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, 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.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Nazi Rally Grounds in Nuremburg

Germany Travel Front Page
Working for as the Germany Travel Expert has me seeking out new places in Germany and dredging up all sorts of posts and pictures from my travels. Sometimes this makes for a great new post for the site and sometimes they may have already been written about, but I still want so share.

In light of my lax new postings on this blog (due to the growth) and exploring the Germany Travel archives - how about a hybrid? On our first year exploring this country (and unintentionally falling in love) we tromped all over Germany. On one of these cross-country trips we found ourselves in Nuremburg and Ian's love of all things WWII history guided us to...

Monday, September 8, 2014

Pregnancy Hiatus

I keep thinking about this blog.

I love tracking our adventures in Berlin and beyond here and have a stack of posts on our recent trip to Manchester and northern UK in my head, but have failed to get them to the page in any kind of timely fashion. Like many bloggers, life seems to be interfering.

Saturday, August 2, 2014

The Ideal Island Vacation: Ischia, Italy

Best Italian Island vacationIn early June, we realized Ian had some vacation days and sometime - sometime soon - I was going to be far too big and uncomfortable to travel. Thus, our usual brand of spontaneous/half-planned travel was born. But where?

There are few place we won't go. Bucharest in August? Why not. Copenhagen just for a day to pick up a parent? Or course. Idaho? Let's do it!

But given our poor trip planning, flights to just about anywhere were more then we hoped to pay. So I got creative. Thought outside the box. I looked at packages. Rarely the best deal for us bargain-basement globetrotters, I found that easyjet delivers some pretty enticing cheapo deals. I found one such combo (just over 400 euro for a flights & hotel for 2 for 4 nights) to the island of Ischia, Italy. After we fell in love with the area during a trip to Naples and the island of Procida two years earlier - we couldn't resist going back.

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.

We're Back in Berlin Ja!

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