Wednesday, December 30, 2009

YandA trip December 2009

 YandA sailing on the Nile--we did not pick up babies floating in boxes....

On December 13, I(A) flew to San Francisco to attend the Annual Fall Meeting
of the American Geophysical Union. It was a good
meeting and was followed by a weekend in San Mateo where my
cousin Fred and his wife Mariel (a high school classmate of
mine) live and we were joined for the weekend by my
granddaughter Maya who is a student in Eugene OR. After a
wonderful weekend, I flew to Berlin to meet Yosefa and to visit
her daughter Galia and her family including three
The California Part

We picked up Maya at SFO airport and made our way to San Mateo.
We lit the eighth Hannuka candle together and then had a very
nice shabbat dinner. As you can see, Maya took Fred and Mariel
into camp very easily.

In our family, we think that falling in
love with Maya is a very appropriate reaction to her. Of
course, we are all most objective.

The next day, Fred and Mariel busied themselves with helping
their daughter Annie and her husband plus child move into a new
house. Fred dropped us off at the BART station in Millbrae and
we made our way into the city. The afternoon was spent at
SFMOMAthe local museum of modern art. The museum was founded
in 1935 and is running a special exhibition for its 75th
birthday which was fascinating. There were also many other
goodies there, too many to describe.

Go to San Francisco and
visit this wonderful museum. We then met Fred and Mariel for
dinner at The The Stinking Rose/, an Italian restaurant in the North
Beach that specializes in the use of garlic, which was known as
the stinking rose in centuries past. An excellent dinner was
enjoyed by all.

On Sunday, we visited both Annie and Shelley at their homes and
enjoyed them and little Lauren aged 15 months and Casey aged10.
Casey received a Wii for Xmas and was having a great time with
it.  Mariel is an experienced and super savta--

Earlier Fred and A watched football while M and M went
shopping and apparently had a good time. In the evening our
friend  Maya's Mike

joined us and we went out for dinner at a Mexican
restaurant. Monday, Fred took us to the airport, Maya returned
to Eugene and the YandA scene shifted to Berlin.

 Despite flight delays caused by heavy snow in Europe we managed
to meet up in Berlin with not too much of a delay relative to
the original plan. Y was not jet-lagged, just plane tired... A
was of course jet-lagged and had train delays between Frankfurt
Airport and Berlin, but overcame it very well. The next day we
got to take the older children to Hansel and Gretel at the
Deutsche Oper along with half Berlin and their grandparents
(the children get to go for free, which is nice). The children
read the super-titles in German with ease, these grandparents
know the story and stumble along somehow, but enjoy the show
and the music very much.  Here is a
A good time was had by all, to
culminate with coffee and chocolate muffins nearby. Actually on
our way home, we stopped for a quick gift shopping which was
even more painless than predicted, either the recession or the
German predilection for planning in advance had contributed to
making a purchase in a toy store on the
23rd of December an easy task. The children waited opposite the
model car track race and the whole job was done in twenty

On Christmas Eve we took advantage of the last shopping day to
do the rest of our shopping - various small items - and were
happy to pick up a couple of DVD's we were looking for and a
birthday gift for Natan who will be five next week. We lunched
at an Asian place and were virtually pushed out as everything
closed at 2 pm...the children had spent the midday hours at a
closed swimming pool from which they could see the snow through
the windows!

Next day we went on our own to the newly reopened "New Museum"
to see the Egyptian exhibition which had been in storage since
1939 because of war damage to the building. The collection is
impressive and varied, there are explanations in English, and
our experience of other similar exhibitions enabled us to
appreciate and select the best of this one.  Pharaoh  Seti I
took time out from talking to his god after death to greet us.

The main highlight

of course, is the original
 bust of Nefertiti, of which we had seen the copy in Cairo
(There is a claim by a Swiss archeologist
that the bust is really a 1912 fake.). She is really impressive, both in her
beauty and in the wonder of the preservation of the sculpture
and the texture of its surface.  The Germans are refusing
to return her to Egypt claiming that the bust is too fragile
to be transported. 
In the cafe afterward, we got
to discussing this with a German lady who sat next to us, and
from there on into a long conversation on various subjects for
a whole hour which culminated in exchanging names and

Today we went with the family

to see the Biosphere in Potsdam.
This entailed a long ride by various forms of public transport
and then a ten minute walk, but the weather has been kind since
we got here - somewhat wet but no temperatures much below
freezing. The biosphere encloses an artificial climate with
tropical plants and animals, birds, butterflies and many exotic
types which are mostly exhibited in terraria, aquaria or cages.
It was very interesting, the children ran along the paths
exploring and we followed taking it all in. An angry gekko
hissed and clawed at us through the glass and several very well
disguised insects were very difficult to distinguish from their
surroundings. Bats hung from the ceiling.

Here, however, everything was in German, with no
concessions to speakers of other languages. In the evening a
young couple of friends came to dinner - a Swiss convert to
Judaism who has completed a Ph.D in Islamic studies at Yale and
is post-doctoring in Berlin with his Israeli wife and two young
children... you don't get much further than that for
multi-culturism! we had some interesting conversation. The
couple speak Hebrew between themselves, also Schweitzerdeutsch
to the little boy, but he was born in the the US and now goes to
kindergarten in Berlin, so he has four languages already! the
second child is only seven months' old and non lingual so far.

Sunday was packing, a farewell breakfast and homeward bound. A
boarded a train for Frankfurt and Y a plane.  After a bit of confusion, we
managed to meet at Frankfurt Airport and catch the Lufthansa night flight home.