{Hannah} My Favorite Summer Activity

When I was little, my family spent so much time at the pool that my mom referred to me and my brothers as her “little fish”.  As we grew up, we stopped spending time in the water.  It wasn’t until I moved to New York that I stepped foot back in a pool.

There was a pool on the same block as my old apartment, and I was curious as to when it was open.  I browsed the NYC Parks website, and found that they offered free adult lap swimming in the mornings and evenings!  Plus, if you swim 25 miles or more over the summer, you get a free shirt and invited to their end of summer pool party!

The pool on my block didn’t offer lap swimming, but there was one a short walk away that did.  I quickly became one of the regular daily swimmers.  That first summer I just barely made the 25 mile mark, given that I started a few days late and took a week-long trip in the middle.

There’s also a lap swim competition at each pool, and the second year I finished fourth.  But this year, I stayed the full hour and a half, and was able to come in second place!

The pool party was last night, and I also competed in the relay for my pool (which we didn’t win but still had fun doing).

Sad to see another summer gone, but can’t wait for next year!  Yay summer swim!

PS. It’s my parents’ anniversary today!  Happy anniversary, Mom and Dad!

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{Hannah} Europe Trip 2017: The Journey Home

In my trip post about Berlin, I alluded to spending an extra night.  Who knew that trying to return would be so difficult?!

I had gotten to Berlin’s Tegel Airport early, so I waited around until my flight was allowed through security to the boarding area (the airport is so small you stay by the ticketing desk until about a half hour before your flight).  We boarded the plane a little late, but things seemed fine.  There was a mix up with seats, and a mother and daughter that weren’t seated together, so I ended up moving seats twice.

Then, we waited.

I recall looking down the aisle and seeing mechanic-looking people coming and going from the front of the plane, but the captain made no announcement as to why we hadn’t left yet.  We finally pushed back over two hours after our scheduled departure.

Everything seemed fine, until about 20 minutes into the flight, when the captain says we have a mechanical issue and will be returning to the Berlin airport!  That did not make for a pleasant trip back to the airport!

When we landed, we were surrounded by emergency vehicles (even though we didn’t have to do any of the typical emergency landing precautions ourselves).

The captain later explained that it was just standard procedure for whatever was happening, and that they’d leave as soon as the brakes cooled down.  The mechanics came back on board, and we were allowed off the plane a short while later.  Once back in the airport, we headed to another desk, where we were told our flight was delayed a day, and given a hotel voucher and two taxi vouchers.

The hotel voucher was for a hotel near the other Berlin airport, which is on the opposite side of the city and almost an hour away.  I asked my friend if I could stay another night with him at his apartment, which was near the center of Berlin.

As it got later at night, my already delayed flight was delayed another few hours.  To make things more interesting, this flight from the day before had also been delayed a day!  I decided that I would not be getting on that plane again, and I’d try to switch flights.

The next morning I made my way back to Tegel Airport and tried to get on an Air France flight leaving at 10 am.  I chose Air France because it was part of the alliance for my original airline, and if I had to be stuck in another city, why not revisit Paris?!  It almost worked, except I waited in the wrong line twice, and then they wouldn’t let me on the plane even though it hadn’t boarded yet.  Instead, I ended up on the other partner’s flight, which was KLM.

The flight from Berlin to Amsterdam wasn’t noteworthy, other than receiving a snack wrap for the hour-long flight!  Yay free food!  The layover in Amsterdam was supposed to be just over an hour, but shortly after I arrived at the gate, they announced the flight was delayed three hours!  Story of this trip, right?!

Luckily, we received food vouchers for use in the airport.

I spent mine on a beer and flammkuchen, which wasn’t nearly as good as the one I had in Berlin.

I ended up landing back in New York around 11 pm, and took a taxi home.  It was so nice to be back and in my own bed!

But my streak of days spent in airports and on planes wasn’t over yet!  I had travel plans the next day to visit family, which meant I was headed back to the airport less than 12 hours later.

In the end, we received a $175 travel voucher for our troubles.  I wasn’t pleased with it–and much less so given it was on an airline I rarely fly.  After almost two hours on the phone with two or three different customer service agents, they converted it into a gift card, which is only valid at a handful of merchants.  It’s just barely better than just walking away with a crazy story tho!

{House} Roll with It

I believe my apartment’s bathroom is original, which means it’s from the late forties. This also means some things don’t work in the modern age, such as the built-in toilet paper roll holder. Today’s rolls are larger than they were, and brand new rolls are squished in so tight that they can’t move.

I needed a toilet paper roll extender! I swear I had looked for them in stores and online when I first moved in, but couldn’t find any. It came up in conversation with some friends the other day that I needed one and couldn’t find it. A few days later, I had a weird housewarming gift.

It was quite easy to install (remove the old one, put TP on the new one, and replace).

It’s still not perfect, but much better than before! It only has to last a few years, because (spoiler alert) the bathroom will be redone at some point in the near future.

{Hannah} Europe Trip 2017: Berlin

The final stop on my European adventure was Berlin! A friend has been traveling the world for almost a year, and he made it known he’d be in Berlin for two months and would appreciate visitors. So I visited!

The first day, I tried flammkuchen, which is kind of like a pizza. Then we went to the DDR museum, and wandered around that area, passing by an old synagogue, eating at a great Chinese restaurant, and trying various beers at two of his favorite bars.

There were a lot of stolpersteins in Berlin–the little plaques in the ground that indicate a victim of the Holocaust had lived or worked there. These were the first two we happened upon while I was there.

Two relatives were deported on November 29, 1942, and murdered in Auschwitz

I had the mornings free to myself, so I spent the first morning wandering around the most famous sites. The first stop was the Brandenburger Tor and Pariser Platz.

I continued through past the Holocaust Memorial…

berlin germany holocaust memorial

…then onto Potsdamer Platz, the Topographie des Terrors…

Berlin Wall remnant

…and Check Point Charlie. We at lunch at a German restaurant, and I tried spaetzle, which is German macaroni and cheese. We went to the Judisches Museum, and then visited the Reischtag before heading to a blues dance class and a fondue dinner.

Plaque outlining where the Berlin Wall once stood

The next morning I went for a run through Grosser Tiergarten, Berlin’s largest park. It’s a beautiful park, with a lot of statues and history.

The Siegessaule (Victory Column) in the middle of the park

We spent the rest of the day wandering around town and eating a lot of food. We stopped at the old church Kaiser-Wilhelm-Gedachtnis-Kirche before heading back to the apartment.

It was the Fourth of July, which isn’t a holiday in Berlin, but is a holiday for two Americans! To celebrate, we made dinner, baked cookies, and drank a homemade red, white, and blue drink.

I left the next morning for my flight, but ended up staying another night (more on that later). The “bonus night” in Berlin was spent going to a nice restaurant and returning to his favorite local bar to have a banana beer.

{House} Silver Screen

Like most NYC apartments, mine does not have central air conditioning. However, unlike many New Yorkers, I don’t “need” AC, so I’ve yet to use a window unit. But there was already a window unit in my kitchen when I moved in.

I was content to leave it and figured it would be removed when I redo the kitchen. But then a friend was looking for another unit for his apartment, so I volunteered mine.

There were a few metal bars and screws to take off before the unit would come free from the window.

And that’s how the window sat for a few weeks. But the more windows that are open, the more air circulation in the apartment. I wanted to get one of the original screens, but I couldn’t find the company or it was too expensive to have one custom made. Instead, I got one of these expandable screens for $20 just as the store was closing.

It took a few minutes to position it properly in the window, but it fits perfectly!

Now I get extra air and no bugs. A win-win in my book!