Travel: Eating Internationally in Berlin

by Charise on January 14, 2014 · 0 comments


By the time we made it to Berlin, we were a little tired of traditional Bavarian-style food. Don’t get me wrong, I loved every meal, but my tastebuds were ready for something different. And because Berlin is home to many different ethnic groups, our plan was to try as many different quick and cheap places as we could, especially Turkish food and doner kebabs. Although we weren’t staying in Kreuzburg, the center of Turkish eats in Berlin but still probably a little too gritty (and cool?) for us, we were staying in the nearby fun, student-filled neighborhood of Friedrichshain, which was full of cheap ethnic places and fun bars.


Our first night we walked to a falafel place called Nil recommended by our apartment owner. It was a little different than what we’re used to, as it was Sudanese-style falafel called tamiya. My delicious plate o’ balls came with mashed beans, an eggplant spread, peanut sauce, yogurt, and pieces of a thick pita-like bread. It was so.good. and got us excited for more food discoveries!


Before our tour the next day, we went to our only actual sitdown meal in Berlin for lunch (every place else had either a couple tables inside or picnic tables outside, where you could drink your own beer). Monsieur Vuong’s is a casual but nice restaurant in the Mitte serving healthy-ish takes on Vietnamese dishes. After starting with the seafood- and veggie-filled spring rolls (pictured at top), we both had the special of the day – roast duck red curry with rice noodles. It was so comforting and fresh tasting at the same time – really one of the better Asian-style dishes I’ve ever had. The drinks are fun here, too. I started with an iced ginger green tea and fortified with a rich Vietnamese coffee before heading off to walk in the cool and rainy weather the rest of the afternoon.


After reading so much about the Turkish restaurants in the Kreuzburg neighborhood, and well as several recommendations for Imren Grill as some of the best doner in the city, we took a detour there on our way home for our first Berlin-style kebab experience. The flavorful gyro-like meat did not disappoint! Excuse the blurry picture – I was so hungry by that point, I just wanted to get the food in mah belly (this was a pattern in Berlin)!


We spent part of the next afternoon wandering around an art fair/street food market on the Hackescher Markt square. We picked up some kofte durum, which is a wrap full of Turkish-style meatballs and plenty of toppings and what passes for “hot” sauce in Germany.


For our final meal in Germany (not counting quick sandwiches for breakfast while waiting to board the plane, that is), we walked to another doner kebab place in our neighborhood, Doner Dach. The spit meat here was chicken-based, and whatever kind of seasonings and sauces they used quickly made this a standout among our Berlin meals.

The crummy iPhone photos (I upgraded from a 4 to a 5s soon after, which takes much better photos!) really don’t do any of this food justice. It was tasty, with varied flavors, filling, and CHEAP. With the exception of Monsieur Vuong’s, every meal we ate in Berlin cost us less than 10 euro total to feed both of us. We in general didn’t have the time or energy to do  much in Berlin, food and otherwise, so hopefully we will get back again some day!

Aaaand that’s a wrap on our Germany vacation. It only took me until 6 weeks before our next trip – back to Charleston at the end of February!


Travel: Whirlwind Tour of Berlin

by Charise on January 7, 2014 · 0 comments


Hey, remember that one time four months ago when we went to Germany and Austria? And then I got too  busy/lazy to finish sharing our trip? Here is the last stop of vacation, three nights in Berlin. Well, in reality, it was 3 nights and 2 days, and we were getting tired, and the weather turned crummy. So I am sad to say we didn’t see as much in Berlin as I would have liked to.

We did go on a great 3 h our walking tour through Insider Berlin, where we learned lots of historical tidbits and saw the famous/infamous sites. We had a really entertaining and knowledgeable guide – he studied modern European history with a focus on the 20th century, so he was a wealth of knowledge about WWI and WWII. That’s where most of these photos came from – with the rain, I didn’t like having my camera out too often, so this all I got.

Here’s a shot of what’s remaining of the Berlin wall:


And some art on pieces of it:


Checkpoint Charlie:


The Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe. The rainy gloom felt appropriate here.



Brandenburg Gate:


Columns on Museum Island where you can still see bullet holes from WWII fighting:

I  honestly don’t remember anything about this, hah. That’s what I get for waiting so long to go through these photos.

Later that night, we decided to act not-old and head out to a club. I say not-old, because the clubs in Berlin don’t even open until midnight. But we made the trek to the opposite side of town and hung out with all the other foreign tourists who have no choice but to club it up on a Wednesday night (this is basically the only dance club open then – it’s their “new faces” up and coming DJ night). ;) Located in an old power station, with the main dance floor in the basement, Tresor was a fun experience. Dark, loud, and with bass so heavy your whole body vibrates, it was Ryan’s first exposure to a really industrial-style techno dance club, and we loved every minute of our fun night here. No pictures allowed, but I snuck this one of the upstairs DJ when coming out of the bathroom. :)


After getting turned around trying to figure out the bus changes on the way home (too late for the U and S bahns!), and me having to pee behind a store because I just couldn’t hold it anymore (30 and still keeping it classy), we finally made it home around 4:30. That may have  been why we were such wastes of space the next day.

When we did finally head out, it was to another super neat experience. Berlin Underground is a non-profit group working to excavate much of what lies under Berlin. They receive no financial support from the government, so offer guided tours of many of their excavated sites to fund their research. We unfortunately missed the only tour of the day for the one I really wanted to see, an old WWII bomb shelter complete with artifacts left down there in the ’40s. I was pretty bummed about this, but we took the Cold War nuclear bunker tour instead. No pictures allowed, but this was absolutely fascinating. It includes a converted WWII shelter as well as another secretly built right into a new-at-the-time subway stop in the 1980s. The stories behind everything from the entry procedures to the machinery used to get clean air, to the still-stocked kitchens was intriguing. The city didn’t stop paying to maintain them until 2007 – it is so strange to think of how recent that was! Anyhow, super fascinating and a little off the beaten path and I would recommend checking it out to anyone going to Berlin.

After that, we were spent and ended up watching a movie in bed the rest of the night. I felt a liiittttle guilty when there was so much we hadn’t done – the East Side Gallery was less than a mile from our apartment, for example, but I just couldn’t bring my tired self to go back out into the cold. More to do next time, right?


Home for the Holidays 2013

by Charise on December 7, 2013 · 0 comments

treemantel It’s one of my favorite home decorating seasons – Christmas time! Here’s what our house is looking like this year.

mantel I decided the switch up the mantel – instead of lots of greenery, I went with a winter-y white theme. I pulled in a mirror that usually hangs in our hallway to start, and added a ceramic reindeer I picked up at Target. I’m still looking for more big sparkly snowflake ornaments.

mantel2 There’s still a lot of natural elements in the cotton, holly, birch candles, and the trees, which are this year’s holiday craft-y project (if I get around to it, I took some pictures to show how I made ‘em after being inspired by something similar at Target). The garland is also homemade – just circles of wax paper glued to fishing wire.

mantel3 The coffee table centerpiece is similar to previous years – piles of ornaments, greenery, and my favorite holiday scent Yankee candle,  Home for the Holidays.

coffee1   Can’t forget about the tree!

treeI placed a couple poinsettias on the media center and breakfast table

point2 point1 For the dining table, I kept the setup similar to this year’s fall decor, replacing the pumpkins with bottle brush trees (on top of epsom salt snow); part of the pine cones with fake berries; and the fall leaf sprays with fresh greenery.

dining1 dining2 I still wanted a wreath, so it and the stockings were hung in the hallway with care ;)

wreath To round it out, there’s last year’s craft-y projects:

noel pillow (tutorial for pillow here) We’ve had snow a few times already, which is actually unusual for us before Christmas. Between that, arriving home to our happy light display, and spending nights snuggled up by the tree with a fire, we are definitely in the holiday spirit over here!



Pumpkinmania #17: Smoky Pumpkin-Bacon Mac + Cheese

November 5, 2013

I like to make us a fun, usually pumpkin-filled, dinner for Hallloween. This year was no exception, as I went with a pumpkin mac + cheese. This was so, so good. Cheesy and creamy, and smoky, with a little crunch from the bacon (which can obviously be left out to make it vegetarian). Big pile […]

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Travel: Eating and Drinking in Munich’s Beer Gardens and Beer Halls

October 31, 2013

When most people think of Munich, one of the first things they think of is BEER. Probably followed closely by SAUSAGE. We drank many liters of beer and ate our way through a wide variety of pork  products and other hearty Bavarian food while in Munich. We left not a moment too soon, because I […]

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Travel: Around Munich

October 17, 2013

Ryan and I really enjoyed Munich. It was easy to get around, whether by foot or public transport, clean, and full of fun. I actually didn’t take many non-food photos out and about in Munich, as we spent many of our days on trips out of the city. But here’s some of what we did […]

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Travel: A Day in Salzburg

October 10, 2013

One of our Munich days was spent day-tripping to the land of Mozart and Sound of Music – Salzburg! We got a late start (this was a theme to the trip – we slept in and had lazy mornings most days before conquering our tourist agenda), but still managed to see quite a bit in […]

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Pumpkinmania #16: Pumpkin Spice Puppy Chow

October 1, 2013

For my softball team’s belated post-season celebration this weekend, Ryan smoked ribs and I made a couple dishes to round out the potluck. When I was worried there wouldn’t be any dessert (there won’t be enough food! says the neurotic planner in me), I decided it was time for the return of pumpkin for the […]

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Travel: Hiking in the Austrian Alps

September 24, 2013

One of my favorite parts of our entire trip was hiking in the Alps. We lucked out with really gorgeous weather the entire time we were in Munich – hikes in the mid70s to 80, and sunny and breezy. Perfect for heading into the mountains for a day! There are so.many.options for hiking if you […]

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Travel: Wine and Castles in Germany’s Mosel River Valley

September 19, 2013

There are so, so many fun experiences and good stories to share about our 2 week trip to Germany that I keep getting overwhelmed and don’t even know where to start. So I’m going with the more “down time” part of our vacation, since there’s less to sort through and think of. Fair warning, this […]

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