Pittsburgh Steelers live!
Yep, that's me at a game fo the Pittsburgh Steelers holding a Terrible Towel! I was lucky enough to convince my parents and friends to attend the third pre-season game between the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Buffalo Bills, for which I got discounted "second-hand" tickets. It was a really cool experience and as I heard the best of all pre-season games to attend, since the A-Team of the Steelers played for the full first half. And it showed, the second quarter the Steelers pulled all the tricks, steamrolled the Bills and scored seventeen points, six of them after a touch-down following an interecepted pass. In the second half of the game no more points were scored but we still saw some interesting plays and had a wonderful time. I was really glad that I got this opportunity to see the Steelers play at Heinz Field :)
Labels: Fun, games, pictures, pittsburgh
Wednesday morning we drove further North along Lake Erie towards the Canadian border. We were a bit surprised by how late Canada was actually mentioned on the road signs, but fortunately we had a good map and did find the border crossing. Actually crossing the border was a breeze, there were no cars in line, only spent two minutes chatting with the border guard and were then directed to the customs house, where our passports were stamped within a minute. So all in all we spent about ten minutes crossing the border.
Our first stop in Canada was Niagara Falls, because everyone told us that the Falls are much better on the Canadian side and I can whole heartedly agree. For one you get the frontal view of the falls, which is very impressive, for another we got the chance to walk behind the falls in a tunnel and look out at the thundering masses of water flowing past. At first we were afraid that we had to postpone our visit to Niagara Falls. Because for most of our trip northwards we were following a huge storm which produced torrential rainfalls. However, fortune was with us and as soon as we cleared the Canadian border the weather cleared up and the clouds disappeared.
From Niagara Falls we took the scenic route to Niagara-on-the-lake a very picturesque village at the border of Lake Ontario. On our way we passed through many wineries and we even stopped at one to sample the exquisite ice-wine produced there. We were a bit surprised by the hotel prices in Niagara-on-the-lake. Because as it turned out it seemed to be a retreat for wealthier Canadians and thus almost exclusively sported very expensive hotels. Consulting the Lonely Planet my friend carried finally directed us to a cute bed-and-breakfast with two exquisite hosts. The place was decorated with bunnies in all shapes and was aptly called Bunny Hutch. To keep in line with the birding theme of the week I discovered a couple of bird watching magazines in the bathroom!
Next morning we were served a delicious Canadian breakfast and after some sightseeing continued northwards towards Toronto.
In Toronto we again used the Lonely Planet Guidebook to find an exquisite bed-and-breakfast. Located in Chinatown it occupied two old Victorian houses which were immaculately kept and featured impressive rooms and a very big breakfast. We did a lot of sight-seeing and walking around in Toronto and spotted a wide variety of interesting buildings. We also visited CN Tower, currently the structure sporting the highest public platform in the world. We had a great view in all directions and even saw Niagara Falls on the horizon. What we will never forget however, is our trip down the tower. Just when we wanted to take the elevator down, it stopped working. After some debating the guide agreed that it might be better to take the stairs down to the main observation deck (33 stories down). However, we were not allowed to descend the stairs alone. A security guard had to escort us. Of course this security guard first had to climb the 33 stories to reach us! After a notable wait, a couple of tourists started complaining, the security guard arrived with the elevator, that lazy bastard ;), and claimed it safe now. And thus we were finally able to leave the tower using the elevators.
On our trip back to the US we ran into a fair amount of traffic, delaying us almost a full hour, this was then made up at the border crossing where we again breezed through in under ten minutes! And silly me had been worrying about this border crossing for weeks before we started the trip… ;)
Labels: Canada, city trip, road trip, vacation
The first part of my road trip I undertook with my parents and two of my friends from Switzerland who coordinated their vacation so that it coincided with my graduation.
On Monday we drove South-East in the direction of Fallingwater, a very famous building from Frank Lloyd Wright. We found lodging in nearby Ohiopyle, a national state park, and since we were early for the tour we booked, we went for a "short" hike around a "small" peninsula. The peninsula turned out to be much bigger than expected and we had to hurry back a bit to not be late!
Touring Fallingwater was very interesting and enlightening. The building is truly awesome in the way it is integrated into nature and the way the furniture is built in.
At night we had a very interesting experience. We were sitting outside our motel and heard a high-pitched sound for a while when suddenly dozens of bats started crawling out of the woodwork and flying around our heads! What made the experience even funnier was the fact that I started reading a book about bird watching that very same day!
The next morning we toured the other Frank Lloyd Wright house in the neighborhood: Kentuck Knob. It wasn’t as big or impressive as falling water, but still an interesting experience. We then headed a couple of hundred kilometers north to an area in North-West Pennsylvania well-known for its Amish community. The notable thing about this is that they are well integrated into the larger town-communities and we saw multiple horse buggies as well as Amish people minding their business in and around the towns. We then took a small detour and drove by a couple of Amish farms, which was also very educational.
We continued on our way North to Erie Pennsylvania, where we looked for a lighthouse and found a Lighthouse Inn. For dinner we went to the lakefront where we got good food and a surprise that every restaurant closes at 10pm. Fortunately, we were early enough to be served.
Pictures can be found in my web album.
Labels: pictures, road trip, usa
A year ends...
Last weekend marked the end of our Masters in Information Technology in eBusiness Technology program. It was a long last week, first we gave a presentation to our customer, who was thrilled and dazzled by our work, then we had several late nights to prepare for the final presentation to a panel of judges, which we had on Friday.
We didn’t win the grand price, but we were very happy with our presentation and are certain that we came in a close second. After the presentation our client took us to Dave and Busters for a night of fine food and games. At the end he surprised us with a gift certificate, because he felt we really deserved a price. And this meant much more to us than if we had wooed the judges into awarding us the grand price. After all we had been working nine weeks for our customer and not for the judges.
Saturday night, my family and friends had a very nice dinner in the Tin Angel Restaurant on Mount Washington. The five course menu, actually a four course menu with a tiny bite of melon at the end, was really good, especially the main course. In addition we were fortunate enough that it was a nice and clear night offering us beautiful views of Downtown.
On Sunday our program had its very own graduation ceremony. We all got to wear the classic academic regalia (cap, gown and hood) and could walk the stage to receive a piece of paper (our diplomas won’t be ready till October). It was a very nice experience and at the end we of course had to throw our hats into the air ;).
This concludes my adventures with the MSIT eBusiness Technology Program. I made some great friends, lived through challenging but also interesting times both on- and off-campus (Steelers winning the Super Bowl and Penguins winning the Stanley Cup in the same year!) and I wouldn’t want to miss a minute of it.
Labels: cmu, Master, pittsburgh, usa
At the movies
After a longer break I finally found some time to go to the movies.
On Sunday I saw the time traveler's wife, a romantic drama about the relationship between a time traveler and a normal woman. I'd listened to both the abridged and unabridged aiudiobook versionand thus was very familiar with the story. The movie was a really good adoption. It focused on the most important events without breaking the flow of the story. Highly recommended also for people who've read the book.
Monday we watched district 9, a very intriguing sci-fi movie which got me emotionally involved, I really hated the main character who was an idiot and a bit of an asshole. oh yes the aliens looked amazing!
Ps: typos to be blamed on the iPhone ;)
Labels: movie, usa
Graduation Dinner, Party and Moving
This week has been extremely busy. First I had to start packing to be ready when I'd move out on Saturday. Then we had a Graduation Dinner Thursday night at Monterey Bay Fish Grotto, allegedly one of the best restaurants on Mount Washington. However, we were not that thrilled by the food. Even though we valued a choice of six main dishes, four of which were fish, the orders were slightly mixed up and the taste didn't reach our high expectations.
On Friday evening we had a small party on the top floor patio, where I finally could try one of the most (in)famous American games, at least in university circles: Beer Pong. The goal is to try to hit a ping pong ball into your opponents cups. That is much harder than it sounds and we managed to epically fail and not hit a single cup...
On Saturday I thought I'd sleep in to have enough energy for moving, but nature conspired against me and I was wide awake by 6:45am. Once awake my conscience started bugging me that I couldn't leave my apartment in its current state. You have to know though that expect for the stove it was already cleaner than when I moved in. So I thoroughly cleaned the whole flat for 3.5 hours. Now I'm willing to bet 100$ that this apartment has never been this clean, when a tenant moved out, in at least the last twenty years!
And now I'm waiting for kind Marcos, who generously offered me a space in his living room for a couple of days, until I can move to a hotel, and also offered to help me move the last of my stuff.
Lots of pictures from all these events can be found in my gallery.
Labels: cmu, Fun, Master, pictures, usa