Archive for the ‘vacation’ Category
Ok. We did this adventure in July. I know. I’m slacking on this blog thing.
You’d think that a country bordered by eight other countries didn’t have much space left on its border line for a coast, but this is Europe and there’s room for everything here, even if it is just a little squeezed in. So one July weekend — possibly the best July weekend to choose to do such a thing — we packed ourselves into our friend’s car and headed for the coast.
It was an island really. Rugen joined to Germany by a 3.2 kilometre bridge (that we inadvertently drove over three times on our way to the coast) and it’s where you find the seaside town of Binz. To say its charming is an understatement. Even though I’ve never been to the southern U.S., Binz made me want to want to fan my face with my hat and say “I do deh-claaare.”
It was originally built up as a seaside resort in the 1890’s. When the First World War hit Germany, it started to fall into neglect. Then the Second World War came and with its resolution, Binz with its charming white hotels found itself well behind the East German border. It fell into a deeper state of neglect until a few years after reunification. The sandy beaches became littered with Strandkorben or beach baskets once again and their hotels restored to their former glory, complete with stained glass balcony dividers.
A trip to Binz on the Island of Rügen is like a little trip back in town. You expect people to be there in 1920s-style bathing outfits to be sunning themselves in the beach baskets, but all you get is the usual European speedo. Nonetheless, it’s charm isn’t lost on the families that populate the public beach area in front of the baskets. The pier let’s you wander far out into the water while keeping your shoes dry, but the temperature is fine for swimming if you need to cool off. That weekend, we definitely did. Even though we escaped Berlin’s blazing 34-degree temperatures, we were still sunning ourselves in 27-degree heat, which is my perfect seaside temperature.
The restaurants on the promenade all offer local sea fare and you can tell which is the good bakery by the line-up of visitors it has in front of it at 8:30 a.m.
And if you’re in the mood for a little GDR mode, you can walk down to the end of the beach and check out the remaining life guard tower. Built in 19638, it was one of two, but the second is no longer with us. Now, you can book your civil wedding ceremony to take place on its sand-covered floors.
We didn’t get a chance to see the white cliffs of Rügen up close, but our little weekend in Binz left us wanting to go back again. With our group — two couples, one pregnant and one engaged — we decided we would definitely have to come back again next summer with and put our little families under a beach tent.
Do you know how longs its been since I’ve sat on a beach? I’ll admit I miss Vancouver’s beach access, but those beaches don’t really compare to the ones Josh and I were soaking up on last week.
A year after our first foray into Italia, we were back, but with the other side of the family. After an exhausting five days touring my mom and her three friends around Berlin, we all went to the island of Sardinia, just off Italy’s west coast, for some much needed Vitamin D infusions.
We planned a one-week holiday in the northeastern corner of the Island and flew into Olbia, where we met the Cologne contingent of our holiday group (Oma, Uschi, Helmut and Olga). The area is very new, having mostly been developed just in the 1960s as a luxury resort. Its been used as location for James Bond and was the where Princess Diana enjoyed her last vacation.
It was just what we needed. The weather cooperated every second day, and without fail, we sat on pristine sand beaches and swam through the perfectly turquoise waters to cool down. The rest of the time? We were doing what we do best abroad: eating.
We didn’t have quite the same cooking lesson as we did when we were in Tuscany with the Devins clan, but we certainly took the menus to the limits.
While we stayed at the Hotel La Rocca in Baia Sardinia, the rest of our group stayed at La Murichessa, a bed & breakfast in the Sardinian hills run by Annalisa. Despite our “non-guest” status, we were invited to dinner almost every night. She and her assistant Radika cooked up nightly feasts that always included antipasti, a salad, home-made pasta, a regional meat specialty and dessert. It was amazing.
But its not always about the food.
After lazing about the edges of the sea for five days, we hopped aboard the Due Lune catamaran captained by lawyer-turned-sailor Claudio to explore the sea itself. It was a beautiful day, with temperatures that lured you into the sea. We motored out just past La Maddalena Island and then Claudio let the sails rip and turned the engines off.
We puttered just past a beach that is now closed to the public because too many people had taken jars of its pink sand as a souvenir and anchored at another beach. We waited for lunch sunning ourselves in a boat-access-only beach and enjoyed a simple lunch that the sea air made us really hungry for.
And then, despite not waiting the fabled 30-minutes-after-lunch, I slowly went into the water (I’m sure it took me about 30 minutes to get into the water anyway). I swam all around the boat, adding another “done” thing to the list of Baby Devins: swam in the Mediterranean.
To cap the day off, we settled in about an hour away from the dock that the Due Lune calls home to watch a round of the Louis Vuitton regatta. It took a while, but the race finally began and we were stationed right by the buoy that the two ships had to go around. It was amazing how fast it went.
After eight hours at sea, the Due Lune finally docked and we took our even-browner selves back to the Murichessa for one last dinner with the family.
We came back to Berlin, just in time to be greeted by summer weather and a city gripped in World Cup fever…
I was the first one to legitimately use the line “When in Rome…” on our holiday. Josh was furious he missed his chance and gave me such a lovely one. I felt slightly bad that I took the line away from him, but I couldn’t pass it up. It was just too good. It was in response to his comment on my shoes: “Well, those are rather romanesque” (they’re not at all really), and my response would be fairly obvious to anyone in that conversation.
I said: “Well. When in Rome…”
Rome was the last leg of our almost two-week adventure of Italy. We had eaten our way through Tuscany, explored the little known land of Monte Argentario and it was back to city life for renaissance, religion and a big birthday.
The city is one of those that you see something amazing around ever corner. Over the course of our four days, we exhausted ourselves wandering through the old part of the city. Each trip out we discovered new (to us) pieces of marble chipped away by some great master of the craft.
One morning at the Vatican wandering old halls filled with mind-boggling art and while the sistine chapel was breathtaking, it was the three rooms painted by Raphael that took me by surprise.
We wandered around the Pantheon, up the Spanish Steps and through winding streets, dodging scooters coming at every direction.
One evening, we went to the little shop on the corner and picked up all the things we needed for a delicious antipasti meal. We wove through the city to find the greenest space we could find and settled to eat amongst marble statues in the grounds of the Villa Borghese. For dessert, we drank in the sun setting over Piazza del Popolo.
Sabine with the spread.
Gelato was had every night and finding meals could be a battle but we always made it work. When you go to Rome, avoid anything that looks like a cafeteria near any of the major sites — they’re all just rip offs. Go a few blocks away — even if your hangry (being ripped off will just make you hangrier). It will be worth it.
Josh’s birthday started with a text message at 5 a.m. (thanks Jeff) and after more sleep, but his 30 years into perspective by seeing sites more than 2,000 years old: The Colosseum, Circus Maximus and countless other ancient sites, spilling over into our last day in Italy, where we wandered around Palatine Hill and meandered through the Forum.
He certainly doesn’t act 30…
I’m still not sure how I felt about Rome. It was incredible to see all this city that has contributed so much to the world around us today but at the same time, it was a massive, hot, sticky city. It was dusty and dry and so developed, no natural part of the land that was there before Rome seems to exist.
We climbed back onto the plane exhausted and glad to be heading home to the lush European city we call home now.
Note: I let Josh handle the photography for the most part on this part of the trip, so my pictures are only a limited capture of the holiday. I’ll make sure he posts more of his on here. As always, you can click on the photo for a bigger version.
This is happening.
I’ve always wistfully said that I wanted to live in Europe. And now we’re doing it. We’re moving trans-Atlantic with in months. You could almost even say weeks.
Oh, and did I mention our upcoming wedding?
We are Josh and Sabine. I, Sabine, will mostly be writing this, with some contributions from Josh.
After dating for four years, Josh proposed in front of the gothic cathedral in Cologne. It was a rainy, wet and miserable Monday afternoon. I said yes, of course, and now, we’re five weeks away from our wedding and three months away from being jobless and in the process of being homeless.
Josh and I have been living together for almost three years. We’re getting married on the fifth anniversary of our first date, which we spent the afternoon on the floor of my then-new apartment listening to David Bowie and the Cars. Since, we’ve grown together to who we are today. I was 20 then and am now 25. I can’t imagine I’d want to know what my life would be like without Josh in it. No thanks.
Well, to celebrate our first year of marriage, we’re doing something different. We’re saying “I do” on October 11, 2008. And instead of settling into the life we’ve known for the last three years, we’re packing up. We’ll be selling the Ikea college collection and the rest will go into storage. We’ll find ourselves in the arrival area of a European airport with two suitcases each, tired, hungry and restless to start the next step.
It’s going to be an anxiety-ridden step, but it’s going to be exciting. We’re hoping for a year that we can grow together, an experience that will bring us together that really will be, for the rest of our lives.
The location is still TBD and we’re three months away.