days 13 + 14

well the last two days have been quite lazy and i figured i’d group them together. monday and today were both rainy, windy days. and when the weather is like that, i become  a homebody. monday i stayed in all day and worked on my food blog for awhile, did some cooking, and watched a movie (‘crazy, stupid, love’ which was quite funny).

today was rainy again, but i couldn’t stay inside all day and i really wanted to get out and have some fresh air. it was raining all day straight until this evening, but the temperature was quite warm and it felt nice anyways. i wanted to visit the new national gallery today, but when i got there this afternoon there was a sign saying the permanent collection was closed for cleaning or something. i was pretty disappointed because i was looking forward to visiting it, but nothing you can do about that. there is some pretty famous artwork there, including some by picasso. oh well. although that was closed, there was still a temporary exhibition inside that i decided to visit anyways. it was about this artist who travelled around the world studying some random family lineages and she took photographs of the family members. they all had some interesting political or historical story behind them. it was not bad i think. it was raining pretty steadily after i finished there, and i decided to come back to the apartment. i stopped at the grocery store on the way back to pick up a few things, then i came back here to have dinner and watch a few episodes of two and a half men. this evening i went back out to meet my friend to see a movie together. there is a theater at hackescher markt that plays original version movies, meaning they are played in their original languages and usually have german subtitles. at home i really love going to the movies, but when i am over here in europe i don’t go very often. most movies in germany are dubbed, and the only city around where i was that played movies in english was berlin. it ended up being quite expensive to take a train to berlin and then pay for the movie ticket itself. anyways, i’m saying that tonight was exciting for me :) on the way over to the theater i stopped at the grocery store to pick up some cheap candy, just like i do at home haha. the theaters here are a little different in that you can buy wine and beer to take in, which most people do. the popcorn is also different. most of the time it is the sweet kind, which is called kettle korn at home right? i forget already. sometimes you can get a mixture of salty and sweet popcorn which is really good, but i think the sweet kind is really popular. and at most theaters in europe you choose a seat when you buy your ticket and everyone sits in their assigned places. at first i thought this was really weird and annoying because i just like sitting wherever i want, but now it makes more sense. this way you don’t have to fight for your seat and show up super early i guess. the theater tonight was the first one i’ve been to over here that didn’t assign seats though. i guess it’s because it’s a smaller theater. it wasn’t a problem though because we still got our seats just fine. we saw the movie melancholia. it was good i think, but depressing to watch. i think everyone that left felt the same way haha.

tomorrow i think my plan is to wake up early to see if i can see the special exhibition at the bode museum.

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day 12 in berlin

yesterday was another lazy day. the night before i did go out with friends to a bar and then to a club for one of the girl’s birthdays. i really like going out in berlin, but i don’t like how lazy i feel the next day because of how late we stay out. it is great though seeing so much energy and life so late in the night/early in the morning. we stayed out until almost 4am, and at that point there were still a lot of people out and about, and even the club was still really full. the bar we visited first was near oranienburgerstrasse station in mitte, and the club was by friedrichstrasse station.

yesterday i woke up around 11 which is not too late, but i still felt lazy. i visited another flea market that is only open on sundays at arkonaplatz. it was small but really interesting. the weather yesterday was cold again, but it was very sunny and it felt like a perfect fall day. i realized too that i would love to spend all my sundays at flea markets. the atmosphere is so nice and relaxing. i found a small jewelry stand and bought some rings for souvenirs. i also found some old deutsche mark coins at another station and was going to buy them, but i had no idea what they were supposed to look like and i wasn’t sure if what i was buying was a rip-off or something. they were also 1 euro each, which is not bad actually, but i am not experienced with bargain hunting at markets and i got nervous for some reason for fear of buying crap. i don’t know why i care so much haha, i should have just bought them anyways. this market had a lot more vintage things than hand crafted products. if i was living here and had an apartment to furnish it would be really great. now that i’m just a tourist, i have no reason to buy most of the things i saw, although i did want to. it would make for a very retro feel in your apartment. after visiting this market i walked over to mauerpark market again because it was very near and i had to pass through it to get back to the apartment anyways. this market was the one i visited last sunday. last week though i was walking around in shorts and sandals and it was still too hot, and yesterday i was in boots and a scarf and my winter jacket and i was still chilly! the environment here is really great though. there’s an equal mix of hand crafted art and products as well as vintage clothing/household items/junk/ and other things for sale. there are also a ton of food vendors and some beer gardens too. i came across a vendor selling honey, and i think i saw it last week too. anyways, this little booth is very popular! they have a bunch of their honeys and cream spreads (like nutella, but i don’t know what to call this category other than cream spreads?) out for you to try with crackers. everyone goes a little crazy and hogs the space for awhile to try them all. i did too when i got the chance. they are delicious though. it’s a local company that makes it themselves, and i’m always drawn to businesses like that. it’s weird though, that i intend to make a career out of branding and yet i avoid all major (big-time successful) brands and am more excited about local, smaller brands. anyways, these were all very interesting flavors. for the honeys, there were flavors likes “strawberry-balsamic vinegar,” “raspberry-basil,” “lime-mint,” and so on. the cream spreads were better though i think, and anyone who likes nutella will agree. my favorite flavors were “caramel-sea salt,” “chocolate-espresso,” and the simple “vanilla.” i bought the caramel and vanilla. now i have to figure out if i will eat them both (will be very easy to do) or give them as gifts. decisions, decisions.

i then wandered to the edge of the market to the “bear-pit karaoke” area. every sunday afternoon there is a guy who sets up a karaoke stage and anyone can try. it’s really entertaining, and from what i have seen every week there is a big audience. i watched a few people perform yesterday and it seemed like the crowd favorites were the less-than-talented singers because they tended to put on a better show. they are so brave though and i completely respect them haha.

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day 11 in berlin

today was a lazy comfy saturday. the forecast said there would be rain today, but they were wrong!! not that it made much difference really. but i didn’t plan on doing anything because i expected the weather to be worse than it actually was. it ended up being fine though because even though it was sunny part of the day, it was very cold and windy. so today i just relaxed here at the apartment and caught up on all my blogging and photo organizing/uploading. i also watched a few new episodes from my favorite t.v shows. i made espresso twice today and now i am feeling very alert and happy. i like the espresso i bought, and i also figured out how to use this milk frother that is here at the apartment, so i’ve been having macchiato/latte types of drinks lately.

now i’m about to meet a few friends for drinks because it’s the birthday of a girl from my class. i hope it didn’t decide to rain now!

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day 10 in berlin

it really feels like fall finally! yesterday was the last warm day apparently, because today it felt like i almost needed gloves and a scarf. the air was very cold and crisp, but it smelled like autumn leaves and made me excited for the upcoming holidays.

today i had a scheduled visit/tour of the reichstag dome. the reichstag is the german parliamentary building. i don’t think it was always this way, but lately you need to register online if you want to visit the dome or get a tour of the building. it’s difficult getting a good time, especially for the tours, so i chose to register for an independent visit to the dome where you can get an audioguide anyways. the timeslot for me was at 1:45 p.m and i had to arrive by 1:30 to go through security. it’s just like at the airport! but i guess it’s like that at any major government building these days. after security you take a big elevator to the top and there you can enter the dome which has ramps spiraling inside it so you can go to the very top. the audioguide was pretty interesting and informative about the building and german government, but it also pointed out sights you were seeing across the city and gave information about those too. there were some really nice views from up there.

after that, i visited the hamburgerbahnhof museum for contemporary art. it’s apparently the oldest train station in berlin, but now it’s only for the museum. it was quite close to the reichstag building, but i took the new u-bahn line from there to the hauptbahnhof station since i have my monthly ticket anyways. i really enjoy this monthly ticket by the way. it makes travelling around the city so easy and i feel much less stress when i plan my days. i stopped by a little cookie shop in the train station called “millie’s cookies.” i’ve been there before and they are pretty good. today i bought a white chocolate and raspberry cookie. i also saw a funny thing in the station too. a man was walking with his little dog, and the dog was carrying it’s own leash haha. it had the handle in its’ mouth. little doggy was so well trained! everyone, like me, was watching and smiling.

it started raining right before i go to the museum, but luckily i remembered to bring my umbrella this morning. this museum is also part of the national museums in berlin, so i could use my year pass card and didn’t have to pay to get in. yay! even though i don’t understand a lot of contemporary art, it was still really cool wandering around inside. but there was some andy warhol artwork inside that was great to see. i know, it’s just a famous name, but really his work is interesting and i like how colorful it is. anyways i was very excited to see it in person. there were some extra exhibitions going on there too, and one was for a competition for young artists. the finalists’ installations were there, and also the winner’s movie was playing in a mini theater. it was a black and white documentary film about a young woman who lives in berlin. she’s russian i guess, and it shows her intense party lifestyle. it was actually depressing to watch and somehow uncomfortable. it just made her look so sad and desperate. and it takes place in berlin so i recognize most of the scenery, but it’s all weird and sad yet interesting.

after the museum i took the s-bahn back to gesundbrunnen station and walked back to the apartment. i also stopped at aldi to pick up food for the next few days. the clouds were really pretty this evening with the sunset so i stopped to take some pictures on the footbridge near here.

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day 9 in berlin

some mornings i am very lazy getting around. i’m not sure what my problem is because i wake up early between 8 and 9am. but most days i don’t get out the door until 1 or so. today i wanted to check out some of the big museums here on museum island. there is a special exhibition at the Bode museum about renaissance art, including some paintings by leonardo da vinci. i really wanted to see this so i went there first but by the time i got there at 2pm the tickets were sold out for the day. there is a lot of publicity about this exhibition all over the city and i talked to a lady today who said that they start selling tickets at 10am, but there was already a line at 8am this morning. yikes! on thursdays also most museums stay open until 10pm so i figured whatever time i got there today would be fine, but no luck! i will have to keep trying because it’s definitely something i want to see.

so today instead i visited the Alte Nationalgalerie, which is the old national gallery. it’s also a big museum on the island. i had never been there before either. all of these big name museums are part of the “state museums of berlin” or something like that, and i bought a year pass card for these back in june with my student discount. it was a very good decision because it was only 20 euros with a student i.d and it’s valid for a whole year. now granted i am leaving in a few weeks, but this card already paid for itself by the third time i used it back in june. each museum costs between 6-14 euros to get in each time. whatever city i live in next i will try to find some year pass for a museum because i really do love hanging out in museums. it’s nice that i can spend as much or as little time as i want in each museum without feeling like i have to get that day’s ticket worth or something. anyways this gallery was very nice. it was huge and had three stories of artwork (mostly paintings). i like paintings the most, especially from renaissance up to 19th century-ish. maybe it’s because i recognize them most from my art history classes, but they are the ones that usually put me in awe very easily. especially when it’s something from a well-known name. there is a lot of artwork that is really great from many artists, but i can’t help but get excited when i see something from famous names like i did today- monet, manet, and cézanne.

after i walked towards friedrichstrasse station and went in a new store to shop (shocking i know) but didn’t end up buy anything anyways. then the clouds looked dark like it would rain and i headed back to the apartment.

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day 8 in berlin

today was about food, shopping, and bauhaus. i set out a little early this morning to visit a farmers’ market at winterfeldtplatz. i really like flea and farmers’ markets and i found out there are quite a few that go on in berlin. this one i saw today happens every wednesday from 8am to 1pm, and every saturday also, but since the weather might be bad this weekend, i wanted to go today. it wasn’t very big, and it was mostly fruit and vegetable stands, but it wasn’t crowded or touristy so it felt good to wander in it. there were some craft booths set up, and also some other types of food you could buy and eat there. i stopped at a little italian cafe booth that had espresso drinks and tiramisu for sale. the tiramisu looked so good, but the serving size was quite large and i knew i could never finish it myself. i did buy an “espressino” though. i haven’t heard of this term before, but it was espresso with frothy milk. it was good and cheap, and the people working there were italian. i miss italy. i would like to visit again someday soon. i also visited a bakery booth and chatted with the guy that was working it. he was quite nice, a good salesman tactic i’m guessing because i bought something. he let me try this interesting type of bread that has plums, walnuts, and chili in it. i didn’t think it’d be good but it actually is! i bought a loaf to take home. he recommended i eat it with french soft cheese. when i came home tonight i did try it with some french cheese i had here, and it’s good! but i think i’ll like it better if it’s toasted and with butter instead, or maybe some toppings like tomatoes.

after the farmers’ market, i walked to the bauhaus archive museum. i planned to visit the market and this museum on the same day, and accidentally found out they are within walking distance from each other. yay! the weather changed today too i noticed. it’s colder and grayer and windy.

anyways, the bauhaus archives was great. it was really exciting to see because i know so much about the bauhaus now, especially the dessau one since i spent everyday of the last year looking at it through my kitchen window. this museum had a lot of important artifacts, like furniture designs, paintings, photographs, and product designs that are very well-known. there was an audio guide included with the ticket which was really informative. i like visiting museums a lot, especially when i’m trying to find things to do by myself. and i really like walking through them with audio guides. it’s like a private tour just for you.

then i walked to KaDeWe, which is a very big department store with like 7 or 8 floors! i never shop at department stores because they are usually expensive, but here there is also an entire floor devoted to gourmet foods. i could get lost there. there are food products from all over the world (overpriced however) and it’s overwhelming to look at. there are also many food counters with different cuisines where you can buy food to take home but also sit there and eat. it’s fancy though, not like a food court in a normal mall. ohhh there is so much food to look at! it really overwhelms your senses. my favorite is this bread/pastry counter with all these adorable and delicious looking french sweets. they have lots of french breads, plus cakes and cookies and macarons! and…pain au chocolat. they look authentic too, exactly as i remember from france. i was so happy to find them. unfortunately they were 1.70 euro each, which is more expensive than buying them in paris. however, i didn’t care and bought one anyways. they are my absolute most favorite pastry, ever. and not just any chocolate croissant will do. only a french one counts. and this one looked like an authentic french recipe. i haven’t eaten it though yet. i could have devoured it right then, but it seems like such a special find that i wanted to make sure i enjoy it. by the time i was done shopping i decided i would just save it to have for breakfast tomorrow and have it with my italian espresso that i also purchased there today. oh yeah, and that was more of an impulse buy. there is a small espresso maker here at the apartment, and i figured why not? it’s authentic from italy, and i just couldn’t leave the gourmet food floor without some goodies. seriously though, i could spend all day there. there’s also an american section but everything is about triple the price of what it is at home. i love poptarts, but i would never pay 8 euros ($10) for one box, sorry KaDeWe. i do find it entertaining however about the products they chose to feature. you can take your pick of the american classics: marshmallows, duncan hines cake mix, peanut butter, fluff, pie crust, poptarts, and bbq sauce. there’s lots more, but you get the idea of how germans view american cuisine. oh well.

after that i continued walking down the big shopping street and ended up buying a sweater dress. still deciding on whether i realllllly need it, or if i will return it in the next few days. i have a big problem with feeling guilty after shopping. i just realized though that it somehow only applies to clothing. i haven’t felt guilty for one second after buying my espresso and french pastry.

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day 7 in berlin

today i visited some historical sights in berlin. i first took the metro to oranienburgerstrasse to visit the Neue Synagoge. i’ve been by this before, but never went inside. i should have done a bit more research before i went though because i didn’t realize until i got there that the main part of the synagogue actually isn’t even there. a lot of the synagogue was bombed during the war, but because it was so damaged the main part was decided to be demolished anyways shortly after. anyways, when you get there you notice there are always a few policeman in front and patrolling around the area. you also have to go through security like at the airport before you enter. you can visit a permanent exhibition inside, and also go up inside the big dome. i decided to just visit the exhibition. it had a lot of artifacts that weren’t destroyed and gave a lot of information. most of these things i visit i have learned about in school, but i always remember so much more when i see it in person. after visiting this, i walked around that area to take a few pictures, then i took the u-bahn to see another part of the berlin wall at bernauerstrasse.

here there is a big chunk of it still intact. this area is special because it shows you the “death strip” which was the area between the actual wall and the other defenses that were put up to prevent people from escaping. here, you can actually walk right along the death strip, and it feels very weird to think that not too long ago it was such a dangerous place and you are standing on the very same dirt. i liked this area a lot because it was not too crowded and it somehow felt special to find it. along the path there were a lot of little structures with information about it. sometimes they had pictures of how it used to look and it shows it exactly where you are looking so you can compare. there was a little exhibition building across the road for visitors and inside was more information. they also had a tower you could climb to see the death strip and wall from above. there was a little section that had high walls all around and you could only see it from up on the tower. once you get up there you see that inside it’s totally preserved and looks probably exactly how it looked when the wall came down in 1989. there was a little watch tower, and some old barbed wire laying around too. it was very interesting to all see. the u-bahn station closest to this is called nordbahnhof, and inside there was a little exhibition about how the metro station was altered when there was an east and west berlin. i never really thought about it actually, so it was interesting to read how tunnels in the east berlin were sealed off so people couldn’t escape, and a lot of the stations in the east became “ghost stations.” this means that there were a few trains running from western berlin stations that had to go through the eastern part of berlin to reach another western station. the eastern stations that existed along these routes weren’t used because again, they didn’t want people escaping to the west. it said that the trains would slow down by these but never stopped. there would be eastern berlin police in those stations patrolling, but they were the only people there. i imagine it would seem quite eerie. there were lots of pictures too showing certain stations that were sealed shut and hidden from the public while there was the east/west division of berlin. it’s crazy because they are important stations that i’ve been in quite often, and it feels weird to think how normal it is now to use them, but not long ago it was not allowed and even dangerous.

after this, i took the s-bahn back up to gesundbrunnen station and stopped by kaufland to pick up a few things, then i walked back to the apartment. the weather was really nice again today. it was very windy though so i think a rainstorm is probably coming tomorrow, but the temperature was warm and it felt really refreshing to be outside today.

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