Saturday, October 29, 2011

Honeymoon Part 3: Germany

Ich bin ein Berliner!

Arriving in Berlin to see a Marimekko store directly across the street from our hotel, I knew I was in trouble. I'm convinced Berlin is the birthplace of "hipster". I saw a guy walking down the street in a full mechanic-style coverall - Somehow, he pulled off this look without looking like an extra from Grease. If you like a 5 shoe stores on every block (I do!), the Scheunenviertel may be for you.

So what does a young couple do in a European capital dripping with history? Visit museums of course:

Clockwise from top left: The Ramones Museaum repro CBGB's style awning/
Outtakes from the Ramones album cover shoot showing Dee-dee stepping in poo/
Promo needles and pins-uh/Leaving our mark in the guestbook.

Why there is a Ramones Museum in Berlin and not NYC is beyond me. Of course, we couldn't leave Berlin without checking out some local history too:

Clockwise from top left: The Trabant: East Germany's sexiest ride!/
Re-creation of a typical east German apartment at the DDR museum/Bits of the wall/
The un-monument at the site of Hitler's bunker and "grave": a low-key sign in a parking lot
/
The very monumental holocaust memorial


But wait, didn't we visit yarn and record stores? Of course we did. Who's vacation do you think you're looking at?

I should mention my husband's affinity for collecting extends beyond records. On the left is his happiest place on earth, the Taschen store. On the right, compulsive flea-market purchases leave the collector sad at the prospect of hauling 10 tonnes of books and records back to Canada. (I had considerably lighter baggage, but only after curbing my appetite for giant European fashion magazines)

Handmade Berlin had a couple of Ruth Marshal's knitted animal pelts on display - cool!

Somehow, shopping in Berlin left me with very few actual German souvenirs. I bought yarn from Italy and Japan...

At left: Italian cotton/sequin yarn. Right: Laceweight Japanese yarn
(yes, it's Noro - a cashmere blend - yum!)
...fabric from Finland...

...and boots from Spain.
Fabulous handmade Vialis boots!

My only truly Berlin souvenir? A couple of tiny Ampelmännchen ornaments for my Christmas tree.That's a wrap folks! My "honeymoon". Two weeks, 3 countries, 6 planes and a whole lotta fun.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Honeymoon Part 2: The Netherlands

For some, Amsterdam brings to mind tulips, windmills and wooden shoes. For others, marijuana, prostitution and Harold and Kumar. Me? Amsterdam's allure was it's geographical location directly in between our other vacation stops, Ireland and Germany. Don't get me wrong, I was very interested in seeing Amsterdam, it just wasn't at the top of my list. Now having been there, all I want to do is go back to our little houseboat on a canal!

This was our floating oasis for 3 nights. It was directly across from Anne Frank house
- you could watch the queue from the bathtub.
Sirrussly, you guys!

While reading your morning paper, you could also feed swans
out the window. Sirrussly, you guys!

Amsterdam really blew me away. I found myself walking around just groaning; "Waah! It's so beautiful!".
The medieval city centre looks like a postcard at every turn.
Sirrussly, you guys!

Some highlights: Bikes!

Special traffic lights just for bikes!

As
a cyclist who has to navigate busy city streets riding between traffic on my left and parked cars on my right (ready to open a door in my path at any given moment), the dominance of bicycle transit in Amsterdam made me want to cry. We rented bikes one day and it was so refreshing and fantastic to ride along dedicated, separate bicycle traffic lanes - with their own traffic lights! The only downside? Getting lost on a bike happens a lot faster than on foot.

Beer!

Now y'all know I'm a wino at heart, but Holland is beer country. The Arendsnest serves exclusively Dutch beers - 120 bottled and 30 on tap. You could have a different brew every day for almost 6 months!

Food!

Moeders (Mothers) is plastered floor to ceiling with pictures of people's mums.

While herring doesn't exactly appeal to me, let's not forget the Dutch like to serve french fries with mayonnaise (sinfully yummy!). I did give the old' hutspot a try at Moeders.

Shopping!
True to form, where He purchased records, She purchased yarn. I made a point to check out De Afstap. The store was very cute, though the majority of the yarn they carried was Rowan, which I can get anytime in Canada. I didn't find any Dutch yarn (does that even exist?), but picked up a nice skein of Swedish lace-weight wool. I also picked up a couple of really cool Dutch stitch dictionaries.

It's a good thing the books have readable charts because one thing
I didn't pick up in Amsterdam, was Dutch.


Warning: If you feed those canal swans once, they come out of nowhere,
Terminator style, every time you open your houseboat door!


Since returning home, I find myself sounding like a pretentious Gweneth Paltrow; "Oh, you really MUST go to Amsterdam, it's simply DIVINE!". I need to go back there someday! Sirrussly, you guys!


Saturday, October 08, 2011

Honeymoon Part 1: Ireland

Despite the fact the b.f. and I planned on taking a European vacation before we planned to get married, everyone is calling our recent vacation our "honeymoon". I'm not sure why I feel strange about the word "honeymoon", but then again, I'm also having trouble using the word "husband". What it all really boils down to, is that no one gives a rats-ass that I don't want to call my trip a honeymoon; it's the first vacation my boyfriend husband and I have taken after our wedding therefore, it must be our honeymoon. ("If it looks like a duck, swims like a duck, and quacks like a duck, then it probably is a duck").

Honeymoon Part 1: Ireland

Fiddle-dee-dee and such! My boyfriend husband's extended family is from Northern Ireland, so we spent the first half of our trip in Belfast and the surrounding area, with a quick stopover in Dublin.

Things you may know about Ireland:

1) It is green and hilly.

I refused to leave Ireland without visiting a caste. This one on the right
is in Carlingford, a name for whatever reason, we had infinite trouble remembering;
"Where was that castle again? Carlington? Carlsberg?"


2) There are lots of pubs.

The Crown Bar in Belfast is the epitome of Victorian decor.
The pub is such a historical monument it's owned by the National Trust.


3) It's damp.
4) There are a lot of (natural) red-heads.
5) U2, James Joyce, the Pogues, Frank McCourt, Van Morrison, Sinead O'Connor, Colin Farrell

Things you may not know about Ireland:

1) The Republic of Ireland (the one with Dublin) and Northern Ireland (the one with Belfast) are two different countries. (Seriously, a lot of people don't know this).
2) George Best is a very famous Northern Irish footballer (soccer, that is). I'm the moron that landed at George Best airport and asked; "So who is this George Best anyway? A politician?"
3) The "Peace walls" have stood longer than the Berlin wall. Irish political history should not be taken lightly.

4) English currency is the pound sterling, Irish currency is the Euro, Northern Irish currency is a different Irish pound. You can use English pounds in Northern Ireland, but you can't use Northern Irish pounds in England. This results in a wallet full of confusing bills.
5) Thin Lizzy, Liam Neason, the Titanic, Jonathan Rhys Meyers

Before Ireland, all I knew about Thin Lizzy was "The boys are back in town".
Now the entire "Lizzy" discography is sitting in my living room.

Sprinkled in with the family visits and pints of Guinness, we managed a little shopping.

Him: records.

Her: yarn.



Some hobbies are easier to fit in your suitcase than others.