Middle Europe Weekly Small Pleasures #18 – Lilac and canola

 

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We are headed off on another adventure in few minutes, but before we go I wanted to do a Weekly Small Pleasures blog post. Weekly Small pleasures is Mani’s blog event where you highlight the little things that made you happy this week. For her post and other people’s, head here. Here are mine:

It’s May.
What’s not to love about May in Berlin: it’s a month full of public holidays. 1 May is Worker’s day, but this year it was a Sunday and they didn’t give the Monday off, so we lost out on that one. Then there is “Himmelfahrt” (Ascension Thursday – date varies by year) and also “Pfingsten” (Pentecost – date varies by year), which seem to always fall in May too. So last Thursday instead of sitting in the office I was kayaking in Neu Venedig (New Venice), and this weekend is a long weekend and we’re headed off for a bike tour in the Alsace wine region of France! This promises to be quite an adventure (possibly an uncomfortable one, since we’re taking two night trains and sleeping on tatami mats in a Yurt one night, with a dry toilet and cold shower, oh the horror) – but I guess that’s what the wine is for. Unfortunately being away means this year we’ll miss the Carnival of Cultures.

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Drastic increase in temperatures.

It feels like not long ago I was wearing boots, a jacket, scarf and gloves, and now I’m in a T-shirt and need to carry sunglasses. This is how rapidly the temperatures can increase in Berlin! But I’m not complaining, I much prefer warm weather. Plus, I’m pretty sure my vitamin D levels must have been super low after the long grey season and now is a chance to soak up some sun and make some more! I feel more energetic already.

The trees have flowers.

I haven’t got over the novelty of flowers on all the trees yet. Yes, the little pieces of flowers blowing in the wind get into your eyes when you’re on the cycling lane – but everything is so beautiful!

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Paris in the springtime

Actually, we weren’t supposed to go to Paris in the springtime. We were supposed to go in autumn, but exactly one week before our trip we were checking the news before going to sleep at night and read, to our shock, about the terror attacks that had occurred. In the wake of the sad events, it did not seem the appropriate time to visit the city. So, we postponed our trip to April. Then at the end of March, there were more terrorist attacks in Brussels. It was therefore with a slight feeling of unease that I set out for Paris, hoping we would have an uneventful trip. Well, luckily we did, and once you are in Paris you start to forget about what happened, because everyone is just going on about their daily lives, enjoying life. The city is huge and there must be only a handful of people who would go so far as to harm others. I did feel a bit uneasy traveling on the metro, but otherwise enjoyed walking around the city, eating in cafes and mingling with the locals.

Like this local

Like this local

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How to make an Easter Egg Tree

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Easter is coming and so is spring! Although I quite like the warm Christmas we have in the southern hemisphere, I do find that spring is probably a nicer time to have Easter, like they do in the northern hemisphere, since it comes with the added excitement of the arrival of spring. In Germany I first came into contact with the Easter egg tree, and have since also seen them in other countries such as Czech and Slovenia (apparently you can also see them in Austria, Poland, Ukraine and Hungary). Sometimes people decorate trees or shrubs outside, but you also see cut branches decorated in vases. This year I decided to make my own Easter egg tree. Continue reading

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Middle Europe Weekly Small Pleasures #10 – Changing seasons

It’s been a while since I updated on the little pleasures that make the week good!

First it was really busy at work, and then I was away on holiday for two weeks. The first week I was at home in South Africa (always a BIG pleasure, nothing small about that!) and the next week we went on holiday in Slovenia and Croatia, which was also fantastic. But here are some of the little moments I’ve enjoyed over the last weeks.

While summer was still here, swimming and playing badminton at the lakes, and a weekend trip to Cesky Raj and Prague with our friends.

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Spending time with the kitties and dogs in Czech. I miss having pets so it’s always great to spend some time with these guys.

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A trip home meant springtime in South Africa. I went on hikes, visited the beach and Kirstenbosch garden, marvelled at all the spring flowers at West coast national park, enjoyed the sunshine and most of all just enjoyed being home. It was also nice to have my car back for a few days!

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During the 2 weeks I was away from Berlin, summer suddenly disappeared and autumn arrived in its place. That means it’s time for cold weather foods such as goulash and stews, and seasonal foods like pumpkins and pomegranates. It’s also time to start doing some indoor sports such as squash and climbing/bouldering.

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To read what other people around the world have been up to this week, check out A New Life wandering. Have a lovely week!

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Weekend of blossom festivals

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This weekend we visited the Baumblütenfest in Werder an der Havel (www.obstbauverein-werder.de/baumbluetenfest.htm) and the Kirschblütenfest-Hanami in Teltow /Berlin-Lichterfelde (http://www.teltow.de/veranstaltung/kirschbluetenfest.html). Hanami (“flower viewing”) is “the Japanese custom of enjoying the transient beauty of flowers” (as Wikipedia poetically puts it), often the blossoms of the cherry tree (sakura), or sometimes the plum tree “ume”. Continue reading

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