Category archives: winter

a day in Granada

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My first visit to Granada was almost ten years ago.  One of my best friends was studying spanish abroad for a few months and another friend from California and I flew to Malaga to meet up with her and start our month long backpacking trip around Europe.  I had never been to Spain before and really didn’t quite know what to expect.  I was 19 and had a backpack overloaded with film and was filled with excitement to explore Europe with two of my best friends.  The weekend we spent in Granada was perfectly timed during a religious festival. I vividly remember dancing in a square surrounded by people of all ages, from grandmas to children.  It was raining and everyone was soaking wet, and while we must have been freezing cold, no one seemed to mind the rain one bit as we danced into the wee hours of the morning.  Maybe I have romanticized my few days in Granada as time has passed, but my memories of our time there are sort of magical.  Needless to say, I was both excited and a little scared to go back to the city I fell in love with almost a decade ago.  I was scared that I would return and see nothing of the place of my memories.  Fortunately that was not at all the case.  We only spent a day there, and I wish we could have stayed longer, but walking through winding streets of the Albayzín took me back to that place ten years ago, at the beginning of our adventure, completely mesmerized by the charming little city.

Change of Scenery

Malaga Spain Travel (17)

After what was said to be the darkest winter on record in Germany, I was craving sunshine and needed out of Berlin. Fortunately I had a trip planned to the south of Spain for the BodaF wedding photography conference, and I was lucky to have Andreas join me for a weekend in Malaga before the conference started. While it wasn’t exactly warm and we found ourselves shivering from not wearing enough layers, we soaked up all the sun we could get.

I had visited Malaga for about an hour almost ten years ago, when a friend and I were catching the bus to Granada.  This trip we explored the streets walking aimlessly (my favorite way to get to know a city) and were charmed by the small city’s architecture and lovely people. At one bar the older men sitting next to us bought us a glass of sparkling wine for no apparent reason even though they didn’t speak a lick of English, and another night out, a nice guy struck up a conversation with us and then proceeded to offer us some of his cheese plate. After 4 1/2 years in Germany, that sort of thing is slightly shocking to me now- and to Andreas as well.  No offense to my German friends, but I have grown pretty used to not striking up conversations with strangers (which is much more common in the US) and cannot remember a time a random stranger bought me a drink. Our first night in town we got caught in a rain storm without umbrellas and got completed soaked and of course it stopped raining the minute after I bought an umbrella :) but I now have a 3€ rainbow kid’s umbrella in case I ever need one.

As someone who comes from one of the most perfect climates in the world, winter loses its appeal for me after the snow melts, or after the forth month of darkness, I am not sure which. I think next year we need to find a way to escape for at least a couple weeks in February so I don’t risk turning into a grumpy old lady like I did this year. Thankfully it seems after a few days of sunshine and now with a hotel balcony with a view of the Mediterranean (where I am finishing this blog post) I am back to my old self.

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If you make it to Malaga, make sure to stop at La Tranca for some beer, tapas and people watching. We got there early and snagged a seat at the bar and watched the place fill up with locals, who were singing louder and louder as the night went on. Order the empanadas and toasts, you will thank me.

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weekend

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It feels like ages since I last posted a weekend in pictures post, and that is probably because it actually has literally been months since I last blogged one.  Things have been sort of quiet around here lately and part of that is because things have been crazy busy around here- I randomly signed up for German classes which are 3 hours a day, 4 days a week and have thrown my schedule completely off.  I have also been feeling a little disconnected from this blog and trying to find the inspiration to post again.  I have some big plans for the year and hopefully with that, will come some interesting new content for this little piece of the internet.

The start of this year rekindled my desire to explore this city and get out of my neighborhood on a much more regular basis (which as other Berlin folk know, is not always that easy- especially when you work from home).  Over the weekend Hazel and I braved the below freezing temps and walked across the city discovering parts of Mitte and Wedding I had never once stepped foot in before (some of which were interesting, some not so much).  I also fell in love with Volkspark Rehberge, which felt like a little escape from the city and was mighty charming filled with kids sledding through the woods.  I have a love/hate relationship with winter, while I despise the grey days and darkness, I love how when the sun actually comes out for a quick minute like it did this weekend, you cherish every second of it.

Christmas on the Central Coast

a gift I am hoping is a joke & FaceTime with Hazel in Germany on Christmas morning.

my sister-in-law’s impressive wrapping skills

I have made cinnamon rolls every year on Christmas morning for as long as I can remember.

wine tasting in the evening at my favorite local winery, Kynsi.

checking out the butterflies at Monarch Butterfly Grove

Andreas was very excited about a walk on the beach

No Christmas is complete without a stop at the wonderfully gaudy and fabulous, Madonna Inn. It is one of our favorite places to grab a cocktail, people watch, and admire the explosion of Christmas decor.

All in all, it was a wonderful two weeks of relaxing, eating and celebrating with family and friends. I took a very lovely and much-needed break from my computer, which those of you who own your own business know, is very hard to come by. I am starting the new year off playing catch up, but it was well worth it! I hope all of you had a great holiday as well. I have a sneaky feeling 2013 is going to be a really great year!

winter in the black forest

Winter in the Black ForestWinter in the Black Forest

We spent the weekend with my in-laws in the South of Germany, where Hazel will be enjoying Christmas while we are in California.  Their first big snow fall of the year fell the day before we arrived and I was completely in awe of how beautiful the Black Forest looks covered in snow, which meant I had my camera in hand for most of the weekend.

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We visited one of my favorite Christmas Markets, the Gengenbacher Weihnachtsmarkt (I posted about it last year too), and don’t let this sweet looking photo of Hazel fool you… She is no fun at all at the market- we call her the vacuum cleaner because she literally cleans the street of everything that even mildly resembles food, and drags you along as she “cleans”. Little fatty, but we love her so. :)

Winter in the Black Forest Winter in the Black Forest Winter in the Black Forest

Christmas Markets in Berlin

Weihnachtsmarkt Berlin Christmas Market Berlin
It may be true that I am a wee bit obsessed with Christmas Markets, but in my defense, Berlin really does them well so there is good reason to be excited about the season.  Here are some snaps from a few of my favorites markets in the city, where I spent a few evenings last week enjoying Glühwein with friends.

Weihnachtsmarkt Berlin Christmas Market BerlinWeihnachtsmarkt Berlin Christmas Market Berlin

Weihnachtsmarkt Berlin Christmas Market Berlin

Thea took advantage of the “coat heaters” at the Lucia market- they looked super cozy.

Weihnachtsmarkt Berlin Christmas Market Berlin Weihnachtsmarkt Berlin Christmas Market Berlin Three of my favorite markets are:

Lucia Weihnachtsmarkt in der Kulturbrauereri
The Lucia Market is a Scandinavian themed market housed inside the Kulturbrauerei which serves up a range of mulled wine and food from Finland, Norway, Sweden and Iceland.  It is super charming and a bit off the beaten path so there are not a ton of tourists.
November 26- December 23
Monday- Friday 15-22h, Saturday and Sunday 13-22h

Weihnachtsmarkt am Opernpalais
Not as charming as the Lucia market, I like this one because it is a short walk from my house and there are several local wineries selling homemade mulled wine.
November 26- December 26
Monday- Thursday 12- 21:30h, Friday- Saturday 11- -22:30h, Sunday 11-21:30h

Weihnachtsmarkt am Gendarmenmarkt  (we visited last year too)
The market on Gendarmenmarkt is one of the most famous in Berlin, and also one of the nicest, set on the beautiful Gendarmenmarkt.  Lots of local crafts people selling homemade goods and lots of good food.
November 26- December 31
daily 11- 22h

Do you have a favorite Christmas market in Berlin or elsewhere?

the first snow

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The first snow of the year always makes me giddy, and the timing this year could not have been better.  After 3 days trapped inside with the nastiest of flus, we awoke to a city covered in thick blanket of snow.  Hazel and I bundled up and walked around the neighborhood and soaked up all the excitement that comes with the first snow.  Watching her try and figure out what all the white fluffy business was might have been the cutest thing ever.

weekend

Andreas’s parents have been here in Berlin for the last week and we spent the weekend walking the streets and exploring the city.  Friday we had a super fancy dinner of currywurst and beer at Curry 36 and showed off some of the city’s landmarks by night.  Saturday we visited Wannsee and the city of Potsdam, where we walked through the enourmous park admiring the three castles housed there.  I have heard the park is gorgeous in the spring when everything is in full bloom, but I actually liked the grey winter day and the bare trees- I found it all very picturesque.  Having house guests gets us to visit some of the tourist attractions which we might otherwise not visit and although I normally despise the usual touristic haunts, I am loving every minute exploring our new home- this city has so much history and I am endlessly fascinated by it.

rain rain rain

We have been incredibly spoiled the last few days with freezing but sunny weather here in Berlin, and now that it is cold and rainy outside I am cursing the weather, and surely the rainy days are only beginning.  I think that if I had some cute rainy weather gear I would enjoy these grey, nasty days a bit more.  :)

clockwise from top:  clear & black umbrella, heart umbrellaclear polka dot umbrellahunter boots, loeffler randall boots

a frozen city

When I left Berlin three weeks ago, the city was frozen and it was -15 Celsius.  I love winter, probably because I never had real seasons growing up in California, but it was so damn cold in Berlin I didn’t even want to go outside.  But since it was snowing and i LOVE snow, before I took the train to catch my flight to San Francisco, we decided to venture out into the cold.  We explored the snow covered Tiergarten, where we discovered that the lakes had frozen over and people were ice skating on them.  I had never seen this in real life before and was pretty terrified walking around on a frozen lake- obviously I think I have heard one too many stories about the ice cracking and people falling in. We have had a funky winter here in Europe with hardly any snow, it was nice to finally have a bit of winter wonderland before I escaped the cold and enjoyed a California winter, aka Spring:

lots more to come from California this week!