Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Der Zahnartz

Lately we've been lazy with the blog, only writing about fun trips like London and Paris.  And since the next post inevitably will be about our trip to Berlin (this upcoming weekend), I will amuse our anxiously awaiting readers with the tale of my recent trip to the dentist.  For the last six months I've had "find a Zahnartz" on my list of things to do.  But I tend to put off finding health providers until, well, I end up pregnant.  And it's not like I have any fear of the dentist - I secretly love the going to the dentist.  Of course this dental hygiene epiphany didn't happen until I went to the dentist in 2004 for the first time in at least six years, and got to be a "special patient" who underwent deep cleaning tartar removal followed by appointments every 4 months instead of 6, but I learned my lesson then and fully embraced flossing and Sonicare-ing (so much so that I have a special European charger for my beloved Sonicare and import dental floss from the US).  So, when a recommendation of a great English-speaking Zahnartz within walking distance of our apartment who would make appointments via his website fell into my lap, there was no putting it off.    This evening at the most convenient time of 6:30 pm I met my new dentist.  He had this very cool dental-instrument sized camera that he used to take pictures of my teeth and then project them on the screen above me.  Basically a hi-tech mirror, just like the little camera on my macbook pro that I use as a mirror in my office.  I also got a salt-air power wash of my teeth, allegedly removing all the stains and plaque.  Best of all, I was forced to walk by the best ice cream stand in Köln on my way home, and although the mocha ice cream wasn't the greatest accompaniment to the bubble-gum flavored polishing cream, it certainly was a treat.  

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

A Long Weekend in Paris

We spent a long weekend in Paris, visiting a friend (also named Chris) who is studying there for the month. Chris and Chris met in French class almost two years ago, and one of them has kept their French up (ie, hasn't had it erased by German). Combining a visit to a friend from home and a first trip to France, it was quite a lovely way to pass a few days. Paris, in fact, isn't too terribly far from Cologne. (It's just under four hours by train - about 15 min less time than it takes to get to Berlin.)

The trick with Paris in August is that many of the locals have shipped out, just in time for we tourists to arrive. Quite a few restaurants were closed for the month, and even some tourist draws were shuttered (notably the Cinémathèque Française).

Still, lots to do, and realistically not enough time to do it. We basically stayed away from anything that had a long line of tourists - so we skipped the Louvre (and besides you would need at least a month to enjoy that), the inside of the Notre Dame (which looked like a baby compared to the Dom here), and anything that had to do with the Da Vinci Code (or so I think - I didn't even know it was set partly in Paris until I was reading our guide book, and still have no idea what the book is about). We took in the big sights, like the Eiffel Tower, the Arc de Triomphe, and the Champs-Elysee. The Eiffel Tower was the one exception to the "line rule," though we stood in the hour long "short line" to climb the 671 stairs (a feat which easily be done in flip-flops or high heels in under a half hour, while those in the elevator line have hardly moved).

We made pilgrimages to a few notable literary landmarks (including the apartment occupied by James Joyce while he wrote Ulysses and, a few doors down, the flat Ernest Hemingway wrote about in A Moveable Feast). We did our best to find some cute, less bustling nooks around town (with some success, I think). Most importantly, we sat outside with lots of coffee, numerous baguettes, and even more sweet pastries, and did our level best to look like an Eric Rohmer film.

I'm learning that Chris has a thing for cemeteries, and so we did visit one of the three large ones, Cimetière du Père-Lachaise. Even with a detailed map, it was still a scavenger hunt to find the graves of Proust, Oscar Wilde, and Balzac, among others.

And since a picture is worth a thousand words, click on the below album for the photo highlights.