After four weeks of bouncing around, I’ve finally arrived in my temporary home for the next month— Berlin! Now that I’ve unpacked my bags, done some much-needed laundry (thanks to my German momma Marion), picked up groceries (obviously made a beeline for the avocados) and gotten myself sufficiently lost in the city (suburban child right here), I thought I would share what I’ve been up to since we rang in 2017!
Maggie and I had a lovely New Years Eve in Vienna— eating fried potatoes, drinking mulled wine and watching fireworks over Vienna’s city hall. Afterwards, we took a train to Prague, a city so many of my friends who have studied abroad have raved about. As if the ride there wasn’t gorgeous enough (light snow falling, big open dusted fields, frozen forests), Prague exceeded every expectation I had. It was simply overflowing with history, music, and food. We filled up our days, walking miles and miles (another apology goes out to Maggie), checking the Grand Palace, cathedrals, bridges, monuments and restaurants off of the list.
One day we took a tour outside the city at Terezin, a Holocaust concentration camp. Terezin was known as one of the “propaganda” camps— meaning portions of the camp were renovated and outfitted to appear as if victims had a good standard of living (think big sinks, separate showers, mattresses, etc.). When the Nazis needed to show the Red Cross or other international aid organizations that they were not mistreating people, they showed off Terezin. As I’m sure you know, these renovated areas were not representative of daily treatment and quality of life.
Concentration camps, death camps, and Holocaust memorials inevitably make me immediately sad and angry. Hours or days after a visit, however, I always come to a state of fear. It is a fear that history could repeat itself, a fear that anti Semitism is still alive (it undoubtedly is) and a fear that large groups of people can do horrible things and people and countries (such as our own did) will turn a blind eye. In some ways, after spending time in Israel, these emotions towards the Holocaust have intensified. Living in Israel for months on end has allowed me to embed myself in the culture and observe countless national trends and sentiments— perhaps no one ringing clearer than the collective memory of the Holocaust. I feel more connected to the Jewish people and history than ever before.
I wrapped up touring Prague with Maggie (big shout out to Mags Mun for embracing the fast-paced travel life!) just in time to fly to Switzerland to meet none other than….PADJ! We met in the Zurich airport and immediately took a train to Zermatt— a ski and resort town in southern Switzerland along the Italian border. We skied six days in a row (#KILLINit) resulting in lots of sore muscles, but no concussion, sliced open booty or an obscene amount of stitches, so we’re good! A few afternoons we dropped over the ridge into Italy (casual), but spent most of our time in Switzerland lapping groomers and wiggling our fingers and toes so they didn’t freeze.
Zermatt’s food scene could be an entire post in itself, but I’ll limit it to the highlights. First off, they LIVE to lunch in Switzerland, and I’m not talking about Wildflower, Olympic House or Gold Coast Lodge (dropping some Squaw Valley references right there). I’m talking about a full on French Laundry, Los Altos Grill, Terun situation. Big time. We skied through lunch on most days (I was skiing with Padj after all), but stopped twice at a gourmet chalet only accessible by ski lift, high up by the Matterhorn. Dad had an egg-potato dish and pork, and I drooled over an insane shrimp salad (worth every one of those 32 freakin Francs). The chalet was packed with people of every age and nationality, sipping on wine, downing fondue, and rare meats, ordering 20 Franc desserts and enjoying the picturesque winter wonderland outside. Safe to say Dad and I were in high-class heaven. Okay, I’ll stop elaborating on that now— other notable foods included fondue at a famous restaurant in Zermatt, Swiss chocolate (need I say more), falafel burgers and a darn tasty bowl of homemade linguini and bottle of wine for my 21st birthday. Holllaaaaa I’m 21 y’all (on a continent that doesn’t give a sh*t)!
I bid goodbye to Dad on Saturday in Zurich and hopped on a flight to Berlin. Marion and Lucki, our dear family friends who live here in Berlin, picked me up at the airport and brought me back to the apartment for a tasty meal of pesto pasta and shrimp (hands down, 100%, 10/10 my favorite combination of foods). The past few days I’ve spent getting settled into the apartment and starting to make a list of all the museums, monuments and restaurants I want to go to. It’s been great to catch up with Marion and Lucki and spend time relaxing. I also found a hot yoga studio (priorities) and attended my first Bikram yoga class this afternoon since leaving the US in July (#gbless). I’m looking forward to the next month of putzing around the city, meeting up with a variety of friends in Berlin and around Germany and maybe heading up to Sweden for a quick visit. Needless to say, I am a happy, happy camper!
That’s it for now! Looking forward to sharing more “big-city, suburban-girl” experiences with you as the month goes by.
I love you all A LOT!
…and it is just so good to have you in “Merlin’s Bude” as the house would be so empty otherwise. Explore the city and have fun. Just looking forward picking up Gretchen from the airport with you and see you and Gretchen overwhelmed by hugs, hugs, hugs – better than FaceTime and Skype 🙂
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happy new year Cass. Keep sending us the news!
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