Pooltime

2017-08-30 11.49.50.jpgAt the pool not too far from our place here in Berlin. There were about a 1,000 people there since it was so hot (although not as hot as I hear it has been in the Bay Area!) but this kid had fun splashing around with his new floaties. Good people watching, too 🙂

Berlin

We made it to Berlin! Ok, we’ve been here for nearly three days already but only now do I feel like I can sit down and catch my breath and write. It always takes a few days to transition from the “Where the hell am I?” phase to “Oh, yes, we almost feel like we live here” phase. Can I say I’m proud of how with each country it’s taking us less and less time to acclimate? As of today, we know the best playgrounds in the area, how to get by not speaking any German, and how to navigate home without the aid of wifi. So, we’re pretty much settled in.


Berlin is HUGE. It’s the second largest city in Europe outside of London, so obviously it is, but I’ve been taken aback by its scale and density. We’re staying in Kreuzberg, an area known for its nightlife, art scene, cafe culture, and bountiful graffiti. It’s vibrant and laid back, and seems like you could be an artist here and survive (unlike SF or NY)

Right now I’m writing you from a nearby cafe where I’m catching up on some work and blogging. Guess what it’s called. Just guess!


The Goldberg Bar & Cafe. I thought about asking the waiter to take my photo in front of the awning but instead just snapped this pic.

Berlin feels refreshing after Norway, as gorgeous as it was. By that, I mean food and goods are about 1/3 the price. It also feels like actual summer here. The vibe is alive and happening. Parks are full, there’s music on the streets, and outdoor cafés are seemingly on every corner. It’s a lovely time of year to be here. I have the feeling that winters here are not as green and joyful.

Yesterday we went to a great flea market in Maurpark, an iconic Berlin event that happens every Sunday. I know, another flea market. What can I say? I think it’s a great way to experience the local scene: vintage wares, cool crafts, music, food, people watching. I love it. And I found a few cool handmade items to jazz up my utilitarian travel wardrobe, of which I’m growing increasingly tired.


After the flea market, we walked the old path along the Berlin Wall. All along the way, there are photos and instillations that explain what life was like under the city’s division. Theo napped in the stroller the entire time. It’s pretty much the only way he’ll nap these days. Sadly, he’s on his way to phasing out the nap entirely. That said, he doesn’t have the stamina to be out all day long either. Hence, stroller naps!

I’ll take them, even if they mean walking for hours on end while he snoozes. In a way, it’s nice for me and Rafe to have the chance to see more of the city, instead of being stuck at home in the afternoon. Theo’s so big though that we’ve taken to duct taping his feet to the stroller so they don’t drag on the ground. Perhaps it looks a little bit cruel to see his feet taped to the stroller like that but he was really into it. He even helped to tape his feet down!


When he woke up, we stopped at a cute little café (there are seriously SO MANY CUTE CAFES) for a snack and then a local playground where Theo made some new friends despite the language barrier. (Turns out wrestling is the international language of small boys.)


Theo is enjoying more of a normal routine again, which I think is good for him. Norway was a bit crazy with bouncing around almost every day to a new location, various forms of transportation and no predictability.

We’ve been eating quite well, too–lots of great cuisine on the cheap. Just in the last few days, we’ve had spaetzle, schnitzel as well as pho and Indian curries.

We’re here for another week and a half and we have so much to do (and eat)!

 

Un-fjord-gettable Norway

Apologies to our five dedicated followers for the delay in posting! Our week in Norway just flew by. And now we’re in Berlin, where our internet is slow and intermittent. Without further delay, here’s a recap before the internet gets buggy again:

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Our journey began in Bergen. We planned the Norway part of our trip months ago and only recently did I get an email from my friend Marie asking what we thought about her and her family joining us. They’re on a similar sabbatical themselves and have been in Europe for the last month or so. We thought it would be fun, of course…but, given that it was high season and our trip was complicated–4 towns, 2 ferries, and a train–I thought it was a tall order for them to arrange everything so last minute. I needn’t have worried; they matched our itinerary exactly and it worked out perfectly! We even had apartments around the corner from each other. Bergen was a cute stop, but like the rest of Norway, extremely expensive!
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A nearly vertical ten-minute journey on a funicular to the top of Bergen.
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As you might infer from this photo, Theo hasn’t been digging posed photos lately. Ah well, 5 out of 6 ain’t bad! This is at the top of the funicular.
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Dinner in Bergen with these guys.
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The ferry ride out of Bergen was freezing and extremely windy, even with all our layers on!
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Marie and I met in 1997 (so…20 years ago!) during a summer high school program at Northwestern. After college, we both lived in NYC for a while and have been friends ever since. Now with husbands and toddlers in tow.
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St. Olaf Church in Balestrand, the cutest Nordic village you ever did see. This church is apparently the inspiration for some of the scenes in Frozen (if you care about that sort of thing.)
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The view from our room in the grand 19th century Kviknes Hotel in Balestrand. The hotel is practically ON the water!
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On the historic Flam Railway, known to be one the most beautiful train rides in the world. It was so stunning photos coudln’t even capture it. We were oohing and ahhing every few minutes. The boys were excited! For part of the journey, at least.
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Here we are during a brief train stop at Kjosfossen waterfall. According to local legend, it’s haunted by Huldra, a woman whose red dress concealed a cow’s tail, which she could only shed by snaring a husband. (Kinda a crap story in my opinion.) You can’t tell from this photo but each summer the Flam tourist board hires a dancer to pop out for a moment next to the waterfall to entertain the passengers. It was unexpected, to say the least, considering we were in the middle of nowhere!
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Just a playground in Flam.  NBD.
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Rafe hiked one night to the hills overlooking Flam. What a shot!

 

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We spent a day and a half in Oslo. Marie and family took off for Paris and we took off for Berlin shortly after. I have to say, Olso felt a little cold and meh, even in summer. Glad we went but don’t think we feel the need to return.
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Last morning in Oslo. Teaching the boys how to throw pennies in a fountain. I asked Theo what he wished for and he said, “I wish for mommy!” and then, “I wish for my blankie!” Aim high, son! (We might need to revisit the concept of wishes.)

Last Days in Amsterdam

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Bike ride in our neighborhood down the cutest street, mostly old fisherman’s homes.
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Chocolate milk break at Café ’t Sluisje (The Lock Café) in a 18th-century building.
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Cheese is the best part of Dutch cuisine. (As far as we can tell.)
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All this rain makes everything so green! Look at that green river!

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Lots of little cars like this around. You don’t even need a driver’s license to drive them!
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A rare sunny afternoon in the De Pijp neighborhood – reminds me of the East Village. Met up with Melanie’s good friends (a couple, both Americans) who have lived here for a decade now. They had nothing but good things to say about life here. We had some wine and “bitterballen” — deep fried balls of gravy!

Amsterdam Days

 

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Yes, this bike is entirely too small for me. Oh well, I’m out biking and that’s what counts!
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Bike path to the supermarket.
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View of the city from the rooftop bar of Volkshotel.
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Sunset date night at the Volkshotel.
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Cafe de Ceuvel near our Airbnb, where I’ve been escaping some mornings/afternoons during naptime to do work. 
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Inside the park next to our Airbnb. One minute you’re in an industrial shipyard, the next an idyllic scene like this!
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Petting zoo inside the same park. There are petting zoos everywhere it seems!