December 25, 2011

love actually map

my family has an annual tradition of watching love actually at christmas (mom also loves the "schweddy balls" SNL skit). while we watched it yesterday, my sister and i mapped out all the character connections:


December 22, 2011

what i do all day

a little over a year ago, i wrote a post ("is business school hard?") that captured what it's like to be a first-year student at the stanford graduate school of business. this year, in a project for the admissions office, i catalogued a "day in the life" of a second-year student. you can see the whole series here, along with snapshots from several of my classmates (including my frequent partner in crime, maria lambert).

this neo-diary is from a week in october 2011. it includes boring stuff like grocery shopping and laundry, iconic GSB stuff like the "talk" speaker series and touchy-feely class, and stuff that's more unusual like a fundraising meeting with a VC and late-night cookie baking.

a surprise to me: my busiest day was my "day off" (GSB students don't have class on wednesdays).

[click here to see full week]


a summit series mom

ever since i started going to summit series in 2010, my mom has been a big fan of all the inspiring stories i bring home. from being a regular evangelist for kiva to hanging a holstee manifesto in her bathroom, my mom is a big supporter of all the great energy coming out of generation Y and the summit series community:

last christmas, she only asked for one thing: a whistle from falling whistles. after reading about the organization and hearing me talk about the great work the founder -- my friend sean carrasso -- is doing, mom was set on becoming a whistleblower for peace.

mom on christmas morning, 2010
this year, for her birthday, mom asked for a pair of warby parker glasses. i've been talking them up since i met co-founder neil at DC10, and mom's been waiting for the right time to get a pair. my sister and i got her a gift card for her birthday, and mom finally settled on a pair of begleys with whiskey tortoise frames. she's a bit of a desginerd, so she's into the aesthetics, but also likes that for every pair purchased, warby parker gives away a pair to someone in need.

mom in her birthday warbys, 2011
mom loves one-for-one business models, so when she came to visit me for thanksgiving, we went on a shopping expedition in search of some TOMS shoes. she was wearing them around the house when my nieces and nephews were visiting. "are those TOMS?" they asked. "wow, you're so cool!"

mom buying her first pair of TOMS shoes
she's also down for a little dubstep and house music. after i came back from summit at sea raving about swedish house mafia and axwell's mind-blowing set the final night, mom rushed out and bought his album. days later, i got this email:

i share this not just because my mom is tremendously cool (she obviously is), but because it underscores the power of modern communications. mom lives in rural british columbia, an hour from the nearest grocery store, but all she needs is an internet connection to tap into the innovation and inspiration of summit series. can't wait to see what we dream up at basecamp. neither can mom.

December 21, 2011

street art utopia

i am loving this great photo blog street art utopia. many of my old favorites and lots of new stuff. check out some of their best photos of 2011:

yarn bombing and guerilla crochet:



tiny people with legos:


spider-sized spiderman:


colored pencil fence:


pac man in a crosswalk:


December 19, 2011

Beyond Silicon Valley: New Start-up Scenes

Even though I live in the heart of Silicon Valley, I know we don't have a monopoly on innovation. In my column for The Daily Muse (also published in Forbes), I highlight some of the other pockets of entrepreneurship popping up across the nation.

It all started with a computer chip.

Coined 40 years ago, the term “Silicon Valley” originally referred to the silicon chip manufacturers that helped build the high-tech movement in the San Francisco Bay Area. The region has been a technology hot spot since, but today, it’s evolved from hardware giants into social technology and consumer internet, thanks to companies like Google and Facebook. “Silicon” is no longer literal, but a metonym for the entrepreneurial spirit that’s fueled the region’s growth for decades.

But the Bay Area isn’t this country’s only pocket of innovation, and “Silicon (fill-in-the-blank)” is an increasingly popular shorthand for regions with brewing start-up scenes. With predictions that start-ups will bring the United States out of its recession, entrepreneurs across America are stepping up to the plate.


Read the article for full review. Here are the highlights...

Silicon Alley: New York City (e-commerce and badass women entrepreneurs)

Silicon Beach: Los Angeles (entertainment, celebrities, and legal)

Silicon Strip: Las Vegas (building a community from scratch, Sin City to Sim City)

Silicon Mitten: Michigan (manufacturing, energy, and renaissance)

Silicon Loop: Chicago (midwest collaboration and the "Groupon Mafia")

Silicon Beltway: Washington DC (consumer internet and social entrepreneurship)

Silicon Prairie: Omaha, Des Moines, and Kansas City (strong start-up community in the heartland)

I was short on space and would have loved to write more about each of these regions. Keep your eyes peeled for a future piece on other hotspots like Silicon Needle (Seattle), Silicon Bayou (New Orleans), Silicon Rockies (Colorado), Silicon Triangle? (Durham, NC), and Silicon Strait? (Vancouver, BC).

December 17, 2011

type vs. hype: the internet landscape

i started working on this project over a year ago, and finally made the time to finish it today. i've always loved infographics and 2-by-2s, and i wanted to make one that captured my transient thoughts on the internet landscape. this particular design was inspired, in part, by a brilliant 2-by-2 of hipster celebrities by bill wasik.

i created the image below, and it reflects my own opinions as of this afternoon. don't agree with me? that's cool. it's a subjective and imperfect analysis, one that i'll probably edit and adjust frequently as my opinions about the landscape change.

each entity is assessed on two metrics i'm calling type (what kind of business or product is it) and hype (how much of a media darling is it).


i'd love to turn this concept into an open-source project that uses the wisdom of crowds to track changes in the internet landscape. might even be fun to incorporate a hans rosling-style time lapse to watch companies pivot and change their type and wax and wane through different levels of hype. could be pretty cool. holler if you know someone who might want to work with me on it.

November 27, 2011

it's time

one of most touching videos for the cause (from getup! in australia). cue goosebumps in 3...2...


November 19, 2011

why everyone wants to know what you think

This article was originally posted on November 18, 2011 in my column in the Daily Muse, and also in Forbes.


Like this brand on Facebook. Leave a tip on Foursquare. Rate your transaction on Amazon. Review us on Yelp. Seems like everyone from the corner store to Microsoft wants your opinion these days. Since when did you get so important?

Well, since now. Brands want your endorsement because recommendations from real people have become extremely valuable—traditional ads just aren’t enough anymore. Facebook’s Gokul Rajaram told Forbes that Facebook’s social ads make people about four times more likely to buy a product than other ads on the site. And I’ve seen similar results working at the tech start-up Bre.ad—the personalized billboards our users share via social media get up to 100 times more engagement than typical banner advertisements do.

Taking a friend’s advice is nothing new. But social media has taken what used to be off-hand recommendations to friends and family and amplified them around the world, to a point where people you’ve never met can weigh your opinion in their next decision. I call this trend the rise of the endorsement culture—a culture where everyone is a promoter.

Don’t think that’s you? Think again. Your voice is now stronger than you realize.

The Democratization of Endorsements
Today, we’re asked for our recommendations so often that it’s hard to remember how this whole endorsement culture started. Yelp launched in 2004 and built a recommendation engine based on reviews from real people. Shortly thereafter, e-commerce sites started to give credit to users who referred their friends—a strategy that drove early user acquisition for many of the flash-sale websites like Rue La La and Gilt.

But it quickly become about more than just endorsing brands and businesses. eBay’s peer-to-peer market pioneered the need to give feedback on individuals. Amazon followed suit, with its seller reviews paving the way for the web-sharing economy (Airbnb and Getaround, among others), which relies heavily on our willingness to vouch for and endorse each other.

“I don’t buy anything without looking at reviews,” explains Kellee Van Horne, 27, who worked in online sales for a large Internet business. “It seems like no one trusts companies anymore, so recommendations from real people are more important.”

Same goes for offline purchases. No longer do I have to trust a box which proclaims its contents to be the “best-tasting cereal in America”—I can instantly verify that opinion with real people on my mobile device.

Quantifying Your Influence
No matter what we’re purchasing or consuming, endorsement culture is changing the way we make decisions. This, of course, has major implications for businesses. They want me to like their products—but how do they find out how who influences me, and whose recommendations I’ll take?

Click here to read the rest of the article...

November 9, 2011

stop the pity

i absolutely adore this clever new video from mama hope (headed by my pal, the inspiring nyla rodgers). they get my full endorsement for their "stop the pity -- unlock the potential" campaign to bring real change to africa. the little boy at 0:54 is definitely my highlight.

thrilled to see so many familiar summit faces: cameron sinclair, darren bechtel, glynn washington, tom mcleod, nicole patrice johnson, tobias rose-stockwell, and many more!



November 3, 2011

Top 50 Women to Watch in Tech

I am very proud to have been named one of the Top 50 Women to Watch in Tech by Femme-o-nomics. I'm especially stoked to be honored alongside my friends Amber Reyngoudt (extraordinary engineer) and Kathryn Minshew (visionary publisher). Huge thank you to the panel of judges and to Femme-o-nomics for this honor.


October 11, 2011

sitting is the new planking

i despise the typical vacation photo: background = blurry, poorly lit snapshot of a monument that real photographers have already captured on post cards, foreground = you looking like a sweaty dweeb in your tourist gear. as such, i'm in very few of my vacation and travel photos.

however, on my recent trip to europe, my friend maria and i developed some great memes that renewed my love for vacation photos. it all started at the louvre when i sat down on the ground to take a photo of maria. as it turns out, i have quite the knack for sitting quietly in awkward places. you can check out the whole album of "jong sits" photos, but here are some of the highlights (photo credits to brilliant photographer maria lambert):

sitting at the louvre
sitting at the arc de triomphe
sitting with the eiffel tower
sitting at pompidou
sitting at notre dame
sitting at musee d'orsay
sitting in the hofgarten in munich
sitting in a museum in vienna
sitting in the haus der musik
sitting at lake spitzingsee

maria's go-to position is something we fondly call "glambert presents." definitely check out the full album of maria "presenting" various monuments throughout western europe. it's hilarious.

October 10, 2011

remembering steve jobs

steve jobs died on wednesday.

i already had an article ready to run on friday for my column in the daily muse, but as i lay in bed on wednesday night flipping through my instagram and twitter feeds, i noticed an interesting pattern and knew i had to publish a different article for friday. i stayed up late and wrote, "the man who became a logo: how we memorialize steve jobs." you can read it in the daily muse or on forbes.


on friday night, i stopped by the apple store in downtown palo alto. sometimes called "steve's store," because of its proximity to his home, the university avenue location was home to an impromptu memorial. colored sticky notes scrawled with personal messages of thanks and sadness covered the store window, and a vigil of flowers, candles, and gifts crowded the sidewalk.


i only had two classes after steve passed, but in both of them, my professors talked about steve at length and either quoted from or played the video of his 2005 commencement speech at stanford.

September 23, 2011

why i (used to) hate pink collar start-ups

my latest column for the daily muse -- also picked up by forbes -- was inspired by a tweet.

on august 2, i watched this trailer:



struck by the limited female presence in the video, i tweeted this:


the response to that tweet led me down a path of reflection to explore why it is that women start pink collar businesses, and why that trend seemed to bother me. i sent the first draft of the article to my editors on september 11.

especially since the brouhaha over jolie o'dell's september 13 tweet, there seems to be a conflict between the women-in-tech crowd and the pink collar crowd. is that a fair fight? check out my column to get my take.


September 16, 2011

never say this again

continuing with my tradition of outrage related to corporate jargon, i wrote an article for the daily muse highlighting the 6 business buzzwords you should banish from your vocabulary forever. it got republished by huffington post women, and you can find it on the front page today.

the egregious offenders:

  • rock star/ninja
  • reach out
  • around
  • impactful
  • open the kimono
  • out of pocket

full disclosure: i have, at some point in my life (likely circa 2005), used each of these abhorrent phrases -- with the exception of "open the kimono" which is just weird. i hang my head in shame and try to help the next generation avoid my mistakes.

best part of this article? the fact that i got huffpo to publish "OG" as an acceptable adjective. win!


[update]: this article was also republished by forbes.

September 15, 2011

roadtrip through europe

"i thought you'd never ask," said my friend maria when i asked if she'd like to do some international travel with me before starting our second year at stanford's graduate school of business.

not least among the reasons i like maria is that she and i share a former career: management consultant. years of slavish devotion to american airlines and starwood hotels has blessed us with enough airline miles and hotel points to execute a 10-day travel extravaganza on pitiful student budgets. we settled on western europe (specifically france, luxembourg, germany, and austria) for mostly practical reasons: maria speaks french and german, and we both like pretzels. we booked some flights, reserved a rental car, and prepared for adventure.

a week before we left, i was in new york for work and found myself hunkered down for hurricane irene with maria by my side. "what do you want to do on our trip?" she asked.

"eat my face off and take a million photos," i replied. she nodded quietly, her mouthful of cheese, as she intently changed a roll of film on her lomographic holga camera.

i knew this was going to be good.

day 1 - san francisco to paris
i took the RER from charles de gaulle and met maria at the apartment of 3 of our classmates who were working in paris. we were almost immediately won over by constance, a cafe around the corner whose delicious salads, sandwiches and desserts were all homemade (according to the franglish-speaking owner). we took our food to go and made our way over to the jardin des tuileries. this lunch was one of the best meals we had on the trip -- a must-not-miss in paris. our perfectly pressed panini housed cheese, ham, pesto, tomato, and arugula; our flavorful salad: a blend of arugula, broccoli, quinoa, and beets; and, most gloriously, our fresh fruit crumble was nothing short of heavenly.

we'd both seen the louvre in college, so we skipped the inside tour in favor of some external pictures in the lovely afternoon light.

louvre
our camera antics led to a recreation photo of a pose lovingly coined by our friend andrew as "glambert presents." in this pose, maria stands before a monument in an aggressive lunge, her arms outstretched like a maniacal circus promoter greeting you at the entrance to the elephant tent, her face simultaneously solemn and proud. in search of a dramatic camera angle, i eventually lowered myself all the way onto the ground of the louvre's courtyard, my little legs extended in front of me like a forgotten teddy bear.

"this is too good not to photograph," exclaimed maria, and a meme was born. throughout the rest of the trip, as we periodically stumbled upon the various sites of western europe, lambert would present, and jong would sit. the forthcoming flickr albums will be surprisingly hilarious.

we continued through the jardin des tuileries, past the luxor obelisk, and down to the arc de triomphe.

facepalm
flowers at the tuileries
boat vendor at the tuileries
arc de triomphe (with the eiffel tower peeking through)
parisian coffee

on our return home, we walked along the seine river as rain clouds rolled in.

bridge over the seine
glambert
parisian skyline

the night finished with a late dinner with our hostesses. bon.

day 2 - paris
we again took to the streets, ready for some serious walking. en route to notre dame, we passed pompidou and some banksy-esque street art.

notre dame
place igor stavinsky

glambert in place igor stavinsky

we eventually went in search of "the crepe district" -- a mythical street lined with creperies on the south side of the seine. we eventually found something good enough and grubbed on savory and sweet crepes before booking it over to the musee d'orsay in time for discounted end-of-day tickets.

graffiti outside musee d'orsay

maria studied art history in college and gave me a caffeinated tour of the museum's permanent collection including monet, manet, and van gough. we ate dinner at a surprisingly delicious italian bistro called la bocca where we ordered arugula salad, a rustic bruschetta, and gnocchi gorgonzola. plates were cleaned. 

day 3 - paris to luxembourg city
we picked up our rental car and hit the french countryside. other than the ubiquitous road tolls, the drive was quite lovely -- pleasant landscapes of rolling hills, beautifully lit in the afternoon sun. the french oldies radio station ("nostalgi") played none of the hits but kept us entertained.

we stopped in reims for a quick tour at france's preeminent champagne pommery. our tour took us through cold, dark underground caves lined with dusty champagne bottles waiting to mature. each passageway and grotto is named for a foreign city; the aged signs contribute to the suspicion that you're visiting the set of an indiana jones movie. we learned that champagne pommery was so close to enemy lines in WWI that some of its caves were temporarily repurposed to store artilleries.

aging champagne bottles

caves at champagne pommery

brut royal

certainly the strangest artifact in the champagne pommery was a taxidermied elephant balancing on his trunk, pretentiously guarded by velvet rope in a glorified cubicle in the lobby. only his hind legs could be seen over the top of the awkwardly constructed walls that surrounded him, but i immediately identified an unmissable photographic opportunity. "there's an elephant doing a handstand behind that wall," i told maria. "we should take a picture."

elephant in the doorway

the champagne pommery lobby elephant

we pressed on to luxembourg city where we stayed at a hostel (my first), a pleasant dorm-like building tucked under one of the city's valley-crossing bridges. after watching some fireworks from beneath the bridge's arches, we hit the hay.

fireworks in luxembourg city

day 4 - luxembourg city to nuremberg
by the time we made it down to the lobby at 9:30AM, we'd already missed breakfast at the hostel, so we headed into the city center where we began to yearn for the american tradition of food-at-all-hours. in our fruitless search for food in luxembourg city at 10AM on a weekday, we were interviewed for luxembourgian radio about our opinions on the forthcoming 10-year anniversary of 9/11.

next stop: germany. our first gas station break introduced me to all manner of german oddities including pornographic videos in the mini-mart and impossibly high mirrors in the bathrooms. germany, as it turns out, was not designed for short people.

our destination was nuremberg, a last-minute itinerary addition, primarily because it had a starwood hotel we could stay at for free. we looked it up in our lonely planet guidebook and decided to visit its world-renowned nazi museum.

driving to the museum, we passed the grounds of the WWII nazi party rallies (now a park), and we began to see signs for the volksfest -- the people's festival. we pulled into the parking lot, and in front of the world's biggest nazi museum, we saw a towering ferris wheel. no joke. we vowed to investigate after our tour.

the museum was very interesting. although it certainly covered topics related to the holocaust, the main focus of the exhibits was to document and describe hitler's rise to power and the fascinating story behind the nazi party's cultural takeover of the country. one of the most memorable exhibits described the labor camps in which prisoners mined stone under barbaric conditions. the stone, we learned, was largely used to erect the grandiose facilities surrounding the museum, facilities that served as the backdrop for nazi propaganda and frenzied party rallies.

creepy hitler paraphernalia at the nuremberg nazi museum

when we emerged, we decided to investigate what business a ferris wheel had being outside a nazi museum. to our delight, we discovered that the volksfest is akin to an american county fair, replete with carnival rides, indulgent fried foods, and top-notch people watching. the frosting on our already delightful cake of german culture: it was ladies night. seriously. we enjoyed a discounted ride on the aforementioned ferris wheel and then dined on volksfest cuisines like a massive pretzel, a frosty beer, and a pickle stuffed with sauerkraut. it was a highlight of the trip, and thus, much photographed.

glambert is ready for ladies night
foreground: volksfest, background: nazi museum

glambert joy on the ferris wheel

game booth at volksfest

fish sandwich at volksfest

gerkins at volksfest

tiny haribo at volksfest

tiffany: a schmuck boutique (at volksfest)

coconut crunchies at volksfest

glambert's first german beer (at a volksfest biergarten)

sausage at volksfest

volksfest at night

volksfest at night

volksfest rollercoaster

we called it a night at the le meridian in nuremberg which was, as expected, lovely.

day 5 - nuremberg to munich
we ate a delicious breakfast at cafe am trödelmarkt, right on the water in downtown nuremberg, before heading over to the toy museum.

best breakfast of the trip: crushed

the toy museum housed four floors of playful exhibits from 19th century doll houses to malibu barbie.

OG scrabble at the nuremberg toy museum

noahs ark at the toy museum

hedgehog friend at the toy museum

19th century toys at the toy museum

proto yahtzee in a century-old doll house

peering into the depths of a pocket-sized diorama of a parisian street scene

although i enjoyed the museum very much, it did confirm my immense aversion to dolls.

this is what nightmares are made of

continuing to explore the theme of "juxtapositions in nuremberg" (remember the ferris wheel at the nazi museum?), we stumbled upon the red bull district ride, a bike stunt event, gearing up in front of st. sebaidus church and the frauenkirche in the town square.



we drove beneath the impossibly large-looking sky down to munich, where we met up with our airbnb hosts, a lovely young professional couple with an enchanting doberman named spike. rather than barking and jumping on us, spike periodically fell asleep sitting up as we drank coffee and chatted with our hosts in the living room.

spike, trying not to fall asleep

one of our hosts was interested in applying to business school in the states (particularly stanford), so we gladly offered our advice.

we took the s-bahn train into downtown munich and walked around the sunset-lit city.

feldherrnhalle

sunset in munch

dusk in marienplatz

tantalized by the cover art of a children's book, i was drawn into a book store where i bought the book without even cracking the cover. when we finally got around to reading der kragenbär, a short biography of a (suspiciously gay?) bear who wears an elizabethan collar, it was determined to be one of the greatest purchases of our entire trip. great addition to my children's book collection.

after scarfing some surprisingly inexpensive raspberries and strawberries from a street vendor, we made our way to weisses brauhaus, a beer hall where we ate jagerschnitzel and spaetzel.

munich street food

we followed that up with ice cream, more beer, and a crepe, and returned to our airbnb apartment feeling almost ill...in a good way.

day 6 - munich to dachau to vienna
we went into town again in the morning and caught the end of the glockenspiel "show" at marienplatz. nothing to write home about. much more satisfying was our 14-floor climb to the top of a nearby church for 360 views of munich under a clear blue sky.

marienplatz from 14 stories up

at the viktualienmarkt, we washed down our bavarian pretzels and white sausages with fresh fruit juice and then headed back to the apartment to pack it up.

german pretzel and white sausage

fresh juice at the viktualienmarkt

hedgehog friends at the viktualienmarkt

since we had some extra time, we decided to stop in dachau at the former site of the WWII concentration camp. (quick aside: for those wondering, you can check in to the site on foursquare, and yes, there is a mayor: jessica from milwaukee). the eerie contrast between the warm, sunny day and the somber memorial museum made for an unsettling afternoon. the most disturbing exhibits included prisoner accounts of the brutality they experienced in the camps, including chilling descriptions of the very rooms we stood in.

gate at dachau concentration camp

...

we made great time to vienna, as we admired the gorgeous countryside bathed in warm light from the sunset. we arrived as our second airbnb booking of the trip -- a cute little private apartment at the south end of vienna. the apartment building had the smallest elevator i've ever been in, barely big enough for one person and a suitcase.

me in the impossibly small elevator

we went into the city to see the rathaus and burgtheater at night, and were pleasantly surprised to find a circus camped out in the plaza between then.

vienna rathaus, flanked by the roncalli circus trailers 

pedestrian in white hat in front of the burgtheater in vienna

dinner included beef goulash and wiener schnitzel, and we returned to our apartment on vienna's lovable subway system.

day 7 - vienna
we had breakfast at kleines cafe, and then walked to the museumsquartier by way of the burggarten and maria-theresien-platz.

breakfast at kleines cafe in vienna
kunsthistorisches museum in vienna

mumok museum in museumsquartier in vienna

our first museum of the day: the leopold museum which featured a captivating exhibit of works by egon schiele, an early 20th century painter who died at just 26. his tim burton-esque nudes were stunning (NSFW).

splitting up for one of the only times on the trip, maria hit up the modern art museum (mumok) and i went in search of what our viennese classmate called "the best ice cream ever" at tuchlauben.

the velvetiest ice cream i've ever had (mango)

we reconvened for coffee and a snack in the plaza of the museumsquartier before hoofing it over to the vienna opera to pick up cheap, last-minute standing room tickets.

fritz-kola: we are definitely in austria

afternoon treat in museumsquartier

upon arrival at the wiener staastoper opera house, we were told our skirts were too short to be allowed in the theater, so we padded off in search of other diversions. we took some photos at the karlskirche before winding up at vienna's famed music museum, the haus du musik (open late!).

karlskirche in vienna

reflection of karlskirche

musikverein at sunset

vienna street art. caption not pictured: "hilfe! kann nicht schwimmen!"

glambert at haus der musik

bumping the classical jams at the haus der musik

interactive exhibit: roll dice to make a waltz together

we powered through the floors dedicated to the vienna symphony and the great composers, favoring a leisurely examination of the 2nd floor sonosphere whose interactive exhibits explored the science of sound. very cool.

with few options late at night, we grabbed dinner across the street from the museum at an italian place whose arugula salad, mushroom pizza, and gnocchi gorgonzola treated us well.

yum

day 8 - vienna to salzberg to spitzingsee
leaving our car parked at museumsquartier (supposedly the cheapest parking in the city), we walked over to the naschmarkt, stopping at cafe sperl along the way for coffee. the cafe is lonely planet's pick, but it was nothing special.

the naschmarkt was home to a repetitive pattern of stalls hawking spices, produce, doner kebabs, and cheese. we stumbled upon an asian market, where we picked up some sesame seed dumplings stuffed with coconut. crazy delicious.

coconut-filled jin doi from an asian market in vienna

en route to our next destination, we passed through salzburg and decided to check it out. the salzach river was undoubtedly beautiful, and the little castles on the hills were charming, but we weren't terribly impressed. notable about the city were its streets full of american tourists there to take the kitschy "sound of music" tour.

salzburg, austria

as we went through salzburg and beyond, we drove through stunningly beautiful mountains. when we finally pulled off the main highway to drive through pastoral german countryside, we couldn't fathom how much more beautiful the scenery would get.

stauden, germany

josefsthal, germany

40 minutes off the highway, we finally arrived at lake spitzingsee at what may be the most randomly located starwood hotel in europe. we were extremely lucky to be upgraded to a room with a lake view, and we spent the rest of the afternoon admiring our surroundings and counting our blessings.

view from our balcony at lake spitzingsee

on the lake!

glambert on a dock at lake spitzingsee

it appeared that commerce in this sleepy ski village grinds to a halt between tourist seasons, but, in the basement of a local inn, we finally found a little tavern-style restaurant that would serve dinner. as if jagerschnitzel, pork knuckles, spaetzel, and a knödel dumpling weren't enough, we also ordered two desserts: an apple and custard strudel. ready to soak our full tummies, we visited the pool at our hotel and were delighted to find a steam room and 4 types of saunas.

sheraton spitzingsee's pool in the afternoon

we were particularly enchanted by the heated beds -- tile-covered recliners warmed to body temperature, placed strategically beneath a mood light that rotated through the colors of the rainbow.

back in the room, we ventured onto our balcony and admired the stars.

day 9 - spitzingsee to paris
we rose early -- a long day of driving ahead of us. we ducked into the cafe next door for fresh pretzels and coffee, then hopped in the car, headed west.

pretzel mascot, later consumed

the drive back out to the highway was just as stunning as our drive to spitzingsee, and we were constantly torn between stopping to capture images of the breathtaking scenery and plowing ahead to paris.

german hillside

my favorite stop along the way was a rest station where the bathrooms were operated by a company whose "philosophy" graced a plaque outside. the toilets had self-cleaning seats that automatically rotated 360 degrees after flushing. fascinating.

with the help of several episodes of my favorite podcasts (this american life, radiolab, and the moth), we made it through munich, karlsruhe, and strassbourg, and into the french countryside just as the sun was setting.

sunset in the french countryside outside of paris

sunset in the french countryside outside of paris

we arrived in paris late, but returned our car and joined our friends for dinner.

day 10 - paris
a bit tired at the end of our trip, we took it easy, returning to constance for a repeat of the excellent lunch we had on day 2. we leisurely walked to pompidou, picking up coffee and crepes along the way. before entering the museum, we sat in the courtyard for nearly an hour, soaking up the sun and chatting.

from the top floor of pompidou, there are lovely views of paris, including the eiffel tower, norte dame, and sacré-cœur.

eiffel tower from pompidou

sacré-cœur from pompidou

the top floor of pompidou featured an exhibit called paris-delhi-bombay which explored the intersection between french and indian culture. it was a substantial exhibit (we spent nearly 2.5 hours there) with thought-provoking film, photography, sculpture, and paintings. we particularly liked the pieces that dealt with the role of gays and transgendered people in indian culture.

pompidou's permanent collection is also pretty robust and notable to me for its impressive array of what i call color porn. i already posted many photos from the collection to my new color blog, give me all the colors.

color porn at pompidou

we walked back to the apartment, grabbed drinks and appetizers (meats, cheeses, and frites) with classmates, and then returned to la bocca for a yummy last meal in europe.

day 11 - paris to san francisco
we rose pre-dawn to catch a train to charles de gaulle where we were thankful our frequent flier status gave us access to the american airlines admiral's club. while attempting to catch up on email, i put away at least 8 mini-croissants. "diet starts tomorrow," i thought. "i'd better enjoy europe while i still can."

travel day

as my plane took off, i looked down at the checkered french farmland outside my window and yearned to pull out my camera -- well, my iphone, which proved to be a reliable camera replacement on this trip. but i'd already taken 1400 photos (maria, many thousands more on her SLR), and i thought about all the beauty i'd already captured. feeling my tummy full of croissants, i was pleased to know i'd achieved my objectives for this trip, and i smiled.