STAMP THIS! TRAVEL BLOGGERS’ PASSPORT STAMP STORIES PART IV

17th May 2016

01 passportstamps

For the fourth edition of Stamp This!  I asked a few of my favourite bloggers and vloggers to share the stories behind their favourite passport stamp/visa. Enjoy their more than stamp-worthy tales.

01

Coat + Coffee | Emily
My favorite stamp has to be my most recent one from Germany, where we flew in to before we reached Poland. My mom and I made an ancestral journey to Poland in April. I had been deep in genealogical research for the last year preparing for this trip. We stayed in Krakow for a few days and ate our weight in pierogi, then we made the two hour car ride journey to Dobrzechow where my family has lived for over 200 years. It was an absolute surreal experience to be in a town of 1,600 people and meet with the headmaster and priest. We dug through records from the 1800’s and got to visit the possible graves of my ancestors.

The next day we drove to Auschwitz-Birkenau, a place I’d never thought I would get to see in my lifetime. The day was emotional, but eye opening. What they teach you in school and what you read in text books was nothing like being there. I got to experience all this with my mom, and it’s definitely a journey I will never forget. I also got this beautiful ring from a flea market in Krakow that dates back to between WWI and WWII. And I may have forgotten my camera (yes I really did), but the memories I made here were better than any photo I could have taken.

02

Dignifiable |  Natalie
My favourite passport stamp does not relate to my favourite country that I have visited. Rather, it is the first stamp that I received in my current passport and is the stamp that made me fall in love with travelling. I received this stamp when I flew to U.S.A in 2012 which was my first overseas trip by myself. It was the start of a wonderful semester abroad and has irrevocably changed me. This trip challenged me and it made me realise that there is a wonderful world out there and I want to experience as much of it as I can. This stamp represents the start of my journey of exploring and travelling the world and all of my subsequent stamps are in my passport due to this one stamp.

03

EnterpriseMe TV |  Ivana
It’s not called Incredible India for nothing. It took me 6 months of traveling to finally get the courage and land with shaking knees. Turns out India loves me just as much as I love India. They say India is a teacher en shows you a reflection of yourself. Whatever you put in you get back. It can be quite painful and causes some people to leave within hours. For me it was like coming home. Within 30 minutes of landing I completely surrendered to India just like you would with a love at first sight. Traveling in India showed me being the control freak that I am is pretty much useless. Control is an illusion. Seeing people be happy no matter if they have a lot or no means at all is incredibly humbling. Letting go, adapting to a much slower pace (so relaxing!) and seeing so much beauty still keeps me grounded. The nature and food is mind blowing but the best part are the people. I have never encountered so much hospitality, kindness and generosity. I also love the boldness of the Indian people. It really suits my curious nature. Seriously can’t wait to return in fall this year!

04

Mintnotion | Eden
My favourite passport stamp is the one I got when I went to South Korea. This county was not even on my travel radar until I started my TEFL course and learned that this was a popular destination for people to teach English. However, after finishing my TEFL course I got a job promotion at work and decided to pursue Business School part-time instead of teaching.

It wasn’t until two years later when I saw a seat sale to Seoul that I knew a trip to South Korea was meant to be – I booked without regrets and it turned out to be one of the best trips of my life. There was a lot that I didn’t know about Korean culture, so I did a lot of research before my trip to help ensure a smooth vacation.

I live very multicultural city, so it was a big change to travel to a country that is primarily one race. I stood out like a sore thumb everywhere I went, but everyone was so kind and hospitable to me, even though I didn’t speak any Korean. Some of my favourite memories include shopping in Myeong-dong in Seoul and walking along the boardwalk at Haeundae Beach in Busan. As my first trip to Asia, it exceeded my expectations and I would love to visit again someday!

05

Travel The Globe 4 Less |Anne
The familiar sound of my passport being stamped was greeted with a huge sigh of relief. Mainly because it almost didn’t happen, so engrossed were we in gorging ourselves on the heavenly, Argentinian cuisine we failed to realize we had missed the last bus.

We had popped over to Argentina for the day to check out the other side of the magnificent Iguacu Falls. (In my opinion, the Argentinian side is way cooler!). Long boardwalks lead you across fast flowing waters until finally you are met by the roar of the torrential cauldron of water flinging mist into the air to drench all who stand gasping in awe at mother nature’s fury.

The best part of the trip though was that visit to the steak restaurant. After the desert of healthy food in Brazil the tantalising aromas of succulent, juicy steaks washed down with ice cold beers were so appetising that we lost all track of time. The bus left without us and we had to beg a hastily found taxi driver to drive like James Bond. He deposited us at the border just in time to pass before it closed. Even a night on the pavement would have been worth it though for that steak!

   Thanks for sharing your stories. 

What is your most precious passport stamp or visa and which one would you like to add?

Yes, No, Maybe: What (Not) To Do in Dublin

11th May 2016

dublin tips

Thinking of dabbling in Dublin? Do it! Tickets are often cheap and it’s a great city for a quick weekend getaway. Plus, I have some things you should do, some things I do not recommend and some things that I missed out on or weren’t for me, but that might be for you…

Dublin tips

YES
The only place for breakfast and lunch you need to know is Brother Hubbard. I usually love to try different places in a new city, but I went to Brother Hubbard and tried 75% (not even exaggerating here) of their menu at the time. It’s pretty much everything you want and need from a café: it comes with delicious breakfast, great service and a gorgeous interior. The menu offers a wide range of salads, toasts, sandwiches and hot pots. And if you just feel like coffee and cake … don’t hesitate and go try them all. There’s nowt they don’t do right, except maybe giving me food for free…but nobody’s perfect right?

Got time for a day trip? About 15 minutes from Howth’s East pier, you can get a little boat to take you across and spend as long as you like taking in the scenery on the uninhabited island of Ireland’s Eye: a bird sanctuary, and if birds don’t get you squawking with excitement, well it’s also the perfect spot for a summer picnic (if you get lucky with the sun that is)

Like anywhere else I highly recommend you start with a (free) walking tour to get a general idea of the famous sites of the city and which ones you’ll want to visit during your stay. They cover everything from Trinity College to Dublin Castle and even the origins of U2 – sadly my theory that Bono is a space alien with no eyeballs was disproved.

Oh yeah, it may be tourist destination number one, but the Guinness Brewery is an absolute must. The tour is done beautifully and best of all, you have the option of finishing your tour with either learning how to pour the perfect pink or having a drink at the Gravity Bar upstairs. Though you can kill two birds with one stone and sneak your freshly poured pint upstairs to the Gravity Bar and enjoy the view – though I don’t advise trying to kill any birds on the rooftop, regardless of how drunk you are.

dublin tips

NO
Generator Hostel great and the Dublin location is fab, but they were so rude there, I know everyone can have a bad day, but I don’t know what they are doing to their staff as everyone was miserable. Furthermore it was dirty, the sheets was full of stains, the bed made SO much noise with the smallest movement, I can barely imagine how loud it would be if someone was actually rocking the bed, but maybe that’s how the stains happened…

If there is one place I would avoid it’s Temple Bar, really, avoid it like your life depends on it, there are way too many places there that only survive on attracting tourists. Skip, skip, skip!

dublin tips

MAYBE
Not sure if it was the fact I had a free ticket or that I had a whiskey tasting at 11 AM but, the Old James Distillery tour was actually interesting and the guide was really really passionate. You get some history background and are shown the different processes involved in creating the whiskey. And at the end, you get to taste the difference between different types of whiskey. I’m not sure I learnt much beyond ‘this one feels stronger than this one’ though.

Book lovers probably already have The Forty Foot on top of their list. The most famous swimming spot in Dublin is immortalised by Joyce in Ulysses. Dare devils (aka crazy folks, not to be confused with Matt Murdoch’s alter ego) traditionally take a dip at the Sandycove institution on Christmas, but visiting it any time is as charming. And, yes the name refers to the depth of the water. That’ll save you a Google session.

Kilmainham Gaol is well worth a visit to this place learn about its grim history. It’s one of those places I wish the walls could speak, but thankfully the guides were able to tell some stories. Don’t forget to go to the museum upstairs after the tour.

Have you been to Dublin? And do you have any additional recommendations or things to avoid?

Hej from Copenhagen part II

9th May 2016

copenhagen tips (6)

I couldn’t cram everything I wanted into my first post on the city, so hopefully this one will tick all the boxes!

copenhagen tips (1)

Copenhagen has great bike culture, one where you can safely cycle all over the city, which haven’t seen outside the Netherlands. Aaaah listen at me … sounding like some kind of bike ambassador, but I only wanted to show you this endless wall of bike stalls.

copenhagen tips (2)

A little As Seen In: not sure if this is in all buildings, but above the doors it says which floor you are on. Comes in very handy for the first/ground floor discussion. I’m mainly focused on if this is the floor for food, or sleep??!

copenhagen tips (3)

And the Danish krone looks and feels like Monopoly money. 150 can get you a breakfast, one bottle of water and a zone 1 bus ticket. Sadly I didn’t get to land on the “collect 200” or get to wear a top hat!

copenhagen tips (4)

The Danish know how to do breakfast! At most bars you’ll be able to get a morgensmad on the weekends, which means you get to order 6-10 different things from the menu. Mad and Kaffe topped a lot of lists as the place to go and it happened to be around the corner from the Airbnb but it was raining and there were about 8 groups waiting outside and that’s where I draw the line. I ended up at Sweet Surrender that did a breakfast buffet with mini cinnamon buns and come on … who can say no to that?

copenhagen tips (5)

I have never seen so many prams outside, they weren’t even locked. And I swear I saw a sleeping kid in one ‘parked’ outside a cafe.

copenhagen tips (6)

You might have spotted this style murals if you’ve been to Brick Lane in London, Brooklyn in New York or Kreuzberg in Berlin and now also available in Hendrik Haven in Copenhagen. It’s by ROA, who is known for this mural street art and in case you were wondering, yes a crane had to be called in.

copenhagen tips (7)

If you walk straight on from the mural you’ll get to the place to be, the Meatpacking District in Vesterbro. It’s basically Copenhagen’s answer to New York’s Meatpacking District, which used to only be the go to place for butchers and Dexter like types, but is now full of food and drink spots for the hungry and the thirsty.

And that’s where my Copenhagen adventure ended, but I’ve already decided I need to go back to do the rest of my wanderlist. Is there anything I shouldn’t miss on my next visit?

Instant April

4th May 2016

Now the weather Gods are finally treating us with the occasional sunshine I can take an actual Polaroid outside like – as somebody shouted at me recently “fucking hipster trash”.

impossible project polaroid (1)

And was I lucky as the minute I got my camera out, the clouds parted and the sky was a ready made photo studio, as well as marking it as the perfect start of spring.

impossible project polaroid copenhagen

Copenhagen is ridiculously photogenic so I exploited that to the max, I’ll stretch those out to another post later, but for now here is a sneak peak of the famous harbour and the Little Mermaid. And here is thank you to my dearest, patient friend who was very understanding whenever I took the time to click that shutter.

impossible project polaroid london

Back in London where Anteros – and not, as you can read here, Eros – is looking all cute in his usual spot on Piccadilly Circus ready to shoot some returned love for the ones in need. Did you know that it used to be a drinking fountain way way back? Sadly it’s dry now so you’ll have to head to a coffee shop if you want some liquid refreshment in W1.

impossible project polaroid london

My London bingo continues with these gems: double decker busses, black cabs AND Big Ben shining in the background – and you might also spot phone booth and mail box if you look really closely. The only thing missed is a flag, fish and chips and possibly that old broad with a crown.

Those are few things I did ‘offline’ or the real world to you and me. But…online I wrote an embarrassing 5 posts – the blogging police hasn’t come out to get me so far, but I’m a bit paranoid they’ll get me when I least expect it… If you missed the posts, they are: a guide on saving around £170 on your London visit by choosing alternative cheaper tourist attractions, the three stops you’ll make during the Golden Circle Tour, the less awesome things I did in Lisbon, Instant Feb & March and Hej from Copenhagen part 1.

What have you been up to?

8 (Almost) Free Things To Do in Berlin

2nd May 2016

I love writing my (Almost) Free Things To Do in X posts but they tend to focus on destinations that are known to be a tad expensive. Because of this, I never really thought of writing one for the rather cheap to enjoy Berlin, but you know … since nothing is cheaper than free and we can never turn down extra chips/ice-cream/beer-money here we go…

Walk along the East Side Gallery
The East Side Gallery is a wall. Not grabbed your attention yet? Well, aside from being a well ordered pile of bricks, it’s also the largest standing remaining section of the Berlin Wall, but you’ll probably know it for its graffiti art. This last piece of the original wall has been turned into the largest open-air gallery in the world, displaying more than 100 paintings, you’ll probably only recognise a few and don’t worry you won’t miss them as there is big group of people snapping in front of them.

AquaDom Berlin
In the lobby of Radission Hotel in Mitte you’ll find the the world’s largest free standing aquarium. Sadly, ‘free standing’ doesn’t mean the water is held without glass (like with lasers or a force field), but don’t let that get in the way of enjoying this 25m tall fish bowl, and with some 1500 fish from different species – there’s some serious fin-watching to be had. This swimming pool for the fishes is part of the SeaLife Berlin underwater attraction. You need a ticket to SeaLife but you can sneak in the lobby and have look at the aquarium itself.

berlin tips (2)

Visit the Berlin Wall Memorial
Since we are on this topic: The Berlin Wall Memorial is a must. The East Side Gallery might be the longest standing bit left but the Berlin Wall Memorial just outside Nordbahnhof is actually more impressive and gives you a great impression of how the border developed to keep people from trying to go to the other West Side. It gives you a proper insight into what living in this strange place and time would have entailed, families seperated by a mere street or block – it’s hard to imagine nowadays. There’s also history, politics and the rest to keep you clued up plus a viewing spot from the top floor if you want to see rather than look at maps and drawings.

Explore the city’s street art
Berlin has one of the greatest street art scenes in the entire world. You don’t have to more than move your left and right legs in unison and hey presto! You’re walking. Then head down the streets, grab some 10k steps and spot some famous and less famous pieces.

Go up to the Reichstag’s Dome
Constructed for the use of the German Empire back in the 1890s, the Reichstag is the traditional seat of the German Parliament. Then a century later, in the 1990s, it was reconstructed and they weren’t content with just cleaning it up, so they slapped a giant glass dome on the top. You get to walk up the spriral walkway that’s part of the dome to reach a rooftop terrace which shoves an incredible view of the city into you eye holes for FREE. Do register for a time slot though or you’ll have to queue up and that’s just wasted viewing time.

Go Urban Exploring
Love peeking in places? Then Berlin is the perfect place for you. Because of its history Berlin has more abandoned buildings then you can shake a selfie stick at and has become the unofficial capital city for Urban Explorers. An abandoned hospital, an abandoned theme park and an abandoned listening post to name a few are some of the places you can get your gritty photo award.

Visit Art Galleries
The area Auguststrasse and its side streets really spoke to me. On Thursday/Friday evenings, you can even catch some opening shows, which basically means free alcohol and finger food. I had luck as mine was a gallery opening / Christmas party / birthday. Jackpot!

berlin tips (3)

Pay As You Want At Weinerei
While we are on the free(ish) food, Weinerei has an interesting concept where after 8PM you pay €2 to rent a glass and enjoy as much good wine as you can handle, have some simple dinner from the buffet (think pasta or meal salad and bread) and at the end of your visit pay what you think it was worth. Don’t be a total D and leave €5 when you have 4 glasses of wine and refilled your plate. They offer a similar concept in their Perlin and Forum, their other two locations. And yes, you pay the €2 even if you bring your own glass, you alcoholic *hic*.

Alternatively drinking outside a Späti (basically the German equivalent of an Off Licence, the good ones often come with a little table and chairs outside the store) and getting some late night kebabs would cost you the same and can be a gem for people watching.

Do you have any good Berlin-on-a-budget tips?