Whirlwind awesome summer

So first, a little catch up from before my last posts... back in June, I went to Saskatoon for a weekend to go to the wedding of one of my next door neighbours from where I grew up. The Sulatyski family lived next door to me my entire Saskatoon-life (plus a couple years after I moved to Vancouver), and are like my second family... sometimes I feel like I grew up more Ukrainian than any other culture!

The middle kid from the family, Markian, (who's a year older than me, on the right in the photo below) got married to his lovely now-wife Emily. The wedding was out on Emily's family's acreage outside the city. It was beautiful outside for the ceremony, and then right before dinner there was a CRAZY flash storm - pouring rain, wind, lightning... a big gust came up and tried to pick up the big party tent just like in one of those crazy home videos. Everyone jumped up and held down the tent for about a half hour till the storm passed. Lots of excitement, then it calmed down and we had a great evening.

I love, love, love seeing my old neighbourhood crew, I spent so many summers hanging out with these boys (Evan on the left is the youngest brother, and their cousin Chris is in the middle). I also got to see their older step-sister who I hadn't seen in well over a decade, and it was awesome catching up with her (especially because she convinced me to try and make it to Evan's wedding which was just last weekend, even though it was really close to getting back from my big summer trip).

Me and the boys

Then, the end of July was completely absorbed with moving into my new place. That's right, no more West End Girl here... I've moved out to East Van and am loving it here. It's quiet, I have a ton of space, and am closer to friends (and really not much further from work). It's been a lot of work getting moved in here while not being home a lot this summer, but it's going to be a great place to be for the next while.

new home of awesome!

Then, a couple weeks after moving in, I took off for my first trip to Europe! I'll just start by saying it was as great as I could have hoped, and I now feel like a relatively competent overseas traveller.

The first place I went for a week and a half was Copenhagen (photos), where DrupalCon was held. I wanted to go last year to Paris, but then my boss was having a baby at the same time, so I decided to stay and help hold down the fort at work instead. So, this year was my year, and a huge bonus that it was in Copenhagen, which was somewhere I really wanted to go (after studying urban geography for so long).

copenhagen

copenhagen

It was a great city (as full of bikes as you can dream), and I stayed in a gorgeous apartment in the center of town that I rented with some fellow conference-goers. I had virtually no jetlag going over (probably largely thanks to splurging for an upgraded ticket on the way over), and had a great time wandering around the first few days.

DrupalCon was awesome as always - I went to the Core Dev Summit (which I'd missed when I went to San Francisco's DrupalCon in the spring, thanks to being sick), and it was one of my favourite parts of the trip. I got some traveler tummy halfway through the week, and missed the last day, but all in all it was absolutely fantastic. (You can read more about my DrupalCon adventure here if you are interested/nerdy.)

And I loved Copenhagen - good food, neat shops, really pretty city. It definitely had its own vibe and style - everyone was so sophisticated, well dressed, and the stereotype did hold true, a lot of tall, nordic, good looking people!

At the end of the week, we hopped a train to our next destination: Berlin.

Berlin (photos) got off to a rough start when I left my backpack (containing my laptop, digital camera, prescription sunglasses, and medication) on the last leg of the train. Yes, really. I spent the first few days trying to see if I could find my bag, frustratingly trying to talk to the right people in german (thank dog I speak a little bit, as middle aged government service people there sure as heck don't speak much english). Luckily, all of the annoying trips back and forth to the train station, and phone calls of broken german proved worthwhile when on our last full day there I got my bag back! Go-go german lost and found system! 

The only thing missing was my little digital camera (and the photos I'd taken at the conference), as well as my cell phone's USB cable (which I believe the thief mistakenly took, thinking it belonged with the camera). Can you believe they took just that and not my laptop??? Me neither. I was so stoked to have the rest back that I was happy to cut my losses. My only guess is that they opened my laptop and saw it was password protected, and so left it alone... Needless to say, the rest of the photos in this post (and on Flickr) are all cell-phone photography. But I did have my film SLR with me as well, so there will be more to come when I get those developed.

That last day in Berlin was great - I did some shopping in Prenzlauer Berg, a hip area of the city north of the hostel we stayed at. Then after the second trip of the day to the other side of city, when I actually got my bag back, I took the "tourist" city bus line and saw a bunch of stuff, including the Berlinner Dome church, which I went inside. It was totally beautiful.

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Aside from cool shopping and sights, I have to say, Berlin had by far the best Ariane-friendly grocery stores! It was amazing, all the grocers I went to were full of gluten-free this and dairy-free that. And omg the soy yogurt in Europe is DELICIOUS. They are doing it wrong over here. What I would give to be able to get that stuff here...

After Berlin, we had a final day of train rides - we didn't know ahead, but the last train was a crazy fast train! (Pardon Scott's head blocking the photo...) It did make me a bit nauseous compared to the normal trains, but we went up to 327km/hr!!!! SO FAST. SO COOL!!! Walking down the aisle when we'd go down any small hills, it felt like I was about to levitate. Glad I got to ride one afterall.

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And our final destination was Paris (photos) for the last couple days before heading home. I think I have some more photos from there on my phone (can't download em right now without my cable), and on the film, but nothing too stellar other than photos from the plant shops near Notre Dame (which I kind of botched finding) for now. 

Paris is a huge city! The weather was fantastic there, and I had a great time wandering around. Highlights were a private opera concert at night at the Louvre, delicious chocolate, talking to the owner of this great jazz/classical music shop, shopping, and eating at La Ferme (this delicious and really pleasant veg-friendly cafe I found my last day there).

The day of travel home and resulting jetlag was probably the worst part, so I can't complain. All in all, a fantastic and victorious first overseas trip, and bonus getting some quality time with some of my favourite friends and Drupallers from all over the world.

Finally, a couple weeks after getting back (and surviving a terrible but short-lived stomach flu), it was time for one last adventure out to Edmonton for Evan (youngest brother from next door) and Jaime's wedding. I am so, so, so glad that I went in the end. Sure, I was pretty wiped out, but dammit I love those guys, and it was so nice getting to spend some more time with them. Everyone stayed in the hotel there, so we saw a lot of each other, and didn't have to go running all over town (sidenote: parts of Edmonton seem pretty cool, I almost want to go back to explore). Can't believe my little brother-from-another-mother is a married man now, we're all grown up!

Evan and Jaime's first dance

I also got to see his big sis, Elana, for the first time since she became a momma herself (right around when Markian's wedding was), she's a superstar, what can I say!

Me and Elana! (probably the first photo of us in at least a decade)

(And this last photo, I just thought was cool enough to post, taken the night before the wedding while we were hanging out watching the Riders game.)

Evan and Helen watching the Riders game

This weekend, I finally get to myself, to rest and catch up some more on finishing my move-in. Next weekend is the last hurrah in the string of events that I've been working my way through, finally the much anticipated PNW Drupal Summit (which I've been helping a tiny bit with organizing). There's people coming from all over the PNW (Pacific Northwest) and further afield, and I've got three of my favourite Drupal gals coming to stay at the house for the weekend, so it should be a blast. (Oh, and also I'm co-presenting a session as part of my plan to conquer my fear of public speaking...eek!)

After that, no plans till Christmas, which makes me extremely happy! There will be lots of Drupalling, Crafternoons, regaining of social life, and other enjoyment, that is for certain. Life has been better lately, and I have a feeling more good things are on their way in the next little while... ;)