America for the Holidays: St. Louis

img_5165I love St. Louis. It is my hometown and even though no one has ever heard of it, it is a city worth visiting. It was Colin’s first time in my hometown and seeing where I grew up. I’ve been to his childhood home a lot and I just wanted him to like it.

For a city with just under 3 million people it’s a small town where you see people you know where ever you go. Mostly that means avoiding eye contact and walking past people you’ve known for years. But this trip I arranged to see people I really wanted to plus some ridiculously touristy stuff and it was one of the best times I’d had.

So the touristy stuff. Well we did the Arch, Wash U, the Budweiser Tour and the Art Museum. Sort of. The Arch was closed for repairs, well you can go into the museum but not up in the Arch. And being that I’ve visited the Arch loads… what is the point of that?! So we just went to see it. Then Wash U the tour was on me and my friend Amy. She took us around the Kemper Art Museum on campus and showed us a few of her favourite things. While I just walked Colin around the main campus. I love Wash U and it felt great walking around campus again. The Budweiser Tour is a classic for people visiting St. Louis. I know what you’re thinking Budweiser, yuck. But in the Brewery it tastes better, crisper and more expensive. Plus the tour is free and you get a free beer out of it. My favourite part of it is the Clydesdales and the Dalmatians. Yes the horses and dogs are the best. I mean the one Clydesdale’s was at least a foot or two taller than I was. They are impressive and gorgeous creatures. Last tourist stop was the St. Louis Art Museum. Like lots of other stuff in St. Louis, the museum is free. Much like the Art Insitutute of Chicago SLAM recently added a modern art extension. The museum is great and getting to go with Colin and my mom is just what I needed.

Like I said previously a great deal of the trip to St. Louis was for friends and family. Plus it was Christmas. I love Christmas with my family and this was lots of family and puppy time. Ok Riley isn’t a puppy, he’s like 5-6 or so. We played board games, ate lots of food and laughed a lot! Meeting with my friends was no different. There was a Christmas pop up bar and my friend Kelly was determined to get us in there. With wrapping paper every where, fairy light all around and Christmas themed cocktails, it was definitely worth the wait.

Being that Colin had never been to America before, he wanted to go through as many American cliches as possible. Those ranged from eating at a diner late at night, going to dive and regular bars to various foods. I think we covered Corn dogs, hot wings, dinner food, breakfast food all while in St. Louis. I even made gooey butter cake from scratch. As far as going places I think my favourite was the bowling alley. We dragged my mom along with us and although she said she had never been bowling, she beat us. It was embarrassing, but so much fun. The trip to St. Louis was a great time and I think Colin really enjoyed it as well. He even said St. Louis was his favourite of the 3 cities we visited! 😀


You’re driving on the wrong side…

Or is is the right side? Who knows. But when my mom came to visit I knew it was time for a little road trip! I rented a car from Sixt (btw they were always super helpful and reasonably priced, so would definitely recommend them). We hopped in the car and drove up to Luss on Loch Lomond. I’d never been to Loch Lomond and I heard that it was beautiful so it was really about time. As we drove up everything was gray, dark and foggy, so I thought uh oh this wasn’t going well. But once we got close the fog had burned off and the sun came out. It was absolutely beautiful and I couldn’t believe the views. We walked around Luss for a while and thought it was time to stop for lunch. I drove us down to Cameron House and we had lunch in the bar. Cameron House is really cute it massive and decorated in lots of tartan and oversized furniture. I really liked it, but of course as expected it is on the expensive side. After lunch we headed across to Stirling so that my mom could see Stirling Castle. I never been there either, but I knew it would be a treat for my mom. The drive to Stirling was quicker than expected and once we arrived the castle was still covered with just a little bit of snow. The castle is really nice and well maintained. I really enjoyed the visit there. I know that my mom did too.

Family visit just in time!

Sometimes it’s a struggle living so far from home, but my mom manages to make it all easier. She manages to afford to appear just at the right time. This time I picked her up from Edinburgh and after a quick evening there, she flew to Berlin.

Mom heading home to visit my Oma, was the perfect opportunity for me to follow her. The three of us barely get to be in a room together, so I was so excited. This was the perfect refresh for me. They both have been such amazing rocks for me, that it was great to just have them together. Of course with 3 strong females it got a little stressful at times, so goofy times and face masks were definitely required in the evening.

After a quick catch up in Berlin my mom and I headed back to Scotland so my mom could get to know Glasgow. Unfortunately I had to let her explore on her own, but I managed to surprise her and book another Rabbie’s Bus Tour for her and I. The tour left from Glasgow and drove down Ayrshire. It was just the two of us on the tour, but that meant more Mother-Daughter time. Once back in Glasgow I thought I’d introduce my mom to gin. Even though she said she had tried gin, she claimed that she didn’t like it. Well Gin71 in Glasgow managed to fix that, with their amazing gin flights.

Island Time

Every once and a while you just need a weekend away. Luckily my friend, Helen is from the Isle of Arran (Scotland, not Ireland, but that one might be nice as well!), so running “home” for the weekend wasn’t an issue. Course it wasn’t my home, but hey take what you can get! Any way I loved it and it was totally beautiful. It was a completely relaxing and refreshing experience to just go on walks and be with family (yes again not mine but still). I can’t wait to go back.

Photos of course from my iPhone (I mean what can you expect from me):

Berlin: Visiting Family

Screen Shot 2013-09-16 at 9.14.04 PMWhen anyone else hear’s that they are going to Berlin, they get excited for all of the culture. When I hear I am going to Berlin I think family time. I grew up with my entire extended family in Berlin, so visiting Grandma meant an 8 hour plane ride. This time it was no different, cept I did manage to get some culture in too! My mom and I got a BerlinCard, which allows you access to all of the trains, buses, subways, etc in Berlin for a certain number of hours (for us it was 72). But we also got a special one that allowed us access to the Museums on the “Museums Insel.” I got to go to my favorite museum in Berlin the Pergamon, although it’s not cool that so much was taken from Turkey (it was probably not done in the most legit way), it is a beautiful museum. We also got to go to the Neues Museum, to look at the beautiful Nefertiti bust, and the Altes Nationalgalerie, which had Neoclassical, Romantic, Biedermeier and Impressionist paintings. Altes Nationalgalerie was a new one for me and I enjoyed it a lot. Then we spent time with family and did the usual things: KaDeWe, Currywurst, Potsdamerplatz, Hallen Am Borsigturm, etc. I really enjoyed the trip, although stressful at times.

Now we are back in Edinburgh and now it feels real. I am really starting to get nervous about when my mom leaves and I live here alone. Up until now it has felt like vacation, but the days are flying by and she has to go back to St. Louis soon. I know I will be fine, but the nerves and butterflies are definitely kicking in.

Just another Review & a little Family history

“Wintertochter” (Winter’s Daughter) Directed by Johannes Schmid

Written by Michaela Hinnenthal & Thomas Schmid

Another brillant movie. This film was part of the children’s film festival of SLIFF. I personally would not call this a children’s movie, yes it is perfectly appropriate for children, but “children’s movie” it was not. The film centers around Katarina/Kattaka (Nina Monka) a young German girl, who finds out on Christmas that her birth father is really a Russian sailor. She manages to get her neighbor, Lene Graumann (Ursula Werner) to drive her to search for her father. Her best friend sneaks into the car and tags along. The search goes into Poland, which becomes an emotional roller coaster both for Kattaka and Lene. The meet new friends in the neighborhood’s Inn. Lene’s story is slowly revealed and after her birth her father was killed by a grenade. Then as her mother and her tried to flee she ran and got put on the boat alone. This film highlights many emotional struggles and one’s that I believe everyone can relate to.

So I found out something tonight that I didn’t know about my family, well specifically my grandmother. I have always loved my Oma, she has always been the best. Recently I go visit her and I find out new things that make me know how amazing she really is. Tonight I found out that similar to Lene, from the film, that she and her family had to walk for months in the snow to escape from Poland. First I always thought that I was really German, but I hated what that meant, history-wise. But everything I hear about my Oma is that she was constantly doing everything to “fight” for her family to survive. Almost getting frost-bitten in the snow, breaking the rubble from after the war. My Oma has always been the best grandmother I could dream of, but now she is more than that she is also my hero. I’m sad that I only get to learn about her every once and a while and I only get to hear parts of her life story when I do get to see her.

This movie opened my mom up to sharing more about my Oma and it apparently hit very close to home for us. I really loved this film and it helped me learn a little more about myself, so it was even better.