Friday, 11 October 2013

Trip back home: Last day in Berlin

Too many reasons why I love Berlin.

a.  Art.  Graffiti or not, I love that I can see art everywhere.
b.  Bike ways.  Apart from Amsterdam, I've never been to a place where cyclists share the same priority as the pedestrians.
c.  Parks.
d.  People.  I found Germans quite friendly actually.

I used to book late flight out thinking that I have a bonus day to explore the city.  Now that I have enough travel experience, I found that 6-7PM is the perfect time for me.  It gives me enough time to explore the city without getting Too bored or tired waiting for my flight.

As I am in the zone still, I remember telling my mum that I was lenient with her the previous day.  I only took her to 3 places so that counts as being lenient right?  I was that inconsiderate.  I know my mother is unfit but I expected her to have the same energy as someone my age.  Inconsiderate, I tell you.  :(

First stop:  Topographie Des Terrors

It is amazing what you can learn from going to this place.  It is one of the shocking and truthful depiction on the Nazi Regime.  Enough said.

We went to Charlie's checkpoint again this day.  Just to see if we missed anything.  I usually look through the google photos to double check if I miss anything base on other people's trip.  :P  


Sorry I didn't realise that I left this unfinished.  Sometimes I start something in this blog and then I forget and now, more than a year later, I am finishing this post.  I blame my job.  Blogging is my hobby so it is the least of my priorities.  :P

Final Stop:  Berliner Dom

I remember loving this final day in Berlin.  I love Autumn.  I love the colours of the leaves and when the leaves fall.  I wish my husband was with me in this trip but I also understand that we should go on certain trips separately and enjoy the company of others.  :)  We head back to England after this.

Thursday, 10 October 2013

Rainy Berlin: A Square, A Checkpoint and An Outside Gallery

Two things I love about travelling off peak.  1.  Cheap flights and accommodation.  Five star hotel, centrally located with flight  for two cost less than the peak plane ticket to the Philippines.  2.  The spots are almost always deserted.  

Today is my sister's birthday.  Originally, the plan is to go to the US for a week.  This trip was supposed to be her birthday and graduation present.  Even my brother JR applied for his visa to the US from Singapore but got rejected with no valid reason.  My sister's passport on the other hand is still in the Home Office. I have no idea how long will it take to process but she's been waiting for a year now with no answer.  A failed family trip if you ask me but JR is visiting in a month's time so never mind.  

3 things was in the agenda for today.  It include a square, a trip back to the Checkpoint Charlie and an outside gallery.

1.  Gendarmenmarkt

With the risk of sounding like a snob, this is just a square with 2 cathedrals and a concert house.  So far, nothing beats the Grote Markt in Brussels.  The only beauty lies in the area as it is a haven for shoppers.  Think Knightsbridge in London minus Harrods and Harvey Nichols but replace it with Galeries Lafayette and surround the area with high street shops and expensive hotels.

Red Carpet ang peg ni mother!
Deserted.  Perfect for photo.  :)

2.  Checkpoint Charlie V.2

Going back to Checkpoint Charlie was my decision.  I needed to find something that I saw in photos that we didn't see on our first visit.  I am happy to report that we found it...the next day.  :P  What a waste of effort.  We also found something else on this second visit, Photokabine.  It wasn't a waste of effort after all.

I've read somewhere that one of the things that you should do when in Berlin was to have your Photokabine photo.  We can't pass up in this opportunity.  We found this just behind the Berlin Wall exhibition.  Doing this somehow reminds me of the film Amelie.  :)

3.  East Side Gallery

Sounding pretentious, I love art.  I see it everywhere, in architecture, clothing, painting.  I have no talent per se.  I can't even draw if it saves my life but I can appreciate greatness, beauty.  Living in the UK somehow developed my eye for it and working for retail helped too.  At one point in my career, I managed team of artists and been trained as a merchandiser.  I am not bad if you think about it.  :P

East Side Gallery is a free outside Gallery.  It's a mock Berlin wall covered in mural.  If I'm not mistaken, it is 2 km long.  You have to appreciate art to go here as it is a long walk.  When mum and I visited, it was raining.  It didn't dampen my mood though, although I had several rants against mum.  I blame the Filipino Travel Zone.  I love my mother but sometimes, I don't understand her situation.  Her being passive don't help either.  She is like my husband in a way.  Maybe that's why I married Luke.  He is calm.  I need calmness in my life.

After this tiring day, we retreated to our hotel.  For dinner, we went to Potsdamer Platz and check their Christmas Market.  It wasn't amazing but at least you have the feeling the Christmas is just around the corner which is nice.  :)  I can't wait for Christmas with the family and for my present.  Kidding babe.  xxx

Wednesday, 9 October 2013

Braving the rain: Exploring Berlin with Map in Hand

Okay, the title is a bit dramatic but that's how I feel like at the moment so deal with it.  :P

I used to travel with full itinerary.  I wanted to explore everything that the city has to offer, museums, spots.  You get the idea.  I call it the Filipino Travel Zone.  It is a phenomena where you want to do everything and anything that the guide book told you to do.  Travelling with my mum, somehow unleashed the beast.  It wasn't something that I am proud of.  :(

My husband told me that I am very organised when it comes to travelling.  He wished that I am the same when it comes to our home.  I am not very messy but I like to put things where I see them.  He likes order, he likes to clean up so leave the rest to him right?  He enjoys it and I like to please my husband.  LOL!  If you asked me how I do my itinerary, I'll send you to google.  I like to open a spreadsheet, write the places I want to visit, note which one is free, opening times, metro, the full works.  It makes me happy that I know what I am doing, what I am wearing for the day.  I like to be fully prepared.

This day proved to be a very hectic one.

1.  Treptower Park

According to my research, Treptower Park used to be a themed park.  Bearing that in mind, I thought I would see abandoned ferris wheels and carousels.  I was wrong.  At the moment, it is just a park.  There is nothing interesting with it perse, (according to me but don't take my word for it) apart from the Soviet War Memorial.  It would be worth the visit if you know your history and German as the writings are in German.  Unfortunately for me, all the history I know involves fashion and I can't understand German so I didn't appreciate it as much as I should of.  I love the symmetry of this place though.

2.  Checkpoint Charlie

Whilst planning for this trip, I asked my mum where she wanted to go.  She wanted to see the Berlin wall.  I told her that the Berlin wall was taken down years ago.  I told my husband and we had a good laugh about it.  

Checkpoint Charlie is one of the most touristy places I've been in Berlin.  It might be the most famous too as they've got McDonald's just around the corner.  :P  I have never been to a touristy place without McDonald's and I have been to more than 10 countries all over the world.  Checkpoint Charlie was the old border crossing point.  That's all I know. 

The golden arches on the side. :)
This photo is such a rip off!  You have to pay 2 Euros each to have your photo taken and if you happen to take photo, you still have to pay.  Since we were on holiday, we gave in and paid.  We then proceeded to the nearby museum where Berlin wall history and photos with wall painted by famous artists are free.

Very asian photos of me and my mother.  If we can get away with it, why not? :)

3.  Holocaust Memorial

This proved to be a very poignant experience for me.  Reading about innocent people being murdered not because of what they did but because of their faith.  Totally not cool.  

After visiting these places, mum and I retreated to our hotel.  I return to reading my e-books with predictable plots and she focused on her new series, House of Cards.  Went to the Sony Centre for dinner.  I tried German food for the first time.  Not bratwurst but pork knuckle the size of my face.  Tried apple  juice with beer as well.  Germans make the most amazing beer combo!

Tuesday, 8 October 2013

First night in Berlin

I have to admit, Germany is not in the list of countries I want to visit.  Scratch that, I want to go to Germany only to experience authentic Oktoberfest feel.  I have been to Oktoberfest homages in few countries but nothing beats the original right?  

When we were in Germany, I asked mum why she chose Berlin.  She answered with, I asked the same question myself last Saturday before my flight to the UK.  I didn't know why I didn't think of Prague and Venice.  Glad we didn't go to Prague as I am going next month.  I am selfish like that.  :P

We took the train from the airport.  Gambling as we didn't know anything about the place.  It was both our first time in Berlin.  I just remembered using google earth to know how the area looked like and I remember seeing the Sony Building so I thought of using that as our reference in case we get lost.  Luckily, the hotel is centrally located and we didn't have a hard time finding the building.  We didn't have to resort to using the cab either.  If there is one thing that I hate, it is unnecessary spending.  I am stingy like that.  Well, if you are a regular reader, you do know that about me already but I just like to stress that out.  LOL!

As part of my/Luke and I's (although Luke's not with us) travel ritual, we rest, buy provisions and eat dinner.  Buying provisions is a must to avoid late night room service.  Let me tell you, I stay in 5 star hotels but I am still sensible about spending.  

After dinner, we went to explore our area and stumble upon the test run for festival of lights.  Lucky eh?  I was actually planning to research about this event but since we already found it without looking, I didn't bother with the other places.  

 The next day, it rained so hard and the area became very cramped with tourist.  As if act of God that we have a good view of the festival of light the previous night.  :)


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