We’ve just gotten back in Berlin yesterday after having spent Christmas and New Years in the US. Coming back to Berlin was like entering a completely different world from where we were in Charleston. Back in SC, we were walking around in the sun wearing t-shirts. Here in Berlin I went out to get groceries at 5pm local time and it was dark, windy, rainy, and cold:

For Christmas my mom rented a really nice beach house on Folly Beach, just outside of Charleston South Carolina. We really lucked out as hurricane Mathew came through just a few months earlier and destroyed many of the houses on another beach we were considering.

I find it really insane how people build these houses on top of the beach in an area where hurricanes are a regular occurrence every year. The houses have to be built up on stilts because the storm surge floods the area during bad weather. The beach also gets washed away during hurricanes, so you might build a house with plenty of beach in front of it at time of construction, but after a hurricane or two the ocean is then coming up under your house. At high tide we were unable to walk the dogs because the beach had disappeared and the waves were coming up under the deck of where we had to park our cars.

The owners are trying to sell the house for over a million dollars, but I can’t imagine anyone stupid enough to buy a house in that dangerous a location for that much money. The insurance rates on the place must be out of this world. Walking around the inside of the house, I couldn’t help but imagine how all of this will probably soon fall into the sea.

Walking along the beach was a really great change of pace from the city. Insa got to see her first ever sunrise over the ocean!

Just about each morning we’d get up early to see the sunrise and go collect shells on the beach. (This wasn’t too difficult for us as Insa and I were both very jet-lagged and so 6am local time was around noon for us)

There was a light house near by that I believe you used to be able to walk to, but the beach between has since been washed out by storms.

Most of the time was spent relaxing at the beach house, smoking cigars, but we did go intoCharleston to tour around the town on a mule drawn carriage:

A lot of the houses had ceilings or doorways painted in “haint blue” which is a color of blue believed to mimic the ocean. It comes from an old superstition that evil spirits can’t cross the ocean, so if you paint an entry to your house the same color, they won’t be able to enter your house.

We also checked out some drive through Christmas lights and Insa tried some s’mores:

The holiday on the beach was really wonderful and you could tell my mom put a lot of work into the whole thing.

After Christmas we drove back to Columbia to spend New Years. In the meantime Insa and I did some exploring of local parks.

I even dragged Insa to the gun range. (Though she just watched)

We also checked out a tea room where you could pick a fancy hat, take a picture with the queen, choose a tea cup, and then try an array of teas and morsels.

For New Years we just stayed at my parent’s house and relaxed, which was a nice change of pace from how crazy Berlin gets during the holiday.

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But now we’re back, so back to reality and work and studying.