18 August 2008

I'm back in Berlin. Catching up, part 1.

And I really need to fill in some of the blank spaces in my blogging, but I'm a bit afraid that if I wait until I start uploading pictures and getting ready to blog chronologically, I will be totally out of the habit and never start again.

So, a quick run through.
  • A 27 hour (in total) journey from Duesseldorf to upstate NY, left at 5 am German time, arrived at our final airport at 22:45, got there pretty whipped and late,Friday night but was up by 6 am Saturday morning to visit a close friend.
  • Discovered that a friend's storage unit had not been cleaned out, as had been promised to the both of us, and therefore we would need to take care of it for him, as he couldn't rely on anyone else.
  • Did a bit of shopping, picked up: 2 small coffee grinders, 2 microplanes, a small mandolin, a goodly amount of coffee (from Dunkin' Donuts. For some strange reason, the Berlin outlets have not been receiving their bean shipments over the last several months and I'm not fond of either Starbucks beans or German brands. We have Jamaica Blue for special, but I like DD for regular and decaf.) 
  • Mom gave us a great dinner of chicken, corn on the cob, and berry pie (we made two crusts together as I needed practice on my pie crust). I complain all the time about the miniature chickens in Germany: I don't understand how anyone can serve chicken to a family here as they are so small. And gosh, do I miss real corn on the cob, fresh and juicy and still sweet as the sugar has not yet converted to starch.
  • Spent some time visiting with the parents and a brother and his wife and kids, whom we miss dearly. Picked up wine boxes and started re-packing the piles of books that had been accumulating for months in my room, as the orders from Amazon came rolling in. These books and the others that I accumulated (as well as the magazines I purchased) were all packed into three wine boxes in preparation for the packing into M-bags and then being shipped to us in Berlin. I know it seems crazy, but it is far more cost effective (and swifter) for me to get my books this way than to bring them into Germany from the UK. While we were getting wine boxes, we saw my mom's car and 
  • We also visited the Apple Store: finally decided on what laptop would be the replacement for the German's US work computer, that I have been using for the last year:  I chose the MacBook. I was tempted by the Air--- it's just so cute. But no internal DVD/CR-Rom drive made it a non-starter for me. Also, it's slow. I stared at the MacBook and the MacBook Pro for a while, and then I decided on the MacBook. Why, you ask? I really wanted a small laptop. I have a Dell with a 21" screen and that's the reason that I have been using it as a TV transmitter and carrying the German's lenovo around instead. I craved the lightness and ease of handling. I did get the faster processor, upgrade the memory and buy it in black, though, and it feels sleek and sophisticated. Great key action. I am having a real learning curve on it, though, as my last MacOS was 7.5 and this is Leopard. I have really gotten used to a right mouse button and I need to start understanding how to access those actions with a single button. I got an extended AppleCare warranty and Office (though it's not installed yet) and I will be playing with this more in the future.
  • On Sunday up at 6 am gain,visited my friend again. Spent more time with brother and family, did a bit more shopping. Went to Barnes and Nobles and bought scrapping mags, digital photograpy mags, and some scrapping materials. Went out to dinner at a really great Thai-Sushi place where the Thai spiciness gave me tingles and the tuna te-taki melted in my mouth. I have a photo of my dad's sashimi appetizer I will need to add later: it was amazing. How can such a tiny town as that have such great sushi, Indian, Vietnamese and Thai where here in Berlin I can find only one decent Tibetan place (in terms of ethnic restaurants?)
  • Monday up at 6 am again to get ourselves down to Westchester county to visit my other brother and his wife and kids, and to visit our dear friends and their daughter, Thing1's best friend. We ran into serious traffic on the Thruway and wound up taking the scenic route through the mountains: lovely, but longer. We were driving my dad's car, so at least we had a navi to help us out. 
  •  When we got to P's house, she had an enormous pile of great clothes and shoes to hand down to the girls. That's been such a life saver for us, reducing the amount of clothes we really need to buy for the girls to almost nothing.  I chatted books with the girls for a while (V was reading Breaking Dawn and my copy was in the car;)). We packed them up, and then headed out to have a late breakfast/ early lunch with my brother A, his ex, P and their two girls. I'm sorry that we weren't able to see more of them, they are really growing so quickly.
  • Then on to Costco, where we grabbed more wet wipes (those things are da bomb), ink and toner cartridges, some CF and SD cards, some cherries (Rainier and Bing) for my Dad and thence to J's. We drove by our house and saw the kids and the tenant by the fence playing, but with our limited time we drove by: more important to spend time with J and A and E. We spent a lovely evening with them and wound up not leaving until 22:00, leaving poor A exhausted behind us. We took away the fresh and beautiful gingerbread cookies that J made for us, as well as enjoying a wonderful grilled steak dinner. Home around 2 am.
  • Up late on Tuesday, at 8 am today! We reserved a U-haul and then had breakfast with the parents and friend L. Dealt with the paperwork at the storage facility, cut the lock and then the German dropped me off for my long awaited ( a year now) hair cut and hi-lites. Mmm. I fell asleep in the chair for a minute. Then I picked up some shoes for the girls at Stride-Rite (black with sparkly sequins for the family wedding when we get back to Germany, pink with flowers and lights for school play shoes), got passport photos taken (for the replacement permanent passport that I need to get as soon as I'm back in Berlin) and then the German picked me up with a full U-Haul. We then headed to our own storage unit and spent several hours going through B's things. Things we felt that he might want or had sentimental meaning we put in our own unit, then we repacked items for the dump and the salvation army. That took us until dark and we met the parents and L again for dinner at the same Thai-sushi place: it was so good that we wanted to eat there again. fter dinner we moved the truck back to the unit, finihed sorting, then left it there and went back to my parents again and chatted late into the evening with dad while we packed and weighed our suitcases and packed and sorted the books and hand me downs and other materials. All the clothing more than 2 years out for the girls was re-sorted and re-packed to stay in our storage unit and be shipped in a year or two.
  • Up bright and early on Wednesday morning. Raced to get the truck and dump the dumpables. then we headed to my brother's to give him the donatables and to kiss everyone good-bye. Then dropped the truck off (what kind of vacation would it be if we didn't rent U-Haul and tote that bale on it?) and back to my parent's to get the boxes (three of books, another, 45 lb box of hand me downs) and head to the Post Office. I must say that, considering the mailing prices even when using M-Bags we might, next time, be better off just shipping a partial pallet to ourselves and adding a few boxes of consumables to the lot. We will certainly think about it before then.
  • After the post office went back to have a cup of coffee and chat and hang with the folks before my dad went in for a cataract operation (went very well) and we needed to be dropped for our flight to Denver (with a short lay-over in Cincinnati/North Kentucky).
At the airport, we gave L a kiss good-bye and went to deal with the lovely Delta check in process. They really want you to use the computer kiosks to ckeck in, but since we hadn't been able to check in on-line (a consistent problem based, I think, on our mied passports and our travels ending in Germany. We passed through some experimental security equipment and had a relaxing wait for our plane. We volunteered to be bumped, but weren't taken up on the offer (boo).

I'll pick up on the 2nd and 3rd parts of vacation tomorrow.

1 comment:

Diane Mandy said...

You were so so smart to get the Apple Care Plan!