BERLIN: After leaving Prague, we took the train to Berlin, the capital city of Germany. One of the world’s most cosmopolitan cities with 3.5 million people, interesting architecture, palaces, lots of culture, and of course a fascinating recent history with the demise of the Berlin wall. It’s almost hard to conceive that East and West Berlin were divided by a wall until 1990. You can still see the difference if you look closely, but for the most part both areas are vibrant parts of the city and people move seamlessly between the two now, happy they are no longer divided by a stone wall or political, social and lifestyle differences.
Another item of interest that you see all over Berlin is a sad reminder of the Jews that lived there before the Holocaust. As you walk through the neighborhoods you will often see little brass plaques embedded into the sidewalks in front of their former homes with the names and dates as a memorial to them. Germany is very open about the mistakes it made toward mankind; the impacts of the Nazi era are kept very visible with the goal that they never happen again.
HOTEL RECOMMENDATION: Travelers and wanna-be travelers, take note: if you think you might go to Berlin at some point, we highly recommend the hotel we stayed in… loved it. It’s a gay hotel, but very hetero-friendly. It combines old world charm (high ceilings, chandeliers, a beautiful old lift) with very chic decor (modern furnishing, baths, color schemes) and the service and breakfast are first class. Affordable and well-located. File this one away: ArtHotel Connection. (This hotel made up for the really crappy one we had in Prague, complete with a pounding disco in the basement that went until 5AM!)
THE SENSUAL MASSAGE: We decided one night at the last minute to have a little adventure, something outside our normal comfort zone and something I don’t think I would have done as a heavy person. We decided to get a Tantra massage… and although we signed up as a couple, when we got there, we went into separate rooms. I really had no idea what to expect but it turned out to be a wonderful, respectful, pleasurable (and yes, erotic) experience for both of us. No, there wasn’t any sex, but it was quite sensual; in their words: “there are no bad or good body parts; all of you is sacred and should be pleasured”. That works for me! We were both very happy with the entire experience and felt it allowed us to obtain a deep relaxation in the world of sensual touch (and the warm oil was great!). The place we went, Spiritual Tantra Lounge, was gorgeous… Balinese in decor and tasteful. The people were also very nice looking and welcoming. We felt we were taken to another place physically, mentally and spiritually, and taken there in a gentle, respectful way. I felt very comfortable naked and although I have never been shy about my body, I would have felt weird doing this when I was 200+ lbs. So once again, a new adventure that would not have happened had I not lost the extra weight. If you have an open mind, a willingness to try something different, and are going to Berlin, check it out!
Speaking of weight; I went on a holiday and lost a kilo! We were gone 10 full days and, although we walked a lot, I didn’t do any regular exercising while we were away and I had wine every night at dinner and of course coffee and a goodie every day. So I was really surprised and happy that I had actually lost weight when I got back — I am now at 62 kilos! But I did hit the gym my first day back and it felt good to exercise again. I’m convinced, though, living and traveling in places where you walk all the time is so much better for your health than in places where you get in the car and drive everywhere.
TRAIN TRAVEL: BEFORE AND AFTER PHOTOS:
We are loving living in Europe for many reasons, and one is that travel to other countries, cultures, and experiences is so accessible by train. As I have mentioned before, we love traveling by train as it adds to the enjoyment of the trip — unlike air travel which has (in my opinion) turned into a cattle drive. As I was putting this week’s blog together I ran across a photo (definitely a BEFORE photo!) of us by a train a couple of years ago. Not only was I really heavy but I had the worst haircut ever. But one of the reasons I write this every week is to inspire others that there is a new life out there and, to be honest, seeing old photos of myself keeps me humble, grateful and focused so I don’t gain weight. For me, seeing Before and After photos of others helped convince me that this was the way to go. What you don’t see in the photos, though, is that the woman in the BEFORE photo couldn’t walk without her feet and hip hurting, wasn’t as open to new experiences, felt self-conscious about her looks (even among her best friends), and packing for traveling was painful. The woman in the AFTER photo wants to walk everywhere and try new adventures, and packs much lighter because she isn’t freaked out about what might fit today! Two pairs of pants, a few basic tops and I’m good to go! I still get bad haircuts but you can’t have everything!
It’s good to be back at our apartment in Amsterdam. There were a few leaves left on the trees when we got back, but today the wind is blowing so I’m looking out our window at bare limbs and a gray sky. This is all new to this California and Hawaii girl… but for now it’s fun (see how I feel in a few months!). Loving my new boots (here’s a photo for those who asked to see them last week!). They are only ankle high, but my next pair will go over my jeans and up to my knees… couldn’t do that last year!
As always, thanks for reading my weight loss / travel blog. I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving and that you got through all the food without any big issues. Easy for me; there isn’t a turkey to be found anywhere in this land and even if there were, what would we do with it? The refrigerators and ovens are the size of a laptop! So, one less thing to worry about in Europe. Still, I am grateful for so much in my life: my husband, my sister and brother, my dear friends and my sleeve!
Bis zum nächsten Mal (until next time — in German)
QUEEN OF CROP
(Click to enlarge photos)