Op de fiets naar Indiana op Labor day (03/09)

Je blijft toch Nederlands he? Mijn mede stagiaires hebben ondertussen beiden al een fiets gekocht. Ik zelf wacht nog op een stabielere woonsituatie voordat ik die keuze maak; denk maar dat ik door het centrum van Chicago ga fietsen. Mijn huidige locatie is echter zeer geschikt voor het bezitten van een fiets, er is een fietspad langs het meer dat recht naar mijn werk leidt. Mocht ik dus in de buurt blijven wonen dan gaat er zeker een fiets aangeschaft worden.

Vandaag moest ik het echter doen met een gehuurde fiets. De stations voor de Divy bikes die hier overal staan halen de grens van Indiana niet. Divy bikes zijn fietsen die je voor al 3$ per half uur kunt gebruiken om van hot naar her te komen in Chicago. Via een app koop je bijvoorbeeld een dag pas van $15 en dan kan je de hele dag gebruik maken van de Divy bikes voor perioden van 3 uur. Binnen 3 uur moet je dan een Divy station vinden en de fiets daar neerzetten of omwisselen. De Divy stations staan echt overal, dus over die tijdsgrens hoef je je nooit echt zorgen te maken – Tenzij je naar Indiana wilt fietsen.

Afin, ik huur een fiets en ontmoet Floor en Casper op het Lake trail een stukje zuidelijker. Het plan is om naar een brouwerij net over de grens bij Indiana te fietsen, het schijnt een populaire route te zijn. Zodoende fietsen we met 30 graden Celsius langs het meer over het daar aangelegde fietspad. Ik kom er al snel achter waarom deze fiets het goedkoopste model is (we blijven lekker Nederlands); Waar Floor en Casper op hun race fietsen ver voor mij uit fietsen zwoeg ik om een heuvel op te komen. Aan de andere kant ben ik blij deze fiets gehuurd te hebben want het verbergt wellicht mijn verslechterde conditie. Maar met Floor en Casper die af en toe op me wachten en een energie stoot hier en daar van mijn kant komen we er wel. Zo fietsen we steeds verder naar het zuiden langs Lake Michigan.

Totdat het losbarst. En niet zo’n beetje ook. Een half uur eerder stonden we nog foto’s te maken van de skyline van Chicago tegen een blauwe wolken lucht, nu schuilen we onder de poort van de golf club tegen de pijpenstelen die uit de lucht komen vallen. We wachten het even af, raadplegen de regen radar en besluiten toch maar de bus terug te nemen. Want ja – dat kan hier – de bussen hebben een fietsen drager voorop. We rennen met fiets en al door de regen naar het bushokje waar we vervolgens op de bus wachten. De bus die aankomt heeft echter al een fiets voorop, en er is in totaal maar plek voor twee fietsen voor op de bus. Samen uit, samen thuis. Aangezien we de twee overige fietsen niet in de bus mogen meenemen besluiten we de bus niet te nemen. Dan maar met de Uber wheelchair. We hebben de Uber nog niet besteld of het klaart op. De Uber wordt geannuleerd en we stappen op de fiets. We nemen hetzelfde pad terug en hopen de volgende bui voor te blijven.

De zon breekt weer door en opeens is het weer goed warm. Na een eind door de hitte gefietst te hebben besluiten we dat we toe zijn aan lunch en een frisse duik in Lake Michigan. We stoppen bij een strandje met een klein snackbarretje. Op het strand zelf hebben verschillende Amerikaanse families hun hele huis uitgestald om daar lekker te barbecueën. Wij kiezen voor het gemak van het terrasje en bestellen een Chicago Style Hotdog, die moet je natuurlijk eens gegeten hebben. Na deze calorierijke snack verorbert te hebben duiken Floor en ik de toiletten in om ons om te kleden. Als we ons bij Casper voegen staat er ons echter slecht nieuws te wachten; de rode vlag wordt net geheven. Het onweer trekt deze kant op, en met de bliksem is het geen goed idee om in het meer te gaan zwemmen.

Dan maar verder fietsen. We stappen weer op en fietsen door in een poging om het slechte weer voor te blijven. Casper en Floor nemen de afslag richting hun kamers en ik ploeg voort richting de fietsenverhuurder. Daar kom ik net op tijd aan. Zodra ik de fiets heb ingeleverd barst het los. Ik blijf even wachten onder het afdak en zodra de regen wat afgenomen is steek ik mijn paraplu op en begin ik aan de tocht richting de bus. Casper en Floor hebben ondertussen de metro genomen – daar mogen de fietsen wel in mee.

Dit was het voorlopige einde van ons Indiana avontuur. Wellicht is het volgend weekend beter weer…

Chicago

Voor hen die het nog niet wisten.

15 Augustus arriveerde ik in de Verenigde Staten, Chicago om precies te zijn.

Wat moet ik nou in hemelsnaam in het Midwesten van de Verenigde Staten?

Het begon allemaal in 2016, toen ik koos om International Studies te gaan studeren in Den Haag, aan universiteit Leiden. Binnen deze studie kon ik een specialisatie kiezen; Afrika, Europa, Noord-America, Zuid Amerika, Rusland en Eurazië, Oost-Azië, Zuidoost Azië, of het Midden-Oosten. Verschillende overwegingen deden mij uiteindelijk kiezen voor het gebied Noord-Amerika, wat uiteindelijk inhield dat ik voornamelijk zou leren over de Verenigde Staten. Zomer 2017 ben ik toen door de Oostkust gereisd, met behulp van vrienden en familie die daar woonachtig zijn, zoals te lezen valt in de voorgaande berichten op deze blog. Niet alleen was het erg leuk om neef Guus en zijn familie te zien, het is ook erg leerzaam geweest. Daarnaast was het een fantastische voorbereiding op dit jaar. Op 15 Juni 2018 hoorde ik dat mijn sollicitatie bij het Consulaat Generaal der Nederlanden in Chicago succesvol was en ik was aangenomen als stagiair PR en politiek. Vanaf toen had ik twee maanden de tijd om de nodige documenten aan te leveren aan de universiteit en het ministerie van buitenlandse zaken, en om me voor te bereiden op een verhuizing naar Chicago.

Ondertussen ben ik net ingetrokken in mijn huis voor de komende tijd, ik deel het appartement van een jongen uit Honduras wiens man er net vandoor gegaan is. Hij is blij met wat extra inkomen, ik ben blij met een woonruimte in een goede buurt. Het appartement is echter niet echt geschikt als verblijf voor langere tijd, dus als iemand toevallig nog iets weet in Chicago, laat het me even weten 🙂

Ik heb net mijn eerste werkweek achter de rug. Vanuit een kantoor met een leuk uitzicht schrijf ik tweets voor het Consulaat (@NLinChicago). Natuurlijk heb ik meer werkzaamheden dan alleen het schrijven van tweets, maar die zijn niet zo lekker samen te vatten in maar een paar woorden. De sfeer is erg leuk op het consulaat – zal ik zeggen, gezellig – en als stagiairs krijgen we genoeg ondersteuning. We lunchen met z’n allen op het consulaat, verder gaan we met alle stagiairs soms ook nog op stap. In totaal zijn we met drie stagiaires, we hebben allemaal een andere focus, maar we delen wel samen hetzelfde kantoor.

disclaimer: bovenstaande foto is niet vanuit mijn kantoor genomen, maar uit het kantoor van de Consul.

 

Even the graveyards are YUGE

 

August 12, cousin Guus has a bike that I could borrow, so like the true Dutchwoman I am, I went on a bicycle tour. Now I have to add that I had my reservations about biking in the US. The cars are not as used to bicycles as they are in the Netherlands and it is the biker who is most likely to get hurt in this scenario. When I visited the Smithsonian I first hand saw what happens when bike and car mix. A biker sporting various cuts on the side of the road and a driver being frantically on the phone with someone while the police takes statements and makes sure the driver doesn’t run away.So it’s not weird that I was a little hesitant about getting on a bike here. Not hesitant enough to wear a helmet though, as is common practise here. It’s probably my dutch upbringing that prevents me from wearing such a contraption.

 

Luckily Arlington is sophisticated and has some pretty decent biking lanes and some amazing trails. Close to Guus’ house there is a trail that I could follow. I followed it all the way to the Potomac River and then some.  On my way I came across President Theodore Roosevelt’s island. They really like their presidents here. Most of the monuments I have visited are connected to one of the presidents. Franklin Roosevelt’s memorial is my favourite so far. I suppose they try to get as much of the president’s legacy into one monument. Makes one wonder what kind of memorial Mr. Trump will have.

Back to ‘Teddy’ Roosevelt’s Island (the older Roosevelt). No bikes were allowed on the island so I parked it, locked it (with a lock that is way too heavy to be healthy that I had been carrying on my back) and went on towards the island. Lucky for me, they build a bridge so visitors wouldn’t have to swim to access the island. The island itself has some wonderful hiking trails that I did not travel, and a monument honouring president Teddy. The monument consisted out of a statue bigger than life of Theodore Roosevelt, some quotes of his cut out of a stone and a few fountains. There wasn’t too much too see so I went on my way after that.

He reminds me a bit of Lenin… Must be the time period.

It was still pretty early after noon so I followed the trail some more until I arrived at Arlington cemetery. I decided to pay the graves a small visit. There was a security screening but they didn’t get me and I got onto the cemetery without too much trouble.

If you look it up on google maps, you’ll notice the cemetery is YUGE. There are tours for visitors to be driven along a route passing the most notable graves. I didn’t join such a tour, mainly because I have some reservations about going on a cemetery as a kind of tourist attraction. I mean, I am a tourist myself and I visit cemeteries, but it is different when the cemetery itself organises tours.

Look at these cars

Anyway the cemetery, who are buried there? The short answer is ‘many people’. The long answer is ‘a whole lot of people who are connected to the military in certain ways’. There is an extensive list on who is and who is not eligible for being buried in the Arlington cemetery. I read the entire list and summarised it for you.

The first, and arguably the most important criterion is that one has to be dead. Only post mortem will the next requirements matter. Most graves are from people who either are in active service at the time of death or are retired and are entitled to receive retirement pay from the United States Armed forces.

Second come the people who have earned any of the following decorations: Medal of Honor, Purple Cross, Distinguished Service Cross, Distinguished Service Medal or a Silver Star.

Then there is a clause about former armed forces members (granted that they are honourably discharged) taking up a certain position in office (there is a list). Those are also eligible to be buried there.  This also means that our dear mister Trump won’t be buried there.

There is also a spot reserved for any American prisoner of war, granted that they are honourably discharged.

Lastly the spouse, widow or widower and unmarried child of any of the persons eligible to be buried there may also be buried in the Arlington National Cemetery.

There are some other criteria, but if you’re interested in this beyond the information I provided I recommend a quick google search and you’ll have all the answers you want.

The main question that I had when visiting the burial site was what all the different symbols mean. I did understand the religious meanings of the cross and the David star but some crosses where engraved differently than others. I thought it might be the indication of a different kind of Christianity but it wasn’t it is just due to an earlier engraver.

In general the headstones list the following; Name of the deceased, year of birth and death and branch of service. In addition to that families may request; military grade, rank of rate, war service (ex WWII), months and days of birth and death, a religious emblem, valor awards received and the purple heart.

The list of approved religious emblems is long. There are several Christian symbols apart from the universal Christian cross; there is a Buddhist emblem, an atheist emblem, the David Star, a wiccan symbol, a Muslim emblem and more.

This pdf lists all the symbols with a picture. Except for the Islamic 5 – pointed star which cannot be shown due to copy right.

That’s it for today! I’m off to the beach now. (revere, MA)

Smoll update

Quick note. While I’m working on my next article I’m staying with Kate and her family. I had originally messaged her for some tips on what to do now that I have some left over time between my visit to NYC and Boston, MA. But then she invited me to stay at her family’s house for a night. So far I’ve been staying with families in the USA and I love it. I am absolutely grateful for everyone opening their doors for me and having a bed (or a couch) where I can sleep on. So we decided that I stay Thursday night since Kate works Wednesday night. However I had booked a motel in the area for the night before (tonight, Wednesday). When I told her which motel I would be staying at they were horrified and offered me to stay with her family anyway. So I cancelled the motel room, lost the 79 dollars it would’ve cost and went to stay with her family. And it is great! They are incredibly kind and they have a lovely house. Currently I’m sitting outside next to a fire, typing away on my laptop while the only background noise is the sounds of nature. It’s fantastic. Have I also mentioned my Gin and Tonic sitting in front of me? Which I’m drinking from a reusable straw by the way!

Plastic straws are a problem, they’re just as bad as plastic bags. If you’re interested, check out this site. http://www.plasticpollutioncoalition.org/

Are you a regular straw user? The stainless steel alternative isn’t even that expensive J https://www.amazon.com/Stainless-Tumbler-Resuable-Drinking-Cleaning/dp/B01N4W84IE/ref=pd_lpo_vtph_79_lp_t_2?_encoding=UTF8&psc=1&refRID=2GBFW76CFD59FEE6MCZG

Stay tuned for my next blog going back in time a bit. We’ll be going to DC again.

Update: since I’ve been finishing this article I’ve been given delicious pea snap chips. I think I’m in heaven.

Mission statements

So where am I staying?

I’m currently staying at Ford Meade, a United States Army installation based in Maryland. It houses among others the Defence Information School, the Defence, the United States Army Field Band, and the headquarters of United States Cyber Command, the National Security Agency, the Defence Courier Service, and Defence Information Systems Agency headquarters. I totally didn’t copy-paste that from Wikipedia by the way. The most important part for me is that my host family lives on base. Because according to the internet’s most commonly used source of knowledge “The fort’s smaller census-designated place includes support facilities such as schools, housing, and the offices of the Military Intelligence Civilian Excepted Career Program (MICECP).”

It’s nice here. We go to church on Sundays and Wednesdays and the rest of the week there are enough opportunities to go off base. Granted that I have to enter and exit the base in company of one of my hosts. It works out fine though. A few days ago we went to DC with the kids and Chelsea and just the other day I went to DC on my own, traveling with Jonathan when he had to go to work (we took the train at 6! In the morning).

I’m getting my doses of American culture good. Or at least one part of it. This Wednesday at church they were talking about how to go about being a witness of your religion (how to convert others) and they showed the mission statements from a few companies. One stood out for me; a fast food restaurant that I had just eaten from a few days before. They had the option of getting your chicken grilled instead of fried, so they now forever hold a special place in my heart – and stomach-. Anyway, their mission statement is as follows:

“To glorify God by being a faithful steward of all that is entrusted to us. To have a positive influence on all who come in contact with Chick-fil-A.”

I am amazed. I had not expected this out of a fast food restaurant. The statement only scores a 1.3 out of 4.5 on management insights though. A bit worse than McDonalds with a 2.2 and the following statement:

“McDonald’s brand mission is to be our customers’ favourite place and way to eat and drink. Our worldwide operations are aligned around a global strategy called the Plan to Win, which centre on an exceptional customer experience – People, Products, Place, Price and Promotion. We are committed to continuously improving our operations and enhancing our customers’ experience.”

KFC did worse though. Maybe it’s a trend with Chicken oriented restaurants. KFC scored a 0.7 out of 4.5 with this:

“To sell food in a fast, friendly environment that appeals to pride conscious, health minded consumers”

It’s like they didn’t even try. I am amazed nevertheless. Okay one more. A short but powerful statement from wallmart, who got a 1.2 for their efforts.

“We save people money so they can live better”

Even though their grades are low, I’m a bit in love with this statement. I’ll feel a little bit less out of place the next time I am there.

Perhaps the criteria are not entirely fair, or not entirely relevant, but you can go and look that up for yourself. https://www.strategicmanagementinsight.com/mission-statements/chick-fil-a-mission-statement.html have fun!

Way to get off topic. I’ll end this post on this note of corporate mission statements.

English – Do you speak it?

I was in Washington yesterday, and I heard more people talking French than I heard people talking Spanish. So, get that BA international Studies! French is totally relevant when studying North America, and not only so because of Canada.

On the other hand… English. After having finished a year of an English spoken study I expect to be able to sufficiently use the language for communication. However, this Cambridge proven proficiency didn’t stop me from asking an increasingly agitated ticket sales man to repeat himself one more time. Only after being told the same sentence about five times did I get it. The price of the tickets was twelve dollars. My journey wasn’t going to take twelve hours, and I wasn’t going to be shipped to some to me unknown place. He was just stating the price. Even when I knew that the price would be twelve dollars, my host had gotten the ticket before me, I didn’t understand him. Even when I had the money ready in my hand!

The rest of the journey went smoothly and soon we arrived in Washington DC with the two kids. I got a metro card at union station (their OV chipkaart system is not yet as sophisticated as it is in the Netherlands but they’re getting there!) and we went to the Smithsonian museum of natural history. Basically we went to look at dead animals and stones. It was okay. A bit too busy for me and a bit too kid oriented. They did have some beautiful stones though.

After that we walked around the monuments for a while, we saw the Washington monument and we went up to the Lincoln memorial. It was hot and we had already walked the entire day (while having to watch a one year old and a recalcitrant three year old, so we didn’t climb the stairs to visit the president in his temple. Don’t worry! I went to DC on my own a few days later and I stopped by to say hi to him.

 

I managed to cut away ALL the tourist in this picture, but it was very busy at the good man’s sanctuary.

On that second visit I first went to the Smithsonian Castle to learn more about all the Smithsonians around the National Mall and about their founder. James Smithson, illegitimate heir to an English noble, donated his money post mortem to the United States of America. Granted that he didn’t have any living offspring – legitimate or illegitimate (he was still a bit sore about never being recognised by his father) – . So that is in short the story of how a young nation got the fortune to start a museum with. The money was used wisely, and with help of more generous donations the Smithsonian grew into a series of seriously impressive museums.

And impressive they are. The huge roman style inspired buildings make everyone feel really small. It makes me wonder if this is how the romans felt all the time, or if their buildings were smaller. When it (finally) opened at ten, I went into the museum of National History. Where I wore a sweater because, man, they love their airco here. So dressed in my sweater I went into the exhibition on the star spangled banner. The original was there; a massive thing that had originally been 30 ft. by 42 ft.  but was now 32 by 34 because people need a souvenir sometime. There also was a star missing on this original Baltimore flag also taken as a souvenir. The flag had been hoisted by the troops at Baltimore after a devastating attack on their fort by the English in 1814. The English had been bombing the fort for twenty four hours. When at dawn this flag, with its 15 stripes and 15 stars to represent the friendly states, waved from behind the walls of the fort everyone knew that the Americans had come out victorious. One man was so inspired by this sight that he wrote a song about it; now the national anthem of the United States.

From the website of the Smithsonian, because inside the exhibition it was not allowed to take pictures.

That’s enough patriotism for today! See you soon.

THEY TOOK MY CARROTS!

I’m so sad! It’s terrible!

I suppose you’ll need some background information here. As some of you know, I am traveling to the USA this summer. Insiders know that from today on until the 30th of August I will be in the US. But getting into this huge land has some complications. For one thing: Border control. Of course I had already extensively investigated what I can and cannot bring into the US. Not good enough apparently. After having stood in line for more than two hours(!) at JFK airport I was finally at the point where I had to give all my fingerprints and the correct answers to security questions to a mumbling border agent.

This morning I had packed some food for myself. I would be traveling for more than 12 hours (that it turned out to be more than 19 hours is an entirely different story.) and I thought I would need some food. I was entirely correct. Because even though the food I got in the airplane was good, it was afternoon when I arrived in the USA but dinnertime at home in the Netherlands. Anyway, my carrots. Of course I had packed some carrots. Because carrots and humus are the best thing in this world. But I hadn’t had the opportunity to eat my carrots before arriving at JFK.

So then I had to declare that I had brought vegetables into the USA. I did so, like the good civilian I am and that’s where it got scary! I told the border officer that I had some carrots in my bag. He turned on the light at the desk and someone came to get me. “Come with me, dear” being the only information I got. I got put in a room, (about as big as a classroom) with some chairs in the middle and a few desks near the wall. I was told to sit down in the room with all these people in uniform working there, a few rows in front of a woman who was calling someone a little bit panicked. Very soon my name was called and I went up to the respective desk. I was asked some questions again. Did I bring any meat? What kind of carrots I brought. Then I had to open my bag and get my carrots out. Which were then taken by the officer with the notion “No carrots!”. After that I was free to go.

I could keep my humus though, so that was at least a consolation.

Parkour

 

People I converse with in daily life, are aware that I have taken up a new sport recently. This mainly manifest in my shins. Particularly in the colour of my shins. They are in a constant state of greenness. As someone who doesn’t bruise easily this somewhat pleases me. Finally there are external marks for my pain.

On the other hand, when I recently had a formal event to attend to, I was less charmed with my bruised legs. But, modern technology stands for nothing and with a bit of make-up (layers upon layers of make- up) my legs turned out presentable in the end.

My parents, upon seeing my shins, have expressed their failure to understand my charm with this sport. This might have to do with the fear that I’ll start jumping off of buildings in the near future. As seen in this video. When I told my dad that of course I was not training outside, jumping off of things or trying to learn how to do a front flip on the grass, he mellowed a bit.

So what is this sport, and how do I practise it?

It’s called free running or parkour. The practisers themselves seem to be in disagreement about that.  The word Parkour is derived from the French Parcours du combattant  which was a military obstacle course method of training. This training encompassed jumping, climbing, running , balancing and more. The son of the creator of this training developed this method and became a successful stuntman. There the word Parcours was changed into Parkour because it was stronger and more dynamic. (And possibly more English)

As many sports, parkour once was a military exercise. But nowadays it has transformed more to a sort of lifestyle or at least a philosophy. It has become a way to express oneself, a way of being free. And if you see videos on YouTube with guys running over rooftops you understand where the idea of being free with parkour comes from. Personally I wouldn’t jump from roof to roof over a gap that’s more than one meter, and at least 4 meters down! But there are other liberating aspects of Parkour nonetheless. One of those, the idea that you are in control of your body. The things these people do with their bodies is simply amazing, but even the smallest trick requires so much power. Even though it often seems so easy to jump over a wall it is not, my shins can attest to that.

And my training was in a controlled environment, where the wall wasn’t a wall but a wooden box, about a meter high! (I’m bad at estimating height; it might have been higher or smaller) My objective was to jump on the box.  I’m proud to tell you that I am now able to jump on the box. Totally unrelated, but another factor in the state of my shins was that I went and oversaw a pole, when swinging from another pole and bruised my already bruised shins some more. The other members of my training group however don’t have this much bruises. Probably because they have been doing Parkour for at least two years. Or they are simply more careful and less stubborn than me.

On the other hand, practising the front flip has not gotten me any bruises so far because there is this amazing invention called a ‘foam pit’ in which you can safely fall or jump without hurting yourself. It’s ideal to practise some flips without hurting your neck.

In Parkour overcoming and adapting to mental and emotional obstacles as well as physical barriers plays a main role.  For me this is one of the most important reasons why I like it. A vast part of the reason why things are impossible to us is because we think something is impossible. I’ve seen this many times in my ‘career’ as a softball player. The best players were not the ones with the best technique or the most power, the ones who were mentally the strongest often were the most valuable players. I like being surrounded by people who understand the importance of one’s mid set. I suppose that is what attracts me to Parkour. And, not to forget, the things practisers of parkour do with their bodies is amazing! I, too, want to be able to do a backflip. And spiderman does not play a role in this at all!

L’Allemande

 

My summer started of with visiting family abroad.

Yesterday, I came back from Germany. Germany!? you ask. Yes, that’s where I have been this weekend. Friday my mom came to pick me up and we drove to our destination ( a small town in the south – west of Germany) in five hours.

Well… it should have been five hours. Driving in the mountains, in an -to us- unknown area, in the dark is not something I would recommend. Especially not if the village has two roads to get there. One being the main road, the other a road that, coming from our side of Germany would take us thirty minutes more to get into the village. IF we can even find that road. You see, the main road is under construction, so we couldn’t use it. We did have directions to the alternative route, but of course, when you need those most, they are gone. We called my uncle (who we were visiting) and eventually, after taking a few wrong turns, we arrived at our destination seven hours after departing from The Hague.

The weekend was fun though. Seeing my cousins, who I haven’t seen in a long long time, was great. They are six and nine years old so there was a lot of change since the last time I saw them.

The village and the land surrounding it was fantastic. For me, someone who lives in an incredible flat country, mountains are always something to wonder at. And there were a lot of mountains there. My mom and I went for a walk Saturday evening. We hiked up a mountain. It was wonderful, tiring, but wonderful. We both didn’t bring our mobile devices so there was a certain thrill when the sun was descending behind the mountains and it got darker and darker and we, while trying to get some nice pictures and generally enjoying the sundown and its beautiful colours in the sky, got a bit antsy to find the road back.

But we survived. Otherwise I wouldn’t be writing this blog. Unless they have internet in the afterlife, but they don’t even have internet in Germany, so my hopes on being able to blog while death are diminished.

Here are some pictures. Look! We even saw some wild deer 🙂

We also went to a castle/ watch tower, or, the remains of one. This building has allegedly been there for over 900 years. On this picture you can see my uncle, my mom and my cousin leaning over the banister and looking down into the abyss, which is obstructed by the many trees.