Monday, December 31, 2012

{ 2012 }

Dear Friends & Family,

As everyone is starting their day, John and I will be getting ready to count down into the new year. In Berlin, they started selling fireworks on December 28, and since then we've been hearing them go off throughout the day. The first time I heard them, I thought it was a car backfiring. I had mentioned it to Andreas and his wife that our neighborhood was very quiet except for the occasional car backfiring. I was quickly corrected. It's supposed to be a big deal because it's illegal up until this time when they allow it.

John and I explored a new neighborhood today, Steglitz, which is just 2 miles east of us. We walked through neighborhoods, around the Free University, walked by one of the Max Planck Institute campuses, and came across a botanical garden before we got into the main area of Steglitz on Schloßstraße.
{ quiet stroll through the university }

{ tiny house on the left is where we are }

 There we saw more familiar stores like Starbucks, Dunkin Donuts, Clarks, H&M, The Body Shop, and Brandy Melville (much smaller than the one in Santa Monica.
{ hardly any jewelry in the store }

 I even found a boba/pearl/bubble tea spot that was owned by a Vietnamese family. If anything, I am brushing up on my very embarrassingly poor Vietnamese here. I think I've tried to speak that more than English or German. The man at the restaurant was very helpful with information, and from what I could translate, he said there's a cheap language school close to where we live. I will definitely have to check it out. I've made a goal for myself to learn one phrase and try to use it throughout my day. I failed today to incorporate numbers. For example, we bought donuts (called Berliners in other parts, but here they call just call it Pfannkuchen). I said, "two please," instead of "zwei bitte." "Zwei," meaning two, and "bitte," meaning please. It's going to take me awhile to adjust that English is not the dominant language. I feel like the tourists who come to eat in Santa Monica and are silent when I ask, "Hi, how are you today?" I am that person that just smiles and nods. Let me change that, WE are those people who just smile and nod. John's no help in the language department either. Although he was the one that reminded me to respond with, "zwei bitte." 

So since we are still tired and trying to catch up on sleep, we decided to stay in for NYE. We went to the local grocery store and bought steak (we're pretty sure it's steak-j/k), potatoes, a bottle of red wine, and a bottle of Prosecco to ring in the new year (granted we can stay awake). I think it'll be hard to sleep before then though. It's barely 7pm, and all we've heard are fireworks on the streets and techno music through the walls. Tonight should be interesting...

Happy New Year to everyone. We wish you all a great end to 2012, and cheers to a new start in 2013.


The Prindles. 

Sunday, December 30, 2012

{ unpacking }

Dear Friends & Family,

Everything is closed on Sundays. Okay, not everything, but a majority of everything. John and I went to our local grocery store on Saturday night to stock up on food. Although they generally have the same stuff, it's all in German. Oh, and they keep their eggs in a non-refrigerated area near the bread section. That threw us off, and we had to ask Andreas, John's co-worker, if that was normal. In Germany, it is. So we bought some basics to get us through the day.

*eggs? (check)
*frozen pizza? (check)
*maggi (check)
*ketchup? (check)
*bolognese sauce? (check)
*yogurt? (check)
*frozen lasagna? (check)
*milk? (check)
*cheese? (check)
*hand soap? (check)
*plethora of ramen? (check, check, and check)
*peanut butter? (check)
*cheese balls? (check)

Since everything was closed today, we decided to relax and unpack all our belongings. Now our place is starting to feel more like home. The books are placed in the shelf, the clothes are all hung, we rearranged some of the furniture, and we caught up on sleep. Overall, it was a nice, relaxing Sunday.
{ view from our window }

Tomorrow we hope to explore in the other direction of town. There is a university and some restaurants about a mile away. I wish I had a pedometer to record how many miles we've walked so far. My legs are definitely feeling the miles.

The Prindles.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

{ prindles a week }

Dear Friends & Family,

We survived our second day!!! Now let me explain...
Last night we were sooo tired. Couldn't keep our eyes open body wanting to shut down tired. We tried to stay up until 10pm, but that was too difficult. I think I was asleep by 9:30? Then I woke up at 12am. I tried to go back to sleep, but by 2am I gave up, and I poured myself a glass of wine and went on my laptop. Luckily my mother-in-law was online, so we got to chat. Me being 9 hours ahead, it was 5pm in California. Just in time for her to pour herself a glass of wine, so we could drink together like we did before. I finally went back to sleep but woke up again shortly after. I would say I've been getting a series of naps in, not sleep. John too. We were up at 5am deliriously tired, watching shows hoping our eyes would grow heavy and get the sleep we so desperately longed for. We were also hungry, very, very hungry. With all the exploring and walking around, we only had the equivalent of one meal each. So after the sun was up (around 8am), I finally made some ramen soup. We watched another show and finally fell asleep!

I'm not sure how long we slept for, but we had to wake up and rush out the house to be at John's coworker's home at 4pm. All I wanted was more sleep, but it felt good to get outside, and it wasn't as cold today as it was yesterday. We took a different line today and got to see a couple more neighborhoods, ones that were more to our liking than the neighborhood we live in now. The home of John's coworker was beautiful in the neighborhood of Neukoelln. It was in a Turkish neighborhood, and it was busier than ours. Ours is a quiet suburb neighborhood in Dahlem. Andreas, John's coworker, lives in an old building with high ceilings  high doors, and high windows with his wife and newborn. The couple gave us an idea of what it's like living in Berlin with the different shopping stores, the things people like to do, and how to get around with the different neighborhoods.

Before we left, I had asked if there was a place we should stop on our way back, and they suggested one stop that took us to Bergmann Strasse (Street) in the neighborhood of Kreuzberg. There we would find a variety of restaurants and shops. We ended up eating at a Vietnamese restaurant called Good Morning Vietnam (yes, just like the title of the movie). I was excited that I could at least try to speak Vietnamese, but I quickly learned that American Vietnamese is very different than German Vietnamese. They have a northern dialect, but what threw me off was that they call certain foods differently. The server did not understand Cha Gio (fried egg roll) and Goi Cuon (spring roll). There they called it Nem Saigon and Nem Hanoi. Although the translation was different, the food tasted the same. Again, you're wondering why we're not writing about Currywurst or schnitzel, but there's something so comforting eating familiar food in an unfamiliar area. Being a foreigner is hard, and it's so refreshing to hear someone speaking English, or recognizing a word you understand. We did see a Currywurst place we'd like to try. There was a long line when we walked by and read that as a good sign.

So that was pretty much our day. We took more pictures, including our Prindles a Week photo. It's been 8 weeks since we've been married, and our first year of marriage will be 44 weeks in a new country. I cannot express enough in words how fortunate we are to have this opportunity, and I am so excited to capture every moment of it.

The Prindles.
{ my shoe after walking all day on my birthday }

{ view as we enter the neighborhood of neukoelln }

{ vietnamese/german menu }

{ good morning vietnam }

{ in the neighborhood kreuzberg }

{ inside a small underground boutique in kreuzberg }

{ 8 weeks }

Friday, December 28, 2012

{ happy birthday to me }

Dear Friends & Family,

Today we got to celebrate my birthday on our first full day in Berlin. We still cannot believe this is our home now. And we lied. We slept at our normal time, woke up at our normal time, but we are T I R E D, and it's not even 8pm. I might have fallen asleep with my eyes open a few times. So yes, I'm pretty sure we are jet-lagged  I tried to avoid it, but the body knows the difference.

Today we got to explore outside of our neighborhood. We took the U-Bahn to the Natural History Museum, and I got to see the Wet Exhibit with my very own eyes. I've seen photos from Instragram, but this room was breathtaking. It was just shelves and shelves of preserved sea life in jars. I wish we could have spent more time there, but John and I both hit a wall and wanted to get some food. And no, we still have not had German food. We tried though!! We walked around the surrounding neighborhood of the museum and saw one Subway and about ten coffee shops!! Oh, and three pizzerias. So we took the 3 lines back to our neighborhood and got burger and fries at an American sixties diner. It's my birthday. I wanted comfort home food. We did have German beer though, and we busted out our German phrase book a few times. Whoever said everyone speaks English out here lied. Clearly they have not been to where we are. We tried to exchange cash for Euros at the bank earlier today, and the woman wanted to direct us some place far far away in Berlin land because her English was not so good. We ended up going to the next bank and withdrawing money out of the ATM very easily. They may not speak a lot of English, but everyone here is very friendly.

If you have iMessage through your iPhone or your computer, you can send us text messages. You can also FaceTime us through your computer! If you ever find us online posting something recent, it means we are home using our WiFi. We would love to hear from you!!!

Here are a few of my favorite pictures from the day:
{ our first ride on the subway }

 {outside the Naturkundemuseum }

 { so many insects }

 { this was one of many displayed }

 { my favorite }

 { the wet exhibit }

 { birthday beer }

The Prindles. 

Thursday, December 27, 2012

{ the prindles are in berlin }

Dear Friends & Family,

We made it safely to Berlin!! I don't want to jinx us, but I think we will adapt to the time quickly. For all our friends & family on the West Coast, we are nine hours ahead of you. I know I'll have to adjust to the time difference. Right now it's after 11pm, and it's only after 2pm in California. I'm hoping to go to bed after this and start my birthday fresh with plenty of rest. I'm looking forward to the museums, and to be able to see the city during the day.

We arrived in Berlin when it was already dark out, so we were unable to really feel like we are in a strange country. Everything looks the same in the dark. At one turn away from the airport I felt like I was near the San Jose airport. It wasn't until we left our apartment and walked on the main road towards restaurants did it really hit me we were in another country. I really should have practiced and learned more German before we left! Nothing is in English. Luckily we went to an Italian restaurant for dinner and recognized the Italian words, but not their German descriptions. You're probably laughing that our first meal in Berlin was Italian, but it was spaghetti bolognese. You can't go wrong with that!
Our meal on the plane was a chicken and rice dish that had olives. If there's one thing (make that three things) John will not eat, it's olives, pickles, and mushrooms.
Overall our flight was not bad, and it never felt long. We watched two movies, played travel games, and slept for a few hours. Thank you mom and dad Prindle for getting us travel neck pillows. Makes a huge difference when you're trying to sleep comfortably in a tight spot. 

The most exciting part of our evening was arriving to our new apartment! And of course it wasn't easy. The cab driver was unfamiliar with the area. Everything was dark. We weren't sure we were at the right place until I saw this:
Even then, we still had a hard time. There was one main door that lead to a hallway of two doors that lead to more hallways, and nothing was numbered. Eventually we figured out our place was behind the locked hallway door that had to be opened by a neighbor after we buzzed his apartment to let us in. And luckily this gentleman spoke English. 
So that was day one, and we survived! We miss our friends & family terribly. It's going to be hard not seeing all our loved ones for eight months, but we are really excited for the adventure that lays ahead. 

Thank you again to everyone who sent us warm wishes and who went out of their way to see us during our busy schedule. We love you all!

The Prindles.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

{ merry christmas }

Dear Friends & Family,

Merry Christmas/Happy Holidays to all our loved ones!! Tomorrow is the big day! I spent the whole day packing, and John spent his day body surfing at the beach. I know the ocean is going to be the ONE thing John will really miss.
Everyone asks if we're ready, and I really don't think I'll ever be ready. I'm taking each moment at a time. I'm not even ready to say my good-byes! It won't hit me until we land in Berlin, and we are in our new apartment. Sunday we spent the whole day with my family and our friends. We ate, we exchanged gifts, and we played games. I cried saying bye to two of my best friends. It's definitely hard knowing we will not see everyone again until August. But we love you all, and we are so happy that we were able to spend the holiday with family & friends.
My two brothers, all nine of my cousins, my niece and two nephews, my mom, three of her four sisters, my sister-in-law, cousin-in-law, & future cousin-in-laws! 

Sasha, Noelle, and Phuong with me and our photo props.

Scott, Mom, Grandma, Dad, Minnie, and Mom with us. 

The Prindles.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

{ prindles a week }

Dear Friends & Family,

Since our wedding, I have been taking a photo via Instagram of John and myself every Saturday, hence the clever title. I plan on capturing our first year together as husband & wife with 52 photos. Today will be the last one of us in the US, as we will be in Berlin this time Saturday! I have spent the last few days with my family in Orange County and have yet to take a photo of us. Tonight our families will gather for dinner in Venice, and tomorrow we will celebrate the holiday with some of our friends & family with a white/black elephant gift exchange. Monday is John's birthday, Tuesday is Christmas, and Wednesday we leave! And no, I have not started packing...
The Prindles.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

{ so many people, so little time }

Dear Friends & Family,

Dec. 26 is coming fast, and we didn't get to see everyone we wanted to see before we leave. For that we are so sad and sorry!! We hope you understand, and we hope that will give some of you reason to visit us in Berlin.

Our phone #s will no longer be in use as of Dec. 27. John's contract with AT&T was already done, so he just had them disconnect his account on the scheduled date. I, on the other hand, still have six months left of my contract with AT&T. When I called to disconnect, the only option the customer service rep offered was for me to pay the penalty fee for early termination. After speaking to John about what my other options were, he suggested I suspend my line. After calling AT&T again, the second CS rep was much more helpful when I asked about suspending my line for 6 months and canceling my account after. So if you ever need to end your contract early, look into suspending your line instead of paying the early termination fee.

John and I will still be connected via Facebook, Instagram, Gchat, Skype, Tango, Kik, Blip Me, and Email. Please do not hesitate to send us snail mail too (someone actually did not know what that meant, so it's sending us a hand written letter for all you young kids out there).

Please do not hesitate to keep in touch, and if you have any of the above apps, add us!

The Prindles.