Weekend in Belgrade, Serbia

I’m headed to Belgrade for the weekend on the UNMIK (United Nations Mission in Kosovo) trip.  I’ll take lots of pictures, and post some updates when I get back!



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Three Flights

I flew Rochester to Dulles, Dulles to Vienna, and Vienna to Pristina. The first flight was United, and the second two were Austrian Air.

The middle flight was the longest—nine hours I think. It’s hard to keep track of how long the flight is when there’s a big time change. We took off at 5:25 DC time, and arrived in Vienna the next day at 8:25. It was the kind of overnight flight where they serve you dinner at night, turn off all of the lights for a few (four) hours, and the turn the lights back on to serve breakfast. I think you’re supposed to think that it’s a whole night’s sleep or something. And I’m usually a really good plane sleeper, but this flight was not a good sleeping flight.

There was a baby a few rows behind me that screamed the whole night. I understand that babies have needs, and that crying is how they express them, but this was different. It was a desperate wail—like something was terribly wrong and no-one was helping the poor baby out. Of course, it wasn’t an abandoned baby, so I just tried to sleep through it. I had my inflatable neck pillow, my sleeping mask, and my earphones in. And in a kind of twisted way, the screaming helped me to sleep. See, I’m pretty good at sleeping through noises. I just will myself to sleep anyway. Before the baby started screaming, I was having a hard time getting comfortable, and doing that “I should be sleeping/I can’t sleep” thing. But once the screaming started, I had to will myself to sleep. And it sort of worked.

In the morning, I finally craned my head around to see what was up with this baby. I didn’t want to gawk (that’s rude), but I did want to make sure it was okay. Turns out, it was like a three-year-old girl. She was sitting in her mom’s lap, and just screaming and crying. The mom didn’t seem to be making any sort of attempt to calm her down. Maybe she was sick? Ear infections can be pretty miserable when you’re flying. It was weird.

Anyway, screaming three-year-old and all, we arrived at Vienna in the morning. When I have several things to do, I make lists in my head, and repeat them to myself. The list for the Vienna airport was “bathroom, gate, wifi, ATM.” I checked the first item off the list, and wandered from the D terminal to the C terminal. I found my gate

You can see in the photo above, there is a metal detector at the gate. EVERY gate has its own security line! I don’t know if you have to go through general security to get into the terminal or not. And they hadn’t opened the security when I found the gate (about 90 minutes before departure), so people were standing around, waiting.

I wonder why they do it this way. It seems rather inefficient: you need like a hundred metal detectors and x-ray machines, and tons of staff.

So I went back to find an ATM (I moved wifi to after I went through gate security), and withdrew some Euros. By the time I went back to the gate and took some pictures, they opened the gate, and I went through.

For some reason, I flew “business class” on this flight. But the whole first/business/economy class distinction felt a little farcical on this flight. All the seats were the same—none were bigger or smaller! In first class and business class they spread people out—no one in the middle seats. Then they drew a curtain between what was arbitrarily first class and business class, and served the first class passengers better food. It wasn’t bad. I had a window seat, and I got to observe the land from Vienna to Pristina. It’s really green, with tiny orange-roofed villages sprinkled around.

We landed in what seemed like a rather rural area. The plane taxied for a long time, and then pulled up to this building:

That is the airport! Like in Germany, we took stairs off of the plane, and walked over to the terminal. The weather was gorgeous—very warm, but not humid. Here’s a view of the land around the airport:

Immigration and customs were really easy, and some UNDP people were waiting for me. The picture above was taken from the car on the ride into Pristina.




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Saying Good-bye

Alan brought me to the airport this morning to say goodbye.  First, we went to Panera…

…and then to the UPS store to mail off the cite packs that I finished.

We got to the airport around 9:30.  I checked my suitcase and garment bag, and then we said goodbye.

It’s going to be a long summer apart, even if it is full of adventures…




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t-minus one week

A week from today I leave for the summer!  The reality of it is sinking in, and I’m both really excited for this new opportunity, and a little bummed to be leaving Alan for two and a half months.

Yesterday I drove to Buffalo for the last time before I leave.  I had to return a library book, and to pack up the Buffalo Human Rights Law Review (“BHRLR”) office.  We’re being moved to a new (smaller) office (with no window) over the summer.  I think I packed a total of 18 boxes: the majority of which were old copies of the journal.  I also found a fax machine and a box of fax paper!  I listened to Tina Fey’s Bossypants on audio book, and all in all it was a pretty good time.

I also still have to complete a mega-cite pack for the Buffalo Law Review (“BLR”).  My new position on BLR is Publications Editor.  I have to take completed cite packs, double check the Bluebooking, and put the edits into the Word document.  I have about 150 cites to do, so it’ll take a while.  That’s due next Monday.

Then I’m also working on getting he house really clean and organized for Alan.  I can put away things that I use regularly that Alan doesn’t (like hot rollers).

And, of course, I have to pack!  I still need to buy a garment bag to carry my suits.  I want to check out Marshall’s—they seem to have good prices on luggage.  I’m going to pack one full-sized suitcase (which I will check on the plane), one garment bag, and a smaller totebag/larger purse (I haven’t decided yet).  I’m trying to make my wardrobe as mix-and-match as possible, while packing enough for office work, weekend trips, around town stuff, exercise, and sleep.

So that’s what this next week will be: Bluebooking, cleaning, packing, and spending as much time with Alan as I can.




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On Tuesday we had breakfast at Cafe Gersfeld in Fulda.

Alan’s granola, banana, yogurt and coffee breakfast.  3 stars

My großes Frühstück was bread, butter, jams, honey, cheese, slices of sausage and ham, a hard-boiled egg, and tea.  5/5 stars


Alan and I got lunch in an underground crosswalk in Nurnburg at a little fish shack.  I can’t remember the name of it, but it was a chain that we saw a lot around Germany.

Alan got a fish sandwich.  4 stars

I got a variety box: shrimp, fish and potato wedges.  It was a little greasy for me.  3 stars

In Fulda we stopped at a sausage place for lunch.  I wanted to get a traditional German sausage lunch for a long time.  There were sausage stores all over, but they looked like delis to me:

Alan kept saying that we should try to get lunch at the delis.  But I kept saying no, that we could probably just get a half-pound of sliced salami, not a warm lunch.  But I was wrong.

Alan got pork schnitzel with boiled potatoes and gravy.  4 stars

I got a big meatball and roasted potatoes.  It was pretty yummy, but it gave me indigestion.  3 stars

That evening we got dinner at a wurst place.  I put them under lunch, though, because it was lunch-ish.

This is Curry Wurst, an iconic German dish.  It’s a sausage (that tastes mostly like breakfast sausage to me), cut in pieces, with a sweet ketchup sauce and curry powder.  I read about it before we went to Germany, and I looked for it forever.  But when I finally got it, I didn’t really like it.  Oh well.  2 stars

At the same place, Alan got a Wurst with mustard (same Wurst as the curry Wurst, but not cut up).  He liked it a little more.  3 stars


We went to two nice hotels in Gersfeld for dinner.  This is the second one we went to.

Alan got some fish and risotto.  3 stars

I ordered some chicken curry.  The waiter said they didn’t have it, but that he would give me this chicken salad instead.  I really hated the dressing that was on the lettuce, and the lettuce was SOAKED in dressing.  Yuck.  1 star

Our first night in Gersfeld we went to a little hotel for dinner.  And it was the best meal we had the whole trip!

I got pork schnitzel with a leek sauce and roasted potatoes.  Amazing!  5 stars

And Alan got potato-crusted trout with salad.  Also delicious! 5 stars


Again, there’s ice cream everywhere!

Here is the spaghetti ice cream, again.

And the Mickey Mouse ice cream.

And the day we got the ish-ick dinner at the Gersfeld hotel, we did get a some good chocolate mousse.  4 stars


We didn’t drink this, but I thought it was a great picture!



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German Language Lesson

I’m going to be up front about this and say this is NOT a list of what you should know if you go to Germany.  I still don’t know how to say “how much does that cost?” or “I am from America.”

But I did go to Germany only knowing a phrase or two.  And I left knowing a bit more.  So here it goes…


Most letters are pronounced about the same as they are in English.  But, you pronounce:

V like F

W like V

So, if you’re looking for the bathroom, you’d say

Vo est WC?

Which is pronounced vo est “vee-cee?” because the “W” sounds like “V”

There’s also this funny looking letter: ß, which is pronounced like “ss”

The  bottom sign here says Bahnhofstraße, which is pronounced “bahnhofstrasse

Straße means “street”  Bahnhof means train station.  So Bahnhofstraße means “train station street.”  Most cities we visited had a Bahnhofstrasse, which was really convenient!

As I mentioned in this post, Flughafen means airport.  You can add the “flug” part to “Bahnhof” to get Flugbahnhof, or airport train station.  I don’t know the exact rule, but it seems like you can add nouns together forever in German.  Some of their words are sooooooooo long!
This leads me to another: all of their nouns are capitalized.  In English we capitalized the pronoun “I”.  German is like that, just for all nouns.  It makes it easier sometimes to try to figure out what a sign means, if you know that the capitalized words are nouns.


Exit is Ausgang

Entrance is Eingang

This sign says Kein EingangKein means “no.”

Kein Eingang = no entrance

Kein Ausgang = no exit

Don’t get confused if you see Not AusgangNot means “emergency.”  Not Halt = “emergency stop” Not Ausgang= “emergency exit”

Big & Small

Big is groß (“gross”)

Small is klein

“big kabob”, “small kabob”


I’m going to do a whole post on food later, but for now I’ll tell you that Essen is “eating,” and Trinken is “drinking.”

Please & Thank You

Bitte = “please”

Danke = “thank you”

Bitte = “you’re welcome”

A lot of time they put schön after bitte and danke

Greetings & Goodbyes

Hallo = “hello”

Guten Tag = “hello” (literally “good day”)

Guten Morgen = “good morning”

Guten Abend = “good evening”

Auf Wiedersehen = “goodbye”

Tschüs = “bye” (this is pronounced like chools.  They really draw out the oooo sound)


Before we went to Germany I only knew the numbers 1-3.  (And I only knew those because of the movie Cool Runnings!)  Now I feel comfortable with 1-5.  But I’ll give you 1-20 here, for the heck of it.

ein = 1

zwei= 2

drei= 3

vier= 4

fünf= 5

sechs= 6

sieben = 7

acht= 8

neun = 9

zehn= 10

elf= 11

zwölf= 12

dreizehn= 13

vierzehn= 14

fünfzehn= 15

sechzehn= 16

siebzehn= 17

achtzehn= 18

neunzehn= 19

zwanzig= 20

That’s about all I know.  I was really grateful for the fact that Alan knew a lot of German from high school!




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Flying Home

Sunday morning we got up around 7:30 to go to the airport.  We wanted to not have to check bags for this trip, so we had to pack very carefully.  On the trip from NY to Frankfurt, Alan and I each had one personal item (Alan had a backpack, I had a shoulder bag), and then Alan had a small wheeling suitcase.  We rolled up a duffel bag and packed it in the suitcase.

On the return trip, we have the same luggage as before, except that I now have the duffel bag, full of souveirs. So it wasn’t too much of a hassle to take public transit to the airport.

We took the U-Bahn to the S-Bahn to the Flughaven (airport)!  We had checked in online at Achim’s, so all we had to do was go through security.  It took us a little while to find the right terminal.  But once we did, it was pretty easy to get to our gate.

I set off the metal detectors (I almost never do that!).  It ended up being the Spin-Pins in my hair (which are really great for making buns, by the way!).  They also opened up my souvenir bag.  I bought a fondue set when we were in Fulda, and fondure forks look a lot like weapons.  A man opened up the bag, and I said “fondue forks” to the woman sitting next to him.  She nodded her head like she understood.  The man opened up the tissue paper, and prodded at the forks.  He didn’t like what he saw.  He said, “are these okay?” and the woman said, “yes.”  Phew!

Once again, we are super-early to a flight.  We arrived at the gate around 10:25 for a 12:45 flight.  Our flight wasn’t even on the departures board when we came because we’re so early!  The one time we’re not early, everything will probably go wrong.  So we continue to be early.

The flight from Frankfurt to Chicago was longer than the DC to Frankfurt flight.  Part of it may be that Chicago is farther.  But I think we also had a head-wind to contend with.  It was scheduled for 9 hours.

Very eastern Canada
However, when we were over Michigan, the plane made a loop.  I was watching the little map diagram on the TV screen.  The captain came on the intercom, and said that there was bad weather in Chicago, so we were taking the scenic route to buy some time.  The loop wasn’t enough of a delay, so we flew all the way over Minnesota, and came in from the west.

Rainclouds—the cause of our delay

If everything were on time, we would have had a two hour layover in Chicago.  That’s plenty of time to deplane, go through customs and immigration, go through security again, and get on our connecting flight.  But the detour gave us a little over an hour.  So we hurried through everything, and made it on the plane to Rochester.

The final flight would have been uneventful, except for the loud family behind us.  The parents seemed really tired, and they had two young sons who were energetic, and a crying baby.  I felt a combination of frustration with all the noise, and sympathy for the parents.

The saving grace was that it was just an hour flight.  A short walk from the airport, and we were home!




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Frankfurt & Friends, take 2

Achim and Tanja emailed us during the week to invite us to visit their house.  We could travel to Frankfurt on Saturday, spend the day in Frankfurt, and then spend the night at their house.

Alan and I discussed it for a little while.  We already had tickets for our trip from Gersfeld to Frankfurt airport, and we would have to pay for the Ferienwohnung (vacation house) for Saturday night either way.  We ultimately decided to go to Frankfurt.  We wanted to see Achim and Tanja again, to see the city some more, and to be closer to the airport on Sunday.

The tricky thing was finding tickets that would get us from Gersfeld to Frankfurt on a Saturday.  There are fewer trains on the weekends.  We ended up buying tickets for the regional train from Gersfeld to Fulda, and regional (not IC or ICE) tickets from Fulda to Frankfurt.  Regional tickets cost half as much, but the train took twice as long.  It stopped at every little town between Fulda and Frankfurt.

From the train station we took the U-Bahn to Hausen, and walked ten minutes to Achim and Tanja’s house.  They were out with their kids at swimming lesson.  Alan and I let ourselves in, and looked around.

Achim told us that this is the house he grew up in.  After his dad died, his mother gave him the house, and Achim used his inheritance to buy his mother a smaller house.  Achim and Tanja have renovated the house some, since then.

There is a large kitchen, living room, and dining room on the first floor.  Upstairs are three bedrooms, and a full bath.  The basement (where we stayed) is partially finished, and has Achim’s office, a half-bath, and laundry.  They also have a fenced-in back yard, which is full of things for the kids: a sandbox, swingset, picnic table and toys!

Valerie in the sand box

We were pretty wiped out from a couple of full travel days.  I practically fell in to the bed in the basement, and began napping immediately.  Alan also slept for a little while.  He woke up when the family came home, but I slept through.

Alan accompanied Tanja to the supermarket to buy food for a barbecue dinner.  I finally woke up around five, and wandered upstairs.
We had dinner on the patio, even though it was still chilly!  It was really nice: grilled wursts, kabobs, macaroni salad and bread.  There were two kinds of wurst.  One looked like hot-dogs to me, and they said it was all beef.  The other was bratwurst, which was pork.  Everything was delicious!

Achim was going into the city to meet some friends for drinks, and invited us to ride into the city with him.  We left early enough that he could show us around the city some before he had to meet his friends.

We wandered through the main shopping area in Frankfurt, and then south across the river to the Saxon-house area.  Achim told us that Frankfurt was nearly flattened in the war.  All but one building were destroyed from the bombing.  So Frankfurt is a very new city.  Most of the architecture is very modern, especially in the financial district.  There are some re-built old-looking buildings, too.

Views from Frankfurt at night:

We parted with Achim in the Saxon-house area.  He headed off to the restaurant, and we re-traced our steps back to the U-Bahn station.  On the way, we got some ice-cream.  There are ice-cream cafes everywhere!

We got back to Achim and Tanja’s around 8:00.  I was still super-sleepy, so I went to bed right away.



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