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Kristin Firth

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Public Interest Law [Sep. 20th, 2012|09:33 pm]
Kristin Firth
Tomorrow is a retreat for public interest folks at Penn Law. We're going to gather at the school and take a bus to a campground, hang out there for just over 24 hours, and head back. I'm really looking forward to it. 

If nothing else it'll be fun just to figure out who like-minded folks are among my classmates, and the upper-year students. There's also going to be presentations and discussions and stuff, in addition to the hanging out and smores. I expect to come out of it knowing more than I do now about potential career paths, and I also kind of expect to feel inspired, based on how orientation was for me.

I guess that's kind of like what this is in a way, it's like a public interest law specific orientation.

I just need to finish my legal writing assignment before getting on the bus tomorrow afternoon. So I need to not write Livejournal entries and get to that...
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Current school choices flux [Mar. 23rd, 2012|03:33 pm]
Kristin Firth
So this all began Wednesday evening. Described aptly by my Twitter/Facebook post at that point: "I posted on a law school forum about my options. They are telling me to wait a year then go to Harvard based on my numbers. #seriously? #wow"

It kind of made me stop in my tracks to realize that might be seriously possible. Stop and think I guess. The last two days I've been trying to sort through options. I didn't want to delay my fall start, but if doing a dual degree at UT I could start with law or social work, so I wanted to see if I could start the MSSW in the fall here, then go to law potentially somewhere else next year, and have that still work out.

I started an email discussion with the UT MSSW folks about trying to accomplish this using some summer classes and such, but today I got a very definitive no from them. The only option I have is to start their standard 2-year program, in the fall, or to start the dual degree (via first year social work or law) in the fall. It's a little strange to me that they aren't more flexible with the exact plan, as long as they are offering courses when I would need to take them, but there's not much I can do. At least I know now.

So my options now are basically:
- start UT in the fall, four year dual law/SW program, graduate in 2016
- start Northwestern in the fall, three year law program, graduate in 2015
- wait an extra year, find a job somewhere so that I can afford a years worth of living expenses before financial aid begins, apply to the top programs, start a three year law program somewhere next fall, graduate in 2016

I've also been seriously thinking about my child welfare lawyer then judge idea, versus having some kind of public policy / lobbying career. Still both good-person-law and public service, but from a different perspective. That would affect my educational choices some as well.

UT's decision deadline is April 15th, Northwestern's is April 30th. UT's admitted students weekend is next Thursday/Friday. I think I want to visit Northwestern for theirs too. I'll have to pay for my own flight, but they'll try to match me to a current student to crash with. It's April 13/14. So I'm hoping UT will let me delay my decision date slightly, maybe until the end of April as well. 

Also affecting things will be scholarships. UT is currently offering me a total of $45K. I submitted the Northwestern scholarship application on Tuesday, so I still need to hear from them. People are saying I should be getting a full-tuition scholarship at either of those schools with my numbers. I still haven't heard about admittance from a couple of schools. They all might be willing to adjust based on what other folks are offering. Etc.

Other than knowing I should probably go to these visits and see what happens, and wait for more scholarship info, I'm a little lost. Hopefully things will get clearer in the next month.
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New job! [Apr. 22nd, 2011|02:14 pm]
Kristin Firth
I got a new job!!

There's been so many thoughts and things along the way that I wanted to save/share, but I had to wait before I could do that. So now, at long last... Details about my new jobCollapse )

I'm only 2.5 days into the job, but feeling pretty excited about it. I have a lot of future ideas and goals. I'm not sure exactly what will be next, but I feel like this is a great stepping stone to figuring out what that will be...
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Revlis, my solo improv show [Dec. 14th, 2010|10:26 pm]
Kristin Firth
I didn't watch the video from my solo show until recently. I was kind of iffy about it when it was over. The show was such a blur of being in the moment... I was the first act, and I kind of spent the rest of the show feeling a little vulnerable and unimpressed by myself. Until people told me later during post-show hangouts that it was good.

In the meantime I got a slot in FronteraFest, took some publicity photos, and started working on some fun website ideas. (The current one is just a placeholder. In exchange for some baby-sitting Marc is going to help me put together a more sweetly designed one.)

In other submission preparation, I decided to dig up the video from my camera. Somebody else recorded from the tech booth that night, but I hadn't seen that yet. Mine was recording from the corner of the stage, to catch more of the audience, where I spent most of my time.

I was really pleasantly surprised by the video. It was awesome to hear the moments of laughter, and (because of the weird camera angle) to be able to see the audience the whole time. Even during the quiet moments they watch me with interest, are attentive, and make an effort to get a better view when I'm moving around.

The support I had that night was just awesome. Jill Bernard's creative guidance leading up to the show and her hosting that night to set the scene, Michael Brockman's delightful music in the background, Roy Moore letting me play with his expensive camera, all the friendly folks that came to watch.

Of course, getting to criticize it, there's still some things I can improve, but overall I'm really satisfied with it. And hopefully the confidence from that can be a stable base for getting me over any humps of fear during longer sets in the future.

Heh, future...

Anyway, here's the video:
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Europe adventure, Saturday/Sunday/Monday in London [Sep. 28th, 2010|12:59 pm]
Kristin Firth
Written on netbook, Tuesday, 12:12pm in Chicago. Trying to recap rest of trip...

We had kind of horrible breakfast at a English cafe. I tried to over my eggs "over medium", because I can't stand uncooked egg-white parts, but apparently that's kind of a joke in London, who knew? So my eggs were kind of gross to me, and most of the rest of the meal wasn't very edible either. The tea was good though.

we were in the same-ish area of town as Friday, this time we looked for gloves for me, with a pit stop for two chocolate truffles from a store along the way to get breakfast taste out of my mouth. We browsed a bookstore. I found some funky pink and black ones with skulls on them in a luggage store so picked those up.

We then headed towards the Westminster area. Close to the underground station there we found another delicious chocolate shop, and picked up a small box of mixed pralines (nutty creamy filling things), then headed towards the sights. Parliament buildings, Big Ben, The London Eye, etc. Marc took a ton of pictures, I haven't been taking as many since he's been covering things.

We unsuccessfully tried to find a Dali museum (turns out it is closed for good). We ended up at a really delicious Italian place for dinner. I had pasta with crab meat that was so so good. And a side of spinach with garlic. The food was great, but the service atrocious. We were going to try to get a drink in the bar afterwards, but it was kind of cold and not comfortable so we picked up a bottle of British whiskey from the station on the way home.

We went looking for the location of a pub in Shaun of the Dead. Turns out it's been renovated and isn't really there anymore, that was a bit of a source of confusion. we were looking for food in the area, but most places were closed on Sundays, and other places that sometimes served food weren't on that day. But we got a recommendation from one bartender of another pub to go to. It was a bit of a trek to get there, and a split in the road made us wonder if we had the right direction, but we ventured on and came across it right before we were about to turn around.

It looks like a typical Sunday thing is to have "roasts", which we did. We each had a plate of roast beef, roasted potatoes, glazed carrots, turnips, bread pudding. It was also really tasty, but Marc's slice of meat wasn't as good as mine, I don't think he enjoyed his as much. I gave him a few pieces of mine. I had a really great on tap cider with my meal and he had a Guinness, then we finished up with sharing a Deep Fried Mars bar with ice cream. I think I could have eaten three whole chocolate bars to myself. Crazy good.

We headed towards the water next, and I picked up a hat because I was still freezing. It was pink and black, matches the gloves (no skull though). We went to the London Bridge, and decided to walk along the waterfront and try to get on a cruise of some sort. Going down the stairs beside the London bridge, which were a little slanty and not very wide, and very slippery from the rain, I fell down. Right on my butt and down a whole bunch of stairs before Marc stopped me by grabbing a hold of my jacket.

The rest of the day some walking and sitting down was a bit painful. And we discovered later that night that I had a huge (just a little bigger than an iphone) bruise on my butt. It was very black, probably the biggest and scariest looking bruise I've ever gotten. Silly London Bridge. I did sing a little bit of "London Bridge Made Me Fall Down, Me Fall Down, Me Fall Down..." a little later.

We passed up a commuter-type boat and went further down the waterfront to the Tower Bridge to walk across there. Then we ended up at an actual cruise tour place. We waited just a bit for the next one, and took a 25 minute cruise from there to the Westminster area again. The ship crew who was on the intercom (not a "tour guide" but pointing things out, as he kept saying) was really funny, pointing out lots of interesting stuff.

At the Westminster area we grabbed some crepes from a vendor (not as good as the ones in Paris, sadly), then had about an hour to kill before our evening plans, so we went into an arcade. We played foosball, air hockey, DDR, and got a photo strip from one of those photo machine thingys.

Then we headed back to Graham's house where we met up with him and another Londoner to play an RPG. Graham ended up running "Dance in the Blood" for us, a game of "Trail of Cthulu". We also ordered up some fresh Indian food to go with the leftover curry, and got a couple new bottles of wine, and feasted on that. Yum!

Our last day in London!

We headed to near the Globe Theater area to look for a restaurant recommended by the tour guide the previous day. That was a bit confusing-making, but we ended up finding the place and it didn't look very good, so we went back to a Wharf restaurant. I had Fish & Chips which I enjoyed a ton, and Marc had a hamburger which wasn't very great.

Then we walked around a bunch. Dropped into the Tate museum since it was on the way, had some tea and espresso and internet, visited one modern art / poetry exhibit, then moved on. We went by the Globe Theater but didn't really want to pay 10 pounds for a tour and such, so we just looked in then moved on. Next was walking over the Millennium bridge, that was really neat. It's such a cool bridge.

From there we split up for a tiny bit. I went back to a Games Store we had visited (on Friday??) to buy a travel backgammon set that I had really loved but not convinced myself to buy, while Marc wandered up to Fleet street. We met up at the chocolate store (from Saturday) to stock up on stuff to bring home.

After those purchases we headed to Buckingham Palace, which Marc had walked by on his way to the chocolate store, to work up an appetite. We went to another pub to have dinner, I had a beef stew which wasn't that great and Marc had a chicken curry which was delicious (we were alternating good tasting meals that day, apparently).

They had some delicious sounding desserts that I was very excited about, but they ended up being out of both the ones I wanted. So we headed back towards the station, idly browsing for desserts along the way, and ended up with a huge brownie sundae thing at an Italian place just across the street from the station.

So headed back to Graham's and packed everything up. I was really happy everything I got fit into my suitcase without too much trouble. We hopped on one of the last trains out to Heathrow.

I'm getting tired of typing, so I'll talk about travel adventures sometime later... Maybe tomorrow. Yay Europe! Almost home!
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Europe adventure, recap of London day 1 [Sep. 27th, 2010|05:40 am]
Kristin Firth
Written on Netbook, Monday, 11:35am. Talking about last Friday...

It's been a few days since the last update. I've been spending much less time on my netbook in London than I did at the spa.

The first night in the hostel was okay. Weird setup and such, but the bed mattresses were actually really comfy.

We've been doing a lot of walking and wandering...

On Friday we ate some meager hostel breakfast, spent a long time in the service line at the front desk to check our luggage, then went off on foot. We ended up taking a bus west. We had a goal of getting Marc a hat and me tights along the way (it's cool out here), so we got off the bus in a shopping-heavy area, on Oxford Street. We explored a fancy store, acquired those items at a less fancy store, then went back to the fancy store for lunch. They had all these different sections and things. I ended up with a sandwich, mostly Pastrami but with a few slices of Salt Beef to try it. Should have gotten all that, it was tasty and better than the pastrami. Then we went to another section for gelato. Tasty, tasty gelato.

After food we wandered more. We found some free internet at a Tossed, so stopped there for a bit. Explored a games store where I was very close to buying a very pretty but too expensive small backgammon set. Tried to find 221b Baker St and went into a Sherlock Holmes gift store. Then went to London Tower and walked around there some.

We were meeting up with Graham, our host for most of our London stay at Waterloo station so we headed there next. From there he led us through the underground back to his place. We went to the nearby grocery store for some wine. We also picked up Cadbury Creme Egg branded ice cream sundae bars. They were "Whirled With Goo!" And at his place we ordered piles of curries from an Indian place. Chatted a bunch, ate some curry, then Graham headed back out to Berkeshire where's he was staying for a couple of nights while doing acting work out there. We settled into the new digs.

That was Friday! Need to write up Saturday and Sunday at some point, but Marc is done showering now and I need to hop in again, so we can commence our last full day in London.
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Europe adventure, first day in London [Sep. 24th, 2010|09:29 am]
Kristin Firth
written on train on netbook, thur 09/23, 09:12am

I am unshowered, yet I am wet.

Stayed on the internet until about 11:30 last night, including downloading another audiobook section in case I wanted it today. Went two doors down back to my own hotel. Man, I didn't like it there. I felt very uncomfortable. I read another Philip K Dick story then decided to try to get some sleep. I pulled the top sheet and blanket over but didn't want to put them on top of myself, so I just stayed fully dressed laying on the bottom sheet, on an extremely hard bed. I ended up getting out my plane pillows and a couple of travel blankets to try to soften it up some.

I had my alarm set for 7:45am, to give me time to shower (if the hotel's one shower room was available), head towards the station, grab breakfast along the way, and be there with time to spare for checkin 30 minutes before boarding.

Unfortunately after my alarm went off at 7:45, I fell back asleep until 8:22. That's obviously not too bad, could have been much worse and I could have missed my train! As it was, it basically just meant that I had to skip the showering/breakfast part. So I washed up some using the sink and soap and towel in my room, threw on a fresh shirt, found my ticket, and headed to the station.

On the first departure monitor I saw it just showed no platform number for the train, so I thought that maybe I was actually early (right at 1/2 hour before) and they hadn't decided on it yet. I checked the larger station platorm though, and it said 1st floor (which is usually the floor above ground here). Found the elevator up there, a turnstile to go past with my tickets, French border guards (for leaving France?), then UK border guards (yay new stamp! I didn't get one in Switzerland on that train).

After the customs line was a security screen. Similar to plane ones but less intense. Just bags through x-ray, and you through metal detector, no need to take off shoes or separate out laptop or liquids.

Though that may have *helped* me. See, back to that I'm "wet" part...

In the spa hotel they gave us bottles of Valser sparkling water in our room. In my first room I opened it up and tried it. In my second room I left the bottle intact. I'm not a big fan of sparkling water (until it becomes Italian soda). So, as I was leaving, since I was going to meet up with Marc in two days, and he loves sparkling water, I thought I'd bring it to him. Since it's, you know, foreign. And it seemed to be almost all they drank at the spa, there's gotta be something to it.

So in my thin little brown shoulder (just in case I need an) extra bag, with my pillows and blankets, was the huge glass bottle of sparkling water. I think it broke when I set it down right before putting it through the xray. I heard it make a noise, but either didn't think or was in denial that it was the bottle. Assembled self post-xray with bags, started walking, and realized my leg was pretty wet. Stopped near a garbage can, took the broken bottle in a plastic bag (so glad it was in that, broken glass to deal with would not have been fun), and then tried to ring out the bag/blankets as best I could since I didn't have much time to board.

In the end, the whole bottom of my bag, a third of my right leg, a spot on my left leg, and most of my butt are wet.

Seated now, drying off, bustling towards London.

They said breakfast would be by soon? Served in our seats I guess? That'll be good. I need food. I also need water. My Nalgene water bottle rim was starting to look nasty. It needs to be cleaned, and I didn't really feel like drinking from it, so I dumped that water out before I got to the train station.

All the seats here are across from other people. It's really weird, the forced facing of somebody. It also means less room to stretch out legs. I chose 1st class again. I wonder what the 2nd class seats were like. It may not have been worth it...

Anyway, a little grumpy right now. Looking forward, a lot, to breakfast of some sort and drinking something. I hope they come by soon.

written in hostel room on netbook 10:38pm

Marc is in the shower so I am taking the time to recap some.

I got to the train station on schedule, but Marc's flight was delayed, so instead of meeting me there at around the same time, he was only there two hours later. I was a little worried for awhile, a little restless in the station near the luggage area where we were supposed to meet, etc. but in the end he got there and we joined forces.

After checking our bags into storage for the day we walked out of the station to wander and try to find lunch. We ended up at a decent pub with very reasonable prices, and eventually even a spot to charge our phones some.

Then we walked for a long time. Back past the station to Reagant Park. It's a very beautiful park. We walked through the length of it, stopped at a sausage place for tea/muffin/hot chocolate, walked past the zoo. We were going to take a bus back to the subway but ended up walking that length too, including going down by some water, taking the "Tow" path. It was a very cute area, ended in a heavy merchant street in Camden, then finally subway back to San Pancras.

Marc had a work call so we found a coffee shop that had some outlets around the corner so he could plug in the phone. Our host is away in Berkshire for the evening so we originally intended on taking the train out to meet him there, but we were wary of another hour of travel, so I started looking up potential hostel/hotel rooms. Marc's meeting was canceled and the internet was terrible so we went to the sushi place right next to the coffee shop. It had a train with little color coded plates. I got really full, but it was tasty.

Near the end of the meal the internet was behaving slightly better and we found a reasonable hostel room, twin private, so sharing two small beds, but with an attached bathroom, and only about 20 pounds more than the return trip trains would have been, but saving energy and time.

Two short subways later and here we are. The room is funny. It had an extra bed in it, which is nice because it means we don't need to share a bunkbed, and we can move the two single beds next to eachother.

Marc is out of the shower now, so I guess it's my turn.

Woo! London! With my boyfriend! Yay!
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Europe adventure, back from Switzerland [Sep. 22nd, 2010|03:27 pm]
Kristin Firth
Ok, time for another update...
Written on train from Zurich to Paris, wed 9/22, 12:59pm

Just settled into the last train for today. My first train was late so I had to run to make my second train, but this one was super easy to make up for it. I thought at first that I only had a few minutes for my connection, but it was actually 40 minutes (in Zurich). I had managed to buy my Zurich -> Paris ticket in Ilanz, so I didn't need the time for that. So, it was really nice to have time to grab some lunch and avoid paying for it on the train.

There was a little cafe with a few tables, so I grabbed a panini and espresso and had a pleasant meal. Now I'm on a comfy seat, settled in for my 4.5 hour trip to Paris.

The plan is to go by some hotels when I get there and hope one of them has a room for tonight. That worked out for me when I decided to leave my hostel last Thursday to find a private room, so crossing fingers that it'll work again. Homeless overnight wouldn't be fun. :) But worst case I suppose I'd likely find a shared room somewhere.

After the hotel I'll grab some dinner, if I have time, then head to the Eiffel tower, once more. To try to make it to the top. I am so sad I didn't try to buy a ticket online for access as soon as I decided to go back to Paris. By the time I tried that there were no more tickets to the top available. Online is totally the way to go, the line to get in to the online pass holders was nothing compared to the need to buy a ticket line, and I would have had a time to be there and guarantee to the top. Oh well, live and learn.

I find that on these trips, here and the same with Japan in 06, that I sort of learn how to more easily be in that place. So I'm just that much more prepared for the next visit. I'd like to try to make it back to Europe for Essen (huge game conference) next year. I would have to figure out how to fit it into my work vacation schedule, which is usually pretty packed by gencon, bgg.con (other board game conferences), and travel to improv events and festivals. But, we'll see...

Backwards to the rest of the spa time...

I think ideally I would have stayed there one night only, had a really fancy meal, experienced the baths at night, gotten a massage in the morning, then gone somewhere else. The next couple of days were a little redundant, but without access to the baths during the evening. I was tired a lot, not sleeping well, and at other times feeling restless. My back also started really, really bothering me again.

I really don't know at all what's up with my back. I've never really had it behave like this before. Maybe one day of non-awesomeness after sleeping in a bad bed or something, but not as severe as this, and never lasting that long. Every step I take on concrete kind of sends a jolt of pain up my spine. If I can step really slowly it's mostly ok, but quickly going up or down stairs with luggage, for example, has me on the verge of tears. Just sitting around I'm usually pretty good.

I think I remember Kaci experiencing free health care in London? If that's the case maybe I should consider getting it checked out. Marc is going to bring me my drugs from when I had the shoulder strain a while back. Maybe I'll try those and if they don't work, check into seeing a doctor in London (if it's free/cheap) and get some other meds to try to help out.

Back to the spa, the other thing about it was that it was a little bit hard to communicate since I don't speak any German. The front desk lady was pretty good at English, but she was the only one. So there were a few silly things. On the first night I got charged for water that I thought was free. I asked for tap water, and got brought a bottle of Valser "Silence". They have bottles of Valser for free in the rooms, so I thought it was included, but it wasn't.

The other largest embarrassing language barrier moment was after the exfoliation/massage. I wasn't really sure what I should be wearing or bring with me ahead of time. I tried asking at the spa reception about what I needed with me, and she said I could change there, so I guess I thought they'd have robes? Anyway, that was silly of me. So after my massage where I was all scented oiled up, I didn't have a robe to wear, and I didn't want to put on the skirt and tank top I had just dressed in to come down in. (Limited amount of clothing with me.) I asked the masseuse about a robe and he didn't really understand what I was saying. I ended up back at the spa reception desk, wearing only a towel, and the girl working there was quite alarmed by my presence in just a towel. :) She stopped talking to the man she had been serving and looked at me frantically. So I asked for a robe from her and got one. So not devastating or anything, but embarrasing...

So yeah, not huge things, and it could have been much worse in a foreign country, of course.

On the more positive side of things, the bed pillows and blankets were really comfortable. Big and fluffy, might have been feathers? The shower was great and they had huge towels. The special Thalasso bath (individual bath, with a pile of jets) I got as part of my package deal was the best. I'd do that again. The scenery was amazing. All the travel was very smooth.

Now Paris for one night. Then London where I get to meet up with Marc! I wanted him to be able to come with me for the whole trip. I had enough miles to cover flights for both of us, but he couldn't take the time off of work. But his contract is wrapping up now, and we were chatting on Monday night, missing eachother, and on a whim I looked up flights again. I still had enough miles and there were planes available to be booked with miles to London. So after some skype-ing about it time Marc decided to come. It's going to be really fun being with somebody to experience London with. Yay!

I guess that's it for now. I downloaded some audiobooks to my phone so I think I'll gaze out the train window and listen to something for awhile...

written now, on netbook, wed 9/22, 10:15pm

Woo Paris!

So I must have gone into at least a dozen hotels if not more. Before the one I ended up in only one had a room available, it had a shared toilet, and no access to any shower. As I was hearing this I was all sweaty from walking around with all my bags and anticipating meeting up with my boyfriend tomorrow, so I really wanted a shower. :)

I ended up back to where my hotel was last week, two doors down. They had a room with no attached bathroom, but a shared toilet and shower. There's a toilet room across the hall from my bedroom. And there's one shower for the building, on the third floor. Adventure!

Such a drastic comparison to my lovely hotel room the past few nights... But, about 1/5th of the cost...

So..... after checking in.... *drum roll* I made it up to the top of the Eiffel Tower!!

I didn't want to risk missing the top again so I didn't stop for a nice dinner, I just picked up a ham and cheese crepe again at the place from across the street, and ate it while in line.

It took absolutely forever. Lines to pay, lines to get in, waiting for the first elevator, line for the second elevator, wait for that one, up the stairs, top!! It was really good timing though. It was pretty light was in line, then it basically turned darker and darker as I was waiting to go upstairs. So that was neat to see. And by the time I was at the top it was nice and dark and I could see the city lights forever. Very beautiful.

I paid two euros to use the telescope like device. I pointed it to the moon, which I don't think was the point, but man was it fun to look at. Then... more lines, each elevator, back down. Crowds don't usually bother me too much but I sure was ready to be away from people for a little bit once I got off.

I got some pictures that will remind me of more stuff probably. I really need to get around to uploading those sometime...

Back at my hotel I got a towel. It was damp but promised to be clean. Dropped it off in my room. Confirmed there wasn't any internet in the hotel. Then I walked two doors down to my hotel from last week, and came into the lobby/tabled area, and got out my laptop. I still have my internet code from last week, the dude put a ton of hours on it. Stolen internet! Sort of...

It's also way nicer and smells better here. So I think I'll hang out until my netbook is about ready to run out of battery power then head back to my real room to sleep.

Then: morning, adventure shower, quick breakfast on the way to the train station, Eurostar train to London, meet up with Marc in the train station, go from there.
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Europe adventure, introduction to the Switzerland spa [Sep. 19th, 2010|06:04 pm]
Kristin Firth
written now, on my netbook, Sunday night, just after midnight

ok, time to write about the spa!

My first twitter about it was an attempt to summarize in 140 characters: Checked in. Ridiculously fabulous spa. By far the most pampered I've ever been. Now time for 6 course dinner at my all-night reserved table.

So yeah...

Three easy trains then a bus to get here. The bus was over very twisty roads, it is an extremely remote location. (See Google satellite image for remoteness idea: http://tinyurl.com/24mynph)

There were four other people on the bus with me, and they were all going to the hotel ( http://www.therme-vals.ch/en). By the time I was off the bus the chauffeur for the hotel was already loading our bags into his van. (I was confused for a second thinking one of the four people had grabbed mine accidentally until I saw his jacket. Silly me.)

The reception lady was extremely pleasant and spoke English very well. She explained a bunch of stuff to me. I booked a package deal, so I have some kind of special bath scheduled for tomorrow, and a massage and exfoliation for Tuesday. (I'm going to try to get the massage tomorrow if I can.) I also have access to a free breakfast buffet until 11am in the mornings, and dinner, both at the fancy restaurant each night included.

The craziest part, for me, was that she said the restaurant was open for dinner between 6:30 and 9:00pm, and when I asked if I needed a reservation she explained that I had a table reserved for me all night, for whenever I want it. I feel like royalty. I own a whole table in a restaurant for a few days!

The rooms are really sweet. I got the cheapest ones that are still attached to the spa (walking around in a robe & slippers inside!) but it is great. Two single beds, which works since I'm by myself, the other one becomes a place to put my suitcase and stuff. There's a balcony looking out to a mountain view. My first room had lounger-style chairs on the balcony, but that room couldn't connect to the internet. When I asked about wifi they suggested I try another room, which I moved to.

Yeah, I know, lame for "needing" the "internet" while I'm at a "spa", but the spa part is only open until 8pm each night, so I will, realistically, be on my netbook some while here. And it is way more comfortable to do so while snuggled up in my bed then in a lobby, however nice the lobby is. So in a way, it is the more spa-like treatment for me.

The food was crazy. It's a 6-course meal, with choices for each part. My menu ended up being:
Cold starter: Penna-cotta of black salsifies, taleggio and tomato pesto
Soup: Bell pepper cream soup with gin and chervil cream
Salad: Salad from the buffet (I had lettuce, tomatoes, corn, peas, celery, and artichokes)
Warm starter: Fillet of sole on fregola sarda with camomile cream
Main course: Slices of duck breast with sesame jus and giner. Tatsch of baby potatoes (Basically garlic mashed potatoes, and one broccoli sprout on top.)
Dessert: Local bread and butter flan with Creme brulee

Most of it was actually just kind of "ok", but the soup and main course were both absolutely fantastic. It also turns out that those were the items that I chose from the "Menu suggestion from our chefs" side, as opposed to the "a la carte" side. So I might try to veer more that way tomorrow unless something major jumps out at me from the other side.

Finally, the baths. The exception to the 8pm time is a couple of nights each week (for my trip, it was tonight only) the spa opens from 11pm-12:30am for hotel guests only. It is a special quiet time, where no talking is allowed inside. I just came back from that, which was my first trip to the baths.

It feels weird calling it "bathing". I feel like I should be calling it "hanging out in pools"... But I'll try to stick to their terminology.

There are multiple baths, each unique. The whole structure and floor between pools are stone and the temperature is great, so you can leisurely walk between them. I had two favourites. The "fire" pool, which is just a super hot pool, 42C according to the info book. And the "sound bath", I think. It is this room with two flat surfaces to lie on (feet facing eachother, wall in between them, you're not directly with another person). There's a comfy mat under your body, and a slightly larger round one for under your head. And coming from above and beside your are sounds from speakers. Kind of gong/bell like. They move and change. It's almost like being hypnotized.

I think I missed a pool (um, I mean bath) that is supposed to be very darkly lit. It may have been behind one of the doors with German labels that I wasn't sure if I could go into. I'm going to ask if they have an English map (or translation) tomorrow. I also think the outdoor one will be really great in the daytime, when you can see the mountains. (http://tinyurl.com/39oe2vb)

I ended my visit with repeats of my favourites. First the hot pool, then the sound room which was luckily free again. With my body hot from the fire pool, I could still feel my blood pulsing to my heart's rhythm as I lied there, and it was kind of in sync with the rhythm of the sounds. Superb. I was a little bit whisked away... I will definitely do that again.
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europe adventure, trains to switzerland [Sep. 19th, 2010|03:05 pm]
Kristin Firth
So much blogging! Future memories yay!

A record of stuff from the trains. The spa deserves its own future entry...

written on netbook on train, 11:17am, sun 9/19
Settled in at my window seat at the back of the train. A lot of pretty countryside, but not a lot different than Canada yet really. I'm looking forward to the mountains in Switzerland a lot.

Another reason, beyond emotional loneliness, that it is awesome to travel with somebody is being able to leave your bags with them. I pretty much always have my tote bag with me, with my netbook, prescriptions, passport, etc. I'm envious of the people in pairs who can get up to go the bathroom at restaurants, or get a coffee from another car on the train, without taking their belongings.

I had pretty just talked myself into leaving most of my stuff here at my seat (since someone a train has less ability to just escape with stolen goods) and go in search of the bar that maybe is also a restaurant, because I'm famished. But as I sat up in my seat to assemble, I noticed a train worker at the front of the car handing out menus. Perfect!

There was a hot menu and a cold menu, you could only order the whole of one or the either. On the hot menu was foie gras and gilthead with dill and a carrot bunt cake, the cold menu was salad with country ham and a large plate of meat and cold cuts. Both have a lemon tartlet, mineral water, and cafe lavazza et chocolate suisse. If I hadn't had the horrible duck terrine experience yesterday I might have been adventurous with the hot menu, but I am hungry and wary of the eccentric right now, so cold menu it is for me.

Now, off to play some puzzles in my magazines, maybe read a little Philip K Dick, eat some lunch when it is served, and maybe watch a little Deadwood.

written on netbook on train, 3:16pm, sun 9/19
On the 2nd train. Zurich to Chur. I was pronouching it with a "ch" sound like "chair", but turns out it's a "K" sound, like "kristin".

It's nice that the trains to the same place leave from the same platform. I got to platform 6, and there was a slightly earlier train to Chur waiting. I think it was the one I originally wanted to book that they couldn't get me at the ticket station.

Anyway asked a dude about getting on that train, he seemed to be implying it was longer, but told me to talk to a lady a little further down, called her "the boss". She spoke much better English and helped me out. Turned out the train trip would be longer, more stops, but since it's leaving earlier, it also gets there earlier. Since I was only scheduled for a four minute connection in Chur, definitely preferring the getting there earlier part. Besides it's more comfortable sitting on a train seat then it is on the platform anyway.

There was no problem with taking the earlier train even though I had a reservation for the later one. That's nice.

Should out to Michael Yew for the bit of extra train information that helped me figure this out just a little more smoothly. Looks like it is another hour and twenty-ish minutes until Chur. I wish I had downloaded audiobooks before leaving, I had some audible credits. It would be nice to listen to something while enjoying the view from the train. Hmm... maybe I have some Radio Lab...

written on netbook on train, 4:52pm pm, sun 9/19
On train #3, Chur to Ilanz. I am seriously thankful for these platform numbers that don't change. Way to go Europe. My slightly obsessed with details brain really likes being able to look at my notebook and see the platform that I got off the website, and then additionally see a permanent sign in the station verifying the platform. A small voice in my head still wants to confirm with a train worker (there were none on this one), but trying to quiet her, this is obviously the right train to be on.

It should be taking off in about a minute. I am also thankful I had the little bit of extra time to get down one platform and up another. Yay for smooth travels again!

I'm in love with mountains. Even from seeing them from inside the train makes my insides kind of glow and my heart sing a little bit. Maybe it's from growing up next to a mountain? Or from when I was 17 and I feel like that mountain was a part in saving my life? Or just because they are simply majestic on their own without any sort of justification from me?

Whatever it is, they make me feel alive. I can't wait to get even more remote into them at this spa.
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