Poetry and faux Paris

This weekend I was in Vegas. I had an interview for a position as a flight attendant at the Paris hotel. A faux(fake) version of Paris. Totally equipped with the Eiffel Tower, Arc de Triomphe, and even faux metro entrances. I thought that it would give me a taste of what I missed, and maybe make me miss Paris less. Au contraire. Everything reminded me of Paris, except the magic was missing.

Unfortunately, I didn’t get the job. Before you become sad for me, I didn’t really want it after they gave me more information. Being a flight attendant is all about the benefits and the company culture. This particular company didn’t feel right.

Now, there were a few good things that came out of this weekend. I got more interview experience, I found out I don’t love Vegas, and I read a book of Poetry that made all of this bearable.

I read Wild Embers by Nikita Gill. There are so many poems in the book that I could share, but I wanted to share the one that initially made me buy the book.

Fire

Remember what you must do

When the undervalue you,

When they think your softness is your weakness,

when they treat your kindness

like it is their advantage

You awaken

every dragon,

every wolf,

every monster

that sleeps inside you

and you remind them

what hell looks like

when it wears the skin

of a gentle human.

 

 

This poem, and all the others in the book are made to encourage you to be your best and feel your best. Also, teaching you to listen to yourself and to do what you really want. I am not sure I know EXACTLY what I want. But at least now I know when things don’t feel right, and when they aren’t meant to be.

 

Fairytales exist.

They always have.

We just have to rewrite them

Over and Over again

till they fit

 

Keep on Dreaming ( continue de rêver)

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The Law of Attraction

There is a Poem on my vision board, and it has become true as I have believed it more and more as I have changed over the years. If you have ever watched or read The Secret, you know what this is. Basically, it is a board of things you dream about. Things that you want to happen in your life, and where you want to be in the future. The secret uses the universe as its guide. Saying “visualize yourself where you want to be.” Put it into the universe, and it will be yours. Now, I know many people that are religious, so the secret may be looked at as negative. However, The Secret teaches you to be grateful for what you have and visualize what you want, instead of dwelling on the negative in your life. So, in praying you could pray for health, instead of thinking of yourself being unhealthy. Or think of yourself as wealthy and thank God for what you have, and not dwell on the bills or debt. In the religious sense you can substitute the universe as who your God is.

This poem will always be on my vision board, and I will have this all my life as a reminder.

Now, I want to explain why I think this works. When I returned from Paris, I removed many things from my vision board. I removed pictures of the Eiffel Tower. I saw things that said, “live abroad”, and print outs that said “live in Europe.” I have a list of  places I want to visit all over the world. The board is half empty now. I have to fill it up again. I have new dreams, and they are going to happen. Before I go to sleep, I will visualize what I want. Now I wont say that you just sit around visualizing and things happen. It took time and research and work to get a job in Paris. Truly, no one thought it was going to happen. Even people close to me.

Tonight I have been filling the board up again. It’s crazy how what I want has changed so much in 3 years. I recommend doing something similar if you can. Even if you just change the way you think. Think about what you want, and not what is wrong in your life. Visualize yourself there. If you are religious don’t just ask God for things, be grateful also. Being grateful is really what it’s all about.

Everyone has baggage

In my last blog entry I was talking about dating. I’m trying to be more open to people. I am like a super sarcastic seemingly nice person, with a huge brick wall around me. Actually, let’s change that to marble, it’s harder to crack. If someone breaks through, it will be a miracle.

I was thinking about how much shit I have been through. How much I would have to trust someone to tell them all of that. If I thought about my past as baggage, I would have to pay a shitton of extra fees. I was so weighed down it’s not even funny. Now, my life is so light and breezy I only need a carry on. There is maybe a handful of people that know ALL about me – People that know everything. I have some amazing family and friends. To find someone on their level, who I respect and love as much as these amazing people, seems daunting.

I don’t think about it very much, though. I have dreams that don’t involve this. I think about traveling and being a flight attendant more than anything. I think that is part of the problem. I don’t want anyone to get in the way of that. I am definitely not the girl who puts dreams on hold for someone. Trust me, I will resist liking someone as much as possible.

The best part of being more open to people in general is that I have made amazing new friends. More people that are teaching me to be open with my life. People that are funny and honest. I tell them my shit and they tell me theirs. Because let’s face it, we all have baggage.

Good or bad.

 

 

Trying to find Mr. Darcy swiping right

First off, My dream guy is Mr. Darcy from Pride and Prejudice. Modernized, of course. I want to argue with someone and then they tell me something like, “You have bewitched me body and soul, and I love you.” and then we can go to a ball and dance. I also want to stand on a cliff at some point. That doesn’t necessarily involve a man, I just want to go to Ireland and Scotland. HA…

I have recently tried to be more open to online dating. I hate it. Personally, it is like talking to multiple people and not being able to tell whether they have any personality. It is very superficial. I cannot tell if the guy is just wanting to hook up, or actually looking to go on a regular date. Where do you meet people like normal? And why can’t guys just walk up to us and ask us out like they used to do in Friends? We see you staring at us in Starbucks. I know its not Central Perk, but get the F up and ask us out. If someone bought me a coffee at Starbucks I would probably marry them at this point. I would think they were my coffeemate. Get it?:)

I recently was supposed to have a date with a Surgeon. I know, they are assholes and have bad reps. This one seemed nice enough over Bumble texts. He was on call. I basically got stood up because he had surgery. Should I be more understanding? Probably. Most girls probably would be. They would be saying, “OMG hes a surgeon… he was busy.” I am thinking “He had time to wash his hands, so he had time to text I’m not going to make it.” I am so happy on my own that I basically need someone to give me a reason why they will make my life better.

Also, I am not good at texting. In case you don’t know me, I am blunt and sarcastic. I find it really hard to hold back over texts. I sound like a huge bitch over texts. Oh well. I warn them. Basically, I think I may be single forever. But at least i’m allergic to cats. So, spinster cat lady is not an option.

I’ll keep y’all posted on this online dating “adventure”?

Oh, the places you should go….

So, If you haven’t noticed, I have neglected this blog. But hey, I have been having a good time, so blogging wasn’t really on my mind. My time being an au pair is almost over and I am “kind of” ready to come home. I will miss France, but I also miss home. I miss things like ice, target, and Mexican food. To name a few off the top of my head. And of course my family. Especially the little ones, they change too fast when I’m gone. I have instilled a sense of wanderlust in my oldest nephew, so my work is done. We are going to Iceland. I don’t know when, but I will figure it out. My sister and bother in law will have to deal. 🙂

Leaving France will be hard because even though I have seen a lot, there is still so much I want to see. Being here, everything is just so accessible. I can take a train for 70 euros to ANOTHER COUNTRY for the weekend. Trains are big and comfortable, not like planes. You don’t have to weigh your bags, and the only time I had to go through customs was when I went to the UK because of stupid brexit.

I had a conversation with a French person about Americans traveling in Europe. She said she met some Americans on vacation. They were here for 17 days and were going to each place for 1-2 days. They told her that they were “doing Europe” and she found that so bizarre. I had to explain how flights are expensive, etc. When Europeans “do America” most of them skip the middle. If someone tells me they have been to the US the places are usually California, New York, or Miami. Also, French people have basically all of August off, so they can spend 3-4 weeks in another country if they can afford it.

I have been so lucky to get to do this. I have gotten to go to so many places. I haven’t written anything for months. Since Barcelona I have been to so many great places. Brussels, Lyon, Avignon, London, Amsterdam, Giverny, Etretat, La Salle de Alps to name the main ones. Some were just day trips from Paris, and most were weekend trips where I only stayed one night. Now I know where I want to visit again, and where I don’t. I really loved all of the places I have been, but I have some favorites so far. And, that is what I am going to tell you.

These are the place I think you should go, and why. First off, Normandy if one of my favorite regions in France. I have been there on two day trips and one overnight with travel companies that are run out of Paris. YEP and We Discover Paris, they are good for day trips. If you are coming to Paris, go to Normandy if you have time. I would take three days if possible. A day trip to see Monet’s gardens at Giverny would be amazing if you have time. It’s surreal to go there, and so beautiful.

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Second, Aix-en- Provence, France. This can Include Lyon and Avignon which are nearby. Seriously, if I get married… It would be in a lavender field in Provence. Looking over one of these amazing villages. I had never seen such a breathtaking site until I went to Provence. The lavender doesn’t bloom until early July, so I missed out on that, but I will go back. A road trip through Provence in early July is added to my bucket list.

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Third, London. I loved London. I definitely want to go back. London was very cool. Everyone I met was so nice. I think it also felt more like home because I went to the Plaquemine Lock restaurant and was treated like an old friend. They are so nice there. If you go to London, stop by. I saw the musical An American in Paris. I know, It’s a little cliché. But, I didn’t want to see Aladdin or The Book of Mormon. There are only so many choices when your on a budget and have a specific date. I am so glad I got to see it. It was absolutely amazing!

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Brussels and Amsterdam are two places I am glad I went but I do not feel a need to return. Brussels was beautiful, but if I go back to Belgium I would like to see Antwerp and Bruges. Amsterdam was cool, but it was so crowded. Most cities that are “touristy” towns have lots of places that you can go to get away from the crowds. Amsterdam is very small so it is a little harder to do that. I did love riding a bike around Amsterdam for two days, though. But, I have never been so tired after a trip. And don’t get me wrong, Amsterdam is beautiful! I spoke to a guy who said that Rotterdam is a lot better. I would love to go back to the Netherlands and explore other areas. So if you go to Amsterdam, make sure and go to Rotterdam, too. I missed out. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

And finally, Skiing in the French Alps. This was so beautiful. If you love skiing and want a challenge, go skiing in France. The slopes are much steeper and thinner. You cannot ski on your own, ever. The trails are not marked like in the US. Everyone needs a guide and goes in groups with an instructor, no matter the level. I saw experienced skiers fall down mountains. There were multiple people walking around with slings on. I skied 3/6 days because of bruises on my body from falling. They are intense. Although, the ski passes are cheaper. If I ever ski again it will be in America where trails are wider and there are always fires inside the lodge. Who am I kidding, I’ll probably never ski again. I’m traumatized.

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FIN.

Please like and share… if you like it! Of course 🙂 Love, Jo

 

 

Au Revoir Barcelona… Oh wait, it’s Adios.

Last weekend I took a quick trip to Barcelona. I arrived at 12pm Friday night from Paris and left Sunday night at 8:00. It was not enough time to see everything. But, it was enough time to see that I want to return.

I took Spanish in high school. That was a waste of four years of my life. The basis of my vocabulary when I was in Spain was Si, Hola, Adios, Gracias, and De Nada. Barcelona, like Paris, is a big city with many tourists. So, getting by with only English was easy. The problem with me was the “French mode”that I was in. I would use Oui, Bonjour, Au Revoir, Merci, and de rien more often that the Spanish words I know. It’s like when I came back to the States I instinctively said “Pardon”(in a French accent) when passing a lady in the airport. I added the “me” because I realized I was in America now. I had now become an 80 year old southern woman. So, the whole trip was me saying, “Oui, oh Si, ugh I’m sorry.” speaking 3 languages like an idiot.

P2251283.JPGNow, enough about my horrible language skills. Let’s talk about the highlight of the trip. Sagrada Familia. Now, if you have never heard about Sagrada Familia, this is a link to their website here Sagrada Familia. Basilica de la Sagrada Familia is Antoni Gaudis masterpiece that has been under construction since the late 1800s. I have seen a lot of Cathedrals and Basilicas in Europe. However, this one is so detailed that it is going to be hard to beat in my mind. Everything was thought out and has a meaning behind it.

There is a Nativity side and a Passion side of the Basilica. On the Nativity Side there are three doors. Jesus in the middle, Joseph to the left, and Mary on the right

The Passion Side has columns that that are meant to look like muscles. The carvings are deliberately made to be more square or rough on this side because of what it represents.

 

The inside of the basilica was modeled after a forest. Gaudi made the columns on the inside look like huge trees. The side of the church where the sun rises has huge stained glass windows in cool tones. And the side where the sun sets is in warm tones. The light reflecting inside the Church is really what you notice. Colors dancing on all of the walls.

 

 

I took the lift up to the tower on the Passion Side of the Basilica. I researched when I bought my ticket and that at side is supposed to have a better view of Barcelona. The view was amazing! I also think the line was longer for the tower on the Nativity side. So, if you are going, maybe choose the Passion side. Overall Sagrada Familia was my favorite part of the trip because it just blew my mind. I just kept thinking about how Gaudi got thousands of people to commit for hundreds of years to his vision. He just designed something so ambitious and people are still trying to achieve his goal. Amazing.

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My favorite picture from Sagrada Familia

Saturday I needed to eat something. I had researched food in Barcelona before I left and discovered La Boqueria. It was was highly recommended by many websites and blogs. Mainly because of it’s fresh fruits and juices. Also the variety of vendors and food choices. This was a close call for my favorite thing in Barcelona. The atmosphere and the people were great. The juice was only 1 euro (at the small booth I found) Some were 1.50 euro. So, walk around a bit if you want to save money or find the best deal. There are so many vendors. Also, If you see something that looks good I suggest you get it at that moment. I saw a few things and thought, I’ll come back if I don’t find anything better to eat. After walking and not finding anything else, I couldn’t find those places even though I tried. I had to settle for some fried seafood that I didn’t really eat. But then I found some ice cream that was like heaven. So, overall it was a success.

The best thing about traveling by yourself and staying in a hostel is that you meet new people. Saturday night I got dressed and sat down in the common room. I was going to rest and then find a place for dinner. I ended up talking to some people and met a guy who was from Lafayette, LA. It really is a small world. I then had an invite to dinner and met three new people in the span of 10 minutes. That night we played drinking games with Sangria, and tons of people who were staying at the hostel joined.

Sunday I had a ticket to Park Güell for 10am. Waking up for a shower and everything before was tough because of the Sangria, but I made it there. If you don’t like to walk I suggest you take the bus from the Metro to Park Güell or take a taxi. The walk to Park Güell is about 15 minutes and it is not the easiest. It makes the views great but the walking includes going uphill. Although, the one thing I noticed in Barcelona is how Sagrada Familia and Park Güell would be easy for a handicapped or older person. Sagrada familia has ramps and an elevator for the towers. Park Güell has access to the front gate by taxi, and most of the going up you can do by ramp. That is very rare for Europe.

 

Park Güell was beautiful and the stone formations were very cool. The architecture of the buildings is interesting to look at and there is a great view. I don’t know if I would recommend going to Park Güell if you only have 2 days like I did. It is very time consuming and kind of out of the way. Very worth it if you have the time, though. I loved it. I also saw Casa Milà and Casa Batlló from the outside. I did not see the inside of Casa Batlló, but I wish I would have. The exterior was absolutely amazing. It was so interesting and cool.

Last but definitely not least, I went to Barceloneta Beach. The beach was very beautiful. There is a nice boardwalk that you can walk along to get there from the metro. There are restaurants and a big marina with huge sailboats. If you do not want to walk along the boardwalk, there is a bus that will take you strait to the beach. The bus stop is right by the metro, easily named Barcelonta. The walk is nice, but if you are crunched on time, the bus is a good option. After about a 20 minute walk you will make it to the beach. The beach in Barcelona was absolutely beautiful. I did not have the greatest experience because I decided to go touch the Mediterranean ocean. Well, the next thing I know, my jeans, shoes, and socks are soaked. So, I guess I have been in the Mediterranean ocean. It’s about the memories, right?

 

Overall Barcelona was an amazing trip. I discovered a new love of Gaudi and I made some new friends. I also answered the question Spain vs. France, which is better? I have no idea at this point. But Barcelona is a must visit if you are in Spain. It has the best of everything. Beautiful beaches, good food, nice people, great history, and amazing architecture. Definitely not as pretty as Paris, though. Every building is pretty here. I was asked about liking Paris because some people say it is dirty, which I have not noticed at all. I am told people love or hate Paris. My answer to this is that all big cities are dirty somewhere. Its like New Orleans. Don’t judge it based solely on Bourbon Street. FYI: Watch out for dog poop in Barcelona too. Except, it doesn’t make sense to me at all there because they actually have grass. So, It must be a European thing.

That’s all for now.

Besos,

Jolie

 

 

 

Parisians don’t know how to walk.

Now I want to talk about something that happened today. This is my biggest pet peeve of living in Paris, or near Paris. The people who live here do not know how to move out of the way. You stay to the right and I stay to the left. Simple right? No.

It’s not so bad when I am alone, I can just weave my way around crazy people who are like freight trains and act like no one is in their path. However, when I have the two kids in a stroller it is very hard to move the stroller out of the way. The looks of disappointment that I get on the street, as though I should be the one moving are so surprising to me. I have two kids who are probably 25lbs each in one stroller. It is not easy to move this thing.

Now, I don’t want to make all people seem like buttholes. Some move happily. And I have to think that some are not paying attention because most people walk with their head down or with headphones. But, This has happened multiple times over the period I have been here. It is a little crazy. I do like the fast paced walking in the city, but not moving for a woman and a stroller is inconsiderate.

Also, I have some advice on how to not look like a complete tourist when you come to Paris. When I arrived here I was in awe. I looked up and around everywhere I went, and not paying attention to where I was going. I was talking with two friends about how we each stepped in dog crap at least once when we arrived. It is because you are just not paying attention. This is how people get their stuff stolen and look like a tourist. So, my advice is to look down. It will help with the poop thing. (Paris is not dirty BTW) rich people are just lazy.

Do not smile at anyone. They will hit on you if you are the opposite sex and they think you are attractive. (Or the same sex, if that is your thing.) It happened to me in a park my second week here. I was just trying to find an au pair picnic. When I casually passed a guy with a polite smile. Normal for the states but not in France. I hit on someone without knowing it.

The lesson is to keep your head down, but still pay attention because people walk like maniacs. Look out for dog poop, even in the fanciest neighborhoods. Do not smile at French people, unless you think they are cute. And I have to admit a lot of them are.

Also, don’t let this post deter you from visiting. Paris is basically the New York of Europe. People work a ton and want to get home to their families. They think it’s weird for a stranger to talk to them because it’s a huge metropolis. A lot of the reason they may be misunderstood is because their sense of humor is VERY sarcastic. So, of course I like most of them, because I have been told I am a smart ass.

Bisous,

Jolie

 

Tomber sept fois, se reveler huit

P2041177.JPGFall seven times, stand up eight is one of my favorite quotes. It became literal last week when I was in the French Alps skiing. When I say that I fell, I mean that I fell down a mountain. I fell while trying to go up the mountain, also. If you ever go skiing in France I would say if you are not an expert skier to start in a beginner class. Even if they tell you not to. The levels are Green, Blue, Red. I told the lady who placed me in a class that I hadn’t skied in 10 years. She put me in a level that was way too advanced.

On the first day I was on a “dark blue” which means that it is a harder blue, closer to a red. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAA Turkish lady in my group injured her knee the first day and was out for the week. I saw countless people with injuries throughout the week. The skiing is just on another level there. I was looking forward to skiing like in Colorado. Where you can go off on your own and have some peaceful alone time. In France, that is only for skiers who know the trails well. They are not marked like in the US. My host dad joked and said that I couldn’t do that because I might end up in Italy. -I think it was a joke.

Overall, I am a pretty good skier.  I can do a dark blue and survive. But, once I bruised my whole body the first day, my level of skiing went from high to low. And now I  can’t even do Pilates on a mat and it has been 2 weeks since that first day. The biggest lesson I have learned from this I that skiing is not like a bike. As much as all of the French people want to repeat that to you. If you haven’t been in years, start as a beginner.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe best part of the stay was just walking around the town. I walked up and down the mountain. I like walking and taking pictures, and this was the only way I could do it. With the group ski lessons, you can never stop to take pictures. The whole week we were skiing constantly in a group. Every single day you are in a group skiing. Mainly I think because it is hard to get around the mountains without a guide. I think it is more fun when you can go with your family and have a little more freedom.

I do want to go skiing again. Preferably somewhere with my own family. 🙂 And now I have all of the clothes to do it. FYI if you need to buy ski clothes and you are going to ski in Europe, buy everything here. It is so much cheaper than the US. Skiing is cheaper too, but once you add in the flight it becomes about the same P2041226.JPGprice or more expensive.

La Salle de Alps was one of the most beautiful places I have been in my life. The pictures I have included do not do it justice. If you are an avid skier and want a new experience, I would highly recommend it! Another place on my bucket list checked off. Now, What’s next?

 

 

An American in Normandy

Normandy was my first trip in Europe away from Paris. I went on a guided trip with EIAP-Sorbonne Nouvelle. This is a trip that is mainly for Erasmus students. (Erasmus is a EU student exchange program). The trip is also open for au pairs. I ended up being the only American on the trip. It was mainly Italian and Spanish students. Also, there a was a guy from Greece and another from Germany.

On this trip everyone spoke French to each other. My French is not great, yet. So, most of them could speak English to me. This just made me realize the difference in language skills of Europeans and Americans. We rely on English so much and do not stress the importance of learning a second language. I have spoken to people who have been studying languages for years. Many schools in America do not do that, but they should start. Anyways…

Normandy was one of the most beautiful places I have ever seen. Even the bus ride was amazing. As soon as I saw the picturesque countryside, I had to add another thing to my bucket list. A road trip through France.

The first city visited was Honfleur. It is a very beautiful city with img_5896-2quaint streets and a marina. There was an open market and cafes right near the water. We ate lunch here and I got the recommended meal: Moules à la crème (Mussels with Cream) Which is a specialty in Normandy. If you like seafood and go to Normandy, get the Mussels. It was delicious. Make sure you order the correct thing. At first when everyone’s appetizers came out, I thought I had ordered incorrectly. We had all ordered the same entrée and I was looking around at plates of escargot and hoping that I was not getting that same plate. I didn’t! Thank you random French word that I somehow knew. Seriously, Moules? Why can’t all the normal words stay in my head?

 

img_5594-1After Lunch we headed to Deauville. There is a beach here with beautiful views of the hills. There are a lot of
shells on the beach. It reminded me of my recent trip to Florida. FYI, I tried to bring one of the shells back as a souvenir…FAIL. It broke into tiny pieces in my purse. So, I guess look for a thick shell if you do that. We also had some amazing crêpes at this place called Tutti Frutti. They have so many choices that you cannot go wrong.

After spending the evening there, we headed to Caen. This is where we stayed for the night. Before going out we took a walk to Caen Castle. It was founded by William the Conqueror in 1060. We walked to the top and had some great views of the city. The battery in my phone and Camera died at this point. Sorry, I have no pictures of any of this.

soro5276The next day we visited Mont St. Michel. There isn’t much to say about this. The magnitude of Mont St. Michel is still crazy to me. It reminded me of kings landing on Game of Thrones. It was actually the inspiration for the castle in Tangled, which got me excited. Does the fact that those are two of my favorite things to watch say something about me? I guess I really like castles. Or, I have very eclectic taste in cinema and television. Moving on now. I was not expecting a little village within MSM. It is something that you need to see if you have the time. Truly amazing.

My weekend in Normandy was wonderful. I got to meet a lot of people and see a few cities in France. I wish I could have had more time in each of them, though. I truly loved Normandy.

 

 

Auf Wiedersehen Berlin…

Berlin is a beautiful city filled with history. I really did not expect to love Berlin as much as I do. I think my overall experience was made great by the people I met as much as the city itself.

First of all, If you ever plan to go there make sure you have a way to get plenty of cash. Don’t plan on relying on your credit card. Many businesses only take cash. Also, ATMs are scarce. Berlin is behind on that. However, I love that all of the trains have Wi-Fi. So, basically once you figure out the train system you can connect to the BVG Wi-Fi. The trains are more complicated than I thought they would be. The U-Bahn and S-Bahn are hard to understand at first. Also, there are a lot of trams that you can take, but they are not very reliable like the metro in Paris because of traffic. So, I walked A LOT in Berlin. I found it easier and sometimes it was the faster route.

Visiting Berlin is very intense. Everything you visit is beautiful, however I had this feeling of sadness when I looked around. An example is the Brandenburg Gate. It is the most famous monument in Germany. When I picture it, I also have a picture of Hitler marching through it in my mind. Also, it is a symbol of freedom in Berlin. It is still an iconic symbol of the Berlin wall coming down.

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Another thing I noticed is the architecture of Berlin. Most of the buildings in Berlin are fairly new, which is strange for Europe. A lot was destroyed in the war. So the architecture of most of the buildings is very plain. Then you will see something like the Berliner Dom that is absolutely amazing. There is so much history in every monument that still stands.

The history of Berlin and the Holocaust was very interesting and sad to learn. It’s not easy to take in. It’s something that I think everyone should do. I visited Sachsenhausen, a Nazi Concentration camp. There are tours for this, but most of them were for 6 hours total, with two hours of travel. I like tours, but I think if I would have spent 4 hours there it would have been too much. Entrance to Sachsenhausen is free. If you have an ABC train pass you can go outside of Berlin and it is only 3 Euro for the audio guide. you can then leave whenever you are done. Walking to the Gate was very strange because there are houses right next to the gate. Picture a small town row of cute houses with Sachsenhausen as the dead end. People are living in these houses. This was unsettling to me. However, the town Oranienburg is very nice.

 

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Sachsenhausen

 

 

I took a free walking tour and that was the best thing to do. I saw things I wouldn’t have gone to and returned to some that I wanted to see again. It is a tip based service. I gave him 5 Euros, and felt like it wasn’t enough because the guide was awesome. I didn’t have anymore cash because Berlin is the city of using cash for EVERYTHING.

We visited Checkpoint Charlie which was the crossing point between East and West Berlin during the Cold War. It was fun to learn about some American History that happened here too. There was a stand off between Soviet and U.S. Tanks over the travel documents of a U.S. diplomat. The tour guide also showed where the CIA and the KGB would have been stationed at the time to lookout at the checkpoint. There is also a place to take a picture with some “American” soldiers in uniform. It’s really just some German guys dressed up like American soldiers. It was very entertaining to watch people pay for photos with these guys.

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Checkpoint Charlie

 

I also saw some Nazi Architecture. Which was not on my list to see, but I’m glad I did see it. The guide took us to the former headquarters of The Third Reich. The building is like a prison, grey and cold. He also told of us Hitler’s plans for The Grand Dome (Germania). The Dome was to be 16 times bigger than St. Peters Basilica in Rome and to fit 150,000-180,000 people. Anyways…Hitler was FN crazy and on meth towards the end. He was planning to completely destroy Berlin as it was. If the war had ended differently, Germania was his plan. Thank God there is not a Germania.

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Headquarters of the Third Reich

 

Ok, enough about Nazi’s. They suck.

Berlin was actually a lot of fun! As much as the history sucks, the city is great. This is a classic case of your past doesn’t define who you are. Berlin has taken that and ran with it. I didn’t know that Berlin is a huge party city. The clubs and nightlife are a big part of the culture. There are clubs that people wait hours to get into. I know what you’re thinking. Why? Well, these clubs are open from Friday to Monday. I met one German girl who said the longest she stayed was 20 hours.

My favorite things about Berlin were the people I met. This was my first hostel and I had the best time. I met so many people that made this trip wonderful for me. The Berliner Dom was one of the highlights also. The interior of it is amazing and the view from the top is a 360 of Berlin.

 

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Berliner Dom

 

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Inside the Berliner Dom

 

Walking along the Wall at The East Side Gallery had to be the coolest thing I did. All of the art was interesting and beautiful. I remember seeing one that was a person going over the wall. You could only see a leg with a hand holding the foot. A friend I was with said to me “Do you think the hand is pushing them or pulling them down?” I was thinking pushing, but I will remember that painting forever. I took pictures of some of my other favorites.

 

The food in Berlin is also really good. I like that it is not ridiculously expensive. We went to a Pizza restaurant in Mitte where you could get a pizza for 4Euros. The German food was very good and the best beer I had was from the Brewery at the Circus Hostel. And weirdly enough, I learned that Berlin has a big Vegan population. So, for anyone with diet constraints this is the place to go. There is a large variety of good restaurants everywhere. I had awesome German, Thai, Vietnamese, and Italian.

Overall, Berlin was amazing and I would visit again if I didn’t have a list of about 300 more places to see. Next on the list for Germany: Oktoberfest in Munich.