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.

13 November, 2008

Three Days in Überlingen

A German breakfast of muesli and yogurt, bread and cheese, and tea, started my first weekend in Überlingen. I used this solitary free time to explore the town and cram on my German studies. I discovered a few places to take my out of town guests too.

The first day, I walked through town and discovered a hostel that promoted bed and bike. (Hey! that was my idea!) This was the day that I set up a bank account and purchased a bike of my own.

My bike on the Bodensee on teh waterfront in Übelingen. In town you have to walk your bike because there are so many people. But outside of town you can ride it too.

The second day I went out to explore a bit further then Überlingen. I had planned to take the ferry over to Konstance but it only runs from Überlingen during the week (in the winter). Luckily I discovered that there are great bike trails along the Bodensee that are very well sign posted and it was the perfect day to explore them. You can see that while the lake was fogged in there was blue sky above!

My traveling companion

A Grün roof! (This picture is for Jason and the rest of the Greenworks crew)

I rode to Meersburg and then found that the ferry there ran every 15 minutes 24 hours a day to the city of Konstance. So, though it was a bit late in the day, I took the ferry across the lake, just so I could see the other side. I didn’t have time to explore Konstance so I just took the ferry back, determined to make such a trip again on another weekend.

The ride back to Überlingen was just as lovely. I am determined to attend a mass in the big pink Church on the hill. I have heard that the acoustics are amazing and that there are also many concerts held there throughout the year.


The Big Pink Church on the hill:

Another restroom.

On the third day, Sunday, I started to go a little crazy. I mean three days with only not so friendly restaurant servers to talk to! Luckily I was able to speak with Philipp and Christina on this day. It was so good to have an English conversation where I could actually express the complexity of the thoughts in my head instead of being limited to pointing at a roll in the bakery and saying “ja, ein mas bitte”. In case you don’t speak Spanish or German, this is “yes one more please”. Except that “mas”, which means “more” in Spanish means “two pint glass of beer” in German. Or so I have been told.

Sunday there was also a festival of some sort in town with many carts and booths set up. All of the stores were open as well with special sale items available. I tried a Quark ball at one stand that was very tasty. A Quark ball is a thick yogurt dough that is deep fried and rolled in sugar. Yum!

Oh, and I forgot to mention. Sunday the mountains were out.

Sunday was also the day before I started work. So there was of course that apprehension which precedes one's first day at anything new and significant. But, after three days of solitude, I was desperate for human interaction that it was absolutely wonderful to start work again!