25 January, 2014

Travels with J: Berlin, Germany - 31 October to 4 November, 2013

Berliner Dom, the city's cathedral
It was Toussaint holiday in France, and I didn't have school for ten whole days! So, I dragged Jarne with me to Germany! My sister was around during this time, but she had already booked tickets to some plays and train tickets to other places (without inviting me!!) so I couldn't spend more time with her. 

Train and plane tickets to Germany from France and Belgium cost around an arm and half a leg, so Jarne suggested we try Eurolines, which is like the Greyhound of Europe (that in itself was already a bad sign). A one way bus ride to Berlin from Antwerp takes 9 to 10 hours. Oh, it was terrible.

The bus was set to pick us up at 11:59pm. It was somewhat on time. When we got on, the bus was already full with sleeping passengers (the starting point of the bus was Paris). Jarne and I had to sit in different places (the horror!).  I simply couldn't survive a nine hour bus ride without him next to me, so I texted Jarne to ask the guy next to him if he could switch places with me. The guy was pretty particular, see proof below:

The guy actually asked if the person sitting next to me was wide. I said the man wasn't (even though he was). I offered to give him candy if he switched with me. He was almost convinced, but then he spotted my seat and saw that the seat in front of mine was reclined. He actually told me to ask the person (who was asleep!) to un-recline his seat. He told Jarne I wouldn't be able to do it because I was Asian and most probably shy. But he doesn't know Kimy. I did it. The things I do for love! Haha! So I was able to sit next to Jarne for the nine hour ride. Phew!!

But then...when I was able to sit in the impossible guy's seat...the guy in front of me started puking. Just an hour into the bus ride. Oh my goodness. He couldn't even clean himself up because he was so sick. I didn't have a plastic bag with me or tissues to help him out. Everyone else was asleep. So. Yeah. We we sat behind a pool of puke for 8 hours. 

The bus ride was really exhausting. I looked like a zombie. 

It was around 930am when we arrived in Berlin. Fresh air!!! Space!!! Ah!!! Jarne was jumping with joy! (Haha, not really...I made him jump :P )

Jarne and the Berliner Funkturm, which was right next to the bus station
I was more calm and collected when we arrived :P

Not really. :P 
We then hopped on the U-Bahn, Berlin's metro to get to our airbnb. 
Jarne and his analog camera (he is partially hipster)
The area of our apartment was Friedrichshain, the young and boho neighbourhood of Berlin. There were many interesting restaurants, and most of them had the lowest prices I had seen in Europe!!
We asked our host for good places to eat, and he recommended Transit, which was an Asian fusion resto. It was awesome! There were vegetarian dishes for the "vegetarian" and yummy meat dishes for Kimy! The prices were Manila level!! 

Transit, our favorite restaurant in Berlin
 We then went back to the apartment to get some sleep on actual beds. We woke up just in time for dinner, so we hit the town for some Italian food because Jarne loves Italian food. He brought me to this place that he loved that had the best bruschetta. It was pretty tasty indeed :P

The next day we (or I?) were/was determined to do some actual sightseeing.
First stop: Alexanderplatz, which I remember as the busy public square with the weird looking radio tower.

Alexanderplatz and Fernsehturn, the tallest structure in Germany
Awesome hotdogman in Alexanderplatz
We walked from Alexanderplatz to Museumsinsel or Museum Island, which is an actual island (or at least it is on the northern half of an island), which houses five of the most important museums in the world. Pretty convenient for tourists! 
Museum Island on the upper left
Museum entrances were so expensive, so we did the next best thing: went in the museums until the ticketing booths then walked away :P I also took pictures of awkward Jarne. 

Jarne on the steps of the Altes Museum (after checking the prices of entrance)

Jarne and the cathedral

Jarne and the Altes Museum 
Then we went to the U-Bahn to go to a museum with free entrance, Topography of Terror. The museum is located on what used to be the headquarters of the Gestapo and the SS. On one side of the museum also stands remnants of the Berlin wall. 

Awkward Jarne and the Berlin wall

Me showing Jarne how to look angsty
Close enough

The main and permanent exhibition of the museum is about the the central institutions of the SS and the police in the Third Reich, and their crimes. Pretty heavy stuff. Couldn't help feeling down after looking at all the exhibits, so we had to do something lighter...like do some groceries for breakfast.

While looking for a grocery store, we chanced upon the Sony Center, which was so big and pretty.

Pretty lights at the Sony Center

Near the Sony Center was the Boulevard of the Stars. Only person with the star that I knew was Hans Zimmer. Hehe
We were able to find two grocery stores and bought a bunch of Milka chocolates and cookies and Haribo candies. :P

The next day, I brought Jarne to a Filipino restaurant I found on Google (poor Jarne). Hehe. 
The place is called Pan, which serves tamed Filipino food. I ordered kare-kare, and I got steak strips in just a little bit of kare-kare sauce. At least they had bagoong. I made Jarne taste Tapsilog, but it wasn't served with vinegar. I was disappointed because the food wasn't very authentic, but to my surprise, Jarne enjoyed the food. Hehe. I liked their calamansi juice, though. :P

Trying out San Miguel beer

Jarne and his tapsilog
After our dinner, Jarne pulled me to the metro because he wanted to show me something on our last full day in Berlin. 

We spotted this book in a U-Bahn station :P
When we got off the station, we had to walk for some time, and Jarne wouldn't tell me where we were gonna go. Then we turned a corner, and we saw the pretty Brandenburg Gate. Hehe. He knew I was such a tourist and I couldn't resist landmarks. This one in particular is really commanding. It's really grand and huge! I didn't even think to go here. Thank you, cutie! :P

The Brandenburg Gate was built in the 18th century to serve as an entrance to the Prussian palace. It was destroyed in WWII, but it was fully restored in the early 2000s. So we went through the gate, then turned left, and then Jarne was like...guess what this is. I had no idea. I saw one small block of concrete. Then another one, and another one, and then hundreds. It was the Holocaust Memorial. 

The memorial is a site simply covered with 2,711 rectangular slabs of concrete arranged in a grid pattern. According to the architect, the slabs of concrete were supposed to represent an orderly system that has lost touch with human reason, just like what happened in the Holocaust. The concrete slabs are meant to produce an uneasy and confusing atmosphere, and I was pretty creeped out. We went there at night and Jarne wanted to play hide and seek! 

After sightseeing, we went to the place where people in Berlin go to get drunk. But we only drank one bottle of beer each ;) Instead, we just had our pictures taken in a photoautomat! 

We then had a midnight snack at Ruby's Pizza. One of the best pizza's I've ever had. We had the Ruby's pizza (duh) which consisted of gorgonzola cheese, pears, and walnuts. It was so good, I even recreated it in Antwerp. That good. Everyone knows I'm lazy. I even made the dough and everything!! Took like 2 hours. 

Kimy's Ruby Pizza :-)
For our last day in Berlin, we went to an abandoned amusement park: Spreepark. It was already dark when we got there (we lost some time because the U-Bahn maps were a bit confusing. Hehe), so I'll show you how it looks in daylight:

 So we got off at this old school station:

...and walked through a forest to get to the park. I was ready to jump the fence, but I saw a sign that had the word 'hund,' which didn't sound good. I'm a pussy. Hahaha. So I just took some pictures from outside :P

Jarne, however, was no pussy and jumped the gate. 

 We then ran to the station so we can catch our bus to Antwerp. We arrived just in time with 20 minutes to spare. Phew!! But alas, the bus was full again and we weren't able to sit next to each other. This time it was for the whole trip. I asked three people to switch. No one agreed. Grr. But it was okay, because the seat behind me was free. We were able to watch a movie on his iPad together. Hehe. 

Thank you for coming with me, boy! Wouldn't have survived a total of 18 hours on a bus (8 hours of which spent with puke 5 inches away from our feet) if I didn't go with you. :P

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