On our drive back to Belgium before arriving in our final destination Stockholm, we spent the night in Hamburg. With the opportunity to only eat one meal, we wanted to experience a typical North German meal. Luckily I have ex-colleagues in Hamburg and they recommended Speisewirtschaft Opitz. So we happily made a reservation and enjoyed the vintage atmosphere and delicious Hamburg-style food (aka lots of North Sea shrimp and fish!).
The Platzl in downtown Munich where the Hofbräuhaus is located
I was in Munich, Germany for a quick stopover and only had an afternoon to explore – so of course I wanted to check out a Bavarian bräuhaus! I found out later that perhaps I chose the most touristy one in the city, but I really enjoyed having lunch at the more than 500 year old Hofbräuhaus, the most famous beer hall in Munich! I enjoyed a giant mug of Hofbräu Original, a pretzel, and 2 original Munich veal sausages!
Every winter I look forward to the Kerstmarkt, or Christmas Market, in Antwerp. As an American, it is still such a new, exciting experience because we don’t have anything like it – or at least not in Georgia!
I was so excited when Barbara whatsapped me to let me know there were still Beyoncé tickets available for the show in Düsseldorf! So I immediately agreed to go and we headed to Germany with her friend Ymke as well to see the Queen Bey. You may remember that we went together to see Beyoncé in Antwerp in April 2014 – so 2 years ago. So exciting to see her again!
Group Photo on Ellis Island with Manhattan in the background
Koen and I were finally able to visit Ellis Island! We really wanted to go last year, but because of Hurricane Sandy, the museum was closed. Koen and I visited Ellis Island with Christina and her family, Ashley, and Meredith. This was a special visit because Christina’s father’s father and grandfather (so her grandfather and great-grandfather) entered the United States via Ellis Island and both of their names are commemorated on a plaque. Koen and I visited the Red Star Line Museum in Antwerp recently, which is about leaving Europe for the United States, so we felt like we came full circle visiting Ellis Island and learning about entering the US.
I thought it was such a great idea when Christina told me that she wanted to make the bouquets and boutonnières herself for the wedding. I’ve never thought about buying flowers to arrange myself, so I was interested in visiting the Chelsea Flower Market to see what a wholesale flower market has to offer. The Market opens very early – at 5AM which is usually when professionals such as retailers and event planners stop by and closes at 11AM. I wasn’t really sure what to expect. When I think of a market, I think of the ones that take place during the weekend in Antwerp. At the markets I’m used to, vendors set up tables and kiosks outside in an open area and sell their product. But the Chelsea Flower Market is basically one street filled with flower shops that specialize in certain type of plants, aka roses, exotic, potted, orchids, etc. You can browse outside the shop or in their freezing interiors (if you visit be sure to bring a sweater!) in order to find the perfect pieces to make your arrangement. We spent over an hour visiting every shop to find Christina’s dream flowers 🙂
After the Chelsea Flower Market we headed over to Brooklyn to Prospect Park for the rehearsal. Christina and Rafael were married in the Japanese Garden of the Brooklyn Botanical Gardens. Such a lovely spot! That evening we celebrated with a rehearsal dinner at Lil Frankie’s for a delicious Italian meal. I don’t have any photos from the rehearsal dinner but maybe I’ll find some later!
For our second day in Düsseldorf, we went for a cruise along the Rhine River. If you do an image search of Düsseldorf, Germany you can’t help but find photos of Frank Gehry’s Neuer Zollhof, comprised of three buildings that curve and lean made of white plaster, stainless steel, and brick, and the Rheinturm, Düsseldorf’s landmark and the world’s largest digital clock. I didn’t want to leave the city without seeing both! Luckily they’re located along the Rhine River and we were able see them on our cruise. After our hour boat ride, we went to one last brewery, Im Füchschen, for altbier and schnitzel. A perfect, relaxing way to end our weekend trip!
Normally while my parents are visiting, we explore Belgium and the Netherlands but this time we ventured into Germany to Düsseldorf! We stayed one night and spent the two days exploring the Altstadt (Old City), Köningsallee, and Japanese Quarter and enjoying a Rhine River cruise. Düsseldorf is famous for its altbier “a hoppy beer which translates as old [style] beer, a reference to the pre-lager brewing method of using a warm top-fermenting yeast like British pale ales”. There are 5 microbreweries located in the Altstadt which also serve traditional German cuisine – so that was our first stop – to Zum Schlüssel. After a huge lunch, Koen and I visited the Kunstsammlung K20 for a really great exhibition called Kandinsky, Malevich, Mondrian: The Infinite White Abyss which explores the use of blank canvas in the artists’ work. My parents explored a few churches before visiting the museum across from ours, the Kunsthalle Düsseldorf for the Smart New World exhibition which wasn’t quite what my parents’ expected… A bit too contemporary for them! Afterwards we stopped for another altbier at the microbrewery Uerige. Then we walked to the Japanese Quarter for dinner.
It just so happens that when we arrived Düsseldorf was celebrating Japan Day, so there were a lot of visitors dressed up throughout the city – I think we saw at least 10 pikachus! Why a Japanese Quarter and Japan Day? Düsseldorf has the largest Japanese population in Europe. It was sooo busy and it wasn’t until we arrived in the Japanese Quarter that we realized there was a holiday taking place. We had already walked 30 minutes and were in the mood for sushi – all of the places were packed!! In the end we were able to eat while a huge line waited to be let in. A great first day!