Berlin Light Weeks Leuchtet

Colorful Berlin : Take Your Family to see the Lights for Berlin Leuchtet

Illuminated Berlin Shines in Fall

Have you been? To Berlin? (That rhymes in my accent. I can’t guarantee in yours.)

Berlin is all sorts of cool and sits like an island alone for its uniqueness in Germany. West Berlin did actually sit alone, after World War II in the middle of East Germany. The powerful march of history on this place is undeniable. Modern Berlin – which now luckily includes both east and west offers a kaleidoscope of options for every traveler. From gritty, graffitied, super funky Kreuzenberg for cafes and coffee along the canals to posh Charlottenburg for epic shopping and restaurants along Ku’damm (Kurfürstendamm avenue.) History seeps deep here and there are more museums than you could possibly shake a stick at or visit in a weekend, but rest assured there is one for every motivation if you should desire to try.


Should you have the chance to make it to big beautiful Berlin this fall, you should NOT miss Berlin Leuchtet. Berlin shines. This colorful and creative city lights up in the autumn. Literally. They light up the city. All over the Berlin, buildings, monuments, museums will be covered in light displays for all to enjoy. For free! Berlin shines with illuminations for two weeks starting September 30th – October 16th, 2016. We were lucky to be able to enjoy last year’s Lichterfest on our fall school break and highly recommend the experience, even in potentially chilly and soggy autumn. Bring layers! There are many ways to see the lights, from tourist bus tours to covered boat cruises along the canal. If the weather is less than stellar, these may afford your tribe brilliant options. While it did rain (a LOT) when we were there last October, we managed a night or two with slightly less precipitation and a little more fog, so chose to walk through the historic center Mitte and enjoy the lights on foot. Doing so gives you time to enjoy the rotating displays in their full glory.

BERLIN-LEUCHTET September 30th – October 16th, 2016 BERLIN SHINES

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BERLIN LEUCHTET – Official website for all the information about this year’s displays.

REEDEREI RIEDEL – Boat tours for Lights Week.

TOP TOURS SIGHTSEEING BERLIN – Lightseeing bus tours.

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Map from – click on link for searchable map



And while in Berlin, don’t miss the East Side Gallery. Here you can see large sections of the old Berlin Wall that divided East and West Berlin that stand along Mühlenstraße in Friedrichshain neighborhood. This outdoor public art gallery is free to all and a wonderful way to show your kids how art can be used for many purposes – from social commentary and pointed political statements to uplifting, energetic and colorful images of hope and peace.

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We stayed in this AirBnb near the Birkenstaße U-Bahn Station and were able to easily pop in and out to the center Mitte area easily. It was large, spacious and afforded free street parking. Berlin is very large and spread out and we were glad to have a car to explore all over, but parking in the center is difficult and does cost. If you don’t have a car, I would recommend staying closer to Mitte in the center. We liked the neighborhood feel of Moabit and perusing the amazing German grocery store down the street. I mean when your lunch meat comes in shapes like this? Who wouldn’t? For our growing family of 5, we often choose apartments to accommodate us all and afford the possibility to keep costs down by cooking at home night or two. The kids love seeing what the locals buy at their groceries and try to find the most unique items. Usually that means sweets. *Wink. Wink.

Berlin bears in the bologna
German lunch meats


Father Carpenter
Münzstraße 21, 1st backyard, Berlin Mitte

Tucked back off the street in the charming and historic Hackeshor Hof neighborhood, Father Carpenter is a delicious and charming little cafe.


Zeit Für Brot
Alte Schönhauser Str. 4, Berlin Mitte

Directly translated means time for bread! Super yummy pretzels, buns, rolls and duh – bread! Breakfast options as well as pre-made sandwiches. Take away or eat in. Try the carrot cake. Amazing. Lucky for you, they have outposts of this delicious German bakery in Hamburg, Frankfurt and Cologne as well.

Il Casolare
Grimmstraße 30, Kreuzberg, Berlin

Super cozy and popular Italian joint. Worth waiting for a table. Don’t mind the grumpy host, it’s good enough that you’ll forget his gruffness as soon as your huge wood fired pizza arrives. Red or white? Yes please. Affordable and tasty. A hit with all our travelers.

Gasthaus Dicker Engel
Birkenstraße 44, Moabit Berlin

You didn’t come to Germany to eat Italian food? Ok, ok. Want some traditional German fare – try kitschy Gasthaus Dicker Engel. Hearty authentic dishes. Try the schnitzel and spaetzel to wash down with a big German beer of course.



Craving more? These fabulous websites will help you dig deeper into what to do and see and eat in Berlin.



Ready for Berlin - start in Mitte
Berlin coffee


Hopefully I have illuminated new options for your upcoming Fall Break. Berlin in October is the best. Shine on! Cheers from Copenhagen, I’m still enjoying summer this week! Woot woot! Erin

Linking up this #WanderfulWednesday with Blog hop Hosts: Lauren on Location, Snow in Tromso, What a Wonderful World, and The Sunny Side of This. Check out any of their sites for more travel inspo!

Best Little Wine Shop in Copenhagen Trøffelsvin

Meet the Locals #3: The Best Little Wine Shop in Copenhagen – Trøffelsvin

It’s Fredag! That’s Friday in Danish if you didn’t know. And the sun is shining here in Copenhagen. Double bonus. Today deserves a toast. Don’t you think? In Danish, you say “Skål!” Cheers. Raise your glass. Oh – what’s that? You don’t have anything to toast with do you? Let me introduce you to some locals who can help rectify your precarious situation. Here in Copenhagen, you should definitely get to know them. Don’t live here? No problem, they’ll be ready and waiting for you when you come to Copenhagen. This shop is destination worthy.

Let me introduce you to best little wine shop in Copenhagen. This third installment of my Meet the Locals series brings us to Nordre Frihavnsgade, the main shopping street in the easterly Copenhagen neighborhood of Østerbro. It happens to be my neighborhood. How convenient! Here you will find a most unique and charming purveyor of wine and other spirits. This is Trøffelsvin. Say hej! Come inside. Take a look around. It’s cute in here. You’ll see. This is no average Danish wine shop. I think it the best little wine shop in Copenhagen.

Nordre Frihavnsgade 36
2100 Copenhagen

Trøffelsvin is the two year old love child of Katrine Ekman and her husband Allan Graven Nielsen. Directly translated, Trøffelsvin means truffle pig in Danish. A funny play on words. And you probably already figured it out, but VIN = WINE. This charming pair are motivated to “sniff out the good stuff” and share it with you.

Now if you live here or have been to Copenhagen, you know that there are many, many, many places to buy wine in Denmark. Seriously. On almost every corner. So what makes this Copenhagen wine shop different? Why should YOU come here? Three things.

FIRST: The wine.

A good starting point for a wine shop. A requisite really. Of course. At Trøffelsvin, Katrine and Allan aim to offer wines that you won’t find at other shops around town. And they are specifically motivated to find bottles that will inspire all of your senses. Not only should a wine taste good. It should feel good on your tongue. It should smell good. But it should also look good. And we’re not just talking about the color of the wine. Once here in the shop, you can sense the aesthetics immediately. All of the labels and bottles are gorgeous. Katrine likes that. She is a maker at heart and her own letterpressed cards litter the shop.

I was drawn into Trøffelsvin initially because they were advertising a Washington State wine from Walla Walla. That is near my from – so naturally, I stepped in. Upon further inspection, it is easy to see that they carry a wide variety of wines from the U.S.A. And yes, don’t worry – while I am here living in Europe – I promise you that I am learning and tasting and experiencing glasses outside my from. But I can’t help but admit that it is refreshing to see recognition of what you know is good. California chardonnays, Oregon pinots, Washington merlots. What? Super. Cool. They also have delicious French and Spanish and German wines. Don’t believe me? Let Allan convince you. I did not know that I could a love German riesling so. And the cava! Ummm. Cava.

I mean, lately. I’ve been really into Riesling.”

– spied on the wall at Trøffelsvin Wine Shop

Copenhagen Denmark
Katrine Ekman & Allan Graven Nielsen

SECOND: The space.

Look – I get you. I know that it is convenient to buy your wine with your groceries at the grocery store. There is no problem doing that here in Denmark. But there is something about buying your wine in a delightful shop that enhances the experience. They don’t want you to drink more wine. They want you to drink the right wine. Life it too short and all that. Katrine’s creative sensibilities are clear and you can see her mark on the shop. Her stamped tags adorn bottles. Funny little notes inspire on the subway tiled walls. I am personally dying to see her letterpress, the products of which she sells in the shop. (But that isn’t here, alas.) Just one more of the reasons that I was drawn to learn more about this quaint space. She admits that she wanted the store to look less like a Danish wine shop and more like the places she found on her travels. Places she had loved in London, Berlin, NYC and San Fran. I can feel her Copenhagen from in the minimalist Danish design and the clean lines, lamps, colors and layout of the shop. But that is where it ends. It feels unique here. Special. Not your average Danish wine shop. It is a destination wine shop, worthy of the stop.

THIRD: The stories.

The people that inhabit that space help. For sure. Katrine and Allan are two passionate, well-traveled aficionados who enjoy good wine and want to share it with you. Ask, listen and feel. You can’t help but be enthused by their enthusiasm. Why they like this bottle. What makes this maker special. How this vintage is unique.

Katrine explained that she was let go from her long time career in publishing. With a little more time available, she and Allan embarked on a three month slow tour of the United States. This is the kind of trip everyone should take. A whole month for NYC alone in an AirBnb apartment followed by visits to Chicago and then the natural wonders of Utah and the Grand Canyon. More time followed in Portland, Oregon (is it any wonder why we clicked?) and then a month in an apartment in San Francisco. With requisite visits to Napa and Sonoma Valleys of course. Being able to experience a place with time is remarkable. Covetable really.

Obviously they tasted wine on this three month excursion. Good American wine. But American wine is not hugely popular here in Denmark. Shocking. I know. French wine and Italian wine and Spanish wine hold sway. Not without cause. Duh. Those places make super delicious wine. And I’m not trying to exert a bias. (Although I can if you want.) I will happily try your Bordeaux, Côtes du Rhône, Champagne, Chianti, Grechetto and other Umbrian offerings, or your Cavas and Temperanillos. But you can find that here in Denmark. Fairly easily. And many of the Danish wine shops here buy from the same distributors. You see similar stock from shop to shop.

Katrine and Allan started as importers, trying to bring some of those tastes they’d found on their travels back to Denmark. They started selling to restaurants and the like. It was rough going through a middle man – selling to those who would then have to sell it. Hard to tell the story in third person. Something was lost. The inspiration behind that specific bottle left before the sales slip. These were good stories. It motivated Katrine and Allan to sell directly to those who were going to enjoy it. Losing her job may have been the perfect impetus to go out on their own. One door closes and the next opens in a nutshell. The Østerbro space became available and two years later they are still telling stories. About wine.

And while Katrine has set the mood with this beautiful shop and can help you select the perfect wine for your dinner party, it is Allan who tells the stories. You can’t help but feel the passion. I was lucky enough to be responsible for procuring enough wine for my husband’s recent team dinner. Sushi for 12 at our home. Set the table, Allan will help pour. Or help you with what to pour. Actually Trøffelsvin does parties. They will set up wine tastings at your place or are happy to host at their shop. And with their passion and stories about each sip, I can imagine it the perfect experience. Allan helped me pick some perfect pairings for our Danish-Japanese evening.

And he educated me as well. Allan asked – who was coming? Danes? Or Americans? I smiled. Yes, that would be different wouldn’t it? Some of both and a few others. German, Mexican, Finnish as well. He thought Danes and Americans would go to different things for a sushi dinner. Bubbles or a riesling for the Danes. Oh. Really? I don’t especially love riesling. Why? Allan asked. Do you know German riesling? I thought so? Maybe you don’t. Try this one. This is a very special maker. And he proceeded to give me insights on the terroir of said grape, the wine makers style and how this was not the stereotype of sweet German rieslings. I trusted him. And for excellent reason. I am a new fan. Who knew. Trøffelsvin specializes in American, German and Spanish wines. But don’t limit them to that. The also carry craft brews, ports and some darn cool looking Scandi gins. Hello.

I can also promise you that you need to have no terror for knowing nothing of terroir. There is no snobbery here. You can come in knowing nothing except what you like. Allan and Katrine are happy to help send you home with something you will enjoy. Tell them what you prefer. They will not judge. Tell them what you are looking for. What you are serving? How many. Happy to help. Allan will tell you that even though he can suggest a certain wine for its acidity or sweetness or dry finish as the perfect compliment to whatever masterpiece you are serving, he will concede willingly that he still acknowledges “to each his own.” If you love a certain kind of wine. Go with that. There are no rules. How very un-Danish. (Wink. Wink.) He is happy to help with the kind you love or if you want to try something new. I guarantee that you will be happy to take his advice. And when you pour the wine for your friends, you just might be able to share a story about how, where and why it was made. Because Allan shared it with you. The people make a place. The stories make it connect.

Lovely wine. Lovely shop. Lovely people.

Best Little Wine Shop in Copenhagen, Denmark



Troffelsvin Wine Shop, Copenhagen Denmark

Nordre Frihavnsgade 36
2100 Copenhagen

Open Tuesday 11-18
Wednesday 11-18
Thursday 11-18
Friday 11-19
Saturday 11-15

Take the 1A, 14 or 3A busses to Trianglen stop. Cross over to the 7-11 and keep walking. Maybe stop at Original Coffee, but then keep going. But I just passed a wine shop. Keep going. Past the toy shop where we buy Lego, the music shop where we procured our son’s guitar, past the grocery store, look quickly at the delicious pastries at Lagkagehuset and walk one more block. On your right is Trøffeslvin. Congrats. You sniffed it out! Let them sniff out the perfect bottle. Skål!

Planning a trip? Save it for later! Or feel free to share this post with all your local friends who need to come say hej to Katrine and Allan immediately. This post is tweetable, pinnable, sharable and loveable. Happy Fredag from Copenhagen! Cheers, Erin






Garage Sale Lessons

13 Things I Learned about Humanity from Hosting a Garage Sale

Exactly two years ago, we were smack in the middle of processing a move abroad. Around the world. Literally. Emotionally we had all accepted the idea and were busy organizing and purging and planning and preparing. In reality, we wouldn’t move for a few more months. But at the time, selling off half our earthly belongings in one of the most epic single household garage sales EVER seemed the right thing to do.

If you have hosted a garage sale, yard sale, estate sale, loppemarked or the like – you too may have encountered the same sorts of characters. Something about picking through someone else’s property gives you license to be somewhat insane. Forget common courtesy and be darn right ridiculous. Yep. It’s true. I hadn’t gotten that memo. So without further ado, may I present to you the 13 things I learned about humanity (and maybe myself) while hosting a garage sale over two days a few summers back.


1. People are strange. Garage sale people can be stranger.

2. What sells and what doesn’t is always interesting. Giant books about dogs were a huge hit. Sold out fast. Slightly worn Pottery Barn leather couches for $5 – not so much. Finally gave that thing away. Seriously – take it away.

3. Creating zones for stuff that is not actually for sale does not matter. Even when said not-for-sale stuff is no where near the actual stuff that IS for sale. People will go through EVERYTHING. Including, but not limited to, opening your tents and pulling out your sleeping bags. Really? That is NOT for sale! How did you get back there? It wasn’t even IN the garage!

4. As soon as you mark an item SOLD that generally means that EVERYONE immediately wants it and will continue asking “Is that REALLY sold?” ALL DAY.

5. Things like your almost brand new BBQ grill that you marked “SOLD” so as to try and avoid said question will especially push people into asking “Is that really sold?” with the almost certain requisite follow-up question – “How much did it go for?” You know, just so they can feel like they didn’t miss out on the deal of the century, because truth be told, it might be the nicest item out here. And then you may have to admit that you didn’t actually sell it – but simply wanted to avoid their question. (Usually followed by a forced smile and nod. Umm hmm. Move along. Buy a giant dog book. Sold out? How about a used leather couch? Not the tent – it’s NOT for sale either.)

6. I do not enjoy haggling. I never have. I’m a terrible bargainer and am generally a huge pushover. But when a 70+ year old woman in polyester shorts, folded over white socks inside her Keds and side-shielding sunglasses says to me “You are going to let me win” when working me down from $3 to $2.25 for I can’t even remember what item – it is game on!

7. And when same polyester shorts (circa 1973 with the tab over button action) asks if she can have these four pairs of earrings for $1 and then proceeds to take ALL the watches, vintage earrings as WELL AS the originally denoted four earrings – she may see the inner SCORPIO in me come out. Back off BluBlockers!

8. Children as sales people with access to pocket money become very motivated to move merchandise. Even when that merchandise is the bulk of their own pink plastic Barbie accessory collection that only a day ago was not even allowed to be out for sale. Over her dead body. Ooooh! Money. What else can I sell?

9. People apparently have x-ray vision and the remarkable ability, from their cars, to assess every item you have for sale and deem it unworthy. Not once, but multiple times, cars screamed into driveway (across it, mind you, not in it) surveyed the lot and screamed off. No need for a three point turn.  No time, no time.

10. On the other side of the coin, you never know what people are going to want/need. I almost recycled all the old glass spice jar bottles that my wee lass used in her “kitchen” set when some gentleman came in looking for ONE very specific thing. “Do you have any spice jars?” YES!! Yes, I do. Here you go. Win and win. Who knew?

11. Driving the expensive car to the garage sale does not mean that you will pay the slightly higher price I wanted for my antique wooden phone booth. Quite the opposite, it may mean that you are the cheapest S.O.B. at the sale (besides polyester shorts).

12. And on the other end of the spectrum, hard-working, straight from their last lawn-service job of the day people who just need some extra pants to work in may pay you MORE than you asked for said pants because they felt like that was what they were worth. Don’t judge a book by its cover. Here – take all the pants. Seriously. Please do.

13. 20 hours of garage-sale-ing is EXHAUSTING. Phew. I am exhausted thinking about how much merch we moved that weekend in August. 

Have you held your own sale? Meet some of this cast of characters? Others? Please share in the comments. Does moving make you purge? Or pack it all up? I’m a little of both and if you asked my mom – she’ll say I didn’t sell enough as her attic is full of our boxed goods. Shoutout to mom! Thanks for that.

Cheers from Copenhagen!  Erin