Family, Spring Break, and lots of Sun

Hi all! An update on the past few weeks. First of all, my family came to Germany! It was so great to see them and share my life in Berlin with them. For their first three days in Berlin, we received a miracle of SUN. I kept telling them “this is really not what the weather is usually like.” So, we of course had to take advantage of the weather, and started off with a walk through the huge Tiergarten park in central Berlin. There, I got my first glimpse of spring, as the tiniest of leaves were just beginning to bloom! The park is also strewn with monuments from Berlin’s long history, including the Victory Column.

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The Victory Column
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Soviet Memorial

We also took a trip to the city treasure of Mauer Park, which on Sundays is engulfed by a huge craft/flea market. Also on Sunday afternoons at Mauer Park (in good weather), is the very popular karaoke session. It was a lot of fun to see so many Berliners come out of hibernation to enjoy the beginning of spring.

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Mauer Park; the large group of people in the back are sitting in an amphitheater watching the karaoke.

Some of the other sightseeing we did included a 3-hr boat tour of the city:

And of course a visit to Berlin would not be complete without a trip to East Side Gallery:

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After spending some time in Berlin, my family and I went down to Bavaria, to a town called Bamberg, for a few days. This was a great opportunity for them to see some type of living that normally comes to mind when one thinks of “Germany” (because Berlin is not Germany, it’s something else entirely). Bamberg showed us the cute Bavarian houses, the old castles, traditional German food (my mom was not impressed by the meat and potatoes cuisine, which is quite understandable), and of course lots of beer. I was again stunned to experience a few more sunny days. My family managed to pick the best week to visit!

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As my parents left for the U.S., I proceeded directly to spring break. For the first half of the break, a group of friends and I went to Palermo in Sicily, Italy. We actually stayed in a small beach town called Mondello, just a small distance from the Palermo. For the second half of the break, we went to the Greek island of Mykonos, with a one night stopover in Athens. I have no shame in admitting that the vacation was mostly about relaxing on the beach, but we did do a little sightseeing in Palermo, and a little in Athens during the afternoon and evening we were there. In a stroke of bad luck we were informed a day before hand that our flight to Mykonos from Athens was cancelled, which we found out was due to a one-day strike by the Athens airport controllers. But I can’t actually complain because we instead took a ferry ride, which although was a lot longer, was absolutely beautiful. On Mykonos we rented ATVs to get us around the island since it’s still early in the tourist season and thus the buses aren’t running. That allowed us to see a lot of the island and its many beautiful beaches. I have always wanted to go to the Greek islands ever since my mom told me about a trip she took there with her best friend after college. Finally being there was surreal – it’s one thing to see the beautiful white buildings in pictures, but actually walking amongst them and getting lost in their maze was a experience like no other. We also took a short ferry ride one day from Mykonos to the Island of Delos, “The oldest archaeological in Europe.” Delos is the mythical birthplace of the Greek Gods Apollo and Artemis. It was a very strategical point in ancient times and was conquered my many different civilizations including the Romans and Egyptians, leaving it with a rich and intriguing history.  I of course took a lot of pictures of the whole trip, so please enjoy:

Italy:

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Greece:

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