Monday, July 26, 2010

Berlin Birthday

This year it felt like I had a two-week celebration while on holiday with Susan so the actual day didn't stand out too much from the rest of the fun.
But it was a hot sunny day in Berlin and I started by taking a run along the river and through the park. I got to spend time talking with Adrienne, my friend who hosted us for a couple nights. Then Susan and I spent the whole day walking around and exploring the city. We saw landmarks and monuments and went to a museum. We had to have cake of course, and this is me at Fassbender & Rausch, apparently Europe's biggest chocolate store. We lingered over dinner and talked until the long summer day gave way to twilight around 10:30. Finally, to round out the day we ate ice cream sundaes before jumping on the train to go home. Definitely a good day!

Saturday, July 24, 2010


This is my beautiful wife, right after she finished an 18 mile training run this morning. I know this life in Germany hasn't always been easy, but I am SO proud of her. Jackie has made the most of her time here. She cooks delicious and healthy meals, plans adventurous vacations, takes care of the household chores, teaches English at Atec and is training for the Berlin Marathon! Great job Jackie! I love you!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Hot summer days in Prague

Prague was fantastic! It had a historical feel different from anywhere else I've been. Though the city was heavily bombed by the Allies in WWII, the damage to the city was much less than that seen in Vienna, Berlin and other German cities. So maybe the different feel was authenticity. The streets were narrow and winding- a nightmare for navigation but a delight for sight-seeing and discovery. There was adventure around every corner.
It's hard to capture the feel of a place in words; I guess that is why people travel. We saw all the typical sights- the castle, the cathedral, the synagogues, the main market square, the pedestrian shopping district. But the mood on a hot summer afternoon in a shaded beer garden, the character of the people, the excitement of the tourists, the frenzied World Cup fans everywhere.
I finally found out who good King Wenceslas was. I tasted real Czech gulasch and dumplings. I drank the original Budweiser (Budvar) beer. I stood in a thousand-year-old castle great hall. I walked through a Jewish cematery with graves dating from the 15th century. I strolled through cobbled streets where centuries of people have carried on their daily lives. I felt the world grow yet smaller and at the same time felt that my presence in it is fleeting and insignificant. I am just blessed to be part of it.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Susan and Jackie's Big Adventure

A lot of things in my life lately seem like "once-in-a-lifetime" experiences and I'm pretty sure I've just had another one. My friend Susan met me in Prague and we spent two weeks traveling together, sight-seeing in the Czech Republic, Berlin and finally, Amsterdam. We were on the go the whole time and saw so much that I can hardly put it into words.

But even better than all the new places we visited was the time with an old friend. We hadn't seen each other in three years but it hardly mattered. We just picked up where we left off and gabbed until my throat was sore! We were amazingly compatible for traveling together- no small miracle since I'm an early bird and she's a night owl who was fighting a nine-hour jet lag. She tolerated my stinky running clothes and I tolerated her clothes all over the room, and even after two weeks of morning, noon and night side by side, we still like each other!

After two years as a "stranger in a strange land," relationships are all the more precious to me. It's not always easy to make new friends and there's no substitute for family. My head is still spinning from the last few months but I am so grateful for the visits from friends and my parents. It is truly a breath of life to Aaron and me.

As soon as I recover from my adventure, I'll share some of the highlights...