Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Pre-holiday in Germany

I-am-on-holiday!💓 Finally, it came into existence. The last couple of weeks were last call to start easing myself. I didn’t understand how the time flied with so many... like graduation, grad-school applications, presentations, seminars, and of course loads of experiments.

Without having pauses to breath in reality, one can melt into the passion of all sorts. I recently realized my work is defining me more and more. The thought is a bit scary, somewhere between “scary” and good scary. Even my self-confidence hesitates about the success of random conversations detached from the lab work. I hope that I am still doing my best. Otherwise, I should be such a bore.

The cherry on top during this period was the Neuroprotection and Neurorepair meeting in Dresden, which happened almost a week before the holiday. We packed all together as a group and attended this once in 2 years event. It was my first big, international conference experience and overall, it went quite well. There were many interesting speakers and topics that gave me some new directions to pursue. I still need to put my inspiration report together.

Our hotel was in Radebeul, where the conference took place. Radebeul is at country side of Dresden and it has zero resemblance to the city center itself. Maybe because of the vineyards surrounding the area or the colorful old mansions, it didn’t feel like Germany for me. I have no photo proof for this, since I didn’t take so many pictures at the time between speeches and continuous eating. They fed us with high caloric good food, within two hours of intervals! When you have 30 minutes of breaks, eating is the best option. I must have gained at least 2 kilos. -Too late for the guilt-

This intensive schedule let us have only very few time to discover Dresden. We had arrived a day earlier and we used that one night visit to this beautiful city. Plus to the weisse beer I enjoyed, my favorite attraction was the "Procession of Princes"; a huge ceramic mural that survived WWII.  When Suvi photo-bombed it, I think I caught an even better frame. 

The conference lasted three days and we took the train back to Berlin since our flight was from there. We decided to take a night walk through some of the famous landmarks like Checkpoint Charlie, Holocaust Memorial and Potsdamer Platz. A surprise was waiting for us. It was "Festival of Lights" in Berlin and some buildings were used as screens to project light shows. A coincidence led to an effortless entertainment for us. We had watched couple of them; I guess the opening was at the old entrance to the city, Brandenburg gate.

The colleagues left Berlin next morning. Only us three girls, we decided to stay for the weekend. Agreed on walking is the best to discover, we took the same route as the night before. Center is very easy to find the way around and most of the "tourist attractions" are at the same region. After checking out the German Parliament building, we followed the river to reach the Museum Island. Berliner Dom is also located at the tip of this island, but we didn't get inside. Sorry, it didn't make sense to get in to a Dom with such a high price!

Due to shortage of timing, we only decided to pay a visit to Pergamon Museum. The museum hosts various items (!) from Mesopotamian and Anatolian regions. I have visited the old town of Pergamon many times at my childhood and I was crazy curious about how the rest of the relics looked like. Sadly, the altar was still under renovation and we could only see some pieces from the temple only. Apparently, the situation might continue until 2020s.  

I was not as excited about Islamic antiquities or the photograph exhibition about Yemen. Luckily, Pergamon Altar isn't the only interesting piece in the museum. We got to see the blue walls and the gate of Babylon, a city that was once wonder of the ancient times. I am sure the reconstruction cannot be compared with the vanished version, yet it is a great deal that it is still preserved after 2000 smth years. Gods on the Isthar Gate should be pleased. 

The corridor on the left leads to that gate, build with blue bricks and ornamented with flowers and various gods in animal shapes. To appreciate its true form, you have to go see it yourself!

In no universe, The Wall and Berlin can be mentioned without. To need to say, we have been to "East Side Gallery". It was one of my best moments in the city. Reminded me how us humans are capable of owning our mistakes and learning from them. Even though, this doesn't mean we would do even stupider ones. Such funny creatures we are.

In addition to all the museums, pre-war buildings and tons of history, facade of Berlin hugs the modernity too. All is connected with a gigantic web of public transportation, which works like a well-designed clock. I feel so undone because I didn't have to discover the corners of this cosmopolitan capital. Two days are not not not enough for Berlin! Knowing myself, I cannot consider living there -too crowded, too fast pace-. I would prefer to visit it many more times. Maybe next time, maybe after another symposium... Bye bye Berlin!

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

I Tawt I Taw a Sun!

Tweety bird had this catch phrase that he repeated whenever he saw Silvester:
"I tawt I taw a puddy tat! I did! I did tee a puddy tat!" 
It was an exaggerated expression, but never was a cry for help. On contrary, Tweety was the villain on that show and he always had fun tormenting that poor cat. For sure, it was an high pitch expression of joy.

People in Helsinki kept screaming with a similar joy, almost for three continuous weeks. The sun, being the object in our case. Nobody could believe how long the good weather lasted in Finland. And remember, we are at the White Nights period, so the sun light ended at 11 pm smth. Parks and beaches were filled with sun-bathing people. City center was crawling with topless -sometimes bottomless also- cyclers and roller skaters. It was like a normal European city in summer, almost.

These weeks weren't sugar-coated for me, I had some huge stress creating stuff. However, why to be down when such a rare event was happening?! I too enjoyed the best of this unexpected summer: Lunches outside, laying around parks, grill parties and finally, kayaking.

I was always envious of people who were doing water sports at the city center. Swimming is not so optional in polluted Baltic sea, so paddling is a better choice. Last weekend, me and Suvi (a colleague/friend), we rented some kayaks at Töölö - a seaside district in the center-,  for four hours. The pricing was reasonable for most of the places in Helsinki and the area secluded from the big ships was wide.

I hopped into my bikinis, rejected the wind cover and went to the sea with Suvi. She is definitely more athletic and experienced than I am, so most of the time I followed her like a little duckling. We were almost alone in the sea, except some sea birds and few other people who were kayaking. I am so full of cartoon references today, but I cannot help it! It was kinda like being Pocahontas singing and rowing her canoe at the river. Thankfully, we weren't running away from potential warrior husbands or so called responsibilities.  Though I can get her, it is really mind opening to be out in the nature, jumping with the waves.

After first two hours, it got a bit windier and the waves got bigger. We decided to take a break at Seurasaari and pulled our kayaks at a beach. It was our private beach: A small picnic and some chatting. Flowers covering the grass and the squeaky wooden table were the bonus. Everything was perfect. For me, the take home message of the day is the beauty of the friendship and how it can transform you. Whenever I am around Suvi, I feel super motivated: She has this super power over me.

I am also sharing our estimate route, which I have drawn with my awesome paint skills -not included in my CV, yet-. Pink marks are for start, green is for the return route, and the place marked with a star is our private beach. Lauttasaari region at south of the map was kinda restricted, so we didn't go towards there. We must have done some kms, even though I don't know the exact amount. Three whole hours, we paddled: Should be a record for me to exercise for so long. My upper arms were so sore. Totally worth it though, I even got some tan on my face and arms (lol).

That was then, and now... Helsinki is back to its regular summer vibe: Cloudy, windy and rainy. The forecast claims the sun will be back soon (?). People were complaining about its being too hot, so they better enjoy the rain. I know I will!