Friday, 30 August 2013

Week recap: the little things.

Yesterday was the first (week)day I haven't updated! We were too busy living life to write about anything, and we had a great day doing it :)

This week feels like every morning has been a struggle to wake up; Malcolm had early classes on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, and the sun is rising so much later than when we first got here - just as we start getting used to it rising early, summer ends! Nevertheless, I've enjoyed every single day.

Monday I did my usual grocery shopping for the week... I feel like I'm getting pretty good at it, and it was really nice having Malcolm come along to help me carry things. I baked biscotti, which really have become my replacement for Ouma rusks, and every cup of tea or coffee tastes better when there's something to dunk in it! Tuesday we had life-group, which was fun because Henok joined us and there were a couple other new people too. Also, we used to have supper there but it's just not practical anymore so we all brought snacks - resulting in a really great chocolate-feast. There was so much that we didn't finish it all. But so much fun, sharing about Zacchaeus and how his life changed so drastically upon meeting Jesus - not by upholding law or anything, but by coming to have a relationship with him.
Wednesday passed slowly... Malcolm met his class at the University campus and had a kind of scavenger hunt finding information through approaching and asking people for it. He enjoyed it, though the course has just got tougher again because he just started B1. I'm pretty sure he can function in German better than I can now!

Yesterday was really fun... It was a beautiful day and I wound my way along the quiet streets to Margaret's apartment. She showed me around some shops I hadn't been able to find. I had such a great time and discovered some nice little shops along back-streets and off the main shopping routes. One of my favourites was a ballet shop... the smell of lycra as you walk in is unmistakable and I loved looking at all the pretty leotards and dance-dresses! From there we went to a fabric store with so. much. choice. It really inspired me to get sewing again, though I'll first need to get a machine! She also showed me some shops which I'd seen from the outside but hadn't thought to go into - I thought it was just clothes but I found home-y stuff too... beautiful blankets and vases and coloured drinking glasses <3 Definitely going back there! Along the way back we stopped at a fruit-wagon and bought some things... HUGE nectarines, figs, and zwetschgen, which we sampled  when we got back to her apartment.

A little while later, Malcolm arrived and we headed out for coffee. This is the FIRST time I've had coffee from a restaurant here, so I was pretty keen!

We ended up at the Bierhaus, with a waiter horrified that we wanted coffee, but the view of the Rhein from where we were sitting was just so lovely.

Afterwards, Margaret bought us icecream... I had coconut and Malcolm had cookies - more to add to our list of flavours we've tried this summer! :D We wandered around and Margaret showed us little things we've missed before.

In front of St Martin's Cathedral
A cute alleyway-flower-box, fits perfectly with the cobble-stones.
A really interesting restaurant; they have Christmas all year round and have a pile of snow outside their door. 
Along the way we went off through a little passage into a courtyard with this fountain and some restaurants. It was a nice little retreat we'd never found before.

photos of us courtesy of Margaret! 
Then Margaret took us into this antique-shop, which, in the back, has a really cute coffee shop. It has such a cosy feeling and we'd really like to go there for tea sometime. She also pointed out this statue of a man mooning... it happens to be right over a really popular square, above some restaurants. It's really high up and one needs to know where to look!

We also went to the rathaus (townhall) and got a good look at it. There are statues all the way up the sides, and a really intricate entrance that was added afterwards, I think. There was a wedding reception going on by the looks of things, though I think it may have been finishing.

A little walk along and we found the Farina Perfume museum (the oldest perfume in the world, apparently), and an old building that used to be a market hall and banquet/festival/ballroom. It's now used for the Carnival that happens annually. It was also interesting to stop and read about the excavations happening here, they've found an old synagogue and some old houses... it's so interesting that one can see the work in progress.

As I mentioned, there's an annual Carnival, so there's obviously a huge need for costumes. A need well fulfilled by this costume shop we came across. They had SO much variety and the costumes were all pretty accurate! We also stopped by a music shop and marveled at the intricate instruments, trying to figure out the difference between trumpets and cornets. I felt pretty educated by the time we left.

On our walk back to the station, we passed Old st. Alban. It dates back to 1172 and was rebuilt in the medieval times as well as 1668 as a church hall. During world war 2 it was really badly damaged, and it was secured but not rebuilt. You can still see the columns and arches, and there's a memorial to the fallen and the prisoners of war.

Lastly, before saying goodbye, Margaret took us into a parking garage under the Dom, where as one walks down the stairs, there's this little bit of excavation. I find it fascinating how there's just bits of history all over!

It was such a lovely afternoon, just wandering the streets of the Adtstadt with no real plan, and seeing so much! There are little things to appreciate all over, and bits of history tucked away in places one doesn't always look, despite having walked those streets before.

Now, we're getting ready for the weekend, Ich muss haus-putzen for Petra's visit - she arrives this afternoon! Hooray! I can't wait to share what we get up to this weekend! Hope you all have a fun weekend, celebrating the change of seasons! :D

Wednesday, 28 August 2013

SO many questions

Happy Wednesday! 

I follow quite a few blogs and it’s really fun getting to know people all over the world who share their experiences about marriage, travel, life... I learn so much from reading blogs daily that it’s getting embarrassing when I tell Malcolm hey, that’s Rococo style, and he asks me how I know and I have to give credit to a blogger like Brittany Ruth. Or I tell him about a place I want to visit in Romania and it’s thanks to Shannon.

Besides just reading blogs, I love to get to know the author behind it, and one of the ways I've learnt more about others is through 6 things - where you get tagged and then answer 6 questions about yourself before tagging the next people. The other is the Liebster Award, which is an informal award that bloggers pass on to other blogs that they enjoy reading, which requires them to answer 11 questions and name 11 random facts, and then pass the award on to other blogs they admire. I was tagged in the first by Lanlettie (a South African in the North West USA) and I was chosen by Megan (an American in Germany) for the latter. (It think it’s funny that if you put them together you get me : South African in Germany.) Thank you both! 

So I thought that it would be fun to answer the questions in one big lump today, though I'll be brief, so that those who've never met me, can get to know me a little. (and those who do know me are sure to learn something new too!)

What is something we may not know about you?
Is this asking for info you’re not allowed to know or something you might not know already? You may not know my exact address. You might not know that I love a combination of simplicity and frills, that I'm generally indecisive but once I decide I act quickly. So our old blog design was getting on my nerves. Result: I changed it. (Do you like it?)
 If you could see any artist/band live, who would you choose?
I’m not really that into music (even in my teenage years, I had mostly Vivaldi and Orff playing, with bits of Phantom and other random muscial tracks in between). There are loads of fantastic dance companies I’d choose to see though though!
 Who or what inspires you?
People inspire me, and so many of them. Malcolm (he’s brave and kind), Mum & Daddy (their love and sacrifice and advice is amazing), my in-laws (their work-ethic and encouragement), Mrs Boote and Shona (their knowledge and passion for dance), Glen Flanagan (Her commitment and passion for her work and Prince)... there are really so many people that I come across and they just show me something extraordinary that reminds me that somewhere in me, I can find that too.
If you could meet any blogger in person, who would you pick?
There are so many great bloggers... but I’ll say Susannah because she’s just so refreshing and encouraging and is always really open, sweet and firm about what she believes.
When you struggle in life, what keeps you going?
My faith in God who loves me and who I can know. I know that whatever is going on, He never changes and His way is always the right way, and that by following Him, I’m okay.
 If money wasn't a problem… what would your dream destination be?
I’ve always wanted to go to St Petersburg. Though Malcolm and I have such a long list of places we want to see together.

Now for the Liebster Award Questions...
1. What is your #1 travel essential?
Money? Other than that, it depends how far this travel is... but travel-snacks are pretty essential to me ;)
2. What is your favourite mode of transport?
Train! Although Malcolm and I really miss our cars right now, I still get excited by trains.
I’d also tentatively say motorbike because after reading Chelsea’s post about going through Cambodia on a bike, Malcolm’s dream to bike around to see a country had been brought up again, so we’re thinking that could be fun.
3. What is your most favourite place you’ve ever visited?
I've thought really hard and I don't know - we haven't travelled very much together, but I look forward to answering this question one day in the far future. 
4. Solo travel or no?
NO. I need assistance. I get lost very easily. Like in Bloemfontein by myself for a French conference, where eventually I ended up getting a lift with a little old lady who kindly offered me a ride because she must have found it strange to see a girl walking purposefully along the road heading out of town. Being lost is so much more fun with somebody. Plus, Malcolm is so much fun to travel with and keeps a level head when I don’t, and makes things an adventure while I’m studying the map. We’re a pretty good team. Go Team B!
5. What is the biggest lesson life has taught you?
That in every situation I need to put on my big-girl-pants and a smile. 
6. Famous person you’d most like to have dinner with (living or dead)?
Oh la la... I was asked this question last night at life-group and was stumped. John, who looked after Mary and wrote revelations, he'd be pretty cool to talk to. Or Job. 
7. What was your favourite subject at school?
I should say Afrikaans because mum was the BEST teacher in the world ;) But as far as the actual subject goes... it’s a serious toss-up between biology and technical drawing.
8. What is your #1 on your travel bucket list?
Same answer as previously :)
9. What is your favourite movie of all time?
I love Amelie. I studied it in 3rd year and then included it in my honours research project. There’s a reason it’s the most watched French film, and I love the way it paints France, I love the soundtrack, and I love the way it leaves me feeling inspired.
10. Pie or cake?
After much consideration, cake.  But it was tough.
11. Cats or dogs?
Dogs, all the way. Malcolm grew up with both, but I’ve never really been that fond of cats.

And to wrap it up... 

I'm not going to tag anybody in this, because it's been going around soooo much, but I'd love to hear if anybody has stuff in common, or if you're surprised by something! :) 

Maybe one day I'll get Malcolm to answer all these questions... then both Bartletts abroad will be covered ;)
Have a great day... the week is half-way though! 

Tuesday, 27 August 2013

Paris Planning

I tried to forget about it so I wouldn't get too excited and wish time away, but, it's now less than two weeks til we're in PARIIIIIIIS for the weekend! 
Which means, we need some plans, and I need some advice. And where better to ask than here, on Travel Tuesdays?
I've done some research with how far things are etc, and I think it's walkable and doable, but if anybody out there knows better, please tell me? Also, we're very much doing the tourist thang and want to tick off some sites (or sights), but if there's something you know of that's just amazing and we've missed, lemme know? Please? 

Okay, so here goes! 

We arrive on Saturday at the station at 10am and our hotel is really close (1star, but good reviews, I hope it's true!). We're hoping to get to our hotel and get out again by about 11/11:30, so we have the afternoon to walk around Montmartre. We're wanting to see...
- Place du Tertre : to watch the artists at work,
- The Basilique du sacre coeur : where we can climb the steps of the dome for 5euros each, but apparently there's a pretty great view from somewhere up there and the dome isn't necessary. (True? False?)
- A walk down rue Lepic, passing by the Virage Lepic.
- A walk around the cemetery... there are some graves I want to see, particularly of some ballet-greats. (is that weird? creepy?)
- The Moulin Rouge. Long story, but I've wanted to dance here for at least the last 10 years, so I'm thinking a dance-about on the pavement is in order. (Ok, maybe just a photo.)
- Les Deux Moulins: the cafe featured in the movie Amelie - come on, I studied this movie, I can quote parts of it. I'm a tourist. We're going!

From there, we'll probably head back to our hotel, hopefully past a grocery store to buy midnight snacks food for the next day so we don't blow our budget on bakeries.
Anything else in Montmartre to see?

The grand-tourist-day! Hooray!
- We are about 4km from the Notre Dame Cathedral, so we'll head there first. We'll see what time we get there, and might go in, depending on whether there's a service going on or not.
- The Louvre : I know this place is huge and neither of us are too clued up on art, so we're not sure if it's worth paying to go in for just a short while. We might be just as happy to see it from the outside. (I can get in for free, but it's 12euros for Malcolm) (Ideas?)
- The Opera House : SO. EXCITED. The Phantom of the Opera increased my love for this place. It's 6euros each to get inside and see the interior. (Yes?)
- Tuileries Garden: a walk through... looks like a beautiful place for a walk?
- A stop by the Place de la Concorde and then on to...
- The Champs Elysees: There's a song we had to listen to as a listening comprehension that always springs to mind when I hear this name. So we at least want to walk along it.
- Crossing over the pont des invalides and then a stroll along the Seine, ending at la Tour Eiffel. We have no plans to ascend it, but rather to do the lovers-in-Paris-thing and sit romantically near by.
Depending on our route, we're about 5-6km away from our hotel... so we'll see if we take public transport or if we walk.

is that a realistic amount to do in one day? Anything else we could do?

We've still got Monday (MY BIRTHDAY!) open... though our train leaves at 4pm. I considered going to Versailles, but it's closed on Mondays.
So maybe we'll go to Versailles on Saturday and do Montmartre on Monday. Or we're considering the Catacombs over Versailles. (are they over-rated?)
Or, we'll leave the day open to wandering around, eating icecream, relaxing in parks and enjoying the vibe.
Any other ideas of what we could do on Monday? (my birthday!!!! yes, I'm excited)

To sum it up... 
1. Have we planned a realistic amount? Could we add or take away (bearing in mind we intend to stroll, rather than march.)
2. Is there something we should know about any of these places? (like really long ques or something?)
3. Is there somewhere you'd recommend we go?
4. For those of you who haven't been to Paris, any suggestions for picnic-food we can buy in advance so we don't need to go to restaurants? (have you seen the rand-euro exchange rate?!) We're thinking we may live off love and fresh air... and cheese and bread ;)

Hope somebody has ideas for us :)

Monday, 26 August 2013

The weekend of... the disappointing pirate ship, cosplay, markets and rain.

Summer seemed to end abruptly this weekend, and suddenly it was misty and quite rainy, which ruined our plans of a cable-car ride because we actually want to see the view, not cloud. But, we had an interesting weekend none-the-less!

Friday afternoon I met Malcolm at the CDC because he wanted to show me the University area which he discovered when we first arrived and needed our marriage certificate translated. But, earlier on, on their tea-time walk-about, him and some friends saw a pirate ship and all sorts of stands being set up in the media park. So, of course, we went to check it out, hoping for something fun.

Turns out that the pirate ship was an elaborate beer-stand. And all the other stands were also beer stands. We were thoroughly disappointed that it was just beer. Does that make us bad German-residents? 

cologne koln media park

So, doing what is only logical after walking all the way (ok, around the corner) to the media park, we sought out a playground that Malcolm went to before. We headed straight to the slide, and after a little bit of worrying we'd get in trouble, I climbed up. If you remember the photo from Malcolm's previous trip, you'll see that the slide is up a hill, so although I thought little of climbing up the little tower, when I looked down I was terrified. I eventually let go and slid down - is it lame that I found this to be quite an adrenaline rush? Clearly, if I found a children's slide this exhilarating, my life must be lacking some excitement? Or maybe it's just been too long since I've played? It was SO much fun!

Malcolm also had a turn, but he was brave and went REALLY fast down and, like the cool-kids, flew off the end into a perfect finish on his feet. He might even have had his hands on his hips like Superman, but that might just have been my imagination...

From there, we headed to the university area... we found it quite easily, but without the bustle of students (still on summer holiday?), it was quite boring. Or maybe they were in classes, because there were loads of bikes.... and lots of concrete and not as many pretty trees as our dear UKZN. So we sat on a bench for a while then headed home, enjoying the sights of the new area as we passed by.

Saturday, our cable-car plans ruined by the dreary weather, we googled for ideas of what was happening in Koln. We discovered that the pirate ship was part of an international beer market, but we decided against it... again, are we bad German-residents? Instead, we decided to try a flea-market.

On the train we noticed some strangely-dressed people again. This time, we knew what was happening: Gamescom. A huge convention for computer and online games and all that kind of thing (can you detect my ignorance of this world despite having a game-loving husband?). Already on Friday when we were on the tram home we could identify some people who were going there - just something about them told us that ;) So this time we decided to get off and go to the entrance, just to see how people had dressed up... we were not disappointed - they take cosplay seriously here.

I can't say I recognise any of these characters, but I was impressed anyway. We saw some even better; zombies and post-apocalyptic-looking-people who were actually kind of scary, but I didn't get a good photo. You can probably find more if you google :)

From there, we made our way to the flea-market. We were excited because it wasn't like the others we've been to, which were antique markets - they have beautiful things but, realistically, we can't afford antiques. This one was, at first glance, a junk-sale. A BIG one. Clothes piled up, frames stacked, dishes and vases lined up, and boxes and boxes of all sorts of teacups and action figures (if you're looking for a rambo action figure there was a whole box of them, just so you know). We had no idea if we wanted to buy anything, and were quite overwhelmed, but had fun looking around.

I fell in love with a few tea-sets... gold rimmed ones that were missing no pieces... but eventually, we ended up buying only a few things... a handbag (a little damaged with it sort of peeling on the handles where it bends a lot, but the same is true of my current one, so oh well!), three picture frames, and a pretty table-overlay. All for 5euros50... and that was without haggling... we probably could have tried to lower the prices, if we could speak a little more. I'm pretty happy :)

Sunday was rainy and miserable... so besides going out to church and meeting new people, we stayed inside... Malcolm had homework to do, and I had a cosy day reading :) A pretty good weekend!

If you missed it on Facebook, our time is coming to an end here...
This weekend Petra is visiting, the next we're in PARIS (more about that tomorrow!), the next we're in the Siebensgerberge, the next we need to finish off our bucket list because THE NEXT will be our last weekend here! How about that?! (that's if Jesus doesn't come back before then, just saying.)

I hope you have a great week-ahead, in SA spring is just around the corner so enjoy the cool weather before the heat hits! :)

Friday, 23 August 2013

Week recap: thinking ahead, ikea-discoveries, and flashbacks to UKZN

Can you believe that next week is the last week of summer? The shops now have autumn colours and the decor shops have orange and brown, not the sea-side colours of a month ago. The sun is setting earlier (like, 9pm instead of 10pm!), and it’s harder to get out of bed. Despite fighting the duvets each morning, we had a pretty good week.

One of the highlights of the week (at least for me!) was on Monday afternoon, when we made our way to IKEA. Since being offered a lift to Marburg, we can buy a few essentials to take with us – we’ll need bedding, towels, cutlery, plates, pots... and a coffee maker/French press. To start with. We're hoping that our apartment, being partially furnished, will at least have a kitchen sink and a counter... after searching online for places to stay, we discovered that it seems normal here that when people move out, they literally take their sinks and shutters with them... 

Germany apartment unfurnished
can you tell these people down the road have moved out...?

We’re reeeally grateful for the wedding-money we received from our very generous family and friends,  and we're looking forward to setting up our home here with it. It is a little frustrating though, knowing that everything we’re buying here we have, or did have, in SA and the money we’re spending could have been for very special things where here it’s a little more mundane. However, we choose to be thankful that we are able to go out and buy everything we need. How privileged we are! And we’re hoping to buy a few special, unnecessary things too ;)

We spent HOURS at Ikea – we had NO idea how big it was - but it was worth it... we even found a double-duvet! Hooray! Thank you, Sweden! Afterwards, we revived ourselves finished off with cinnamon rolls and very-needed coffee, before heading home. 

Ikea Koln Cologne Germany cinnamon rolls kitchen
Ikea is HUGE. My dream-kitchen. Regaining our strength post-Ikea.

I’ve since spent time online making a dream-shopping-list from Ikea (18 pages, but because of pictures!), and went to various other home-decor shops to compare prices. Ikea definitely wins for price, but I found some beautiful things at a few other shops. And I bought a table runner which was on sale... blue to match our ceramic jug and cookie-monster-carpet.

Malcolm had late classes Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, so it was nice getting to spend the mornings at home with him. On Tuesday he needed to go in early though for an appointment for his residents permit; it will only arrive late September (if not October) so in the meantime he has a visa extension – let’s hope he’s allowed into France with it! Between his appointment and class starting, we hung out together for a bit, relaxing under the trees in the park with the old city wall right there made it feel a little like being back on UKZN’s campus. All those lunch-times we spent on those lawns! 

Pietermaritzburg campus germany park old buildings
Left: our old UKZN-campus-lawn
Right: our new-opposite-the-CDC-lawn
Tuesday evening we had home-group, which was really great – I love our group and sharing life with them.

We did have a few other adventures, like accidentally discovering a porn-dvd shop, where we stopped dead in our tracks at the doorway, and walked away from in giggles. We clearly need to improve our German to avoid such incidents in future. Malcolm got an email from his supervisor; he's set to meet him on October 4, so Malcolm is getting his head back into Chemistry for that. I baked muesli biscotti, and planned to bake carrot cake because "all I needed was carrots"... but then I realised I also needed sugar and nuts and eggs. So basically I have flour and baking powder. 

So those were our adventures this week... looking forward to a quiet weekend, with maybe a picnic and cable-car ride... we’ll see!

I hope you all have a wonderful weekend!!! 

Thursday, 22 August 2013

My favourite wedding keepsake

Tomorrow is 5 months since we got married. Today 5 months ago, we were setting up the venue and got married at home-affairs. After 6 months of planning for it, the day passed too quickly, as we had been warned it would. 

As we walked to the bus stop this afternoon, I told Malcolm how I wish we could re-live that day; it was my favourite day. I miss our first days as newly-weds, untouchable and in our bubble of honeymoon romance. Those few days before we came home and I tossed all the papers out of our wedding-folder and replaced them with visa-requirements and application forms and new to-do lists.

I guess the wedding industry is really good at its job, and somehow manages to get us to fall in love with weddings. I know that it’s about the marriage not the wedding and I’ve seen the saying “I want a marriage more beautiful than my wedding” pinned a few too many times. But, there’s still a part of me that wants to hold onto that day. 
{which is why, despite what I'm writing today, you can expect a few pages of details from our wedding to come up sooner or later, because I don’t want to forget.} 

Of course, Pinterest helps: not only does it help brides with ideas for their wedding-day, but how to save it forever. Keep-sakes such as Christmas baubles with the invitation in it, or with sand from the honeymoon beach or with petals from the bouquet. Necklaces with a piece of the dress. Little bottles to keep the raindrops if it rained on the wedding day. Bouquets preserved in shadow boxes or the petals in any number of containers. The cutlery from the wedding engraved. Guestbooks in any shape or form to be used as decor in your home. Photos blown up to enormous sizes, vows written and remembered on walls. And, when in doubt, put it in a shadow box.

I get it. I wish I could do some of that - I have my earrings, perfume and the guestbook. We have our precious album and one framed picture. We cannot “take a picture in the same spot for all four season, frame together to symbolize your first year of marriage!” because we got married and left SA at the end of Autumn, had 3 months of summer, and now it’s nearly Autumn again. And we can’t be in the same spot.

But, what have I learned? That my husband is my favourite wedding keep-sake, and every day I have with him. And that life does go on after the wedding... and it gets better with each day we get to know each other a little more. Every day we make new memories, and each one is so precious to me that I want to put it into a shadow box. I want to put the random flowers he picks for me in a glass bauble. Along with the sound of us singing German grammar songs together with a glass of milk in hand. I want to include the smell as we pass the flowers late at night on our walk home, or the fragrance of a dinner cooked specially for him. I want to keep the taste of the different ice-creams we’ve tried, and forever remember the feeling of his warm hands around mine. I want to remember the magic of this summer, the heartache and the excitement. 

Without minimising the beauty of our wedding day, and without losing any of the appreciation I have for the sacrifices our parents made for our celebration of it and the contributions made by so many people, there are so many moments from days since then that are worth remembering, and so many still to come. And not all of them can be boxed or preserved in a way we can see, but that makes them all the more vivid in my mind. And that's why I write this blog. 
Because not only is it keeping us in touch with people we love, but because I want to remember each moment of our time here, and every day is worth documenting. 
{which is why I have 3 books of letters I wrote daily to Malcolm for the first year of us dating, and I gave him on our 1st year anniversary}

Wednesday, 21 August 2013

Cathedral city or White-washed tomb?

I went out into the Altstadt this afternoon when Malcolm went to school.
A part of me wishes I had taken my camera, a part of me is glad I didn’t.
I just saw and heard so much that touched me.

A really old man leading his tiny old wife through the bustle of a tram-stop.
A man with a beard – he looked like daddy and I wanted to hug him.
A man on his knees with a sign saying “I’m hungry”.
Musicians all over, playing the most beautiful music.
Punks on the cathedral steps, asking for money as people passed.
A toothless man on the train asking for food.
A street-performer-artist frozen with the world on his shoulders.
A young girl and her army-boyfriend, wearing his camo and his camo bag slung over his shoulder. 
A tribute and exposition about the Palestine/Israel conflict... photos of bloodied babies and too-wise-eyes.
 Teenagers surrounded by cigarettes and empty bottles.

The beautiful cathedral can so easily be a facade. 

How must Jesus have felt when He walked earth? I want so badly for His love to reach this “cathedral city” and I’m called to be His light... but sometimes it just seems so much. 

Romans 10:14-15
"How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? And how can anyone preach unless they are sent? As it is written: "How beautiful are the feel of those who bring good news!"

Tuesday, 20 August 2013

Mission Accomplished

With all my excitement of Ani’s wedding, and telling you how we celebrated it, I completely forgot to write about Friday - the day we managed to cross something off our Cologne bucket list. Something which we’ve tried to do a few times already!

Ever heard something easy being described as “a walk in the park”? Or “a picnic”? I have, and I’m not sure it’s accurate. You see, we’ve been wanting to have a picnic in the Rhein Park since we got here, and figured it was something free and easy to do – a breeze. But, the first time we got hopelessly lost, the second we just didn’t get a chance, and the third time we were kinda in the park but it wasn’t really a relaxing picnic. But Friday, SUCCESS! 

After Malcolm finished at the CDC late on Friday afternoon, we took a train to the main station and then walked across the love-lock-bridge, because this way we could see the park and know which way to go. It was soooo easy to find. 

We passed by the Tanzbrunnen, where they have dance-music playing, and then a sort of "beach-club" with lots of reclined chairs with people bronzing themselves and looking all but dehydrated with colourful cocktails in hand. It was a really beautiful day and it was great walking along the the river. 

Not knowing when we'd get the chance again, we walked down to the shore and got our feet wet in the Rhein. The shore is really rocky and there are bits of glass and cigarettes all over... really looks better from afar! But where the water washes over the pebbles it's pretty clean and we took our shoes off for just a moment. 

We put our shoes back on, and headed up to the park. When they call this a park, they aren't joking... there are huge jungle-gyms for children and lots of space where they were playing, and many families and groups of friends out with the same intention of having a picnic supper there.

We found a spot under some pretty trees and enjoyed a relaxing evening, eating our picnic and waiting for the sun to set. We discovered settings on my camera, and Malcolm got creative...

And then I got snap-happy... 

The sun started setting and we went for a walk, Malcolm picked me some 3-leaf-clovers... 4 of them. 4x3=12 leaves. So equal to 3x4leaf-clovers. Right? 

We found some beautiful roses, and some super-soft grass... so we sat there and soaked up the beautiful light and the view of the sun setting over the trees along the Rhein.

 We eventually went on our way, headed out a different direction and got lost. Are you surprised? Fortunately we knew sort-of which direction to go, and we made it back to the Rhein, where we found an icecream stand... how could we resist? Remember trying different icecream is on our Cologne Bucket List! (Malcolm had "Waldmeister" and I had Raspberry) We found a spot on the wall, where we blissfully watched the colours in the sky.

After a long day, we headed home... trams took what seemed like forever, and it was dark as we walked up from the station, but it's not scary, and not even boring. We often have fun on this walk, singing "road trip songs" or hiking songs from Malcolm's scout days, or translating Rihanna's "Umbrella" into German... "unter meinem Regenschirm, irm, irm, irm...." (is that grammar correct?) 

So blessed to be here and get to experience so much, we are so often reminded, even in the smallest thing or quietest moment, how good God is, and how much He loves us.

Monday, 19 August 2013

The weekend of... wedding celebrations!!!

Hooray! Anabel and Savio are married!!! :D This makes my heart SO happy!

Of course, I wasn't there, but it was certainly the highlight of our weekend and we definitely celebrated all the way over here. I'm SO thankful that the venue chosen had a live-stream from the chapel, and from what Ani has told me about the place, and my mum told me since attending, it really is a fantastic venue to get married.

Anyway, seeing as I could watch the ceremony, I Googled ideas of how to celebrate a wedding you're not attending, and nothing came up. So, here's my guide :

1. Dress up. 
One cannot watch a wedding in PJs.

2. Glue yourself to the live stream...
Feel like a stalker watching the groom arrive, the pastor walk around, the sound guy set up, guests filter in, your dad taking photos. (isn't this place beautiful?! It has a panoramic view of the lake!)

3. Tweet and Facebook message the venue to ask them to turn their other cameras on. 
They'll say they only have one. But why is there the option for 3 cameras on the "chapel" stream but two say "disconnected"? I was really disappointed by the venue's live stream; they market themselves as the first SA venue to have the option and say that "Friends and family will be able to enjoy every moment, from you arriving at the chapel, walking down the aisle, or the moment you say “I do”. The “WEDCAM” provides live video streaming, with sound, via the internet."
Well, no, not really. No sound, and the video stream was sooo stilted that one minute Ani was at the back of the isle, and the next she was standing at the front. Maybe it was something I did wrong but QuickTime works perfectly and Malcolm and I tried everything and nothing helped. At least the images were pretty clear.

4. Ooh and Aah anyway
Watch your friend walk in with her dad, freak out a bit about how beautiful she looks. Witness the vows and the ring-exchange, and that magical first kiss!  

5. Eat cookies
Because you can. And they're heart-shaped, so totally appropriate. 

6. Feel really bleak when it's all over
As they walk out, you realise that that's as much as you're going to see, they're off to celebrate and you cannot give a huge hug outside. (But they're MARRIIIIIIIIED!!! :D)

7.Cheer up when you watch people like a stalker again
My parents came back in to take a few photos of the decor (they sent me the most beautiful photos yesterday!), and I really wanted to wave at them and say "Hi!!". Then some others came in to pose on the pews for some photos. I felt like a creeper, but it was fun.

8. Explore the venue a bit. 
After visiting the venue's website, find other cameras that you can access... like the one that shows the "amazing view from the glass deck". Turns out of the four camera options available, the back alley with chickens is the only one that works. 

9. Get out the house and celebrate by yourselves
Because seriously, no amount of funny youtube videos of cats is going to live up to the happiness you feel for your friend!

10. Drink a toast to the newly weds! 
Feel extra German by making it a beer. 

11. Go to McD's
Because you really want their chips. And because you celebrated Martin's graduation, your 21sts, the UKZN Oscars, and a whole lot of other things with an after-party with Ronald, so it seems appropriate to go there. 

12. Go home and cook a wedding-y meal
Spaghetti and Meatballs seems the most romantic meal to me (Because of Lady and the Tramp of course!) and a heart-shaped piece of cheese adds that finishing touch, don't you think? (although I'd never suggest it for a wedding because of how white clothes attract the sauce, but it totally works at home.) For dessert, heart-shaped cookies and walnut icecream. Oh yes. 

And that conclude my guide. Not too shabby? :) It was weird not actually being there, but it was great being able to keep up to date, feel a little part of it, and see what was going on... and then of course see photos of Facebook! What would I do without the technology that keeps us all connected?! 

I hope everybody at the wedding had the most amazing time, I heard that the reception was loads of fun (and the decor and everything was GORGEOUS!!!), and that everybody had a wonderful weekend! Ready for Monday! :)