Saturday, September 17, 2011

All About My Summer

This summer, I spent the month of June working as an editor at Intermedia (at the University of Oslo) on a project called Sansetap, created by award-winning veteran Norwegian film and tv man Bjørn Skaar. Earlier last Spring I traveled to Haugesund on the west coast to do some shooting for the project. We also spent a few days shooting in the Oslo area during the month of May.
The project presents profiles of several hearing-, vision- or mobility-impaired people in Norway. Videos on the website also document how technology can help people with disabilities through a vast array of aid devices.
Visit for more information about the project.
(The segments I worked on have not been uploaded to the website yet, but I will keep you posted when they are.)

Next, it was on to Munich, Germany for a month of English tutoring - - along with some sun, fun and relaxation. I spent the month with a wonderful family in their beautiful home in the western part of Munich. Here are some photos from July:

At the Staffelsee Lake with my host family


Pointing out their property on the Staffelsee

Statue in a little Bavarian town nearby

 Later in the month, I went for a weekend camping trip to see some must-see Bavarian historical attractions which include the fascinating Rococo Weis Church, the "fairy tale castle" Neuschwanstein and Hohenschwangau. Later that week I also visited King Ludwig II's Linderhof Palace.

The Weis Church was built around 1746 with an elaborate Rococo style interior. It seemed that every surface was covered, bearing sculpture of cherubs, elaborate paintings and even a few mysterious relics. Now listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the church was built to accommodate the overwhelming number of pilgrims who came to see the wooden Christ statue after tears were seen falling from the "Scourged Savior"s eyes.

The Scourged Savior himself

In the front part of the church, next to the altar, there was a strange object hanging in a glass box above a confessional, as I remember. I have not been able to find any confirmation of this, but it looked to me like an arm. It could have been a relic, as it is not uncommon for old churches to house alleged preserved body parts of saints.

We continued on and finally made it to the campground on the Forggensee.

We found a choice spot on the top of a hill with a great view of the lake, the Alps, sprawling pasture land and...
Neuschwanstein Castle! We could see it from our campsite!

That evening, we drove to Füssen, an old town nearby, to kill some time and see the sights there. It was drizzling and all the shops were closed, but it was really nice to see the old castle walls, churches and medieval streets.

The river was a beautiful, bright turquoise color. Why?


Unfortunately, the locals were as medieval as the streets! They locked us up for loitering...

At least we were allowed to keep our umbrella
The next day: a short drive to Neuschwanstein

A short drive, but a long line. It took over an hour to get tickets!

The view from Hohenschwangau

The view from Neuschwanstein

I think the view from each of these neighboring castles tells a lot about the different functions and personalities of the buildings themselves. Hohenschwangau was a family estate for King Maximillian II of the Wittelsbach family, bequeathed to his son Ludwig II. Ludwig II went on to spend oodles of money on grandiose, ground-breaking, and sometimes eccentric building projects. Neuschwanstein is his most famous unfinished architectural undertaking, and a bit surreal, as the enormous castle was never inhabited by the king for more than a hundred days or so.

It was chilly, but after the a long day of walking up to the castles and touring them, I just had to take a swim in the beautiful Alpsee!

On the drive back to München

My last days in Germany were bittersweet. I was sad to leave Bavaria, with its lovely lakes, fields, mountains and friendly people. On my last day in Munich, the father of my host family took me to visit Nymphenburg Palace. There are a lot of lovely public green spaces in Munich, the English Garden, areas on the banks of the Isar, but I think the enormous park around Nymphenburg is one of the best.

We followed this classic BMW to the palace, along with a film crew.

One of the guest houses at the palace.

The ballroom... or was it the pool house?

Later, we visited the English Garden one last time, got a frozen yogurt and walked through the gardens at the Residenz Munchen.

Finally, I spent August in Barcelona. My main reason for going to Barcelona was to take a CELTA course at the International House language school. The course was intense but really a lot of fun. Our group of trainees had very good chemistry - we were always laughing and making jokes with each other, which made the everything (including the workload) seem lighter. The course consisted of 40 hours per week at school, plus several more hours at home planning for lessons and completing assignments. Each trainee taught 9 lessons - 3 classes with each of the 3 levels (Elementary, Intermediate and Advanced). The students were a lovely group of adults who had a fervent desire to learn English.

I lived with a very nice, fun Spanish family with two daughters (ages 10 and 13) in Cabrils. For 15 hours per week, I tutored the girls in English. I didn't have much free time to go sightseeing, but here are a few pictures I took while I was there.

On a hike with my Spanish host family on my first day in Cabrils.

The fort: our goal looms majestically in the distance, bathed in the golden light of sunset.

Finally, we arrive at the fort, built in the 1400s by Catalonian families to protect their farmlands.

I took this picture on the way back to the car, before we briefly got lost in the woods. The tiny dot on top of the tallest hill is the fort. A good hike for my first afternoon in Spain.

 So there it is, my summer. Much to be remembered and almost nothing to regret. Now, on to new and even more exciting adventures in Australia!