Castles and chocolate and climbing, oh my!

On Alex’s last full day in Berlin, we decided to make the most of our time… 

We started off traveling to a Prussian Castle

Charlottenburg Castle
Charlottenburg Castle
 
Where we heard tons of 18th & 19th century royal stories… 
 
Wind Direction Display
Wind Direction Display — was connected to a weather vane that lives on the roof!
  
beautiful huge garden
beautiful huge garden
  
 Art at Charlottenburg Castle
Art at Charlottenburg Castle
 
We then met up with Sonja and Franzi at Ritter Sport where Alex was able to mix and match the flavoring in her own chocolate bar! 
 
gummy bear chocolate bar
gummy bear a questionable choice?
  
everyone wants a custom chocolate bar
everyone wants a custom chocolate bar
 
Yum yum yum! 

But then the real fun started… 

We headed to a high rope course called MountMitte where we climbed, dangled, jumped and generally exhausted ourselves while at crazy high heights!!!

 

MountMitte
The zoom lens doesn’t do justice for just how high we were!
  
big step
big step
  
balance
balance
     
crazy hard to walk through rings
crazy hard to walk through rings
 
crazy climbing
crazy climbing
 

Berlin Wall Murals, Checkpoint Charlie, Currywurst, Airstrips, Beer, Beaches…

Wasting no time in our effort to dive back into the Berlin atmosphere, we got up early, ate a quick breakfast and walked to the East Side Gallery to check out the hundred plus murals that line a 1.3km section of the wall that’s still standing. 

Murals along the East Side Gallery
Murals along the East Side Gallery

Then we made our way to Checkpoint Charlie and took a tour of the museum there. All super fascinating stuff! (Although no photography allowed inside the museum!)

Checkpoint Charlie
Checkpoint Charlie

We then met up with Sonja and Nina for a Berlin special: Currywurst. Yum yum yum! Before walking to the original airstrip where the allied forces operated the Berlin airdrop supplying West Berlin with all the supplies they needed to run the city for over a year! 

Single plane left on the Tempelhof airfield
Single plane left on the Tempelhof airfield

Mind you, today the Tempelhof Airfield has been turned into a park (complete with a baseball diamond!), and lots of places to rest to grab a beer and relax… (I *may* have taken a nap at this point) 
 

Finding Berlin Zen
Finding Berlin Zen
 
The girls did a bit of train surfing on our way to dinner… 

Train Surfing
Train Surfing

Before we we found an incredible location on the water to enjoy the ending of a beautiful day in Berlin.
 

Berlin Beach Hangout
Berlin Beach Hangout
  
Main Train Station
Main Train Station
  
evening treat
evening treat — told it was a chocolate drink with ice cream
  
outlasted the sun
outlasted the sun
 

A day at the Louvre

Our third (and final 😢), day in Paris consisted of another most excellent cafe breakfast, some walking around town and a trip to the Louvre… Before a late lunch and a flight back to Berlin. 

The Louvre, of course, is utterly overwhelming. The size of the building, the number of people, the magnitude of the exhibits… All elements combine for an experience unlike any other museum. 

 

Beaches of Paris
Beaches of Paris
  
Louvre
Louvre
  
Louvre
Louvre
  
That Smile
That Smile — Mona Lisa
  
baby resting on skull
baby resting on skull
  
Egyptian Art
Egyptian Art
  
Caesar busts
Caesar (I think) busts
  
Louvre Statues
Louvre Statues
  
Medieval Louvre Walls
Medieval Louvre Walls
  
Espresso
Espressos… so many… so good
 

Goodbye Paris
Goodbye Paris — You’ve given us plenty of reasons to return

Awe-inspiring cathedrals, mind-bending art & life-altering food

On our second day, Alex and I really started to settle into this (admittedly very touristy) Parisian way of life. 

We ate slow meals along the busy streets, cruised the walls of the Seine, enjoyed the modern and contemporary art at the Pompidou Center, treated ourselves to an amazing steak and frites at a local institution, and found the time to really soak in two amazing cathedrals… Including the Notre Dame while a Sunday mass was in session..

Sainte Chapelle Stained Glass
Sainte Chapelle Stained Glass

Stained Glass Scene
Stained Glass Scene

 
guitarist
guitarist by picasso
  
Contemporary art installation at the Pompidou Center
Contemporary art installation at the Pompidou Center

 
Relais de l'Entrecote
Relais de l’Entrecote — food is so so so amazing!
  
evening treat
evening treat
  
Evening Walk along the Seine
Evening Walk along the Seine
 
 
Notre Dame
Notre Dame
  
Sunday Evening Mass at the Notre Dame
Sunday Evening Mass at the Notre Dame
   
statue
statue
  
candles
candles
   

Ahhh… Paris

We started our first day in Paris with a roundabout walk from our hotel to the Musee D’Orsay… Passing farmers markets, the Notre Dame, Hotel De Ville, Centre Pompidou, Les Halls, & Pont De Arts bridge.

After a few hours at the museum, we walked to the Eiffel Tower and took more than a few obligatory photos there. 

Then we walked along the Seine to the Champs-Élysées where we enjoyed some of the world’s best ice cream in the most perfect setting. 

More walking… Through the Louve and on to a wonderful cafe where we spent a few hours enjoying good food and drink while waiting for the sudden summer downpour to pass. It never did, so we took the metro back to the hotel.

 

street art
street art
  
Pont de Arts
Pont de Arts bridge… locks are all gone. 😢
  
Pont de Arts
Pont de Arts
  
Parisian Statue
Parisian Statue
  
Pont de Art
Pont de Art “meta”
  
Van Gough
Van Gough
  
Musee D'Orsay
Musee D’Orsay
  
Lookng into Monet 's London fog
Lookng into Monet ‘s London fog

 
Eiffel Tower #1
Eiffel Tower #1
  

Eiffel Tower #2
Eiffel Tower #2
Eiffel Tower #3
Eiffel Tower #3
world's best triple scoop dipped waffle cone
world’s best triple scoop dipped waffle cone
Alex's evening jump over the Louvre
Alex’s evening jump over the Louvre
Dustin's evening jump over the Louvre
Dustin’s evening jump over the Louvre
Champs-Élysées
Champs-Élysées

Lost by Design in Prague

After my mother hopped on a bus for Český Krumlov, Alex and I decided to spend the day wondering Prague, eating ice cream, taking photographs, and staying hydrated with lemonade, coffee and beer… And it was wonderful! 

We crossed the Vltava River multiple times, enjoyed the spectacular views from the Vyšehrad castle, took the metro, ate dinner near old town. And then hopped on a late night flight to Paris where we’ll spend the next three days! 

 

St Charles Bridge
St Charles Bridge
  
Vyšehrad castle
Vyšehrad castle
  
musicians
musicians
  
statue
statue
  
lady walking on water
lady walking on water
  
Dancing House
Dancing House
  
swans
swans
    
Alex looking down on the Vltava River
Alex looking down on the Vltava River
  
Dustin and Alex
Dustin and Alex
  
noisy pots in old town
best place to listen to noisy pots
  
Promise of Old Town
Promises: “The best night you will never remember”
  
Vyšehrad View
Vyšehrad View
  
Vyšehrad Cemetery
Vyšehrad Cemetery
  
walls are alive
walls are alive

 
Prague
Prague
   

Alex in Prague
Alex in Prague

Prague… and there were photos

With my mother, a most wonderful professional photographer, joining us in this leg of our adventure, it’s safe to assume we spent the majority of our time playing with photography.  I came away with a much better appreciation of how to work my new camera including some things that are probably basic to most photographers, but were all new to me. 

My favorite example is that I learned how to blur the background and/or keep it in focus when taking portraits. Here’s an example of each:  

Focus on Alex
Focus on Alex
  
Focus on Alex and Background
Focus on Alex and Background
 

However, while in such a beautiful city, I think I’ll keep my writing to a minimum and share the stories through photos. 

 

Alex and Wendy
Alex and Wendy
  
Alex
Alex
  
Gehry's Dancing House
Gehry’s Dancing House, or Fred and Ginger
  
Penguins
Penguins
  
unknown sculpute
no idea what this is all about
    
Medieval Toys
Medieval Toys
  
Swan Boat
Swan Boat
  
St Charles Bridge
St Charles Bridge
  
Gargoyles
Gargoyles
  
St Charles Bridge
St Charles Bridge
 

The late night crew
The late night crew
   
 

From Wunderwerk in Dresden to Wild Jazz in Prague

Alex and I woke up this morning with a wonderful breakfast of coffee and pastries in the quiet of old town Dresden… We then headed off to the former residence of the Saxony royal family that’s now a museum called Residenzschloss loaded with incredible artifacts from the spoils of hundreds of years of royalty. 

The most popular part of the museum is the historic green vault that includes jewelry, vases, statues, etc… Although my favorite area was the section with ivory mechanical clocks, where I learned my new favorite word: wunderwerk. Sadly, there are no photos inside the castle/museum as we had to check our camera at the door. 

 

Lunch with/at Alex
Lunch with/at Alex
  
Watching the horses
Watching the horses
  
Clock tower
Clock tower
  

   

Colors
Colors
  
Fürstenzug
Fürstenzug — made from 23,000 porcelain tiles
  
castle
castle
  
Dresden Scene
Dresden Scene
 

Next, we hopped in a train to Prague!

Funny, but after a few days in Berlin and Dresden, I hadn’t realized just how much Germany felt relaxing and stress free (and non-touristy) until we landed in the Meyhan of Prague… In the middle of a Jazz fest!  

Of course the highlight of our entry into Prague was meeting up with my mother, who had reserved a most wonderful AirBnB unit in the heart of Prague. Definitely lots of adventures ahead! 

 Alex and Wendy on our Prague bacony  

flipper
flipper
  
Jazz Festival
Jazz Festival
  
Blue Swirls
Blue Swirls (amazing photo by Alexandra!)
   

photographers
Is photography genetic?
 
castle
castle
  
Evening Sky
Evening Sky
  
Prague Clocktower
Prague Clocktower
  

From the Reichstag to Dresden

Alex and I woke up early in order to catch a morning tour of the Reichstag. Although a temporary downpour put a bit of a damper on our ability to capture photos of the Berlin skyline, the views were amazing and the audio guide gave a ton of fascinating insights into the history, architecture, growth and rebuilding of Berlin.

Reichstag
Reichstag
  
German Flag
German Flag on top of the Reichstag
  

Reichstag view
Reichstag view
  
Reichstag Dome
Reichstag Dome
  
Reichstag Mirrors
Reichstag Mirrors
  
Climbing the Reichstag Dome
Climbing the Reichstag Dome
  
Reichstag Mirrors
Reichstag Mirrors
  
Prussian Victory Column
Prussian Victory Column
  
Rain
Rain
 

Right after our Reichstag tour, Alex and I rushed to the train station to catch an express train to Dresden, where we spent the afternoon soaking up the amazing blend of old and new world architecture. 

View from Frauenkirche
First stop was to climb Frauenkirche

Frauenkirche
Frauenkirche
  
Alex in Dresden
Alex on top of Frauenkirche
      
Old town
Old town
  
Old and new
Old and new
  
Gold Dome
Gold Dome
  
Dresden
Dresden
  
Dresden though glass
Dresden though glass
 

Berlin: History all around us

After picking Alex up from the airport, the three of us took a tour of Berlin that involved buses, subways, streetcars and a healthy dose of walking from Plenzlaur Berg to Alexanderplatz to the Brandenburger Gate. We ended the day with an entertaining (and only slightly wet) meal in the Gesundbrunnen neighborhood. 

Walking between the formally divided West and East Berlin throughout the day, the most striking element for me is just how much it feels like we were passing right through major historical events at every turn.   

East Berlin Guard Tower
Peering into the remenants of the Berlin Wall
The adventure begins
The adventure begins
Plenzlaur Berg street scene
Plenzlaur Berg street scene
  
Berlin wall memorial
Berlin wall memorial
  
River view
River view
  
Spinning Clock
Took me way too long to understand to make sense out if this spinning click in Alexanerplatz
  
Berliner Dom
Berliner Dom
  
Brandenburger Gate
Brandenburger Gate
Dinner in Gesundbrunnen
Dinner in Gesundbrunnen
  

Two hours in Stockholm

A five-hour layover in Stockholm gave me just enough time to catch an express train to downtown and spend a few hours walking around Gamla Stan… So beautiful! I’ll be back! 😊

 

Entry Bridge
Entry Bridge
  
Gamla Stan Street
Gamla Stan Street
  
gnome on a bench
gnome on a bench
  
Gamla Stan Alley
Gamla Stan Alley
  
Stained  Glass
Stained Glass
  
Gamla Stan Alley #2
Gamla Stan Alley #2
  
Lunch Friend
Lunch Friend
 

Evening Walk in Santa Monica

The Artist at WorkStill feeling the love of a new toy, Peter and I took an evening walk around Santa Monica that ended up lasting more than three hours. I could barely pry the camera away from him as he took photo after photo.

This morning, we went through the photos and these are his favorites. Except for the few that I noted as taken by me, all photo credit belongs to Peter!

As a bonus, Peter also spent the day hanging out with me and took some great photos from our the Dun & Bradstreet office (and our home!). Here’s some highlights.

Lost in the Berlin Forest… above Los Angeles

Fresh with the new DSLR in hand, Sonja and I took a trip up to the Griffith Observatory where we knew the views would be amazing… and conveniently, we found the Berlin Forest less than a 1/4 mile away!