Saturday, June 29, 2013

so many pickles and a ghost-airport.

Happy Saturday!

Today is a happy day for several reasons. Number one on the list: I set my alarm for an early morning run and only hit the snooze button 5 times. No, I am not kidding you. And yes, I still feel pretty awesome about it.

It always helps me to put all my clothes out the night before, so that I just have to grab them, get dressed, and go. Even my tired self can manage that. (I just checked 3 times to make sure I wasn't wearing my pants inside out... it happens.)

I am still treating my knee with care (read this, Nick?! so much care!) and took it easy this morning. I did a loop of about 4 miles again and ran pretty even splits of about 9:10.
Part of today's run went along the stretch of the Kurfürstendamm that you already know - the one with all the fancy shops and people. I just love to run down that road and, again, it did not disappoint. I even managed to do a little de-tour through a park close to the city hall of Charlottenburg.

Once my allergies don't turn me into a nose-running, blind mess anymore, I will take this run again and tell you more about this park. Right now, I only know that there is a plant, which grows there that is trying to kill me.

Of course, I had to take the elevator up again. Safety first.

Because you really need to see another close-up of my sweaty face.
You are very welcome. 
That's not a knife I am holding there. I am clinging to a pizza menu from a nearby place that a kind stranger left in the mailbox for me. (Thank you!)

But the fun didn't end there! After stretching and shower, Lucy and I went to the bakery to pick out the most delicious rolls that were ever made, because Nick and I had a breakfast date with my parents!
If you have been following the past few days: my parents are in town for the week and I am forcing them to spend as much time with me as possible. 

Berlin light rail stop in Mahlow

We took the train out to Mahlow, where they are vacationing with the fanciest camper anyone has ever seen. It has a bigger fridge than the one in our apartment. No joke. 

Me and my lovely parents. Please excuse the weird hair.
Mine. Not theirs. I really need to get that fixed.

If you have never had a German breakfast. You have to put that on your bucket list. And then do it as soon as you can. And come hungry. And bring time.

Basically, we fill the table with everything we have in the fridge that you could possibly put on a roll, then we add yoghurt, fruit, cereal, Müsli, tomatoes, cucumbers .... and we boil eggs. Those even have their little own egg-holder-stool-aparatus that they sit in.

Nick is already a pro at this and knows how this is done.
See the little egg holder stool thingy? So cute!
If you can't get any where you live, you can use shot glasses.
Not as cool, but who cares?!
After the breakfast extravaganza we went on a boat tour!

Not on a regular boat, though. It was a gondola boat that is being pushed with a long stick. Not quite as fancy as the ones in Venice, but similar, and in eastern Germany.

I grew up in the western part of the country (closer to the Netherlands), but I was told that my parents once took us on a tour like this when we were little. So it is nice to now actually have a memory of what it looks like there!

The tour took about 2 hours and we learned a lot about ducks, since our gondolier? gondola driver? captain? boat chauffeur? seemed to have a thing for those feathered creatures. Originally, we were six passengers on the boat, but the other two got off at one of the plenty stops we passed. Maybe they weren't as fond of ducks.

Anyways, aside from boat tours, there is another attraction in this area and that is: pickles. Yes. Pickles. People sell them everywhere. Peer pressure is a powerful thing and, of course, right after we got off the boat at the harbor, we got some too. A whole bucket, to be more specific.

Like I said: peer pressure. 
So that's what people do there. They get on a boat, sometimes with up to 20-something people, eat pickles, or whatever they bring with them (because you can bring your own food), and drink (because you can bring your own booze, too, or buy it there).

You wouldn't believe the number of empty Schnaps bottles we saw on other boats! We only brought some granola bars and mosquito spray, so no drinking and dining on the boat for us.

Afterwards, we had some cake and coffee at a nearby restaurant. No photos. I was starving. (Only granola bars, remember?)

Before taking us back to the train station, we did another stop at a landmark that has gotten more press than any other landmark in Germany over the past couple of years: the ghost-airport in Schönefeld.

Some of you may know that once upon a time, a plan was made to build a huge airport right outside of Berlin.

Said and done! The airport was built and named "Willy Brandt Flughafen".
The grand opening was planned for October 2010.

But a week before the big celebration - the party was canceled.

It failed the fire inspection.

Since then, there have been so many changes in plans as well as in people holding responsible positions, there has been so much remodeling, so many flaws have been discovered, so much money has been dumped into it - that nobody knows when this airport is going to open. Voices claim that it may never happen.

One thing is certain though: this place is empty and it is quite creepy! There was not one car, not one plane, nothing - and that place is huge. An airport that is brand new, that looks "done", and there is grass growing on the parking lots?! Creepy.

Now, we are back home and doing what we are doing best: re-watching a movie that I fell asleep to when we first tried to watch it. Sorry, Nick, I hope it's worth watching a second time!
Even Lucy decided to watch with us. 

Did you go for a run today? How did it go?

Do you ever have to watch movies again, because you fell asleep the first time watching it? - all the time. The worst was Alien. It took me about 5 or 6 times to watch it, to finally see one of those monsters.

Have you ever eaten pickles on a boat? - No, I just saw people doing that, because we waited until after the boat tour was over to buy them.

Do you get creeped out by empty houses or airports? - definitely.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Healthy food in Germany and big decisions


Again, first things fist:

and Mama: Alles Gute zum Hochzeitstag ihr zwei!!!

Happy, happy, happy anniversary to my awesome parents! I hope they celebrate the best of all anniversaries today!
From what I heard, their wedding was the biggest party the 70s have seen and I am not surprised! The two of them really know how to have a great time together. One of the things that really get me every time I spend time with them is how much they laugh together and that they always have something to talk about! They have been perfect together for 38 years now and I can't wait to see what the next 38 will bring them!

Now, you may wonder "why did they meet with you yesterday instead of spending their special romantic anniversary day with you as a third person tagging along?"
- to tell you the truth: I just don't know. I just don't.

Maybe they didn't want to share their amazing dinner.

I could have helped them!

Anyways, I hope that everyone is having a spectacular Thursday!

It was another rough night, because I am a jumpy freak. When the trash was picked up around 5am this morning, the sound of glass being dumped into the garbage truck made me jump out of bed. Within .28529 seconds, I was standing up right and had woken up Nick (who thankfully doesn't remember that this ever happened) to tell him that it was in fact not a car accident that just happened and everyone could calm down!

I wish I could tell you that this was the only time for this past night(s).

However, the day was actually really wonderful. I managed to be all housewifey most of the hours I was awake. With doing laundry and all! Now, I am pretty hopeful that we don't have to wear pjs all day tomorrow.

As I was throwing my running stuff in the laundry, I was thinking that the half marathon in March is really really far away and started looking online into other (earlier) halfs around here. The one I will be running is quite big (with 30.000 participants), but there are two significantly smaller ones. Interestingly enough, one if the Mercedes Benz Marathon (on September 1), the other one is sponsored by BMW (on August 25).



Not only is the one in August cheaper (€20) than the Mercedes run, it also starts 3 blocks from our house and goes around the university I go to. Do you think it would be a good idea to register?

What is holding me back right now is the fact that I am still not 100% recovered from my knee injury. Yes, it will probably all good by mid July, but I have no possibilities for endurance training (on an elliptical or spinning bike), because I am too cheap to sign up for a gym. This is not even considering the weight training.
What do you think? The race on August 25 sounds really amazing and is so incredibly close to where we live! It would be a shame not to run it. But given my knee situation, are 2 months really enough to recover and train just with my running routine and a few core exercises I do here at home?

I just don't know.

Plus, €20 would buy a lot of these!

Just kidding. Kind of.
Speaking of food prices, one of the big differences I have noticed when living in the U.S. Food in Germany is really cheap (in comparison). Even now that we are living in one of the biggest cities in Germany and are paying inner city prices, it is far cheaper than what I would pay in Baltimore.

I took a few pictures out of an advertisement from the store down the road. Not including the blueberries, all those prices are for 1kg (about 2lbs) of produce. But not only the vegetables and fruit are much more affordable, also the meat (again prices are per kg) seems to be at least half of the price.

These are the prices for the deli section.

I have to admit that the exchange rate has to be taken into consideration as well, which is at 1.30 today.

What I keep wondering is: why there is such a big difference? Yes, the country is smaller, but not all the produce comes out of Germany. We import a lot from Spain, Italy, the Netherlands etc. and the gas price over here is incredibly high. When we had to refill our rental car, we paid €80 for a gas tank of diesel (which is considerably cheaper than regular gas). Also, the tax on food items here is 7% and is already included.

I just don't understand.

Of course, for the time that we are here, we will make use of the wonderful offers and enjoy eating more fresh vegetables. It just makes me sad to think that this is not available to everyone. In Baltimore, I would pay $4.99 for a pound of fresh tomatoes and cucumbers (the long, seedless ones) were up to $3.99 each. Here, I pay €0.29. Of course, you can't live of just tomatoes and cucumbers, but this applies to pretty much all foods from potatoes, over meat, to frozen pizza.

Why am I talking about this? Obviously, I want all of you to come here to run and eat with me.

Another reason is that it was sometimes really difficult for me to stay within budget and get the groceries I would feel comfortable buying.
Especially since I started running, I have become more aware of the way I want to refuel. I don't want to just eat something just because I can afford, but I want to decide what I think is good for my body and doesn't cause us financial ruin.
I will never forget the day I went to the grocery store and saw that the packaged chicken meat was laid out while still being frozen. It was left out to thaw for the rest of the day. Early customers would get the still frozen chicken, late customers the thawed chicken that had been sitting in a mix of water, blood, fat and what not. I was so grossed out that from that day, I have not bought pre-packaged meat and started buying meat only in the deli section. Which can be really pricey.

I don't know if you have followed recent discussions on food stamps and if they should be restricted to healthier foods. Without trying to answer this question, I think that it would be wonderful if everyone (food stamps or not) would have access to reasonable priced fresh products - particularly fruit, vegetables, meat, and dairy products.
Otherwise, everyone just has to move to Germany! Ha!

What do you do to stay in your budget and buy healthy(er) foods?

Is it important to you where your food comes from? 

Which brands/ stores/ markets do you trust the most?

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

It finally happened and Awesome visitors!

Yes! It finally happened!
I ran!

This is me, trying to look happy despite the uncontrollable hair.
(No, I didn't have time to look for my Bondi bands.) 

I couldn't believe it either. It has been 12 really long, sad days since last Friday.
As I told you before, the plan was to run 3 miles, but then I changed the route mid run and ended up doing 4. But they were really moderate and slow and Nick, there is no reason to worry. That's why you can skip the next few paragraphs.

After the first mile my knee started acting up and I got really worried that I hadn't given it enough rest. It was only for about half a mile and then it went away. I made sure to run really really slow, only picking up a tiny bit more speed towards the end.

To play it really safe, I took the elevator up when I got back! :o)

No need to get jealous. Our elevator fits about 2.5 people (Nick, Lucy, and myself) and although I like taking it, we do have members in the family who don't trust it at all. I can understand the fear to an extend, since it actually does look more like a closet than an elevator - and it is from 1958.

I apologize for the weird face.  Half a second before I took this, I realized
that the mail man was looking in from the outside.
Awkward. Very awkward.

One thing I have learned the hard way: never ever underestimate the importance of stretching. It is now the first thing I do when I get in the door and I make sure not to only spend 3 minutes doing it.

After that, it was time to get ready for a very important and super exciting visit!
My parents are in town for vacation this week and today, they picked me up so that Nick could work without being interrupted from me sitting on the couch and crinkling candy wrappings while he is trying to focus.

My parents actually arrived yesterday already, but Berlin did not welcome them with the best of all possible weathers. So we decided to wait and meet up today, since it just poured all day long. Not even Lucy wanted to go out!

This is us yesterday, right after I told her that we are going to walk through the rain. 

She pulled back home for the entire walk, complaining why I wouldn't let her go potty in our apartment.

Walking in opposite directions with a leash,
is not working out so well. 
It was a rough day.

Today, she was in a much better spirit. My dad and her are the best of friends and she always gets super excited when he drives all the way to just visit her.

Of course, as proper adults and hosts, we had some breakfast/ brunch prepared to welcome Lucy's special guests.

There was so much on the table
that I had to prioritize and focus on the pastries.
Unfortunately, I can't handle our micro-fridge and managed to freeze and defrost (maybe even several times) our sliced cheese. It looked nothing like cheese anymore and I had to hide it in the garbage. Nobody can ever find out about this.

Then, we went off to some crazy adventures around Berlin! Our first stop was one of the prettiest castles I know.

Schloss Charlottenburg (The Castle in Charlottenburg)
Of course, we had to check out what the people looked like that lived here before. So we did the next logical thing and went into the mausoleum in the park behind the palace.

If your nerves have a hard time looking at graves, close your eyes for the next few pictures.

Kaiser Wilhelm I. 

A very big, very Prussian looking guy. 

Queen Luise. Her memorial is by far the most impressive one.
It is one of the most artful works made of marble I have ever seen. 
A big bird right underneath Luise's head.
Following this exciting excursion into the history of German emperors and their family members, we went for a walk at a nearby lake.

Thankfully, my parents both have smart phones, so that we were never in any danger of getting lost. I think.

Enjoy the nature, people! Look, there is water!
Obviously, my parents are way ahead of me when it comes to handling fancy phones.

Still. No idea what's with my face.

However, we also managed to take actual pictures of each other to capture this wonderful and special day.

Thank you for visiting you two! It was a truly terrific afternoon!!

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

I have no words and how to not pick up poop

Do you know those days that are just crap from the very beginning and you just know that it can only get better from here?
Ja. That's what's happening.

If you follow me on Twitter or Instagram (Stinaonthemove) you already know that the run didn't happen.

I had my gear laid out so that I can just roll out of bed and start running. Around 3am, however, I woke up and there was a terrible rain storm outside. I kept waking up, because I dreamt that it stopped raining and I could get going. But it hadn't. As I was jealous of all those people who have a gym pass, I decided to just run in the rain, because a wet run is always better than nothing. Then I twisted my knee when getting out of bed. Yes. I just fail at life.


So I took Lucy out for a morning walk in the pouring rain. She was less than amused about the water coming down on her and gave me quite the guilt trip for not allowing her to poop in the apartment.

We always pick up what she drops for us on the side walk and guess what - there is not only a wrong way to get out of bed, but also a terrible way to pick up dog crap.

Picture me with an umbrella squeezed between my chin and shoulder, somehow balancing it above my head to avoid drowning in the rain, having a dog, who is jumping in excitement to have someone cleaning after her, on a leash, and a little green plastic bag. At the end of it, Lucy had completely wrapped me in her leash, the umbrella fell, and while saving her poop from falling back out of the bag, I pulled something in my back. I told you. I just can't handle life. I blame it on having two hands and two feet. Who can keep the oversight there?!


Now I am in terrible pain between my shoulders every time I breathe. Thankfully, I really love to complain, so it's not all that bad, because I get to do that for a while. Nick, you are just going to love it!

To top the already spectacular day, I am happy to announce that the student ticket/ enrollment still hasn't happened. For the past days, there were many phone calls, forms, seals, emails, letters, copies, scans, and stamps etc. Then today, I finally received an that said "please email this person, she will enroll you right away".
I was dizzy from excitement - until said lady responded to my email that she didn't realize that I was a German citizen and she can't help me. However, she was nice enough to refer me to the admissions office. The same office I have been talking to for the past weeks.

We officially did a full circle.


I almost feel like this was an accomplishment. Almost.

Have you ever dreamt something and then woke up thinking it actually happened? - All the time.

Are you a rain-runner? - I really don't mind the rain. I'd prefer an overcast or slightly sunny day, but rain is better than terrible heat and humidity.

Have you ever injured yourself while doing daily life things? 

Monday, June 24, 2013

Tired and Should I move?

Have you ever stayed up all night and were awake for 2 days in a row? Do you know the feeling? Maybe it's just me being weak, but I would love to just do this:


The saddest part about this is: I didn't party. And I did sleep a few hours. 

This morning, our landlady came for a visit and because I'm a freak, I woke up every hour, thinking that I slept in and left her standing outside. 


But we didn't sleep in. We even made coffee and had cookies and no, I couldn't believe it either.
Honestly, the lady we are renting from is really awesome! We had met her before for a few minutes when we looked at the apartment back in December, but all I could remember was that she had blonde hair. My brain doesn't work well with faces. Or names. Or song titles. Or band names. Or titles of movies. 

Anyhow, our landlady even brought flowers!! How great is that?! She made be feel so grown up.

I think aside from Mama, nobody has ever brought me flowers when coming over for coffee. So sweet!

Aren't they pretty?!

After she left and we had emptied the first cups of coffee, Nick, Lucy, and I dragged ourselves to the park. Not without picking up more caffeine on the way, though. 

They gave each of us a cookie with our coffee.
We will be only going there from now on.
That was it when it comes to productivity today. For the past hours, I have been a useless sloth on the couch, trying to nap, or read for my paper, but the day is just lost. 

Tomorrow. Tomorrow,  I will do ALL the things! 

Most importantly, I will go for a run again tomorrow!!! Therefore, I can feel less bad about being a lazy bean today, or about eating way more watermelon than I thought was humanly possible. 
I have already been mapping out in my head where I will run! Ah! 
I think, I will be shooting for 3 miles, just to see how the knee will do. Keep your fingers crossed that I won't be limping home. (If that is the case, I will have to convince Nick to buy an elliptical and put it on our balcony.)

Before I am crawling back into the perfect sloth position and watching senseless TV, there is an important question to think about. 
I am not too happy with the website. I don't like that it gives people trouble to comment - especially from their phones. Should I move? I know I am just at the beginning of blogging, so if I decide to go somewhere else, now would probably be the perfect time to do it. 
Word Press is looking pretty good to me. But I would appreciate your input. 

In case you have a blog: Which one are you using? What do you like about it?

How much watermelon can you eat? - as much as we have in the fridge. 

How do you feel about starting to run again after an injury break? - Excited! 

Sunday, June 23, 2013

A haircut can lead to unexpectedly seeing lots of happy naked people.

If there is one thing Nick and I have learned in the past few weeks, it is that in Berlin, you will never be bored. It's impossible.

Yesterday, Nick had an early haircut appointment at 2.45pm and I offered to be the translator and come with.
Have you ever thought about how much power it gives you if you are the translator who tells the hair dresser how to cut someone else's hair? SO much power! I could barely handle it.

All went well and Nick is now sporting an awesome haircut, of course :o)

And check out this chandelier! I just had to take a picture of it. I would probably hate to clean it, but I would loved to have secretly taken it with me when nobody was looking - don't worry, they had 4 of them anyways. Unfortunately, it wouldn't have fit in the basket on my bike.

Riding towards home, I was surprised by the number of hipsters that crossed our way. Where did they all come from all of the sudden?


I thought we left all of them in Hampden when we moved here. I guess the trend it spreading the word.

Anyways, Nick was way more concerned with the amount of police blocking off streets and redirecting traffic. Yes, I clearly know how to prioritize.

You may not know this about me, but approaching policemen really freaks me out. I think I would feel obliged to tell them that I have run at least 7 stop signs in my life and then they may arrest me. Or even worse - want money. That just freaks me out.

We then pretty quickly found out what all the police, security, and barriers were for:
It was Christopher Street Day in Berlin! Aaah! I can't believe we almost missed it.

If you have never heard of CSD, you should come and experience it in person. It is the biggest LGBT celebration/ demonstration in Germany and most likely the largest party I have ever been to.

The first thing we saw was a parade. A very, very, very long parade.:

And then we tried to follow it. The only way we could do that was by riding right behind a police car that was driving down a bike lane next to the actual road. (Yes, I was worried the entire time if it was illegal to ride so closely behind a police car. Is there a minimum distance you have to keep when doing that? Please get back to me on that.)

Our flashy escort.
There were thousands of people at the Siegessäule already and we knew that the parade would continue for another mile and a half to end at the Brandenburg gate. (One of the pros being a runner is that you know so many distances by heart.)

So we just cut through the "Tiergarten" (the huge park that surrounds this area) and came out here: 

So many people! 
 You can't see it in the pictures, but at least 2/3 of the people were dancing to pop music that was blasting through a gazillon speakers. So awesome!

Dancing on top of the street light.

However, what you do can see is that everyone is smiling! I have never seen so many happy people in one place. It was absolutely incredible. Have you ever been surrounded by people that are just having the time of their life? It is contagious!

His big green sign said:
"Schwuler Frühling in Russland" - "Gay spring in Russia"
As you can see, we we had our bikes with us (see the two super sporty rides behind me?!) and with the amount of people around us, it was impossible to get anywhere. So we rode home, got changed, and took the train back to the party. 

Not before getting ice cream, though! Don't forget to always fuel with ice cream before a bike ride, thank you. 

Obviously, I had to be focused on the food and
didn't have time to smile for a picture.
After we came back, it seemed like nobody had left. 

yes, that is his butt looking out.

The greatest thing about yesterday was that it really did not matter to anyone how you looked. Everyone was just having a blast together. 

We saw so many naked or incredibly creatively dressed people, it was insane! I told you before that after coming back from the U.S., I felt that Germany is much more tolerant about showing your skin while sunbathing. 
Let me rephrase that: I feel that Germany is much more tolerant about showing your skin.

And then I found heaven. 
In the middle of this happy, awesome party, someone had prepared a little something just for me:

Have you ever seen anything like this?!
Yes, that is only half of the table. Thousands upon thousands of pounds of Haribo. A buffet of pure happyness. 

And then this happened: A butt "photo-bombed" my Haribo picture. I guess it happens... 

If you ever want me to take pictures of your wedding, or your graduation, give me a shout. I got this. 

 Those of you, who follow me on instagram (StinaOnTheMove), have already seen these two pictures:

 We just spent the rest of the day in the middle of this.

I had beer. For the first time in years. It was gross. Nick had to help me.
We watched people jump from a crane:

And then we decided that I am very lucky that Nick never wants to do that. Right?!

After some of the people moved towards the main stage, the clean up crew was starting to pick up things.

Because there were lots of these laying around:

 By the way, it is about 10pm in those pictures. The many hours of sunshine are incredible! (Again, you should all move here so that we can hang out in the sun at 10.30 at night!)

Around 11, we headed home and picked up dinner on our way. Yes, the day DID get even better.

There is a sushi place around the corner here that has a never ending happy hour where you get 2 for 1 maki rolls.

What they don't tell you is: if you order 1 of those, you automatically get 2!
I am suggesting that you don't waste any more time and plan your trip to Berlin right this minute so that I have an excuse to overeat on sushi we can eat there. (Shannon, I am looking at you!)

Awesomeness to go.

Can you think of a better way to spend a Saturday?! I can't. Especially when it ends with a ton of sushi for dinner and King Kong on TV. 

Have a great start into an awesome week you guys!!

P.S.: There were no leftovers.

How did you spend your Saturday?

Did you ever go to a LGBT parade? 

If you had to pick what is your favorite dinner and movie combination?