Back in America

We’ve been back in the US for just about 4 weeks now. We spent the first 2 weeks in Maine and then traveled further west out to California. Our time in Maine was nice and relaxing- a perfect introduction back to America. Luckily our arrival overlapped a few days with Cara and Will’s trip to the US so we got to spend some time with them including a fun, family-filled beach day at Bangs Island. We also got the opportunity to revisit some of our favorite American foods- highlights being breakfast (with giant iced coffee) at Bayou Kitchen and Melissa’s homemade lobster rolls– my mouth is watering just thinking about them:)

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We also got to spend a lot of time with friends. We were able to participate in a draft party for our couples fantasy football league, got together for the first NFL game of the year and of course had a fantastic evening at Jen and Dan’s wedding out on Peaks Island. We got a special lift over on the Spensington and had such a fun night munching on amazing food prepared (and served!) by the mother and sister of the groom, catching up with friends and dancing the night away!

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We flew out to California just a couple of days after the wedding and jumped right into our own wedding planning. We’ve been going non-stop with meetings, DIY projects and a million other details. We’re so lucky that our families and friends are so helpful and supportive or we’d never get this thing done!

Even with wedding overload we’ve been able to have a bit of fun. Our first weekend back Maddie and my mom put together the most amazing bridal shower! I felt so loved and special having 17 amazing women come together to help me celebrate- thank you all!!

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The day before the shower Dave and I took engagement photos (which wasn’t as awkward as we’d predicted!) and they turned out beautiful. Thanks to Ivan Chen and his team for those! If you want to check out more photos feel free to stop by Ivan’s blog.

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In the past few weeks we’ve also made it out to the beach, had a few dinners with friends, attended an awesome 30th birthday party complete with Bounce House Sumo Wrestling and spent a lot of quality time with my parents and Maddie. Last weekend we stopped by the Greek Festival at the Santa Anita Racetrack and the weekend before we made it to our first first baseball game of the year at Dodger Stadium.

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We’re in the thick of wedding planning; trying to take the time to savor the planning process, but admittedly are eagerly anticipating the big day and the arrival of all our family and friends! Only a few more weeks of being betrothed and then we’ll finally be hitched! It’s going to be here before we know it!

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Good Bye Berlin

It seems like just Yesterday that we arrived in Berlin, confused, excited, a little scared but most of all ready for a new adventure. In reality it’s been two full years since we touched down at Tegel airport and we have loved every minute of it. There are too many things to mention that we will miss about this great city, but in our last few weeks in the city we tried to hit a few of them. Before we left for our eastern Europe trip, I had finished my thesis and handed it in and Adrian had completed her time at Phorms, so we had a few weeks of free time before heading back to the USA to say goodbye to Berlin properly.

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Dave turning in his thesis!

First, we made an effort to try and hit a few of the tourist attractions in Berlin that we just hadn’t gotten around to. First among them we a trip underground to one of Berlin’s old World War II bunkers. Berlin was very heavily bombed during the second World War necessitating the building of numerous underground bunkers for the citizens to hide in during air raids. Most of these bunkers are no longer accessible, but one near Gesundbrunnen in the northern part of the city is fairly well preserved and there are daily guided tours that take you around the bunker. Some of the highlights were the fluorescent paint that was used to light the rooms in the absence of electric lights and some of the stories about the dangers faced by the average Berliners during the war including the cramming of 100s of people in rooms designed for 20 and using candles at different heights to gauge the amount of breathable air in the facility.

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On the recommendation of Adrian’s cousin Jamie, we decided to check out the Berlin Film museum (free on Thursdays). The museum had some very interesting architecture including one room with mirrors on the ceiling and floor creating a very interesting perspective.

The exhibits were also very interesting as the detailed the history of German film making over the past century. It is a bit surprising to learn how much innovation in Cinema there was in Germany especially during the early 20th century (The film Metropolis is, even today, a remarkable example). Of course, World War II and the Nazi regime put an end to all that; it’s certainly sad to think about how much great art the world has been deprived of thanks to wars and totalitarian governments.

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Another sight we wanted to be sure to see was the Panorama Point nearby at Potsdammer Platz. We took the self proclaimed ‘fastest elevator in Europe’ to the 25th floor and were not disappointed by the 360 degree views we found at the top. We were also pleasantly surprised to see an marriage proposal on the building across the street, happily reminding us of our own upcoming wedding this fall. We hope she said “Yes”!!!

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We also took a trip to Hohenschönhausen, the old East German secret police prison in East Berlin. The Prison is now a museum dedicated to remembering the persecution of the East German people under the DDR government. The East German secret police or Stasi used surveillance and interrogation to prevent the population from trying to escape East Berlin and also to silence critics of the regime. The museum included a tour of some the interrogation rooms and cells and some stories of the different inmates who spent time there. The tour was pretty dark, but learned a lot! Shortly after visiting we watched the film ‘The Lives of Others’ about a Stasi spy which included several scenes in Hohenschönhausen. The film was excellent and really brought to life some of the history we had just learned about at the museum.

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Of course the most important thing we wanted to do was to spend sometime with our friends and what better way to do that then with outdoor barbecues. One of our favorite activities in Berlin was taking advantage of some of the many parks around the city, starting up the grill and enjoying some food and drink with friends. We took advantage of some of our free time by making it out to Plotzensee for a bittersweet ‘farewell’ party with some of our best friends. We were also able to attend a BBQ in Golitzerpark with some of Adrian’s friends from work, a night out clubbing at the Kulturbrauerei, a visit to Bad Saarow with Jon and Paul and lots of time reminiscing over the past two years at our favorite neighborhood cafes and bars. We filled up on food at our beloved Kollwitzplatz Markt and said a fond farewell to Prenzlauer Berg with a trip to Mauerpark and one last Sunday brunch. Adrian was also able to visit the Barbie Dream-house with Saskia and had a great time checking out one of her favorite childhood toy’s homes:) It was a busy last couple of weeks!

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IMG_3662 IMG_3676 IMG_3681Our last Friday in Berlin Dave had to defend his thesis. He was a little nervous (who wouldn’t be?), but he totally kicked ass!! Getting a perfect score on his defense and a 1.3 (1.0 is the top grade in the German system) on his master thesis!! I was so proud of him after all his hard work over the course of the semester and we popped a little bubbly in Kollwitzplatz to celebrate.

IMG_3805 We spent our last weekend in Berlin fervently packing, trying to shove two years of our lives into three suitcases and 4 boxes. We were able to get almost everything done by Monday night so that we could spend our official last day, Tuesday, savoring our city. We took the 100 bus from Alexanderplatz to the Brandenburg Gate. Then we walked through Tiergarten, visiting the Rose Garden and the site of our 2012 engagement. We laid out blankets and spent a few hours reading and enjoying our absolute favorite place in Berlin. We then hopped back on the 100 to Zoogarten for our final trip to our favorite biergarten, Schleusenkrug. We shared a flammkuchen, a pretzel, a piece of Apfelkuchen and of course a slew of beers and spent a few hours reminiscing on our time in Berlin. Schleusenkrug was the very first place we visited when we arrived in Berlin and we thought it only fitting that it should be our last. It was the place we came to celebrate our engagement, my first job in the city and Dave completing his thesis. It’s a really special place to us and we were sad to bid it adieu.

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IMG_3914 IMG_3923Post Schleusenkrug we went home to enjoy our final Berlin sunset (with some späti beers) at the Wasserturm. Then we finished packing up, had a last beer with Matteo and hit the hay. Wednesday morning we got up early, left our keys with the downstairs neighbor and hauled our three 50 pound suitcases and 4 incredibly heavy carry-on’s to Schonefeld airport. 20 hours later we arrive at the Chebuske home in Maine.

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It was incredibly hard to leave Berlin and we miss it everyday, but we’ve been adjusting well to life back in the States and we have a big day coming up in just three weeks;) We couldn’t be more thankful for the two amazing years we spent in Berlin and we hope it won’t be too long before we return. We met so many amazing people, were blessed to visit so many amazing places and fell in love with the most amazing city we’ve ever been able to call home.

Berlin, du bist Wunderbar! Bis bald!