Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Where to Take Your Parents for German Castles

My parents never intended to go to Germany. They certainly didn't envision spending so much time in Berlin. They really never thought they might have to watch their future grandchild grow up speaking German (hopefully).

So when we can make concessions, we do what we can. On their last visit to see us in Europe we put in some time to see one of their favorite things: Castles!

Note: Not all locations have been tested on our parents, but I feel pretty certain recommending them after our visit.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Top 14 Tweets of the Brazil v. Germany World Cup Game

It is impossible to ignore that the World Cup is happening right now. And Germany is winning.

News of the tournament is all over social media, I've covered where to watch in Berlin on EasyExpat and Where to Watch in Germany on and every night there are fireworks announcing each goal. While our stamina is sadly sub-par to watching all the games, we've rallied around the US team (before their loss to Belgium) and worn our Germany colors proudly around town.

Last night's game between Brazil and Germany was a slaughter. Total annihilation. A complete, unbelievable joy to watch for Germany fans like us. Enjoyment was elevated even more when I tuned in to what people were saying on Twitter.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Lost Pet in Germany

How to find your lost cat in BerlinI've written about our cat, importing pets from abroad and adopting the bunnies - I never wanted to write a post about a lost cat in Berlin. But there we were on Monday, preparing for my 21-week pregnancy check with our power still out in the kitchen (a German apartment story for another time) realizing the cat wasn't in the house. Catastrophes never happen at a good time.

As we live on the 6th floor attic apartment (dachgeschoss) with nowhere for the Bellatrix to go but out the window, we could guess what had happened. Hot days and nights have us cracking the windows to coax in a nighttime breeze and a strong wind must have opened the windows enough for the cat to take a cool rooftop stroll. I was already close to tears, but Ian comforted me by telling me her only recourse was to go into one of our neighbor's apartment. We would put up signs all over the Hof (courtyard) and entrances and when a neighbor found a furry surprise visitor they would give us a call.

(The last few days have been traumatic and I go into detail here, but rest assured we have a happy ending. If are just looking for tips to find a lost pet in Germany scroll to the end.)

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Where to Take Your Parents in Alsace-Lorraine

Where to Take Your Parents in Alsace-Lorraine
Colmar, France
In typical PorterBall fashion, we packed a lot into my parent's last trip. After trying out Swiss life, we swung through the Alsace-Lorraine region of France on our way back to Berlin. I wanted to give the P's a taste of French life - even if it was German flavored.

The Alsace-Lorraine region (or Reichsland Elsaß-Lothringen if you're feeling especially Germ-y) has been tossed back and forth between Germany and France several times. Though it currently is in France (and has been since 1922), this mishmash of cultures has resulted in some of the best of both sides.
  • Must Eat: Flàmmeküeche - basically a very thin crust pizza, typically with lardons (bacon), white onions and a cream-based sauce.
  • Must drink: Wine, of course! But Germany's influence means you won't get sniffed at for ordering a beer. Sadly, I could have neither. Another apfelshorle s'il vous plaît.
  • Must see: Serious cuteness. Hubsch. Mignon. No matter how you pronounce it, this region is filled with towns straight outta a Disney set.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Berlin by Boat

Even with Berlin’s wonderful transportation options, the city can be a monster to traverse. Walking is inevitable no matter your mode of transport, a fact that becomes abundantly clear every time my parents are in town. They bravely put on their walking shoes, but a jaunt between major attractions can rack up quite the miles (or kilometers if you're being European about it).

Luckily, there is an easier way to check out Berlin's top sites and save your parent's feet/sanity. We joined one of the popular boat tours with a departure point around Berliner Dom to get a fresh perspective on Berlin's most impressive tourist sites.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Getting all Willy Wonka in Berlin: Ritter Sport Bunte Schokowelt

Make your own chocolate in BerlinMy parents were on their third visit to Berlin and though we'd had a great time checking out baby stuff and traipsing about Switzerland, I was determined to show them more to love in my adopted home. After all the war memorials and major tourist sites, I thought chocolate might be the easiest way to charm them.

But 5 minutes away from the Ritter Sport Chocolate Shop we were forced to turn back by thundering rain and hail. HAIL! Oh, April weather. Brave Northwesters that we are, we were ultimately undeterred and found our way back to the site of one of Germany's most famous chocolates.

Officially called Ritter Sport Bunte Schokowelt (Ritter Sport Colorful Chocolate World), I had heard that you can make your own chocolates there. I knew it could be gimmicky and touristy, but this was my chance to be Willy Wonka and there was no way I was passing that up.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Funkhaus Nalepastrasse Tour

This city is full of nondescript, even decrepit-looking buildings that hide a world of Berlin history. So we weren't put off when we arrived in the middle of nowhere (technically Oberschoeneweide) to what looked like a never ending waterfront of abandoned factories.

We had been invited by a friend to take a tour of Rundfunk der DDR and really had no idea of what to expect. But as we're usually ready for anything, a tour of an East Berlin radio we would do.

Funkhaus Nalepastrasse Tour

Friday, May 9, 2014

Where to Take Your Parents in Switzerland

Swiss Alps with cloudI never thought I would go to Switzerland three times in just over a year, but cheap flights from Berlin to Basel and family near Zurich has made it a top destination lately. When my parents visited it was off to see the cousins - and more - in Switzerland.


On this second trip out to the cousin's place I brought the whole crew of mom, dad and husband. The cousins were once again disappointed in the weather and it was quite drizzly, but for a bunch of northwesters this was hardly a problem. This suburb about 20 minutes south of Zurich, the town sits along Lake Zurich and offers close proximity to the highly regarded Zurich International School. It is also, according to wikipedia, sometimes called "Wädi". Hubsch.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

German Fruit Wine Festival

Werder Baumblütenfest As an avid fan of alcohol, I knew it was going to be hard saying good-bye. But for the sake of the little person we don't even know yet, I have. And - shockingly - it hasn't been nearly as hard as I thought it would be.

While I love my beer (and Ian has continued to enjoy in my absence), I don't really feel like I am missing out. I have indulged my fair share and in this latest adventure I feel like I will take any step necessary to make this a success. I have avoided out beloved spätis in Berlin, abstained on our latest adventure through France and skipped beers in my favorite brewery city in Germany.

But this weekend I will be tested again. The Fruit Wine Festival (Baumblütenfest) is back.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Babies and parents and instagram - oh my!

Pregnant in Berlin
The night of the test. We think this is...good news?
After sitting on the news for a whole month - a record for us - we finally told everyone what is up with my not drinking. Preggers.

Though initially terrified (seriously check those faces), we are getting towards the wildly excited end and are doing our best to figure out how to have a a baby in Germany. I am freaking out and keeping the US family informed on a tumblr of random at In Berlin, Baby. If you too find yourself interested in why we have considered the name Clovis for our offspring or what movies we are watching to prepare (movies are the new books, right?) - head on over.

On the other end of the spectrum, the parents are coming! Once again, my brave parents are trekking over the ocean from the American west coast and this time landing in Copenhagen. I will be meeting them up there where we are sure to cry and be fools saying hi again for the first time in almost a year. Ian will meet us the next day in Hamburg and then we will finally show them our new home in Berlin. Thought they've seen it on TV, this will be their first viewing in person. I hope they like it, and will forgive us the stairs.

We're Back in Berlin Ja!

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