Big Girls Don’t Cry

Thursday, 11 October, 2018 – Very good, low 20s

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In spite of the good weather, I don’t make it outside until late in the day. After a smoked Salmon breakfast, Julie did a lot of prancing and here is one notable photo:

Doesn’t every cathedral have a row of food trucks in front of it?
Julie entering the restaurant The Market recommended by our Hosts

The restaurant was presumably called the Market because of the open air farmers market just diagonally opposite it. Julie went over to the market but it was closing and was only open on Thursdays.

Julie looking out at the Market.
Our Wine
Julie’s Chicken? Salad
Creamy Veal? Dish for me
Our Waitress is a very Big Girl – 6’5″

You can see in the photo above of Julie entering the restaurant that the waitress towers over her, just like the family in Estonia earlier in her trip. Julie is not short.

Too much make-up for my mind

Back to the apartment. That’s all folks!

Hop On / Off Tour of Berlin

Wednesday, 10 October, 2018 – Very good, low 20s, perfect Autumn Weather

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We have decided to take a Hop On/Off tour of Berlin so we can get an idea of what to visit. We go up to the nearby train station and the kids go down to pick up bus tickets for us all. It takes quite a while and then there is a decent wait but eventually we are on the bus on our way to the start-up point. In fact, because of looking at emails, Ryan missed the stop so we had to walk back a ways to get to the bus.

Yellow Bus
Ryan had selected a bus with live commentary – a Yellow Bus, not Red
Ryan and Julie at the back of the bus

Our guide was a white haired German who spoke perfect English so at most locations he spoke his piece in German first and then English. The journey involved going back and forth between the old West Berlin and the Old East Berlin. We saw a bit of the Wall that had been preserved and tracks on the ground showing where the Wall had been.

The location of the infamous Checkpoint Charlies

I did not take many photos as this is a food and wine Blog after all.

The guys in the Box Seat up top
Selfie showing the roof open and the good weather
The Brandenburg Gate

We hopped off the bus near the start thanking the tour guide who was very good. We went into a place where Tanika had been earlier that day and went up to the top floor. It provided a lunch Smorgasbord which we decided to proceed with.

The Kids at the table with their meals and mine
My choice was a (mild) Thai green curry with noodles and a spring roll
Julie’s Smoked Salmon and Salad plus a bottle of wine

Julie took off to look at the shops while we moved out to the balcony to finish the bottle of wine while she was gone.

Cathedral in the distance from the balcony

After Julie returned, we split with the kids who went touring and we went back to the apartment. I snoozed, Julie pranced just like normal.

Ryan’s photo of a very impressive Mosque

We had dinner in the apartment that night.

Smoked Salmon and Apple for Julie
Julie picked up a Wrap for me
With pieces of real chicken cut up and vegies it was pretty good

What with a much better wine than last night, it was a much more successful culinary day.

First we’ll take Manhattan

and then we’ll take Berlin. Leonard Cohen, RIP

The other choice for the title was “Why I hate Flying”

Tuesday, 9 October, 2018 – Weather – grey, who cares we are leaving town

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I start the day with the leftover green curry. We have booked a taxi to pick us up early and he shows up on time and we are ready to go. We get to the airport early and have to wait to drop off our baggage.

Waiting and waiting for baggage drop off

After they finally accept our bags we are warned that it will be a dog fight to get on the plane. We go upstairs to the boarding gate and wait and wait and wait. The same staff show up at the boarding gate but show no signs of opening the gate. Finally, we realise that our plane has just landed. After it is unloaded, there is another long wait before we are invited to board. Ryan has listened to my advice about overhead locker space and pushes us and our remaining bags to the front of the queue.

We were told that we had to board at the rear which mean down portable stairs, in the rain, and then up another set of stairs that are quite slippery. We get to our seats and are able to grab overhead space.

We had paid for extra room in the exit row. Yes, there is extra room but gee it is narrow and not a lot of advantage. In fact, my knees were sore for a few days afterwards because of the cramped “extra space”.

I am against the window and it is not possible to get out for a toilet break. The flight is for 2 1/2 hours and seems to take forever. We are travelling West and South into another time zone. When we get off the plane we have to walk on the tarmac to buses. Trouble is that there are only two buses and there are enough people for three. It turns out we only go a few meters on the bus – it would have been much easier just to walk there.

There is another long, long wait. I go off to the toilets because of no toilet break on the plane. Of course, the toilet was closed for cleaning. There was a disabled toilet, of course it was permanently locked. The cleaner moved very, very slowly while the two Ladies toilets moved like clockwork. Finally, the cleaner opens the door and I get some relief.

Even after that long wait, our bags are just coming off the carousel when I return. When we take Ryan’s bag off, we notice that one of the wheels has been broken. We go to the Easyjet claim centre and there is no one in there or else they refuse to come to the window.

We go outside to get a taxi as it will take a bus and two trains to get near our place. There had been a long queue but it had mostly dissipated. However, we needed a large van with all of our luggage and people. So they push us to one side and get on the phone to call in big vans. After a lengthy wait, one finally shows up, but there is another big group in front of us. Another van shows up after us but the guy is in a very angry mood, I guess he thought
he was picking some body else and argued with the traffic controller for ages. Finally, he agreed to take us and turned into a nice guy. Julie rode with him in the front seat and they had a nice chat because he lived in the area to where we were going and gave her some advice.

The exit out of the airport was another major issue as there were enough cars for 8 lanes and at times we had only one, it probably took another 25 minutes to go 1/2 KM. Once we escape the shackles, it is a smooth ride until we are back on city streets in which case the traffic was really bad and slow with lots of lane changes to get through. Finally we arrive at our destination which was a driveway in front of a driveway to a youth hostel.

So all in all it took around 9 hours door to door with a variety of hassles, delays, mishaps, pain, stupidity along the way. That is typical of why I hate flying even though I put up with it for years for work.

Things look ordinary as there we were in a narrow driveway leading into a couple of courtyards into a backpackers den. Plus I had not read the instructions well enough. Then our bad day turned into solid gold. We were informed by the landlords that there had been serious damage in the powder room by the previous guest and we would not be able to check-in until 4:00 PM. We accepted that. I was supposed to find the caretaker for the back packer home but did not follow the instructions, but fortunately he found us. There had been some advance concern about storing our bags, but this guy was great. He grabbed them all and put them in a very secure room for which he had the only key. We then went out looking for food while we waited for 4:00.

There were tons of restaurants around us with a primary theme being Turkish. We did not have a good experience because the menus on display were all in German, which I mostly could not translate, and they would not talk with Julie because she was English. Finally, I find a Kebab shop run by a Father and his 3 Sons. They were happy to talk with me in English and generally were very nice to me which was a welcome change. I thought Julie was going to a Salmon place but she showed up here and also was treated really nicely, Julie was impressed.

Doner chicken souva with lots of vegies, a dainty feast
The Shop, a steady flow of customers day and night
Julie’s Souva with extra salad

We get back to the backpackers place around 3:30 and there are more pleasant surprises. The workers were unable to fix the vanity sink, but there were two such sinks so we survived nicely. We were escorted up to the room by the Managers Wife at 3:30, and the rest of the family brought up all of our luggage and chattels we had left in the storage. This was all a big wow, especially with what we were expecting.

For details of the layout of this apartment refer to this Airbnb link

The only disappointment, which I possibly should have known already, was that there was no dishwasher.

Ryan was sent up and knocked on the door at 4:00 and we let them in and everything was good. Each bedroom had a couple of small balconies.

Ryan and I have another beer tasting on the balcony

Incidentally, the kids found that the people were quite unfriendly to them too, they did not really like Berlin. The weather however was quite good.

Earlier we had bought some local wine – it was rat piss. Julie goes out to scout and gets food for tonight.

Smoked salmon and apple for a change
I wanted bratwurst got curry wurst instead, no good

I never did get my Bratwurst, apparently Berlin does not do them and circumstance worked against me in the rest of Germany.

What with the lousy wine and awful snag, I end up with bad reflux in the night. The anti-reflux relief Julie had bought for me earlier came in little tubes and kind of did the job.

So it was definitely a day of multiple ups and downs.

Cold, Wet and Miserable

Monday, 8 October, 2018 – Weather – see headline

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Guys, the headline says it all. As a result, this is going to be an abbreviated Post as I did not venture outside at all.

Left over Chook, Rice and Beans for breakfast
Julie went prancing in the rain -hence Cats
The latest fashions
I can hardly wait – NOT!

Tanika had sent me some photos of a pizza visit that they liked, so here are some photos.

The Menu
The Place
Pizza Dough Salad as a starter
The Pizza, they really liked it

The rain continued all day and I did not budge from the spot. I looked out at the dog track and noticed that there were still owners and dogs using it without much water protection. Apparently the people and the animals just ignore the rain over here.

Late in the afternoon Ryan and I had a beer tasting – American IPA

Julie made a Thai green curry for dinner with cut up chicken and a relatively small bottle of green curry sauce. It turned out to be too hot for the three of them who did not finish their meals, it was about right for me.

Thai green curry

As advertised, a very quiet day.

National Herring Day

Sunday, 7 October, 2018 – Weather – not too bad

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Today we are up earlier today. Julie had donated the good bed, which was much better. She put extra pillows to improve the legacy bed but it didn’t help a lot in the end.

We catch the tram again down to the market. A big, burly ticket inspector boards, Sunday morning?. Fortunately, our tickets are in order and he advises us that we have until 11:15.

Outdoor market – Julie tried a Herring, not for me
There were many boats lined up on the shore, all theoretically selling Herring

I follow Julie over to the indoor market but then decide to go back for some more game.

The Game Shop
I wanted a Moose Burger, but they did not have one so settled for a Reindeer Burger and Fries, OK

In the mean time, Julie was going around the indoor market looking for her Salmon Soup.

Making new pots of soup
Nicely sliced Salmon
The more expensive soup was no better than the lesser one from yesterday. Broth was watery

We take the tram back to the apartment. Our stop is at the Museum of Natural History.

Guarded by this Magnificent Moose
Don’t forget the Giraffes
At the apartment Tanika has bought me a traditional chees and rice pie
Julie has Salmon for dinner
Julie cooks chicken with a packet rice and bean combo for me

That ends a much quieter day.

Markets in Helsinki

Saturday, 6 October, 2018 – Weather – not too bad

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After a poor night’s sleep on the retro bed, I am moving a bit slowly this morning. Eventually, we get moving. We are going to markets down by the harbour. We board a tram and discover that (1) it is going the wrong way and (2) you can no longer buy tram tickets on a tram. So we walk back a ways and find a place where we can buy tickets. It is an automated machine with instructions all in Finnish but eventually we work it out.

We walk by this museum with the giant “protector”
Our Tram, note that there are doors only on one side
Boarding the Tram behind an old lady

We arrive at the shore and get off one stop earlier than Julie had planned. There is an outdoor market.

A lady selling fish, mostly salmon, from her boat
Other market goodies – note the succotash on the right
Lots of variety of game
We went across the way to an old church which is now an indoor food hall
Julie perusing the food stalls
A variety of food stuffs
and more
Sweet Stuff
A variety of (expensive) Reindeer products
I wonder what a Reindeer Moose pie would have been like?
I got s reindeer sausage with salad, very gamey, very nice
Julie’s Salmon Soup, not nice “I should have bought the more expensive one”
Canned game
Reindeer Chips at 9 euro very expensive

We jump on the tram to return toward the apartment. There is a Michelin rated Asian restaurant very close to the house. Julie tries to get a booking but it is Saturday night and booked out plus they are closed Sunday and Monday and we leave on Tuesday so we miss out.

Shortly after we arrive in the apartment Julie goes out again to do more exploring.

Ryan and I have another beer tasting

A message from Julie arrives “We have a booking at Ravintola Lasipalatsi for 6.15pm”

It is one tram stop away and it was next to the one with the long queues this morning. Address is: Mannerheimintie 22-24, 00100 Helsinki, Finland

Julie outside the restaurant which turned out to be a bit upmarket
Waiting for a table, service was quite slow throughout the night
Finally, at the table
It is a long restaurant and eventually fills up
Drinks, Tanika has a special Gin and Tonic
Lightly salted salmon with creamed chanterelles and dill potatoes for Julie
Cream of crayfish with crayfish and fennel salsa for me
Ryan’s Choice Beef tartare with anchovy mayonnaise and parmesan
Marinated feta cheese with tapenade and sourdough bread croutons for Tanika
Fillet of reindeer served with cherry and cepp bake and dark onion broth for my main course
The Girls and Ryan had fillet of pike perch with creamed button mushrooms and butter braised horseradish and thought it was great

As I mentioned at the start, it was quite a posh place which meant probably the most expensive meal of the trip so far. However, I think it was worth it given the exotic foods that we had. After that, we returned home and crashed.

Travel to Helsinki

Friday, 5 October, 2018 – Weather – All over the place as we travel

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At this point I would like to say a bit about the Food in Finland. The food has been rubbished by Jacques Chirac and Silvio Berlusconi when they said that Finnish Food and British food are the most boring in the world. A funny thing happened when a Finn company Kotipizza won an international prize for its Pizza Berlusconi, defeating Italian pizzas in the contest.

Pizza Berlusconi is Kotipizza’s product name for a pizza of smoked reindeer, with tomato, cheese, chanterelle mushrooms and red onion.

Kotipizza named the pizza after Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi in their summer 2008 ad campaign and menu. Berlusconi had caused a minor diplomatic incident in 2005, when he said that he had had to “endure” Finnish cuisine, and joked disparagingly about Finns eating “marinated reindeer”. Although marinated reindeer is a common dish in Lapland, in the rest of Finland the meat is traditionally stewed or dried.

Any way, we are up relatively early and leaving for Helsinki around 11:00. Julie goes out to the food court to get her breakfast.

Blurred vision of her Pancake with Salmon
More sweet stuff suitable for Tanika
I have the mushroom soup with bacon pieces that Julie had bought for me yesterday. It was very rich and filling.

By the usual 3-1 vote, we start the walk to the train station very early, before Noon. We sit around in uncomfortable, crowded seats in the train station.

The train does not leave until nearly 1:30 PM
We are able to board the train early and wait there
One other person in the train carriage

The trip takes 2 1/2 hours. The weather changes dramatically at least 8 time along the way. When we arrive in Helsinki, the ground is wet but it is not raining much.

Our train with Ryan humping suitcases

Our host had indicated that we should catch a taxi from the station to the apartment. We picked a medium sized cab and the driver did a remarkable job of cubic close packing to fit everything in. When we get to the apartment, we receive a message that our Host was travelling and we would be met by a delightful young girl, Riika. The door was chocked open when we arrive and Riika arrives shortly after and we go up to the apartment.

She shows us around and after she departs, I take a couple of photos.

We take the kids room. The antique bed on the right is a disaster for grown-ups as even with the pillow top, you are sleeping on cold, hard steel
The large lounge room

We had not had much to eat today so send Julie out to scout around. In the mean time, I throw Ryan out of a spot at the kitchen table to do my work. Outside is a dog park. There are a lot of dogs within and of course a little yapper was chasing them all around.

Gusti is right next to the apartment

When we go in, the owner says that they are very busy but eventually we will have food and wine. His Son the cook comes in from outside – he was smoking.

Waiting. The couple next to us has a favourite TV show. You will never guess – The Block

They were quite interesting and gave us some good pieces of advice.

We ordered an Italian Zinfandel for wine
Soup for Tanika – fancy presentation
Bruschetta for Julie
Scampi for Ryan
The Back Room
Collection of Spirits
Smoked Salmon and Salad for Julie
Creamy chicken for Tanika
Steak with gravy for Ryan and me
It came with a nice creamy Risotto
The owner with large spirit bottle, probably for Irish Coffee for the girls
Shaking hands with the owner

After another long day, it is off to bed