Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Summer 2016 - The Wild Netherlands VS The Modest Berlin

20/7-21/7 Amsterdam

Day 1

(Continue from Brussels. in English this time hahaha) We almost miss the bus to Amsterdam LOLOLOL. We are literally running on the streets with the luggage and arrive the Brussels North Train Station at 3.30pm right before the bus leaves phew~ (the perfect plan was to arrive the Station at 3pm but oh well...hahaha)

The bus driver is very friendly and cute! He keeps on explaining some very funny things on the bus with his cute accent! It's a pleasant 2hours and 45mins ride!:)

HELLO Amsterdam!:) It's the city that has soooo many bridges that I have visited so far! (The other one is Venice haha)

It's already around 7pm by the time we arrive the city and we first check in to the Generator Hostel before going for dinner. AND I REALLY LIKE THIS HOSTEL! It is formerly a university building but is later transformed into a trendy hostel, with very very amazing interior designs! The plus point of it is that it's in a very huge and beautiful Oosterpark and it's so near to the grocery store! I really enjoy strolling in this park:)

The really very beautiful Oosterpark! Awwww Somehow it makes remember of the times in NYC Central Park *IMY*<3 p="">

At Moeders for dinner!:)

After walking for around 20mins, we arrive the restaurant to treat our tummy yayyy. Oh sidetrack a bit, my brother has been insisting on renting bikes to travel around since Amsterdam is so famous with its title of The City of Bikes but Jiajing can't ride one LOLOLOL. And actually the local really cycle in a rapid speed so I guess we would be blocking the way if we did cycling hahaha)

Food glorious food! All of them are so good! Still eat a lot although I am quite sick at that time (I guess it's due to the climate change in Europe), lemme say this again, they are soooo yummy!

Having apple pies everyday in Amsterdam as our foodie guide said it's famous here!

After dinner we continue strolling to the red light district: De Wallen! Please visit this place when you're in Amsterdam because it's really interesting HAHAHA! You can see the ladies showcasing themselves (lol showcase lol) inside the house and guys walking inside to ask for the deal. There's even thered light district museum hahahah! Throughout the 1 hour visit here we keep shouting OMG here and there haha! So funny! We don't take any photos here (especially not the ladies) or they will chase you out from the street lol.

Another 30mins nice stroll back to the hostel in a chilly weather.:)

Bump into a fairy-light romantic place on the way back:)

Exploring the hostel after that and there's even a huge auditorium here! So cool!

Day 2

Good morning!:)
After having simple breakfast that we bought from the grocery store, (yes I love going grocery shop in the morning, it makes me feel like a local), we join a free walking tour of Amsterdam! Our tour guide is a very funny and informative guy that he shares many of the history and fun facts of Amsterdam! (And HE'S A LAWYER HAHAHA, so we make a joke that we know what Jiajing will be doing in 2 years time aha). The tour starts from The Dam (Dam Square) and it lasts for 5 hours but we leave earlier! We also revisited the red light district in the morning which is a huge contrast of the night version as it's so quiet and peaceful in the morning (in fact, there's a church just right next to it haha). We are also told that 'Coffee shop' in Amsterdam isn't the same as its literal meaning, it's a place where you can legally buy drugs and enjoy here lol. Interesting.

*Lunch Time*We queue for like 45mins at Pancakes Amsterdam and we really doubt if it worths the wait hmmmm (its a small shop with limited seats)

And it worths it! hahahaha
For some reasons, I hate pancakes in Asia lol. But I love the American Pancake (sweet) and the Dutch Pancake (savory)!!! They are really delicious although they are different versions of pancake. Why Asia doesn't have such nice pancake why sobs

So huge!

The mannequin isn't happy because the weather is too hot haha.

Traveled all the way to Albert Cuypmarkt for these! It's warm and delicious!
Ps: But we found the tastiest stroopwaffles in the grocery shop (like we bought 10 packs and carefully import them back to Msia hahaha) We also buy some healthy nuts from here!

The long queue opposite the river to enter the Anne Frank Museum (Jiajing highly banned it and said it's uninteresting and expensive), but anyway I love this photo!

The Cheese Museum with many yummy cheese samples! Hehehehe! And a best place to hide away from the heat @@

The famous photo spot in front of the Rijksmuseum! Everyone is climbing on it lol

Accidentally spot a very awesome band! They are really good and talented! *clap*

We are all defeated by the heat and hence going back earlier to hostel and rest (needa catch a bus at 7am the next day too lol)

I actually really like Amsterdam! It's beautiful and most importantly, I can feel the freedom of the people in this city! Sadly we don't have much time to stay in Amsterdam :( Hope to come back to this city (and explore other parts of Netherlands) next time!

22/7 - 24/7 Berlin

Day 1

Wake up early and we are all ready to go to Berlin! Spent around 5 hours on the DB Bahn train to Berlin! We were so sleepy but half of the journey Jiajing and I have no seats as the tickets with reserved settings is more expensive! Hehe nevertheless we enjoy the journey as there is a very cute baby girl with friendly parents that they allow us to entertain ourselves with the lil baby!:)

And after 270mins, Hello Berlin!!!:)
We are staying in MEININGER hostel this time around,which is similar to the one in Brussel! I remember how bright the sun is that we can't stop complaining when we are on our way to the German Bundestag (Parliament)! We manage to skip the long queue as Jiajing requested the letter to visit the dome and the Reichstag building! #travelsmart

Upon entrance, you can get a complimentary audio guide (with many language options available!) from the counter! It's really informative that it clearly explains the buildings and landscape around the parliament and how the parliament works! 

The "Pillar" of the dome which I think it's really beautiful!

The memorial to the Sinti and Roma Victims in the park 

The Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe

The Brandenburg Gate....from miles away hahaha! because it's too crowded over there:/ 

And the weather is way TOO HOT. BLAZING HOT. so we end up going back to hostel and escaping the oven-like outdoor activities(which was just walking hahaha)

Drag ourselves out at dinner time, because, hey we need energy to fight with the weather hahahaha!

And this is my favourite meal in Berlin! It's the most authentic German dinner I have had in my life! The roast pork knuckle and Bouletten (Berlin-style meatballs) at Zur Letzten Instanz (ps: make a reservation so that you won't be disappointed!) I am happily enjoying my meal that I don't realise that there's super duper minor conflict between my brother and my mum&sister (yes, it's so minor that I don't realise, or..... it's just the food? hahaha)

Rush into a supermarket that closes at 8pm to do some grocery! Huge smiles are hanging on our faces when we see how cheap the chocolates are here! Ritter Sport, Kinder Bueno, Milka, ... In fact it's the cheapest price that we have seen in the Europe (yes Chocolate fans check the prices out anywhere, anytime lol) So we sweep away 10++ chocolates and waffles despite the very limited luggage space! (And one of them might be lying in your stomach now hehe)

It's about 9pm and we are at the Alexanderplatz, a large public square. The sun goes down and the beautiful lights of the summer night market brighten up the square :)

The Weltzeituhr World Clock and Berliner Fernsehturm (TV Tower)!

One shot of the cheerful market before the sky darkens.

Enter a departmental store near the square after that to help the mama to seek for some brands lol.

The peaceful and quiet Parliament Building at night ;) 
Good night Berlin

Day 2

Today is another educational day trip! Haha! Waking up early today because we don't want to miss the train to Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp (Highlight of the day!) We bought the day trip Berlin ABC (Group tix up to 5 people for Euro 17.80 earlier, which is much cheaper than buying 4 day tix!) I'm not sure if it's still early, the passengers gets fewer and fewer the train approaches Oranienberg
(ps: take the S-Bahn to Oranienberg, then take the bus / walk around 20mins to the concentration camp)

After 20mins walk! We are here!

(FYI, that's not my hand hahaha)

Surprisingly it's located in a housing area! It's FOC to visit here but remember to get yourself a audio guide (Euro 4 each) or you will end up walking endlessly in this huge land! Just keep walking and you will find out more interesting but cruel facts of the past. The explanations of each building/ design are so detailed that they make me imagine the victims of the war :( If I had visited this place before UEC, I would be able to remember every single detail of WWII better lol. We spend around 3.5 hours here and we finally leave this place because of the alarmed tummy lol. Such a somber, but definitely meaningful and fruitful experience! We humans should consistently remind ourselves not to repeat this tragedy again. Idk why but the crowd is still small when we leave, this place is 200% worth visiting if you are visiting Berlin!

To walk or to take the bus, this is a hard decision when you are sooooo hungry lol. We decided to exercise a bit more before lunch, nah, it's just because it takes another 1 hour to wait for the next bus back to the station HAHA. We have been searching here and there for a restaurant on the way back to the train station but you can barely see a restaurant or supermarket here -________- We happily buy a pack of cherries (yay! life savior!) when we see a huge supermarket where families come here to stock up weekly or monthly haha! 

So we have a simple lunch at a Kebab place, which is quite tasty before going back to Berlin.

And also, we have a try on this very famous Curry 36 Currywurst in Berlin. It's a bit too salty for me but judging from the long queue, I think it has its own fans! haha

Next up: The Charlie Checkpoint and Topography of Terror


Read the history here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Checkpoint_Charlie

While the tragedies and horrifying histories cannot be erased, I feel really respectful that the Germans come to a decision to establish and keep the history of their dark sides! I don't think it's easy to do this! 
As the educational trip continues, the feelings of dejected and heavy-hearted (and mentally tired lol) overwhelm me that I couldn't take it anymore :(  I guess 4 of us feel the same== I really learn a lot of the world and German history if I ever visit Berlin again, I won't want to go to these places again. They are interesting but too miserable for me to absorb anymore lol

So the ladies do some happy shopping at Kadewe, the largest departmental store in Europe mainland! But.... we leave the store with empty hands hahaha!

This is not a surprise when the siblings answered 'Berlin' at the same time when I asked: Among the cities that we have visited, which city is the most boring one?. LOL. Berlin is modern, but it's abit too boring to live in (ps: PURELY MY OWN THOUGHTS, maybe I would change my mind if I spent more time here). Nevertheless, it's a good trip to visit the concentration camp in Orienburg, it's a must-visit!:)

Maira Gall