I love a good park and in Europe, they are not difficult to find. Berlin has one of the most interesting parks I have ever had the pleasure going to: Templehof. This park was a former airport that shutdown in 2008 and was transformed into a park. It’s where “Candy Bombing” started and where the Berlin Airlift was based, plus at one point it’s main terminal was one of the largest buildings in the world. Needless to say, this park is huge! In many ways, this makes sense because an airport has not only large areas of paved roads for runways and taxing but also large amount of green space surrounding the runways. The paved areas are now used as tracks for the casual biker or walker, while the large green areas sport people playing games to picnicing. They even have several grill areas and a dog park. Now if only I could go in the actual terminal
A few weeks ago (my how time flies!), I went to the East Side Gallery with a few of my friends. One friend filmed an ALS Ice Bucket Challenge there which pretty much destroyed all other challenges in my mind. Hers was pretty darn cool! Plus I helped, which makes it infinity better in my humble opinion. #humblebrag
Anyways, the history of the place is pretty cool. Painted by various artists in 1990, it showcases the modern art (which frankly isn’t my favorite, but I digress) and the feelings of the time. Back in 2005, most of it had been covered with graffiti and restoration was begun on the paintings. Noteably, several artists were not okay with the process and sued. It’s absolutely fascinating from copyright law perspective. Despite the graffiti and court cases, it was simply amazing to see!
I feel like August was my month of travel and tribulations. Three days after getting back from my Iceland adventure, I left once more for Venice. A long-time friend of mine happened to be have some free days in her European escapades, and I decided to meet up with her. Given my recent GlutenFrei lifestyle, I was a bit nervous about traveling to the land of pasta and pizza. After some googling, I learned that Italians are regularly tested for a gluten intolerance and many restaurants offer gluten free pastas and pizza doughs. Knowledge in hand, off I flew to Venice (I love that in under 1.5 hrs I could be in Venice from Berlin), our first challenge was navigating from the airport to actual Venice, which was quite easy. We took the Alilaguna boat and just sat by the windows, enjoying the breeze and views.
My friend and I had booked an AirBnB, neither of us had ever done it before and it was a great experience. Phew! Our host was lovely and helped with everything from restaurant recommendations to sighting seeing tips. Excel spreadsheet in hand (yes, I do plan vacations out in excel, don’t judge it till you try it yourself), off we went to explore the wonders of Venice! Mind you, we never truly stuck to the excel spreadsheet this time, Venice is not meant to be enjoyed that way. It was kind of nerve wracking at first, but eventually I almost got the hang of being carefree. Almost.
The people were so nice and ever so helpful. The views were simply amazing and sometimes we would “get lost” in streets just to see where we ended. One time we ended up in the naval ship yard, but otherwise we saw old charming buildings the entire time. We played Rummy 500 one night much to the amusement of our waiters, who kept trying to join the game. While Venice is filled with things to do, I think one of the best things you can do there is just get lost in the beauty that is Venice. From courtyard musicians to breath-taking Palladian Churches, Venice is certainly a sight to behold.
I would tell you things to do in Venice, places to eat, things to visit, but I honestly don’t think Venice is meant to be viewed that way. The charm of Venice is in the quaint streets and small cafes. It’s in stumbling around trying to find your way home only to see the same statue of a backwards guy 3 times. My advice for Venice is to give yourself a week to just explore. Yes, it can be done in 3 days but where is the fun in that? Venetians would not agree with a 3 day itinerary, much too fast for their liking.
My family is a three five ring circus at the worst of times, a minor side show at the best of times. We always have a thousand things going at once. It’s a constant juggling act of everyone’s schedules, random events, and projects. In the summer, things only get crazier. Even though I am not living at home, I still somehow get mixed up with the craziness (somehow I feel out of sorts when I am not involved in a thousand things). Last week, my family came up to visit and the next day I flew home to Florida, because I had to start my visa process for Germany. Anyways, on Sunday, my father decides he has to go see Monticello the next day.
So hotel rooms were cancelled, cars were rented, and tours were booked. The next morning at some ungodly hour, off we trekked in a roller skate of a car to the 3+ hour drive to Monticello. I was not amused. Roller skate cars are all good and fine when you are in the front seat and everyone in your car is small. Roller skates are not fun when your 6’4 father is driving with the seat all the way back and your teenage (WHEN DID HE GET SO OLD?) brother is riding shotgun. My mother and I were shoved rather un-ceremonially in the back seat, where we are delighted to notice we could hear the whole cacophony of noises from the surrounding areas and the car engine itself.
Luckily, I was elected car DJ, and took my job rather seriously. How does one temper the desires of a “rap” influenced teenage boy (he doesn’t like good rap in my opinion), my ABBA loving mother, and my father, who can’t hear anything but has opinions on everything. Enter the song of the car trip: Rude. It wasn’t fast enough that my father couldn’t understand the words, it was hip enough that my brother felt cool listening to it, and the chorus was catchy enough for my mother. I swear we must have listened to the song at least 15 times, all of doing our best to sing (i.e. off-key).
Lo and behold, Monticello was actually amazing. I had done a study of the house in college comparing his use of Vitruvius and Palladian techniques, but had completely forgotten about it. It was amazing. The tour was amazing, the garden was amazing but the best thing was the view. Words nor pictures can do the justice to the scenery. Breathtaking. Growing up in Florida, I don’t really understand mountain views, but this was spectacular. Seeing the ice-house (which kept things cool during the summer), the dummy waiter, and the coolest set of doors was amazing. Thomas Jefferson was ahead of the times in several aspects and he kept meticulous notes (like when each flower bloomed meticulous) so everything was exactly the way it was during his lifetime. If you find yourself with a spare day in the DC or Virginia area, I recommend the trip even if you drive a roller skate car.
So I have officially moved to the district. In my first week here, I have had quite the adventure.
From a birthday picnic to getting my phone stolen, it was quite the day.
I went with some friends to a super cool event at a store (yay for living in a city!) I’ve been to several museums, seen some cool art, some not so cool art. Attending far too many orientation events, but isn’t that always the case?
Brunched to my heart’s content.
Started my exploration of all the bakeries around here!
Today starts classes, so here goes nothing!
I went to Key West for about 48 hours, which doesn’t seem like much. It was the perfect recharge for me! I went snorkeling one day and even got B to smile. He helped pull up the sail on this amazing sailboat adventure we went on with Danger Charters. Seriously, how could it not be amazing with a name like that? I saw some strange things too, and it was perfect!
P.S. I am now officially a resident of the district! Eek! Now to get back to unpacking…
My father and I drove the 17 plus hours to DC to drop off my stuff. It should have been 15 hours but Uhauls really don’t go over 65 mph. Next time on the interstate you see a Uhaul going slow, don’t honk at them. Thank them for being responsible because sometimes driving that thing is SCARY. Especially turns. And low trees. We did the normal road trip things: stopped at Cracker Barrel and strange convenience stores. Cracker Barrel brings back such childhood memories for me. I remember playing this silly game every single time with my brother, it was always a contest over who would win. We never did that great, but we always had fun playing. Now I still enjoy playing with my father and the country store in the front always has the coolest trinkets.
I-95 in Georgia isn’t a bad drive. There are tons of rivers, creeks, streams, and other water ways which the Georgia state has seen fit to post signs about. We spent most of the 130ish miles just reading the names. And counting Georgia Highway Patrol cars. Again, lucky for us the Uhaul doesn’t go over 70 MPH. Nothing quite like a clean made bed to plunk down in for a few restful hours of sleep before hitting the road the next day. I swear this hotel in North Carolina must have just opened because everything smelled and looked brand spankin’ new. It was quite perfect for us!
The best feeling was when it was empty. And we didn’t get a ticket. Phew.
Ever moved like this before? I feel like I still forgot half my stuff, oh well. What’s the longest road trip you have ever been on? Any good tips, should I have to do this again?
Last weekend, my family took a spur of the moment trip to St. George Island in the Florida Panhandle to spend time with family friends, who were vacationing there for the long weekend. I was not looking forward to the 7(+) hour drive but surprisingly it wasn’t as awful as I had predicted. Mainly because I spent most of the ride looking up weird facts on wikipedia (hello tree farming) and “singing” far too loudly to Florence + The Machine.
I had been to St. George once before, during college. I was not all that impressed with the island during that afternoon trip. It took forever to get there (again) and the beach was not as nice as my hometown’s beach. I feel like no beach will ever compare to Siesta Key, it’s just hometown bias. Yet this time, I found my opinion changing.
There wasn’t a lot to do at St. George. Sometimes that is just what you need to unwind. Even though we didn’t spend a ton of time on the beach, we didn’t feel like we were missing out by playing epic games of Apples to Apples in the afternoons. Often, I feel like I have to rush and see everything and do everything in the short amount of time I am somewhere. In St. George, I didn’t have that feeling because there was nothing to do. We watched tv, drank margaritas on the porch and debated current political events (yeah, we are strange like that). It just happens that Mr. N and I are renowned for our epic debates. One time when I went to visit, my mother made me write up a safe topic list that including weather, chimpanzees and current cooking crazes to discuss with him.
B spent most of the trip fishing on a dock behind the house. He actually caught more fish than the grown men on the dock that apparently come down for 4 weeks a year to fish there. Ha! Unluckily for him, he is the only one who cares about fishing, the rest of us just sat on the dock tanning.
The best part about St. George is that it is so dog friendly! Finn played forever on the beach with Gracie. They jumped in the water (Gracie jumped, Finn waded to be fair) and played. They ran along the beach and played and played and played. The only bad part was the showers we had to give them before letting them inside again. SO MUCH SAND EVERYWHERE.
Oysters are a big deal there, 90% of all Florida oysters come from the area. Look at these oysters! I never seen such large ones! I swear some were almost the size of my palm! It was so fresh and so yummy.