With just 2 and a half months to go, and spring in the air, we have been dragging ourselves away from couches and iPads and Wii in order to fit in a few last adventures. Yesterday we headed back to the Sea of Galilee – site of the loaves and fishes and the sermon on the mount – to take in some spectacular scenery resulting from a rainy winter. We hadn’t been back since we went with Becca two years ago. It was a long drive, but the boys had fun with some mini-hikes and eating fishing and calamari.
Category Archives: Travel
Jenny’s sister Becca has been visiting us the past couple of weeks. Working around endless hours of playing hide and seek with Dominic and Ali, we managed to get out and explore some of Northern Israel, the West Bank, and the Dead Sea. Looking back, it has been a pretty full trip. We climbed Masada, home to Herod the Great’s palaces on top of an enormous plateau and site of a Jewish siege by Roman soldiers. We floated in the Dead Sea and gave ourselves a mud bath, explored the Crusader town of Akko on the Northern Coast of the Mediterranean, saw the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem, had lunch on the Sea of Galilee, toured amazing Biblical sites like the spot where Jesus appeared to the apostles, and did a windshield tour of Jericho, the world’s oldest inhabited town.
We are really going to miss her (and the motivation she gave us to get out of the apartment)!
As the summer – and our time in Germany – began to wind down, Tony picked me up from the airport one morning after a quick trip to DC and we headed to Berlin. This was a trip we had both been eagerly anticipating. Tony has done a lot of reading this year focused on post-WWII/Cold War Berlin and was eager to experience the complicated and magical (my word) city himself. For me, it was a return to a city that I feel like I have seen grow up – from 1991, when the Wall was still largely in tact and Soviet soldiers still roamed the streets of East Berlin, to 1995 when it was the world’s biggest construction zone, to 2000 as the seat of Government was being moved back to the traditional capital and the city was beginning to re-establish itself on the world stage. This visit was surprising emotional for me as I saw that the “living history” era I had been fortunate to experience had really transformed into a monument to a past I felt intimately involved in.
We got to see it from an interesting vantage point – after a morning at the Checkpoint Charlie Museum, we hopped in a Trabi for a two hour drive around the city. The only thing I remember from my last ride in one of these East German cars was the lack of shocks. Twenty years has not improved upon that.
The highlight for me was a return to the East Side Gallery – or, rather, the backside of it which had been closed off on my previous return trips. In 1991, some AFS friends and I, in Berlin for several weeks living with East German families at the midway point of our year in West Germany, took some spray paint and added our own graffiti to the Berlin Wall. While surely painted over many times since, being back in that spot evoked some amazing memories.
On our way out of town, we made one last stop in Potsdam to see the Glienicke Brucke, the bridge where Cold War spy exchanges took place and where East Germans streamed across in November 1989 as the Berlin Wall opened. Berlin continues to have a hold on me like no other place. After all of our travels this year around Europe, and elsewhere before that, I think I have to conclude it remains my favorite city.
Living in Europe, it turns out, is pretty awesome. The best part about it, though, has to be the great travel destinations just a few hours away. We took our first big trip just after Thanksgiving. Jen’s dad, stepmom Joyce, sister Tess, and brother-in-law Mike loaded up our two cars and headed south. Thanks to Phil and Joyce’s timeshare, we had two great apartments in the charming hilltop village of Mougins, just north of Cannes.
For the next week, we explored the Riviera and Provence. We spent days in Nice, Monte Carlo, Antibes, Avignon (without the kids!), and Aix-en-Provence. We especially loved all of the markets with fresh produce, lavendar soaps, and local textiles. The wine tasting at the Palace of the Popes in Avignon (again – no kids :-)) was definitely one of the coolest things we did and contributed to the 3 cases of wine we came home with (more on our stop in Barolo, Italy later).
The boys had a blast stuffing themselves on chocolate croisssants (it’s vacation – why limit them to just one a day!), playing with family, and, for Dominic, celebrating his 4th birthday. We’re pretty sure the trip was a success as everytime we ask the boys what they want to do for the weekend, they say they want to go back to France!