Tuesday, July 23, 2013

European Vacation: Berlin

Remember back in the day when someone would return from vacation and you'd have to sit in a darkened room watching a slideshow of the endless fascinating pictures they took to document their trip?

Well grab some popcorn and dim the lights, because my slideshow is about to start. Lucky for you, you can scroll through them at your own pace, and you don't have to ooh and ahh and feign interest in them. Ha!

The first stop on our trip was Berlin. It is a city rich with history, and we made the most of our two days there.

We landed early in the morning, showered quickly at the hotel, and hit the ground running... well, more like strolling after a sleepless overnight flight.

Monument to the Murdered Jews of Europe

Designed by U.S. architect Peter Eisenman, the 2,711 unmarked gray, stone slabs are each unique in shape and size.

Brandenburg Gate...

Walking down Unter den Linden.

Humboldt University

Neue Kirche

Kathe Kollwitz sculpture Mother with her Dead Son, a WWII war memorial

Berliner Dom

Berliner Dom

The Berliner Dom, Berlin's protestant catheral is located on Museum Island. We visited the Pergamon Museum there which houses original-sized, reconstructed monumental buildings such as the Pergamon Altar and the Market Gate of Miletus, all consisting of parts transported from Turkey.

The Pergamon also houses an Islamic Art exhibit. Below is the Aleppo Room, the reception room of a prosperous Syrian broker. He commissioned the painted wall panels in the beginning of the 17th century.

On Day 2, we visited the Berlin Wall memorial.

Marker showing where original wall stood.

Pictures of those who lost their lives on the wall.

Touring the wall memorial is very emotional.

The Chapel of Reconciliation on the grounds of the Berlin Wall memorial. The chapel stands were the Reconciliation Church once stood. When the wall was erected, the church was situated in the death strip and was inaccessible. The church was blown up in 1985 by the East Germans. After reunification, the chapel was constructed.

View of the wall's fortification area

Back at the Brandenburg Gate...

Heading to the other side of the Brandenburg Gate

Soviet War Memorial in the Tiergarten

Victory Column

Bellevue Palace

German Resistance Memorial Center, at the historic site of the attempted coup of July 20, 1944 

"Here Died For Germany" ("Hier Starben Für Deutschland"), and then it lists the names of the executed men. These men and hundreds more were executed for the attempt to kill Hitler.

Checkpoint Charlie

The Topography of Terror is an indoor/outdoor museum on the site of the fomer SS building. It chronicles the rise of the Nazi regime and the atrocities it committed.

Topography of Terror Museum

In the evening, we toured the Reichstag building...


The large glass dome at the very top of the Reichstag has a 360-degree view of the surrounding Berlin cityscape.

Okay... I know that was pretty long, but there was a lot to see and do in Berlin. And, believe me, I edited the pictures a lot :) The rest of our trip was slower paced, and I've got some beautiful pictures to show you of the architecture and scenery in Germany and France.

Have you been to Berlin, or would you like to visit? I would definitely recommend, especially if you're interested in history. Oh, and if you like sausage. They had some amazing curry wurst there :)

Have a great day!

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

My Brother's Bachelor Pad

Meet my brother, Bob.

This is my brother Bob drinking beer in a biergarten in Berchtesgaden. Say that ten times fast :)

When Bob is not off traveling somewhere fabulous, he can be found at his bachelor pad in the windy city. You know the one... "Chicago, Chicago, that toddling town." I had to google what exactly Frank Sinatra meant by "toddling" town. Apparently, it means a place where you leisurely walk home after having a drink. I don't know about that. Anyone who has been there in the winter, can tell you the walking home pace is anything but leisurely. Brrrr.... But, I digress.

Bob recently moved from an historic apartment in Lincoln Park to a contemporary high-rise in an area known as Streeterville. While his old apartment had a lot of vintage character with arched doorways and hardwood floors, the new pad is all about the view.

I mean, if you're going to live in a city with amazing architecture and a beautiful lake, you may as well be overlooking it from floor-to-ceiling windows, no?

With a view like this, it doesn't much matter what's going on inside. However, I think my brother has
managed to put together a place that is stylish and comfortable.  To me, it's the perfect balance for a bachelor pad. It says, "I care, but not too much." Ha!

The furnishings are masculine and relaxed. The coffee table has a cool slate top. And, I have to admit that I was very proud of my brother when I saw his awesome chevron rug. My mother picked out the throw pillows. Bob has good taste and all, but he's still a guy. Throw pillows aren't really on his radar :)

Bob has traveled all over the world, and has taken LOTS of photographs. With so many windows in his apartment, there isn't a lot of wall space for displaying photos. We decided to create a gallery wall around the TV. The metal ledges make it easy for him to switch out photos. It's also a nice way to detract from the awkward vent and sprinkler head.

You can see in the picture below how we added a tall vase and bamboo to disguise the large wall vent.

More framed photos are situated to the left of the kitchen counter. Three pieces of art that he purchased in Vietnam are to the right.

The dining table and chairs belonged to our grandmother.

We recovered the seat cushions in a blue fabric to coordinate with the throw pillows.

I gave Bob a couple of counter stools that I was no longer using. They don't exactly jive with the contemporary apartment, but it's a temporary fix until he finds something he likes better.

Oh, who am I kidding? They'll be there until we force him to buy something else.

Past the kitchen is a great outdoor space. It wasn't furnished at the time of our visit, so I didn't take any pics. There are also two bedrooms and a bathroom that I didn't photograph. I'll see if they're ready for a photo shoot next time I visit.

In the meantime, here's another outdoor view...

And with a zoom lens, you can see the boats up close.

The grounds of Bob's apartment are beautifully maintained.

Love the tulips!

Although Bob loves to travel, I think he's got a pretty sweet space to come home to. I can tell you, the other men in the family appear to be a little jealous of Bob's city dwelling. My 16 year old nephew thinks Uncle Bob is livin' the dream. And, quite frankly, my husband seemed to like the place so much when he first saw it, I was concerned he might ditch me in suburbia and "go lose the blues" in the toddling town of Chicago.