Massive Update

I couldn't think of a good name for this post because it's all over the place.

1) Travels + Mom + F---ing Flights

Here is my travel itinerary as far as I have planned out for October:

Oct. 13-16 Dresden/Prague (with program)
Oct. 16 Milan (with Jenn for rest of Italy)
Oct. 17 Perugia
Oct. 19 Rome
Oct. 20 Florence
Oct. 22 Back to Berlin
Oct. 23 Amsterdam (with Mom)
Oct. 25 Back to Berlin
Oct. 29 Frankfurt. (with Mom)
Nov. 1 Back to Berlin


I'm very excited, just found out this week. Although the past few days have been stressful as I attempted to book last minute flights and plan for travel and her stay in Berlin. My mom will be traveling on her own with a tour for 17 days prior to meeting with me. These tours are a little intense--they're basically crash courses in European culture and sights. You get a faint taste of what it's like, but nothing substantial. But hey, this is Mama Tang's first time in Europe, so getting a feel for everything will be great. That way, if she finds places she particularly likes, she can come back!

I'm meeting up with her on October 23 in probably the last place you would want your parents to go with you to: Amsterdam. I've seen photos of the city--it's gorgeous. There's the Van Gogh Museum, Anne Frank House... oh wait, but there's also its notorious drug culture and Red Light District. And, we're staying in a hostel. We'll be sharing a 10-person bed with people from god knows where. My mom said she was down, so I hope she really is...
Basically, I'm nervous but extremely excited to see how things play out.

On October 25, we're both coming back to Berlin.

(Side note really quickly: I need to vent about booking flights. I spent countless hours trying to figure out whether trains or flights were better, which flights, etc. I ended up forking over 200 Euros for my round trip to and from Amsterdam. A little steep, but it's fine. I'm not even angry about that part. What I'm absolutely outraged by is the fact that I wanted to book my mom the same one-way flight from Amsterdam to Berlin and this is how much they want to charge:

It's the second flight from the top. Ridiculous, right? 420.65 Euros. This one-way flight cost double my roundtrip cost. A 1.5 hour flight... it just blows my mind. I had to scramble and get her a different flight that will be flying into Berlin a couple hours later. I'm more than frustrated at this point.

My mom will be living with my host family because we have an extra room and my host family said it would be fine. P.S. LOVE my host family. They're the best.

And then that following Thursday, we'll be going to Frankfurt to visit my dad's cousin Yvonne. P.S. LOVE Yvonne. Met her over the summer when she came to visit LA with her kids, and she's just got this great edge to her. It's probably because she lived in New York for 10 years. That's what I need as well.

October is überweltigt, which is overwhelming in a good way. Usually, I've been using überhäuft, which is overwhelmed in a negative sense. Mostly when it comes to German. But I'm spending over half of October not in Berlin, but that's a part of study abroad, no?

2) Rise of the Riesen

This weekend, there was a special celebration in Berlin that has been dubbed "The Riesen" (The Giants). It was something that was so quintessentially Berlin: quirky and weird and but not totally unexpected. Portions of Unter Den Linden (probably Berlin's busiest street) was closed off for the celebration near the gate. These Riesen are huge wooden puppets that trekked through town, and the two giants symbolize the metaphorical reunification of Germany. The big Giant West Germany, the little Giant East. [I don't know if I completely agree with the analogy...why is West Germany the dominant, more imposing male figure that plays a seemingly paternal role to the little Riesen? I don't want to read into the analogy too much, but I don't find it quite fitting.]

On Thursday and Friday, they went through town on separate paths, "lost" and in search of one another. On Saturday, they met up at Bradenburg Tor. I was fortunate enough to be there when the giants reunited.
The hectic sight, people standing on buildings and chairs and tables and whatever else they could manage to get a grip of...

Girl Riesen lifted over the gate!

Look how small the people are in comparison!

Triumphant moment: Big Riesen walks through the Gate!
So many people were maneuvering the puppets. And they were dressed in this fabulous red suits.

Reunited once again
I'm really glad I went, despite the massive amounts of people. There were locals and tourists and kids and grandparents and families and strollers and gray clouds and Native American dancers and Currywurst stands and balloons and music and standing and more standing...

But it was great.

After such a claustrophobic and stressful adventure, I treated myself to some kugel Eis (ice cream cone). Kugel ice is one of my favorite parts of Europe. 1 Euro gelato that is damn delicious.

This week: I have my art history paper due and German Midterm on Thursday. Eh.
But, my German is actually getting to a pretty good place. Even Agi, my sprachpartner (language partner) said so, and she is usually really frustrated and direct with me. So mini-accomplishments here and there.

I think I've exhausted myself from this epic blogpost, and if you've made it this far, I love you.