Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Eat the World (Starting with Berlin)

Original building on Richardplatz
I had a really embarrassing moment when I tried to intern at a Berlin magazine. I had been in Berlin long enough to know enough, but there were still gaps in my knowledge.
"Have you been to the Rixdorf Christmas Market before?"
"No, where is that?"
"On Richardplatz."
"Where is that, exactly?"
"Neukölln. You know Rixdorf is just the original name of Neukölln, right?"
I did not know. And my cheeks burned with shame. Still do actually, when something I feel I should know is exposed. That is why I am always happy to expand my knowledge. Even better when it comes in the form of a food tour.

When I received the invite to join eat-the-world.com's latest offering in Neukölln I was ready for some serious eating and to learn more about our former Kiez. We had lived in Neukölln for about a year (among our kajillion sublets) and never felt totally at home here. The cemeteries are dreamy, the foreigner vibe - new and old - was strong, but it felt like a place between. I wanted to know more about its background, its secrets and possibly its future. Learning about its food seemed a good way to start.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Christmas in Brussels, Belgium

Brussels Market Square
Grand Place-Grote Mark
Disregarding what my parents actually likes (nature/few people), we went on a city break to Brussels between Christmas and New Years.
I know that makes us sound like terrible hosts, and we kinda are.

"But Brussels will be beautiful!", we thought - and we were (mostly) right. It is ridiculously lux and hued in gold. It is also almost uniformly cheap to fly to as it is a hub for European relations.

If we had stayed right in the center instead of the neighborhood of Stalingrad (slightly shady by the train station) and my parents hadn't been getting over the worst cold ever and the AirBnB we planned on staying at hadn't canceled and we last minute booked one that had them listening to our 1-year-olds screams all night - this trip would have gone better. If this trip hadn't been amidst (justified) fears about terrorism in Brussels - this trip would have been easier.
That said, Brussels is beautiful, airfare was cheap and everyone should visit the picturesque Belgian capital.   

Ratings will be done in Frites ( fries). We were such good parents for a year (ha!). We denied delicious fries to our daughter til we got to Belgium. Then, fries were everywhere and she ate them. And loved them. Thus - she loved Belgium.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

A Very Berlin Dilemma: How to get an Anmeldung when Subletting

Do these people look like they know what they're doing?
I am always so pleased when someone stumbles onto this blog and actually enjoys it, rather than leaving comments like "Nice article. Visit Winerpark". It is even better when someone leaves a comment or e-mails me directly (swoon!). This has happened in the past and I have been happy to dump my knowledge all over them.

How we ended up living in Berlin and were actually able to find a place to stay and jobs to pay for it is equal parts dumb determination and Berlin magic. I am no expert, but always willing to share.

So the latest call for help got me thinking and I didn't have a great solution. So I am submitting the question here (with the writer's permission) in case someone else has a better answer.

Question: How do you get an Anmeldung when Subletting? And good thing getting a permanent apartment in Berlin is so easy. (Germans, that is #sarcasm.)

Friday, June 10, 2016

Birthday in Barcelona, Spain

Barcelona ChurchOne of the inevitables about being an expat is that you will have friends come and go.

This is exciting - ohhh! new friends.
And terrible - don't leave me friends!

We even did this to our friends on both sides of the ocean when we returned to the States after a year away...and then returned to Berlin.

That doesn't make it any more agreeable. So when our besties returned to Manchester we were more than bummed. This injustice was unbearable! Even with their visits back to Berlin and our trip to see them, we need more time with Engs.

So, we each like travel. We like each other. For reasons that are beyond comprehension, we had never forayed into Spain together (and even odder we ended up in Madrid within 6 months). Joint vacation! And what better place than beautiful Barcelona? And it was my birthday! Let's do this. So we did.

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Vacation to Corfu, Greece

After last year's smashing success with a last-minute EasyJet vacation, we had to try it again. So we did. And it was almost as awesome.

That might not sound like a ringing endorsement, but it is. It's just that Ischia was a once-of-a-lifetime vacation. That place is as close to perfect as I can ever hope to visit and this time was different. We're dragging a kid around now and real-life worries like searching for an apartment infringed on paradise.

And, yet - my memories of it (we went last August) are still sterling clear and glowing. It was beautiful. We ate and swam like kings. Rarely have we felt richer vacationing and more at peace in spirit.

Corfu Ratings:

Ratings will be done in Greek salad. We had so many delicious Greek salads.

Monday, September 7, 2015

Where to take your parents in Europe: Rome

I seem to be making a habit of visiting the most romantic places in Italy with my Father-in-Law. Venice, Cinque Terre and now Rome.

I mean, Ian is there too but the trip is definitely a little different as a trio - erm, a foursome! Cuz on this trip we had another little traveler, baby Matilda. We are officially in the "family travel" category, aren't we?

I think of visiting all these amazing places with her being so little and feel a little bad she isn't going to remember any of it. At least we have the pictures - a lot of pictures - and all this travel experience should make her a pro before her first birthday. Absorb the beauty, baby.

So anyways, Rome. We'd only been there once before in an unintended one-day stop on our epic month+ long trip. There was a lot more to see.

Friday, August 7, 2015

Tips for Applying for an Apartment in Berlin

Won't you please let us live here?
It's been a little quiet here lately.  That's because life has been busy, as discussed in my last post (along with boozing with a baby).

The other thing sucking up our free time is looking for an apartment. We knew it was going to be difficult. Despite the continual "Is Berlin hot or not?" playing out in the media (latest on our neighborhood, Wedding, from the New York Times), competition for Wohnungs is fierce with between 6-2.1 billion people applying for every place we've applied for.

Each apartment is a cattle call and we aren't quite adept as the Germans at throwing elbows. I went to one showing in Prenzlauer Berg that had a line down the stairs...for 3 floors! I just laughed and left and we met Ian for a drink. What else is there to do?

Friday, March 13, 2015

Baby UBlau: U55 & U4

"Good decisions" aren't my strong point. I'm in for adventure, making every day count and a bit of the crazy. Thus you might not have noticed my absence for the last few months. Maybe I finally lost my hold on reality or the Ausländerbehörde had enough of our shenanigans.

But no! We kinda, accidentally made a great decision. We had a baby. And she's awesome.

Unsurprisingly, it's taken a lot of time and I've got a new hobby of writing about her - a lot. If you wanna know about what's it like to have a babe in Berlin, I share an occasional helpful post amidst weekly videos and an astronomical ton of nonsense at In Berlin, Baby.

Another thing taking my time is work. I am writing/editing/content managing my Po (booty - learning new baby related words) off. I put up 10 Germany Travel articles a month at about.com, direct Insiders Abroad and their quarterly magazine, manage EasyExpat part-time and contribute to German-Way. This is hard work on top of watching a beautiful little lady!

And perhaps worst of all, this work stuff is eating up the things I used to write about here on the blog. Now I have to professionally present how to go to the movies in Germany or why I have come to appreciate the low water levels in toilets. In short, there is a lot less swearing.

But then we do something so ridiculous, so utterly useless to anyone but us I say, "Ah-ha! This is a post for Back to Berlin..and Beyond!". The recent such adventure, the first since the birth, is a Baby UBlau.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Should you visit the Fernsehturm?

As former Seattlites obsessed with our needle, it's a bit funny that we ended up in another city with a fondness for a futuristic tower.

The Fernsehturm (TV Tower) hardly towers at a mere 368 meters (1,207 feet), but in a city this flat you can see it from most points in Berlin. It is actually the highest point in Germany and much taller than our beloved Space Needle. Its like welcoming an old friend when you look up from a place you've never been and - there she is! - you see the tower. One of the major selling points of our apartment is that you can see the Fernsehturm from our loft bed, living room and front balcony. There are few things I like seeing more in the morning. 

Sunday, October 5, 2014

2 Weeks in Manchester

2 Weeks in Manchester
We first spent a weekend in Manchester for a wedding and were charmed by its unique architecture, character and history. In a good mood from the festivities, we weren't sure if it was just these rosy personal feelings or if the city really kicked ass. Especially after we agreed to a house trade that had us spending 2 weeks of summer break in this industrial northern center and locals first question in response to our plans was a polite "Why?".

Lucky for us, we did enjoy. A lot. Staying in a place for longer than a night or two allowed us to gain a insiders' perspective and explore the greater north (including York, Edinburgh, Port Sunlight, Liverpool and Chester - watch this space for posts!).

And much like the vacation to Ischia (but in a less island paradise kinda way), one of our primary goals on this vacation was to relax. The baby is coming and a whole different, slower and hopefully just as fulfilling way of traveling will be necessary. Let's consider this a successful test run into our new life.

We're Back in Berlin Ja!

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