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francophile, oenophile, logophile, turophile

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Travel \\ Prague

Prague

In 2009, at the end of my second séjour in France, I booked a little trip that included Prague. The city had been on my wishlist for a long time & it seemed like the perfect opportunity to visit. I was looking forward to catching up with a Czech friend from school in Rennes, exploring the beautiful sights, & eating my weight in fried cheese. It did not disappoint. When we went to book our 2017 trip, I knew it had to include this beautiful gem. & the Czech people love their beer, so of course, they’re my kind of people. Here’s what I loved most on this most recent visit.

Traditional Czech Food

I’m not sure that food is the first thing that comes to mind when most people think of Prague, but I think it certainly should be. The food scene here is really diversifying, but I truly love the traditional dishes of the Czech Republic. They’re rich, comforting, & truly delicious. There’s a reason this grandmotherly style of cooking is making a comeback: it’s amazing!

The first (& last, let’s be honest) thing I want to eat here is fried cheese: a slice of Eidam cheese, breaded & fried. In fact, I booked my first trip partly because I had to try it. & I will happily eat fried cheese in any of its many forms throughout the Czech Republic, but my favourites are Lokal’s simple version, pan-fried in butter, & the sandwich you’ll find at food carts around Wenceslas Square. I ate fried cheese every chance I got & I have no regrets.

Prague 2017

The best fried cheese of the whole trip (& I ate it A LOT), at Lokal.

Without a doubt, the best thing I ate in Prague, & possibly anywhere, was beef tartar. I cannot recommend this enough, even if raw beef makes you a little bit wary. This regional classic is definitely something I wouldn’t leave the Czech Republic without tasting. Embrace your adventurous side! Usually served with toast & condiments, each bite has an addictive textural contrast that had me wishing we’d ordered two. The tartar at Nase Maso doesn’t look like much: two slices of toast, Czech raw garlic, & what looks like a hamburger patty. Rub the garlic over the toast & top with the meat for what I believe is the most perfect bite of food.

If you really can’t wrap your mind around raw beef, the burger here is a good compromise. I wouldn’t want to you to come to Prague without getting a glimpse into the hussle of this wildly popular butcher shop. Butchers cut the steak & grind the beef in full view, which I found to be a fun part of the experience.

Nase Maso, Prague

The busy lunch rush at Nase Maso, the coolest butcher shop I’ve ever been inside.

Nase Maso Beef Tartar

This beef tartare is one of the best things I’ve ever eaten. Honestly, it blew my mind.

Nase Maso

Butcher Counter

Nase Maso Burger

We also shared a burger that I’d happily eat one hundred times over.

Overall, we ate a lot of good food in Prague, most of it regional specialties. Other noteworthy meals included chlebicek (Czech open-faced sandwiches) for breakfast at the adorable Sisters (actually next door to Nase Maso on Dlouha) & Goulash, a Czech take on this specialty shared by many in that region, at Mincovna in the Old Town Square.

Mincovna Goulash

Czech Goulash at Mincovna

Sisters Chlebicky

Sister’s chlebicky for Breakfast

Sisters Chlebicky

Chlebicky on display

Beer

It wouldn’t be right to go on a European Beer Tour & leave out the Czech Republic. Beer drinking is practically a national sport here. I remember discussing the beer culture with my Czech girlfriend over lunch before I was anywhere near as into beer as I am now. She told me it was normal to have a beer at lunch, & common to see women enjoying a pint alongside their male colleagues, which was somewhat of a revelation to me at the time. I’d only just graduated from drinking bacardi breezers after all. (Don’t judge! I was so young!)

There is no shortage of great spots to enjoy a pint in Prague, with more microbreweries popping up all the time. Our AirBnB happened to be across the street from Craft Beer House, which we wound up at a several times over our short stay. If you’re looking for knowledgeable staff & multiple taps – this is your bar. The service is friendly & welcoming & they really go the extra mile to find a beer you like. We ended both our nights in Prague with a drink on their front stoop.

Craft Beer House

Hanging out on the sidewalk at Craft Beer House

Touted as THE pub in Prague, U zlatého tygra is a must visit for me. They serve one type of beer: Pilsner Urquell, & although I enjoy this local brew, it’s really the atmosphere that makes this the spot to visit. I’d read it was a cultural institution, & it was clear the Czechs agree from the minute we walked in the door. The place was packed. I’ve never seen people pound back beer as quickly as these guys while maintaining an air of sobriety. They were certainly loud, but hanot the least bit belligerent. Everyone was there to have a good time with their friends. Photos of sports icons, celebrities, & politicians line the walls, the bar staff is gruff, but efficient, & you’re unlikely to get a table unless you show up early, but it’s worth stopping in for a glimpse into Czech pub culture.

 U zlatého tygra

The only photo I managed to snap inside the boisterous
U zlatého tygra.

If we’d had better weather & more time, I’d have loved to check out some of the beer gardens around the city too. The Letna Beer Garden figured high on my list! As I mentioned above, the fried cheese at Lokal was a definite highlight, but so was the excellent beer & cave-like interior of the Mala Strana location. We also enjoyed U Rudolfina for a pint, but you really don’t have to look very hard to find good beer in this city.

Lokal beers

Enjoying a pint in the cave-like basement of Lokal.

Wander

I love having time to wander a new city, & even enjoy getting a little lost. If you’ve followed my blog since the very beginning, you know it used to be called Au fil de mes balades, which roughly translates to “as I wander”. A balade has no finite destination & that is how I prefer to explore a city for the first time. Prague might just be one of the best cities to do exactly that. Not only does it ooze old world charm, but it constantly rewards explorers with hidden courtyards, quiet cobblestoned lanes, & unexpected glimpses into daily Czech life, like no other city I’ve visited.

I highly recommend the New Europe Walking Tour here. They can be hit or miss, but both time I’ve come to Prague, I’ve hit the tour guide jackpot. Despite the most comically relentless downpour, our guide kept us engaged & entertained over the course of our three hour tour. He was full of wonderful stories & insights into his hometown & although, we were soaked & pretty cold, I truly enjoyed his tour.

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Old Town Square

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Old Town Square in the rain

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Our hardy tour guide braving the rain.

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Wenceslas Square

Once you’ve got your bearings, & a good understanding of the center, I highly recommend wandering some of the other neighbourhoods. Head over the Charles Bridge & up to the Prague castle for stunning views over the city. Explore the cobblestoned lanes across the Vltava River in Malá Strana. This is where you’ll find the John Lennon Wall (pretty meh, especially after the East Side Gallery in Berlin). Keep an eye out for markings on different buildings in this area – they show how high the flood waters measured in different years! The views of the Charles Bridge & Prague Castle from the Mánes Bridge are also some of the best in the city, if you ask me!

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Mánes Bridge & Prague Castle

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Exploring Malá Strana

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Flood Markings

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John Lennon Wall

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Dancing ladies

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Hidden coffee spot, Super Tramp

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Pastries & Coffee

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Streets around the castle

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View from the Castle

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Streets of Malá Strana

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Charles Bridge

It’s funny the things that stick with you when you travel. For me, it was this Jewish Cemetery in Prague. Due to a lack of space in the tiny ghetto, people were buried on top of one another so that now the whole cemetery sits 2m above street level. The gravestones have tilted a little further in the 8 years since I last visited, but you can still steal a peak at them through a small window in the door.

The Jewish Quarter is a top destination for tourists for many reasons – its rich history, medieval synagogues, & various exhibitions – but this little cemetery is my favourite.

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Peaking through the door

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The official entrance

No matter what brings you to Prague, I think you’ll find something to love. I could have easily spent a few more days exploring, eating, & drinking, but it was on to our next stop for us: Munich!

Pregnancy \\ First Trimester Recap

I’ve been meaning to do a first trimester recap since we announced we were pregnant. I love reading pregnancy recaps, especially now, & hearing about how things went for different women. Every pregnancy is so different & it’s so fascinating!

I’ve been keeping track of my thoughts & feelings in both my bullet journal & on the Nurture App, although I’ve fallen away from the app more recently. I’d still much prefer to write things down than log them on my phone.

In order to keep some sort of order to my thoughts, I’m going to answer the same questions for all three recaps. If you’re curious about something, leave me a comment or send me a message. If I’m getting a lot of the same questions, I’ll think about adding an FAQ or something. Let’s get into it though!

First Trimester

Weeks 1 to 13
Important Milestones
  • Week 3.6 – Nov 11, 2017: Positive test result on a home pregnancy test! As I mentioned in our announcement post, N was down in California so I told him over skype. This would have been the first day of my cycle & I’d held off taking a test as long as I could. I felt like I’d been on an emotional rollercoaster all week (think crying on the bus listening to TAL) so I had a strong suspicions that the test would come back positive, but I still had butterflies as I waiting for the result.
  • Week 9 – Dec 18, 2017: Dating Ultrasound. We weren’t originally going to have this ultrasound, but when I booked our 14 week one, they suggested I do it. It was so cool (& such a relief) to see the little heartbeat on the monitor.
  • Weeks 9 – 12 – Dec 2017: We started telling people just before my dating ultrasound. We told our parents the weekend before & let friends figure it out as they noticed me not drinking at various Christmas parties.
  • Week 12 – Jan 8, 2018: First appointment with the Low Risk Maternity Group my doctor referred me to. I didn’t really know what to expect from this appointment, but it was great. We went through medical history with the nurse and then she found baby’s heartbeat (152, if you’re curious). I wasn’t expecting it to work since my GP hadn’t been successful the week before so it was the best surprise!
  • Week 12 – Jan 8, 2018: The day got even better when I got an email from a Midwife group about setting up an initial appointment for mid-January. I had applied as soon as we’d found out we were pregnant, but hadn’t heard back yet. They’re in high demand here. We still plan to deliver in a hospital.

A very high quality photo of our dating ultrasound photo

Changes

Unsurprisingly, I took a lot of photos of myself throughout the first trimester. I felt  silly taking them at first, but they’re really nice to have now. I wouldn’t have thought there was much change otherwise, especially in those first couple months. I wasn’t showing, by any stretch of the imagination, but when you compare photos, it’s easier to notice slight changes. I also thought it might be nice for N to have these photos, since he isn’t here most of the time.

Of course, I feel like I progressively filled out everywhere, but the most remarkable changes were in my midsection & boobs. The only word I can think of to describe my torso is “thicker”. Although that seems like a negative description, I don’t mean it that way at all.

As things progress, I’m more & more fascinated by all the changes my body is going through. Towards the end of the first trimester, I found it became increasingly frustrating to find things to wear. & since I hadn’t told my boss yet, I was trying to keep anyone from guessing I was pregnant. It really amplified my perception of how different I looked.

Subtle changes from 4 weeks, 6 weeks, & 12 weeks

Symptoms

I feel pretty lucky to have experienced very mild nausea in those first months. Mostly, I’d just feel off. It seems funny that everyone refers to it as morning sickness – I felt nauseous maybe twice in the morning. If I did feel slightly nauseous, it was most likely in the afternoon or before bed.

The biggest change for me was how much sleep I felt I needed. I was exhausted! I’m used to feeling great after 6 or 7 hours of sleep, but found myself needing at least 8 hours to even function. I also unintentionally napped all the time. I’d literally fall asleep sitting up. I found it frustrating – I just wanted to go to my usual early morning workouts or make it through the day without falling asleep. I’ve finally gotten some energy back now, but it was a tough adjustment for this night owl.

As for food aversions & cravings, my likes & dislikes have shifted significantly. I usually reach for salty snacks over sweets, but I’ve been loving the sweets since day one. I also crave melted cheese in all forms: pizza, nachos, grilled cheese, all the really healthy stuff. Surprisingly, the hardest thing for me has been vegetables. I have a bit of an aversion to them, which is so bizarre since I love veggies! I’ve been tricking myself into eating them by hiding them in smoothies & making delicious veggie bowls (with lots of sauce). In general, I’m reaching for bland carbs (bread, potatoes), cheese, & protein. It has certainly not been my most nutritious few months, but I’m trying not to overthink it too much.

Decisions

We haven’t had to make a lot of decisions yet, however, we did decide to do a First Trimester Scan. I’ll talk more about it in my Second Trimester Recap though since I did mine pretty late in order to accomodate N’s schedule.

As I mentioned above, we also decided to go with a midwife practice. I think the decision to go this route, or not, is extremely personal. For me, I like the more personal feel of my appointments & that I will meet both of the two potential midwives who will be there at my delivery. With the maternity group, there were 17 possible doctors, so the likelihood of meeting the one who would be on call was pretty slim. This midwife practice also does three at-home visits after delivery, in addition to the usual check-ups in their clinic. There are many factors that go into this decision, & I don’t think there is a right answer. This is what I decided was best for us.

Although we’re going the midwife route, I am still planning to deliver in a hospital. Again, this is an extremely personal decision, & everyone should do what they feel most comfortable with. I wanted the reassurance that we were in a facility designed to handle a scary complication (heaven forbid). I know there are great birthing centers, & have many friends who have gone that route, but I think this is the best decision for us.

Favourite Part of the Trimester

Telling friends & family! It was so honestly so fun. My two best friends knew as soon as I did, but otherwise, we kept it a secret until 9 weeks in. We had two Christmas events with friends where we let them figure it out & I won’t forget their reactions any time soon. There was so much excitement from everyone we told – it was so heartwarming to see how loved this baby will be.

Christmas gifts

First little onesie gift, & my fav Montreal bagels & a new book. <3

Least Favourite Part of the Trimester

The exhaustion! I’d heard it could be bad, but I still wasn’t expecting it to hit me quite as hard as it did. It was so frustrating.

I hope you’ve enjoyed getting a little insight into my first few months of pregnancy. Thanks to Cassy Joy from Fed + Fit for the great idea – I so loved following along with her recaps. You can expect another recap for my 2nd & 3rd trimesters, but I promise there will be non-pregnancy posts in the mix as well if that’s just not your thing.

xo,

A

Travel \\ Berlin to Prague Road Trip

For our travel between Berlin, Prague, & Munich this summer, my dad had rented a vehicle. While I love train travel, one of the perks of a road trip is the ability to stop wherever you’d like. We decided to make the most of this, & scheduled a few extra sights along the way. The first of these was Weesenstein Castle, just south of Dresden.

Halfway between Berlin & Prague, it was the perfect spot to stop for lunch & stretch our legs. This impressive castle features beautiful gardens, medieval rooms, & a microbrewery. Due to construction delays on the trip down, food was our top priority, so we headed straight to a cute little restaurant at the base of the castle. They had a lovely patio out back, which we took advantage of. They didn’t have English menus, but our server did a great job of translating for us, despite feeling her English wasn’t very good. (She spoke very well, in reality. & none of us speak German very well, so we couldn’t have been more grateful for the help!)

weesenstein

adorable town across the river

weesenstein

the castle

weesenstein

patio beers

weesenstein

lunch!

weesenstein

I love these homes

weesenstein

After lunch, we wandered up the hill to the castle. Since we’d arrived in the early afternoon, we essentially had the whole place to ourselves. The only downside to driving was that we’d already had beer with lunch, so we didn’t try any from the microbrewery. If you make a stop, save yourself some time to sample them! It’s a very cool spot.

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weesenstein

Built right into the rock

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Beautiful gardens & surrounding forest

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Copper tanks & bottles

weesenstein

Microbrewery

The grounds are small enough to tour in under an hour, making it the perfect spot to stop mid roadtrip. Feeling refreshed, we were ready to get back in the car & hit the road for Prague!

Secret’s out! We’re having a baby!

I'm pregnant!

Surprise! I’m pregnant! My birthday is going to be a little bit different this year. 😉

N was down in California on the morning I took a pregnancy test. I only had the one test & remember wishing I had a few more on hand so I could take another one. Once I realized the little line wasn’t going anywhere, I skyped N to share the good news. Of course, he immediately knew why I was calling since we don’t usually skype each other unexpectedly. I had toyed with the idea of surprising him with the news when he was home next, but there was no way I could keep it a secret for that long. It was the best phone call I’ve ever made.

Pregnant

You’re going to be a big brother, O.

The first few months have been filled with more emotions than I ever thought possible (heyyyyy hormones), but I’m overwhelmingly grateful & excited for everything to come this year. We can’t week to meet you, baby!

New Year, Same Me

2018 New Year's Resolutions

New year, New me? I’ve been seeing a lot of this sentiment around the internet so far this year, & I have some serious issues with it. Resolutions go hand in hand with ringing in the new year, but I’ve personally never been a huge fan. I’m even less fond of this idea that there’s something wrong with last year’s version of myself. In fact, it makes me a little bit angry that it seems to be trending this year.

Let’s be clear: Goals are great, striving to be a better version of yourself is great, putting a plan to reach your dreams in place is great. If you think you need a whole new you this year though, I’m concerned. I don’t believe for a second there aren’t lessons to be learned & things to cherish about 2017 you.

I spent the first week of January really thinking about what I wanted to do this year, where I wanted to be at this time next year, & from there, set some intentions. I’m over the whole resolution thing right now. We’re going with 2018 intentions. Deal with it.

I bought a new Bullet Journal & put them on the very first page, front & center.

1. Move Daily

Movement is such an integral piece of the puzzle for me, even if it just means getting out for a walk with Odin. It gives me a chance to clear my head, look at things from a different perspective, & get away from life’s many distractions. I always feel better when I’m making this a priority. I’ve kicked off this year with a 4080 running challenge, & I’m on track to complete my 40 km in 2 weeks. It’s been a great way to make running a habit right out of the gate, & a fantastic reminder that going for a run is as simple as lacing up my shoes & heading out the door.

2. Get More Sleep

I’m such a night owl, & notorious for staying up well past 11. I’m especially bad for doing this when N is away. I’ve changed my phone settings to dim the light. I’ve got a bunch of books I want to get through. I’m going to stop pushing that bedtime back.

3. Write Often

This is usually a theme for me. I love writing & journaling, & I so appreciate when I give myself the time to do both. I want to blog more – I have a lot of great ideas to share on here. & I’ve got a better BuJo layout this year for more sporadic journaling. I started using in in SF, & it worked really well, so I’m hoping to carry this forward.

4. Practice Patience

I am not an overly patient person. I’m passionate & opinionated, & generally quick to speak my mind. Impatience is not my favourite quality, so I’d like to work on that this year. Be kinder to people, take a breath before I speak my mind, let it go.

Bullet Journal

& that’s it. I’m keeping it simple this year with just four goals. Same old me, focused on a few new things. What do you think of New Year’s Resolutions? Do you have any goals, big or small, for this year?

Happy Holidays!

We wish you a merry christmas!

Merry Christmas & Happy New Year! Wishing you & yours the happiest of holidays – filled with family, friends, and all your wonderful traditions.

We stuck around Calgary this year to spend Christmas with N’s family, & are celebrating with mine tomorrow evening. It gave us the opportunity to catch up with many friends who are in town this year, which has been just lovely. We’re in the midst of quite the cold snap, so I’ve been trying to take a page from the Danes & their lovely concept of hygge. We’ve been lighting candles more often, playing lots of games, & cozying up under blankets, our attempt at making the most of the frigid temperatures.

Thank you to all those of you who read this little blog from time to time. I am very grateful to everyone who stops by, letting me share a little bit of my life with you. It’s been a great year for me & I’m looking forward to even more adventure in 2018.

All the best for the new year!
Bisous,

A & N
xx

Travel \\ Berlin

Berlin was the second major European city I ever visited. In 2005, while I was living in Rennes, I took an overnight train to the German capital to meet some friends for the weekend. It was one of the best weekend trips I’ve ever been on, & left me longing for another visit. Twelve years later, the city is still an eclectic mix of elegant modernity & a certain level of grittiness. Two days definitely wasn’t enough time to experience everything I’d hoped to, but here’s a sampling of what I loved about this lively metropolis. Do yourself a favour & dedicate a few extra days to really explore.

The Street Food

I think this may be my favourite thing about the city. The street food culture in Berlin is like none other; it’s a little glimpse into the vibrant multiculturalism that is such a part of any visit. The best part? You can eat really well on a tiny budget. Seriously well.

Our first stop was thanks to Anthony Bourdain (of course). Konnopke’s Imbiss is a sausage stall beneath the elevated subway lines in Prenzlauer Berg. You can find currywurst pretty much everywhere in Berlin – it’s a cheap & filling lunch, if nothing else – but if you’re going to check out this adorable area, you might as well go here. Afterwards, you can wander the beautiful Oderberger Strasse or grab a beer at Berlin’s oldest beer garden: Prater Garten (or do both, as we did).

Konnopke’s Imbiss

Oderberger Strasse

Prater Garten

If you go to Berlin & don’t experience any Turkish food, I think you’re seriously missing out. Most of my memories of Berlin revolve around doner kebabs. Cheap, delicious, & perfect whether you’re heading out for the night or on your way home. This time around, N & I had two amazing Turkish food experiences. First, we shared an amazing kofte sandwich at Konak Grill in Kreuzberg. Later that same evening, we had the most magnificent doner kebab of my life at a stand on a bridge at Warschauer Strasse S-Bahn. It may have been the beers, but I think I’d honestly go back to this spot if I’m ever in Berlin again (& we almost did on our way home). It was that good.

Tell me that doesn’t look amazing

Neighbourhoods

Part of Berlin’s popularity stems from its global feel. There’s a little corner of Berlin to suit any taste – you just have to find yours.

Mitte is the city’s center, literally meaning “middle” in German. It’s where you’ll find most monuments, memorials, & museums. If it’s your first visit, it’s a good place to start. Check out the Brandenburg Gate, the Reichstag, & Alexanderplatz. Maybe wander the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe or the Topography of Terror.

Brandenberg Gate

Hotel Adlon

 

The hauntingly moving Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe

Hotel Adlon

We did a free walking tour, which I will almost always recommend. Unfortunately, this one was my least favourite & we left disappointed. We just didn’t like our guide, which is the hazard of any tour, free or paid. It really was such a shame as I think it tainted the others’ first impressions of Berlin. (Berlin was actually the first city I ever did a walking tour in & Per set the bar high – it’s still the best tour I’ve ever done.) Museum Island is also undergoing massive upgrades until 2019 & is a little difficult to get around, so budget extra time to see it.

Museum Island

St Mary’s near Alexanderplatz

Checkpoint Charlie at the end of our tour

The Berlin wall cut through major roadways & is memorialized with bricks.

Topography of Terror

Mitte is an interesting mix of modern buildings & old cobblestone streets. There’s fantastic restaurants & more sights than you’ll likely have time to take in. Don’t underestimate Berlin – it’s huge.

We stayed in Kreuzberg, which feels like a different world from both central Mitte & the pristine Prenzlauer Berg. It’s got a bit of reputation. With a huge Turkish population, this is where we found the best street food. It’s a little bit grimy & a lot edgy; it’s got tons of personality. I’m glad we stayed here so we got to experience it a little bit more than we likely would have otherwise.

Görlitzer Park at dusk

Across the Spree River, you’ll find Friedrichshain, known mostly for its wicked party scene & the East Side Gallery: a slice of the Berlin Wall turned open air international mural exhibit. Grab some beers at craft beer shop, Drink Drunk, on your way across the Spree (drinking in public is perfectly acceptable in Germany, & is the perfect way to enjoy the gallery, if you ask me.).

Beers at the East Side Gallery

Go out on the town

Berlin is a city for all tastes, whether it’s a simple evening meal with family & friends or a wild night of bar hopping, you can do it all.

While the street food is second to none, there’s also an incredible restaurant scene happening. I had a hopelessly impossible list. We came nowhere near to making a dent in it. In fact, we really only had one sit down meal, our first night in Berlin. We settled on somewhere near our AirBnB, Café Restaurant Jolesch. We sat on their patio, enjoyed fantastic service, & delicious, extra crispy schnitzel the size of our faces (literally). It was a great meal. If you’re looking for great German comfort food, you can’t go wrong with this spot.

Dinner on the patio

giant schnitzel

Afterwards, we made the trek to Klunkerkranich, in Neukölln. Hidden away on the top floor of the parking garage at the somewhat abandoned-looking Neukölln Arkaden Mall. You’ll walk up the ramp to the very top to find…I don’t really know how to describe it. A trendy hipster bar, with a garden, outdoor tables, & a fantastic view over Berlin? It’s a great spot to watch a sunset, or simply grab drinks at the end of an evening. It’s definitely worth checking out, for its eclectic mix of people & decor & the views. Bring cash, there’s sometimes cover & you’ll need a deposit for glassware (they don’t have anyone to clear their tables).

View from the top!

Outdoor biergarten

funky lights

Berlin skyline

Our second night, we grabbed a few craft beers for the road at Drink Drunk, crossed the bridge over the Spree, & wandered the couple kilometers of leftover Berlin wall that make up the East Side Gallery. Afterward, we grabbed a drink on one of the Riverboats & watched the sun set.

Strolling the East Side Gallery

River Spree

Sunset on a boat

It was a Tuesday night, but we wanted to experience some of Berlin’s famous nightlife, so we headed into Friedrichshain next. Everything I’d read told me this was the place to party in Berlin, but still, neither of us could get over how incredibly lively it was for a weeknight. We marveled at restaurant patios packed with locals enjoying a meal together, & bar after bar with no shortage of thirsty patrons. There were so many charming options (& no shortage of night clubs either, if that’s your jam). Friedrichshain is fantastic!

Wandering Urban Spree after close

We settled on Hops & Barley, one of the oldest craft breweries in the city. It’s a pretty unassuming spot, brewing natural unfiltered beers. They aren’t afraid to experiment a little, so there are some intriguing options. The patio was full, but we managed to find ourselves a little table in the back, amid a funny mix of locals & foreign exchange students. We stayed until they wouldn’t serve us any longer before making the trek back to Kreuzberg for the night.

Our time is Berlin was a little more limited that I’d expected. Picking up our rental car was more time consuming that I’d hoped, & we hadn’t budgeted a lot of time to begin with. The construction on Museum Island also threw a wrench in our plans as it was much harder to navigate than when I’d first visited. If we’d had more time in Berlin, I’d probably have suggested we spend some time in the Tiergarten (a 500 acre park in Mitte) or exploring the Reichstag. There is truly no shortage of things to do in Berlin.

The next morning, we grabbed coffees & hit the road for our next stop: Prague!

October in Instagram

It’s winter. A week into November & winter has hit us full force. Last week, it snowed for a few days & with temperatures sticking in the -15C range, it doesn’t seem to be going anywhere. It almost seems like I was playing fetch on the beach with Odin & N in a different life. Was I really living in California a month ago? Anyway, here’s what we got up to in October according to Instagram.

Oct 2017 IG

  1. I still can’t get over this perfect little town. Carmel, & the Happy Landing Inn, might have been a dream. The view out the front door of our suite made me so happy.
  2. A final visit to my favourite Bay Area brewery: Fieldwork. Odin, N, & I spent many happy afternoons on their patio. Their beers are fantastic & it’s the most dog friendly spot in the Bay. I can’t recommend it enough (& their shirts & hoodies are SO soft. I may have a little collection…).
  3. A lot of my time in the Bay Area was spent seeking out a view. There are no shortage of amazing ones in the area. This one, from Ina Coolbrith Park, on Russian Hill is definitely worth the steep trek up Vallejo Street.
  4. Back in Canada! My mom & I drove from California to BC in two days so we could spent the weekend at the lake. Fall walks with this view are good for my soul, I think (& Odin loves running free up here too).
  5. The boys playing on Stinson Beach. Odin loved running free at the beaches in California. This was the most time Nathan’s ever spent with our pup, uninterrupted. I love watching them together & am so grateful we got the chance to spend a couple months together in Richmond.
  6. Castle Mountain guiding me home. I always know we’re almost there when I see this view.
  7. My Finnish wool socks are already coming in handy, & I can never get enough puppy cuddles.
  8. Our friends decided to do a house crawl this year for Halloween, which was a really fun idea. There were three stops, each with a signature cocktail & some snacks. We got hit with some nasty weather on our way to the final house, but it was still such a fun evening.
  9. Odin’s day care, Pawsitively Pooched, had an open house to show off the renovations to the facility & he got the chance to go for a little swim. He was a little skittish getting in, but once he was wet he had a blast. I think he’d fetch all day if he could!

Follow along with more of our adventures on instagram @whoalansi.

#metoo

Prison

In the wake of the Harvey Weinstein allegations & this #metoo movement flooding my social media feeds, I’ve done a lot of thinking. None of it is overly original or groundbreaking, but I wanted to share a little nonetheless.

Like so many, I posted a #metoo status a couple weeks ago without elaborating on the who or the why or the what. I posted only these two simple words to my social media. I had a few reasons for this, & I wanted to talk a little bit about them.

Let me start my saying, I don’t think I or anyone else needs to shed light on any of the reasons for posting this status. In some ways, there are too many uncomfortable examples of misogyny, harassment, & worse, abuse, in every woman I know’s life. We’ve all felt threatened at some point. We’ve all had to think of a possible terrible outcome that many men are lucky to have never considered. That’s the everyday reality for women. I don’t feel that I need to highlight examples of this in my own life, & I don’t want to validate them by doing so. So I didn’t.

The bigger reason I hesitated to post anything though is that it didn’t feel bad enough. I lead a fantastic life. I’m extremely lucky & immeasurably privileged. I know many women who have suffered so much, & I don’t feel that I have. So at first, I felt silly posting anything at all. How many times have we heard that in the last few weeks? How many times have we to listened to someone downplaying the harassment they’ve faced, because “it really could be a whole lot worse”? But that’s what we do. That’s what society has honestly taught so many of us. It’s not that bad. Others have it worse. Maybe it’s even partially a coping mechanism. I don’t know.

Talking about these things and shedding light on the problem doesn’t take away from anything that’s happened to someone else. It doesn’t make it less. Truthfully, I think it raises more awareness about what is ok & what isn’t.

We’re all stronger together. & I hope someday I’m not still having this conversation with my children. I’m leaving this post with more questions than answers, but also with the hope that by starting a conversation, we’re heading in the right direction.

the final week

Here I am again, feeling the familiar mix of emotions I experience every time I’m about to head home. On the one hand, I love my home. Alberta is an amazing province, full of my favourite people. On the other hand, I’m sad to say goodbye to this place I’ve come to know over the last couple months. It’s a little bittersweet.

I’ve lived in several different cities in my 32 years, & I’ve loved them all in different ways. The funny thing about California is I didn’t expect to feel at home here. I really didn’t. Maybe that’s strange to some people, but I never once considered the US as somewhere I’d live. Nothing against American or the US in general – I have plenty of perfectly lovely American friends & I’ve spent time in many great cities in this country. I just never expected to feel this way about the US, especially in light of recent politics.

But here I am, absolutely loving California, & feeling a bit silly. I mean, what’s not to love? Beautiful weather, decadent dining options, & an impressive array of sights. Add a healthy dose of the loveliest people, & you’ve got the recipe that makes this place so enchanting. Honestly, Californians are wonderful.

I thought two months would feel like a long time, but it truly flew by. & with good reason – we did A LOT. We tried to cram as much into my stay as time would allow. I think we did a pretty good job, & if you look at my Instagram from the last couple months, I think it will tell that same story. Here are a few of my favourite moments from this September, according to my IG feed.

Sept 2017 IG

  1. N’s sister came down to visit with her boyfriend & we had the best week showing them around SF & the area. We saw the Giants win a baseball game, rode cable cars, wine tasted our way through Sonoma, biked the Golden Gate bridge, saw SF from the ferry, & toured the East Bay.
  2. Bagel stop at Beauty’s with N on a lazy Saturday in Oakland. I’ve barely put a dent in my restaurant list for the East Bay, never mind SF. There are some seriously incredible places to eat here!
  3. We witnessed another win for the home team at the Cal State vs Ole Miss game. They weren’t expected to bring home a win, so it was especially exciting.
  4. Exploring pockets of Berkeley with the Path Wanderers Association one evening. Such a cool way to see the city.
  5. The boys enjoying an afternoon at Muir Beach. Odin loves going to the beach & chasing his dad around, & we love watching how happy it makes him.
  6. I’ve been going to November Project SF for the last month & it’s been so fun getting to know this tribe, especially my friends in the East Bay.
  7. The view from Alcatraz is so cool. We had a great time exploring the island & touring the prison.
  8. N’s coworker sent us home with an amazing bounty of fresh produce from his garden. This is just one small example of the generosity we’ve experienced down here.
  9. We spent part of our last weekend in Carmel, touring around Big Sur. It’s an incredible place. We loved it so much, we stayed an extra night. We just weren’t ready to leave.

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