Thursday, January 20, 2011

Kids say the darndest things

Me: What do you want to be when you grow up?

Little J: A farmer!

Me: What do you want to farm?

Little J: Cats. I want to farm cats.

At least the conversations with the kids are always interesting!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011


Berlin and Budapest were tied for the top city I visited. Berlin is possibly one of the coolest cities I have ever been to. We arrived at our apartment exhausted from driving, ordered Chinese food and passed out on our first night there. The next morning we ventured out to see the city. We managed to get a tour of the city definitely something I would recommend if seeing Berlin as there is so much to see!

4 hours  of touring later we were frozen STIFF. We got a 600 year history in 4 hours and saw a lot of the city including a Nazi building, some social realist art and lots of how much was destroyed in the war.  We were able to see the Berlin wall, Checkpoint Charlie and a number of other places in the city.

Brandenburg gate Where we also celebrated New Years!

Holocaust Memorial

example of Social Realism art on one of the only buildings still standing in the Nazi style of architecture

Part of the Nazi style architecture building. here used to be Swastikas in the circles.

famous statue of a mother holding her son. Specifically exposed to the elements to show the hardship and emotion. 

pretty building although I forget what exactly it is?

The next day (New Years!) was spent on another tour, this one for street art. It was so interesting to see the sort of underground culture that Berlin has so much of. Our guide was fantastic, talking about the street art and taking us to art studios around the city. A very cool experience!
Classic. Enjoying starbucks before the start of our Street art tour!

Some more street art. Our guide thought this was an interpretation of the very cute polar bear Knut who is well known throughout the world.

Part of the Metal art studio we went to

I wanted to make the pictures more interesting. So I made them pose!
PArt of a project to beautify different areas of Berlin called the 50 faces project.
New Years eve!

Check out that gate!

New Years was spent at the Brandenburg gate watching fireworks standing around (much like NYC.) Overall a good New years!

New Years day was spent mostly lounging around before heading into the city for dinner. 

Before we left the one thing I had wanted to do was see the Hitler exhibition at the German historical museum. It was pretty controversial when it first came out and I was excited to see what all the talk was about. It was a really interesting exhibit, filled with Hitler's rise and information on the party in general.  Overall a really good exhibit. 

We left Berlin around 2pm and after some snow, rain and other weathery things managed to make it home at about 11pm (our original ETA was 9pm...oops?) A very good trip overall although it felt good to get back to routine after 11 days of being away!


Our next stop on our trip was Prague. Before leaving Budapest we stopped at Momento park to look at the monstrous communist leader statues.  It was freezing cold out so in order to make the park more bearable as we walked around we decided to take turns posing with them.  These are a few of the results....
shaking hands.

Michelle was SOO EXCITED when we drove through Slovakia on our way to Prague. 

Shelley also expressed her excitement!
Afterwards we headed to Prague arriving in the early evening. After check-in we headed out for some traditional czech food. I'm not really sure what that necessarily consists of but we had these potato dumpling things (not really dumplings but bread.) and hit up a few bars before heading home to bed
clock in Prague square

On the boat! attempting to get warm
Christmas Market in Prague
Getting ready  to cross over the Charles Bridge

Prague Castle
The next day we decided to take a guided tour of the city. this was both a good and bad idea. Good because we got to see so much of the city. Bad because the weather was so cold no one could really feel their legs, arms, or face after. It was a 6 hour tour including a boat ride.
Prague at night

Just like in London!

Excited to be there!
The next day was full of more walking around and the Communist Museum (started by an American businessman!) and looking at the Christmas markets.

Highlight of the trip? The beer. Surprised? i was. I'm not a beer drinker at all normally but it being so cheap i decided to give it a try. Czech makes a lot of good beer. Every one that we tried was good! The Czechs are the largest consumers of beer in the world. This makes it so they don't have to export their beer because all of the beer is consumed domestically.

We left prague and headed off to Berlin!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Budapest: city of spas, city of caves

My Christmas trip this year consisted of three cities. Budapest, Prague and Berlin.  a few facts about the trip: total time: 11 days. total mileage on car: 2,744 km. Total amount of people coming and going: 5. Number moments where I was thought I had  hypothermia: app. 1000. Number of times I actually had hypothermia: ZERO! Number of times I pinched myself to make sure this was real life: too many to count.

Budapest was amazing. A.M.A.Z.I.N.G. After driving for approximately 12 hours from Zurich with a stop to pick up our friends in Vienna (and a few wrong turns), Shelley, Michelle, Andrew and I arrived at our apartment in Budapest on the 23rd. We went out to dinner and did a little bit of walking around before collapsing into bed.
Christmas Eve day was devoted to relaxation and the realization that I had 11 whole days. KID FREE. I left the family on a sort of sour ending (there was poop involved. Need I say more?) so I was hoping to ust forget and relax, which I definitely did! We were at the baths until about midafternoon (massages as well!) and then headed off to do some sight seeing before heading back to prepare our Christmas Eve feast! We managed to have a look around at some platz's, a castle, and walk around the Christmas Market, where we had a delicious baked dough dipped in cinnamon and sugar.
The baths

Shelley and I about to head off to our massages!

the delicious dough being made

possibly the best jumping picture I have ever taken!
 After a short nap (oops?) we headed across the bridge to walk around the Matthias church and surrounding area.  the city was lit up beautifully, definitely one of my favorite moments of watching the city on Christmas Eve!
Our Christmas dinner consisted of a lasagna, garlic bread and salad. While not the usual Christmas Eve oyster stew and Christmas cookies, it was still nice and fun to be able to spend it with new friends!
View of Parliament from the other side of the river!
Christmas Eve dinner!

Our Christmas day was super relaxed. It was so cold outside (quite different from the 55* temp the day before!) and after a lazy morning we decided to head off to see the Parliament building (3rd largest in the world). The weather decided that as soon as we got out it would be best to hail. We managed to take a few pictures of parliament before finding refuge in a small cafe before heading back to the apartment to watch Love Actually and talk with various family members. It was the least Christmasy I have ever felt although not as hard as I thought it would be. I even managed to still wake my sister up for Christmas morning (oops!) and talked to almost everyone.

cheers to a good Christmas!

 On the 26th in the morning we managed to go to the labyrinth. Basically underground maze near the Matthias Church. I didn't realize that Budapest has caves underneath the hill that Buda sits on. It was really cool to see the underground areas that were old wine cellars and torture chambers. We then left in the early afternoon to head to Prague!
trapped in the caves!
delicious wine! along with a sign saying please don't drink....

Coke bottle. Part of the exhibit in the labyrinth of random things from our era being immortalized in cement. Totally random.