We hope 2019 has treated you kindly. Once again we feel grateful for the many wonderful moments we have shared this year. We are still living in Amsterdam, and feeling more rooted all the time. I write this from Normandy, where we are spending the Christmas holidays curled up in front of the fire eating cheese and drinking apple cider.
In February we drove to Alsace for our first (and very possibly last) ski holiday. The kids were soon flying down the slopes while I teetered along behind them thinking about how much longer it takes to recover from injuries in an almost-forty-year-old body.… Read more
My work trip in Berlin last month was mostly work, aside from a few nights out on the town with new friends. One evening we bonded at a Cuban cocktail bar over several pages of sugary cocktails, including some kind of hideously sweet bright green beer that is apparently a thing in Berlin.
Then there was an even more memorable evening where we randomly ended up in a German karaoke bar next to Alexanderplatz. Karaoke is one of those things that is so individually cultural, and yet simultaneously so weirdly universal. Suffice it to say that I heard the same Josh Groban song twice in one night.… Read more
The title of this post probably sounds metaphorical, but it isn’t. I really did spend Monday to Friday last week in Berlin, playing a game that could perhaps best be described as a cross between Capture the Flag, Dungeons and Dragons, and Model United Nations.
How did this come about? A bit randomly, as these things do. I quit my job last summer, and in the intervening months have been doing a combination of work on Hiraeth, web design and marketing for Tony’s new business, freelance projects, taking the Dutch classes I’ve been putting off so long, and brushing up on my reading skills in Latin and Arabic for grad school.… Read more
We have come a ways from our holiday in Malta two years ago, during which Tony had to negotiate hard with me for a day or two out of a two-week vacation that did not include hard-core sightseeing. These days I am more or less content to have some relaxing days during a holiday, especially if there is somewhere beautiful nearby for me to explore with Lyra while everyone else plays multiplayer games and watches YouTube blooper videos. But I couldn’t visit Alsace even for the lofty purpose of skiing without spending a day immersed in the history and culture of the region.… Read more
Castles were the theme of our weekend in Germany, and my favourite castle was Burg Cochem. A beautiful drive through rolling German hills culminated in a lovely little town on the banks of the Moselle River.
Up on the hill was a perfect little castle, surrounded by vineyards.
After climbing up the windy hill, we were ushered through a gate into an idyllic courtyard to join the guided tour through the castle.
Our guide was a seemingly non-nonsense German lady who secretly had a hilariously dry sense of humour.
The castle was originally built in the 11th century, but rebuilt and filled with gorgeous artifacts from a range of different time periods eight centuries later by a businessman from Berlin, who used it as his family’s summer home.… Read more
I’ve been wanting to visit the Cologne Cathedral since I caught a glimpse of it from the train when we visited my sister-in-law Rachel in southern Germany last year. The first thing I noticed when I saw it was how black it is. In fact, I immediately contrasted it in my mind with the Duomo in Milan, which impressed me with its sheer whiteness when we visited a million years ago when Raj was just a toddler.
One could draw some kind of metaphorical religious inference from the relative coloring of the two cathedrals. However, the truth has less to do with the religiosity of the respective congregations, and more with that train station next to the cathedral, and all the coal that was burned in the vicinity for a hundred years.… Read more
I planned our weekend in Germany around visiting the spectacular Cologne Cathedral. When I was planning the trip, I was a bit torn between staying around the corner from the Cathedral and staying about an hour away in a tiny, picturesque German town. My first and last impulse always being to have it all, I opted for the tiny little town and after we saw it, we all agreed it was the perfect choice.
I showed you our house by the evening light yesterday, but it looked, if possible, even more delightful the next morning by daylight.
We just finished up a delightful and fun-filled week and a half with Tony’s parents, aka Grammy and Pampa. The original plan had been to do an epic road tour through central Germany along the castle road to Prague, and then driving all the way back home through Germany. That plan was eventually scrapped, both because it involved too much driving (an average of at least 3-4 hours per day) and because we were in the middle of house hunting and didn’t feel like we could be gone for a week and a half.
However, our amended trip turned out to be even better.… Read more