Monday, September 24, 2012

Travel Fantasy: River Floating in Bern, Switzerland

I realize Autumn started last week, but California is generally pretty late to the cold weather game. Our evenings have been getting a little bit cooler, but we are still seeing mid-to-high seventies and low eighties during the day. Since I've been unusually bummed about Summer ending, I've been trying to hold on the this warm weather for as long as possible...

That leads me to today's travel fantasy: floating down the River Aare in Bern Switzerland! Hopping into the clear, crisp river has been a long standing tradition for locals. They hike up alongside the river, barefoot and empty-handed, to a launch point upstream. Once they are in, the strong current quickly takes them back downstream. Since the water flows from melting glaciers, it is shockingly cold (62 degrees!) and is said to literally take your breath away.

Experienced floaters naturally head toward to middle of the river to avoid tree branches, yet know that they need to start swimming back to the side well before the last hand-rail. Amateurs, on the other hand, need to heed the advice of others (since there are no signs, suggestions, or directions for getting in and out):
  • Begin swimming toward the side of the river well before the last hand railing, the current will get you there faster than you realize 
  • If you get caught in a whirlpool, let the water take you all the way to the river floor and then launch yourself up from there once you reach the bottom (-_-)
  • Float down the river at least twice, so that you are a bit more used to the temperature and are (hopefully) a little less afraid of dying 

Floating through a capital city is an amazingly unique experience that doesn't present itself often. I'm sure I would be an absolute basket case fearing I was going to miss the last hand rail and end up in the dam, but I also know that it is an incredible once in a lifetime opportunity that I wouldn't want to skip.

Would you float down the Aare River? What is a travel fantasy of yours? 
(Photos: Full Aperture)
Friday, September 21, 2012

I am Currently Reading...

A Year of Living Biblically by A.J. Jacobs. It's a story of a writer who decides to spend a year following the rules of the bible. He dedicates the first 8 months to the Old Testament and the last 4 months to the New Testament. Along the way he meets people who are completely devoted to various expressions of their religion and it's so intriguing to read his perspective. Jacobs is a witty writer who is able to interject humor throughout his experience, so it doesn't feel like he is being weighed down by the rules. I'm only about a third of the way through, but I am very much enjoying it so far.

What are you currently reading? What is your genre of choice?
Thursday, September 20, 2012

Entitled Millennials

Yesterday, one of my co-workers posted a really interesting article about the evolving attitude and work ethic of my generation, the Millennials. The author examined the idea that our education system does more to create unrealistic beliefs than it does to impart knowledge and skill to students. She spoke with a small business owner (Ms. Jimenez), who employees mostly Millennial aged employees, and provided commentary on five frustrations the business owner expressed. Here are the two frustrations that really caught my attention:

1. "They are cocky." Ms. Jimenez complains that once elevated to positions like “assistant buyers,” her employees treat bosses, clients, and other employees in a condescending manner.

2.“They don’t want to pay their dues.” Working your way up does not apply to Millennials, who expect to earn high salaries doing glamorous tasks immediately.

I found myself resonating with the author's observations. Throughout my collegiate experience, I continued to hear rhetoric such as, “You deserve to make your dream job your career”, “Follow your passions”, “Be continually inspired and love what you do”. While these sentiments are encouraging, they don’t set students up with a firm grasp of reality. How do we make our dream job our career? What steps do we need to get there? What does it look like to be continually inspired? What makes us think we can jump start from college to leading an organization or team at only 22 years old?

Lucky for me, my parents instilled a strong work ethic that I was able to carry through college and into the work force. Saying that, I will fully admit that I was drawn to that rhetoric and was even a bit disappointed when I hit the real world. Of course the idea of “following my passions” is appealing and it was definitely something that I wanted to pursue, but how do I start that?

Don't get me wrong, I think having interest and/or being passionate about what you do is absolutely critical in an employee's longevity, but I’ve watched friends struggle with the idea of accepting entry-level positions and feel as though they are above them simply because they’ve received a degree. You have to start somewhere and start gaining real working-world experience, but I think that this is hard for young graduates to understand and accept.

One of the readers posted a quote from Paul Graham that I feel captures the sentiment well:

"Many people feel confused and depressed in their early twenties. Life seemed so much more fun in college. Well, of course it was. Don't be fooled by the surface similarities. You've gone from guest to servant. It's possible to have fun in this new world. Among other things, you now get to go behind the doors that say "authorized personnel only." But the change is a shock at first, and all the worse if you're not consciously aware of it."

If you've graduated from college, how did you feel once you were out in the real world? Did you experience any disillusionment? Do you think it's something Millennials will just have to get over?

Read the full article, and the rest of the frustrations, here
Tuesday, September 18, 2012

The End of Summer is Near...

I am usually a dedicated winter person; I absolutely LOVE when it rains, hot chocolate is a staple for me, and cozying up next to a fire with my guy sounds like a dream. That's why this September has been so weird for me. I am not ready for summer to end and I feel like I have been mourning the loss of long, sun-filled days. I've even found myself feeling sad about warm weather outfits I didn't get much use out of this year! Say what?! I know, it's odd for me to miss summer before it's gone, especially because I'm usually trying to push it out faster than it would leave on it's own.

I think my attitude started shifting when I began working in an office. Back in the day (when I did nails), I had a glimpse of the outside world multiple times an hour. These days, I can go 2-3 hours before even taking a peak outside. Plus, it's kind of a bummer to start work in the dark and leave work in the dark. I don't know how people closer to the poles do it; Finland gets 23 hours of darkness a day in the middle of winter (yikes)!

I don't think that the office is to blame in this situation, I think it's just a part of life to work regular business hours. Saying that, I can acknowledge my appreciation for extended sunlight that working in a cube has given me. Being able to eat dinner outside well after work has finished, or taking extended strolls through the neighborhood are activities I enjoy and will miss as the sun sneaks away earlier and earlier. Fortunately for me, winter storms and hot chocolate wait for me on the other side...

Are you in an office most of the day? How do you deal with restricted outdoor access?
(Photos: #1 - Lunch at Little Chef, #2 - Zoey sunbathing in the backyard, #3 - Strolling & dinner with friends!)
Friday, September 14, 2012

Have a Lovely Weekend!

What are you up to this weekend? Rob and I have a mix of fun and relaxation planned, and I could not be more excited! We are going to kick everything off with Rob's band, Troubadour, playing a show tonight. They don't play shows nearly as often anymore, so it'll be fun to be back in the scene. As for Saturday: date night! We have no idea what we are doing; all we know is that we will be together. :)

Any recommendations on what we should see or do for our date? 
(Photo taken in Florence in 2012)

p.s. What a handsome devil! 
Thursday, September 13, 2012

House Sitting

A part of the reason I've been a bit absent on the blog as of late is because I've been distracted by some things in my personal life. They are all good, just time consuming. One of those things has been housesitting. Rob and I agreed to house and dog sit for just over a week and we finished up today. House sitting can be really fun because it felt like we were on a stay-cation. We got to sleep in a new bed, watch a nice TV, and have an entire house just to ourselves (you know, so we could walk around in our underwear); it's fun to get away.

The downside: it completely throws me out of my normal routine. Here's what I mean, I still have to go to work, I still have deadlines for Content, and we were responsible for 2 living beings (we can't forget about Zoey)! Although I may have felt like I was on a vacation, I still had very real responsibilities to tend to, but was unable to complete them in my usual order. In the midst of re-adjusting, I've let a few things slip through the cracks and posting is one of them. My apologies for my absence and thanks for your grace. :)

Now that I'm back, things should be getting back to normal. I hope you are having a great week!

(This was the only picture I took of the whole week! These cute faces were waiting for Rob to get home :)  
Tuesday, September 11, 2012

River Cruises

Have you ever gone on a river cruise? I had never been on one until our first trip to Europe in 2009 when we sailed along the Seine River in France, from Paris to Normandy. I remember having zero expectations when we boarded the boat; it was small and definitely catered to an older audience (there were 8 of us under the age of 50!). Ageism aside, it was an amazing cruise. We quietly passed through the beautiful French countryside and stopped in small villages along the way. I have distinct memories of reading my book on the top deck, and taking breaks to watch cows grazing on rolling hills and medieval castles coast by. Since that trip, I've been interested in taking another river cruise in Europe.

One minor detail: Rob refuses. He thinks I'm crazy for wanting to party with the elderly for a week in Europe. In fairness to him, it is a pretty geriatric scene. There's no late night entertainment, they resist daring food choices, and his tats draw some pretty solid stares. Even still, I love the fact that the ships are drastically smaller than regular cruise lines, so they feel much more personal and way less crowded.

As we were preparing for our last trip, and even since we've been back, European river cruises have been nestled in the back of my mind. I think it's because I receive deal updates from Viking River Cruises (the cruise line we used in 2009) every week (kudos Viking marketing, kudos). It seems like they are in the midst of a major campaign to book up the rest of their available cruises before the year ends, and they are offering some seriously sweet deals. I'm talking a stateroom with a view PLUS business class airfare for $2,495! I didn't think you could even get business class tickets for that cheap (I have never actually purchased business class tickets, so I don't know for certain). It has been tempting me to pack me wool socks and sign-up for the Christmas cruise on the Rhine!

Have you every taken a river cruise? What was your experience? 
(Photos: 1&2 - taken in 2009, 3 - via Viking River Cruises)
Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Where Have You Been, Friend?

If you're stopping by regularly, then you've noticed that I haven't been posting everyday. There has been a lot going on in the Ernst household and I'm afraid I cannot keep up. Plus, I don't want to post random things just to post; I'm trying to be more intentional. That's why I have decided to move my posting schedule to every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday (with an occasional Tuesday or Thursday if something really great comes along or if I just can't wait :). I will continue to share the things that inspire me, the places I dream of, and the people I love.


p.s. No, I haven't forgotten about my Europe series, I just haven't had time to sit down and do it. I apologize. Florence will be coming soon.

(Photo was taken in Berlin in 2012)
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