Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Stalking my favorite writers - in this edition: / ten pages

It is almost Christmas and so I have a little something for you - just like a small online gift.

Some people may blame social media for being useless and boring, but I love it because I discover new great things all the time and this is the perfect example:

The online literature portal ZEHNSEITEN.DE

Here you find video streams of some of the finest (mostly) German writers, who read 10 pages from one of their books (usually the most recent one).

There is the wonderful Marica Bodrožić reading her latest novel "Das Gedächtnis der Libellen" (to start the video click here or the image above).

But there are much more fantastic video. I personally enjoyed Zoran Drvenkar reading from "DU" and award winning writer Melinda Nadj Abonji presenting her novel "Tauben fliegen auf".

There are also a couple of very popular writers like Benjamin Stuckrad-Barre (funny enough he reads about politician Guido Westerwelle, who is much in the news these days), Benjamin Lebert and Jan Weiler.

ZEHNSEITEN.DE is definitely a great joy for everybody who loves books - check it out!

Monday, December 20, 2010

The Great Escape - Barcelona, November 2010

Because my yard looks now for weeks like this:

I feel an intense desire to blog about this:

But let's start with the beginning.

Every couple of months we do an awesome thing in my company which is called international all-hands-meeting. That means that the whole team for Europe (and sometimes even the folks from Asia-Pacific, too) comes together to update each other, have a look at the numbers, the past months, the planning for the next ones and the most important projects. And for just being together and getting drunk *grin*. I have a fantastic team and working as well as getting drunk together is BIG FUN.

And talking about the advantage of working for a company which is present in 22 countries: sometimes we do our meetings at really cool locations - just like this time, when we went to BARCELONA!

I never was in Barcelona before and although the meeting was just in the middle of the time of the year, when it is almost impossible to take time off, I decided to add one more day to the trip and do some sightseeing. Just seeing the airport and the meeting hotel would have been a shame.

And sometimes even a 3-days-trip with only 1 day without meetings and time to get around can become a great escape from the cold, grey, work overloaded daily life and be such a joy.

Before I go into details and show off my pictures some words about Barcelona:

It is an absolutely beautiful and vibrant city. It is practically overloaded with pieces of art, design and outstanding architecture and I did only see a TINY bit of it. So I'll definitely will go back and look around more.

BUT I did not lose my heart. You maybe know this feeling - sometimes you come to a new place and immediatly love it and kind of feel at home. And only after a few days you kick off playing the "if I'd move here game" and start thinking of which neighborhood you'd like to live and how you could find a job and how it would be to fall in love here with somebody and restart your life. It is mostly not much more than a phantasy game, but the place is inviting you to play it.
And sometimes you come to a new place and you find yourself in the position of a normal tourist. You just look around, you enjoy it, you go home - happy that home is home and it's done.
That's what Barcelona is to me - a great city, but no personal love affair. I am just a tourist. One who really appreciates the beauty of the place, but that's it.

Oh - and I was really stupid tourist, because I left the battery of my camera in the charger at home. What a bummer, if ... I would not be such a fan of techie stuff and own a Sony Ericsson Aino cell phone with an 8.1 mega pixels camera - YAY! So all the pic you gonna see now are done with my cell phone camera - and you would never guess. LOVE IT!

Ramblas / Gothic Quarter

The 2nd meeting day ended quite early and so I took the chance to go for a first walk in the city with some colleagues.
We went down the famous Ramblas and on a walk in the narrow streets of the Gothic Quarter.

Park Güell

When I got up the next morning after sleeping 10 hours (well the night before was ... let's just say SHORT) I felt ready to explore the city and I was so lucky. While it was starting to snow at home in Munich I could enjoy a crystal clear blue sky, bright sunshine with comfortable 15°C.

After breakfast in the hotel I started off to Antonio Gaudi's "Park Güell". I decided to not enter it through the main entrance but through one of the upper once. It is hard to go there because the park is placed on the top of a serious hill, but here I can only shout out: "Gavin Newsom - look at this! This city has OPEN AIR ESCALATORS, where the hills get too bad. AWESOME!"
Anyway ... with the help of the escalators it is doable and definitely worth doing, because then the first thing you see inside the park is a STUNNING view over the city. It's ideal to catch your breath, enjoy and then go down to the wonderland of "Park Güell".
What Gaudi created here looks like the set for "Alice in Wonderland", but I LOVED it. Like every piece of work of Gaudi it is a question of personal taste, but I truely enjoyed here and later at the Sagrada Familia the fact that Gaudi did not allow his phantasy to accept any limitation. We need more places like this.

Temple Expiatori de la Sagrada Família

 Sagrada Familia - the Unesco World Heritage cathedral in the center of Barcelona and Antonio Gaudi's yet unfinished masterpiece - polarizes. Some people are blown away, some people think the thing is simply gross like Walter Gropius and Le Corbusier, who started an initiative in the 1950ies to stop the work on the cathedral, because in their point of view and idea of aesthetic the place was not worth a single penny of investement and should just vanish and stop hurting their eyes.

I like Bauhaus and usually I absolutely prefer a clear line before a million of squiggles, but in this special case I cannot agree. I LOVED Sagrada Famila.

But let's look in detail:

Sagrada Familia at night

At the end of our first meeting day we did an evening bus tour through Barcelona and of course we passed by Sagrada Familia. And I think the impression in the dark is really different than in the sun and I just love the pictures my friend Katharina managed to snap with my phone.

Sagrada Familia - The Facades

Seriously - although I am a huge fan of Sagrada Familia I can totally understand when people do not like the facades. It's simply too much. Too many details, too many stories told. The impression you get is very special, very unique, but I am not sure if "pretty" would be the right word for it.

And when you try to focus it just EATS YOUR BRAIN ... there is so much going on that you could go there for years day by day and just explore the facades centimeter by centimeter.
But like I said before I love Gaudi for not accepting any limitations. And when you concentrade really hard, the flood of impression surprisingly departs into clearly structured pictures.
As a tribute to the actual time of the year find below a part from the Christmas facade with Maria, Josef and the newborn Jesus as nice example of the gorgeous artwork at the facades.

Sagrada Familia - The Internal Space

I might be still busy to figure out if I find the facades ugly and facinating or beautiful and fascinating, but there is no discussion about the internal space.
From the inside the Sagrada Familia is one of and maybe even THE ONE most beautiful church(es) I have ever been to.

When I went in and had finished my first walk through it, I wished I had the power to send the few hundered (thousand?) other tourists away to leave me alone and allow me to pray, medidate and enjoy in silence. The room, the vaults, the light, the colors - it's breathtaking.
And I especially love the altar and the golden dome above it who is open to the sun. It's simply MAGIC and I never saw the idea of the power and love of god so perfectly visualized before.

I said down, raised my eyes to the golden light and understood that this is not only a totally crazy architectonic experiment, but a church. A very powerful, energetic house of god. Wonderful.

The Beach

More than once I mentioned here before that I am an ocean person and so I had of course to go to the beach. And oh boy - I loved it a lot.
The combination of big city and beach is always great and so it's here. And there is no money to pay for the joy to sit just in your sweater in the sun and enjoy your lunch at a beachside restaurant, while it is snowing at home.

But when I arrived at Barceloneta Beach something different from just water and sand catched my eye:
Frank Ghery's fish sculpture
Hmmm - I like modern art a lot. But that thingy? I liked the material (bronze) because it had a warm shine in the sun. But the fish itself made me feel like Jona;  like it would eat me any minute. I find it kind of creepy and not very appealing.
If I had to highlight one of the many sculptures and pieces of art in Barcelona I would definitely prefer Roy Lichtenstein's "El Cap de Barcelona" much before the Ghery fish. Sad enough it was too dark to make a picture, when I went by the Lichtenstein sculpture the day before. But if you want to have a look, you can click here.

These were the highlights of my short trip to Barcelona. If you would like to see the full collection of pictures you can do it here.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Status Quo - THUD

© Goscinny / Uderzo -

You may have thought already stuff like "That lazy lady is not updating her blog - FAIL!"

And you are right :(. There was no update for a while, but above you see the reason. Just put me in the position of Troubadix and paint the word "WORKLOAD" on the menhir and you have pretty much a clear picture of how I feel at the moment.

It's not a suprise ... there is Christmas every December. And there is Christmas business from the mid of November to Christmas eve every year. It's just that knowing it in advance doesn't make it any better. But the good thing is: Christmas is close and there is light at the end of the tunnel.

And there is not only light in the tunnel but also blog posts in the pipeline:

I shot some nice pics in Barcelona, which I will post and tell you about my power sightseeing day.

I have also finished my books of November, which are "The Humbling" by Philip Roth and "Nowhere Man" by Aleksandar Hemon - two very good and very inspiring books I am looking forward to write about as soon as I have a second to breath.

So have an eye on my Facebook and / or Twitter for blog update announcements in the (hopefully) near future.

Happy 3rd Advent Sunday everybody!