Monday, May 28, 2012

Oh, hey.

Mo and I get some quality beach time together

I haven't forgotten about you, blog and loyal readers! I've just been thoroughly consumed with my 3 week US jaunt. Already hit up 3 cities, 2 graduation celebrations, and 1 big family weekend to celebrate my Opa's 80th birthday. What's left? A week in DC... catching up with old work colleagues, tying up loose ends, seeing friends and celebrating another birthday, and spending quality time with the family.

With Mark in Cambridge
There are a fair amount of highlights to share already, from sipping Perrier Jouet poolside, to doing serious damage at American outlet malls, to singing two entire Backstreet Boys albums in a car ride with my sister, and having a "business meeting" with my Opa and cousins just like the old days. It's been all that I hoped for, and all I could ask for before heading back to Berlin, no return-ticket in hand.

Rolling Thunder in DC with the family

And I've learned a thing or two on this trip. Things like, all you need for a fun game is a paper bag (thanks, Evan), a few months out of the US means you are completely out of the loop (Carly Rae who?), Americans are pretty defensive of their beer these days (no arguments from me, I am sick of Pilsner), going to graduations at both my Alma Maters within the course of a week makes for a weird combo of feelings, and that really, Berlin is only a plane ride (or two) away.

"Business Meeting"

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Gesehen: When Language Goes Bad

Faux friends!
I know, I know, this isn't entirely appropriate. But does it make it a little bit better when I tell you that "dick" in German means "thick"? And that this was a sign I spotted at an innocent sausage stand at a family-friendly festival? I guess "thick" and "sausage" don't help much, either.

But come on.. it's pretty damn funny.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Gearing Up

Where it all began, Tübingen Summer 2004
I have some big things to get ready for, namely my imminent 3.5 week trip back to the States and my new job. But all my current energy and excitement is focused on what begins tonight: the long-awaited, much-anticipated, any-other-appropriate-cliche, PJS REUNION 2012!!

What is PJS, you ask? PJS stands for Priscilla, Jessica, and Sophia, or to us, Pris, Jess, and Soph. The three of us met back in summer of 2004 in an intensive language program in Tübingen, Germany. We were placed in the same level German class and were almost instantly joined at the hip(s). Quite the threesome we were that month, and we've stayed in impressively close contact over the years, visiting each other here and there in various cities and countries. 

Reunion 2006 in Lausanne, Switzerland
If you're an avid reader of my blog, as I'm sure you all are, you read about Priscilla back when she visited me in November and when I visited her in December in Düsseldorf, where she currently resides . She's a fellow American, but is also always all over the world. I spent 6 weeks with her in Buenos Aires in 2009 when she was living there and we've also met up over the years and traveled together in DC, New York, Boston, Rome, Germany, Switzerland, and probably some other places I am forgetting.

Pris visits UMD, 2005

Pris and I in Buenos Aires, 2009
Jessica is the Swiss leg of this operation. She hails from the French-speaking city of Lausanne, but has an Italian mother and German-Swiss father, so that gives you an idea of how many languages she speaks. She and I traveled together in 2006 to Switzerland, Italy, Belgium, and Holland, and in 2008 to Vienna, Prague, and Budapest, and again, other places I am probably forgetting.

Jess and I in Amsterdam, 2006
Jess visits DC, 2010

Though we've all seen each other here and there throughout the years, we've only managed to get the 3 of us together twice since that splendid summer of '04. The first was back in 2006 when I was studying abroad in Germany and Priscilla came over for Spring Break. The three of us met at Jess's in Switzerland and went skiing together. The second time was summer of 2007 after I graduated college and right before heading to France, when Jess came over to the US and we did a LA, NYC, DC trip for a few weeks.

Reunion 2007 in LA
Now for the first time ever, we all reside on the same continent, and this weekend will be our attempt at a proper 5 year catch-up. Los geht's, mädels!

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Not Your Mama's Labor Day

Wow. Yesterday was something. I was really not up to speed on what goes on in Berlin on the Erster Mai, or first of May, or Tag der Arbeit, or Labor Day, or Maifeiertag, or May Holiday, or however else you want to call it, because apparently this holiday deserves multiple names, purposes, and celebrations.

It was a madhouse, to say the least. I met up with friends at 1pm and then we ventured into Kreuzberg, where the bulk of the action takes place- beers in hand, cameras in tow, and sunscreen properly slathered. It is an understatement to say the entire city becomes an outdoor party on this day, and the "dreamy" or "heavenly" weather, as the Germans call it, only egged everyone on. People (and police) were everywhere. Bars and restaurants and random people were blasting music from their establishments or corners. Vendors were on the street, selling everything from Turkish snacks to house-made "mojitos" (with vodka and ginger ale?). The parks and squares were bursting with sunbathers, smokers, dancers, musicians, couples, families, and grillers. A MADHOUSE, I tell you!

Some highlights of my first Erster Mai in Berlin included: making all my friends wear (and reapply) sunscreen, giving and receiving cheek kisses to a very enthusiastic vendor, getting rained on during a boat ride along the Spree, listening to Gangsta's Paradise on the street while enjoying some rot-weiss Pommes (fries with ketchup and mayo), spotting really strange police trucks that looked like they had come out of a museum, getting offered a piece of baklava by a random guy on the subway who told Kelly and I he was training to become an OBGYN, watching a German Volksmusik band perform my karaoke staple: "Believe" by Cher, and singing James Brown on the bank of the river with my gal pals.

I doubt I can do this any more justice with pictures than I can with words, but let's be honest, we all prefer pictures. So I'll leave it at that, and enjoy: 

American girls do Erster Mai!

Bus that was lit on fire

Turkish vendors in Kreuzberg

Polizei on patrol

Bank of the Spree

They're on a boat!

On the way to Treptower Park

Performing "Believe" by Cher

Post-rain shower view from the boat

A German, Italian, and Austrian on a boat!

Rave in the park

Smooch for the "Mojito" Man

I feel guilty being the only one in focus!

Sunset in the Park

Nighttime Oranienstrasse parties