5 nights in Calgary

We touched down in Calgary around 6:00pm on October 23rd.  Bev was there to greet Bec, Roger was there with Wyatt and Emery to pick up Scott and Jenelle, Judy picked me up outside, and Kev and Jordyn caught the Park & Fly shuttle to their car.  Bec spent the evening with her mom and sister and I went out to Strathmore with Mom.  I popped over to my friend Kyle’s place and had a good catch up with him and his parents.

On Tuesday, I was up super early so I drove into Scott and Jenelle’s in the city.  I saw Wyatt off to school and hung out with Emery until Roger came to pick her up.  From there, I stopped by Dad and JeriLynne’s.  My brothers and I pitched in to get him some custom seat covers for the Tacoma and I helped him put those on.  Dad and I then went for lunch at the nearby Moxie’s Grill and Bar.  Meanwhile, Bec made the drive out to Cochrane for coffee with her girlfriends Megan and Kim.  We then met up at her dad Barry’s place that afternoon.  He and Carole were busy getting ready for their flight to Phoenix the next morning.  We had a glass of wine before heading over to Trinity Lodge to pay Grandma Margaret a visit.  We had a game of crib in the lounge and her friends’ were ribbing her about winning at Bingo the night before.  From there, we took Margaret out for dinner at Wellington’s.  She told us the doctor said she was low on iron so she ordered the liver and onions and nearly finished it.  We said goodnight and wished Barry and Carole a good time in Phoenix.

Bec and Kim visiting Megan in Cochrane

Grandma Margaret and Bec at Wellington’s

Saying goodbye after dinner

The next day, I saw Wyatt off to school again and headed over to Dad’s soon after.  We popped out and ran a few errands while JL saw some clients.  Bec did some Westhills shopping and popped by at noon where we were served a homemade Earl’s Sante Fe chicken salad for lunch.  That afternoon, I popped up to Scott’s new employer’s facility in NE Calgary.  I was given a top notch tour and met some of his colleagues.  Back in the south, I met Kyle, his sister Kathleen, and his kids Karina and Kaden for pizza at PZA Parlour.  From there, it was downtown to meet Rebecca at Jen and Steven’s place (who recently re-located from London).  Jen’s sister Laurie and her husband Grant, who stayed with us in Abu Dhabi, were there too.  There were also a bunch of Bec’s old WestJet colleagues there as well.  It was nice to catch up with all of them after so long.

Kaden and Karina at PZA Parlour

Good ole Calgary Tower

Jen & Bec

WestJet Reunion – Carrie Brown, Nancy, Jen, Amit, Neil, and Bec

On Thursday, I packed up and hit the number 2 northbound.  I arrived in Red Deer around noon.  Bec and Bev weren’t far behind me after popping in to see Margaret for a quick visit.  Coincidentally, our cousin Kirk was in town as well so we had a nice visit over lunch at Kevin and Jordyn’s.  After lunch, Kevin, Jordyn, their daughter Ada, and I headed over to the Collicut Centre for a swim.  The water was nice and warm, perfect for a 10 month old.  After the swim, I popped over to see Bev and Bec at Cousin Stacy’s place and tried one of his homemade beers.  Back at Kev’s, he showed me all of the trees that came down during the summer’s wind storm while Ada finished her nap.  That night, Kev and Jordyn served a Mexican meal with tortilla soup and taquitos and we played a few crib matches.  I think Bec, Paige and Bev had a movie night back in Calgary.

Ada and Uncle Dan

Swimming in Red Deer

Dan, Bec, Stacey, and Bev in Red Deer

On Friday, Bec spent the day with her sister walking the dogs over coffee, getting massages, and then grabbing burgers for lunch.  I saw Kev off to work and waited for Ada to get up.  I hit the road back to Strathmore soon after and surprised our friend Jaeda.  She would be flying to Abu Dhabi in just a couple of days and didn’t know we were back in Canada.  Mom and Vern were busy loading up the truck and trailer all while entertaining as friends of theirs stopped by to wish them well.  It was Mom’s birthday so the 3 of us headed into the city for a BBQ dinner at Scott and Jenelle’s, not without stopping to watch Wyatt’s hockey practice.  He’s in first year novice and is doing quite well.  We wished Mom a happy birthday and her and Vern headed back to Strathmore.  They would be traveling south bright and early the next morning.

Paige with Saedie and Nova

Wyatt and Bec on Mom’s birthday

Wyatt, Uncle Dan, and Emery having some burgers

Bev and Paige drove us to the airport the next morning under the most incredible sunrise.  We said goodbye to Calgary and boarded our flight to New York City.

Sunrise to see us off

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Ally’s Wedding in Toronto

The afternoon before our flight back to Canada, my friend Laurie and I had arranged an Aston Martin driving experience at Yas Marina Circuit while his sister and brother-in-law were in town.  We met at the track and were soon redlining the cars around the track.

Ready to race

It was sort of a last minute decision to attend my cousin Ally’s wedding in Toronto.  Plans fell into place and we flew to JFK on the morning of Friday, Oct 20th.  We had a short layover before we were off to Toronto.  We arrived at roughly the same time as my brother Kevin and his wife Jordyn so we shared a taxi to our hotel in Vaughan.  We said a quick hello to the bride and groom, but couldn’t resist a little nap before dinner.  That night, my Uncle Steve had arranged a meal at the nearby Earl’s for the out of town guests on Ally’s side.  We finished the evening with a group nightcap in the hotel lobby.

Bec sporting Uncle Steve’s hat

We met Scott in the gym the next morning and worked up our appetite for breakfast.  Bec and I joined Cousin Heather for her errand run and we stopped at the local LCBO to fill everyone’s liquor order.  Being a teacher, Ally lined up a big yellow school bus for the hotel guests that day.  The gang hopped on the bus and headed for St. Clare’s Roman Catholic Church.  We arrived in time for the 2:30 pm ceremony and stayed to have some formal pictures with the bride and groom.  Scott and Kev ran across the street and grabbed a huge pepperoni pizza from Big Slice for the bus ride back to the hotel.  Everyone on the bus got a slice of that pizza.  Well, almost everyone…the gentleman beside us was upset that he had forgotten his teeth at the hotel!

Just Married!

Scott and Jenelle

Kevin and Jordyn

Care for a Big Slice?

There was time for a quick drink and a chance to freshen up, but we were soon back on the bus, this time only a short hop over to the Jewel Event Centre.  Ally’s husband, Gabe, comes from a large Italian family and the food at the reception lived up to the Italian standard.  There was a welcome shot at the front door and I could have easily made a meal of the antipasto bar alone.  What followed was a complete feast: red and white pastas, a chicken and veal plate, a seafood platter, and crème brûlée to finish.  The speeches were great and Ally addressed her new family in Italian and Gabe did the same in French.  The dance was a lot of fun and the bride and groom set the stage with their own music video set to Bieber’s Despacito.  Just as we were all overcoming that “full stomach” feeling, an entire roast pig and a poutine station were set up around 11:00 pm.  One last bus ride took us back to the hotel at 1:00 am.

Judy and The Boys

Erickson Gals looking gorgeous

Erickson Boys with the lovely bride

Mother of the bride, Yvonne, and granddaughter, Ava

On Sunday, Ally and Gabe hosted a buffet breakfast in the hotel.  At noon, the Erickson brothers and wives thanked the bride and groom for a wonderful weekend and set off to see some of downtown Toronto.  We caught an Uber to Yorkdale Mall with the intention of riding the metro the rest of the way, but there was some maintenance being performed which resulted in us taking 2 buses to get over to a working line.  We eventually made it downtown and got out at Union Station.  We walked along Front Street and under the CN Tower.  We sat in the park for a bit before settling in to the SoCo patio at the Delta Hotel.  The weather was so nice that weekend and we enjoyed the warm fall temperatures.  From there, we walked up to City Hall, Yonge-Dundas Square, and through Eaton Centre.  For dinner, Jenelle’s friend had recommended a nearby restaurant called Pearl Diver.  It had some great seafood sharing dishes and we were happy to have a lighter dinner.

Warm fall day under the CN Tower

Scott and Kev at So Co

Toronto backwards selfie

Back at the hotel, we couldn’t resist walking across the parking lot to find out what this Dave & Buster’s was all about.  It seemed hugely popular the last 2 nights with the parking lot nearly filling up completely.  Dave & Buster’s is like a Chucky Cheese for adults.  It had a real Vegas feel to it.  We raced cars, killed zombies, played Skee-ball, all while enjoying a few beverages.

The next morning, we had a small breakfast bite in the hotel.  We still had credit on our cards when midnight struck the night before and the games shut down.  So, to the girls chagrin, we popped back to D&B’s to use up the remaining credit before catching an Uber to Pearson International Airport.  We were all on the 15:30 flight to Calgary!

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Welcome Home

I arrived back to Abu Dhabi early in the morning on Sunday, October 1st where Dan greeted me at the airport before dropping me off as he headed into work. I had a quick rest and then started to unpack and get settled. The next day, I returned to work (ironically 1 day before my proposed official start date in Berlin). Knowing my colleagues and keeping in touch over the past year helped to make a quick transition as did Dan’s cocktails and cooking. On Friday, we met our friends for a Welcome Back Party on Nurai Island where we spent the day beaching and brunching. We had wanted to visit the island for a long time and this worked out to be the perfect occasion.

Nurai Brunch

Post-brunch shenanigans

The next day, we headed up to Dubai as a friend from Air Berlin was vacationing there. We met Camilla and her friend for lunch down at the Marina, strolled the Marina Walk, grabbed a Turkish ice cream and caught a glimpse of the incomplete, World’s tallest Ferris wheel, the Dubai Eye, being constructed across the water. It was great catching up with someone from Berlin so soon after departing.

Dubai Marina

Thanksgiving was also soon upon us and with being alone last year, we decided to host a scrumptious “Friendsgiving” dinner. We found a relatively small turkey, and served it with stuffing, corn, cranberries, mashed potatoes with gravy and pumpkin pie accompanied with some wine I had brought back from Germany. All in all, a great welcome home to Abu Dhabi shared with Dan and our network of friends.

Friendsgiving

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Last Month in Berlin

After seeing Mom and Dan off in Frankfurt on September 5th, I was headed back to Berlin where I had less than 1 month left. That week, I had dinner with a colleague along the Spree and attended an Internations event at the nhow music hotel (with subsequent late night famous Berlin doner kebab!). On the weekend, I was off to the 2 day Lollapalooza outdoor music festival in Hoppegarten, where the Berlin horse races are normally held. The first day was a bit chilly but we enjoyed watching George Ezra, Berlin band Beatsteaks, and the closing act, Mumford and Sons. Sunday was a gorgeous day outside so we headed back to the festival in the early afternoon. We found out there was a wine garten area that we weren’t aware of so we enjoyed a couple of glasses of German Riesling in the sun before heading back to the main area for a corn dog and stuffed brezn (i.e. pretzel). My colleague wanted to avoid the rush of the crowd so she left early but I stayed for the Foo Fighters, who of course put on a great show.

Lollapalooza Madness

Hoppegarten grandstands

Lollapalooza Brezn

The next week, I managed to enjoy some sunset yoga on Museum Island, attend my last “Make Friends in Berlin” meetup at Facciola (which oddly enough was also the location of my first event), Berlin Art Week, and a night out with Roxy and Victor touring around the bars in Prenzlauer Berg. On Sunday, September 17th I went for my last morning run in Tiergarten and then went on the Templehof Tour. It’s an interesting tour which describes the Nazi vision to replace the existing airport in 1936. Ironically, Templehof was never used by the Nazi’s as an airport and was only 80% finished. In 1948-49 the airport played a key role in the Berlin airlift where a plane landed every minute to drop freight in the divided city. Closed in 2008, it is now used as a park by Berliners to enjoy and has also been set up as a refugee camp.

Yoga on Museum Island

Selfie – Berlin Art Week

Last Tiergarten run

Old U.S. Air Force plane

Abandoned terminal

Templehof park

Before Dan came for his last trip to Germany, I joined my last “Bier Gardens for Grown-ups” meetup in Hackescher Markt, wine & cheese plate at Galeries Lafeyette, and drinks with some girlfriends at Juleps New York Bar.

Galeries Lafeyette wine bar

Girls night at Juleps

During my last week, we enjoyed a team dinner with our soon to be ex-colleagues, a bittersweet celebration, but a fun night none-the-less. Before I knew it, it was September 28th and I was going for one of my last meals at Tim Raue, a two Michelin star restaurant and rated as one of the world’s 50 best restaurants 2017, with my friend Camilla. An amazing 6 course meal and wine pairing experience and a bit of a splurge for my departure.

Suckling pig

Yuzu dessert

The last day in the office was Friday, September 30th where goodbyes were said, hugs were given, and a few tears were shed. That evening, I realized I did not have enough room for all of my things so I headed to the Primark to pick up a cheap extra suitcase and had a glass of bubbly at the champagne bar in Galeria Kaufhof before heading back to the flat to finish packing. I grabbed a beer and a pizza slice from the local joint on my street on the way. The next morning, I visited my local coffee shop, Refinery (where they had finally started to learn my Saturday morning order) and then I enjoyed a nice leisurely lunch outside along the Spree. I was soon heading back to the apartment for the move out formalities and handover of keys. I had 5 bags and the agent helped me get my luggage down to the taxi where the driver proceeded to tell me I travelled like Audrey Hepburn. With mixed emotions, I said goodbye to Berlin. A great experience with many fond memories. Now it was time to return to Abu Dhabi.

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Last Trip to Germany

Thursday, September 21st was a holiday in the UAE so I set out at 9:25 am on one of the last Air Berlin flights from Abu Dhabi to Berlin.  I arrived at 2:00 pm and caught the bus over to Air Berlin headquarters and met Bec and some of her team.  That evening, we walked to the nearby Michelin restaurant, Reinstoff, and had an amazing 5 course dinner and wine pairing.

Ready for a fine meal at Reinstoff

Amuse-bouche

With the Berlin-Abu Dhabi flight no longer operating, we had planned for me to fly home from Düsseldorf.  So, we worked out some weekend Rhineland plans in the morning and then went for a walk along the river to Alexanderplatz.  Being Oktoberfest, we first checked out the Berlin edition of Munich’s famous Hofbräu beer hall.  It wasn’t very lively so we backtracked and took up a seat at a picnic bench in the Alexanderplatz Oktoberfest beer garden.  That evening, we had dinner at a place that we’d both walked by a million times but had never been, Kartoffelkeller (Potato Cellar), specializing in all things potato.  Those Germans love their potatoes!

Prost!

Potato magic

On Saturday morning, we rode the S-bahn to Hauptbahnof and caught the 06:52 ICE train to Bonn.  We then transferred to a regional train bound for the Ahr Valley, one of Germany’s 13 official wine regions.  We found our hotel in Neuenahr quite easily; it was right across the street from the train station.  We ditched the bags and headed back to the train station.  The next village up the valley, Dernau, was holding their annual wine festival.  We wandered the streets of the picturesque village surrounded by the steep south facing slopes covered in rows and rows of vines, sampling the local wine as we went.  The Ahr produces a higher proportion of Spätburgunder (Pinot noir) than any other German wine region.  We made sure we got to the main square in time for the new Wine Queen to be named.

Tasting some pinot

Naming of the Dernau Wine Queen

Ahr bubbly

The next morning, I picked up a rental car and drove back to pick up Becca.  We headed up the Ahr Valley passing the wine villages of Dernau, Rech, Mayschoß, and Altenahr.  We passed Kreuzberg before climbing up and out of the valley on a switchback road.  We drove through the scenic Ahr Hills that form the natural border between the German states of North Rhine-Westphalia and Rhineland-Palatinate before starting back.  We stopped in Rech to stretch our legs and couldn’t resist a “wine probe” tasting at Max Schell.  We then crossed the street for a nice schnitzel lunch at Sebastian 1520.  The highway was blocked in Dernau so we had to detour out of the valley which offered some amazing views.  The detour also happened to take us by the factory making Bec’s favorite candy, Haribo.  We dropped the car off at the hotel and headed back to Rech on the train.  We walked approximately 3 km from there to Dernau on the Red Wine Trail, a 35 km hiking trail that links the villages of the valley.  The Dernau Wine Festival was still in full swing.  We missed the wine parade, but there was still plenty of wine waiting to be tasted.

Max Schell wine probe

Dernau nestled in the Ahr Valley

Bec hiking the Red Wine Trail

Dan in wine country

The next morning, we set out on a three city tour.  Our first stop was Bonn.  We parked near the train station and made a must stop for Bec, the Haribo Store.  We walked by the Bonn Cathedral or Bonner Münster and onto Münsterplatz which is the home of the Beethoven-Denkmal, a large bronze statue unveiled in 1845 in the city center to honor Ludwig van Beethoven’s birthplace.

Our next stop was Cologne, a half hour drive north.  We had read about an old brewery named Päffgen founded in 1883 still serving its Kölsch style beer and regional food specialties.  We ordered what many would consider Germany’s national dish, sauerbraten, and washed it down with a couple Kölsch.  From there, we headed to the old centre to find Germany’s most visited landmark, the Cologne Cathedral.  This huge church touts an impressive list of facts and figures, but it is only until you see it that you get a sense for its true size.  After exploring the church, we walked along the Rhine River, sat in the park, and strolled through old town.

Sauerbraten at Paffgen

Cologne Cathedral

Back in the car, we continued north another 30 min to Düsseldorf.  We found some parking and wandered down the wide, upscale, shopping street of Königsallee.  We cut over to the Rhine and walked north.  We stopped at one of the many riverside restaurants and tried the Düsseldorf style of beer, altbier.  That was the end of our tour, so we jumped back in the car and headed for the airport where I would be flying back to AUH and Bec was taking her last AB flight to Berlin.  I said goodbye to Bec at the departure gate and wished her luck on her last few days of living in Germany.

Rhine River in Dusseldorf

Couple of Altbier to finish off our tour

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Al Hoota and the W10h

On Thursday, September 7th, I set out on a UAE Trekker weekend right after work.  The drive to Oman was a bit more interesting than usual.  Our convoy encountered a massive thunderstorm and the typically dry wadis were flooding across the road in some places.  Nothing the Jeep couldn’t handle of course!  We arrived at Al Hoota Rest House at 2000m around 9:00pm and had a quick bite before the restaurant closed.

After a 6:30am breakfast, we drove back down the Haat Road to Al Hoota Village.  In the daylight, you can get a better appreciation for this winding mountain road.  The village is located just above the entrance to Oman’s longest cave at 5 km in length.  I’d been to the touristic cave exit and did the 500m walk through that side back in June.  This side would be quite a bit different.  We met Zaid and Mohamed, our local guides from Canyon Adventures, at 7:00am and they gave us a safety and itinerary briefing.  The 5 of us plus our 2 guides walked down into the canyon and did our first repel down a steep section.  We entered the cave around 8:30am and had to repel down another section.  Once we were all down, we could see that the previous day’s rain storm had run down the wadi and into the cave.  There were some real muddy spots.  We continued into the cave and one of our group members was feeling a little overwhelmed so he turned back with Zaid.  That left 4 of us and Mohamed to press on.  Mohamed pointed out all of the neat features that would have otherwise gone unnoticed and we found a few bats as well.  The caving was more technical than I expected and we had to crawl through the last bit to get to our final chamber filled with amazing stalactites.  This would be our furthest point, where continuing on involves swimming, but we were still 800m into the cave.  We turned around and reached the second repelling section around 11:00am.  We had to climb up a caving ladder to get back out and this was the most difficult element of the morning.  Out of the cave and back on surface at noon, just as we’d planned.  It’s important to be out before any storm clouds have the chance to gain any momentum.  The climb up the first repelling section was tricky, but didn’t require any ladders.

Al Hoota Cave entrance


First repelling section


Chris, Chloe, Katie, and Dan

That leaves around 3.7 km of cave uncharted by yours truly and I guess thru-treks can be arranged…any takers?

We said goodbye to our guides and to the couple from Muscat as they would not be staying the second night.  Heading back up the mountain, the thermometer dropped from 38°C to 27°C.  The mountain air was so much cooler!  We had a hearty lunch and a little shut-eye in the afternoon while a thunderstorm passed through.  Good thing we got out of the cave on time!  We had a little walk around the resort that evening and watched the sun go down.  The chef had plenty of dinner for us that night before we sat out around the campfire.  I told the ghost story of Petermännchen from Schwerin Palace.

Another 6:30am breakfast topped up our tanks before we set out on the W10h, one of Oman’s official trekking trails.  Most of these routes are ancient donkey trails that were used to get from village to village.  The hike follows a spectacular ridgeline between Jebel Shams and Jebel Akhdar with the villages of Balad Sayt and Haat down below.  The 3 of us set out at 7:30am and made it to the 3 way junction of the W8 and W9 by 9:30am.  We had a little break in the shade before heading back.  We got back to the cars at 11:00am making the 7 km roundtrip in 3.5 h.  We got showered up and had some lunch with the friendly hotelier before starting our drive back to AD.  It was my first time “trek leading” on my own, but it was a small and awesome group that made for another successful UAE Trekker weekend.

On top of the world


Three way junction of W10h/W9/W8

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Düsseldorf-Berlin-Hamburg-Berlin-Frankfurt

Düsseldorf-Berlin

I tried what many would consider crazy…traveling standby out of Abu Dhabi on the Eid al Adha weekend.  I wasn’t able to get on the 02:00am direct flight to Berlin so I ran down to the staff travel desk.  It was mobbed.  I managed to make a booking to Düsseldorf and luckily got a seat in economy.  I ran to the gates and arrived as boarding was finishing.  I was off to Germany.

I arrived in Düsseldorf around 7:00am on Thursday, August 31st.  Bec had listed me on the first flight to Berlin, but all of the flights were full until the evening.  I made the mistake of checking my bag in for the flight.  In hindsight, I should have just headed straight for the train.  It took a while for my bag to be offloaded and arrive in the baggage claim, but I eventually grabbed the SkyTrain to the airport train station and caught the 11:00am to Berlin.  It was a 4.5 hour ride, but quiet and comfortable.  I caught the S-bahn from Hauptbahnhof to Friedrichstrasse Station and braved the pouring rain from there to Bec’s apartment.

Bec’s mom, Bev, was there to greet me and we visited while we waited for Bec to get home from work.  Bec arrived with some steaks and we prepared a home cooked meal that evening.  We also finalized our plans for the weekend.

Berlin-Hamburg

The next morning, Bec headed off to work and Bev and I just relaxed and got packed up.  At 11:00am, I walked down to Liepziger Strasse and picked up our rental car, a brand new Volkswagen Golf with only 8 km on it.  I drove back to the apartment and picked up Bev.  We made our way up to Saatwinklerdamm and Bec hopped in.  We were soon out of the city and heading NW on Bundesautobahn 24 to Hamburg.  About 2 hours in, we ducked off the autobahn and headed north to the city of Schwerin, the capital of the German state of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern.  Our main purpose there was to visit the Schwerin Palace built between 1845 and 1857.  The “Neuschwanstein of the North” is set on an island on the Schwerin See (lake) and is very picturesque.

Schwerin Palace

We made our way back to the autobahn and continued to Hamburg.  We found our hotel in the neighbourhood of St. Georg.  That night, we walked down the road to try to find somewhere to eat.  All of the restaurants were packed and we could not get in any of the restaurants serving German fare.  In the end, we settled for Italian and had the pasta with the “in-season” chanterelle mushrooms or pfifferling as the Germans call them.  We did, however, make a reservation at Das Dorf for the following evening.

On Saturday, I ran down to the nearby bakery and picked up some Franzbrötchen, a local specialty which is a croissant-like pastry with cinnamon and sugar filling, to go with our coffees.  We set out on a walking tour of Hamburg passing the Hauptbahnhof and strolling down the shopping street of Mönckebergstraße.  That led us to the beautiful Rathaus (city hall) where we sat down for a quick break.  From there, we could see some kind of festival going on along the Binnenalster (Inner Alster Lake).  We walked over and found that food and drink stalls were set up all the way around the lake.  We checked out the festival along Jungfernsteig before stopping to have a coffee on the patio of ALEX Hamburg.  It was 11:00am and I was getting hungry so I grabbed a matjes (soused herring) sandwich.

Franzbrotchen or ET pastry

Bec & Bev outside Hamburg Rathaus

We then walked down to St. Nickolai Memorial, a former Lutheran church left in ruins from WWII.  We went up the tower which was once the world’s tallest building from 1874 to 1876 and had a good aerial view of Hamburg from 75 m.  We also visited the museum and learned of the effects caused by the extensive allied bombing during Operation Gomorrah during the last week of July 1943.  We then caught the U-bahn over to St. Pauli Landungsbrücken and had a nice seafood lunch at Captain’s Dinner on the wharf along the Elbe River.  We all went for some sort of fish and then split an apfel strudel with ice cream. After lunch, we decided to get on the ferry running out to the upscale neighbourhood of Blankenese.  Some highlights included the Airbus plant, the huge port, and the new Elbphilharmonie.  Back on shore, we walked up to the notorious nightlife/red light district Reeperbahn.  It was a bit early, but there were definitely some people having a good time.  We jumped on the S-bahn and headed back to Hotel Wedina.

St. Nikolai Memorial

Fish lunch at Captain’s Dinner

Beautiful homes of Blankenese

Dan and Bev cruising with local bevies

Elbphilharmonie

We relaxed for a bit before our 8:00pm dinner reservation at Das Dorf.  Our meal was fantastic.  Bev had the German veal meatball, Bec had the duck, and I went for the ox cheeks.

Das Dorf dinner

Every Sunday since 1703, the Fischmarkt opens from 5:00am to 9:30am.  A meeting place for night owls still going from their night in Reeperbahn and early birds who come to do the weekly shopping.  The old fish auction hall turns into a dance hall with various bands playing jazz and rock on the stages.  So, we packed up the car and drove over to see what it was all about.  We watched the flower auction, listened to the band play a few numbers, and strolled along the stands buying some strawberries and corn-on-the-cob.  I couldn’t resist another fish sandwich and the ladies went for some waffles.  We capped off our breakfast with the original “Hamburger”.  I think Bev’s only regret was not getting out on the dance floor.  We grabbed some coffee and hit the road back to Berlin.

Shopping for corn at the market

Hamburg Fischmarkt

Hamburg-Berlin

I dropped the ladies at the apartment and drove down to drop off the car.  Arriving back at the flat, Bec informed me that my flight to AD had been canceled.  We mulled over our options while having some lunch.  We decided the best course of action would be to travel to Frankfurt the following morning and fly back to AD on Monday.  Bev was planning to fly back to Calgary through Frankfurt on Wednesday anyways so Bec booked train tickets for all 3 of us.

That afternoon, Bev and I had tickets for the Boros Collection, a modern art exhibition in The Bunker.  The art was very unique and I  finally got to go inside the WWII bunker that I had walked past so many times.  Bec met us at the door when our guided tour finished and we walked over to the Reichstag.  We did an audio guided tour of the dome and roof terrace.  We walked home in the rain and had a nice dinner including our corn from the market.

Reichstag Dome

Market fresh dinner back at the Berlin flat

Berlin-Frankfurt

We rode the S-bahn to Hauptbahnof and caught the 09:34am to Frankfurt.  It was a scenic ride and we had a drink in the dining car where a bit of a party was going on.  We found our hotel near the train station and checked in.  I then led the ladies on a whirlwind walking tour of the city.  Highlights included the Old Opera House, an unplanned wine festival along Grosse Bockenheimer Strasse, the shopping street known as Zeil, the squares of Hauptwache and Konstablerwache, Frankfurt Cathedral, and a “Frankfurter” snack in the historical market square of Römerberg.  We snacked on gelato as we walked along the Main River.  We got back to the hotel, grabbed my bags, and I set out for the airport.  There were 2 last minute gate changes, but I had a seat on the red-eye to AD.    The ladies spent the night in Frankfurt and were off to the airport the next morning.  Bev got a seat back to Calgary direct and, after a sprint through the airport, Bec got on a flight to Berlin.  It was a hectic weekend but I am glad I made it.  We were both really happy Bev got the opportunity to come and visit Bec in Germany!

Frankfurt Hauptbahnhof – enough bags ladies?

Frankfurt Old Opera House

Römerberg historical market square

The famous Frankfurter Würstchen

Frankfurt skyline

 

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