Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Our First Visitors!

When we were in Turkey, we had limited visitors.  Most of Mike's friends weren't able to visit us because of their security clearances or because they were active duty military.  It was the one aspect of the Olmsted experience we felt we were missing out on.  We would have LOVED to show people around Izmir and Turkey, but because the military had banned all travel to Turkey, we couldn't host any of Mike's fellow scholars.  Plus, a lot of non-military people were nervous to come visit, despite our constant reassurance that Izmir was safe.  During our year there, we only had four visitors (shoutout to Kelly, Poorna, Joe and Michelle!).  While I don't blame anyone for not coming to visit, Mike and I can't help but laugh how we've already got more visitors lined up this fall than we did during our entire year in Izmir!

Our first visitors were two of Mike's friends from high school, Steve and Justin (J.Leiu).  They had been in Italy before coming to Berlin for a few days.  J Leiu had to return back to the US after his time in Berlin, but Steve and Mike were heading to Munich for Oktoberfest.  Steve and J Leiu arrived on Wednesday and had until Friday evening when J Leiu left to explore our new city.   

Since J Leiu wasn't going to Munich, we thought he should experience the Hofbrauhaus, even if it wasn't the famous one in Munich.  Mike and I hadn't been to the one here, so it was a good opportunity for us to try something new as well.  I would say they enjoyed themselves (and the beer). 

Thursday, we got a late start, but were out sight seeing by mid-morning.  Mike was excited to give his tour of Berlin with all sorts of facts we learned from the various tours we took as tourists when we first moved here.   I think Steve and J Leiu enjoyed it.  There is so much information to be learned and Berlin has done a great job of making it accessible to people throughout the city.   Mike and I always remark how similar the time leading up to WWII was to present-day Turkey in terms of politics, as well as similar trends in the United States when it comes to immigration and acceptance.  It's scary and sad. 

We stopped for lunch at a currywurst food truck so that Steve and Justin could experience Berlin's favorite food.  After lunch, I headed back home while they went to the Topography of Terror museum and finished some sight seeing.  Since my parents are coming in less than a month (!!!!) and I knew i'd be doing the same stuff with them, I said farewell.  That evening, we hit up the local streetfood market which takes place every Thursday.  A lot of the local food trucks and street food stands set up in a local warehouse and it's a great opportunity to try all sorts of food.  The guys were in heaven!

Friday, the guys hit up the German History Museum, which was something new for Mike.  They said it was definitely worth it, so we'll add that to our list of options for visitors. We bid farewell to J. Leiu Friday evening and headed to our first German hockey game! There is a minor league team here, the Berlin Bears, and their season just started.  They won in double overtime, so we got to watch a shootout take place and overall, had a great time.  

Saturday was Mike and Steve's last day in Berlin before Munich.  Steve had hit all of the major sights and, while there are tons of museums to go to, we figured doing something a little less touristy and more local would be more fun.  Mike found this burger festival, which sounded great.  One ticket allowed you to get seven burgers, an ice cream sandwich and two beers. There was a theme of bacon, so each stand had to incorporate bacon into their  The idea was to try all seven and vote on your favorite two.  I thought the burgers would be small (like a slider) and thought that was still a lot of food.  Much to our surprise, we each got seven half burgers (3.5 total) to try!! SO MUCH FOOD.  While I didn't eat all of them, I tried each one and was able to vote on my favorite two.  Mike and Steve finished all seven, plus the ice cream sandwich and two beers.  By the time we left, we all felt like we were about to burst.   We opted to walk home in hopes of settling our stomachs.  It helped, although we all spent the rest of the night lounging around.  It was a fun event and it takes place every three months. We talked to a bunch of people who come every three months, including two teenage boys who were extremely into it. I think next time, Mike and  I will opt for one ticket between the two of us.  

"We get seven half burgers?!?!?!"

This one was my favorite.  It was an Asian themed burger and so so good!

This one was disqualified in our book (we had a very strict judging policy) since it was pulled pork and not a burger, but it was delicious and I would definitely have another!

Mike and Steve left early Sunday morning to head to Munich to meet another one of their friends, Ben for Oktoberfest.  I had the option of going, but figured I'd let the guys do their own thing.  I was sad to see them leave because we had so much fun hosting our first visitors.  Steve and J Leiu were open to trying anything and were just excited to see us and explore the city.  Thanks guys for coming to visit!