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Posts from the ‘Places’ Category

Gem City Gems

Dayton, Ohio.  Love it or hate it, but, of course, every city has its gems, and Gem City is no different.  These are a few of my favorite places around town:

1.  Ghostlight Coffee: Comfortable atmosphere, great coffee, good music on the weekends.  You pay on an iPad.  I dropped a credit card on the floor there once and received a Facebook message from the owner before I even realized it was listing.  In the summer, their iced blueberry rooibos tea is amazing (and this coming from a die-hard coffee drinker)!

2.  Press Coffee: Voted one of the hippest coffeehouses in America (really, top 10 list).  Has a bad rap for being “too hipster” and that the baristas aren’t friendly, but I disagree from my experiences.  The last time  I was there, I realized I forgot to bring cash (and it’s cash only).  I counted all the quarters I could come up with, and found I had about a buck 25.  I asked how much an iced coffee cost (it was at least in the upper 90s that day) and found out it was $2.50.  As I didn’t have enough, I said, “Oh, I’ll just have a cup of coffee then” (which is only a dollar).  The barista responded, “Oh, well, we’re having a one-day sale on iced coffee, and right now it’s only $1.25.”

3.  Trolley Stop: Good beer, great outdoor patio, live music.  What more do you need?

4.  Oregon Express:  Although Trolley Stop seems to have a larger selection of beers on tap, I prefer Oregon Express because of their second-story patio.  You can sit upstairs outside and watch people walking by on the street, see a bit of downtown, and watch as the train goes by on the nearby bridge.

5. Peace on Fifth: The only Slave-Free store in the world!  The owner of the store graciously came to speak to my class just this week, despite the students’ (high schoolers from Argentina and Peru) being only mildly interested.   Scarves are one of my downfalls so I’m going to have to get one before I leave town, knowing that I’ll be both supporting a local business and NOT paying for slave labor (learn more here) with my purchase.  If you find yourself in the Oregon District, definitely stop in; if you’re not near by, it’s worth the trip.

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Adventures in Ohio


The last time I posted it was November of last year and I was writing from Žilina, Slovakia.

At that time, I had no idea where I was going to be come January 2012, but Dayton, Ohio was certainly the last place I expected to go.  (My thoughts were more along the lines of NYC, Boston, or DC … Especially DC).

Now, I’ve been in Dayton for seven months, and am getting ready to leave.  (Guess where I’m going)!

And I haven’t written a single post about Ohio… until now.

It’s been a difficult seven months – Dayton’s been a much harder place to get used to and to connect in than I ever expected it would be.  However, like most things in life, downs have ups, dark clouds have silver linings, and it’s the rain that makes rainbows possible.  (Does anyone have a better metaphor for that last one? It’s a bit too cheesy for my tastes O:) ).

I’m incredibly thankful to have had such a wonderful group of colleagues to work with here, a fantastic roommate (and a sweet dog and five pet chickens), and people who have been happy to share their friends with me.

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I’m looking forward to moving on to a place I think I’ll be able to stay in for a while.  DC will be my fifth “state” in the past ten years (what?? and that doesn’t even include being in Slovakia!), and I’m looking forward to being much closer to home, family, and friends.

Believe it or not though, I will miss Dayton, Ohio (at least a little), and am certain I’ve made (at least a few) lifelong friends here, and that I am thankful for.

*Fall in Hipstamatic Photo Slideshow

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*Vacation with Mom and Dad, Euro-Edition

I could hardly believe it when Mom and Dad told me a few months ago that they wanted to come visit me in Slovakia this summer, but I’m certainly glad they did.

We started in Vienna, where we met up with my Uncle Tommy and Aunt Anne, who were in the city with a tour group at the same time.  After spending a day and the first night in Vienna and seeing things like the Belvedere Palace and St. Stephen’s Cathedral, we took a train to Prague.

Prague is my favorite European city, and there are tons of things to see and do there.  We started with a foot and boat tour of the city.  We were the only people who had signed up for the tour (probably because it was pouring down rain in the morning), and ended up with a private tour.  Luckily, the rain stopped by the time we got on the boat.  We visited Wenceslas Square, Old Town, Prague Castle, and the Museum of Communism, among other places.

Prague from the boat tour.

Prague from the boat tour.

Busy Charles Bridge.

Busy Charles Bridge.

Look who we ran into in Prague!

Look who we ran into in Prague!

After Prague, we headed to Bratislava, the capital of Slovakia.  We didn’t stay in BA long; only long enough to pick up our Škoda that Dad drove around Slovakia and Poland.  We drove to Žilina, northeast of Bratislava.  I showed Mom and Dad the upper and lower squares of the city, as well as where I’m staying here.

Žilina, looking down into the lower square.

Žilina, looking down into the lower square.

The next day we hopped in the Škoda and drove to Poland.  Our first stop was Auschwitz.  This was the first time any of us had ever visited a concentration camp, and I wasn’t quite sure what to expect; I wanted to see it, but I wasn’t really excited about being in a place that had been the center of so much evil.  It was quite hot and sunny that day, and it was a strange juxtaposition to be in a place with such a dark and terrible history on a hot summer’s day, squinting in the sun, surrounded by green grass, singing birds, and throngs of tourists.

From Auschwitz we went to nearby Krakow for the evening.  Krakow is a nice city, large, but not as large as Vienna or Prague.  We ate dinner outside in the main square, and enjoyed the cooler air that we only got to enjoy during the evenings.

We left Krakow around lunchtime the next day and drove south to Štrbske Pleso, a mountain lake and vacation destination in the High Tatras of northern Slovakia.  This was probably the most relaxing part of the trip.  We walked around the lake, had an excellent dinner on the lakeside patio at the hotel, and relaxed in the hot tub and sauna.

In the morning we headed to Tatranska Lomnica, where we took a cable car into the Tatras.  The car that went to the peak of the highest mountain was sold out for the day so we only went up two thirds of the way, but there was still a nice view from the top.  Then we headed back to Žilina for the evening.

The next day we went to Bratislava for the last full day of the trip.  After we said goodbye to the Škoda at the airport, we went into the city center where my friend Jane joined us and gave us a tour of the city.  We had lunch at Slovak Pub, went up to Bratislava Castle, and walked through the Old Town (and Bratislava has the best Old Town, in my opinion).  It was terribly hot again, so after walking around for a while, we hopped on a train and headed to Vienna for the night, so Mom and Dad could catch their flight early the next morning.

All in all, we had a really nice trip.  It was great to see my parents, and to introduce them to these places.

*Boat in Fisherman’s Terminal

I like this picture because I took it from inside a moving bus going across the Ballard Bridge, above Fisherman’s Terminal.  I didn’t expect the picture to come out at all, but it’s not too bad.  The view of all the boats from the bridge is one of my favorites in Seattle.


*Boston!

I’ve been slow to blog about this, but I had a great trip to Boston for the TESOL conference.  Liana, one of my friends and former classmate at SPU, and I traveled together and stayed with Karen, a friend from college who’s now in grad school at Emerson in Boston.

The conference itself was really good.  I enjoyed attending sessions to learn about successful teaching techniques and to get ideas, browsing the exhibit hall and looking through all the textbooks (yes, I’m a nerd), and catching up with former classmates and professors.

I attended sessions such as:

  • Using Podcasts to Integrate Speaking, Listening, and Pronunciation Skills
  • Real Grammar: Teaching Students How We Really Write and Speak
  • Tales from the Other Side of the Desk
  • Language Through Peace, Peace Through Language
  • Re-Imagining the Use of Authentic Readings
  • Connecting IEP Students to the University Through a Practicum Project
  • Boost Academic Vocabulary to Boost Results
  • Implementing Multiple Intelligences Theory
  • Re-Imagining Vygotsky, Dewey, and Freire for English Language Learning

If any of those actually sound interesting to you, you probably are an ESOL teacher, or ought to consider it 😉 .  During the conference I also saw two of my former professors present and was able to go out for lunch or happy hour with several former classmates to catch up.

Liana and I even attended a cocktail party put on by one of the textbook companies (Pearson Longman) at a house on Beacon St.

After the conference we stayed in Boston for a few more days to tour the city and hang out with Karen.  We visited Harvard, did a city tour on the Ducks, walked the Freedom Trail and saw the Old North Church of Paul Revere fame, ate Italian food at Il Villagio and had cannoli from Mike’s in the North End, saw Fenway Park, and went to the Museum of Fine Arts.

Having wanted to visit Boston for a long time now, I loved finally being able to explore the city. It was a really cool place; a little more alive and a little more “city” than Seattle, in my opinion. I loved all the old brick buildings, the Common, and that the public transport there works pretty efficiently. Also, I met a lot of interesting people (mainly friends of Karen’s) who are in grad school at some of the many universities in Boston.

All in all, it was a fantastic trip… Thanks to Karen for letting us stay at your place, and thanks to Seattle Community Colleges for helping pay for the trip!

*Ballard, Adventures at Goodwill, and Thoughts on Thankfulness, part I.

Part I: Ballard.

Disclaimer: Long but  no real point, just thoughts on Seattle’s Ballard neighborhood.

Yesterday was cold but sunny, and I had a few hours on my hands between the morning service at church and a meeting there in the evening.  Planning to take a Sunday nap, I ended up back at my apartment in Seattle.  However, before I had a chance to climb into bed, I noticed a missed call from one of my best friends, Caitlin.

Caitlin and I hadn’t chatted for a few weeks, but on Friday night while at ToST in Fremont with some friends, she had received a few random texts from my phone, written by my friend Brian, pretending to be our friend Jared (also at ToST).  Jared, Caitlin, and I had all gone to high school together, so the texts weren’t completely random, but Jared and Caitlin haven’t actually talked in years!  Some clarification for the texts was needed, as well as a good talk with a great friend, so the nap was quickly forgotten.  Instead, I decided to walk down to Market Street to buy some gloves and a cup of coffee, and then take a stroll around Ballard and catch up with Caitlin.

Although I was thoroughly expecting to enjoy conversing with Caitlin, I was also pleasantly surprised with how much I enjoyed just being out in Ballard.

My apartment is only a few blocks off of Market Street and the walk there, as usual, was uneventful.  The day before it had actually been more interesting, as the small lawn of St. Luke’s had been full of church members caroling and offering hot apple cider and BBQ to passersby.  I had stopped for the cider and to chat for a few minutes that day, but yesterday I continued on, the church quiet and peaceful as it often is.

I headed straight to Market Street Shoes, planning to stop in only long enough to get a pair of gloves so my hands wouldn’t freeze while holding the phone.  I had noticed their hats and scarves before, so I was suprised to find they didn’t sell gloves at all!  They sent me across the street to Market Street Athlete, assuring me I could get gloves there.

I headed that way, but instead of crossing the street at the crosswalk as I should have, I decided to turn down Ballard Avenue and head the other way instead.  I was so glad I did, because it turns out that Ballard Ave. is quite the street!

The Ballard Sunday Farmers Market was just winding down and there were lots of people milling about.  I walked down the street slowly, peering into store windows and checking out the numerous coffeehouses, bakeries, restaurants, pubs, and boutiques.  I wasn’t quite sure how I had lived in Ballard for over three months (and Seattle for over two years) and not discovered this wonderful area yet!

Eventually I realized I had been here before, if only once.  One of my first friends in Seattle was a guy named Stephen who I had met through the “New to Seattle” group on facebook.  Sharing an interest in traveling, we had gotten together a few times to swap stories and explore the city a bit.

Shortly after meeting, he had two couch surfers from Sweden, Mirja and Anna-Maria, crash on his couch for a few days.  The four of us, as well as his friend Anthony, had gone to a pub in some place called “Ballard.”  At that point, I was still perpetually lost in the city and had no idea that this “Ballard” neighborhood bordered “Fremont,” the neighborhood that Stephen lived in.  (I was still living in Beaux Arts/Bellevue then).  I had really liked the pub that we went to, and have been searching Seattle for it ever since, but to no avail.  I could vividly remember the inside of the pub, but not the name or location.  Yesterday, as I peered in window after window, I found myself staring in at the very table we had sat at, more than two years ago!  The pub’s name is King’s Hardware (only slightly misleading), and it is on Ballard Avenue.

After re-discovering King’s, I wandered in and out of a few stores, still searching for the gloves before calling Caitlin.  I never did find a pair of gloves, but I did discover a few interesting stores, and have a growing list of places to eat and drink.  Eventually I sat in Marvin’s Garden Park (which makes me think of Marvin Jarman, for those of you from Greenville) and called Caitlin and then my Granddad.

As I walked home, I thought about the things that I like about Ballard, and Seattle.  I love being able to walk around, without a car, meandering in and out of stores, people-watching, and finding new, fun hangouts to try with friends.  In fact, this ability to walk in and out of shop and restaurant with no need for a car is one of the things that I love about Europe.  Here, in the US, I feel like it’s the exception rather than the rule, whereas in Europe, driving from shop to restaurant to home is almost unheard of.

Even more that that, however, is the ability to do this in a place that is surrounded by the beauty of water and mountains.  Ballard is super-close to Fishermen’s Terminal, which is full of picture-perfect boats.  And, on a clear day, all you have to do is glance up and to the west to see snow-capped mountains glistening in the sun.  It really is a wonderful place to be.

This morning I went for a run through Ballard, and down Ballard Avenue, again perusing the shops and restaurants.  Now, I sit in Ballard’s Caffè Fiorè, enjoying the atmosphere of one of Seattle’s best coffeehouses and an espresso doppio while reading, writing, and surfing the Internet.  As the quarter has come to an end, I have a little extra time to enjoy Seattle before flying South for Christmas.  I’m looking forward to being home, but I’m also excited to continue exploring Seattle and Ballard before I leave.