Tuesday, 29 January 2013

Now for something completely different...

A couple of days ago I bought these items for our next adventure.

Sun Screen SPF 50, Hand Sanitizer, Tropical Bug Spray
Essentials for our trip to .....Cambodia....Yes, Cambodia! YAY!

Why Cambodia you may ask?

Well, some months ago when we were in the planning stages of our Peripatetic Year, Erwin asked what places in the world I would like to visit. We also had discussions about trying to avoid as much of winter as possible, or at least break it up.

At first we talked about Paraguay where we've been a few times, but have since decided that'll wait for another winter. Then, my dream vacation, an African Safari (I love animals). But, as it turns out, the best time of year to see and do what we want to do there is during their winter (our summer). So that has been pushed to probably just before we go back to Canada. After that we  thought about some of the more unusual places that we'd both wanted to go see "someday".
We came up with Angkor Wat.

I have to admit that I didn't know the Angkor Temples that we've all seen in National Geographic type pictures were in Cambodia. I also have to admit that I would not have been able to pinpoint Cambodia on a globe, just the general area of Asia. Must have been sick that day in school.

So Erwin cashed in a bunch of his Aeroplan points (business class) and through a tour company hired a private guide and driver. The itinerary is varied. Angkor Wat at sunrise, rural village tour, Ream National Park, a few days on the beach of the South China Sea (Gulf of Thailand more precisely), plus much more.

We leave from Frankfurt on Sunday, February 3 for two weeks of something completely different, as they used to say on Monty Python's Flying Circus. I can't wait!

Thursday, 24 January 2013


Another chapter in our life is coming to an end.

The time has come to say good-bye to Berlin, or at least good-bye to the time we've had in Berlin, our apartment on Rosa-Luxemburg Straße, and Stadt Mitte. I know that Berlin isn't going anywhere and that we will come back at some point, after all, Erwin is a German prof., but that doesn't make leaving any easier.

It's been an amazing experience and I feel very lucky to have been able to spend nearly half a year here, to have been a part of this city, as an official resident even, and know that it will always have a special place in my heart.

I keep going to places I love, thinking how much I'm going to miss all of this. Walking through the streets and seeing the Fernsehturm poking the sky in the distance and thinking that's where I live, that's "home", for now anyway.

Stopping to buy a Currywurst from one of those guys with a propane tank strapped to his back, and then for dessert Kaffee und Kuchen from one of the ubiquitous bakeries.

Or just taking the U2 line from west to east when it goes above ground for a bit and you look toward Potsdamer Platz, or seeing the Regierungsviertel at night from the S-Bahn - these are moments that will always give me a thrill.

Memories are made of this.

It felt good knowing that I had the Museminsel, or the Zooligischer Garten, or the Gemäldegalerie at my fingertips. We made a list of all the things we wanted to do in our last days, but I realized I didn't want to accomplish absolutely everything on it, because that would leave nothing to come back for. Besides going for a swim in the Wannsee, might be a bit cold this time of year, and the official Berlin bears at the Bärenzwinger, who would most likely object to being roused from their winter slumber for a photo-op.

There are so many great things about Berlin and so many wonderful experiences that we've had here. We've spent many days just exploring or hanging out in cafés. We've enjoyed nights out for "dinner and a show" and quiet evenings reading, watching a movie, or playing Scrabble. We've gone to the opera, the Berlin Philharmonic, and quiet a few plays. Friday mornings were always reserved for 90 minutes of an absorbing art history lecture at the Gemäldegalerie whilst seated in front of the original Rembrandt, Caravagio, or Vermeer among many others. Then there are the museums. Of the reportedly 180 museums in Berlin, Erwin and I have probably only seen a couple dozen. And, even some of those we've had to go back to a couple of times in order to see everything housed in them on current display, or even just to refresh our memories of what we saw during an earlier visit.

We've enjoyed visits from friends and family and toured the city with them, seeing the city anew through their eyes. And, of course, there was the highlight of our stay here - Christmas. It became home.

I especially loved waking up in the mornings to the sound of the entry door clicking, followed by the whoosh of the elevator coming up, knowing that Erwin just left for the bakery and would be back in 15 minutes, or so, with warm fresh rolls and sweets for our breakfast.

This coming Thursday, January 31 at 1:35 pm, if you want to be precise "German-style," we'll leave our home here. There's no easy way to say good-bye, in fact I prefer Tschüss, which isn't quite as final. Or, even better, Aufwiedersehen, because it holds the promise of reunion.

So where are we off to next....stay tuned.

Wednesday, 9 January 2013

Planes are Coming Up, Planes are Going Down

The Christmas season didn't really end for us until yesterday morning. That's when our son left to go back to his life as the Chief Flight Instructor for Border City Aviation. I missed him as soon as I lost sight of him going through security ....*sigh*. Our daughter and son-in-law had left ten days earlier. They arrived before he did, so we had time just with them too. But, now they were all gone. The apartment would be quiet again. The gloom of the rain-filled, early morning bus ride from Tegel airport back to Berlin Alexanderplatz reflected my inner most feelings.

Since this was both Johnathan's and Johnny's first time to Berlin, the previous three weeks had kept us busy showing them the sights, doing touristy things, and of course celebrating Christmas. And it was a wonderful Christmas indeed. Our dream come true Christmas, with memories to cherish forever.

We did many things as a group of five, such as the Berlin Zoo visit and the Natural History Museum, and sometimes pairing off for shopping or visiting sights not everyone was interested in. "What does everyone want to do today/next," was a question that was frequently asked.  It became clear to me again how very different my two children are from each other. Or, at least their interests.

Johnny loves flying and anything aviation related...has ever since he received a Fisher Price Airplane for Christmas one year as a very young child. T, on the other hand, loves to seek out particular shops, something we did when she was here with me on her own, something that would probably never even show up on Johnny's radar. The visit to the Technical Museum was probably the only activity that they both thoroughly enjoyed, but for very different reasons. She for the printing presses and he for the the two floors of aviation displays.

Within a day of Johnny's arrival and receiving his residency papers (yes papers, because that sped up the process for him renewing his EU Passport while here), he was brave and confident enough to venture out and start exploring the city on his own. I was thrilled and nervous at the same time. He discovered things that I didn't know existed here, and then took me to see them. Very cool. In the nearly three weeks that he was here, he became so familiar with the public transit system that he ended up telling me different ways to get around. But, as a pilot, I guess navigation is second nature to him. Whereas, I am, and will probably always be, directionally impaired (as my family calls it).

One of Johnny's "musts" for his trip here was to visit a flight school. Mission accomplished. He talked to fellow pilots and flight instructors and found out about licensing and license transferring and differences in the aviation industry between Canada and Germany/EU. He had hoped to fly here and even booked a flight, but the flight school's scheduling and weather conditions prevented that. There's always next time. I'm sure he'll be back, probably sooner rather than later. He seems to fit in here; I witnessed a little old lady asking him for directions in German and he replied in German with the proper directions.

It may be that we all end up in Europe together some day. It's not out the realm of possibility, since we're all German citizens, and legally allowed to live and work here. Maybe that's the way we could be physically closer to each other again.

I believe you never stop being a mom. Some days I even feel that it was easier when they were two and four instead of 28 and 30. I've even admitted that to them, and they smile at me, and allow me to "mother" them, or pull the "because I'm the mom" card on them, if even for a few days. It could be the physical distance between all of us; scattered about as we are. But, I have to admit, as much as I enjoy the freedom of being an empty-nester, and as I've mentioned before in my blogs, I miss having them physically close.