Border Run

IMG_8297Denmark/German Border

A Brit, Aussie, American, and Korean walk into a mall… haha! No, not a bad joke, just time for another Billund to border run for turkey, booze, and over the counter meds.

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We hit up Citti-Park in hopes of finding just the right snow boots, turkey for American Thanksgiving, cut-rate alcohol, possibly stocking stuffers, and more. We did well. Thankfully, the turkey we came for was purchased. Sadly we didn’t find the cute snowboots half of us were after.

I do recall several flats of Christmas Beer and an obscene amount of nutella.

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Here we are, headed down the escalator with our goods. Had to check the top floor and try out more boots.

Oh geeze! Look at the time! We have to leave Germany and get back to school to pick up the kids!

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I had a fun day with the gals. Racing and riding carts through the parking garage may or may not have happened with cheers and squeals. Looking forward to another girls day shopping no matter which country we’re in.

xo

 

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Bring on the Blahs

Today it’s cold, damp, and the sky is the color of a dirty sock. It’s been that way all day. Yesterday too. Blah. So here, then, are some pics of what it looked like around Billund this summer, when we did have pleasant weather…

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…when everything was in bloom…

…when we would ride our bikes after dinner and explore the trails and fields around town…

…and when it didn’t look like this until 11:00 at night…

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Meh. I’m gonna go make a cup of tea.

Burn the Witch!

For the world’s happiest people, Danes sure have some morbid holidays. In February, kids bang on a barrel or piñata for the carnival holiday of Fastelavn. The barrel has a picture of a black cat on it. It used to have a real cat inside. Bang the barrel, drive away evil spirits, kill the cat in the process. Today only candy pours out.

Same thing with Midsummer, or Sankthansaften (St John’s Eve). It’s the summer solstice – the longest day of the year, where it won’t get dark until after 11pm. Families walk down to their local park to sing folk songs, light a bonfire, and burn a witch. Maybe drink some beer too.

Used to be a real witch back in the 16th and 17th centuries. After the screaming and burning had stopped, the witch was supposed to have “flown away” to Bloksbjerg, a mountain in Germany where the rest of the covens were rumored to have congregated. Today it’s just a straw and cloth effigy, stuffed with firecrackers that squeal and shriek when they go off.

Yes, we explained this to our kids. Things are just matter of fact here. You’ve also probably heard about how famously pragmatic Danes are about parenting. The midsummer bonfire is a perfect example – it wasn’t cordoned off, and kids could run circles around it if they wanted. They were just trusted not to get too close. We made sure our boys gave it a healthy berth anyway – and good thing too, because the bonfire collapsed within a few minutes and came tumbling down in a fiery heap of logs. The witch was trapped under there somewhere. No shrieking, but the crowd sang anyway.

The songs were surprisingly placid and peaceful – one of them translated to “We Love Our Little Land.” I wonder if people sang Christian hymns back then as the real witches burned? Given all the black leather jackets on the teenaged boys and girls alike, maybe some doom or black metal might have been more in line nowadays. Maybe that wouldn’t exactly be hygge.

Den Fynske Landsby

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There were a couple of spring holidays in May, so on one of them, we drove down to the IKEA in Odense. We forgot that, unlike in the US, when it’s a holiday, everything is closed. Including IKEA. No meatballs for you!

We weren’t about to turn around and drive the hour back to Billund though, so after a scan through TripAdvisor and a phone call, we headed over to Den Fynske Landsby, or Funen Village, a “living museum” that recreates a Danish village from the 18th century.

It was a singularly beautiful day – blue skies, vibrant green, flowering bursting in bloom. We spent the day just wandering around and poking in and out of each building until we’d seen the entire village. Although the entire site is a recreation, it’s still a very thorough and detailed one. We got a very good idea of what life was like thanks to the authentic staging and decor in each building, plus thorough plaques and documentation. We learned about how a typical home was run, what school was like for the children, and a variety of trades, jobs, and crafts like blacksmithing, weaving, thatching, farming, how the village preacher lived, how the mill was run, and even toured through a gigantic kiln where the bricks were shaped and fired.

The kids enjoyed the freedom of exploring what each next building and house contained, as well as some hands-on activities – feeding rabbits, practicing walking on handmade stilts. Lots of animals to watch as well – sheep, goats, chickens, ducks, geese, and a cow that was milked by one of the staff (in period garb of course).

On the way back home, we stopped and took some pictures by a canola field. Denmark looks like someone has painted half of the countryside yellow during that part of the year. Come December, when it’s pitch black out at 4pm and we’re tired of the cold and rain, we just need to look at these pics and remind ourselves of what we have to look forward to!

Copenhagen, Day 2: Castles & Coasters!

We spent Easter weekend in Copenhagen, and B did a post on our first day there back in the spring which you can read about here: https://witzaboutus.com/2015/04/14/copenhagen-canal-tour/

We packed a lot into that weekend, so here’s day 2!

*     *     *

Friday was the best day of the entire weekend, and I think one of the most memorable days we’ve had all year. We did both the Rosenberg and Amalienborg castles in the morning, walked around the city a lot more, and spent all evening at Tivoli Gardens with some friends.

First, Rosenberg Slot, or Rosenberg Castle. It’s a short walk from the Norregade metro station to Gothersgade, and the castle is in the center of the Kongens Have (or The King’s Garden) park. It was built in 1606 by Christian IV, and used as a summer residence for the royal family, and then only for the next century. Quite a bit larger than most of the summerhus you see around Denmark!

We did the Crown Jewels and treasure vaults first, as B and I knew those would keep the boys’ interest for longer. Like all other kids their age, they are obsessed with Minecraft (I taught them well!), and so anything to do with gems and gold and all that glitters is sure to excite their imaginations.

The treasure vaults did not disappoint – room after room of lavishly gilded weaponry and armor, exquisitely carved ivory, and fabulous royal Danish bling. It took us about an hour to thread our way through the rooms, gawking at all of the detail and wealth. The lowest and most heavily guarded area of the vaults contained the Crown Jewels and collections of massive gems, so the boys liked those the best. M wanted to know if there were enough diamonds in the entire building to make at least one diamond pickaxe.

Afterwards, we toured through the rest of the castle and living quarters. Most of the furniture and tapestries in the rooms were still intact and on display. Big difference from the candlelit white walls and whitewashed wood ceilings that characterize modern Danish homes. Can rooms this cavernous and decor this opulent still be considered hygge?

It was difficult to really picture what life would have been like in the castle – were all of these rooms actually used as living spaces? They felt so huge and impersonal. Was the family constantly entertaining visitors and guests? Were they just hanging out and playing parlor games? And after all of the money spent on the lavish interiors, couldn’t the King have sprung for a better toilet cover than just a hole in a wooden plank?

After the castle tours, we wandered up through the Kongens Have and found a delightful playground on the north side of the gardens, with a variety of unique balance beams, pylons, and notched posts for the kids to clamber across. I’ve noticed that Danish playgrounds offer much richer and organic play options than the traditional ones we are used to back home – they feel part of their surrounding environment, and the structures and elements invite play in more than one way.

Although our next stop was Amalienborg Palace (the current royal family’s winter residence), there were very few lunch options open because of the holiday. (There just aren’t a lot of cafes in that area anyway.) So we doubled back down towards Nyhavn, which was absolutely slammed with fellow tourists. Lots of sidewalk cafes and restaurants there, but no empty tables. Luckily, we found a small homey cafe with a few open spots. We split a few dishes (sorry, can’t even remember what we had!) and enjoyed a quiet, sunny hour away from the cold and crowds. E fell asleep on the bench and missed out on lunch altogether, but woke up in time for ice cream afterwards. It’s never too cold for ice cream!

Then we circled back around towards Amalienborg, just in time to see the changing of the guards in the massive plaza. There are four palaces here, originally built for four different noble families, but the royal family have resided in them since the late 1700s. Today, Crown Princess Margrethe and Prince Henrik stay in one of the palaces during the winter months.

We got to tour inside the palace that belonged to Christian IX and Queen Louise, and after the tour through Rosenborg in the morning, it was much easier to imagine life inside these rooms. Well, kind of. They are now overstuffed with photos and paintings and furniture and collections that show off he family’s various hobbies and interests, but you can still tell that people have spent time and enjoyed themselves and their guests here.

The kids were toured out after that, but they knew that they had a big treat planned for the evening – we were going to meet our friends from Billund at Tivoli Gardens to spend all night on rollercoasters and rides!

Tivoli is one of the most famous destinations in Copenhagen, and rightly so, as it’s also one of the most beautiful amusement parks we’ve ever seen. It’s the second-oldest amusement park in the world, and even though it’s regularly been updated since its opening in 1843, it still feels like it’s from another century. You know the nostalgia you feel when you walk through some of the older, original, and largely untouched areas of Disneyland? It’s like that, except with a wondrous Victorian feel throughout instead of Main Street, Frontierland, Adventureland, Tomorrowland, etc. No surprise that Walt Disney was so inspired by Tivoli that he wanted to ensure that his guests at Disneyland would enjoy the same wondrous atmosphere.

There are some exotic elements and sights throughout Tivoli – a pagoda and Japanese gardens, an Indian palace topped with domes and minarets – but the overall aesthetic is somewhere between turn-of-the-century World’s Fair and 1960s pop-art. Geometric patterns and splashes of color, both verdant and architectural, catch your eye and ignite your senses, and then when the sun sets, the park erupts in twinkling light.

One of the most amazing things about Tivoli is that it’s in the center of the city, so when you get a grand view of the entire park, like from atop a coaster or the ferris wheel, you’re also taking in all of Copenhagen as well. Truly special, and something you don’t get at many amusement parks anywhere in the world.

Two worlds

Two worlds

And best of all, the park wasn’t that busy – especially for a Friday night! We were able to run through the lines to get on the same rides over and over again. The large majority of the rides were also fine for the boys, so we had a blast doing coasters and the ferris wheel and bumper cars and underground minecart tours complete with singing moles. M wanted to keep doing the Odin Coaster so we must have done it 5 times. We ended the night with cotton candy (or candy floss) for the kids, and left when the park closed before midnight, tired and happy from a very full day.

One last thought before closing out this (epic) post: found this in a store window and I think it captures our year in Denmark quite well!

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Helsinki

I had a quick 2-day trip to Helsinki in the spring for work. Although most of the time was spent at the offices we were visiting, I did get a chance to walk around downtown one evening and had a meal that more than met my expectations of hearty Finnish cuisine.

Like other Scandinavian cities I’ve visited, Helsinki is very clean. Wide streets, not a lot of traffic. The architecture I saw downtown had the classical look I’ve come to expect from European cities, but there was a minimalism and simplicity to the buildings as well. No big surprise that the city used to double for the USSR in movies shot during the Cold War!

My co-workers are as food-adventurous as I am, so we found a restaurant called Lappi which serves traditional Lappish food. Lapland is the northernmost region of Finland, so we were expecting real stick-to-your-ribs-cause-its-way-below-freezing type food. And reindeer. And alcohol. And we got all three!

The restaurant looked like a cozy wooden lodge inside – meget hyggeligt, as you’d say in Danish. Rustic wooden decor, exposed beams, and the whole place warmed up with woolen blankets and fires in the fireplaces. Sven and Kristof from Frozen would have been right at home.

There were 6 of us, so we started with a couple of sampler platters which featured: salmon tartar; salmon mousse topped with fish roe; reindeer carpaccio; reindeer heart jerky; a hunter’s salad of wild mushrooms; pickled fish; various cheeses; and something like cranberry sauce, expect made with cloudberries. We all drank cocktails called ‘Reindeer’s Tears,’ which were shots of Finnish koskenkorva (similar to vodka) with a few cranberries dropped in. Strong stuff. Everything was delicious, though I seemed to be the only one at the table who liked reindeer heart and fish roe, so I was half-full even before the meal showed up.

The other guys opted for the grilled fillet of reindeer – think venison steaks. I got the sautéed reindeer, which came out like shaved beef piled atop a mound of mashed potatoes. I don’t know how I finished the whole thing – I really shouldn’t have! Luckily there was time to walk it off afterwards, though we were all so full that we just headed back to the hotel instead of checking out the many bars downtown. Next time!

Will hopefully make it back to Finland one day – this time with the family, or at least to see a friend out there and check out the Tuska metal festival that’s held there every summer. Some of my favorite metal bands come from Finland, so here are some videos. \m/

Insomnium

Amorphis

Copenhagen, Day 1: Canal Tour

Many offices are closed on Thursday, Friday, and Monday surrounding Easter Sunday here in Denmark. LEGO happens to be one of them (yay!), so we packed up our station wagon and headed to Copenhagen on that Thursday morning. It was windy and cold, but the sun was shining. We were eager to get there and begin exploring.

It’s about a 3 hour drive from Billund , so we stopped halfway to have a picnic in a roadside park. The parks (and restrooms) are all very clean and well-maintained, but it was so cold out! We huddled at a park table in a stand of trees and had a basic lunch of salami and cheeses and crackers. You don’t find tons of roadside fast food and cafes in Denmark like you do in the US – it’s all rural and open here, which is refreshing.

We stayed at a Scandic hotel (same chain we stayed at in Hamburg), but this one was 30 min outside the city center because that one was booked. Hotel was nice and modern, though it was clearly for business travelers because it was fairly empty and there wasn’t a lot nearby to walk to (far as shops, restaurants, etc). The kids liked playing miniature golf on the course out back (we did it 4x and each time it was freezing out!), and there was a good breakfast buffet.

After checking in and dropping our bags off in the room, we took a quick walk to the train stop and boarded the next train into the city. Love the architecture in Copenhagen – so classically European, and so different than a typically metropolitan downtown. There were probably denser areas and more traffic somewhere in the city, but we didn’t find it. Closest thing to a traffic jam was a cluster of bikes all collapsed on the sidewalk!

Next, we walked to the Nyhavn canal area, Copenhagen’s picturesque and postcard-famous harbor area, where we bought tickets for a boat ride through the canals surrounding the city. It’s a fantastic way to see many buildings in a short amount of time, particularly with young kids. The boys loved the boat ride in the fresh air after being in the car and on a train. We sat out in the cold wind for better views, but you can also sit inside a glassed-in dome area to stay cozy.

We got just enough information on each of the sights to hold the kids’ interest and… we were on a boat… there were a couple of tight turns and low bridges involved too, so they found that rather entertaining as well. Highlights included the contemporary Opera House (where Red Bull has been hosting a World Series diving contest off of the roof!), the strikingly futuristic Royal Library or “Black Diamond,” and the peculiar helix-spire Church of Our Savior, which towers above quiet Christianshavn. Also enjoyed all of the boats parked along the sides of the narrower canals, each with their own names and character. It was cold out that day, but the boys loved sitting out in the wind and whooping as we passed below the arches of the many stone bridges that span the canals.

Afterwards, we made plans to meet some of our friends at a restaurant (an American-style burger restaurant, no less) called Mad, about a 20 minutes’ walk away from Nyhavn. Poor E was ready to stop walking already (this after spending an hour sitting on the boat). Luckily, Daddies are good for carrying small angry people, so we hustled through the city towards the busier shopping area just outside Tivoli, where we’d return the next night.

Good food, great beer – one of the best IPAs I’ve had since moving to Denmark. Bellies full, we decided to call it a night and headed back to the hotel early. It was just too cold out and starting to rain, and the drive and tour was enough for one day.

Next entry: castles and coasters!

Munich

Got to go to Munich last week for work. As I’d already heard before, it’s a wonderful city – storied history, classic Bavarian culture, a charming downtown with some incredible architecture, colorful pastel-colored buildings, and of course, plenty of biergartens, delicious beer, and rich Bavarian food. And pretzels!

Didn’t see much of the city Thursday since we were in meetings from 8am until around 6pm, but then a big group of us went out for dinner. I had no idea where we were, so when we got off the subway at Marienplatz, I was genuinely amazed to see the incredible New Town Hall (Neues Rathaus), with its ornate towers and Glockenspiel mechanical clock! The clockwork display, with its twirling and dancing figures, goes off every day at 11am and noon, but we missed it the next day too. When I return to Munich with B and the boys, that will definitely be on the list of sights to see.

From there it was a short walk to an excellent Bavarian restaurant called Spatenhaus an der Oper, just across from the Bayerische Staatsoper (famous opera house). Pretzels, great beer (my favorite was the Franziskaner Hefewissen Dunkel), and decadent Bavarian cuisine. Mmmm… head cheese made with vinegary, pickled meats; salami; a haunch of roast pork swimming in rich gravy; marinated cabbage; and giant potato dumpling cannonball things… And some celebratory schnapps after dinner.

Needed to walk that off afterwards, so some of our German hosts took me over to see the famous Hofbrauhaus beer hall and royal public brewery. This place is massive – it makes the giant German biergarten at EPCOT look like a Carl’s Jr. It’s everything you’d expect from a famous Bavarian beer hall too – rows and rows of packed tables (even at 11pm), waitresses with trays of sausages and pretzels, a big German brass band, old men in German vests and hats passing out with their steins. My hosts said it’s mostly a tourist place (which is why we went to the Spatenhaus), but it is still a fun atmosphere.


On the way in, there’s a wall of cubbies, each one locked and containing a big beer stein. These are for the private members, and the only way into the club is when a previous member dies. Then, Glückwünsche! You get your own stein, and when you come to the beer hall, you unlock your stein, wash it out in the big copper sink, and help yourself to your favorite local brew.

Upstairs, there’s an even bigger hall, with a second German band on stage, and even more happy feasters and drinkers. There’s also a balcony above with a small museum about the Hofbrauhaus. Cool facts: it was founded in 1589 by the Duke of Bavaria, whose 700 closest friends and courtiers were drinking his riches away. So he started the public brewery, which followed the Reinheitsgrebot, or Bavarian Beer Purity Law (passed in 1516).

This place is like an aircraft hangar! With beer.

This place is like an aircraft hangar! With beer.


The law decreed that only water, barley, and hops could be used in the production of beer. Apparently, brewers back then had been using all sorts of additives to help preserve their beers: soot, dangerous mushrooms, or “gruit” herbs like yarrow, ivy, and horehound. The main reason for the law was to ensure there would be enough wheat and rye for bakers to use in their bread, which meant no hefeweissen for a very long time! (Though obviously you can get it today, due to some loosening, or at least, re-interpretation, of the Reinheitsgebot.)

On Friday, our meetings only lasted till around noon, and since our flight back to Billund wasn’t until 8pm, we got to spend the afternoon exploring downtown Munich. It was a lovely day for it too – sunny, and not too chilly. We strolled down a wide shopping promenade called Neuhauserstrasse and ended up back at Marienplatz.

These promenades seem to be all over Europe – I’ve seen them now in Aarhus, Cartagena, and Malaga. No street traffic, and they’re more than just a big outdoor mall – they’re a vital part of the city’s culture. Many cities in the US have added outdoor shopping areas or long walking malls – Kierland Commons and Scottsdale Quarter in Scottsdale, 16th Street Mall in Denver, the Farmers’ Market in LA, or the Woodlands outside Houston, for example, but those are not purely pedestrian areas like these thoroughfares. I wonder why more American cities don’t have these.

After lunch, we burned off our calories by climbing the 250+ steps inside St Peter’s Church for a view across the city. Then we wandered through the streets, past the Viktualienmarket (booths selling everything from produce to flowers to Turkish food and fresh fish), and out towards the river for a leisurely stroll. Lots of people (and their dogs) out enjoying the sun as well. A light dinner and one last beer at an outdoor biergarten by one of the old city’s gates, and then it was time to say ‘Auf wiedersehen’ to München.


There’s still tons to see in Munich – chief among them the incredible Neuschwanstein Castle outside the city, and oh yeah, Oktoberfest – so I’m sure there will be another Munich post on the blog within the year. Now, if I can just find a case of Franziskaner Hefeweissen Dunkel next time we pass through Flensborg…

Spain, parte tres: Granada

Here’s part 3 of our trip to Spain over Christmas vacation. You can read the first 2 parts here:
https://witzaboutus.com/2014/12/30/spain-parte-dos-bienvenidos-a-malaga/
https://witzaboutus.com/2014/12/30/spain-parte-uno-a-donde-vamos/

Although we’d had a very busy and exciting evening in Malaga, we’d only been in Spain for less than a day – and then bright and early, we got packed up again to get back on the road. Andale!

I went out to a local bodega to grab some fruit and pastries for a light breakfast, we said goodbye to our host and handed over the keys, and walked back down to the bus station (the right way this time!). Note to fellow travelers: the Alsa bus station (next to the Maria Zambrano train station) is not terribly efficient. We almost didn’t make our bus. Only one window open for our bus company, and a very long line. Some guy kept trying to cut in on everyone, and then security would take him away. And then he’d come back and do it again. Kept the wait entertaining I guess. Anyway, will book tickets on the website next time.

Price from Malaga to Granada is about 10 euros a piece, one way. The 2.5 hour ride was pretty, with sweeping views of green valleys, orchards and vineyards, and farmlands dotted with crumbling stone ruins and foundations.

Once we arrived in Granada, we took a taxi (another 7 euros) down to the city centre, where we were staying in our AirBnB apartment across from Plaza Nueva. We met our hosts’ friend at the door, and although he spoke no English, we were able to understand most of his instructions for the place (and if not, there was always Google Translate). We were welcomed into the apartment by the scent of sweet incense, and it was delightful inside! Bright, open, sunny, and sparsely but tastefully decorated with a mix of Mediterranean and Moorish/Arabic art and accessories.

Our host set up a hammock in the living room for the boys (they traded off w/ a small daybed), and pointed out a hookah pipe and fruit shisha in case B and I wanted to try it one night, though we never got around to it. Although we never met the young family who owned the apartment, we communicated with them via AirBnB’s messaging service, plus they had left a map and handwritten notes and suggestions on the wall – a very thoughtful gesture for all of their guests and something that every AirBnB host should do!

One of the main reasons we wanted to visit Granada is its rich history and blend of Spanish and Islamic culture. We are both fascinated by the art and architecture, and B loves the textiles and design as well. (We had briefly considered a day trip to Morocco, but it seemed to be too much travel for too little time in the city – plus all of our research said to skip Tangier in favor of more authentic cities like Fez or Marrakesh, which were just too far).

Granada was established and expanded by the Moors in the late 11th century, who retained control until 1492, when the city was surrendered to Ferdinand II and Isabella I after the last battle of the Granada War. That surrender and reclamation is now known as La Reconquista, and although many of the city’s mosques (and synagogues, in the former Jewish quarter) were converted to churches or completely demolished, parts of the city still retain that Moorish character.

One area in particular, an old neighborhood called the Albaicin, was very close to our apartment, and so that’s what we decided to explore first. There are many areas of Granada that feel like a normal modern city, but this area was a step back in time. We walked along an old waterway bordered by graceful stone houses and a low stone wall. The lane was very narrow, with no sidewalk, so everytime a car or bus came thundering by on the cobblestones, we grabbed the kids and flattened ourselves against the wall like cartoon characters. At a break in the trees, we could look up at The Alhambra, the 14th century Moorish palace which we’d be visiting in the morning. A crumbling bridge support is all that is left down at this level. The boys really wanted to know where the doorway led to!

If we’d have continued following the lane for awhile, we’d have arrived at a neighborhood called Sacromonte, up in the hills. It’s famous for its native gypsy population, who’ve built an entire community in the caves that dot the landscape. It’s a very popular destination for flamenco dancing and music, but we never made the time (or had the energy) to go back up there. Maybe another day when the kids are older.

Instead, we ducked into an alley and started climbing up into the Albaicin, wending our way through quiet courtyards and narrow lanes. I love this kind of exploring, and it’s the little details and surprises that made it special: quirky graffiti, a dog watching us from a balcony, ancient gateways to peer through, and open views that might be waiting around the next corner.

We found a little Moroccan cafe called La Mancha Chica just off a pretty tiled plaza with a view of the snow-capped mountains, and went in for a light lunch. Got a plate of hummus and puffy fresh-baked pita, some marinated tomatoes and cucumbers, a dish of white beans and sautéed spinach in olive oil and lemon, wine for B, fresh squeezed orange juice for the boys, and a really delicious Spanish imperial pilsner called Alhambra Especial 1925. Best beer of the week, and I continued looking for it wherever we went.

Afterwards, we worked our way back down through the Albaicin until we found Calle Elvira, one of the oldest streets in the city and now lined with shops selling all sorts of Moroccan and Moorish goods: colorful fabrics and lanterns, polished hookahs and teapots, ornately-patterned charm boxes, and lots of carpets, handbags, and coats. We poked in and out, picked up a few goodies (some decorated pillowcases for the boys, a patterned throw for our new sofa at home), and then popped into an Arabic tea house for another snack. B and the boys shared a pot of mint tea and I got a pot of rich Arabic coffee spiced with cinnamon. Plus a few pieces of baklava and kadaif (the birds’ nest pastry) to share, all of them dripping with honey and nuts.

By that point, it was late afternoon, and Calle Elvira conveniently ran down into Plaza Nueva, near our apartment. Time to rest and regroup. We didn’t have any plans for the evening, but once we headed out again, it was dark and getting quite cold; December in Spain is still warmer than Denmark, but Granada is up in the mountains, so it was a lot colder than Malaga. I honestly can’t even remember where we finally ate dinner than night – some unremarkable tapas place not far from Plaza Nueva. Not as good as the previous night in Malaga, but we had enjoyed such a fun and busy day in Granada that it didn’t matter. Tomorrow: wake up early and head back up the hill to the Alhambra!

I just want to mail a parcel!

Hej!

I was working on a long, drawn-out story of my experience trying to mail a package today. I decided to keep it short and sweet… If I were feeling more creative I’d write a haiku. Feel free to submit your own in the comments, should you feel moved.

1 – Went to post office in the grocery store at our town.

2 – Told that in order to SHIP packages, go to the next town over and mail from that PO.

3 – Drove to next town. Could not find PO. After lots of looking around the area where it should be, I asked a mail carrier that happened to be walking by.

4 – Proceeded to drive to another grocery store that housed the Post Office. This one could send packages OUT.

5 – OMG basic functions can take a long time when you do not speak the language or know how things work. After that simple (or not so simple) task, I’m drained. Feeling like a small child.

#expatlifelessons #learningcurve

I’m happy I went to a meeting with other internationals this week. It was a good reminder that these things happen, and it is oddly exhausting. So, to any of you moving away to another country – know that these things take time. Finding a dry cleaner, mailing a package, shopping for groceries… the things you did by habit with your eyes closed at home will require some re-learning in your new country. That’s normal. It can be frustrating but we all go through it.

x