Monthly Archives: January 2015

Awesome Things I’ve Seen & Done In Berlin That You Should Do Too

30th January 2015

to do berlin
Here are some more awesome things I’ve seen and done in Berlin.

to do berlinTeufelsberg – Teufelsberg is a hill home to a former US Listening Station which was used in the Cold War. The S7 to Potsdam will take you to Berlin-Grünewald and from there it’s a 20 minute walk through the forest up to the hill. Guided walks are available daily every full hour from noon until dawn and do book ahead as the place can only be visited with a guide. The tour is around one hour and will take you around the abandoned complex, where you will find graffiti and street art adorning everything, but you’ll really just want to enjoy the view over the Grünewald from atop the listening tower, it’s like nowhere else in the city (or at least I haven’t found it). There’s a history tour available too, which describes the workings of the listening post from the 1960s onwards while you wander around.

to do berlinAunt Benny – I was lost somewhere in Friedrichshain, it was cold, it rained and when I saw the lights I just rushed inside. And to my surprise I stumbled upon this cute spot and decided to go inside. I was welcomed with a cosy and Pinterest worthy interior and got myself (what turned out to be) delicious carrot cake and fresh mint tea to warm me up. They also have a selection of sandwiches, bagels and soups which makes it a great place for a lunch.

to do berlinBerlin Wall Memorial – When it comes to the wall everyone is talking about the East Side Gallery (the longest standing bit left) but the Berlin Wall Memorial outside Nordbahnhof is much more impressive. The memorial contains the last piece of Berlin Wall with the preserved grounds behind it and gives you a great impression of how the border developed to keep people from trying to go to the other West Side. On November 9th 2014 (the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Wall) the permanent exhibition “1961 – 1989. The Berlin Wall Memorial opened in the renovated documentation center. It’s dedicated to the history of Berlin’s division and explains the political and historical situation that led to the Wall’s construction and fall. It’s opened daily from 10.00 to 18.00 and free of charge.

to do berlinThe Bird – there are a lot of burgers places in the city and it was hard to pick one. This confusingly-named place (cow, rather than bird was the main animal on the menu, though some chicken options were available) in Prenzlauer Berg was a good pick and their American style burgers are approved by Tea. Next to burgers you will find steak, a selection of beer and whiskey on the menu. I did miss milkshakes though.

Sofortbild-Shop – heaven for polaroid fans. Here you will find a hidden cavern full of of old polaroid cameras (prices range from €50 to €90) and a wide range of films by the Impossible Project. Plus they sell Fuji instax cameras and film. Mulackstrasse, where the shop is located, is generally a nice alternative street you need to check out too.

 

Stamp This! Travel bloggers’ passport stamp stories

27th January 2015

passportstamps

I asked travel bloggers to share the story behind their favourite passport stamp or visa and this is what they wrote …

A Globe Well Travelled Passport StampA Globe Well Travelled | Ashlea
Aside from the fact that when I open my passport I see my face from 9 years ago staring back at me, with it’s slightly chubbier cheeks, dyed red hair (what was I thinking!?) and impartial expression, I do get a kick out of flicking through the pages.

I’ve had it since 2006 and it’s been with me for every one of the 30 countries I’ve visited. Next year when I’m made to renew it, I may get a little sentimental and attempt to convert the former document into some sort of crazy piece of artwork so that I’m constantly reminded of what those heavily stamped pages look like.

Those are my favourite pages. The ones with multiple stamps, each one fighting to take up the largest amount of free space. This page in particular stands out as the two separate stamps I received for entry into USA just happened to be right next to one another. It’s as if the customs officials always turn to the exact same spot – no matter how many years apart you enter the country, and lazily place their stamp wherever it will fit rather than turning to a fresh page. It’s a shame that the stamp from the third time I entered USA was 3 pages further along. Wouldn’t that have been a nice coincidence?

Endlessly Exploring Passport Stamp
Endlessly Exploring | Kelly
This passport stamp marks the day that I finished the Inca Trail and arrived at the spectacular Machu Picchu in Peru. Visiting this remarkable site had been on the top of my bucket list for a long time, and I was so pleased with myself that I was able to complete the 42km hike without too much difficulty. That final morning, we had woken up at 3am to make the final leg. When we arrived at the Sun Gate and caught our first glimpse of Machu Picchu, we were overjoyed with our accomplishment. It was an incredible moment and rewarding experience for everyone in our hiking group. Those four days were definitely the highlight of my South America adventure in 2014, and I would do it all over again in a heartbeat.

flyingthenest passport stampFlying The Nest | Stephen & Jess
Our favourite stamp would have to be from when we touched down in the Maldives and the immigration officer stamped “15 FEB 2014” onto the pages of our passport. We will admit that this once in a lifetime trip to this breathtaking location was way out of our budget (which we knew at the time) but we wanted to celebrate and splurge the end of 5 years of university studies. For us this stamp symbolised hours of working full time serving coffees whilst going home to finish writing assignments. The last 5 years had paid off and we were ready to start the next chapter in our life. We live by the quote “collect moments, not things” but our passport is our little exception as the stamps symbolise memories we are about to create.

girl vs globe passport stampGirl vs Globe | Sabina
Every single stamp in my passport means a lot more to me than just a puddle of ink on sturdy printed paper. Each and every one of them reminds me of how privileged I am to be travelling the world – as an EU citizen, it is much easier for me to gain entry into most places in the world.

But my Chinese visa was definitely hard won. I never even dreamed of visiting such a far flung destination before stumbling upon an email encouraging university students in the UK to apply for a cultural exchange programme in China. As I read on, I realised that if accepted the only thing I would need to fund was my airfare. Hmm, OK!

I immediately sent in my application and less than a week later I received an email telling me I’d been accepted. Suddenly the vague notion of visiting became reality as I sat in my cold dorm room in Moscow where I was doing my year abroad, booking a trip to Beijing with trembling hands. It was a surreal moment, which was then followed up by an even more surreal month of exploration and novelty.

Almost a year has passed since that visit and I dream of going back to Asia on a weekly basis. Fingers crossed that 2015 is the year I acquire more passport stamps from that region.

Jess in London - Passport StampLove and London | Jess
This is my favorite stamp on my passport because it signifies an extremely huge obstacle that I overcame. You can’t see it in this photo but on the adjacent page there’s that same stamp with a huge X through it from exactly three months before. That was the time that I attempted to go to London to visit my then-boyfriend (now husband) and was detained, refused entry, sent back to New York and banned from entering the UK. Exactly three months later, after a beautiful little wedding in New York and an extremely stressful visa application process, I landed at Heathrow Airport, made it through immigration successfully, and was picked up by my husband. It was the day that our life together began!

MariePassportStampMarie Away | Marie
In August of 2012, my passport was freshly stamped with ink from South Korea. It was my first trip abroad after graduating from university, and the beginning of my new life as an expat and serial traveller. In the months prior, I’d become confused and indecisive about where I was headed in life. Looking back, that stamp marks the beginning of a new life for me: one where I feel more confident in myself, in not feeling tied to any one path. Life in a straight line is pretty boring—I’ll take freedom above stability any day.

Samantha Angell Stamp
Samantha Angell
| Samantha 

My favorite stamp in my passport is the one I received in Amsterdam when my husband and I moved to Sweden. This stamp represents the beginning of my expat journey, and my husband and I’s life abroad. Since August 2, 2013 we have gotten married, lived in two cities in Sweden, traveled throughout Germany, Norway, the Czech Republic, France, Thailand, and the U.S. Because of moving to Sweden and all the travels we had planned, I was inspired to begin my blog and document my travels publicly! This stamp really marks the beginning of a new journey in life, and reflecting back I can see how much I have changed and grown since this day. I cannot imagine myself on a different path now, and look forward to the future stamps I will collect in my passport!

The Redhead Story -Passport Stamp Tunisia-DjerbaThe Redhead Story | Julia
I’ve been here, I’ve lived there and thus I have a nice little collection of passport stamps. Too bad I got a new passport as my old one expired but this is reason enough to continue exploring what the globe has to offer. Amongst all those passport stamps, my favourite one – just judging by the visual appearance – is probably the one I got when I travelled to the Tunisian island Djerba almost exactly a year ago. As interesting as its culture is the passport stamp. It is such a shame that I cannot speak Arabic because if I could, I would actually be able to read what it says in my passport – and much more, such as digging deeper in the cultural habits and make real friends with the locals and, and, and. Of course we know that the name of the country is in it – logically. But see, that is what I mean: the script and thus the language are as striking as Tunisia’s (or particularly Djerba’s) history and culture. I have had the chance to learn a few chunks of Arabic – and there are so many dialects, which I wasn’t aware of at all – and it is such an amazing language. Maybe I should make this my lifelong task: learning to write in an Arabian dialect and being able to have a solid conversation. Djerba is indeed very rich in tradition. Because of all the things I am associating with this travel destination I like this passport stamp the best. For someone who does not have a good command of the Arabian language, this passport stamp is somewhat “mysterious” – as is this certain place on earth where I received it.

Thanks so much for sharing your stories. 

What is your most precious passport stamp or visa?

Saturday In The City

25th January 2015

Processed with VSCOcam with a5 presetI don’t always like going to the city on weekends, since it’s often rush-hour-style overcrowded and I prefer not to do anything that requires me to put on my bra or brush my hair on a day off, but once in a while I can’t escape it and I combine as many things as possible. Let me take you on Tea’s Fun Day Out.

Processed with VSCOcam with a5 preset Processed with VSCOcam with a5 preset Processed with VSCOcam with a5 presetThe Cereal Killer Cafe opened back in December and although I work down the road from the place the queues have deterred me from going during my lunch break. I first wanted to wait till the hype had worn off a bit, but then I really wanted to go, so early Saturday morning seemed a good idea. There was a queue, but it wasn’t too bad and I got to get my bowl and look at limited edition cereal box art displayed on the walls (everything from Simpsons to Star Wars and even Urkel-Os). The place is heaven for cereal addicts.

Processed with VSCOcam with a5 presetThe next stop was Somerset House for the Mapping the City exhibition which features works by over 50 internationally artists from the street and graffiti art scenes who were inspired by the city they live in. You can visit it (for free) till 15th February.

Processed with VSCOcam with a5 presetI’ve been dying to see Whiplash since it was praised at last year’s Sundance Film Festival. The film is set around a promising young drummer who get the chance to play in the top jazz assemble led by an instructor known for his terrifying teaching methods.

Processed with VSCOcam with a5 presetWhen it comes to Italian food I am a pasta person – I could eat it for breakfast, lunch and dinner. But (confession) pizza is not really my thing. Once or twice a year I crave for pizza and today was one of those days and since it was mentioned in Whiplash a few times I was craving it. I was taken to Pepe Italian Street Food and loved it! They do pizza with a soft but thin base with lots of cheese and it’s pretty cheap for Soho (£4 for a main-portion sized big slice).

How was your weekend?

Friday, Five Random Things

23rd January 2015

japan

Happy Friday! How has everyone’s week been? To finish mine I am throwing in a random post with five things that have been on my mind.

  • Me and two friends are heading to Japan in April for 10 days. And I am very very excited – and that is an understatement. I think we have an idea of things we want to do, but if anyone has some insider tips or must go spots please do share.
  • I am obsessed with states/countries with limited recognition and a few years ago I almost went to Transnistria, but then the tickets got expensive and I went for a budget trip instead. I am really curious how life is in such countries and this Growing Up In A Country That Doesn’t Exist post has cleared up a lot of things as well as made me want to go there even more. It will only take two minutes of your time and is probably the best thing you will read today.
  • At the start of the month I posted my Londen Wanderlist and the 15 things I want to do in the city. Well … I’ve already crossed one thing off: Hint Hunt. It was definitely interesting and you’ll read more soon, let’s just say I liked it so much I already booked an escape game in Amsterdam – where I’ll be making a pit stop next month before heading to my parents in the north of Netherlands.
  • Have you guys seen this Mercure competition? Mercure (the hotel chain) has decided to check if the well-known six-degrees-of-separation theory is real. The goal is to select a candidate (via a Facebook vote), somewhere around the world, and take the person to meet an Aboriginal in Australia, and prove that they are only 6 degrees of separation away from each other! I was turned off by Facebook vote competitions but this looks sooo awesome and I am really curious to see how this turns out. Anyone signing up?
  • I came across GlobeDrop – an interactive (and free) way to connect travellers to social organizations/charities around the world. Sometimes when you are in less fortunate country does a kind of guilt rise up and you feel like you need to do something? Well via GlobeDrop you can search for charities in your location and personally bring in-kind donations to your organization of choice. Lets say, you plan to travel in India. You can find on the website a small Indian orphanage that would love to have pencils and notepads for the children. Via the site you can schedule a delivery, buy the items locally (because you know…you can support local merchants) and go donate them yourself. (and of course take 100 of pictures to let social media know that you have a good heart).