Month: February 2016

Berlin, finally

Our trip to Berlin was extra special, as we celebrated Oliver’s 11th birthday while we were there. It was super fun to be able to spoil him while visiting one of his top choice destinations, and we had a big surprise up our sleeves for him. Oli’s number one desire for this year in Europe was to go to a “real” football game. Well wouldn’t you know, there just happened to be a big Hertha BSC game at the Olympiastadion the day we arrived. I booked the tickets but we decided to keep it a secret until we were at the airport in Paris. His reaction was awesome! Turns out the game was a pretty big deal, against Hertha rivals Borussia Dortmund, played in front of a packed house of 75000 people! The atmosphere was incredible, like a giant party. Each team had spirit sections with thousands of people jumping, chanting, singing, waving massive flags. It was really an amazing experience, one we won’t soon forget. We are so glad we made it happen, and how …

The Wall

Of course, the first thing that comes to mind when you think of Berlin is usually the Berlin Wall. Symbolic and infamous. Oliver was full of all kinds of questions (throughout the entire trip) and his eyes were widened a LOT when he heard about, read, and saw the history in this city. Danica had a really hard time understanding — she’s only seven, how could she not? I am not even sure if I do, it is just so difficult to imagine. Of course we paid a visit to the Berlin Wall Memorial. It was moving, staggering, stunning. The kids were completely enthralled by the photographs of the victims killed while attempting to cross. They simply couldn’t believe that there were kids killed like that, point blank. Because, kids. Who does that? I can’t even begin to explain, or to imagine the sheer and utter courage and terror that must have been present for their parents, to risk everything. Mind blowing.   Later in the week we went to the East Side Gallery. The kids rather enjoyed this, seeing all the different …

Berlin

Those two happy faces were pretty excited to visit Berlin earlier this month, as were Derek and I! The kids had a two week school holiday mid-february, but we could only sneak away for five days because of Derek’s work schedule. So, we planned a trip to Berlin, figuring we could see enough in five days to get a bit of a feel for the city. We did a LOT, but it somehow didn’t feel too packed. We visited all of our “must-see” historic sites, and snuck a lot of fun and downtime in there as well. Thankfully we were pretty lucky with the weather. Considering how far north Berlin is, it wasn’t as cold as we’d expected, and there was very little drizzle and no snow. Definitely a good thing in a city so spread out, as we did a lot of walking! I took loads of photos, despite accidentally leaving my camera on and the battery dying after day one, and not having brought the charger. Oops! iPhone to the rescue. Anyhow, I’ll split them into a few separate …

Château de Chambord

A couple weeks ago, we went and visited (yet another) château, this time the Château de Chambord. It is widely considered to be one of the most beautiful châteaux in the Loire Valley, and it did not disappoint. François 1er initiated construction in 1519, but never saw it’s completion before his death in ’47. He only lived at Chambord for 72 days! Unique in it’s style, there is no symmetry in the design, and all the various towers and turrets are quite different. For me, it was absolutely stunning. I loved that the exterior wasn’t as simple as all the other châteaux we’ve seen. The towers are all so intricately carved and ornamented, and the design of the moat around the grounds provides the most amazing reflections when viewed from afar. The central feature in the middle of the keep is the double helix staircase, with two separate spirals winding up through three floors, yet never meeting. On the second floor, the vaulted ceilings are decorated with elaborately carved panels of François’ monogram F and his emblem, the salamander. There was a beautiful photography exhibit …