Monday, April 9, 2012

Chocolate Eggs and Slippery Balls: Osterfest in Berlin

Easter in Germany is a 4 day affair.  Almost everything closes on Good Friday and apparently in some spots in the country you can actually be fined up to 1000 Euros for making too much noise as it is a "quiet day."  Saturday most places are open again, but in the usual Saturday altered hours way.  Apparently there are many Easter Fires to be had around the country that celebrate the beginning of spring by bringing the heat to scare the cold away.  (It worked, as long as the sun was out too btw.)  Easter Monday is similarly holiday-ish with many festivals and things going on and most people not working.  We took advantage of the 4 day weekend by having some amazing adventures around the city.  We've been having soo much fun!  Here is a summary of the awesomeness that was our long Easter weekend in Berlin.  

Despite knowing it was a "quiet holiday," we threw caution to the wind on Friday made the trek all the way into the city to Alexander Platz where they had a big Easter Market going on complete with gigantic sausages, pan seared mushrooms with yogurt sauce, tiny wooden shacks filled with knick-knacks for purchase, and nominally expensive and hilarious activities for the kiddies.  After determining that Annika was not heavy enough to go on the trampoline-bungee waistband activity, we made our way over to the gigantic hamster-ball things where for only 5 Euros they filled the ball with air, sent it afloat in a blow-up pool, and let her run and goof-off for 5 whole minutes.  Annika called these the "slippery balls" and frankly the name was appropriate.  

After the slippery balls, the next activity was the mechanical bull.  Yes, that IS my not quite 4 year old laughing her head off on a gigantic mechanical bull situated in the center of a blow-up American flag circle thingy.  She was definitely the smallest to try it, and she held on as long as he kept it on the slowest setting--about 3 minutes.  It was pretty great to watch, AND the first time I actually heard Annika yell a German word.  "SCHNELLER!"  (FASTER!)  
After we ate some typical German festival fare and our amazing friend Chris joined us, we had to take the girls on the obligatory carnival ride too.  (Why did I not take a picture of Chris?  Note to self: Take more pictures of friends!)  Please note Annika's amazing new sunglasses that she picked out from one of the aforementioned shacks.  They have blue flames on the side, and make us feel extraordinarily American when she wears them.
We headed over to check out the Neptune Fountain in front of the TV tower, where Chris showed her truly amazing skills by both suggesting we take a family photo AND getting one where we're all actually looking at the camera.  All in all, Friday was a great day out.    
After our amazing family day out and after the girls went to bed, I did sneak out to meet my friends at our favorite karaoke bar here: Monster Ronson's Ichiban Karaoke!!  I rocked out some Raspberry Beret in tribute to my 2 friends who had also studied in Minneapolis, and even got to whip out my extremely rudimentary Dutch skills on a group of boys there for a bachelor party.  Good times!

Saturday...hmmm...what did we do Saturday...OH yeah, NOTHING!  We practiced a little "dulce far niente", mostly because the weather was rainy and in the 40s, but also because mama wasn't feeling so well.  You know you might be old when you go out the night before, get home at 4am, and can't sleep past 8am!  I also know I'm old because I KNEW I was sick and not hungover.  It wasn't pretty, but at least it's over.    

We had originally planned to take the girls to an Easter Fire as recommended by some German friends of ours.  Alas the crappy European viruses and weather conspired to keep us indoors that day.  Andy went to the grocery store with Mayzie, but that was about it.  When we opened the front door, we found that the Easter Bunny had been there early (aka: one of our awesome neighbors anonymously left our daughters chocolate)!  The girls were sooo excited and I was moved for sure.  Despite Mayzie's bored look here, I assure you she was surprised and excited!    
 Then came Sunday!  The Easter Bunny DID make a stop at our house, and our girls were ECSTATIC!  Those adorable faces were covered in chocolate for the next hour.  It was great.  I think.  Andy mostly took the pictures so that I could see them, when I finally woke up from my 13 hour nap.  

When I finally got up and moving, we made our way up to Spandau for the 6th annual Easter Knight Festival at the Citadel there.  You really must love a Medieval Festival situated in a fortress built in the 16th Century.  

The building was really amazing to check out, and they had some lovely historical museum bits that I would love to go check out again.  They had an impressive collection of war weapons, helmets, and original plans for the outfit.
There was, of course, a jousting display of great knight feats that our girls got to enjoy from the tops of our shoulders.  I honestly saw none of it, except for the pictures that Andy took with his hand above his head.  (When are the young ones big enough to start taking pictures from up top anyway?)  This purple knight was Annika's favorite, because she is a GIRL knight.  I really appreciate this reinterpretation of history myself.
We walked all along the top of the walls, which were surprisingly grass covered.  There were these steep cobbled paths to get up there, but we appreciated how much they wore the girls out.  Annika was particularly wired from all the bunny-loot, so we spent much of the day chasing after her.  Mayzie had an excellent time exploring all the nooks and crannies of the old building.  This was some hole that we couldn't see the bottom of.  I think she looks like she's listening for ghosts here.
Naturally, we climbed a creaking wooden spiral staircase all the way to the top of the tower.  We took turns carrying Mayzie up while the other parent tried to keep up with Annika.  Once we got the top, Annika announced, "Ok, I'm done.  Let's go back down."  We DID get her to stand still for about 10 seconds, though we figured out quickly that taking pictures was not really an option as imminent danger of children plummeting several hundred feet to their death didn't seem to be a concern of the constructors.

We ended the day by taking the girls on a carousel.  Are you sensing a theme here?  In a medieval twist, this one was MAN powered.  After everyone was loaded, two men would position themselves on opposite sides of the carousel and push it around while running.  (Not a job I would sign up for, though it did look like quite a workout!)  Here's the action shot.
Every time they went around the girls would yell "HI!"  It was freaking adorable, and even made the stoic Germans laugh in delight.
Easter Monday, we trekked back over to Domaene Dahlem for their Easter Egg Hunt.  They were giving out free bags of goodies to the first 1000 kids, so we made sure to get there early--though I'm not sure that was really necessary in hindsight.  This was no American egg hunt to be sure.  When we arrived, we stood in a long winding line of parents and kids waiting to get these bags.  We stood in the line for 20-25 minutes, and then each kid received a bag filled with organic candy and one colored egg.  The only hunting to be done was when the parents would randomly place the eggs or other treats they had brought for their kids around the farm.  Several times I noticed one parent placing eggs or toys, only to have some other kids notice them before the intended recipients "found" the gifts left by the Easter Bunny for them.  It was a pretty adorable game that the parents were playing with the kids, and much different than last year.  (Last year was a rainy Cleveland Easter when we got to watch Annika and hundreds of other kids "look" for thousands of candy-filled eggs all over a hockey rink in the Cleveland Heights Community Center!)
Here is Mayzie enjoying her loot this year.
Here's Annika enjoying her chocolate too!
 Of course, we capped the weekend off by riding yet another carousel.
 Annika even got to ride her favorite black horse!

All in all, I'd say we definitely enjoyed our family Easter Weekend here in Berlin.  I've left off the bits about the screaming tantrums and public scrutiny on purpose here.  I want to remember the weekend like this.  I want to remember the fun times and not the insanity and exhaustion of parenting two small children when taking them out for adventures--or pretty much 80% of the time.  Sadly, Annika ended the weekend with a fever, so we may pay dearly this week for taking her out and gathering all kinds of crazy germs.  It was worth it in my book.


  1. Hello,
    Nice site! I am loving it!! Will come back again ??taking you feeds also, Thanks.

  2. Great!!
    Make sure that Annika won'T forget her sunglasses when you visit us. ;-)


    1. We'll bring the glasses AND her pink sequined hat so she can look SUPER American.



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