On Human Separation Anxiety/Our European Adventure

Happy New Year, friends! We hope that 2013 is a happy and healthy year for all of you.

Things have been quiet on the blog and our Facebook page because K. and I went on our first European vacation together. When one of my dear friends from graduate school (who happens to be the momma of this precious girl) got engaged and decided to have her wedding in Germany (where she’s from), K. and I knew we couldn’t miss it! Given that K. and I haven’t been on a real vacation together since our short honeymoon nearly three years ago, we thought it was about time to take a trip.

When a bunch of our Chicago friends also decided to go to the wedding in Bonn, we, along with the wedding party, decided to spend New Years in Berlin. Since I had studied there for a summer two years ago, I was quite excited about the prospect! We also decided that since we would be in Europe anyway, we couldn’t miss visiting my host family in Strasbourg (I was an exchange student in high school and we’ve stayed in touch). And if we’d be in France, we decided to visit Paris too. So, our “little” vacation soon developed into a two-week long European excursion.

While I was super excited about the prospect of spending much-needed time away with K., I immediately became anxious about the idea of leaving the animals. Because K. used to be a cook,his combined unpredictable schedule and measly salary made travel for him impossible. So when I would have to leave for school-related events, he would be able to stay home with the animals. And even then, the longest I’d been away from Zoe was 4 days (that was hard for me!).

I am fortunate enough to have a younger brother who is a huge animal lover and agreed to stay at our place while K. and I were away. He is a senior in college, and would be on winter break, so the timing was perfect. (He is also waiting to hear back from veterinary schools right now, so keep your fingers crossed for him!!!!). I knew that he would be responsible, and I was happy that his girlfriend would be staying with him to help (she’s a fellow animal-lover with whom he started a student group that visits the local animal shelter to socialize the cats and dogs). I also enlisted the help of three wonderful SociaBulls friends to serve as back-ups (with house keys!) in the event that my brother needed help. I also had my parents nearby, and my extended family too. In short, Freddie, Stella, and Zoe would be in the best possible hands.

And yet, I couldn’t stop worrying. After reading Josh at That Touch of Pit’s post about his own anxieties about leaving Lucy, I knew he would be a good person to consult. He gave me some very sound suggestions: 1) first and foremost, make sure your completely trust your animals’ caretaker; 2) provide as much information as you can (veterinary info, emergency contacts, poison control, etc.); 3) notify your regular vet that you will be traveling and give them the name of the animals’ caretaker. I followed his advice and wrote a novel packet for my brother with all the information I could think of — and then some. I also left him our Care Credit Card in the event he needed to visit the vet, and also provided tons of emergency contacts (i.e., SociaBulls friends) who lived nearby and had our keys. I also spoke with my friends at Two Pitties in the City, Our Waldo Bungie, and Pittieful Love because I knew they had also traveled and left their pets at home. They all gave me great advice and support!

The day we left, the state where my brother lives got hit by a huge snow storm. While it was fine in Chicago, it was not safe for him to drive here. That meant that two of my fantastic “back-ups” sprung into action and agreed to stay here with the pets until my brother could arrive. Fortunately, the roads got cleared quickly, and my brother was able to come after all. While that was nerve-wracking for me, I was glad that I had taken the time to plan ahead and have friends “on call.”

I then tried to breathe and stop worrying. I basically emerged from the womb worrying, so this was not an easy thing to do.

But then, we arrived in Paris and I saw this:

And this:

Being surrounded by so much beauty made me pause and realize that I was in PARIS! And after that, I was able to relax. I skyped with my brother (and the animals) every few days, and my brother texted us daily updates. Having those reassurances made it possible for me sit back and enjoy the trip.

Back at home, Zoe had a great time with my family over the holidays.

Okay, here’s the point where I’m going to pretty much going to stop talking about animals (gasp!) and post tons of photos of my trip. Feel free to skip or peruse as you wish!

When we arrived in the morning, we had already been awake for 24 hours and were super jet lagged. We really wanted to go to sleep, but we forced ourselves to stay awake until ten that night. It was tough, but we managed by walking around and seeing all the sights:

We also ate lots of delicious food:

Double fisting ice cream cones from Maison Berthillon

Thank goodness K. is good with maps. If I was getting us around, we would always be lost.

Paris is magical at night. It’s a cliche to say that, but it’s so true.

More food (can you tell we like to eat?!).

Being a vegetarian in Paris = eating a lot of cheese. I was okay with that.

Only in Paris would it be necessary to have this sign in front of an ice cream and chocolate shop.

This was the best dinner we had in Paris:

We visited my favorite cemetery:

My expression: “Why are you taking a photo of me?” 
Père Lachaise Cemetery
We got to visit Proust:

And Jim Morrison:

We also saw everything from the whimsical to the beautiful:

So many bookstores.

Sacré Coeur of Montmartre

Obligatory Eiffel Tower shot.
It was just so nice to get to spend time together.
After Paris, we took the train to Strasbourg, which is a beautiful city with an entirely different feel:
Strasbourg is beautiful. It rained the whole time we were there though.

A mixture of German and French!
We were with my host family for Christmas. It was four hours of French deliciousness. It was so special to get to see them and to spend the holiday in France.

And here was Bonn, which is also lovely: 
Stieff Bears!

 My friend’s parents made us an incredible Bavarian breakfast:

Beer with breakfast = we love Germany.

Being the vegetarian I am, I took photos before the meat came out! Sorry sausage lovers. Trust me, there was a lot of wurst.

Here’s more Bonn:

A child playing on top of martyr statues


In the US, something is old if it’s 200 years old. This building dates back to the 13th century!

Beethoven was born in Bonn.
This is where Beethoven was born and lived until he was 22 (1792).

In Germany, it is socially acceptable for adults to drink Apfelschorle, which is basically carbonated apple juice. It. Is. Delicious.

I was very happy.

After celebrating at the wedding and eating/drinking our way through Bonn, we took the train to Berlin:  

We stayed in Mitte (formerly East Berlin) right near the Fernsehturm.
The Rotes Rathaus.

The world clock at Alexanderplatz.
Obligatory meat photo:


We saw all the sights along Unter den Linden:

Berliner Dom

I have no idea what is happening here: 
Brandenburger Tor: 
The rebuilt Hotel Adlon.

Berlin is filled Stolpersteine, which can literally be translated as “stumbling stones.”

“Here lived Irma Rosenthal. Born 1910. Deported 194?. Murdered in Auschwitz.”
“Here lived Karla Rosenthal. Born 1920. Deported 1943. Murdered in Auschwitz.”
“Here lived Ellen Rosenthal. Born 1933. Deported 1943. Murdered in Auschwitz.”

We also walked all over various other parts of Berlin:

Outside the Anne Frank Zentrum.

Berlin at night:

A building in the former East. “Capitalism murders, destroys, kills.”

“Men’s Fashion: XXL-XXXXXXXXL” 

And more sightseeing during the day:

Checkpoint Charlie.

They had a really interesting museum that we visited. It’s amazing what lengths people went to to try to escape East Germany.

Berlin has a big Turkish population = amazing food. This is the best Döner in Berlin.

In Berlin, New Years Eve is CRAZY. Picture the 4th of July in the United States, but way more fireworks in the streets.

The view from our apartment on New Year’s Eve.

We thought that the rumors of people shooting fireworks at other people in the street wasn’t true. It was.

A firework shot at an S-Bahn station that got stuck in a pipe.

Here are some other random highlights from the trip:

This is what happens when four Americans with a sweet tooth stay in one apartment in Berlin. 

The fancy department store in West Berlin. 

 They have a HUGE food section filled with culinary delights from all over the world:

Mmmmm. German mustard.

Most of the American food was gross and expensive!

Well, that’s it. When we got home, everything was perfect. My brother and his girlfriend did a wonderful job. Zoe and Freddie were very happy to see us. Stella is another story, but she’ll come around… 

Back to the usual.

P.S. Zoe’s surgery is on Monday, so I’ll be updating you on that soon! Please keep her in your thoughts!


10 thoughts on “On Human Separation Anxiety/Our European Adventure

  1. Rose M.

    Love your photos – such a fun trip! I always loved that you and Robin sent me texts/emails of the kitties – it makes it so much easier to relax and not worry about them!We are heading to Europe this summer and so don't want to have to find yet another cat-sitter!!! You should move to LA 🙂

  2. Claudia

    Looks like a great trip. Pretzels, cheese and beer sound like my favorite breakfast (or lunch, dinner or snack…). I hope all goes well Monday for Z!

  3. kasia077

    I LOVE Strasbourg! I haven't met anyone else who has been there. I had a relative who had a job in the European Parliament so I visited one summer, it was amazing! The rest of your trip looks divine too! P.S. I worry like crazy the rare times I leave Max. No matter where I go, I can't wait to get back home to him.

  4. Joela

    Amazing post, great pictures! This was so much fun and I love that pictures of my parents' breakfast table are becoming a thing, haha!! All paws crossed for Zoe, let me know if you need help (you know!).

  5. Keri @ Trinitys Love

    Looks like you guys had a fun time! I don't know how you stayed up till ten after that flight. When we went to Europe we took a night flight from Boston to London then to Rome and I was up for 24 hours and crashed in our cabin. It took me forever to adjust to the time change, I think we went to bed at midnight then got up at nine. I learned that I can't deal well with a 7 hr time difference, lol! I didn't have much separation anxiety from the cats. But I think I would now that we have the dogs, they are so much more attached to us than the cats. Good luck to Zoe Monday. I hope she does well!

  6. My Two Pitties

    Looks like an amazing trip…I miss those delicious European treats!I've only left my dogs twice since I've had them and I hate it too. I also wrote a short novel of instructions and info. The first time was somewhat of a disaster when my pet-sitter left the gate open and the dogs ended up at the shelter:( Luckily, their microchips got them home safe. My new pet-sitters are awesome, but I still prefer local trips so I can bring them with me:)

  7. Emily

    I turn to a nervous wreck thinking about leaving the pups alone. I dog sit for a friend at least once a month while Jay handles our kids, but our pups have never been left alone for even a night!Your vacation looked wonderful and you're lucky to have a great brother to look after your kids. What did Zoe think of skyping? Did she process it in any way? I enjoyed seeing your vacation pictures and following along on Instagram too. Truly seems like a great time but I bet you feel happy to be back as well.


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