Saturday, January 30, 2010

Pushing Through

Today was one of the harder days of my travels.

Ilya is sick. She has this horrible phlemy cough accompanied by a runny nose. I know that kids get sick, and that I have been particularly lucky that this is only the second time in her life that she has ever been sick, but I am irrationally terrified that she is going to get worse and die. I worry that she is too cold or that she caught something nasty on the plane, and I feel guilty (for taking her on this crazy trip in the first place) and scared at the same time.

To make matters worse, I feel even more guilty that I took her outside today when she was sick. I wouldn't have done it, but I REALLY need a sleeping bag to fend off the seeping cold that is Magdeburg. I didn't find one. I did find a french coffee press that I was really excited about then promptly shattered on the cold hard ground. We got off at the wrong tram stop on our way home (which is a big deal when it is sub-freezing temperatures outside), and I broke the internet so I can't even call my family to tell them my woes.

I felt like crying - I was so overwhelmed by everything and miserably cold, but I couldn't cry because Ilya was crying. So, I stopped trying to clean and cook and just held my baby and rocked her, and it helped. Both of us. She cuddled her head into my chest and fell asleep, and I remembered that nothing is as important as my family.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Its a tropical paradise

I woke up this morning, put on my legging under my sweats under my jeans. Put on my tank top under my long sleeved shirt under my short sleeved shirt under my sweater under my jacket. Put on my hat gloves and snow boots only to emerge in what can only be described as a tropical paradise. The sun was shining, birds were tweeting, and my eyelids didn't instantly freeze to my eyeballs. I was sure it must have been at least 50 degrees F, but I was wrong because it soon began to snow. It has been so cold that I thought that freezing temperatures were WARM!

It was warm enough that after meeting Stina for lunch, Ilya and I decided to explore the City of Magdeburg a bit before heading home. Navigating the stroller over piles of frozen snow was challenging, but I justified it by making it my arm workout for the day.

We walked around a really old looking church (I'll post pictures at some point, I promise) and an apartment building that was built by this really famous architect (the name is alluding me). It really was an incredible building - like something straight out of a Dr. Seuss book. The best part of the day was that I was able to navigate us all the way home without getting lost once! Its almost like I'm a local. Except I don't speak German. At all. And EVERYONE else does. All the time. I realized that I've never spent any length of time in a place where people didn't speak English to some extent. It's a fascinating experience that I think everyone should enjoy at least once in their lives.

We sent in our rental application today so hopefully we'll have our own space soon and be able to give Brendan and Stina their room back.

Ilya is throwing crayons on the floor and saying, "Ilya made a mess." I need to go deal with this. Pictures to follow.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Weighing Options

Before my friends, Brendan and Stina, moved to Magdeburg I don't recall ever thinking to myself, "boy, I'd sure like to see Magdeburg Germany before I die." In fact, I don't think that I'd actually be in Magdeburg Germany at all if my friends weren't here. Is that a good enough reason to move somewhere?

Tonight is our crucial decision time - do we settle down here in Magdeburg or should we move on and explore some other part of the world? There are pros and cons to both options, but here is the way I see it right now:

Staying in Magdeburg:
Pros:
* We are already here
* Rent is cheep
* Our friends are letting us stay with them until we get a place
* We have friends here - including their friends , whom they are generously sharing with us
* We have already started the process to stay here and know how it works
* I might be forced to learn German

Cons:
* Its COLD
* While there is some interesting history to the city, there is not a lot to see or do
* It prevents us from living someplace that we have always wanted to see
* It is very hard to get around if you don't know German
* Have I mentioned how COLD it is?

Moving on and exploring someplace else
Pros:
* Getting to see all those cities that I've always wanted to see
* I'm thinking warm tropical locations
* Ilya can do things OUTSIDE because it won't be FREEZING

Cons:
* Much more expensive (both to live and to get set up the live there)
* Messing up poor Ilya again just as she is getting settled
* Won't know anyone

I don't know what we are going to do. Adam is working right now so I can't talk to him. Initial thoughts are: Staying would be easier but leaving might be more rewarding in the long run. I'll keep you updated.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Its Cold - and not in a good way


Looking back at my life, there are times when I've been cold. It snowed at least once a year in New Mexico, and even Seattle has had its fair share of cold snaps, but I had no idea what COLD was until I got to Magdeburg. Its the kind of cold that seeps through your clothes no matter how many layers you have on. Its the kind of cold that makes you question how people have even evolved to live in such conditions in the first place.

After five minutes, my cheeks begin to tingle and my legs are completely frozen (I don't even OWN any extra layers for my legs). After ten minutes the cold has penetrated my super bulky down winder jacket and is quickly moving up my arms to my chest. I don't know what happens after 15 minutes, because I haven't made it that long. I imagine that I would just completely freeze solid like those blue cartoon characters complete with the rectangular ice cube encasing my body.

The worst part is, while my bodily systems are shutting down, all I can think of is Ilya. The poor child has never worn so many clothes at once in her entire life. I put her in so many layers her arms stick straight out to the sides and she is forced to waddle back and forth because her legs won't go together. I put her in the stroller under blankets with a hat and a hood, and I still worry.

I defiantly feel like a foreigner. While I am wearing every piece of clothing that I brought with me, people are walking past me wearing nothing more than a thin jacket. I satisfy myself thinking they would be burning up after five minutes in Seattle.

In other news, we looked at an apartment today that is right across the courtyard from Brendan and Stina, and we liked it a lot. We also registered with the help of a German friend we made named Sebastian, who was able to translate everything the officials were telling us.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Exploring Frankfurt

Frankfurt is one of those cities that everyone knows about because its a big city in Germany but people don't actually go there very much (aside from business) because there just isn't a lot to do there. According to Rick Steves (who I've decided is my own personal Guru), Frankfurt used to be a banking town (there are a ton of banks) but wanted to change their image. So, they invested a bunch of money into the arts and museums started popping up right and left. Now, I didn't actually go into any museums (its just not my favorite way to experience the culture of a new city), but we did explore all of the areas around the museums.

This is Brendan, Stina, and Adam in the main tourist square.

It looks like those buildings behind them are really old, but actually, they were redone in the 1980's.

We drank authentic Frankfurt apple wine (which was remarkably like hard cider) and entertained Ilya by tossing her around a bit.

Have I mentioned what a great traveller my daughter is? Aside from the whole "no sleep" stance she took on the plane, she has been a saint. Here she is entertaining herself in our hotel room. I swear she did this for over an hour.
video
She is sound asleep now, after my friends (otherwise known as saints) took care of her this afternoon so I could catch up on some much needed sleep.

Tomorrow, we hop on a train for Magdeburg (6 hours total including two transfers) - I'm not worried. Ilya is a pro at traveling.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

The Plane Ride

How can a child who roughly stays awake for 5 hours at a time suddenly decide to stay awake for all but the last five minutes of a 10 hour flight? There were tears. Both hers and mine - luckily, I have THE GREATEST HUSBAND IN THE WORLD. He did more than his fair share of baby duty.

The flight was barely half full which meant that Ilya had her choice of empty seats - not that she wanted to sit. Ever. We tried everything to get her to go to sleep, but in the end, when it was 12am Seattle time and the plane was making its final decent, she closed her eyes and concked out. Awesome. She slept just long enough for us to reach our hotel then woke up and was ready to play. And I thought jet lag was hard BEFORE having a baby.

Our friends are coming to meet us at our hotel and should be here any minute. I can't wait to see them and explore. As I write this, it is about 5:30pm Frankfurt time and Ilya has been asleep for the last 4 hours which is why I am tickling her toes and trying to explain that she needs to wakes up now so that she can sleep again in 3 hours. Logic does not work as well as one might imagine on a one year old.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

T-minus 12 hours and counting

I leave for the airport in 12 hours. 12 hours! I'm starting to feel less terrified and more excited - which isn't saying much because for the past 2 weeks, I have been 100% terrified as anyone who has been around me can attest to. I'd say I'm now 95% terrified and 5% excited. That's progress.

I'm going to be more faithful about updating this blog so that when Ilya is older and doesn't remember this adventure at all, I can point to this blog and show her all the wonderful things that she has forgotten. I've also had about a million people ask me if I am going to be keeping a blog while I travel, and I can't disappoint my public now can I?

Truthfully, I get nervous when I think of lots of people reading my blog. I feel obligated to be mature and use big words. So, I'm just going to pretend that you are not reading this blog (and, lets be honest, you probably aren't) which means that I can write whatever the hell I feel like, and you don't get to correct my spelling or comment on my punctuation.

For those of you not reading this blog, you should know that I no long have a phone, nor do I know the address of the friends I will be staying with in Germany so getting ahold of me might be tricky. Unless you use e-mail. But I'm not going to post my e-mail address here because Adam told me that if I post my e-mail address online then crazy robots will hijack my account and send porn to all my friends and family...so, your welcome.