Friday, December 31, 2010

Guten Rutsch!

The Germans say the equivalent of "Good slide" to wish each other a happy New Year. This seems indicitave of the festivities, not to arrive in the new year safe & sound, but to say good-bye to the last year with a bang and barely make into the next alive.

Tonight should be great. Guten Rutsch!

This is a video from someone else during the 2007/2008 New Years, but is a pretty good depiction of what new Years in Berlin is like.



For more on the crazy Germs and how they do: http://m.thelocal.de/society/20091231-16425.html

UPDATE:

We've now celebrated several New Years in Berlin, with last year possibly the most fun and dangerous. Read some of our blog and want to watch us almost die?

NYE (Almost) Disaster

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Classes of Snow

The sky is falling! Day after day of glorious, fluffy, white snow. Christmas eve, as we sat back in a food coma, we watched enormous flakes flutter down under the gleam of the street lights.

In a city so large and industrious, it only takes a moment for gleaming white to turn to sooty slush. Hence, Ian & I are working out a classification of snow:

Sledge- worst kind of snow. Dingy, wet, and somehow always getting flicked into your boots. This apparently is the word used here for "sledding". What the hell Brits?

True Grit- The snow has begun to pixelate and looks grainy like cream of wheat. It has also taken on that color, a bland taupe. You might as well kiss it good-bye, pretty snow is gone.

Sled- this snow sparkles. Calls from outside your cosy apartment to please, come sled! And you will go, and sled, and forget that the snow has gotten enough packed down to split open your head when you take the inevitable tumble trying to avoid the little Germ & her adorable wood sleigh as she crosses your path.

White Gold- fluffy goodness you wanna roll around in & you aren't afraid to take a bite off the top. This glorious occurrence is rare, but you will know when you get some white gold.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

We're going Sledding in Berlin!

Video of Görlitzer Park



And a little video of us enjoying the snow. Watch out kiddos!




 

 

Update:

Our new apartment in Wedding is near Volkspark Humboldthain with a little known, perfect sledding hill. Should I be worried about exposing our secret spot? Nah. We already introduced some friends and you'll have to locate teh exact hill within the massive park yourself.

Plus-  if you interrupt one of our perfect runs we'll cut a bitch. (Note Ian's killer 80s snow jacket)








Perfect accompaniment to sledding


Box Sledding. It didn't work well


Volkspark Humboldthain in Winter


Where is your go-to Berlin place to sled?

Friday, December 24, 2010

Happy Christmas Eve!

Ian just had me open the first gift- a French press! I am so happy. (Seriously, we've been missing coffee something fierce).

Love this video. A little Xmas spirit for the masses:



We are about to head out to get some last min groceries, drink a little g
luhwein, and then come home and cook the goose! The sexy little fowl is sitting in the fridge in some herbs right now. Going to finish him off with potatoes, apple, and a little orange. Yum!

At midnight, we will head to the cathedral. They have it open to the public and we can listen to the choir sing "silent night" auf Deutsch. Magic!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Poland the Beautiful

We always expected to make it Poland last time we were in Europe. It was right next door and we traveled as far as Istanbul...but somehow, it was not to be.

We returned to the US in 2008 never having been and thinking we might never reach it. Having returned to Berlin, we sought to correct that error and were in Poland within a month of arriving back in Europe.

IT WAS GORGEOUS. This simply cannot be overstated. We had worries, but the people, unbelievable prices, glorious food, and amazing after amazing experience won us over completely. The History! The Beauty! The Food! Simply loved it.

We did the touristy things like:

the square




the eating


the castle



...and of course the drinking.




What may have been the most impressive is the continual feeling of a proud history. The Polish have a lot to be admired. Despite the rough shake they have been dealt multiple times, the people of Poland, and especially Krakow, appeared to have an enviable future. I can't wait to go back. And eat. And party. And love Poland a little more.

For lots more pics of the lovely, and some of the really seriously sad (Auschwitz), check out

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Perfect Strangers

We sat down for a quick meal off the U-Bahn last night and Ian quickly realized we had waited too long. I was becoming bitch ebe. HUNGRY. As I grumpily waited for food to arrive -oh, side note-

(Gorgonzola pasta? I have been seeing it everywhere and finally ordered it here. Served with spinach, it was earthy and creamy but lacking...something. Glad I tried it, but might not oder again )

a family sat next to us. Immeaditly they all plugged into 2 computers, phone, and ipod. Also ordered in English, but not Americans. We can recognize our own whiny pitch 2 U-Bahn cars away. We covertly watched them, and apparently they were watching us too. The husband looked over and asked "how do you spell busy?" We'd been caught out- English speakers!

Janna, Mladen, & son Elliot turned out to be Swedish and exceptionaly interesting. They are a theatre family and live in their theatre in Southern Sweden. The building is gorgeous, apparently an old school house. They claim it is the southern most theatre in Sweden. They are down for the weekend enjoying Berlin & having some meetings with theatre folk. They have travelled to such far-off places as Timbuktu. Seriously- Timbuktu with sand and camels. Janna said they had to chase camels off the space so they could perform "The Little Prince". And Elliot goes with them everywhere- lucky kid.


If you are ever in Sweden, Ian & I are already scheming, take the time to find them and their theatre, Teater Kapija.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

What's Cooking in Berlin

Our third week in Europe and it is starting to look like we are getting a life together.

Ian & I are both easing back into work. The expat guide to Taipei has been turned in & is waiting for approval. I am working on some articles in the meantime (if you ever see an article concerning an issue with expats- let me know!). Ian has also started morning classes this week and has only knocked over one toddler with his butt....so far. He should pick up a full schedule in Jan.


 


And cooking!
With more time, we have been cooking. Turkish pizza, chicken Parmesan (I know- an interesting pick), spaghetti, leek /potato soup, chicken wings, Brats! Def some good eats.


We are starting to search for our next, more permanent apartment as well as attending to the serious business of insurance, visas, and registering. Luckily, there are lots of distractions. Tonight we are going to a Yelp elite event at a brewery- Privatbrauerei Am Rollberg. A brewery tour and free beer & food is guaranteed to make us happy.

(Update from the future: This little brewery is part of a comeback for independent breweries in Berlin. Clean flavors in beer brewed on the premise and a great tasting room makes this a lovely place to get a brew in Neukölln. Plus - large window into the brewing room means dinner AND a show )

Tomorrow we are going to a free show in this cafe near us, Hubertuslounge. We wandered in here a bit ago and loved its funky vibe. The menus are in old photo albums, complete with random pictures. While we were sipping some coffee, several people entered what looked like a wardrobe next to us. Literally looked like a coat closet and people were entering it, shutting the door, and disappearing for minutes at a time! Ian was the first to be brave and enetered. He wouldn't tell me what was there so I had to venture myself. opened the door to the narrowest little staircase, almost a ladder. I climbed down into..........an underground club. Two casually decorated rooms with several couches, a DJ area, and room to dance. We saw a poster for The Beez and said "Let's go". Can't wait to see what is going to happen.

And- big news!- next week we are finally going to Krakow! We always thought we would go last time and just never worked out. It is supposed to be cold, but beautiful. And of course we will head out to Auschwitz, perfect for holiday cheer. Really- it should be quite a trip.


Monday, December 6, 2010

Kindergarten: AGAIN?!?!?

Well boys and girls, it was my first day back to school, and it was damn near a snow day!  I awoke this morning to nice dusting of snow and a pleasant amount of flakes in the air.  The snow really brings out the beauty of Berlin.

In any case I met up with Geraldine, who would be showing me the ropes, at the school while freezing my marbles off.  If everything goes according to plan, I'll be heading to this Kita (which as children ranging from 2-6) every weekday from 9-12.  It's actually quite a sweet gig.  I will be working with about two German Erziehern (teachers of little kids), which makes things much easier should I have any little bastards in my class, which is sure to happen being in Germany.

We started off the day singing some songs, both in German and English.  We then taught them Rudolph the Rednosed Reindeer (not about Rudolf Barbie you history buffs) and then Geraldine took me on a quick tour of the Kita.  There are about 4 other classes in this particular building, each one with its own English teacher.

After some coloring, it was time to head outside and play in the snow.  Now, when I was a kid I remember playing in the snow with soaking wet pants, chilly shoes, and no hat or scarf.  These kids were decked out to the core, snow pants and all.  And guess who had to help them put all that shiz on?  Me.  I pretty much helped dress these kids head to toe, but the thing I noticed that needed the most help were the gloves.  One kid kept balling up his fists when trying to put his gloves on.  If the glove don't fit you must acquit...

Finally they were all dressed and we made our way down the treacherous stairs, but not before I noticed little Achmed walking around with a look of disbelief on his face as he held up his had, glove all twisted and turned.  A simple readjustment got him back to normal and out into the snow.

It was fun watching this little kids waddle around in the snow.  Something tells me I'm gonna be doing this a bit more often in the following months...

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Welcome to December

It's apparently going to be a cold one. The guy we are renting the place from, Jannis, is traveling SouthEast Asia this winter. He must be looking at the weather report and laughing.

Ah well, we do love a good snow. And walking around it today has just felt otherworldly. Dreaming of a white Christmas...


Happy December!


Monday, November 29, 2010

Here's to you...

Today I woke thinking of one of my favorite people on earth because it's his birthday! Happy B day Daddio. You can always make me laugh, I am constantly impressed by your intelligence & sincerity, and I wish everyone could know you as I know you- the man who can fix anything.

So in honor of one of our favorite comedy heros, a little Leslie Nielsen. Here's to you Dad, and to you Shirley.





"How dare you how dare me when I how dare you, you big pee-pee head!"

Friday, November 26, 2010

Back in Berlin - An Encore

We're back! Unbelievable, but we are. 


On Tuesday we arrived. Also, my birthday. Hectic, stressful, exciting, crazy, confusing. We were tired of living out of suitcases & ready to settle in. But first- a place. Our friend Jeff was nice enough to let us shack up in his flat, but roommates, as gracious as they have been, are not exactly siked to have two homeless living in their community room. The search began...


On wednesday we got to serious work scanning ads, writing e-mails, and making appointments. We just needed to get a foot in the door. C'mon people! Give us a place! Seeming to symbolize our stress & sense of shiftlessness we witnessed a large German man with child in arms lock himself out of his car. His wife beside him, he yelled "Nein! Neiiiiiiiiiiiiinnnnnnnnnnn!" In freezing weather, a short sleeved shirt, and his car illegally parked next to Potsdamer Platz...he was stuck.


On Thursday, our displaced Thanksgiving, we had a promising apartment showing. It was within our price range, in a hip part of town, and looked gorgeous. We showed up to a lovely altbau apartment on the first floor. Large bedroom/ work space, separate bath, kitchen, and balcony, a washer machine AND a dishwasher. I practically had tears in my eyes. It has been years, literally years, since we had a dishwasher. The rental is just for over a month, but it gives us time to move out of the living room, get some work done, and find a permanent place. 

"We'll take it!"  

Berlin Flat




German meal goose potatoes sauerkraut
Back to German cooking

Kreuzberg Graffiti

Berlin Hubertus Lounge with it's hidden club

These bells are a gift from my mom from Seattle, and one of the first things to go up in any apartment. They mean we're home.


We got a place - now let's Christmas.



 More pics of our fist Month Back in Berlin


And to symbolize that day, giddy with goodwill, we witnessed a samba band hop on the U-Bahn and ride it a stop with us, playing drums, a trumpet, and a back up speaker system. Smiling, we gave them some coins. 

Back in Berlin!

 Follow us in our first few months back in Berlin.....




Monday, November 22, 2010

Thomas's Town: Cologne, Germany

On Saturday, we finally crossed the border into Germany. Leann was nice enough to drive us over the border to avoid international charges on train fare. From there, we carried all 6 fully loaded bags and us to Koeln, or Cologne. We were greeted at the station by Thomas himself & his father, Gisbert. Stepping out under the shadow of the Dom, they whisked us through the streets in the family car (Thomas not behind the wheel). We made it to their house about 15 min to the north of the city and were greeted by coffee & cake (ah- classic German style). They also set us up in the this little apartment at the bottom so we have a bathroom & kitchenette all to our selves. Definitely some of the nicest accommodations of the trip!

That night they sent us out, with Thomas as guide, to eat an amazing Koelner dinner of schweinehaxe (pork knuckle), blotwurst (blood sausage- first time & it was good), kartoffeln (potatoes), etc. Plus appetizers of a local cheese, and beef tartar. And, of course, kolsch (the local beer).You drink it outta little .2L glasses & they bring more till you cover it with a coaster. Exxxxxxxxxxxxcelent! We also visited with some of his friends, and went to a birthday party.


On Sunday, we tromped through the city again, checking out the sculpture park, Rhein, an artist's squat, and took a ride up a skyscraper for some night views of the city.

All of us were feeling a little tired, but a family meal of beef goulash bolstered our spirits. It's a unique experience, eating with a German family & trying to keep up with the lingo.



Today the Weihnachtsmarkt begin and Thomas was so excited!...ok not really. I had to explain the word "Scrooge" after he kept pointing out the marketing standpoint. It's important to be able to see and understand where things are coming from, but not let it rob you  of the opportunity to enjoy a glass of Gluhwein (mulled wine). He actually ended up taking us to all 5 markets- poor kid. I loved it.


We have really enjoyed spending time with Thomas & the Brandt family. Nothing to make you not miss your family so much as spending time within another.

 

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Panaorama Amsterdam

We love this city.

It doesn't hurt that to get to Seattle from Berlin flying through Amsterdam (or London) is usually necessary. Plus, friends that used to live in Venlo made the Netherlands a safe harbor.




Musician square in Amsterdam

Johnny Jordaan plein


Bikes of the Netherlands

European wedding mobile

Amsterdam street art







Friday, November 19, 2010

Cute Baby

Spending time in Venlo has been awesome- even as Tymen defiantly climbs over his mum to grab computer cords. Check out some serious cuteness with Tymen, Leann, & Ian.

Airplane Movie

Icelandair was a-ok. Punctual flights, funny Icelandic written on the pillows, seats, etc, and your private monitor in which you could select what you wanna watch. You could even watch the flight pattern all the way through, facts about Iceland, and learn Icelandic.

Not bad, besides one complaints:
No snacks. Seriously, seven hour flight & nothing besides juice.

We did catch up on some moving watching-
Sex in the City 2
Toy Story 3
Simpsons episode
Modern Family
King of Persia
Lie to Me
Family Guy
American Dad
All that really matters is that we touched down. Thanks Icelandic Air!

Icelandic, more like icelandish!



Well, we had a great time in Iceland until we had to head to the airport...

We were running a bit behind schedule, but nothing too crazy when we pulled over to fuel up the car.  All of a sudden our bank cards, which had been working the entire time, decided to leave us in a lurch and not allow us to fill up the tank on the rental.  Shit.  We would have to pay a fee for not filling up the tank...

Then we finally got to the Hertz return center and a Polish guy came out to inspect the car.  He immediately went to the passenger side door with his "torch" and found a tiny tear in the door seem.  "Wind damage," he said in his broken English.  We were completely astounded, as we hadn't done any damage to the automobile.  We had used it for just 24 hours! But the wind outside the resort was fierce and the car was uncovered. I wonder if this minor damage happens all the time. We were so worried that we would miss our flight to Amsterdam that we rushed the process and had him drop us off at the airport where we finished the paper work.

Long story short, we get an email from Hertz's very own Magnus, an oaf of a man with an ill fitting suit, who informs us that we'll be charged just shy of $900 for this damage.  I must say that again, in case you think I mistyped that number, 900!  Nine-hundred effing dollars! 

Our trip has been absolutely amazing so far, but this has definitely put a damper on the mood.  The money has already been taken out of our account, but we're gonna try and fight this.  If anyone has any tips, besides blowing up Iceland, Ebe and I are both all ears.

UPDATE: 

I (ebe) was a bit beside myself when this happened. I freaked out - hard. I let it really bum me out for a while, and frantically worked with my mum across the ocean to figure out what we could do. This was our first time renting & we learned a lot about car rental, and that we had done a lot wrong.

Tips for Car Rental
  • Always inspect the car with an employee when picking it up. You can take pics, and even film this. (We arrived before the sun was up and were sent out to a dark lot to pick up the car. We looked, but it was so dark we couldn't see anything.)
  • Pay with a credit card as most offer insurance - research what exactly is covered. Credit cards will also put their team to work fighting a charge so it's not just little 'ole you. (We had planned on using our card, but found upon arrival they didn't accept CapitolOne Mastercard. Grr....)
  • Keep Cool! Bumming yourself out and everyone you are with is not a good travel plan. (Sorry Leann. I was kind of a basket case for a while.)

We had shot ourselves in the foot in several ways including signing off on the car being returned without settling the damage dispute. We had accepted a verbal "Well see what happens.." which is clearly not a good idea.

We fought the charges through our debit card company, saying they weren't authorized - which was true. When the estimate was sent to us, they politely asked if we would sign the papers and turn them back in and we politely wrote them back that they could go F*%$ themselves. (Not really, we tried to explain our case). BECU, our debit card company, accepted our claim and reversed the charges. We followed up by sending a formal complaint to Hertz (the Rental company) and waited for action....and waited, and waited. For 6 months we were on pins and needles thinking any day now we would receive a letter or have the money withdrawn again. 2 years later, I assume we are in the clear. This was a stressful experience and we learned a lot. I just wish we didn;t have to learn it the hard way.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Making the most of a Layover in Iceland

Iceland girl
Already trying to kill Ian with an icicle
Well folks, we actually made it.  We just took our first dip into the Blue Lagoon, and let it be known, it is kick ass!!!  Hate to keep it short, but we're gonna take a quick power nap before heading to Reykjavik.  We'll be back shortly...

Facts about Iceland:

  • The Prime minister is in the phone book (and a woman!)
  • There are 300,000 people and 60% live in Reykjavik
  • The country uses 95% green energy
  • It is the size of Kentucky
  • Most Icelanders can still read ancient Viking script
  • For a very hot second, I could spell "Reykjavik "

FLY

We flew to Iceland because their recession had IcelandAir offering unbelievable fares from the states to Europe with a free layover of up to 5 days. Plus - who doesn't want to go to Iceland? This was in 2010, so I am not sure what rates are now, but I would still recommend checking it out. Warning: (as seen below) this was flying discount and everything had a charge.

CAR RENTAL

Driving in Iceland was bizarre. We arrived in the dark and timidly made our way around the narrow roads enclosed by violently jagged rocks. I don't know how you could walk across this terrain. We had chosen to rent because we were arriving very early, before the bus service started, and were excited to get started on our adventure. In addition, we had chosen to stay at the Blue Lagoon, and while there is bus service, we wanted to be able to make our plans about heading into town etc. Despite all the "Greenland is actually the land covered in ice", Iceland is flippin freezing in November. My hair froze to my face. Eyes teared and eyelashes stood on end. Fingers immediately lost feeling. I don't know how you would wait for a bus.

Freezing in Iceland
Ian - literally freezing before our eys

We had a big issue with our car rental. Everything worked out ok in the end, but I think many places may work a bit of a scam, claiming damage from the hostile conditions and then just collecting insurance money. Do your research (wish we had), and be careful out there folks!



EAT

A hot dog costs 320 krónas (or about €2) and condiments include ketchup, sweet mustard, fried onion, raw onion and remoulade, a mayonnaise-based sauce with sweet relish. Hot dogs are often ordered with "the works," i.e., all condiments, or in Icelandic "eina með öllu".

I had heard about a hotdog stand Bill Clinton ate at. Done! That's where I'm eating. We were famished by the time we got here (no meal on the transatlantic flight Seattle-Iceland, airport stores weren't open when we landed, hotel brunch woudl only be available to us the next day, no stores until we drove into town). So it may have been a little bit of that and a little bit of magic that made this THE BEST HOT DOG I'VE EVER EATEN. If you're in town - go and devour.

We also went to the grocery store, one of my favorite things to do in any country. Most noticeable - a distinct lack of  fresh fruits and vegetables. There were some, but pickings were meager.

Iceland hot dog

STAY

Hotel Iceland ReykjavikBlue Lagoon Hotel was the closest thing to a resort we had ever stayed in. All wood and glass, it felt like the spa it was connected to. We stayed for around 80 euros in the off-season of November. This seemed like a great deal for the 2 of us in a private room, with access to their private spa (seperate from the public Blue Lagoon), plus entrance fee to the main lagoon, with breakfast. Extremely tired, jetlagged, and starving, we checked into this luxurious space with a very friendly staff. Immediately we got in the spa and were blown away by the feel of warm mineral water and the sulphuric smell of egg farts. It was lovely.

There are other places to stay in town, and the Lagoon is outside of town (with bus options), but we were incredibly happy to kick our second time living in Europe off with a splash.


DO

There are many spas in Iceland and Blue Lagoon is the most well known, and most touristy. We were in Iceland for just over 24 hours. Let's lagoon it, baby. (plus it was included in our stay)

The place is simply magic. It was wonderful to watch peoples faces as they exited the changing area and saw the lagoon for the first time. Child like wonderment at this alien landscape of jagged rocks surrounding the ethereal milky blue of the water.

Thermal Spa

Reykjavik Spa
 
The whole drama with the car overshadowed how amazing this visit was for a while.  But since we narrowly escaped that crazy scam and time has allowed me to look back at these pics and videos in utter wonder, it is one of the places I am dying to go back to.

  For more pics of Iceland adventure:
http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=2287319&id=25905043&l=3586275e0e

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Karaoke

For a while there we got pretty into Karaoke. At the height of our addiction, we went 3 times in a weekend. We were not, however, any good (with the possible exception of Mr. Porter).

What follows here is a crime against music, good taste, and a video camera in a bar.





It's Complicated

As we get set to fly (6,5,4,3,2,1 Blast Off!), it takes a bit of hustlin to even attempt to see our relatives.


Ian & Granny at fourth of July
 Last week we absconded to Eastern Washington to visit Ian's relatives. We've spent time in Yakima with GrAndy (Granny, Greg, & Andy) and are now in Tri-Cities with Ian's ma. We've made the rounds thru a whilwind of relatives, and apologize to anyone we missed. Luckily, we had opportunities to see everyone within the past few months, but will miss everyone.

Wednesday we return to Snohomish (after a luxurious dinner at Tom Douglas- thanks Big Fish!). Packing, cleaning, and cooking will ensue for a Ball dinner on Friday and another round of good-byes. Hopefully by Saturday we will be ready to relax with our parents and enjoy each other's company. Mario Kart anyone?

Sunday the madness begins again:
11/14- 3:30pm flight to Iceland
11/15- Arrive in Iceland & rent a car (2nd time driving abroad). Traverse to Reykjavik, eat at the hot dog stand Clinton visited, and then spend the rest of the day laying about the Blue Lagoon Spa
Iceland's Blue Lagoon

11/16- Another early morning flight to Amsterdam. Spend the day in one of our favorite European cities
11/17- Take the train to Venlo, Netherlands to visit our friends Leann, Matthijs, & Tymen
11/20- Meet up with our foreign exchange student, Thomas, in his hometown of Cologne. Meet his fam & share Thomas stories
11/23- Catch our final train on my birthday... to BERLIN!



Berlin's
Brandenburger Tor


Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Halloween Recipe: Devil{ed} Eggs

Almost my favorite time of year:
HALLOWEEN!


My (soon to be world famous) Devil{ed} Eggs are just one of my favorite elements of Halloween. It's composed of one of my favorite foods (eggs) and fall recipes (deviled eggs).

These hard boiled eggs are split in half and topped with a whipped yolk topping like a traditional deviled egg, but they are spooked up by creating a bloodshot appearance to the egg and making the yolk spicy with a jalapeno or olive for the pupil. Tada! Bloodshot eyes appetizer. They are a tasty party treat with a little bit of eww. Ideal for Halloween.

Step 2 & 3

Step 1

Hard boil eggs for about 9 min.



Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Mad Props Yo!!!

Well, we just got back from our awesome road trip down to California to celebrate our anniversary as well as see family and friends before the big move to Berlin.

What made the trip really special was seeing so many people we don't get the chance to see often enough.  So in the spirit of upcoming Thanksgiving, we give thanks to those of you who made this trip so special (in order of appearance):

Sullivan: Thanks for letting us crash on the couch and the exciting evening at the Irish dive bar.  Watching those old drunk guys argue really kicked off the trip on the right note.


Aunt Sue and Uncle Dave: We had such a good time seeing your lovely home and spending time with you.  We really regret not having done this sooner.  You really have such a beautiful home, and I really enjoyed just spending time with you both chatting and shooting potatoes into space.  Those dirty spuds had it coming!






Hoagie: Hollywood man.  That's all I really have to say.  Was great catching up and hearing about your time in LA.  I'm sure there will be plenty of people to sue once you're done with law school.  You better celebrate with a trip out to Berlin to see us.  Keep on rockin and enjoying those $3 beers.



Ron and Connie: You both treated us too well and we're jealous of the perfect weather you have.  Even when it's "rainy" it's beautiful.  The cooking class was so much fun, and we're gonna be putting our skills to the test this Thanksgiving.  I personally enjoyed getting to know you both better, and I look forward to playing Cribbage with you again, Ron... hopefully next time in Germany!

Emily & Klaw: I'm so glad you suggested we should stop by.  It's been way too damn long.  We always have such a good time when we get together, and I'm happy we were able to do so before taking off.  Once you get some vacay, make sure to hit up Berlin after Amsterdam.... :)

Once again, thanks to you all, and we would really like to return the favor in Germany (unfortunately not as comfortably as you all had us, but we'll try!).

(To check out more pics of the trip:

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

California Dreaming

Preparing to return to Berlin, we took one last hurrah before trading the car for the UBahn. A road trip from Seattle to Southern California took us to see a friend in Vancouver, WA, my aunt, uncle & a potato gun in Northern California, LA TV madness, and family and a Zoo in San Diego.

PorterBalls Road trip starts NOW

Northern California

We stayed with my Aunt & Uncle outside of Yreka on the weekend, visiting the Etna brewery, old wild West grave sites, and some other spooky sites. My Uncle Dave also treated us to the potato cannon. Yes, that's right, CANNON. We each got to shoot it. Cannon make big BOOM!


potato cannon

Etna Brewery
 PLUS Dave is a master pizza tosser. Yes, Aunt Sue is a lucky women & Ian is already working on his pizza skills.



Los Angeles


We left them on Sunday to make our way to LA. We marked the momentous occasion of our 1st wedding anniversary with a meal at In-N-Out. It was only appropriate for us.

Nerlin Ian in and out burger signgirl eats in and out burger

Chelsea Lately 

Stopping in Los Banos for the night, we were in LA by 1:30pm and barely made the taping we planned to go to of Chelsea Lately. The line consisted of douchebaggery like no other - we were really in LA. Overheard cell phone talk consisted of chatter about cleanses, agents and designer brands. UGH.

We had to white knuckle it as they moved some people to the back of the line and we were literally the last two guests allowed in. Whew! But finally we were in watching the filthy sausage of TV being made. Laughing on cue was bizarre, but we didn't have to fake it for long. Ross (the intern), Lonnie Love... comedy pros at work. So cool to be behind the scenes and see some seriously funny people. We also saw Johnny Knoxville do this:



How to reserve tickets to see taping of Chelsea Lately: http://on-camera-audiences.com/shows/Chelsea_Lately



 We stayed the night with one of Ian's SAE who had made the transition to law school in LA and had truly transformed from the last time we saw him in Berlin.  Underneath the LA-ness -he was still a supremely nice guy. And his location in Hollywood, right next to Michael Jackson's star on the walk of fame was pretty great.

Plus- we got to have a bite at Pink's, a family owned hot dog stand that has been in operation since the 1930's.

Berlin Ian Pink's

Walk of fame Hollywood LA

Price is Right

We had to get up way too early to make the next taping we wanted to see - the Price is Right! We did not make it. Just barely missed the cut off for the first show and decided to get some breakfast and try again.


At 12:15 we were back on the CBS lot, filled out paperwork, got our name tags and were waiting, waiting, waiting... wondering if we were even go to make it this time (even though they promised we would get on) as Dr. Phil's entire audience was suddenly given spots (as if I didn't dislike that dude enough).

Suddenly - we were definitely getting in and it was time to hustle for the quick producer screening before we headed in. We had neon t-shirts from our wedding and were prepared to be enthusiastic nutcases.  I thought we had a chance as we seemed to catch their eyes in the mini-interviews and Ian got a laugh, but there was no telling what was going to happen. Standing in line for so long, there starts to be a certain sense of camaraderie and all of our new friends & us were just happy to be going inside. 

...and then we were on set! Bright, chaotic and cheesy- it was hard to figure out where to look. Drew Carrey was pulling off the Bob Barker hosting spot and we were laughing, cheering, yelling with abandon. Sadly located on the very far sid we never did see ourselves on TV and were not selected to spin the big wheel or even guess the price of a necklace - but who cares! We were there and it was kinds of zany madness. Unlike Chelsea - there was nothing forced here.

The person who won the entire show? She bet $4 on her first bid. A bright bulb that one. They must have been scared we would be too good and take all that cash money. Yeah, that's it. Show aired December 8th and of course we watched it - scanning the crowd for our faces in vain. Whatever - we actually had an amazing time.

No cameras are allowed at tapings (thus we have no pics). Make sure if you go to look at the details and conditions as there are many things that can get you booted.

(Deadspin has a great piece for how to get on How My Foolproof Scientific System Got Us Onto The Price Is Right- shortcut: Lots of Screaming Enthusiasm )

Disneyland


I am typing this from Anaheim as we drove down this evening (after one last LA legendary meal at Roscoe's Chicken & Waffles). Shortly after checking in, there was the sound of explosions and I thought California was finally breaking off the mainland. Ian's days as a Disney addict prepared him better & he dragged me outside to watch the most amazing fireworks I have ever seen! Seriously- these were incredible. They appeared 3D expanding toward us and supersonic sound waves blasted my ear drums- in a good way.

We went to downtown Disney even though it was late and wandered around the magic, frolicking in the corporate charm. I hadn't realized till very recently Disneyland would be dressed for Halloween and it was looking PG spooky. Cannot wait to get in those gates tomorrow.

We give it a California.....
C!
Berlin Ian in Disneyland
A!
Berlin ebe in Disneyland


 ...ok - you get the idea.

UPDATE:

Disneyland in all of it's Halloween finest. Amusement parks are the closest thing for me to feel like a kid again.

Walt Disney mickey Halloween


Disneyland Halloween Deorations
 Jack Skellington in Disneyland


Berlin Ian spinning

 Mark Twain Steamboat in Disneyland

Waiting in line at Disneyland's Indiana Jones


 Disneyland Space Moutain photo

After years lying dormant, my wanderlust for theme parks was re-ignited by Disneyland. In the next 3 years, we visited 3 more parks.


Disneyland Paris - France
Europark - Germany
Silverwood - Idaho, USA

We're Back in Berlin Ja!

We're Back in Berlin Ja!
ebe & ian at Yak-toberfest 2008