A heavy heart today

86 years ago today my father was born. I miss him.

75 years ago today was the liberation of Auschwitz – the prime example of what happens when fear and hatred trump humanity.

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1 day ago my son was devasted by the untimely passing of one of his sporting heroes, Kobe Bryant.

May his memory, and the memory of all those loved ones who have been lost, be and remain a blessing.

28 years

Mr Esther and I have been together for 28 years, it’s our get-together anniversary today!

We’re at the beach this afternoon with our daughter and also visiting the hotel where our son is doing his internship.

It’s a good day.

Happy 2020 from Frankfurt!

Yesterday, on New Year’s Eve, Mr Esther, my mini-not-me daughter and I spent strolling through the center of Frankfurt. Mini-not-me is tired of Mr Esther’s and my preference for older looking towns, she wants to see modern skylines and buildings and such, so we stuck to the newer part of town. We all especially liked the Zeil shopping mall.

One store called Saturn stocked an amazing collection of cd’s and dvd’s, the likes you rarely see in The Netherlands anymore, where streaming online and digital copies are I think overtaking the cd and dvd collections. Mini-not-me found a collector’s item BTS cd + booklet she really wanted and I was amazed at how many classics were to be found on dvd. I took a trip down memory lane from when I lived in Germany in my teens, when we used to watch these shows on TV as a family (and bought myself an old Rock Hudson & Sidney Poitier movie I’ve never seen before)…

We strolled some more, then mini-not-me and I returned to the hotel for a rest as mini-not-me has been battling a flu, while Mr Esther went to the historical museum.

Our experience last year in Hamburg had taught us that it would be good if we reserved a restaurant for New Year’s Eve dinner. A few weeks ago we had called a few restaurants and finally found a spot at an Italian one that we thought would be nice. On the phone at the time they told us they only served a special standard New Year’s Eve menu and we said fine and didn’t think anything of it. When we arrived at the restaurant at 7 pm we felt slightly under dressed as it all looked fancy. We were welcomed with champagne…

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…  they only served wine per bottle (not per glass) and the courses started coming. There were six (!) courses in all! Halfway through the evening we figured out the actual standard menu price per person (hadn’t thought to ask beforehand) and as the fancy courses started coming we figured it would probably cost a pretty penny. We were right, it did cost a pretty penny, probably close to what our hotel stay was costing us. Oops! Honestly, though, we just laughed it off. Our own fault for not asking more details in advance and the dinner and all the courses (mostly marine-themed) were absolutely delicious! We figured, what the heck, we’d just enjoy it and that we did. It was long, though, we sat there for close to 4 hours!

We then walked down to the river and crossed one of the bridges to the other side of town (just outside the main party area, an area that was too busy for us to want to brave). A lot of fireworks were already going off but we found a nice spot at the end of the bridge, near police and security, where we felt safe enough to stand and enjoy the fireworks that were already lighing up some of the Frankfurt skyline.

Then at midnight all hell broke loose with people setting off their fireworks. Seriously, I think I have rarely stood in the middle of such a mighty fireworks explosion before.

I made some gifs from the small video I made, you’ll just have to imagine the deafening noise along with it!

It was a little scary but also exhilirating and beautiful at the same time, despite the air polution and the garbage. The atmosphere was festive and not grim, which was also cool. Things calmed down relatively quickly, I found, and we were back in our hotel rooms by one am.

This morning we slept in a bit, took it easy at the hotel after breakfast and then in the afternoon, in glorious albeit cold weather, we walked down to the beautifully reconstructed Alte Römer area. We first went to the river hoping to secure tickets for a Main river cruise at the end of the afternoon (the website had said the cruise was also available on Sundays and Feastdays), only to find that there were no cruises on New Year’s Day. And yes, the trash in the picture was trash from the night before. Wow.

We then visited the cathedral where Mr Esther had hoped to go on a guided tour only to find that the tour had been cancelled for the day. Oh well, we enjoyed looking around anyway and Mr Esther was able to photograph some coats of arms as well (his hobby is heraldry).

We walked through the Alte Römer area…

… but couldn’t find many cafés open for tea and cake. We finally did find the café at the Hauptwache open (closer to the modern part of town) to round off our afternoon. We had another little hotel rest after (mini-not-me is still not feeling great), then dinner at an Italian fastfood kind of place (cheap, compensating nicely for the evening before) and then went on another evening stroll around town.

Tomorrow we head back home again. Our son, who’s been at home working and celebrating New Year’s with friends, has also come down with the flu, poor thing! He’s never ill and I hate that we’re not near him while he’s feeling bad. He did go in to work today but left a bit early and is now crashed at home. Luckily he is free tomorrow and can hopefully recuperate a bit. And apparently I mind him being on his own more than he does. 🙂

Before we leave tomorrow (or really, later today – I see it’s 1 after am now!) we want to go up one of the towers for an overview over the city (also closed today). Despite stuff being closed it’s been a great few days and it was nice having mini-not-me to ourselves for a bit. She really liked Frankfurt, by the way, and says this will be a trip she will always remember fondly. That makes my heart very happy in this new year. We’ve started 2020 well (despite illnesses) and I hope you have too!

Guten Rutsch!

The German title of this post literally means “good slide!”, which is what Germans wish you at this time of year: have a good slide into the new year! We (Mr Esther, our mini-not-me daughter and I) drove to Frankfurt am Main today to spend a few days here. Our son is at home, taking care of the cats. He’s doing an internship at a hotel and has to work; he’ll also be going out with friends to welcome the new year and is thrilled to be spending a few days all alone at home.

After a little detour past the towns where I had lived not far from here in the mid 1980s we arrived at our hotel at the end of the afternoon, right in the center of Frankfurt. We’re close to the main shopping area.

We walked around a bit, stopped for dinner…

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… and then strolled back to the hotel where we played a few games. Now it’s time for unwinding a bit before we go to sleep.

We’ll be out and about tomorrow, so I don’t expect to be online much. That means that now is the time to wish you all a good beginning to the new year and the new decade. Have a “guten Rutsch” and cheers from me to you!

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May 2020 be a good year and the beginning of a decade where we do better for our fellow human beings and our planet!

Second Christmas Day

The title of this post makes me think of Hobbits who have second breakfasts!

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As I mentioned in my post last night, Second Christmas Day, December 26th, is reserved for my family. But first this morning, Mr Esther made us another nice brunch at home for just the four of us…

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In the afternoon it was off to my mom’s. Her house is filled with candles and I had a Christmas cake made…

My mom always does a reading and a little speech for the family. My older sister, who is Jewish, also lit the fifth Hanukkah candle…

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We also commemorate loved ones we have lost and everyone lights one candle in memory, Mr Esther was the first one to light a candle.

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At the end of the evening our memorial shrine looked like this, with pictures of the loved ones lost accompanying the candles. The paintings are paintings my mother did of Mary and Mary with child.

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We had gifts to exchange which my daughter (in all black) and her cousin (in the pink top) handed out to people.

We had a buffet dinner, everyone had brought something…

… and we ended with a little candle ceremony, wishing each other a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year in song.

It was a lovely, warm afternoon and evening and I know that, unlike many other people, I am very lucky to have family like that to spend it with! In all honesty, though, at the end of it all I was tired of all the socializing and celebrating we’ve been doing for the past 3 days and it’s good to be home again, on my couch, unwinding. Tomorrow is a day with very few plans and that is good…