…Düsseldorf. The First Three Months: September – November

The Roller Blading Paradise

Moving without taking my roller blades with me? No way! But what if my new home will not be suitable for this activity? Indeed, the first skating attempt was not really encouraging. However, skating along the Rhine river is a very safe and very scenic approach. In not too long, and with help of  Fahrradnetzplan (a network of biking trails), I “designed” a 30km route running along the Rhine, crossing three bridges, leading through Naturschutzgebiet (a conservation area), passing a golf course, with a glimpse of the Rheinturm and after a detour through residential area returning back to the beautiful Rhine. I am pretty sure my favorite route can still be modified to let me explore new parts of the city or skate even longer.

I already look forward to getting in shape for the April Inline half-marathon in Bonn and many other skating events which will be available once we survive the winter time. Let me close with some numbers: 547 km and countless breathtaking views along the way in bit less than three months.


The River Is Beautiful

And it is true at any time of the day. The pictures say it all.

 


MedienHafen Architecture Is also Extremely Photogenic

MedienHafen is a harbor loaded with modern buildings, each of them being unique. The attractive city skyline is in fact a nesting site for culinary facilities and for headquarters of three quarters of Düsseldorf companies. Nonetheless, the modern architecture there is accompanied by a surprising sense of humor (see the human-gecko building).


Chinafest: Der Drache tanzt in Düsseldorf (The Dragon Dances in Düsseldorf)

While I look forward to learning German language and getting familiar with culture of my new home, why to refuse opportunities to experience other cultures? Annually and since 2011, the Chinafest takes place in Düsseldorf and I arrived just on time, to make my third weekend in Germany a Chinese one.

I did not dare to try any of the Chinese food. Bowls overflowing with to me unknown stuff of various shapes and suspicious smells were accompanied by captions but only in Chinese or German and neither one was of great help to me. I thus focused my attention on Chinese tea, dance performances and Gemüseschnitzkunst (art of vegetable carving).


St. Martin Tag: Martinszug

The day of St. Martin is on 10. November and Germans celebrate it with numerous parades and zillion of lanterns. Obviously, the lanterns are available in stores but majority of children (especially older ones, 12+ years) presented their hand-made lanterns and many of them were true masterpieces, including lanterns in shape of buildings. Another components of the St. Martin evening is a replay of a scene, when St. Martin, 4th-century bishop of Tours, shared his cloak with a beggar when he was a soldier in Roman army.

Besides that, Martin Tag is the time when Weckmann pastry (alternatively Stutenkerl) appears in North-Rhine Westphalian bakeries and will be available throughout the Advent time. These guys are funny and delicious.


The Fifth Season: How I Saw Bit of Karneval in the end

The famous German Karneval starts on 11. November at 11:11 and it was the only German tradition I have heard before for sure. It was thus disappointing to realize that the day is not a national holiday. While I have to wait to see the grand opening live for almost a year, I did not miss the Karneval entirely. When downtown on the first weekend of Christmas markets, I was surprised by a little Karneval appetizer, which makes me extra excited about the Karneval finale in spring.


Weihnachtsmärkte

Christmas markets are nothing new for me – I have been attending since early childhood. But Düsseldorf showed me how much I have missed. In the city, there are seven markets at seven different locations. Obviously, range of products overlaps greatly but the atmosphere of each single market is unique. i) The Marktplatz market, which decorates the Düsseldorf city hall for the rest of the year and which shows the best wood carving work. ii) The Flinger Straße market, whose highlight  is mulled wine pyramid, which remembers me of my Grandmother’s decades old Christmas decoration. iii) The “Angel market” at Heinrich Heine Platz, which fits so well with the impressive building of Carsch-Haus department store. iv) The Scandinavian village built of cute white huts and carousel at Schadowplatz. v) And finally the market at Schadowstraße, whose unique features are smoked fish and ice skating ring. Two more markets (at Jan-Wellem-Platz and Stadtbrückchen) still await to be discovered by me and I cannot wait to do so.

Besides already mentioned wood carvings, sellers can be proud of their knitted accessories such as caps and mittens, glass and wooden Christmas tree decorations, paper stars which turn a light bulb into a piece of art, jewelery, candles and toys. Worth mentioning are obviously edible and drinkable good too: all sorts of Glühwein (mulled wine), roasted almonds and chestnuts, waffles and crepes, champions in some kind of sauce and many specialties whose names I simply forgot, such as the Dutch one.

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… Along the Mississippi. Tour de Lake City – Wabasha – La Crosse – Winona – Red Wing – Hastings

DAY 1: COURSE SOUTHEAST 

After exploring the Minneapolis area for almost a week, Monday of week no. 2 was the time to see a little bit more of Minnesota and also to cross the river and pay a short visit to the state of Wisconsin. The final destination on the other bank was the city of La Crosse and thankfully, there were some nice American towns along the way. In other words, many opportunities to stop every once a while and compensate for sitting in the car – even though the view was just beautiful. Also, after weeks (in NC) of entire dependence on buses, roller blades and my feet, planning my trips and paying for them, it was nice to experience the freedom of a car – especially (and thank God!) as it was not me doing the driving – and follow a well-designed itinerary prepared by my hosts.

On the way to La Crosse, our first stop was Lake City, which I faultily assumed to be located on the shore of a lake. However, it turned out that so called lake Pepin was a more of broad section of Mississippi rather than a lake. No matter what, the city’s marina was a nice place to stop at and take some pictures of. Hadn’t it been so cold and so windy, I would have considered it a very nice stop.

Perl Buttons Store in Lake City

Perl Button Store in Lake City

It did not take us terribly long to reach our next destination: National Eagle Center in Wabasha. I understood it was one of only few places where the USA’s national bird can be bred and I liked this educational stop very much. First, it was warm inside, second (and more importantly), I had never seen so large live birds and finally, I learned a lot and I was never bored. In total, they had three bald eagles there and none of them had very happy destiny – their lives in wilderness included car accidents and lead poisoning. Thanks to the help from the Raptor Center at the University of Minnesota, they survived and hopefully were helping their relatives out there, in the real world.

Bold Eagle...

Bald Eagle…

One of their eagles’ was called Angel and she was the eagle from the Minnesota licence plates. I always thought it was “just an eagle” – like any bird in any textbook, so after a few visits to the beautiful land of lakes, I felt pleased to reveal the truth and meet the model for the licence plate eagle. Am I ahead of some Minnesotans now? An essential part of our visit was about an hour long presentation about bald eagles – from their anatomy, behavior and breeding, to threats they faced in the past and still do. The height of the talk was Columbia (named to remember the space-shuttle disaster) feeding on a rabbit. I was surprised how red the meat was – I bet it must have been a wild rabbit. Although the volunteering  lady was funny and easy to understand (very important for me!), which made her lecture very enjoyable, I cannot avoid little criticism. Again, I had to handle an excessive use of the word cute. I am tolerant to this one when there is a kids audience but I do think that primarily adult audience can handle more complicated vocabulary. Because of her enthusiasm, however, I forgive her cute vocabulary as well as two minor mistakes I believe she made.

... and one of causes of its problems.

… and one of causes of its problems.

Toward the end of the day it was time to cross the river and visit the city of La Crosse for the second time in my life. The main goal was to meet B, who was a very nice companion and also a tour guide. A short walk along the river gave me another chance to freeze (after not so successfully trying to adapt to the North Carolina heat for weeks) but also some hope for nice pictures. A little tiny walk through the city was equally enjoyable and a nice appetizer before the supper at The Old Crow. Thankfully, it was B who suggested this American Gastrobar for tonight – I do not think I would have dared to go inside without a recommendation from someone who has spent 4+ years in the city. I am not saying the restaurant looked discouraging or something like that, the name just made me super cautious – in  other words, to expect a witch’s hideout with bats and spiders, suspicious vials and a pot with boiling poison, and a black cat somewhere in the corner. I was then almost disappointed not to find any of those. Their salad was a nice good night meal and probably my first healthy food in a week.

La Crosse

La Crosse

Having my tummy full, only night walk was needed for a good sleep.

Having my tummy full, only night walk was needed for a good night sleep.

DAY 2: COURSE NORTHWEST

Tuesday morning was a rather cold one (at least to me) but the blue sky promised some sunshine – I felt better immediately. The breakfast at the motel was another reason for a good start of the day: coffee and hot chocolate, Belgian waffle, an old-fashioned donut and even one single healthy item on my menu – yogurt. Having so much good fuel, I was set to be driven back to the Metro area. Thankfully, it was not a straightforward car ride but we had some stops on the way again: three this time.

First of them was the city of Winona, specifically the Minnesota Marine Art Museum located there. The main attraction was the temporary exhibit called Ocean Soul, a collection of underwater pictures by Brian Skerry, a National Geography photographer. Even if it had been the only exhibition in the museum, it would have been worth visiting. Dozens of large photographs were divided into four sections, depending on the “type of water” they came from: cold, cool, pristine and tropical. I liked every single picture and absolutely failed to pick my favorite one. A bright yellow fish peeking out of a soda can, a large manta ray flying by, attraction of colorful corals, baby seal looking so vulnerable in the infinite land of ice and snow – all of them and many many more photographs showed the diversity and beauty of oceans, and challenged my decision for a career in the lab.

The MMAM Building

The MMAM Building

While the Ocean Soul was my favorite exhibit, there was much more to see in the museum – another photography exhibition and several collections of paintings: Views of Mississippi, American art and work of European artists (C. Monet as well as early painting of V. van Gogh). The paintings did not necessarily include water motives but my top three did. Those were two pictures of sailboats “in action” and a picture with a sailboat resting in a navy port. Unfortunately the rest of art on display remained rather ununderstood by me and the only outcome probably was learning that paintings look better when observing them from a distance. However, I did appreciate to see the famous Washington Crossing Delaware. Though it was not the large canvas (that is part of the Metropolitan Museum of Art (NY) collections), this piece nevertheless hang in the White House for three decades. Kinda special. I though it was funny that such a historical moment was captured by a German painter. And even worse, he did not avoid some mistakes. First, the (current) US flag in the picture was not officially approved until some time after the crossing. And second, one of the guys accompanying Mr. Washington did not actually join him centuries ago. I am glad I learned something unusual and had a chance to see this piece of art.

The following city to pay a short visit to was Red Wing, located right on a railroad and at the Mississippi’s bank. It was a rather short stop but long enough to allow us to eat the lunch in the Levee Park and check the famous St. James hotel. Besides the hotel, there were three restaurants, a few stores as well as (probably) some conference rooms in the same building.

St. James

St. James

The third and final stop was for the sake of refreshment only: dairy store in Hastings. It looked like they sold milk, cheese and other dairy products – possibly from local farmers – and I therefore decided to expect a good quality ice-cream, too. For a single dollar, one could have a cup (my volume estimation was some 300 ml) literally loaded with ice cream. What truly made it special was that customers poured the ice-cream from the provided machine themselves and mixing the flavors was apparently OK. Having said all that and impressed by the unusual house rules, I was not sure I liked the ice-cream’s taste so much. What I knew for sure, however, was that my pancreas would run out of insulin soon.

More ice-cream than you really need

More ice-cream than you really need

The region of Minnesota-Wisconsin I could explore over the two days was definitely a beautiful land. I sure was glad too see several charming American cities on my way as well as breathtaking views on the Mississippi river while traveling from one city to another; and moreover with minimal effort from me. I also appreciated the chance to gain new information about the US national bird and a couple of cool facts worth remembering about the famous painting. However, I am afraid that the most memorable moment was the time I could spend admiring Mr. Skerry’s photographs – both on display and in his book available for browsing.

… Metro Area. Embarassing Reunion & A Week of Exercise, History & Natural Beauties

MINNESOTA: IS IT STILL THE VERY SPECIAL PLACE IT ONCE USED TO BE?

I am afraid something has changed here…

And I hate to say that and the more I think about it, the less I understand the whole situation. Minnesota once used to be a place I could consider my second home (even more than Raleigh, no matter how many people would remember me down there!) without any hesitation. Although I do think it is a beautiful land, the strong feelings did not develop because of the lakes or forests there but because of two Minnesotans. It used to be a fun place to return to for a few years. And then I made mistakes and everything got complicated and I was not supposed to come back. Ever.

This last stage, however, did not last terribly long and while in Raleigh, NC I was encouraged to travel up North again. My pride did not want to hear anything like that at first but whatever little good was in me, it won and made me come. Once I accepted the fact that two more weeks in the US would screw up some of the plans I had had for the rest of my summer break, I even started looking forward to visiting my beloved place and most importantly, people there. People, who were from a very scarce group of loving and caring ones without expecting any profit from themselves and people whom I owed so much and whom, I though, I loved so much. To top it off, I had not seen them for a year or even a couple of years, our shared past included plenty of wonderful moments (There should be more to come, right?) and there were reasons to assume it might be our last meeting (Sad, isn’t it?).

Two and a half hour flight from Raleigh to Minneapolis/St. Paul was short enough not to get too bored and long enough to do a decent amount of thinking – evaluating my stay in Raleigh, considering what decisions I have to make this fall, replaying the nice moments I had in the US during my previous visits and thinking about possible scenarios for this summer. Unfortunately the reality could not have been more different. Seeing someone dear only once a year at the most, apparently not being over what happened in the past (yet) and not being sure how to handle the consequences was truly a pole position. Add terribly cold weather (definitely for someone who spent two months in a terribly hot weather), little bit of sadness (Is there really a reason for it?), zero confidence of what is OK to do or say, strong suspicion that the nice treating was not honest but rather a result of obligation, and a pinch of feelings of betrayal and wrong (Were they really needed so badly?) and you have got a highly efficient recipe for a miserable time.

While I watched the biggest relationship crisis of my life growing from bad to worse, the first week of my only vacation this summer still offered a few highlights worth sharing.


EXERCISE

Roller blades being first produced in Minnesota by Olsen brothers, the state offering thousands of lakes and miles of trails along their shores and finally, me loving roller blading united and the outcome was three skating session and 32 Minnesotan miles added to my US mileage this summer.

The Lake on a Rainy Day

The Lake on a Rainy Day

My skates and me have visited a few places together and I therefore feel entitled to claim that the beautiful trio of lakes Harriet, Calhoun and Lake of the Isles is the best for inline skating: beautiful scenery, above-average surface of the trail, perfect level of hilliness (too little not to kill you but enough to avoid a boring flat ride) and people sharing the trail with you are generally nice and no one tries to kill you. Dogs are leashed!

Minnesota Sky Can Be Blue Too

Minnesota Sky Can Be Blue Too

Another sport-related activity was supposed to be a game of mini golf but I could not care less for the course I ended up at. It was a pure, boring putt-putt course. OK, the park with river running through it and lakes were very nice and the grass on the course was super green. None of those, however, make putting (I have done this once before and this is enough till the end of my life.) any more exciting than watching a game of football. I sure was glad for the nice scenery and I only regretted not taking my camera with.

The park was not a bad place at all. The sky was definitely impressive today.

The park was not a bad place at all. The sky was definitely impressive today.


HISTORY OF MINNESOTA

Having visited several museums in Raleigh, NC, I had been worried that I would not handle any more History lessons but, thankfully, I could not have been more wrong. The visit of Fort Snelling (St. Paul) turned out to be much better than any conventional museum. My time there was an enjoyable mixture of education, English practice and photography opportunities.

The Cannon and the Commanding Officer's House in the Background

The Cannon and the Commanding Officer’s House in the Background

I might feel too proud to come from a country whose history is so much longer than that of the New World, so it definitely was enriching to realize that there are some decently old buildings in the USA, too and that the Americans do care about them. Four buildings of this huge complex were the original buildings (while the rest were well-done replicas) and one of the originals was the Commanding officer’s house, the first house in Minnesota. What a pleasure to be there and take some pictures!

I knew about the dark history of wars with Native Americans and being somewhat familiar with Indian names for streets and cities in this area, I was not surprised to learn that Minnesota was involved in this controversial issue, too. However, what was a shocking discovery was the fact that there used to be slaves in Midwest. As awful as this practice was, I thought it was limited to the southern states “only.” There is always a lot to learn and for this purpose, the fort was the right place.

Just walking from building to building would have got boring at certain point, however, this was not the case as there were so many demonstrations taking place. There basically was something to watch (and listen to a nice narrative) every half an hour: from infantry drill to very impressive cannon shooting and hardly imaginable old-fashioned way of cooking. Once the meal was prepared, it was a higher-class lady’s turn to eat it and this was one of my favorite parts. Since my early years I was told not to put knife in my mouth and I always wondered why and most importantly, I could not imagine someone actually had done so in the past. Now I know it indeed used to be a part of table etiquette. It was Europeans who first stopped doing so and it took Americans a while to adapt to this new way of eating.

Fire!

Fire!

In summary, if I had to live in 1800s, then I would like to be an officer’s wife (or any social class higher than that) and I definitely would not like to see a doctor. Ever. I understood that from a great part, people used to rely on herbs (which is all right even today but you may need serious drugs at certain point), dentistry sounded just awful, I shivered when only imaging old-days surgery and I never even tried to imagine baby delivery two centuries ago and earlier.


NATURAL BEAUTIES

One does not need to disappear in a total wilderness in order to admire the nature of Minnesota. In fact, it may take as little as visiting the Longfellow Gardens and Minnehaha Falls in close proximity to them.

Rest in the Gardens

Rest in the Gardens

In order to get more unusual Biology-learning experience, there is Richardson Nature Center for you. To meet North America’s native plants, feel free to explore adjacent forest and meadow. And do not be discouraged by the walk’s name (Native Plants Hike) as it does not involve a whole lot of walking at all. In the center’s buildings, there are plenty of opportunities to learn about variety of life forms: amphibians and reptiles, raptors and other birds, bees and more insect. The peak of any visit, however, should be the monarch butterfly tagging. Pre-educated during my previous visits as well as down in Raleigh, I knew about declining numbers of this butterfly species and none of the facts that they have their favorite flowers, that they migrate terribly long distance to overwinter and are tagged as a part of studying them were new to me. Yet, it is very different to see a few pictures or watch a short video and to see the tagging in action. To test my patience, I ended my visit of the nature center with a fruitless attempt to take some cool pictures of this endangered species.

The Tagged

The Tagged


SEA LIFE MINNESOTA AQUARIUM at the Mall of America

Minnesota being sort of a land-locked state was not a reason to prevent me from encountering my beloved marine life this summer. To see animals as different as hermit crabs and huge sharks, it only takes a trip to the country’s shopping phenomenon, the Mall of America. The very first aquarium’s inhabitants to welcome us were corals, anemones, starfish and other more or less sessile and safe-to-touch organisms. The other “touching” section included rays and other fish species similar to them, such as guitar fish. The weird thing about the rays was that their backs were completely white while the video (a sort of documentary about building the ray exhibit) showed dark grey rays. Have the visitors scrubbed all their pigment or was it due to white sand at the bottom of the tank or was there any other reason?

Touch Me if You Dare

Touch Me if You Dare

Rays

Rays

Having said Good Bye to rays, there were no more chances to touch any animals but this did not bother me at all as I was fine with only watching anyways. During my visit I saw so many different species, often times from rather different environments, that it is impossible to pick my most favorite one. Let’s do top few then. I definitely was impressed by the jellyfish exhibit. It was highly informative while kinda surreal (see the video) and to me, it was the first time I could observe these organisms so closely. They looked so fragile – in fact, it seemed like there was no tissue in their bodies – but they are capable of stinging so badly. For a long time I was mesmerized by their tiny colorless tentacles and by their pumping yet graceful way of floating round the tank. It seemed like no effort to them to keep going.

The Form of Life I Can Understand the Least

The Form of Life I Can Understand the Least

Although the jellyfish set the bar so high, there were many more memorable moments. My favorite crustacean was a funny spiky crab (called porcupine crab) and I liked the horse fish, too – after all, I do not see them every day. Though most of the area was devoted to sea life, there also was a rain forest section, in other words, another ecosystem needing our protection. There, although a couple of caymans were impressive, I liked colorful and rather small frogs the most.

Blue Is Probably Not Good

Blue Is Probably Not Good

The key feature of the Minnesota aquarium was definitely a long long tunnel enabling visitors the great experience of having the life swimming all around them except the bottom of the tunnel. While I laughed at the funny creature picking up algae from the tunnel’s ceiling, there were sharks being fed on my left and a huge sea turtle would pass by on my right. There was always something going on there and I hesitate to give any estimations about the length of the tunnel or the number of species living there. It sure was plenty of them: countless fish of all sizes and colors, a few shark and ray species, as well as a hybrid of the two (so called ray shark), a very impressive sawfish and at least a couple of huge marine turtles. However, the ocean life was only one section of the tunnel. There also were species living in the Amazon and Sturgeon lake. The water there was much dimmer and the fish significantly less colored. Sure, the freshwater fish use the same adaptive strategies to survive in their environment but it looked like too much of a contrast to me after admiring the colors of oceans.


The first week of my return to Minnesota was also plenty of food. The only thing I can be sure about is that only minority of it was healthy. As for the bad (this does not equal to not good) stuff, I cannot make any clear statement – I fail to pick my favorite and I do not know (well, do not want to know) which of the treats was the worst one. However, here are my two favorites:

Cinnamon Roll. I love sweets and I thought I would never get sick of them. But it did happen - right at the Mall.

Cinnamon Roll. I love sweets and I thought I would never get sick of them. But it did happen – right at the Mall.

A Homemade Culinary Sin. Melt all the good and precious ingredients, mix them and let it cool down. You can call it a cookie than and you are gonna develop diabetes.

A Homemade Culinary Sin. Melt all the good and precious ingredients, mix them together and let it cool down. You can call it a cookie then and you are gonna develop diabetes.

… Raleigh. Me & My Skates, Me & My Camera.

Being a full-time student for the past five years slowly and surely reduced the amount of the free time and made it difficult to devote myself to my two biggest passions. Today, I got plenty of roller blading and a decent amount of photography time, too. Thank you, Raleigh!

ALL TIMES SKATING ADVENTURE

I was really impressed by the Neuse River Trail last week, so I decided to return. However, this time I took a bus (two buses, actually, as I had to change once) to save me some miles and hopefully allow me to spend more time skating along the Neuse River. The bus ride worked out rather smooth – I did not miss “my” bus stop this time. However, had not I been to that neighborhood earlier, it would have been more adventurous. The total time was about an hour and the ride gave me a chance to see a bit of Raleigh downtown once more as well as a somewhat remote neighborhood.

I put my skates on in the Worthdale Park as there were some nice rocks just inviting me to do so.

My Rocky Seat

My Rocky Seat

From there, I took  the somewhat familiar path to the very end (ehm, beginning) of the Walnut Creek Trail that I am fairly familiar with by now. About half a mile from where the Walnut Creek Trail disappears and the asphalt under ones feet or wheels of any size becomes the Nuese River Trail is a tricky yet beautiful combination of a wooden bridge, downhill and a sharp turn. This is how I captured it:

Having finally reached the Neuse River Trail (well, it did not take so long and it was an enjoyable ride providing me with opportunities to see some more unusual plants in the wetlands), I again faced the same dilemma: Should I go to the left or to the right? A week ago I had taken the left turn and liked it, so I did the same today. I crossed several bridges and occasionally, I even could see the river. My pleasant ride, however, came to an end mere three miles later: construction work ahead – detour. The detour meant gravel and up the hill. As far as I could see, it did not seem any better, so after a minute of thinking whether to take my skates off and walk some, I turned back, determined to explore what the other stretch of the trail would offer me.

Da Vinchi's Code: HWY XING

Da Vinchi’s Code: HWY XING

Indeed, there was quite some! Several more bridges and nice surroundings, although I never saw the river again. Later on, I reached the Anderson Park where so far excellent signage worsened. I had no idea whether it was the end of the trail or which of many paths I should take to add some more miles to today mileage. I never figured out if it was the end of the Neuse River Trail but all of the park paths met at one point on the other side of the park. There, I had two options again.

I eliminated the trail that was rather narrow, right next to the road (without a barrier of any sort) and a promise of some serious downhill. The other way to go (other than give up again and return) was the Crabtree Creek Greenway. I liked it very much – it was decently hilly and of a perfect difficulty – not too flat and straight (i.e. perfect to get tired of constant speed and constant direction), yet not too hilly with too sharp turns (i.e. a chance of killing yourself). Once the trail disappeared in deeper forest and the above mentioned criteria were not so true any more, I turned back. It will take me some time to get back home and it is getting “hotter than hot” anyway.

Crabtree Creek Greenway: Smooth, Beautiful Blu Sky & US Mailboxes

Crabtree Creek Greenway: Smooth, Beautiful Blu Sky & US Mailboxes

Should I carry a compass as huge as this one?

Should I carry a compass as huge as this one?

On the way back I ate my peach (a product of the US) that meanwhile ripened a second time in my backpack. The Anderson Park seemed a right place to have my lunch: bagel with wanna-be cheese. I took a slight detour to a scenic overview to enjoy my refreshment break. The reality was that I swallowed the “scenic hook” again (after doing the mistake at lake Johnson a few weeks ago). It was an effort to get there but nothing, absolutely nothing, to see in reward. I swear, I will not fall for it again!

When there is no scenery, let's create one!

When there is no scenery, let’s create one!

The original plan was to take the bus back downtown and another one from there. (Un)fortunately, I missed the bus super closely. I could have either wait for an hour (and cook) or keep skating (and cook but little breeze, too). As I did not skate enough to be downtown on time to catch the subsequent bus without much waiting, I decided to finish the whole route. I managed without much trouble but I sure was glad to take my skates off after skating for another, originally unplanned, 8 km.

Wildlife-wise it was beyond my Czech average: only a dead snake, two does (somewhat exciting to see two at once) and probably a coyote. The later one confused me a bit, it looked like a smaller version of the coyote I saw last week but its fur color was bit different and its head might have resembled fox. I wish I knew what I had met.

When tracking the route of the day, Google said it was 55 km long. I thus improved my personal best again and realized that my limits might be further than I had thought only a few weeks ago. I also got an idea when roller blades I am accustomed to so well and have been using for so long get little uncomfortable. It takes some three hours. Without the stupid (but beautiful) wooden bridges, it probably takes longer. As much fun as it was, I wished someone familiar with the trail(s) had been with me – I would have gotten a clue which parts would be the best and where it would be worth climbing some hills or taking the skates off for a while. Nevertheless, I think I still cold find very nice places to skate. And I really glad for that, especially as Raleigh seemed absolutely hopeless in this regard only seven weeks ago.

Exceeding the limit of 50 km a day and knowing it may not happen any soon, this performance deserves a bit of analysis. Especially, since I did not meet any other roller blader (today as well as ever). Here it is:

The Route

The Route

Satellite View and Elevation Details. On the screen it does not look so bad though.

Satellite View and Elevation Details. On the screen it does not look so bad though.

What made this skating experience an outstanding one, was the number of people (especially cyclists) on the trails. I had never been greeted by so many unknown people in such a short time. Sometimes, I am tired of questionably honest queries about my well-being or wishes of “a good one.” However, a little nod to someone with obviously the same interest/passion (i.e. exercise) is pleasing, encouraging and definitely worth adopting.

NC STATE CAMPUS THROUGH THE LENS OF MY CAMERA CELL PHONE

Though I was sure there would be no more activities today, at 5 PM I was out again. Destination? NC State Central Campus. Reason? Photography. The biggest obstacle were not, surprisingly, my tired legs and feet but the heat. Nevertheless, I still had very nice almost three hours. Some of the buildings I have been passing by for two months now deserved more than just a brief glance and I did my best to capture their beauty. I also discovered a lovely park and a palace-resembling building. For the first time, I took the time to rad about the history of the campus’ famous Memorial Belltower. Apparently, it is even possible to go inside.

Almost all building are called

Almost all building are called “something/someone” hall. So, this is probably just another hall. But beautiful.

Memorial Belltower

Memorial Belltower

A view like of a European palace garden

A view like of a European palace garden

How does it feel like to go up these stairs and enter such a building as a part of the daily routine?

How does it feel like to go up these stairs and enter such a building as a part of the daily routine?

State College

State College

Taley Student Union. It might be the youngest building on campus.

Taley Student Union. It might be the youngest building on campus.

Taley Student Union towards the End of the Day. Do you need any more proof to see that the campus is beautiful?

Taley Student Union towards the End of the Day. Do you need any more proof to see that the campus is beautiful?