Sunday, August 28, 2011

Ich bin eine Berliner!

It's hard to believe that two months have passed since we arrived in Berlin. It flew by and now I feel like I have to play catch-up with this blog! My thesis seems to have taken all my writing juices lately, which is great, but here I am with two whole months to report on!

We basically loved Berlin. The vibe is very down-to-earth and the people are friendly and eclectic. The city is not exactly beautiful, per se, but has interesting neighbourhoods to explore, art, history, parks galore! I was especially impressed at the family-friendliness of the city. In our area, Prenzlauerberg, just about every person I saw was pregnant. One day P and I had a contest to see how many pregnant ladies on bikes we could count, and we reached 10 in less than 2 hours! There are parks on every corner, and there are amazing children`s playgrounds in them, with natural materials and interesting playthings. There is one specific park near our apartment that has 4 different playgrounds in it - each one for children of different ages and developmental stages! A schoolyard nearby has a completely 100% natural playground, with slides built into hills, lots of bushes and trees with natural tunnels and passageways through them, interesting boulders for climbing, and an area with different sized sticks for building and imagination! Ì was amazed with natural playgrounds before coming to Berlin, but now I`m obsessed! I really appreciated how nature is valued in German culture. From the strong presence of naturopathy (even within modern medical practices!), to the abundance of organic markets and products, the compost stations in apartment complexes, and bike lanes on every street, and especially the green spaces within the city! I really felt like it radiates a certain sense of well-being that other western countries just don`t have. Aaand I also must give a shout-out to the 2:00-5:00pm kaffee and kuchen time that just rocked my world. But for the other highlights of our short stint in Berlin, I`m going to do this bullet-point style:

* Free weekends meant road trips, of course! We made our way to Hamburg to visit my friend Jenny and her family (who I had met in 2004 when we studied in Singapore together). Her little 4-month old, Idris, is amazing and he makes me so excited to have our own little baby in a few months!

We also managed to go to Prague - a must-see for both of us! We wandered through the streets admiring the architecture, seeing the sites and enjoying these amazing cinnamon bun things!!

The city was packed with tourists, but it made for a buzzing atmosphere that was lively until late into the night.

Little did we know, Berlin has some lovely weekend destinations of its own! A short drive took us to Potsdam and it's famous castle San Soussi, the Wannsee, and Pfaueninsel. We lounged in the gardens, sampled the ice cream, and had a pedal boat adventure.

* We were also lucky enought to have some fabulous visitors of our own! S moved to Berlin in August for a change of scenery and has made it a personal mission to taste-test every kaffee and kuchen place in Berlin! Happily I have been joining him and let me say it has been a very successful month!! E and O, our good friends from back in Fonty drove over from their summer location in Luxembourg to check out Berlin! We shared our love of kuchen, kindercafes, beergartens, and the sites! AND just this weekend, Jenny and her brood came to us! We strolled the streets of Prenzlberg and had some delicious meals and lots of gorgeous baby smiles!

* In baby news, it seems that we have taken the term "babymoon" to new extremes. In it's 6 short months of existence, this fetus has been to France, Spain, Belgium, Switzerland, Canada, Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Cambodia, Germany, and the Czech Republic. Next up: Italy! We have exactly one week (and two weekends) to make our way back to Fonty for the fourth semester, and we're going the long way through the north of Italy! It's always been a dream of mine to drive through the countryside of Tuscany, and so we figured what better time than now?! Just in time for my (gulp) 30th birthday, and 3 short months before the birth of baby E, I just can't imagine anything more beautiful and exciting!

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