Saturday, March 28, 2009

Final Berlin Post

Seeing as how March is nearly over, and Berlin happened at the beginning of this month, I should probably be tying things up. I suppose at some point I'd intended to go over it all in a bit more detail, but I'm tired today (got in around 3:30AM after a Winfield party/concert combo!) and I'm basically just ready to be done with it. So I'll quickly fill in the last couple of days that I was there, toss in some photos for better effects, and then be prepared to move on to the next era in blogging...whatever that may entail.
I started Friday off with a trip to Check Point Charlie. This is the most famous border crossing from the East to West from back in the day. All that remains is a small station situated next to a large museum. I didn't end up going to the museum, having already spent so much money on museums, but I figure if I ever make it back I'll be sure to check it out.

I stopped quickly by the topography of terror museum. It's just so incredible to wander around this city with so many layers of history sitting right next to each other. This place, which is currently under reconstruction, is the sight of the central prison of the SS. So here we have remnants of the Nazis and the Communists rubbing up next to each other, with buildings still visibly scarred by bombs and other weaponry, reminding the populace of all that has taken place.

Bonhoeffer was one of the people held in this prison. I just had to think of Dr. Slane when I took this photo. :)
After all the wandering I did there, I was hungry and managed to remember how to get back to the amazing Falafel place Sarah had told me about. It really was incredible. You can watch them cooking them up right there. They toss them into a little folded tortilla like bread shell and add some yogurt sauce, lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers and onions. When you bite into these little beauties the outside is brown and crispy, while the inside is a soft green warm experience. They really were incredible, and after the fast meal I swung for a second time by the massive Jewish temple for a couple day time photos.

Did I mention how totally random this day was? My next trip was to the Sony Center. While, sadly, I never managed to get there to see it by night, I did enjoy this fast run through, and really thought the old preserved hotel they have on location as it was after being bombed was super interesting.

I had planned to go and do some more shopping next, but ended up going back to check out a little toy store with Ben and Sarah. After that Ben came with me to hunt for bears. The Buddy Bears are really pretty fun. I found several on my own, like the European one that had Czech on it, but Ben and I managed to find a few together as well. It was a cold and drippy sort of day, so we didn't really want to spend too much time wandering about the streets, but at least we managed to find a few Teddy Bears on Parade...

A few other highlights from the day include a trip to a small square really close to Ben and Sarah's place that miraculously didn't suffer any damage during the war, and still has an old school public toilet. The inside is just open with a little sort of ditch around the outer edge. Interesting. I didn't actually try to use it or anything :) I also got a nice shot of the Brandenburg Tor at night.

Now for a quick trip through Saturday, after a nice leisurely morning, including a quick trip to a nearby grocery store for some amazing German chocolate and some Apfel Schoerle for my roomie's birthday, we headed out to lunch with Ben's Hungarian friend and her husband. We met them at this fun new Hungarian restaurant where we got to sample some fascinating Hungarian food. Not being a huge kraut fan, this dish that was layer after layer of kraut, mixed with minced pork, rice, cheese, and some interesting sauces, with two slices or sausage on top, was a bit much for me. Thankfully, Ben is still able to put food away, and was able to clean up my and Sarah's leftovers. We also had some really great goulash, and finished the meal with three types of strudel: traditional apple, sour cherry and poppyseed, and quark (which is a special kind of cheese I think like cheese curds if you have any idea what those are.)

After lunch we went to Gendarmen Markt where we found a final bear, and took in the view of these three massive structures.

This last bit of retelling was a bit lack luster, for which I do apologize, but at least it's all out there now :)

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Blizzard Break

Sitting in Bartholomeus, looking outside at a world turning white. Where does this come from on the fourth day of Spring. Two hours the sky was blue, now the flake accrue on people and ground alike...curiouser and curiouser as Alice would say. A white rabbit hole opening up before my very eyes. What a world.
And my teeth are fresh and white and gleaming (so I'm drinking a coke). Went to the dentist today, and it was free...a gift. First time in, um, I'd say 8 years, and not a cavity to be found. But I was told the gunk on my teeth was like stone, that for all my life I've been brushing the wrong way entirely. Perhaps now I can make things right.
Took a trip to Germany with my dentist as well. The things I can do in this European world. We spoke of Equatorial type countries and dreamed of better weather, then needed sunglasses, despite the weather insanity.
After a quick shopping trip, we made our way to the city center where she showed me an amazing basilica. The place looked fairly basic on the outside, but inside it was just fabulous. The walls were covered in carved stone figures, the ceilings decked out in the lives of the saints. There were bench seats lining the front before the alter, carved with angels in floral array. A massive pipe organ took up the back balcony, shrouded with Cherubs in pastels and saintly smiles. Perhaps the most curious bit of all was the collection of bones. Around the walls there were small alters with paintings above them, and beneath each painting a glass fronted box containing a skeleton wearing an elaborate costume, encrusted with jewels and finery. I was transfixed. Milena lit a candle and informed me that she's left candle wishes all over the world. If only she felt the courage to go straight to the source...but she did mention inviting me on another spur of the moment adventure in the future, so who knows what possibilities may await.
In the past twenty minutes the ground has gone from bare to being covered with a good inch of fluffy whiteness. Poor stork...
There is still more of Berlin to tell, still a large quantity of photos to share, but that can come another day. I've one more short story that I feel is worth the posting, it comes from the weekend before last.
Laura and I headed out to Prague for yet another CA meeting on Saturday morning. I wasn't really in the mood, but I knew it needed to be done, and in truth, having the distraction was no doubt better than any wallowing I felt like doing. We chatted it up in our little compartment, and after a few stops were joined by a young man in his mid-twenties or so. His face was a bit scruffy (Rebekah would have loved it!) and he had a bit of a brooding look. Perhaps that was just because as soon as he nodded to us and accepted our invitation to ride along he sat down and pulled his hood up so he could sleep.
Seeing as how the car was ours, we weren't bothered to quiet down or stop speaking English. If we join a car of natives we generally try to be at least a bit polite, but we didn't really care, so we chatted the whole trip and tried to process the past few days of our lives. (this is something we do quite well might I add).
Now for those not accustomed to train travel, or at least the Czech variety, we usually ride on an old rundown looking train (which Nicole affectionately liked to refer to as the commie trains)with small compartments for up to 8, but usually holding no more than 4, complete with shabby looking maroon plastic covered bench seats. We're talking the kind of seats that have been sat upon sooooo many times that they're permanently grooved. Yeah.
These compartments supposedly have climate control, but it really doesn't do a whole lot. Or more appropriately, you really don't have a whole lot of control over the climate, even if you move the little handle back and forth. This particular day happened to fabulously sunny, and naturally that meant that the heater was functioning. By the time we got to Plzen, where the train stops for a good twenty minutes, it was really warm inside. Wanting to enjoy the fresh air a bit, Laura and I decided to open up the window.
Now, I suppose you wouldn't call the two of us the most decorous pair. In fact, on these long trips, we tend to go a little stir crazy. So opened the window as soon as we stopped, climbed up on the little ledge between the bench seats, and poked our heads out like dogs. We drank in the fresh air, and looked around for couples making out that we could be amused by. (this is a very prevalent sight around here) Now these compartments are quite small, only about two and a half feet between the benches, so when the two of us were standing on the little ledge there was only about a foot of space in between us. We were having a grand old time when suddenly sleeping boy made an appearance. Much to our surprise he climbed up onto the little ledge with us and poked his head out the window as well, giving me a grin as he did so. I could scarce control my laughter. He sort of leaned out around me and started asking the man in the next compartment a question. As quickly as I could I stepped down, and rushed out of the compartment and across the hall to open the window there so I could burst out laughing without being totally rude.
It was seriously the most random thing EVER. Laura and I were both erupting with laughter as the preposterousness of it all. Talk about not having any idea of an American personal body bubble! Ha!
After this little incident we went back into the car. A woman came by and asked in Czech if this was the train going to Prague. I told her it was, which brought a surprised exclamation from the guy "Mluvit cesky?" to which I replied, "trohu" which means a little bit. He was still quite impressed and started rattling things off to me. After my very confused "co?" (what?) he slowed down and used enough words that I understood for me to grasp that he was asking if we were going all the way to Prague. I confirmed his suspicions that he would, indeed, not be getting rid of us any time soon. So funny. Even funnier was when I used the restroom later and realized that the train was mostly empty. There was really no reason for him to be suffering through riding with us. But whatever.
When he got out we roared with laughter yet again. I mean, seriously, what in the world was that all about? Who does that?
The snow has slowed a bit now, but I'm definitely looking out on a winter wonderland of a square. What a day.
Oh, and I nearly forgot to mention the craziness of the morning when I was informed ten minutes before my second class that I'd be getting an additional 10 students because Jonathan was out with a migraine. Fortunately they were at the same place in the book as my class, but their English is still lower, and I only know the names of a couple of them, so it was still a bit of a stresser. We somehow managed to understand each other well enough to survive a whole class (and my group was actually less in control than the newbies!) but hopefully they all learned something and had a decent time doing it.

Friday, March 20, 2009

So built we the wall...

Just a little teaser for what will come in this post. Hope you're all ready for LOTS of photos. This was the day when I really went crazy. For those who are actually interested in ALL of my pictures, we'll have some serious hours to dedicate to the topics when I get home!

Day three I headed out of the house fairly early. The plan was that I'd do a palace, some more museums, and then meet up with Ben later in the afternoon for things that were free. I was quite proud of myself for being able to figure out the metro system of Berlin fairly easily. I guess if you know one metro system, you can figure out the others, but they all have their own little quirks, so it takes some doing. Still, I managed to do this one pretty well.
My first destination was Charlottenburg Schloss. This palace was built by one of the Friedrichs particularly for his wife Sophie Charlotte. The way I understand it, as long as she was alive she had the place pretty much to herself, but after her death, her husband started to hang out there. Interesting. I was given the free audio guide for this place, so I took advantage of it. Fortunately, you can skip ahead when you don't feel like listening to every detail, so I managed to get a lot of info, without taking 4 hours just to do the palace.

The lower part of the palace managed to survive the ravages of war, and remains as it originally was. The walls were all covered in soft velvety paper in deep colors. A lot of the furniture has been changed, but much of it was original as well. Ben had informed me of some of his favorite parts, so I made sure to take in what I could. The ceilings were particularly impressive, the paintings really drew me in. It would be nice to just sit there for hours, imagining yourself in the landscapes and otherworldly scenes portrayed there. Of course, the coolest room in the lower part has got to be the China room. Sophie was very fond of oriental design, and had all sorts of China pieces scattered throughout the house, but there was one room, I believe it was designed later by her husband, in which hundreds of these pieces were showcased on the walls. Now, we're not talking nice curio cabinets, or mantel pieces or shelves. No, nothing so commonplace as that. The dishes are actually mounted to the walls, surrounded by mirrors in such a way as to make them look like they go on forever. It's really hard to describe, and no photos were allowed here, but it was really amazing. Unfortunately, I didn't even manage to buy a post card here. I was thinking I'd have time later, but never managed.
Another fascinating feature of this room is on the ceiling. There is a stuffed dear that seems to be bursting through the roof. It was just so bizarre. I couldn't help but stare and laugh. Oddly enough, this little bit of artistic curiosity was not mentioned on the audio tour. I was really curious about the idea behind it, but was left just to mull it over on my own.
I also really liked the small marble statue, just outside the chapel, of a baby that represented the six month son of one monarch or another who died in infancy. There was something about it that was just so peaceful, so beautiful, that I wanted to touch the smooth baby cheek, run my finger over the delicately carved features. Naturally that was forbidden, so I continued along.
The upstairs portion was highly damaged during the war, and has been just repainted in plain colors, with lots of paintings on the walls to represent what once was there. There were some original pieces still in the back half, but it was much less impressive than the lower part.
From there I moved on to the newer section of the palace. There was one room there that really took my breath away. A long hall, painted in a sea foam sort of green, and covered in gilded figures. At one end, a fairy-like nymph blew flowers into the air. The flowers took root, and their vines twisted their way from one side of the massive room to the other, breaking out in leaf and flower as small animals played in their midst. I could have stayed in that room for ages, drinking in the jovial designs, the sprightly air. But, of course, I was on a mission to see as much as humanly possible, so I kept moving on.
I'd gotten a ticket that also included a couple buildings out in the gardens, so I continued along to check those out, and to get some more palace shots as well.

I hurried along to the Belvedere, originally built as a tearoom by the River Spree, just a short walk from the palace. It is now home to a large collection of porcelain dishes and figures. I wasn't too excited about it, although I could have imagined my roommate Naomi from last year spending ages looking at everything :) I did, however, enjoy the view back to the palace, and also took advantage of how cute the little three story Belvedere building was for a photo shoot :)

After a quick peek into the Mausoleum, I crossed the street from the palace and took in three more art museums. They had some interesting pieces in them, but I didn't take any pictures, and by this point, I don't really have much more to say about art, except that Picasso painted some really strange things, and I thought Paul Klee did some interesting pieces. Also, art deco furniture is interesting. There you have my profound thoughts on all that art. Hope it wasn't too much to take in. Don't get me wrong, I do enjoy art, I just don't have a great vocabulary for describing it, and since I spend an average of 5 seconds on each picture, unless it really captures my attention, there isn't a whole lot to really share.
By the time I managed to get all of this done I was pretty much starving, so I headed to the bakery where Ben and I had lunch my first day in Berlin, and got a bite to eat while I waited for him to join me. I must admit that the pastries here were constantly a temptation. After a weak attempt to resist, I decided I really must try the famous "Berliner." While they have a different name in Berlin, which is Pfankuchen, most parts of the country call these jelly filled donuts Berliner's. Therefore, the great joke that when JFK said "Ich bin ein Berliner," meaning that he was a citizen of Berlin, to most of the country he was calling himself a jelly donut. While the girl working in the bakery got all weird and asked me not to take photos, I did manage to get one of my own food before she went all mental.

The next stop on our tour was the Kaiser Wilhelm Gedächtniskirche. This church was once a massive cathedral, but was heavily bombed during WWII. As I mentioned before, Berlin is such a fascinating city because there are so many side notes to the past everywhere. I don't know how you could possibly live there and not be continually aware of the history all around you. Each era has left such an obvious mark, and it has been preserved that people might not forget the ability of man to be so cruel...
All that remains of the original church is the entry section and empty bell tower. On one side, a memorial tower has been built, and on the other a new sanctuary.

My internet decided to quit working, but I'm going to just keep typing, and hopefully it'll come back online so I can add the pictures and actually post what I've been working so long on. (sigh) The joys of being tied to technology.
Ben had never actually been inside the church, so it was a great experience for both of us. Once again, we were overwhelmed by the differences between a nation where Church and State are so totally connected, and our own American way of doing things. On the ceiling there was a lovely mosaic of a stately Jesus, looking down on the people passing in to worship. In contrast, on the wall there was a massive mosaic that showed the coronation of one monarch or another. I mean, can you imagine if we had churches with massive mosaics of George Washington? Or perhaps the Inauguration of Barak Obama Cathedral? I mean, seriously?

After walking around the church for a while we made our way to the new sanctuary. Julie had talked to me about her memories of this place when she was here 18 and 19 years ago. I could imagine the sun shining through the blue stained glass that surrounds the huge round room, as a golden figure of Jesus looks down, arms outstretched, inviting the displaced and abused to accept his sacrifice. It really was an impressive sight, and I thought of my sister, then only 17 or 18, standing in awe in this very place. It was pretty incredible.

This day, not wanting any moment to be anything less than enormous, took me next to the East Side Gallery. It was nice having Ben as a tour guide because it made it a lot easier and less stressful to get from one place to the next. The East Side Gallery transports visitors from the WWII focus, to a reminder of the oppression of communism. Just imagine, a people worn out from the struggle against the insanity of the Nazis, being immediately plunged into the extreme spy inducing over control of the Soviets. Out of the frying pan and into the fire for sure. When I read about how the wall sprung up basically over night, I just can't even imagine how it must have been to be suddenly so cut off from half of my city, not to mention the people I knew to be so near by, yet now completely unreachable.
How must it have been to realize that, were your house built just a few feet in a different direction, everything in your world would be different. They likely had no real concept of just how different the two sides would be, but I imagine it became obvious quickly.
I was in awe once again as I stood before this dilapidated stretch of the once mighty and seemingly insurmountable wall. Der Mauer. A symbol of total separation between East and West. A short time after the fall of the wall in 1989, artists from around the world came to paint the wall with symbols of peace, unity, and memorials to that which had now been torn away. Unfortunately, those beastly incomprehensible idiots, who feel it is their life's goal to destroy whatever they find in front of them, have done considerable damage to the art, but it is currently being repaired, and many of the original artists are coming back to freshen things up. I'm not sure how they intend to protect it in the future, but hopefully it will work this time.
I really got snap happy here, but I was just so taken with what I saw. Some of these pictures are very famous, and can be found on everything from handbags to coffee cups, key chains to postcards. So here are some glimpses into the art of the wall.

This last picture is of a squatters house, once built up against the wall, now a free standing sprawl of a place. While they didn't kick the people out of the building after the wall was gone, they did inform them that they couldn't make the house take up any more space, so they built onto the top instead. Can't say I'd want to live here, but it was interesting to see.

And so I close another day. I really saw so much history today. It's hard to sum all that up in a few lines, but I hope you're able to get some feel for what this experience was like.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

The Quest for a VCR

Technology is such a fascinating thing. We were doing a lesson on Future perfect and future continuous (that would be progressive for those of the American school.) Anyhow, part of this lesson was for people to talk about things twenty years in the future and to speculate on whether they believe they will have changed or not. Some of them seemed to think that twenty years in the future is a relatively short period of time, and that things are not likely to really have changed a whole lot. They don't seem to realize that twenty years ago no one, except maybe really rich and famous types, had mobile phones. Nor did most private individuals even have computers. They did, however, have VCRs.
I remember when we got our first VCR. It must have been our second or third Christmas in Horse Creek, which would put me at about 5 or 6 years of age. I remember how exciting it was to be able to watch movies on TV when I was sick and had to stay home. I had two Little Golden Book videos that I watched over and over and over. One had animal stories and the other was Little Critter, who I still think is pretty marvelous. These days, however, the people who still are in possession of VCRs are few and far between. The only reason I still have one in the US is because it's attached to my TV. I still have a nice quantity of VHS videos as well, but when I've had the chance I've changed a lot of them over to DVD for a plethora of reasons, including better quality, longevity, and the fact that VCRs are pretty much obsolete at this point.
As I mentioned before, Sarah Vierra is doing research for her dissertation in Berlin. She found a video of an interview with an important Turk who died some years ago. The video was only available on VHS, and while she was able to obtain it from a museum, the museum did not have a player on which to view it. Consequently, she was feeling a bit stuck. After asking around her community of friends, she learned that the parents of one friend still had a VCR. It hadn't been used in a good ten years, but they believed it to be in working order. Therefore, on Wednesday of my Berlin trip, we went out to the German countryside in search of old technology.
Oranienburg is a small city about an hour outside of Berlin. It can be reached by the S-Bahn, an overground metro system that was extended to this area in the early 20th century. As the arms of the S-Bahn spread out into the country, little towns grew up around them. The ease of travel created finger-like suburbs around the main city of Berlin. It became popular to have a house outside of town, and so Oranienburg grew.
Originally the city had another name, but the marriage of some Prussian dignitary or another to a Dutch woman Louise Henriette Oranien led to the change in the towns name. She was a very popular Princess and has been preserved in statuesque form in the courtyard of her palace.

Andre, whose parents we were on the way to visit, was an excellent tour guide around the area. He grew up both here and in East Berlin, and was full of stories all day long. He also had some great smart remarks. I really must go back a moment to our ride out to the town. Besides the four of us, another girl, Laurie, who is also working on her dissertation, came along for the trip. We met up at Starbucks (!) and got drinks for the road. (Crystal, you'll be happy to know that I ordered a Caramel Macchiatto, since you say you like to make those.) After finishing the drinks Laurie began looking for opportunities to throw her cup away when we would stop for passengers to get on or off. The first place we noticed the bin was close enough, but after that they seemed to always be a long way from the doors and she feared she wouldn't have time to do her little Chinese Fire Drill garbage drop. I finished my drink a short time later, and we set to work looking for the opportune moment to sprint off the bus and make the drop.
Eventually we got to a station where our doors opened right by a bin, so we both scurried off and rushed to throw our cups away. Germans are big fans of recycling, so it was a bit of a struggle to make sure we put the cups in the proper receptacles before hurrying to get back on before the doors closed. We'd just sat down, happy with ourselves for doing so well, only be informed by Andre that we'd chosen wrong! GRRR!!! To make matters worse, the next stop was the one we were getting off at. As we exited the train and headed for the station Andre made us pause as he properly disposed of his trash and asked that we consider how satisfying it is to know that you've followed the rules and done things the German way. We all got a good laugh.
Now, back to the tour. We weren't able to go in the palace today, so we just walked around and saw it, and looked out at the drab looking gardens that are supposed to be part of a flower show in the spring. Too bad I won't get to see them then. Ah well, must make the best of my chances to travel when I can.
From the palace, we headed on along the Havel River. During the second world war this river was used extensively as a passage between Germany and Poland. I'm not as good as remembering all the explanations that Andre gave us as Ben was in his last newsletter, but suffice it to say that Oranienburg was also the sight of a vile concentration camp, and many of the prisoners there were forced to work on building a harbor on this river so that it could be used more effectively for the business of the Nazis.
We walked along the river for some time and paused for lunch in a little restaurant along the way. Here you see Andre posing with some friends before having lunch.

We had a nice lunch here. The people running the restaurant were an adorable little old German couple. They kept coming and making sure that we were enjoying the food. It was really quite adorable as they asked if it was "Schmekt" which means something to the effect of "tasty."
I ordered something that was supposed to be for people with a "small hunger," but I found it to be quite large and heavy. There was a piece of toast with some Wiener Schnitzel, cheese, and sliced sausage on top. It was really tasty, but definitely more than filling!

After lunch we continued along by the river. While we saw evidence of wild boars in the area (they're quite fond of rooting around in the moss and needles on the forest floor) and a sign warning of otters in the area, we didn't see any wildlife beyond occasional birds.

Laurie really liked the otter sign :)
As I looked around the forest I was really curious about what looked like ditches or some sort of strange sinking ground everywhere. Ben, the nature guy, was also curious and was kind enough to ask Andre about it so I'd get to know what it was all about as well. It turns out that, seeing as how this was a rather strategic position for the Germans, they'd built these holes in order to hide men and machines as the Soviets wre approaching. It really brings history to the forefront of your mind when you're walking in places and can actually see the scars or war upon the ground. Really makes a person stop and think...

We continued on and crossed over a train bridge that is no longer in use. We wandered to around to another small lake before circling back on the other side and heading toward where Andre's parents live.

I don't know what it is about random bits of rubbish that tends to fascinate me, but when I saw this shoe I just couldn't resist taking a photo. Maybe there's something about it that speaks to me of the person from whom it has long been separated. I begin to wonder who the person was, and how their shoe came to be in this place. Having grown up in a pretty damp climate, I realize that the fate that has befallen this particular shoe might not take as long as it appears, but I'm still guessing it had been there for a while.
As we circled back we also passed again by the harbor I'd mentioned. You can't really see the monuments very well, but there have been some skeletal figures placed by the edge of the water as a reminder of the horrors inflicted here. It is just so difficult to fathom the terrible things people can do to others. I cannot begin to imagine...

As we continued along, however, we were also reminded of the beauty of God's creation. Just take a moment to really look at the patterns in this ice. It was so incredible. And then there is the scene of the sun setting on the water with the tall grasses standing by. I was so transfixed by the wonder of it all. I really could have stood and stared for ages, watching the fading light blend into night.

We did eventually make it to the home of Andre's parents. They were really sweet people who served tea to those who wanted. Not being a tea drinker, I stuck with water. It ended up being of the sparkling variety which is really not my favorite, but I smiled and drank it all the same. I was feeling pretty tired by this point. After a week of being super sick, this week of traipsing all over the place was about enough to wipe me out. While Sarah watched her ten minute video twice, Andre supplied us with some reading material. Ben, Laurie and I looked through a massive book of birds which was rather entertaining and at least kept me from falling asleep.
We headed back to Berlin after the video watching was over. We were all ready for dinner by then, so we headed to the Oranienburg section of Berlin. Laurie lives in the area, and new of a great Asian restaurant. On the way, Andre made sure I viewed the massive Jewish temple in the area. It is the only temple that was spared on the night the SS went on their rampage of destruction. Andre explained to me how a group of firefighters stood guard over the temple, explaining to the Nazis that burning it would cause the entire block to go up in flames. It was truly a sight to behold.

We finished the day off with another excellent meal. They even had pretty decent chopsticks there, so that was fun. I still find it next to impossible to eat Asian food without them. So here you can see my "long life" noodles and Ben and Sarah with their tasty dishes.