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Monday, December 4, 2017

SOLO EURO: DAYS 1-3 (AIRPORT & BERLIN)

so this took forever and a year to put together. you know, life gets in the way. over one month ago my big trip came to an end. bitter sweet (bitter for having to go back to adulting and the adventures ending, sweet for retiring the nomad life and going back to a schedule). i travelled for over 3 weeks, visited 3 countries (5, if you include airports but i don't), and visited 8 cities. if you are new, the countries i visited were germany, czechia, and poland.

i left on a friday night from LAX to iceland. i had an almost 17 hour layover and before my trip couldn't decide if i wanted to actually go to reykjavik (an hour bus trip outside the airport). of course, 17 hours is enough to visit, but the problem was most of that layover was the middle of the night. the weekend before my trip i decided against it. i did not want to worry about taking a bus trip before nightfall. instead, i spent the layover in the airport. it was an experience.



my 'bed' for the first night.


it ended up working out well because i was sick during my flight. i don't know if i had some sort of virus or if my body reacted weird to the high altitude (i have never been on a flight this long). i was nauseous & had body chills. at the airport, i also got a fever. for being in the airport so long, it went by pretty quick. it is quite small and even though it never actually closes, security and the stores will shut down when their is a gap between flights. My second flight was at 5 in the morning, which was miserable (a fever while lugging a 20 lb pack for 30 minutes is no fun), but i felt better by the end of my second flight.

now for the real beginning of my trip, i arrived around noon in berlin. things started off rocky. i had a really bad interaction with the first person i talked to, the tourism center lady. i had to pick up my transportation pass and she had a stick up her butt. anyhoo, i took an easy rail ride to my accommodation and checked in. i was exhausted but did not want to waste my afternoon. i went to the stasi museum, not too far from my hostel. the stasi were the secret police in east germany. they were very invasive and paranoid with german society. this is where i found out that germany is a cash country. do not listen to the guidebooks! very few places take card. i really did not have much patience (the lack of sleep, sickness, and lack of food caught up with me), so i did not spend much time at the museum but i was glad i went.



the old headquarters




i then went to scavenge for food and chose a random hole-in-the-wall place (which also had slot machines?), ate, headed back to the hostel, and crashed. i did not realize just how much i needed sleep. i snoozed for a good 10 hours.

now for the hostel. for the first 2 nights i stayed in ostel, a GDR furnished hostel & hotel. i went because of the experience and they offered private rooms for a reasonable price. i really enjoyed my stay. the room was nice, the bed was comfortable, it was easily accessible (right next to ostbahnhof station, the old main station), and the people were very nice. there were a few downs (wifi was only in the lobby, my room was on the 6th floor with no elevator), but these are just minor complaints. i can't vouch for their hostel rooms, but i highly recommend anyone to stay.





my room!



my garb.



the lobby.



another angle of the lobby.

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the next day, i first stopped at the east side gallery. well, i actually hopped on a train and realized i forgot to stop here first so backtracked. every section has a mural on it from either when the wall was still in use or after the fact. a few years ago, some of the original artists returned to restore their own murals.







my favorite part.







i thought this was the most impressive section.


next, i went to the story of berlin museum (not to be confused with berlin story museum). this museum tells the history of the city not with artifacts but by creating an interactive environment. i thought it was a really engaging way to teach history. for example in the room explaining hitler's rise to power you walk over books, and in the room about east and west berlin you see a living room from each side. 



a random motor bike you can sit on.


due to perfect timing, i decided to go on the bunker tour offered by the museum. i'm glad i did it, but i almost had a panic attack. it was a pretty large bunker, but the idea that 3,000 people could live here for 2 weeks after a nuclear attack was ludicrous and overwhelming. also, i have a fear if being underground (not heights), so that did not help. i was glad when the 30 minute tour was over.




next i took a stroll to the kaiser wilhelm memorial church, it was built in the 1890s but bombed during WWII. much of the church is left how it was bombed, including the missing spire and holdes in the wall.





inside the memorial church.



inside the new church across the memorial hall.


a short bus ride was gedenkstatte deutscher widerstand (memorial of the german resistance), a museum that tells the story of those who defied hitler and the nazi party. it is housed in a section of the benderblock, where the firing squad executions of those invlolved in 'operation valkyrie,' the failed assassination attempt on hitler in his 'wolf's lair.' these were individuals from the german government and military who tried to remove hitler and the party from within.



where the executions happened



the memorial



tiergarten



a statue with no head. maybe a remnant from the bombing?

next was topographie des terrors, a museum on the grounds of the old schutzstaffel (ss) main security office, one of the major nazi paramilitary groups. it focuses on the atrocities by the nazi party and includes an outdoor museum with remains of the berlin wall.




the rest of my time was spent walking around aimlessly before crashing at the hostel. 



the tourist trap known as checkpoint charlie.




p.s. i heard a woman having a conversation in the airport and saying that the uk is no longer in europe because of brexit. what???? it's not like voting can make you leave a continent.

anyhoo, now for a song. i really did not listen to music in europe (thanks to pandora not working in europe). the week before, i watched the movie 'holding the man.' i highly recommend it. the soundtrack is fun, the dialogue and delivery is hilarious, and the ending is sad. this is my favorite song from the movie, 'forever and a year' by rufus wainright. enjoy!



Monday, August 14, 2017

SUBURBAN ADVENTURES: CALICO GHOST TOWN

many moons ago (the beginning of march), my dad and i went to calico ghost town. the day before we went to the mojave desert and we stopped here before driving home. the town started in 1881 when miners discovered silver and later borax, now it is a san bernardino county park. walter knotts, the founder of knott's berry farm, bought and preserved the little town (and also used it as a model for his own park).

now i know this is not everyones cup of tea, but i love things like this. it is a bit tacky, but so much fun. there are cool little details and fun little shops. you can also tour a mine and ride a miniature train, but both are not really my thing. this place would be a lot of fun for kids and adults with big imaginations.








i love me a good friendly ghost



trying to connect with my inner hannibal lecter with extra chins.













inside the lane museum







i needed a good ol' glass bottle to drink out of.



rub-a-dub





a surprising find.





here i bought some cotton candy and a california poppy patch.



i am a sucker for a good pun.








at the peak of california wildflower season there were some blooms.


now for a song! i had to choose country. also, i have been watching 'when calls the heart,' a early 20th century canadian frontier drama on the hallmark channel (don't judge). now back to the song. i am going old school with 'drive' by alan jackson. i remember this song as a kid and it makes me happy. enjoy!



p.s. what a creepy mug