some people feel differently and do not think this is anything to write home about.  I disagree.  I think each new place is exciting to see and absolutely something to write home about (and tell stories about, and take photographs of, etc :-D).  There are landmarks you haven't seen before that offer awe, beauty and surprise.  There are different people to scope out, whether just enjoying the art and silliness of people-watching at a distance or getting a bit closer and actually meeting some of the locals.  Different cultures and ways of life can be witnessed and experienced through visiting different places.  So many wildly different destinations offer valuable and varied visual and other sensory experiences.  From riding a Gondola down the watery back alleyways in Venice, to gazing awe-struck at the Pyramids in Egypt, going scuba diving among the tropical fish in Hawaii, hiking through the still untouched-by-time brightly colored villages of the Cinque Terre, watching the Eiffel Tower sparkle each hour on top of the hour, taking a riverboat cruise down the Amazon River and seeing Toucans and other tropical creatures along the way, hiking the breathtaking peaks up into the sky and seeing the long abandoned ruins of the Machu Picchu.  All of these destinations offer unique landscapes, experiences and as a result, memories.

Photo by Brooke :-)

Cinque Terre.  I snapped it while gazing at this.  Paradise, huh?

SUCH a cool moment.  On my 23rd birthday no less.

3. Food.  First off, food is outstanding in general.  Anyone who disputes this...well, I just don't know what to say about that :-p.  I might cry in response haha.  Food can be (and is) so many things.  Something that joins people together and bonds them, a fun activity, a sensory experience, nourishment, a creative or calming experience (cooking, or enjoying a mug of tea), an exciting or eye-opening experience (trying something new), a discovery (finding a new food you had never tried but end up loving), romantic and special, a celebration, etc.  Traveling to different places offers different food experiences.  From Paris, to Italy, to Germany, Barbados, the East Coast in the USA (vs. the West Coast), Africa, Spain...all of these places have wildly different foods to sample.  Delectable.

Snapped this quickly, and thus it's blurry, in the world-famous Laudree in Paris.

Trdelnik in Prague!!!

4. Outstanding Experiences.  You know, the magical dinner with the stunning view and mouth-watering food that came out just right, the conversation flows just so and hence, it becomes one of your favorite memories.  Or the night out filled with just the right amount of drinks (not to excess), silliness, connecting with the person/people you are there with and loads of laughter.  Or the adventure of hiking along craggy cliffs with astounding views of the blue Liguarian Sea below you.  I could continue to go on.  But you know the nature of the memories I am describing.  These are the moments that make up why we travel.  Traveling is living to the max for a specific, isolated period of time.  Fantastic.

5. Photos.  They are fun to pose for and snap, wonderful memory-joggers to look back on later, great tools to use in trying to give those a taste of the experience you had when telling them your travel stories.  A tangible, touchable form of the memories and experiences you had, making it possible to partially share them with others.

6.  Entertaining Stories.  Travel arms you with fantastic and interesting life stories to share with others as well as to treasure for yourself within your heart, filling up the memory box that stores all the experiences of your life.  These stories add richness, background and wonder to your story.

7.  Meeting new people while traveling.  Not always a given, but often when it does happen, this can add depth and joy to the trip you are on.  Especially if they are locals and can help give you a less touristy and more authentic experience of the place you are visiting.

8.  The sense of bringing you emotionally closer with whomever you are traveling with.  A bonding of sorts.  Because of this shared experience and now, shared memories you have together.

9.  Learning.  Much learning takes place with every trip we take, in all sorts of different forms, in all the different ways I described above.  Traveling also teaches us: open-mindedness, learning to fend for oneself when problems or challenges arise, resourcefulness, discovery (of oneself and of the world) and finally, self confidence.

Alrighty then folks, that is my list about why traveling is a life importance for sure.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Salzburg, Austria!!!

Here it is, folks.  Thus far, the furthest I have ventured since I have been in Europe this time around.  Salzburg, Austria.

I left on Friday morning, waking up at 6:30am to catch the bus from my apartment and then the train from Darmstadt station into Frankfurt.  I hopped on the train to Salzburg which departed at 8:40am, about 20 minutes late.  I was filled with excitement.  Butterflies fluttering lightly in my stomach, feeling anticipation, inner peace, and just great.

The train ride was perfect.  I relaxed, read my book, listened to music and looked out the window.  I LOVE European train rides, they are the bomb.  Romantic, relaxing, beautiful scenery, and a rare excitement and experience because we do not really have trains like that in the US.

I arrived in Salzburg at 2pm and took a 7 euro cab to my hotel, right in the city center, where I met Becca in our room.

I met Becca back in Prague, as we completed the same TEFL course together.  She is one of the people in the course with whom I felt a good "click", we seem to be of similar values and nature, and I just generally enjoyed her company.  And I was right, we had great fun together on this trip!

After sitting and chatting in the hotel room for 20 minutes (Becca told me her arrival story.  Being dropped off by her bus in literally the middle of nowhere, on the side of a deserted highway on the outskirts of Salzburg at 5am and then having to walk down the cold, dark highway for 20 minutes at that hour, ay yay yay), then we headed out into the city.

The first thing we did was locate and purchase a MozartKugeln.  This was not a difficult task, as this traditional Salzburg treat adorns the shop fronts of numerous stores every few steps.  A MozartKugeln is similar to a Godiva chocolate ball, except that it is filled with a layer of marzipan and then a center of pistachio paste.  We concluded, nothing to write home about, but tasty nonetheless.

After sampling this local treat, we walked through Old Town.  Old (hence the name "Old Town"), charming, romantic and beautiful.  Really liked this.  And shared easy, fun and interesting conversation which flowed the entire time.

Super cool bakery!!  Look at the skiers made out of bread!!

Loved this square.  That pyramid reminds me of the Louvre in Paris ;-)

Salzburg Cathedral.

Salzburg Fortress

Around dinner time, Becca and I decided to check out a restaurant that was recommended in my Rick Steve's Best of Europe Guide.  A small pub/restaurant called St. Paul's which we found hidden away down a narrow, hilly, cobblestoned pathway.

We entered a quiet, deserted entryway and climbed a wooden stairway into the restaurant.  It was something like an attic room or loft in the top of an old home.  The floors, wall, tables and chairs were all made out of dark wooden planks.  Like being in a chilly, alpine inn on the drafty top floor.  We ordered a cream soup filled with bacon and chives, which Becca and I both agreed was the highlight of the meal, whoa.  The soup was creamy, hearty yet not too heavy, a slightly cheesy flavor to it, and the bacon was delicious along with the flavor of the chives, just outstanding.  Delectable.  We each got a beer, and then as our main course, we split a macaroni and cheese dish with bacon (this is what Rick Steve recommended, called Kasnockn).  It was SO good.  Cheesy, filling, great comfort food.  Though towards the end, the bacon tasted quite salty.  But otherwise, super yummy.

Delectable soup.  I took a photo of the macaroni and cheese but it malfunctioned on my camera!!! :-(

After this we made our way back to the hotel room, as it was quite chilly and dark outside.  We both fell asleep, cozy in our extra warm hotel room.  The best :-D love warm rooms at night.  Nothing better.

The next morning, on Saturday morning, we made our way to Cafe Tomeselli, apparently the place to "see and be seen" in Salzburg, according to Rick Steves.  Well, Becca and I saw and were seen ;-) The cafe was crammed with people, bustling waiters and a mouthwatering looking pastry display case, chalk full of different cakes, tarts and sweets.  Becca and I both ordered ham and eggs, along with glasses of tap water (which in itself was shocking since waiters allowing you to have tap water for free, without even a scowl, is a rare occurrence in Europe.  Usually they frown deeply at you and say "Yes, we have still water," which is code for "Yes, you can purchase water.  No, we will not give it to you for free.).

After a tasty breakfast, we took the Rick Steve recommended tour of Old Town.  This consisted of us walking to a site, then reading the short historical excerpt about this spots significance from my book.  Then Mr. Steves directed us to the next location with a short and easy-to-follow phrase such as "walk straight ahead and beneath the stone awning with the green plaque on it," or something along these lines.  Super easy to follow.

This tour ended up taking us around 4 hours to complete.  Really cool though.  We learned a ton about the history of Old Town and ended up seeing so many hidden corners of the city that we never would have seen otherwise!  We both really enjoyed this.

We even stumbled upon a shop selling cake pops!! SCORE!!!  So Becca and I both snagged one, obviously.  A crunchy, thin, chocolate outer shell and a cakey, fudgey, almost brownie-like center, so good.

The MozartKugeln displays that are EVERYWHERE!!!

So Mom, this is for you.  We stumbled upon an amazing shop, it totally made me think of you.  This shop was FILLED and I mean filled to the brim, in every possible open space, with eggs.  But not just any eggs.  The kind of eggs you hollow out and then paint/decorate around Easter time.  Some of the designs were so incredibly elaborate and ornate, some were covered in jewels or pearls, all were hand painted, just wow.  You would have loved this.  It was amazing.

Mozartplatz (aka Square).  The city where he was born!

Inside of Salzburg Cathedral.

This was really neat.  This waterwheel powers some of Salzburg, bringing in water from a town around 15 miles away!

This cemetery was gorgeous.  Serene, lots of grays and white as the background colors and yet super bright against those background shades, gorgeous, almost like a colorful woodland where I would expect little elves and fairies to appear haha.

Apparently monks lived in these hills a long time ago.  Awesome.

This lively street led us into a market filled with all different kinds of goods.

Really cool old fashioned candy store.

Becca and I sat on the steps of this gorgeous building...

And ate this.  Yum.  Flaky, sweet and a meringue-like vanilla cream filling.

The most famous street in Salzburg: Getreidegasse.

After our long tour of Old Town, we were starving, so after one fail attempt in a cafe that only served sausages, we ended up here.  YUM!

And now some awesome views of Salzburg, Old Town and around it...

Then at dusk, around 6pm, Becca and I sat within Mozartplatz square and listened to the famous Glockenspiel.  Here is a little blurb about the famous bell tower:


The famous Salzburg Glockenspiel is located under the tower helm on the west side of the Neue Residenz. It plays its usually well-known melodies daily at 7 and 11 am and 6 pm, for the enjoyment of both residents and tourists. Prince Archbishop Johann Ernst Graf Thun (1687–1709) bought the 35 bells in 1695 from the bell caster Melchior de Haze in Antwerp. Its gamut ranges over three octaves with all semitones.
The Salzburg gunsmith Franz Sulzer and the bell caster Benedikt Eisenberger made the drive mechanism and the brass drum in 1702, in which the court clockmaker Jeremias Sauter then drilled the 7,964 holes required for operation. He is noted as the craftsman mainly responsible for the carillon.
The Glockenspiel has been playing music since 1704, by now around 40 pieces, of which 16 are ascribed to Johann Michael Haydn. The music pieces by the Mozarts, father and son, are adaptations from the nineteenth century.
In 1873, the clockmaker Johann Baptist Fischer installed a clockwork movement that could release music and movement by means of a special device. The valuable mechanism still exists today, but the daily starts at 7 and 11 am and 6 pm are now taken over by an electric timer. An electric motor was also installed decades ago for the drive of the great brass drum.

After enjoying the chiming music of the tower, Becca and I decided to do what Salzburg recommends one must do when visiting the city: attend a classical music concert.  We found one taking place at the Maribel Palace, within a beautiful garden across town from our hotel.  We walked there in the chilly air as dusk turned to darkness.  We strolled through the quiet garden grounds, searching for quite a while for the palace.  

The concert itself was wonderful, though we both agreed it was about twice as long as it should have been.  But overall, the music was moving, beautiful and a joy to listen to.  A great experience.

The room where we watched the classical music concert.  Stunning and so ornate, wow.

After the concert, the time was approaching 10:30pm.  We had discussed stopping into what was supposed to be a really neat cave-like bar with flickering candles dripping wax along the walls, a really cool atmosphere.  But instead we decided we were tired and quite hungry after such a long and eventful day filled with lots of walking.  So you can imagine what we did then.  Got dessert for dinner of course, what else!? ;-)

We stopped in the Italian restaurant where we had eaten lunch earlier (to our slight embarrassment) and ordered a chocolate souffle with mango sorbet and strawberries covered in marscapone cream.  SO yummy.  The perfect dinner.  After this, we walked back to our hotel in a slight sugar coma and relaxed into the warm coziness of our room.

On Sunday, after a slightly panicky morning which involved Becca having mistaken the departure time for her bus, we made our way to a highly recommended cafe and consumed an absolutely AWESOME breakfast spread.  We sat for about an hour, talking and LOVING this meal.  Eggs, bacon, coffee, water, croissants, jam, butter, a platter with different cheeses and meats, whoa.  So delicious, hearty and just totally hit the spot.  A perfect end meal to the trip.  Relaxing and great.

Outside of the cafe....happenin' place!!!

Then we made our way back to the hotel, stopping along the way for a few small souvenir trinkets, and then picking up our bags and walking over to the train station to head our separate ways home (Becca to Prague and myself back to Germany).

All in all, FANTASTIC trip!!!  Many thumbs up.  Loved all of it.

“In wisdom gathered over time I have found that every experience is a form of exploration.”