Category Archives: traveling

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!