Berlin at Easter

We went so D could attend the England Germany football match…  But he invited my Mum along so we could do plenty of sightseeing. 


Our first day we flew in to Berlin Tegel, met our friends and got the bus to our hotel before heading out for a long walk. It rained a lot…

Amazing Easter flower display at the Hauptbahnhof (main train station):  

  


A rather wet D outside Chancellor Merkel’s offices:   

Cocktails at the amazing Adlon hotel:   

Me attempting some perspective pictures with the mini sword that came on my drink… In fairness D did play along. The beer and piece of cake that back home would be considered an ENTIRE cake probably helped. 

The Brandenburg gate in the rain:  

 

The Reichstag at night: 

  
  

Saturday was lovely, which was good as we had a visit to the Reichstag booked. The building was a ruin up until the reunification of Germany and British architect Norman Foster was given the job of bringing the building back to life. The combination of old facade and modern interior is incredible.  In particular the dome you can walk up is amazing. Being well acquainted with the antiquated aspects of the House of Commons, this must be an amazing place to work. I love the colour of the seats – apparently Lord Foster invented this specially for the building and it’s known as Reichstag Blue!

  

   
We then went on the bus to an amazing department store called the KaDeWe, where we had lunch in the food hall.  Think combination of Harrods food hall and lovely little cafes selling all different kinds of delicacies… Amazing. I then discovered the stationery section. There was an entire wall of Lamy pens. I was in heaven. I bought myself the newest colour pen, just because.  

 

Mid afternoon Mum and I were tired and made our way by S Bahn (an adventure!) to our lovely hotel on Washingtonplatz leaving D and our German friends to drink some beer in the football fanzone. I sat in the window (on the 7th floor) and watched the world go by!  

That evening Mum & I went for pizza in that little black box on the bottom left of the picture. It was delicious! 

Sunday our German friends treated us to a guided tour around the historical parts of Berlin.  

  

 

We saw the Brandenburg gate: 

  


The Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe, which was an incredible installation that looks like a graveyard from above: 

 This was incredibly moving and unsettling at the same time. Which is probably the point. 

We also went to a lot of places where key historical buildings would have stood and where key events took place, including the Berlin Wall. 

Later that day Mum gave me a pair of Rose City Rollers for Easter! 

 
Monday was all about a visit to the Schloss Charlottenburg. This was built in the 1600s and enlarged in subsequent centuries before being partially destroyed in World War 2. I’m not very interested in that period of history – though Mum is – and this was her special visit she wanted to do. I enjoyed seeing the various fabrics though and this one really caught my fancy:

 The man on duty responded positively to my ‘Kann ich eine kleine photo machen?’and so I can share it here! 

We then embarked on a two hour round Berlin bus tour which stopped for a very long time at some stops. Not sure it needed to be 2hours long!  

  
Tuesday was the day we got to do my top choice – see the Nefertiti bust at the Neues Museum. It wasn’t a great day to choose to go as it was school holidays and we had to queue for an hour to buy tickets! But we did and it was worth it. It is a very interesting museum and I could have spent hours in there. As it was neither of my companions were that into it so after we’d look at the Egyptian section finishing with Nefertiti we went for coffee! I wasn’t allowed to take photos but this photo is from http://www.newswise.com. It was so beautiful it made me cry, which surprised me a lot.  

  You can read about her here

And before we headed for the airport we visited the Berlin Dom – the Protestant Cathedral. That was also very beautiful.  

   
I was trying quietly to take a photo of the organ which was behind me and got photo bombed…!  
Which obviously led to some quiet silliness… 

   
We were in a church but we were being quite reverent and making far less noise than the students that followed us in eating crisps! 

It was a brilliant 5 days. An amazing changing city that feels old and very new all in one go. Recommended. 

Amsterdam

Damon likes to go away for his birthday and this year we decided to go to Amsterdam for a change. (We normally go somewhere warm. It wasn’t warm!) 

Damon invited my Mum to come with us. Here we all are on the plane (You can see from the pictures that I take after my Dad!!) 

 
Our hotel, Hotel Eresthea on the Singel Canal. It was LOVELY!  
Look how pretty the bar is!  

   
We visited the Palace on Dam Square, the Van Gogh Museum, the Rijksmuseum…  

 Mum and I are both wearing hand knit hats and Damon is wearing a hand knit scarf by our friend Caz! 

We had some lovely meals:   

    
 
On our last day Damon went to the Dutch Resistance Museum while Mum and I went to Rembrandt’s house. 

After we’d enjoyed that we went to Stephen West’s co-owned yarn store ‘Stephen & Penelope’ on Neuwe Hoogstraat – I was VERY excited!  
  
I saw the original Doodler shawl:  

 
And I made a few judicious purchases!  

   
Some Malabrigo Rios in colour ways Plomo and English Rose…

 
To make this cowl. I need to learn brioche stitch first: 

 
A skein of Hedgehog Fibres Skinny Singles in a custom colour way for Stephen & Prnelope called ‘Bike Bell’: 

And two skeins of lace in Delft pottery colours (it seemed appropriate!)  

 
A perfect trip really! 

Where Claire goes in a cave

We all really like the villa we’re staying in.  It’s quite hard to wrench myself off the patio from my chair by the pool and go out for the day. Especially when the knitting is going well.  But as I’m into volcanoes (when I was younger I wanted to be a volcanologist or an Egyptologist…  And yes I took an English Lit degree.) and like caves and so does D and my Mum we waved my sister and her family off to the Aquaparque and set off for Sao Vincente. We love the Via Rapida (so much nicer named than a motorway) and all the tunnels it goes through and in no time we’d traversed the island from South to North. The caves – really lava tubes – and vulcanology centre was small but very interesting.  A nice couple of hours.  

           

It was good.  Highly recommended.
We got home to discover Timmy had adopted a very louche position near the bar… 

 

And I sat and did some knitting (of course!) 

 

Knitting, cable cars & a craft market

Immediately after I finished the Fairisle hat I cast on a Woolly Wormhead hat for my sister for Christmas.  This is the Ziggy pattern:  

       

It’s knitted in wedges using short row shaping so in the photo above, the bottom is the brim and the shorter side the middle. 

I’ve also worked on Color Affection:  

 

And I’ve been on a cable car…..  

   

And been to a craft market in Funchal where I saw a table of crochet purses.  


And came home with this one:  

While my niece found and bought this cute little crochet owl:

  

 

35 hours in Germany

Yesterday we flew to Stuttgart from Heathrow to attend Damon’s German best friend’s 50th birthday bash.  

 
We picked up our hire car and drove to Fornsbach, a little village about an hour from the airport. It’s just beautiful, this is the view from the terrace of the house where we were staying.

 

The party was fantastic. Not just great food but music, Mario’s friends singing songs/ saying poems/ performing skits for him and also masses of drink.  

 
D was eventually persuaded, after a number of litres of beer and well past midnight that he’d like to do some shots of schnapps, as predicted by his fond wife…. Look at the two of them! They look like they’re having a good time!  


We got to bed late and woke up to the most glorious sunny morning. Rather unfairly I woke up with a headache despite drinking no alcohol, while D and our host (who went to bed at 5am!!!) were annoyingly full of beans. After breakfast on the terrace we spent the day with our friends and then drove back to the airport in time to catch our flight at 7pm. 

A long and tiring weekend but it was Definitely worth it. 

The SS Great Britain

We have the niece of Damon’s German best friend staying with us at the moment while she does work experience and today we brought her to Bristol on a trip to see the SS Great Britain. I didn’t expect I’d enjoy it much but I really did. Highly recommended if you’re ever in the area. 

First up, coffee on the waterside:   

   

The ship sits in a glass cradle to mimic the sea. There’s about an inch of water on top of the glass. The tour includes going down into the dry dock under the glass ‘sea’ and the sun through water creates such beautiful light:  

   

The anchor! It’s bent! It was done in a storm. VERY glad I wasn’t in *that* storm.  

 

The enormous propellor and a silly selfie featuring me & D… 

  

The deck:  


Various views of the outside & the prow:  

  


We met my sister and her family for lunch where coincidentally we were so happy to hear that Ireland, where we grew up, had voted in favour of equal marriage. 

We then went on a boat trip of Bristol Harbour:  

  
  

Me with our honourary German niece’s on the boat:

   

The large wooden ship is a replica of The Matthew:

  

After our boat trip the others had icecream and I got to knit a little on the harbourside.  

 

And time for another selfie:  

 A lovely day out.