Monday, January 28, 2008

Miles' Chariot Ride



Miles is now officially big enough for his first ride in the i-Chariot, an elegant bicycle-drawn conveyance.



We took him for an inaugural spin down Ravenna Boulevard to Green Lake. Here we return to the neighborhood in style.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Stairmaster

One of the best things about being home is that Miles now knows the world has more than one story.



Watch him make the discovery here.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Falvy's Pendulum

video

Miles takes a swing through Cowen Park.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Haus Sweet Haus


We miss the beer 'n' brats of Munich, but it's great to be back on our home turf.


There's nothing like having a proper stove to cook on again.


And lots of floor space for scuttling around.


A place to store Daddy's shoes.


And a library to ransack.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Flight of the Muffinhead (II)

One aspect of going home that we were not looking forward to was.... actually going home. The 15+ hour journey from Munich to Seattle via London -- particularly the long transatlantic flight -- promised to push us to the limit.


Our attentive readers will remember what an ordeal the New York-to-Paris leg of our trip in September turned out to be. In fact, an unspoken motivation for accepting the posting to Munich was the opportunity to delay our next major flight with Miles.


After all that trepidation, the reality was almost too pleasant to believe.


Though we were all exhausted before we even got on the plane, Miles comported himself like the intrepid little traveler he has become.


He managed the journey without a single notable meltdown, which would have been an achievement even for an adult.


Both grandmas came to meet us at Sea-Tac.


After 104 days and 15 hours on the road, Miles was back home in his playroom.


And a comfy crib awaited him.

Friday, January 4, 2008

Packing Up in Munchen

Suddenly, it was time to say goodbye to our temporary but much-loved home in Munich.



With Miles' diligent help, we packed up our belongings and schlepped them to Deutsche Post.


We made a farewell tour of Marienplatz and the Altstadt.



We caught one last political demonstration -- actual Communists, apparently quite unreformed, marching through Marienplatz. A healthy contingent of riot police were there to keep tabs.



We stopped in at Dallmayr for lunch and a final gathering of foodstuff for the journey home.



Miles was eager to take one last look around, too...



...and to sample some of Munich's finest beverages before returning to a country with a somewhat more restrictive drinking age.



Lisa scaled the towers of Munich to catch a view of the cathedral and the Rathaus.



We took another look at the creepy/cool statue on Tal.



Finally, we dropped in on Lisa's favorite haunt, the open-air Viktualienmarkt.



Ingrid, our favorite grocer, who always gave Miles some free goodies, was sad to see us go.



And we knew we would miss all those tasty German meats.



Can't get enough of them.



Ah yes, we'll miss those meats.



OK, we're ready to go home now.



Miles found it hard to say goodbye to his favorite babysitter, Madina, and her boyfriend Niko.



Back at the Maximillian, we paid a last visit to the fabulous restaurant and home-away-from home operated by Thomas and Brigitte.



Their hospitality was a mainstay of our trip, and it was great to have a nice restaurant where we could (usually) bring Miles.



Our server Rezi was another good friend and big Miles fan.



As was our charming receptionist, Doris.

To all our friends in Munich, we'll miss you -- auf Wiedersehen!

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Der Rauchverbot


One of the few consistently unpleasant aspects of our stay in Munich was the persistence of smoking in public places. Our otherwise enlightened European friends, however wary they may be of launching wars or tinkering with the genetic code of vegetables, somehow remain tolerant or even enthusiastic about filling the immediate atmosphere with tobacco-based carginogens.

More than a few of our otherwise excellent meals in Munich's fine restaurants were marred by billowing clouds of airborne toxicity. The presence of an infant at a nearby table rarely caused anyone to hesitate to light up.

On the few occasions when we mentioned to restaurateurs that it might be a nice idea to add a non-smoking sections for patrons lacking an interest in acquiring cancer, they invariably replied, "Oh, just wait. The Rauchverbot is coming on January 1." We came to understand this meant the "smoking ban."

Some time ago, the Bavarian state government decided to intervene on behalf of the health of its citizens, and announced that after January 1, 2008, smoking would no longer be allowed in most public places, including restaurants, cafes, bars, etc. The Germans, being notoriously law-abiding citizens, seemed resigned if not uniformly excited about this legislation. But it seemed to occur to none of the owners of these establishments that they were perfectly free to act before January 1.

As a result, we coughed and choked our way through three months in Germany, knowing that as soon as the law changed we would be going home. In the end, we only enjoyed four days of the Rauchverbot. But they were wonderful. The rate of compliance was shocking -- establishments like the Hofbrauhaus that had been besieged with tobacco fog for a century were suddenly liberated by fresh air.

A few posters announced the plans for a demonstration by smokers enraged by the new regime of persecution, but they seemed no match for the Health Ministry, not to mention millions of lungs now breathing freely.

Prosit Neujahr

Miles and I took advantage of the New Year holiday to give Mommy a break and take a valedictory stroll around the neighborhood.

Miles is going to miss living in a city so favorable to the letter "M".

We had a nagging sense that no matter how long we stayed in Munich, we would never make it to all the museums we wanted to see.

We won't have so many grand buildings to look at when we get home.

We headed north for a last walk through the English Gardens.


The ground was frosty, which made for great stoller-coasting.

Miles was feeling nostalgic already.


Few cities can claim such a spacious and pleasant central park.


We finally made it to the "Chinese Tower" -- an elusive landmark tucked away in the park.


OK, can we go back yet?

Despite the cold weather and verboten signs, the surf was up.


We paid a final visit to the Residenz, one of the old Bavarian monarchy's innumerable palaces.


Miles took it all in, knowing that without a monarchy in Seattle, he would soon have to make do with City Hall.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Air Raid Over Munich...

...or just New Year's fireworks?

You decide.



At the last possible minute (11:46 p.m., in fact), we decided to put Miles in the stroller and run (not walk) over the Marienplatz to ring in the New Year. I'm not sure what we expected -- maybe an iconic event like the descending ball like in Times Square, or a few official fireworks.



What we didn't imagine was that the arrival of the New Year would turn our mild-mannered German neighbors into drooling pyromaniacs. As the clock approached midnight the skies (and streets) exploded in every direction with an ear-pounding barrage of explosions and fireworks, none of them officially sanctioned. Every street and square in Central Munich was filled with amateur artillery squadrons, spent ammunition and billowing clouds of smoke.

We worried that all the unexpected noise might kick a dent in Miles' fragile young mind. He simply stared off into space impassively, neither supporting nor refuting the hypothesis. But a few people took a moment away from their revelry to send disapproving looks our way, as if to say, "What were you thinking, taking a baby into a war zone?" We wouldn't have been able to offer much of an answer, except to say that we hadn't imagined the Germans had this much revelry in them.

As the bombardment showed no signs of letting up, we decided to turn back toward the safety of the Maximillian. But getting home was not so easy: a phalanx of bottle rockets blocked access to Platzl; the Hofbrauhaus was under siege. There were hints of 1945 in the air as we pushed the kinderwagen from street to smoke-filled street, until we finally found a safe passage to our beds.

We were relieved to wake the next morning to find that Miles showed no signs of post-traumatic stress syndrome. Munich's streets needed a good scrub, but had not, fortunately, been reduced to rubble.