Tuesday, January 15, 2013

On the move again

Maybe most of you have heard by now, but we've changed location yet again.  Something changed in us between the time when we left Moscow in December and when we landed back in Moscow after our trip home for Christmas.  I'm not sure how to explain it or if it's even worth explaining.  But we packed up, cleaned out the cupboards, and hit the road.  Well, the air.  On Sunday we flew to Berlin, Germany. 

One final snowfall in Moscow

You see, this was the plan all along - spend a year teaching, taking in new cultures, saving our pennies (or won, or rubles...), then start seeing the cities we've been longing to see: Germany, France, and Italy.  Sure, there are dozens of other places on our bucket list, but this is a reasonable start.  Back to the point - we decided to start seeing these places and living the adventures we've dreamed about sooner rather than later.  The original plan was for one week in Berlin, one week in Paris, and one week in Rome.  Now we have eight extra weeks to work with. Eight!

Presently, we're on our third night in our first hostel in Berlin.  The airport is in the northwest corner of Berlin, so we chose a hostel nearby for our first few nights.  Now that we have a slight handle on the transportation system, we're going to move further into the center of the city.  We booked another hostel for the next five nights, then we'll just have to see.

 Life in a hostel is, well, interesting.  In Kiev we stayed in a hostel, but we opted for a private room.  We only had to share a bathroom with the rest of the visitors.  In order to cut costs, and ultimately so we can make it for the next 8 weeks, we have spent the last few nights in an 8-person dorm.  There are 4 sets of bunk beds, a few lockers for your valuables, and a shared bathroom.  We lucked out, as there are currently only three others staying in our dorm.  There's a kitchen on the first floor open to all visitors, so we set a budget and went shopping our first morning here.  To save even more, we brought some food with us from Moscow, like the rest of our tea supply, a bag of rice, some PB&J sandwiches, and mandarin oranges.  Also, Berlin is one of the cheaper cities in Europe, so grocery shopping for a half week only set us back about $15!

St. Mary's Church with the Fernsehtum, the enormous TV tower built in the 60's by order of the GDR in East Germany

The rest of the month and first half of January is a blank slate.  We might visit another city in Germany or stop in one of the lesser-visited cities in France.  For now, our next appointment isn't until February 15 when we must report to a farm in the north of France.  We used www.workaway.org to research farms in France looking for volunteers.  You can make your own profile as can farmers, then you e-mail each other based on availability and interest.  We found a retired couple in a small farming village in Normandy looking for help maintaining their land and restoring their old farmhouse.  We've committed to three full weeks of physical labor in exchange for free room and board.  Don't worry, we've warned them fully about our lack of experience.  They warned us that the work takes more labor than skill, and our biggest concern should be getting too bored.  Kyle assured me he has enough books on his Kindle to keep him occupied for the next 10 years.  And I have Pinterest and Facebook. No, don't fall for that, you all know I love reading at least half as much as he does.

Anyway, maybe I'm just kidding myself, but after living in giant, overpopulated cities for the past 10 months, I'm looking forward to life in the country.  The couple has a set of bikes we can take into the little village, and they have offered to take us to any community events that interest us.  Most importantly (at least in my mind), they enjoy cooking with food from neighboring farms and using traditional French methods and ingredients.  We've also been able to read the reviews of past volunteers' experience, and there's nothing but wonderful words written about each experience.

Berliner Dom, or the Berlin Cathedral

I will admit, my first day on the job with Anderson Lawncare keeps creeping into my mind.  Waking up at 6:00 AM.  Sleepwalking to the kitchen for a piece of toast.  Layering up for the crisp morning.  Falling asleep on the ten minute ride to Easton Rd.  Standing around in the mud, while everyone loaded up the trailers and Pork teased me. Falling asleep on the fifteen minute ride to some teeny-tiny cemetery in Bath.  Realizing I'm far too much of a perfectionist to ever use a weed-wacker again in my life.  When we finally finished the first cemetery, I asked my dad to take me out to breakfast then home for a nap.  I don't think I ever got paid for the hour of work...

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