Photo Potpourri – Summer ’16

It’s been one heck of a summer thus far, in both positive and negative ways. Between work, visa renewals, bike accidents, and vacations, we’ve been go-go-going since May. It’s been stressful, fun at times, and entirely exhausting. But I won’t bore you with the details of the not-so-good things. Let’s focus on the fun stuff. ;)

I’ve got some fun and awe-inspiring photos to share with y’all from our recent adventures – coming soon! In the meantime, here’s a glimpse of what we’ve been up to this summer…

 

 

 

Top – bottom:

  1. Brandenburger Tor during the Firmenlauf 6k run
  2. The view from our spa hotel in Potsdam
  3. Berlin Pankow u-bahn station
  4. Mitte, Berlin
  5. Tea sandwiches and Pimm’s at a friend’s very British birthday tea
  6. Using whatever’s at hand to make smashed burgers in Volkspark Friedrichshain
  7. Mayer Hawthorne DJ set at Cassiopeia in Friedrichshain
  8. Cocktails at Aunt Benny in Friedrichshain
  9. The sunset over Tempelhofer Feld

Hamburg, Germany

Back in February we took a weekend trip up north to Hamburg. I was pretty taken by the city’s beautiful architecture, fancy shopping streets and hip neighborhoods. Though we stayed in the not-so-fancy St. Georg area right near the central train station, which is charmingly similar to Berlin but with more moulding on the buildings and fewer people. As usual, our weekend consisted of 95% aimless wandering and stumbling upon tourist sights, which worked perfectly in Hamburg because the downtown is relatively small. That’s not to say that there isn’t a lot to see! In fact, it seemed like we came upon something eye-catching around every corner – like the gigantic Nazi bunker in the middle of a parking lot in the photo at the bottom of this post.

The funny thing about Hamburg was the stark contrast between the neighborhoods. You can go from the all white ornate streets of the Altstadt with Starbucks on the corners, to the über-hip Sternschanze with flea markets and vegan cafés, and then over St. Pauli to stroll past the strip club casinos with garish neon lights. And let’s not forget the area I enjoyed the most, HafenCity. The “neighborhood” is really just an old warehouse district called the Speicherstadt on the Elbe river that used to be a free trade zone and is now being transformed into super modern offices and apartment buildings. Wandering through the alleys between warehouse buildings is, for lack of a better term, cool. It’s fun to guess what the different warehouses were used for and sobering to see the damage left behind from WWII. HafenCity is a truly unique sight and was by far the most interesting spot in Hamburg.

The somewhat unfortunate thing about Hamburg is that it is so dang far north. I don’t think many casual tourists make it all the way up there, especially foreigners on the ceremonial “Eurotrip”. Which is a shame because it’s totally worth the train journey! So if Hamburg never made your to-see list before, maybe these photos will change your mind… ;)

 

 

Oberwiesenthal, Germany

To say this post is overdue is a severe understatement.  And the fact that I’m just now sharing photos from a ski vacation in January is a cryin’ shame.  All I can say is: life, bro.  It gets in the way sometimes.  What I’ve realized is that I simply don’t want to devote as much time to blogging as I did when I wasn’t working.  ¯\_(ツ)_/¯  I won’t say that I don’t have time, because I totally do, I just choose to do other things instead.

That’s not to say that I want to stop blogging altogether!  I miss having time to do all of my hobbies and write long, descriptive blog posts.  I love sharing stories and photos with my friends, family and whoever else stumbles across this site.  I hope other people like reading about my adventures as much as I enjoy reading about their’s.  Unfortunately I also like my job, my friends & my other interests.  Thus, in order to have my cake and eat it too, I’m making a compromise with myself: try harder to keep blogging by writing less and posting more.

So here it is: the extremely late post featuring the incredibly charming town of Oberwiesenthal.  It’s a tiny little ski resort on the border with the Czech Republic – literally on the border.  Just on the other side of the mountain is a Czech ski resort, so you could hit them both up if you wanted to.  Especially since skiing in Oberwiesenthal is cheap!  The mountains aren’t particularly high (for Europe; to me it was incredible) and the runs aren’t Olympic-level, but it really was a perfect resort for a weekend getaway with friends.


You’ll see in the photos that the weather was less than kind to us on our first day.  It was freezing cold and snowing all day, a total whiteout, so I couldn’t even see 50 ft in front of my face.  Much less the Black Diamond signs on the run we accidentally went down…or rather, I fell down.  But a long day of tumbling and a whack on the head by the ski lift didn’t stop me from giving it another shot.  On day 2 the weather was spectacular and I spent more time on my feet than in the snow.  Despite the rough start, it was a great trip and the view from the top of the mountain, over a plate of currywurst and a giant beer, was unforgettable.


The Run Diary: Tour de U5

I have an announcement that will come as a shock to those who know me well.  I have become somewhat of “a runner”.  Yes, me.  The person who for years couldn’t stand to spend more than five minutes on a treadmill now goes on 1 hour+ jogs through the city.  In fact, I’m planning on doing a half marathon this Spring.  I’ll give you a second to get over the shock…  Okay, now that you’ve recovered, let me explain what brought about this epic 360º.

You know how they say that ignorance is bliss?  That is so true for anyone who studied biology.  Knowing what/how things can go wrong in your body is a blessing and a curse.  That combined with a stint working in a physician’s office made me a tad bit of a hypochondriac.  Seeing a bunch of sickly people, most of whom were just barely ‘over the hill’,  made me realize that if I want to achieve my goal of living to 120 that I should probably take my health more seriously.  And thus I embarked on a journey to improve my overall fitness – first with weight lifting then with running.  Because, you know, heart health is important, right?

Something really awesome about running that I hadn’t thought of before I started doing it myself is that it gives you a chance to explore.  I think we can all agree that treadmill running sucks.  It’s a necessary evil sometimes but it is totally boring.  No wonder why I always found cardio mind-numbing…  The first long outdoor run I did completely changed my perspective on running.  Running gives me an opportunity to kill two birds with one stone – getting fit and getting to know Berlin.  You might know from reading my blog that I love wandering and seeing “normal stuff” in cities.  Average streets with average houses and average people are some of my favorite sights!  Through running I’ve been able to visit a few places in this city that I probably would never have had a reason to go to otherwise.

Which is why last weekend I found myself far out in the ‘burbs of Berlin.  Alex and I decided to plot a route along our regular subway line, the U5, that runs ~20 km all the way from the center of the city out to the Eastern border.  No, we didn’t run the whole length!  I haven’t worked my way up to that distance yet. :)  But we did make it the 13 km from the Frankfurter Allee to Kaulsdorf-Nord stations!  And we saw a lot of cool stuff along the way, though I’ll admit that my definition of ‘cool stuff’ might be unusual.  I was highly amused by looking at all of the adorable oh-so-very-German houses (yes, houses, not apartments) with quaint gardens and breakfast nooks.  There were also lovely parks with winding creeks and mirrored ponds, as well as the typical East German-y stuff like random watch towers and mostly abandoned shopping centers.

I know I might be in the minority here, but it’s experiences like this that make me love this city.  Yes the big sights are grand and full of history, and there’s an endless number of fun and unique restaurants and clubs.  I like those things, too.  But you could probably find that stuff in nearly every European capital.  The vastness and variety in Berlin – which has come about as a result of its long and sometimes tumultuous history – are what makes it a special place.  Which is why I’m excited to explore even more of it!  And get more fit at the same time.  [Because, health.]  So in year 2109, assuming I live to my target age, ask me what my favorite places were in Berlin.  Hopefully I’ll have a lot of good stories.

 

Check out my run!