Monday, December 17, 2012

"You are crazy, my child. You must go to Berlin."

That quote was above was said by Franz von Suppe a composer during the late 18th and early 19th century - but boy, do those words still apply, you must go to Berlin.  It is a wonderful and beautiful city, filled with so much to do!  Though Berlin was a bit off of our beaten path, I had it in my head that we must visit.  Because our schedule was so jammed packed, we were only in Berlin for 36 hours. We didn't have a guide book at this point, so we walked as much as we could, wandered through the Tiergarten, ate lots of currywurst, and even rented bikes (don't laugh at pictures of me in my helmet! Safety first!). 

Tiergarten canal


underground light show

remnant of the Berlin wall

Save our Planet

In East Berlin

"check point charlie"

a blending of new and old architecture

Neue Wache, a memorial to the victims of war and tyranny

visiting German used book stores...

delicious meals

Biking Berlin

Berlin Holocaust Memorial

Brandenberg Gate

The least silly picture of me on the bike Jon took all weekend.

More Currywurst

Exploring the neighborhoods of East Berlin
Remnants of the Berlin Wall at the Topography of Terror

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-Nada. Berlin is a city that is easy to navigate on bike, metro, or foot. Walk and explore!

-H'otello Berlin in the cutest neighborhood of Charlottenburg. By far the most comfortable beds and it was just lovely!

Things to do, eat, see
-Walk through the Tiergarten
- Rent bikes (we used Fat Tire: Berlin)
-Visit the remnants of the Berlin Wall, check out the Topography of Terror (and outdoor museum that examines the rise of the Nazi regime in Berlin, WWII and the creation of the wall)
- Eat currywurst on the street. Delicious.
- Saunter through Charlottenburg. Beautiful!

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

prague, last april

Prague was beautiful, but Krakow stole my heart. We arrived early in Prague on a very rainy and cold day. We couldn't check into our hostel till two, so we spent the morning walking and visiting the Museum of Medieval Art. Throughout our two days there, we explored the entire city, visiting Prague e Castle, St. Vitus Cathedral and the Lennon Wall. We drank many Czech beers, made friends with an elderly Czech man and a Japanese tourist in a dive bar, ate butter that looked like cheese and had an amazing time.  I will admit to feeling a bit tired while we were in Prague, so I didn't take the best notes of where to go and eat, but when I get that together, I'll certainly post it!
City Center

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Visiting Budapest: Day 2

Yes, I disappeared into the land of wallpapered rooms, but I'm back and I PROMISE to get this euro trip written down by the end 2012....or April of 2013.

Day 2 in Budapest was a little bit more relaxing, in part because we got to go to the baths! After waking up, doing some wandering and shopping in the market, we strolled on down to the Széchenyi thermal bath, it was built in 1909 and is one of the oldest  baths in Europe.  Located in City Park it took us a while to find the main entrance. We purchased a 3 hour pass, rented some towels and got into our bathing suits.  The elegant architecture of the building, the beautiful tiles and the steam from the baths and saunas made Széchenyi feel like this beautiful maze I was happy to be exploring. Around every corner was a pool of a different shape, depth or temperature. We spent our time exploring the interior of the structure, until JM discovered the saunas. I'm not a huge fan of saunas so I just soaked on my own.

After we were done exploring the interior, we spent the rest of our time in the outdoor baths. The weather was perfect (58 degrees) for the warm water and we enjoyed swimming and watching Hungarians play chess on floating boards.

Once our three hours were up we dried off, showered, and changed. We wandered through City Park until we eventually found a metro stop (FYI Budapest Metro is the 3rd oldest mass transit system in the world) to take us back to Great Market Hall, where purchased meats, cheeses and breads for our over night train to Prague, and where I indulged in a delicious Langos (re: fried dough covered with bananas and nutella)

 Andrassy Ut

Entry way to City Park

Széchenyi Baths - can you spy jon?

On the metro

I ate the whole thing myself
- The NYT (are you sensing a trend).

- Starlight Hotel Budapest - I loved this hotel, again it was huge and we had great views of the city

Things to do, eat, see
- Do walk through Buda, Pest, along the Andrassy Ut to City Park - go to a Bath, 
- Eat a langos, and do yourself a favor and drink a glass of Hungarian wine while you sit along the Danube. I did, at a recommendation from my favorite lady abroad
- See City Park, Great Market Hall, Chain Bridge
Up next....Prague - the city where I finally ate butter and declared it cheese!

Friday, October 5, 2012

wallpaper showdown: removing old wallpaper, part 1

Oh hey guys, what are you up to this weekend? Oh nothing much here, just tackling operation: take down entire ceiling of wallpaper, that is what. Sounds fun! Right?

You are probably asking yourself, Wallpaper on the ceilings!? what in the what? Well, back in, ohhhh....1926 when our house was built, paint was hella expensive and/or oil based/super toxic. In addition, people didn't have access to a lot of the fancy brushes and rollers we have today. So in order to cover up that nasty plaster, they wallpapered it.

Fast forward to 2012, and this wallpaper has been painted over (jerks), and not taken down. This causes beautiful cracks to appear throughout the walls and the ceiling.  As a result, I've been peeling wallpaper here and there around our house for the last six months - and while I don't consider myself an expert, I do believe I am now a seasoned professional wallpaper destroyer.

If you aren't interested, just check out the super nasty pictures - but if you do have an old house with tons of wallpaper, please read, I'm going to blow your mind.

So the room we are working on is the smallest room upstairs, above the foyer and the staircase. It gets warm, which means the glue holding the wallpaper to the plaster heats up and breaks down, which in turn  causes lots of cracks and peels.

 To take down this wallpaper I've been poking holes in the paint using this little guy.  Once I'm done, I mix 1 part white vinegar to 2 parts hot water in a spray bottle and go to town (please save yourself money, and trust me. Use this mix. I tried wallpaper stripper, which gave me the worst headache, known to man, I also tried a mix of fabric softener and water, which just did not work. Vinegar/Water is amazing and nontoxic, it cleans the plaster too, so you have less scrubbing to do when you finally get the wallpaper off the plaster).

Since I've already scored the paint, the mix will sink in nicely through the paint. Next, I use my big girl muscles and pull it down with a scraper. If you have saturated the wall enough, the wall paper will melt off like butter. 

Now please enjoy these beautiful pictures....

during and after, please excuse my terrible posture

plaster sized 10/2/26 (or maybe international dated of 2/18/26, whateves :))

I admit, I sorta wish I could have saved this wallpaper, beautiful cranes...maybe originally a nursery room?

Up next, I'll talk about what goes down this weekend when we complete the wallpaper ceiling showdown.....Do you have wallpaper in your home? Have you ever had to remove it? Tell me!

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Budapest! - day 1

Hi All,

I promise I'm still here! Just busy with lots of exciting house things, and as soon as I find my missing camera cord, I will show you all! I want to keep on with my posts about our exciting European travels of 2011 before the year is out.  So lets do this!

We spent our last day in Poland visiting Auschwitz. Incredibly informative and sad. I was shaken to the core learning more about the horror of this period in European history, in part because my grandfather, who was Polish, and his family members, were sent to German war camps and concentration camps - the reality of what they (and others went through) really hit me. But I'll write more on that later.

After spending the day at Auschwitz, we returned Krakow and meandered around the city center until it was time to board our overnight train to Budapest. That is right, I said it - overnight train. At first I was excited, but then I was nervous that Jon would fall out of the top bunk on to me (and yes we tried to snuggle in one bunk, but it was cramped and just not worth it). I ended up not sleeping, and woke up very grouchy. We arrived in Budapest a little late, and since we were only spending 36 hours in the city we immediately stopped for coffee and snacks to gear up for a full two days.

Budapest is the largest city in east central Europe, and is historically two cities. Buda on the west bank of the Danube, and Pest on the east. It is a big, modern city. After our amazing time in Krakow, and my sleepless night on the train, I was a little overwhelmed by the hustle and bustle.

I have to say, on our first day in Budapest, we covered a lot of territory.  And this is because  J and I are into some serious walking when we travel. We spend lots of time meandering - and this works great for us. I like experiencing and seeing the nooks and crannies of the city, and he reads to me from (what else) Rick Steves Guide to Eastern Europe. We stop when we are tired, take pictures when we feel like it and usually end up  enjoying lots of delicious treats and beer.

Our first day in the city walked through the large market in Pest and across the river to Buda and around the castle.  The two sides of the river are incredibly different. Pest is bustling, busy and modern (imagine traditional 18th and 19th century architecture mixed in with those communist block style buildings), whereas Buda is quaint and quiet (think cobblestone streets, secret courtyards, and narrow cafes). We stayed in Pest, but I think if we were to visit again, I'd probably want to stay in Buda  - sure Pest is where the action is, but I felt like I could have wandered around Buda for hours!

Danube from the Train


More Pest

Paprika is a big thing in Hungary

me and my yugo


Castle ruins