Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Christmas Week in Germany

We are finally back in Berlin and are slowly getting back to normal after spending Christmas week out of the house.

Last Friday, I went to the office, thinking I could get some work done before packing our bags to go to my parents' house for the holidays. I must have misunderstood the whole holiday schedule at the university. Apparently, if Christmas week is coming up, you don't go to work the Friday before - and if you do, you will regret every second of it, because the heat will be shut off in the entire building. No one was expected to show up there, so everyone who did, froze to their chairs and then left after a little while.

I wanted to attend a colloquium from 2-4pm, so I sat there in my coat for 8 hrs. Yay.

Afterwards, we took Lucy for her very first trip to the Christmas market. She did amazing on the train and is truly turning into an expert in taking public transportation. The subway was packed with people and at some point, she had large shopping bags and other peoples' coats pushed against her face, but Lucy just sat there and waited for this awkwardness to end.

Thankfully, the ride back was much more pleasant.

Sunday morning, Lucy got picked up to go on her doggy vacation. She spent the week with a dog sitter outside of town. Although I was really sad for her not to come with us, I was happy about this decision once we were on the bus.

There would have been no room for a dog there anywhere and she would have been miserable the entire ride.

At my parents' house, things were as relaxing and filling as usual. Despite all of her choir work and the concerts she was in charge of, Mama cooked up a storm and spoiled us all again. In fact, we went straight from the bus to the biggest concert she conducted. Nothing compares to those concerts and how they are setting me into the Christmas spirit. I remember being a little girl and sitting in church, listening, or being part of those events. It was very special for us to be there this year.

There are 3 Christmas days here in Germany: Christmas Eve (when we open all the presents after church and dinner), 1st Christmas day, and 2nd Christmas day.

Christmas Eve, it was just my parents, my younger brother and his girlfriend, my youngest brother, Nick, and myself. On the 1st Christmas day, all three of my brothers with their significant others and families were there. Then, on the 2nd Christmas day, my parents and I went to my uncle's house and spent the day with the extended family. Nick had to work, so he was unable to join us, unfortunately.

Basically, we ate 72hrs straight. It was glorious. (I will tell you more about the details of the feedings in a couple of days.)

Nick and I had planned to take the bus back to Berlin, but came up with the perfect plan to cancel the bus and rent a car instead, go to Cologne, spend a day there, and then drive back home in time for New Years. All this was said and done within hours. We picked up the car (a pretty fast Audi A3!), drove 2 hrs to Cologne and had the greatest time!

We even climbed up the Dom again. When we went there the first time, almost exactly a year ago. I truly thought I was going to meet Jesus on the way up. Almost 600 very steep, circular steps will do that to you.

Maybe it was due to the fact that I did no longer expect an elevator (lets not talk about me thinking that there was going to be some sort of apparatus taking us up the first time we went) that this year the walk up seemed to be much easier. It could also be the fact that all the Christmas food fueled me so well that I could do nothing but sprint up this building. Either way. It was a lot of fun, but not less scary to look down from the top.

The black spot is not a UFO, but the fence.

I made it up and down alive!

Now, we are all back together and in Berlin. Lucy fell in love during her Christmas vacation and misses her boyfriend, but aside from that, we are all doing well.

So much cuteness!

Of course, Nick and I are excited for the New Years celebrations in Berlin. We will see if they turn out as crazy as it is shown on YouTube…


I will leave you with this, the hope to not die in the firework craziness on the streets, and the best wishes for a healthy and happy new year.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Cleaning day and What all of you have been dying to hear

Oh, dear (2) people reading my blog! It's cleaning day in this household today and I am already sick and tired of it.

I somehow had the feeling that I could pick up every room, thoroughly clean the apartment, wash out the fridge, get groceries, finish wrapping presents, finish writing cards, walk Lucy, do the laundry, and be done by 3pm.
That feeling vanished very quickly once it was 2.30.

Now it's 7.44pm and I am not even close to being half way through my list. So I am just dropping the little bit of motivation that's left in me and sit down to write a blog post.
Who needs clean clothes anyway?! Dishes? I have two hands!

I know you have all been dying to hear how the running is coming. So I am going to fill you in today!

As you know, when we were in Dresden, I ran my very first mile on the treadmill at the hotel after having to take a break since the end of July.

When it comes to running outside. I had did 1 of those. I ran 3 miles from our house up the street and back. For some reason, I am terrified that running on pavement will bring back the stress fracture in no time. However, all went well.

Except for my stupid arm pocket falling off every 4 steps and my shirt riding up. No need to mention that I looked ridiculous fighting my attire. I'm not kidding you, I had to fix both of these things every two seconds in order to stay clothed and not to lose my phone. Happy times.

Note to self: Handle hair spray more carefully
and use it for your hair - not your mirror. 

I had imagined my first run outside to be magical and speedy and awesome, but it was none of those things. Despite all this, I still loved the way that the shirt kept me warm and still did not suffocate me. It's a certain type of mesh that looks like I am going to an awesome party, but it does wonders when it comes to temperature control.

Aside from this one outside running event, I am using the treadmill at the gym. Normally, I do a mile when I get in, then I do weights and core strength, and finish with another couple of miles before I leave.

However, today, the unthinkable happened: someone had opened the window for about 2 inches! So I decided to do three miles at the beginning and do my routine afterwards. It worked fine, but despite the "breeze", I was drenched after finished on the treadmill.

Here is a gross picture to prove it.
No idea why I look like I have
Marylin-Manson-style make up going on. 

How do people run like this!? - and more importantly: Why!? Why wouldn't you open a window, or all of them?! Who wants to run in 80 degrees with no oxygen - when the outside offers the perfect 35-40 degrees?! It's just beyond me. I just can't wait until I'm certain to be safe to both add miles and get back on harder surface than the treadmill band. Until then, you will may hear more of my bitching complaining.

Did I mention that people yelled at me for opening a window the other day?! Argh!

I was much happier leaving that place, though. It is just the most comfortable winter weather here these days. While I miss the snow, this is just perfect to be outside.

See? I wasn't even wearing make up. The camera played some cruel trick!

When we stay with my parents next week, I will have no choice but to run outside and I'm both nervous and happy about it. - Oh ja, and terrified. There are some nasty hills I can't get around when leaving their house… Berlin spoiled me with it's incredible flatness (is this a word?!), so I am expecting it to be some sort of challenge.

To be safe, I am planning on taking change for a taxi on my runs (to take me back home in case I don't make it). I don't want to miss out on any of the (many!) feasts that are going to happen there.

… and to not only have awkward selfies in this post: here is a picture of one of our favorite Christmas markets in Berlin.

You should all come here and go there with me!

Monday, December 16, 2013


I know, i have been MIA lately and trust me, I wish it wasn't this way. 
I am working on a paper that just seems like it is never ending... and at this point, I truly believe it is never ending. 

Not too long ago, I had this genius idea that I should finish this piece of writing before Christmas. Well that one went down the drain. It just would have been so nice! Not to have to carry bags of books and papers with me and not to spend time working while the others get to have cookies and things! (Boohoo.)

On the bright side, however, Nick and I are professionals at packing work for our trips and my family (on both sides) is very understanding when it comes to me being the party pooper - plus, this time, Nick will be working, too!  

Yea, so we have a big trip planned and Lucy is spending time "by herself". We are leaving her with a dog sitter. It's actually a very nice couple who owns a big house with an incredibly large, fenced in yard. They have a dog that Lucy is already friends with, that get to run and play and chase the 7 or 8 chicken that live there (I am already fearing for their lives). On top of it, there is a little pond that she couldn't wait to get into last time we were there. She will probably have the time of her life while I am busy projecting my sadness about her not celebrating Christmas with us, by imagining that she will cry the entire time and miss us terribly. You know, because she is alone for Christmas...
and because she doesn't get to sit all cramped on a bus full of people. (Two things dogs are particularly fond of.) 

Anyhow, this is the plan for the upcoming week. I'm already making long lists in my head what I have to do before we leave, but I'm afraid that it's already so much that I would've had to start three weeks ago to get it all done. I guess, I'll have to move "making jam" and making crocheting to after the holidays...

By the way, I'm already trying to come up with a plan how I will get my workouts in while we are traveling. 

How do you do that? 

Do you skip all your workouts while you are out of town (and not staying at a hotel with a gym)? 

Do you just train extra hard before and after?

Do you do your routines either way and carry all your gear with you?

PS: as far as minor victories are concerned: there were 1.5 pages written today. 
Doesn't seem much, but with an average of 3.36 sentences per day, it is more than I have written in the past two weeks combined! Perspective is the key. Sometimes. 

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

What is going on?!

Seriously, you need to tell me.

Obviously, something is going on and I have no clue, what it is.

When I got on the train this morning, an old lady started staring at me and just wouldn't stop. At first, I thought that there was a funny poster, or something weird going on behind me, but I checked (several times) - and there was nothing.

Before you wonder: no, I did not steal anyone's seat. I just stood there. There were only a handful of people on the train, so there was no doubt that she was looking at me. Even worse, grandma gave me an actual stink-eye!

So I did what anyone else would do - I stared back. After all, her hat was pretty ridiculous.


Things got weirder when I hopped on the next train. There were two girls who kept looking at me - and giggling! RUDE!
I checked my jacket, shoes, jeans, face and hair for food remnants or anything. But there was nothing.

Do I have something on my face?

It really created a panic induced moment of self-consciousness for me.

Of course, it didn't end there. A man with Tourette Syndrom passed by me on the crowded platform and started yelling all sorts of expressions for lady-parts at me - and wouldn't stop. I'm actually really glad people didn't stare at him and only gave me looks, because there is nothing he can do about his condition. However, I wouldn't have minded if everyone had just ignored what was going on.

I am now at my desk. Still confused by the latest events during my commute to work.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

How to survive a storm without candy

Honestly, I don't know. 

What I do know is that there is a nasty storm happening outside right now. His name is Xavier and after shaking up things in Great Britain, he is now making his way through the Northern European and Baltic countries. 
Right now, he is blowing what feels like an entire ocean and some snowflakes all over and against my freshly washed and polished windows. Rude! This could have potentially saved me half a day of cleaning last Saturday! 
Next time I will know better to leave it to natural disasters to do my housework.

The real drama is that we ran out of candy. There is no more gummy candy left in our cabinets or my secret sock-drawer candy stash! (Btw, really, iPhone!? You want to auto correct secret candy stash with "secret candy Stasi"!? That is just wrong in so many ways!) 

Back to the real problem. 

How does this happen?!? We have enough bread, eggs, milk, and coffee - but no gummy candy?! That is just unbelievable to me! Where did I have my mind?! I even went to the store this morning - and passed through the candy isle. I'm really worrying myself.

I tried to carb-load all day to make up for the missing sugars from gummy bears and friends, but it just doesn't do the trick. It just doesn't. 

On the bright side, the weather preventing me from running to the store should be a sign for my haribo-addiction not to have become completely uncontrollable. Right?! If I had a "problem", I wouldn't let a hurricane keep me from those delicious, colorful, chewy sweets! Right?! Maybe there is still hope. 

Until I can walk over to the store without being pushed into the street by Xavier, I will work on finishing the cookies and think about my dietary choices. 
Who am I kidding. 
They are chocolate covered. 
My dietary choices at exceptionally great.

Before I forget to tell you my brightest moment of the day: I did laundry today. Remember, we wash it at home, but due to a lack of a dryer (or room for one), I always haul all the wet laundry for three blocks down to the laundromat to dry it there. 

Nothing weird about it, tons of ppl do that. Really.

So Xavier was said to arrive around 5 or so and I had the perfect plan to do three loads and walk over to get it all dried right before the storm hits.
All went well until I realized I forgot my keys. Nick works from home, but he is tied to the computer and phone for hours at a time. Therefore, he can't just jump up to open the door when it rings. 
So I texted him - and waited. And the rain/ snow/ thick rain(?) began. 
By the time he had texted me back and I had walked home, I was drenched! 
What's the moral of the story: don't do laundry if it requires you to leave your house. 

Seriously. I'm considering never doing laundry again myself. It just stinks.

What was your favorite part of the day? 

Is it storming where you live right now? 

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Magical Moment(s) and Not So Magical Run

Hello, hello!

I just "finished up work" for the day (which means, I just stopped working) and had the choice of writing Christmas cards, or writing a blog post before it's time to go to bed.
Well, aren't you happy now that your card will probably be late, because I obviously chose the second option?!

Today was an exceptionally great day. Not only did I finish the one sentence I had been fighting with over the past two days, I also added 4 more sentences to my paper! Baby steps here, baby steps.


In addition to this, I got to talk to my bff on the phone! This is incredibly awesome, because life in Berlin is just sad without our daily regular coffee-dates that we used to have in Baltimore. So getting to catch up on the phone was fantastic!

We had a lot of important stories business to discuss!

Another magical moment was created today, when Nick and I took Lucy to the dog park and we almost froze to death. I am definitely not exaggerating when I tell you that every time I exhaled, little snow flakes formed right away and fell on the ground.

- Yes, when I was looking through gifs, I realized, this does prove I am a Superhero.


The cold weather was one of the reasons I decided to go for another extra careful run on the treadmill this morning. I ran a couple of miles on Sunday and the leg has been okay.
Unfortunately, my gym does not only have the smallest treadmills, but also no apparent ventilation system. This turned my little running adventure into something I have not even experienced in the Baltimore heat. Imagine about 14 people in bulk, on treadmills, next to each other, every window closed, no fans, and, I'm not 100% positive on this, but it felt like there was heating on when I first walked in. Even without heat, the air was so warm and stuffy that after .5 miles, I was ready to empty my stomach on the (very small) dashboard. It was miserable. But what do you do once you started? You just keep going, right?!
That's what I did, at least. Until people gave me worried looks and I felt as if my face was turning purple from overheating.


On the bright side, the knee lasted through 30 minutes of running. I may never run there again, but it's good to know that if I ever want to come close to a heat stroke, that's where I should go. Instead, I will try to run outside and conquer the cold, or at least not freeze to death. I'll keep you posted how that goes.

Do you prefer to run inside during the winter?

What is your favorite temperature for a run?

How often do you get to talk to your bff?

Friday, November 29, 2013

How to celebrate Thanksgiving in Germany

Happy belated Thanksgiving! I hope all of you had great food and celebrated this special day with your loved ones!?
We sure missed our family and friends in New York, Massachusetts, Maryland (…) and it was really weird to not have a big eating-fest with the whole family.

However, since the 4th of July, this is the first time Nick has more than a 2-day weekend off. So we have plenty of reason to celebrate and be happy.

I'm sure you are dying to know what we ate, so I'm telling you right away that no turkey was eaten. Not even a chicken. Or any other bird for that matter.

Although, I am proud to announce that there was a pie! Which, I think, counts as perfectly appropriate Thanksgiving food.

Apple Pie and rolls for breakfast!

Since we are in Germany after all, we didn't want to go through the hassle of trying to find foods or cooking tools that are hard or impossible to come by here and rather relax and enjoy the day. This included eating what is available and what we like best!

First we went to a Christmas market!

We are a bit spoiled from last year, when we went to Cologne and had the best time at one of the prettiest Christmas markets I've ever been to. However, this one was really cool, too!! They even had a wine bar with a reindeer above the entrance! Never pass the opportunity to take a stupid picture with a reindeer head. 

They also had plenty of great smelling foods!

- but we decided to have Glühwein with a shot of rum instead.

How can you not enjoy being at a place like this, drinking (very) hot, christmassy-spiced red wine, walking between the pretty little shops, and looking at the various hand-crafted things people are selling?!

For dinner, we went to our favorite place!

Döner and Lamachun! Happy Thanksgiving!

After that, we just went home and rented Iron Man 3 on DVD. 

Lucy wanted to watch the movie with us, but she is not allowed on the couch. So she tried to snuggle up as close as she could. She was so cuddly and loved us very much last night…

… which may have had something to do with the fact that we were snacking on some venison that we bought at the Christmas market. 

You should all go and try some of this!

However, I chose to believe that she was just happy to hang out with us and no ulterior motive was involved.

Have a great Friday and if you are out shopping - be safe!

Monday, November 25, 2013

Running Update and Christmas is Near!

Just in case you were wondering, I didn't forget about my blog.
I was quite busy with very important adult things: work, cleaning the apartment, more work, laundry, even more work… and every time I got to the blog, I was so tired that nothing good came out of it.
I'm not saying that this is going to be good, however, I will do my best to at least finish the sentences and write readable words.

So, you all know that I ran for the first time in Dresden and I couldn't be happier about it. Still, one week after, there has not been another run.
I've decided to take it as slow as I have to (or possibly can), since my knee has been acting up for the days following my treadmill-adventure. Baby steps.


If you have ever had a stress fracture, please share your thoughts with me. How long did it take you to get back into running? Do you feel like it healed completely? Or can you still feel it after a hard workout? I'm getting really impatient.

To distract myself with beautiful and happy things, and because we are a little crazy, Nick and I went all out (as much as we can) with our Christmas decoration.

You see, I am not one of those people who get disturbed by the early(ish) Christmas mood. If you sell chocolate Santas at your store right next to Halloween candy - that's fine with me. Who would complain about a great variety in sugary treats?! Plus, the worst thing that could happen to me is Christmas sneaking up on me, leaving me unprepared, or taking days away from this great time of the year. I'm a fan of the cold, the Christmas markets, mandarins, hot teas, and thinking about what I could get for family and friends that would make them happy.

I wish I could have a blinking Elmo on our balcony!

Thankfully, I am not alone with my excitement for the big day. When Nick and I were on the bus back from Dresden, we already decided that even if we are going to be here for only a year, we will still decorate.

So on Saturday, inspired by the grocery shopping trip, we continued our tour through stores around town in order to find the right things to illuminate our balcony - and we were successful!
Our outside space is really small, but we found something that is bright, but (hopefully) not too distracting for people who are driving by.

Guess where we live!

I know, I know. The rule in Germany is, not to decorate for Christmas until "Ewigkeitssonntag" (Eternity Sunday), the Sunday before the first of advent. Which was the day after we got our decorations. We just couldn't resist and in our defense, we almost made it and were only 12 hrs early. Which is less than a day. So we were kind of just in time.

While Nick secured these glowing embellishments to the outside of the apartment, I took care of the inside.

We don't have much to work with here, since whatever we buy here has to fit in a suitcase when we fly back. 

But we worked with what we had and now Christmas can come.

In a few weeks.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Letting you in on a secret and Getting yelled at (again) - or: Dresden Part II

Our one full vacation day was probably my most favorite day ever.

I got up bright and early to test the gym at the hotel - and let me tell you, right after the all-you-can-eat breakfast buffet, it was probably my favorite thing there. They had the nicest machines and each one had it's own TV with about 50 channels!

I'm going to let you in on a secret: I did not only go to the gym to do my regular bike/ weights routine.

I ran.

I went on the treadmill after my workout and ran for a whole mile.

It was amazing.

That's all I can say for now.

Right after, we went for my all time favorite and absolutely amazing breakfast and Nick surprised me with an appointment he had scheduled for me at the hotel spa to get a massage! AAAAH!

I was already excited about this
fancy spa-water with cucumber and lemon!

Seriously, at that point, the day was already going beyond anything I could ever hope for. Running, bottomless breakfast, and a massage?! All within one morning?! That's just incredible!

Unfortunately, I looked like an idiot for a little while, with the towel imprints from the massage table…

At noon, after the imprints had faded, we headed out to visit some of the museums in the area.

So pretty!

The museums were all in these buildings.

Look at those bells! And they worked!!

Here is where things took some sort of slight turn - away from the sweet and wonderful morning. We wanted to see two museums: the physics and mathematics museum and the old gallery.

When we bought the tickets, the very nice lady at the register informed us that we could get a combo-ticket that was much cheaper and included those two museums we wanted to visit, plus the porcelain museum. We didn't want to see the porcelain. Nothing against plates and vases, but we just wanted to spend the time looking at other things.

Since it was very cold out and the museums all seemed connected, we were hoping to use our extra ticket for those vases to cut through that part of the building to get to the mathematics and physics exhibition. 

Unfortunately, by the time the lady at the entrance to the porcelain told us that that wasn't possible, she had already scanned us in. When she realized that we were going to just walk out again, she was not pleased about us not wanting to see the pretty dishes and vases. So we did what everyone else would do and walked in just to calm her down - and to see if she was wrong and if there actually was a way to cut through the porcelain museum.

For about 5 minutes, it was actually pretty cool. Then, I accidentally walked too close to one of the porcelain peacocks or teapots and set off the alarm.

So that was fun!

We pretended nothing happened in hopes that people would stop staring.

I even took a few pictures, because we thought that the porcelain animals were really neat. The bear was Nick's favorite, so I wanted to make sure to get a picture of that, too…

… then someone yelled across the big hall to put my camera down, because taking pictures was strictly forbidden. (Has anyone ever yelled at you at a museum?! The sound of the words bounces off those walls and I'm pretty sure the porcelain dishes were shaking.)

Within the 7 minutes of going in there, I got yelled at twice and triggered an alarm.

We will never be able to go there again.

For your own safety, I am not posting the pictures I snapped before everything went downhill.
But here is a picture of the museum from the outside.

See all those plates and vases behind the windows?!
The other two museums were very nice!
For my literary research, I have worked on pieces that relate to astronomical studies in the late 18th century, so seeing all those instruments was really cool.

This one was definitely my favorite.
They also had a creepy drumming bear-alarm (alarm-bear?!). His eyes were moving, too. I can see how this will make you jump out of bed and run for your life!

At the gallery, taking photographs was not allowed either. This time, however, I knew about it beforehand. No yelling. We might go back again some time!

The gallery is in this building.

We proceeded to the recently rebuilt "Church of Our Lady" (Frauenkirche), which was probably one of my favorite buildings there. In 1945, when Dresden was attacked and completely leveled, the church was destroyed in the bombing. The site remained in ruins for many decades and 60 years later, in 2005, the reconstruction was completed.

The dark bricks you see are original remains that were reused.

Nick and I even walked all the way to the top and were able to enjoy the most wonderful view of the city.

OMG I'm gonna fall down!!!

I should mention that I am deathly afraid of heights. So in my head, I was preparing myself to die any second the entire time we were up there.

Back at the hotel, we went for the shortest swim in the history of mankind. When we got there, the pool was empty. There was just us and two other people. Within 3 minutes, the place filled up so much that there was no more room in the water. So we left and figured we should just do what we do best: eat!

For dinner, we went to a really cool tapas place. If you ever go to Dresden, you should definitely check it out! I promise I will remember the name by then.

We were determined to get gelato for dessert right next door to the restaurant, but they seriously closed 2 minutes before we got there. Rude!

The best way to deal with devastating situations like this is to walk through the entire city and find another place with largest dessert portions.

Oh yea, and you know where we found those cakes and giant ice cream scoops?! At a place where every other customer was about 70 years older than us! I'm not even kidding. That café was incredible and those old people didn't mess around with their dessert. We both had to fight really hard to finish what we ordered.

They also had the most interesting decoration there.

Of course, the humungous (and very colorful!) chandelier that was hanging right in front of our face was made out of porcelain. This time, however, nobody yelled at me for taking pictures.

This post has now officially exceeded any acceptable length.

Happy Tuesday!