05 December, 2008

My first Birthday in Germany

I have had a lovely birthday here in Überlinglin. A package arrived from my Mom and Dad with very important things like UO lip balm and a German children's book with vocabulary stickers. Awesome!

My coworkers have all made a very clear point of offering me a birthday congratulations. This includes a sincere handshake, a distinctly German birthday greeting. I know its not just me too, because Alexander had his birthday on the 4th and received the same treatment. Below is our coffee break where we ate some bread and cheese and Pacific NW smoked salmon. (I had packed some with me when I came and had to explain that it was smoked so it was okay to save it for over a month before serving)

One coworker, who is also a dear friend now, Isa, gave me a German cookie cookbook. With a little translation and an oven I'll be set.

Christina, Bernward, and Steffen came to visit for the weekend. We visited the Christmas markets in Überlingen and Konstance and visited the Therm.
The skating rink is only up for the Christmas market.

The Christmas market in Konstance

The Term is short for thermo-baths. The swiming pools and hot tubs are warmed by hot water from deep below the ground (I am lacking in my geology vocabulary today, look it up if you want to know what its called.) With the cold weather we have been having, the chance to soak in the hot water was a real treat after a day outside at the Christmas Markets.

It snowed again last week, so on Sunday a group of coworkers and friends went for a wintery hike.

A snowman out my window.

This week I will be mostly at the office. I am working on a design competition for a park and water management system in China. Its weird. After that, its home to Portland for the holidays.

I haven't mentioned work much in my blog, but I have definitely been spending time here. From what I understand there will be plenty of opportunies for me to tell you more about work after the New Year. It would seem that deadlines are already stacked up. One item of interst for now though... I have been asked a number of time to take someone's hand written notes and turn them into "Good English". Hilarious! I have had to try very hard not to laugh in their faces at the thought.

Until the New Year!

02 December, 2008

Basel Switzerland

This last Saturday a few coworkers and I went to Basel for a short 6 hour visit. Melissa, from the Singapore office (where English is the official language) and Nengshi from the Germany office but originally from China. On this Saturday we spoke some English, some Chinese (well not me) and even a little German.

NOTE: To see the videos in the post you have to go to the actual web site!

A mechanical fountain in Basel Switzerland

Me looking at the Mechanical fountain in Basel
Little boy who also thought to sit and look at the mechanical fountain in Basel, and looking to see what I am taking a picture of.
But here you can see why we were both so intersted: in the fountain.

The Christmas Markets were up and running in Basel as well.

Here is a cool sled at the Christmas market:
and a Frank Gehry building.

Melissa is contemplating the structure.

And if you ever wondered what happens when three landscape architects:

Another fancy building.

And then we found the playground near by. So much cooler!

I got to ride too!


The buildings we looked at were part of a secured campus.

The city of Basel, Switzerland is also on the Rhine River.
Notice the stars that are over the street lights just for christmas.

And then another building: good for looking at,

And for shadow theatre!

28 November, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving!

Yesterday I wished many of my new coworkers a Happy Thanksgiving.

They laughed at me saying, "Do you really say this? 'Happy' Thanksgiving?"... Well Yeah!

I went to a Thanksgiving dinner last night after work with some English speakers. It was a large group with many Germans who have lived abroad in English speaking countries and many English speakers from Ireland, Scotland and America.

So i took some pictures as proof that yes, you can have a Happy Thanksgiving, It's especially easy to do if you think warm and happy thoughts for all those family and friends celebrating together back home.

Happy Thanksgiving!

27 November, 2008

22 November, 2008

Venice - Part I

Sooo many lovely pictures to share and stories to tell. In Part I will give some general stories and images from the trip in chronological order. In Part II, I think I'll just post the other 20 pics that I love and maybe comment on them too, but with no specific order. Have I mentioned that the Blog site formatting abilities are woefully inadequate?

I happened on this adventure to Venice with sheer luck. The Atelier has recently opened an office in Singapore. Because of this, a company retreat was deemed necessary for the various employees to meet. After all, in the coming months a rather large park project will be tackled by multiple employees from both sides of the world. Meeting the people you will be working with is very helpful.

So, barely a week after I started, we began. Just outside the office, bags in hand, we were ready to make our long trip to Venice. Granted, in Oregon, the thought of Venice being just 8 hours away seems incredibly short, but if you were taking a night train, the trip is really rather long. Before we caught the night train in Münich we stopped for a beer in a famous beer hall. The city's old underground ice storage facilities have ben converted to a bar… an amazing space.

Our first view of Venice was at 7:00am from the steps of the train station. For the last week or so I have been saying to myself in rather random moments, "Holy shit! I'm in Germany." It was this Saturday morning in Venice that it dawned on me that I am also in Europe!

Our first stop was a boat trip down the grand canal to our hotel on another island. It used to be a monastery and has since been converted to a conference center. Italy is known for its food, but as it turns out, cafeteria food tastes the same anywhere in the world. Luckily we only ate here a few times and the breakfast wasn't too bad. But I still ordered a cappuccino the second we got to the city.

Most of the three day trip to Venice was spent exploring the city and getting to know our coworkers. On the first day we toured the island as a large group.

On the second day, we went in groups of four to explore further pockets of Venetian coolness. My group went to the Island of Burono. A colorful island inhabited by working fishermen and their families. Every day we were there was gloriously sunny.

The third day, we visited an exceptional art collection with artists and architects from all over the world represented. I loved many of the exhibits but my absolute favorite was this one. And of course, I have already forgotten the artist's name, and even worse, this picture does it little justice. The Sculpture has the abstract lines juxtaposed with the crackled clay surface on each panel. I really love dirt.

The evening of the third day we went to town again for a dinner and some drinks. I found myself listening to Irish Music with a large group of Germans in Italy. This Irish pub actually made me feel a bit homesick. It reminded me of the many friends I met at Kells and especially my dear friends Alyssa and Collin.

We left Venice a bit late this evening and discovered that the boat back to our hotel, seriously, one takes a boat everywhere here remember, was leaving from another dock. We did not know where the other dock was. Luckily someone managed to find it with all of a minute to spare. This happy picture proves that we were aware of our good luck. We caught the 1:30 am boat. The next boat after it threatened to come at 5:30 am.

The last morning in Venice I enjoyed some hot chocolate; more like hot pudding it was so thick I ate it with a spoon. And I managed to do a bit of shopping too. It was fantastic trip. The perfect counter balance to my previous weekend of solitude, constantly surrounded by the Atelier Dreiseitl crew. Ironically, the theme of our trip was finding the balance.

In the evenings we met as a large group and practiced a drawing style that Dreiseitl uses often to find inspiration for his designs and art. We did this as a large group, as you can see here. We also presented images and stories from our days spent in smaller groups. And finally, we took some time to reflect on what the group hoped would be the future vision for the company. These meeting sessions were a very small part of the overall trip. The "retreat" aspect relied heavily on the mutual experience of Venice as tool for growing the working relationships within the office.

I know my new coworkers in a way that would have taken months if I had been limited to daily office interactions. It will make the transition to work here so much easier.